Certain industries – startup tech companies, law firms and investment banks – are known for putting their staff through very long hours at work. These companies think nothing of asking their staff to work evenings and weekends, week after week. However, that doesn’t have to be you!
Discover seven reasons why you can still be successful while working a reasonable work schedule:
1. Improve Decision Making By Working Fewer Hours
As you go through your work day, you are faced with many decisions. You may have to decide between two suppliers. Or you may have to decide which person to hire. If you are tired from working constantly, you are more likely to make mistakes or low quality decisions. The New York Times reported that decision fatigue is one reason why people make unhealthy decisions at home and at work.
By working fewer hours, you will be able to make better use of your limited decision making energy.
2. Produce More Creative Solutions By Avoiding Excessive Work
Today’s workplace is filled with new problems that nobody has ever faced before. You may be working on a complex sale to a large company. Or you may be working to eliminate bugs in a software product. Your ability to produce creative solutions is vital. If you’re exhausted, research shows you are less likely to come up with creative ideas. Rebecca J. Rosen at The Atlantic has found that stress and exhaustion from overwork makes it more difficult to achieve success in the knowledge economy.
Take a page out of Europe’s playbook and set a limit on your working hours, especially if your job requires creative approaches.
3. Reduce Conflict By Slowing Down
Rushing to conclusions during a conflict or difference of opinion tends to make conflict worse. When you rush through meetings and work conversations, you are likely to hurt relationships. According to Psychology Today, slowing down a conversation is one of the advanced techniques that hostage negotiators use to solve high stress situations.
To improve your performance during conflicts, go slow and learn from theFBI’s hostage negotiators.
4. Improve Focus By Taking Time To Exercise
Mental clarity and freshness is essential to success when you are working with complex problems. According to research from The University of Texas at Dallas, aerobic exercise such as running improves your memory. Remembering tasks, procedures and other aspects of your work is essential to reaching success. If you’re working all the time, you will have no time for exercise.
To add time for exercise into your daily routine, start a morning ritual. Get started with productivity expert Jeff Sanders’s mornings 101 series.
5. Understand When You Work Best And Do Your Hardest Tasks Then
Most people have varying energy levels during the day. For example, author and coach Hal Elrod wakes up before 5am and completes most of his work by 12pm. If you ignore those rule and attempt to complete challenging tasks when you are tired, you will be more likely to make mistakes.
Think back over the past five work days and determine when you had the highest energy levels. If you are a morning person, then get your most important tasks done then.
6. Build Your Home Support System To Stay Productive
In order to stay productive, you need a supportive home environment. For many people, that means spending quality time with loved ones including your spouse. Working occasional long hours is reasonable, but it is dangerous to make it a way of life. If you are distracted by frustrated people at home and a disorganized home, it will be much harder to focus.
Commit to leaving work by a set time each day (e.g. 5pm or 6pm) and communicate that time to people at home.
7. Give Yourself Short Breaks
Getting through a long work day of tasks can be stressful. Sometimes, an overwhelming amount of work causes us to procrastinate. Before long, half the morning (or worse!) is gone. Getting into this pattern is one of the reasons why people end up having to stay late at the office.