My schedule has been so full that Labor Day Weekend just about caught me by surprise. Last Thursday, when everyone started talking about weekend plans, I immediately started making a list of all the things I need to catch up on. And then I thought, “Wait, this is supposed to be a holiday to rest and celebrate work.” How does that work?
I have a confession to make. My DNA inclines me toward becoming a workaholic. There’s a dominant gene in my family that creates generation after generation of leaders and doers – people with a strong work ethic that make things happen.
One indicator of how strong this inheritance is – I asked my grandmother on her 91st birthday how she was doing and she replied with a deep sigh, “I’m just too busy.” (Incidentally, she lived to the age of 103.) The result of all this – it can be hard to relax.
Since I’m an entrepreneur and work with many passionate business owners, I can testify that it’s normal when you are birthing a new idea or project to experience many sleepless nights and a crazy schedule. However, there comes a time when the baby needs to sleep through the night. A sustainable pace means you have to have down time!
A study published in Psychological Review, conducted by Dr. K. Anders Ericcson indicates that a key to great success is working hard and staying very intensely focused in short bursts of time. Then take a break.
The researchers noted that, “While completing a novel, famous authors tend to write only for 4 hours during the morning, leaving the rest of the day for rest and recuperation. Hence successful authors, who can control their work habits and are motivated to optimize their productivity, limit their most important intellectual activity to a fixed daily amount when working on projects requiring long periods of time to complete.”
The key is FOCUS, an increasingly rare commodity amidst the noise of email, voicemail, texts, tweets, IMs and the ever-growing deluge of information.
The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 law, states that 80 percent of output comes from 20 percent of the input. This principle has direct application to your time and productivity. Taking time to play is part of productivity.
So maybe I can get my “catch-up” work done in 4 hours and them go out and play. Working hard and playing hard – we owe it to ourselves to experience the balance.
Happy Labor Day!