A recent article by Sue Shellenbarger in the Wall Street Journal’s “Work and Family” column caught my eye: “If You Need to Work Better, Maybe Try Working Less.” Read the article here.
I don’t work every minute, but for the last several years I have worked seven days a week. My job increasingly seems split between “work” and “email”, and as hard as I try I feel both are spiraling out of my reach to manage in a rational or calm way. This is due to an increased workload, and the nonstop communication between email, blackberries and smart phones facilitate.
Working any time and all the time now affects 70% of us, according to the Society of Human Resource Management.
But the situation has now hit a point, the Shellenbarger article suggests, “where a paradoxical truth applies: To get more done, we need to stop working so much.”
Shellenberg reports that a ground-breaking four-year study, set for publication in the October issue of the Harvard Business Review, seems to confirm that getting away from work can bring unexpected on-the-job benefits.
The study found that sticking to a predictable time off can lead to improved productivity. This means–block out time not to do work.
After years of working on and off most weekends, Shellenbarger decided to try a new approach of taking off at least one entire day every weekend for a month, away from reporting, writing and all other work. She hated it. As simple as it seemed, sticking to a time-off plan really stressed her out.
But she honestly admitted her experiment got her to change her work style. “This forced me to put proven time-management principles into practice,” she said. “Plan blocks of work time and stick to the plan; set short-term deadlines to keep work from spiraling out of control; and keep up with email daily, to avoid backlogs.”
I am inspired to try a similar “time out” plan for October. I’ll report back on how well I do and if the required “day off” makes me upset, stressed, or even more efficient. Anyone want to try? (It will be like making a pact to give up smoking together…)