By Michael Gunther

We have become a nation of workaholics – with our smartphones and tablets we are staying connected to work like never before: evenings, weekends, vacations, etc. Actually 73% of respondents in a recent survey stated that having a day off doesn’t mean not working. They are actually still responding to emails, logging up to two plus hours on their ‘day off’ and feel compelled to do so to keep engaged with their employer. Do all these additional hours actually make us more productive? The answer may not surprise you, but we are actually less productive, more stressed and further, we are burned out.

There is also hard evidence to suggest working over 50 hours a week can lead to a 67% increase in heart disease, a three times increased likelihood to develop an alcohol-abuse problem, and a decrease in productivity due to the stress of working more. These long hour work days tend to also lead to less sleep and six or less hours of sleep for a period of two weeks showed normal cognitive performance deficits equal to going entirely without sleep for three full days.

It is time to take a stand and figure out how to get your work responsibilities accomplished in less than forty hours. I understand some weeks may require some additional hours, but consistently working extended hours is not a sign of being a hard worker. Actually, it is a sign of not being a wise manager of your time. The old adage to ‘work smarter, not harder’ is more appropriate than ever in the current work environment.

I would recommend some simple tactics to assist you getting your hours back in check. First, evaluate how you spend your day at the office. Are you jumping from email, to telephone, to tasks on the never ending hamster wheel of connectedness? Block out your time for specific tasks and stick to it.

Assess how much time you are spending on certain tasks. Are you spending more time on a low level task that will have little impact on your business or are you spending the appropriate amount of time on your larger tasks? I bet 20% of the tasks you are doing could wait or aren’t really that important in the overall scheme of things.

Manage the interruptions throughout the day. Every time you stop to chat with someone or someone pops their head into your office for a quick question, it takes time to reengage with what you were originally doing. This time adds up – if you don’t believe me, begin to keep track how often you are interrupted in a day or a week – the number may surprise you.

Keep yourself on a forty hour work week schedule. If you know you can’t work after hours or on the weekend and had to get everything in your forty hours – would your work habits change?

Bottom Line

“Work smarter, not harder” truly applies here. Take a few minutes each day to make sure you are set up to have the most productive day and practice some new time management habits.

 

This is another article in a series on Michael’s entrepreneurial story and how being raised in a large family and his belief in creating a growth company with a work-to-live mentality has influenced his career. Michael Gunther is Founder and President of Collaboration LLC, a team of highly skilled business professionals who are dedicated to assisting proactive business owners to build profitable, sustainable businesses through results-oriented education and consulting services. 

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