Technology allows us to live in forever-land, always connected, always on. So great. Or is it?
It used to be that keeping the workday going required more effort. I remember driving to the office on Saturday’s and Sunday’s, staying into the evening or dragging a two-foot stack of work home. Those were the days when no one expected an answer in the next minute, or even the next day (before faxes). So sometimes I didn’t make that extra trip and even when I brought things home, I went through the pile and at some point put it away.
Ancient history, right? With smart phones, laptops, networks, e-readers, etc., our work is available to us everywhere , instantly except when we’re in the most remote of locations. Shutting it down requires intentional, conscious choice now that there are no natural “stops” to all our “starts.”
So the other day I asked the successful, dynamic women in the group I coach when they allow themselves to “call it a day.” For the most part, they don’t. And truth be told, most of the time, neither do I. (especially as a solopreneur working in a home office)
Yet productivity isn’t all that productive without rest, renewal, play and time to look away. Athletes would never think to engage in their sport all day every day for five or six days a week – they prepare, they train, they rest, and they perform. In addition to the body’s normal peaks and valleys, we also know that the more decisions we make in a day, the more it depletes our energy reserves and boy do we make a lot of decisions in a day. Plus we can intuitively feel when we’re up for doing our most creative, intense work and when we can’t do much more than our rote answering of emails, organizing the files, cleaning the desk.
In reality, we probably each have the capacity for 4 of 5 intensely productive hours of the day; after that, everything takes longer and we’re in the land of diminishing returns.
So I’m learning to literally “call it a day,” no matter how many screens are calling my name. It doesn’t mean I can’t check a message if I want to, but it is a clear line of demarcation between the work day and the non-work day. I even say it out loud to our puppy.
In that moment of self-permission life shifts to a different tempo, a new flavor, even when I’m still in the same room or the same chair. It’s an attitude, not a place. When I do this regularly, everything improves – creativity, productivity, energy, family life.
Some of us are better than others, though, at doing this alone. For you, I’m here to help. The next time you feel the grind of keeping on, you have my permission to call it a day! When you bracket the work day, you’ll actually get more of it done in less time, and relationships will be saved, children attended to, dogs walked, hobbies engaged in, sports played, naps taken, books read, meals cooked . . . I promise
For a terrific article by Tony Schwartz (whose work I admire greatly) on managing your energy not your time, click here.