Squeeze a few more hours in
What do you do when you’re up against it? Roll your sleeves up and push on through? Grab another bar of chocolate hoping the sugar rush will help re-energise you for the task ahead? Do you pretend it’s not happening until you have NO OTHER OPTION than to just do it? Maybe you’re a list writer, except you notice the same old list keeps being re-written, in fact it now looks like a short story of an overwhelming number of tasks! Do you stop doing everything else, including sleeping – the most basic of needs – just to get something finished? Has this way of operating become normal and now there’s no time for anything else in your life? How do you feel about that?
Old dogs can learn new tricks!
Mmmm. I used to be a bit like that. I still have the odd wobble. However, over the years I’ve learnt that working harder isn’t always the answer. I’ve tried hard to establish new habits and routines that serve me well when the pressure is on. In fact, habits that help me to keep on top of things long before I’m feeling the panic rising or giving in to an unsatisfactory acceptance that this is the way life is. The trick is to find a way of working smarter, not necessarily harder, in a way that suits you and enables you to function at your best.
Be honest about what’s happening
I was talking to a client the other day who said “Sarah, I’ve been thinking about our last conversation. I always thought the answer to finding happiness and to being successful was to work harder – you know, put in the hours and reap the rewards. But I now realise it isn’t that.” Eve (not her real name) was wondering why she’d fallen out of love with work. She’d known for a while that she wasn’t producing her best anymore and that annoyed her considering the number of hours she put in. She was physically and emotionally exhausted much of the time and couldn’t remember the last time she caught up with her best mate. Eve found that by focusing her attention on what was missing outside of her working environment, and finding fun and fulfilment here, she was able to function better at work and see clearly the things that needed to change to enable a sense of purpose both at home and at work. She started to focus on working smarter, not necessarily harder, on the things that meant something to her. Ultimately all areas of her life improved.
Long hours are necessary, sometimes
There are moments in all our lives when putting your nose to the grindstone is the only way forward. But it doesn’t mean to say that it should become normal. I have an extremely strong work ethic which can keep me chained to my desk if I’m not careful. However, I know that hard work doesn’t necessarily mean long hours and sacrificing the things that are important to me.
What is important and enables you to function at your best?
It’s different for everyone. For me it’s my early morning run that clears my head, helps me to focus on my priorities and gives me an endorphin shot like no other! I’m able to make more decisions and think more creatively in the hour after a run than I am sat at my desk all day. I use an alarm to remind me it’s time to get ready for bed – without 7.5 hours of sleep a night I can’t function! I take a short walk or an early lunch break when I know I’m distracted and won’t get a thing done sat at my desk. I block book my yoga classes so I have no option but to go or let my teacher down or loose the cash, neither of which sit well with me. I hate breaking my promises and I hate waste!
Maybe it’s time to make a change
Maybe it’s time we got some perspective on our weirdly competitive drive to work longer and longer hours, work harder and harder, and really look at it for what it is. Why are you constantly finding yourself working harder, when maybe working smarter would be better?
I’d love to hear what works or doesn’t work for you in the comments below!