No matter how much we love what we do, it’s important to realize that we all have a burn out point. Your passion, dedication & raw animal instincts can push you past the point where mere mortals fail, but the end is inevitable. Unfortunately for too many, this point isn’t realized until it is too late… I’ve worked my share of all nighters and weekend shifts, and realized there is a nice balance between work and play. Here’s my tips on how to stay productive at work without burning the candle at both ends.
Set (and stick to) a schedule
We all need structure. Our parents ingrained it into our fabric from the day we were born, and it’s probably served you well in your career. Utilize your electronic buddies that remind you when it’s time to start & stop. If your to-do list for the day has been too ambitious, you'll probably realize by mid-afternoon that it can't all happen. About an hour before you’re ready to stop, go through and rank the most important tasks. Digest the list, and then walk away.
Split your shifts
Leaving your desk at 5PM doesn't mean you need to be done for the night. Try going home, spending time with your family or pursuing other personal projects, and then fire your laptop back up for a late night session. You will be much more refreshed and ready to tackle a problem simply by changing your focus. I find cooking dinner with my daughter reboots my mind, and gives me a fresh approach when I’m back at work.
Change your environment
You’ve been stuck in the same room all day, and you can’t figure out the solution to a problem. Studies show that creative thinking is stimulated when you change your surroundings. You would be surprised how many mental blocks I’ve conquered by simply heading outside and walking my dog. Try spending an afternoon working from a coffee shop. It may be distracting at first, but as your body learns to adapt, you’ll see problems in a different light. My personal favorite is to exercise, and get your blood pumping. Some of my greatest moments of clarity have come on my mountain bike in the middle of the woods!
Enjoy your vacation
All of your customers, clients and suppliers take vacation. All of your colleagues, managers and subordinates take vacation. You’ve certainly earned your vacation time, so why do you have a problem disconnecting? I’ve worked hard to help train my team which gives me the confidence to know they can keep the ship afloat while I’m gone. Taking time off really allows me to recharge, which ultimately makes me more effective when I come back online. Everyone understands how incredibly important you are to your team, but they can survive without you for a week 🙂
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