Research says…stop working so hard!

As we head into the weekend, keep in mind a few words of advice from the experts who remind us that not only is it unenjoyable, it’s unproductive to work so much!

In a recent New York Times article, “Relax! You’ll be more productive,” Tony Schwartz urges us to pay attention to a “new and growing body of multidisciplinary research [that] shows that strategic renewal – including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office, and longer, more frequent vacations – boosts productivity, job performance, and of course, health.”

He notes:

Time is the resource on which we’ve relied to get more accomplished. When there’s more to do, we invest more hours. But time is finite, and many of us feel we’re running out.

Although many of us can’t increase the working hours in the day, we can measurably increase our energy…Like time, energy is finite; but unlike time, it is renewable.

So how do we renew it? We stop working!

Prioritize sleep!

Insufficient sleep takes a substantial toll on performance. In a study of nearly 400 employees, published last year, researchers found that sleeping too little – defined by less than 6 hours per night – was one of the best predictors of on-the-job burnout.

Longer naps [have a profound impact, too]. Sara Mednick, a sleep researcher at the University of California, Riverside, found that a 60 to 90 minute nap improved memory test results as fully as did eight hours of sleep.

Take your vacation days!

In 2006, the accounting firm Ernst & Young did an internal study of its employees and found that for each additional 10 hours of vacation employees took, their year-end performance ratings from supervisors improved by 8%. Frequent vacationers were also significantly less likely to leave the firm.

Stop working through your lunch break!

During the day we move from a state of alertness progressively into physiological fatigue approximately every 90 minutes. Our bodies regularly tell us to take a break, but we often override these signals and instead stoke ourselves up with caffeine, sugar and our own emergency reserves – the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. Working in 90-minute intervals turns out to be a prescription for maximizing productivity.

And, perhaps most importantly on this Friday, stop pushing yourself to work through the weekend. Take two days off in the name of productivity! 

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Categories: Wellness

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