I’m facing a problem in my life. Can you help me?
I remember, before I start working I have a lot of cool thoughts about many things. Things to do, things that can help others or even business ideas. I read a lot from different sources (online, newspaper, magazines, books…) and I talked more with different people. Besides my more relaxed life at that time, I was focused, a lot, and I accomplish some interesting things. Now I’m stuck, ideas don’t come out and I believe I’m stopped in time, compared to my life before working.
After the First World War, people start to compare themselves to machines at work. The more time you work the better and you need to work a lot of time because if not, machines will overpass you and substitute you. Since that time, work environment value the work time of employees and start to pay more if people work more hours. Do you think that these people that make efforts to work a lot of time and make the employee happy can accomplish some interesting things? Things that could make a leap in their life or in their work? Perhaps yes, but I believe that the probabilities are against them.
I believe this is something that the majority of people experience after starting the work life and enter into some sort of daily routines. Pressure to work more, stay focused 24 hours per day and be like a machine, is everywhere. If you are with your kids in the middle of the afternoon, you don’t work. If you are doing sports or meditate in the middle of the morning, you don’t work. If you’re doing something else besides being at your workplace, doing your function, you don’t work.
Perhaps this is my problem. I entered in this cycle of “more hours/more productivity” and now I’m stuck to leave it. I want to accomplish many things during my days, my weeks and my years, but I can notice that results are much different from the ones before starting my work life. I have the means, the network, the independence and the money to do cool things, as I never had before, but my cognitive and mental capacities are down.
I have searched a little bit, trying to find some explanations for this, perhaps relating the brain capacity and performance with this behavior and skills diminishing. One of the main things you can find is the reduction of productivity by hour with the increase in work hours. I think this is a commonly known thing, but does productivity decrease more than the increase in hours worked? In the short-term no. If in a week you work 10% more hours than the usual 40 hours/week you will experience only a 2,5% productivity reduction, but if you work more 25% as habit all the weeks, you will experience a reduction in your productivity greater than 25% after the eighth week. So if you work more hours as an exception during one of two weeks, it did will not be very harmful to you and your employee will appreciate if there is necessity for that, but if you do that as standard, the long-term effects will be very harmful to you, your employee and everyone around you.
There are other things you can try to implement to avoid a loss in your productivity and cognitive capacity. Besides the naps, doing different things along the day is good. When activities are similar, the effect is not the same as if they are very different. For example, if you are checking email and after that, you will do some text production in your computer, you will feel some kind of work continuation and not a break but if you are checking email and after play some music, it will be easier because they involve different thinking processes.
I will try to implement some things in my life, to improve my cognitive skills and productivity, as you should do. Alternate between different kinds of activities during the day and limit the number of hours doing one activity is the start. Limit the number of total work hours will be more difficult due to my internal feeling that if I’m relaxed and “doing nothing”, I’m not working towards my goals. Perhaps in this matter the better I should do is to implement Pareto Principle where 80% of my outcomes are produced by 20% of my activities. So if I can eliminate some activities from the 80% that only produce 20% of my outcomes, the impact is very low and I can free up my time.
Being busy and work a lot are not synonymous of productivity. With these simple rules, I only want to restore some of my cognitive capacity that I had before started working, because at the end I want to create a positive impact around me, in my clients, in my team, in my friends, and in my family.