May 23rd, 2009 4:41 PM by Lehel Szucs
Work Wisely: Work Less Hours, Make More Money - By Gabriela Cora, MD, MBA
In an ideal world, we would dedicate eight hours of our day to work, another eight to enjoy recreational activities, and the last eight hours to sleep. The true question is, how many of you live in the ideal world?
Instead, in the real world, most people work 12 to 16 hours every day, with little recreational time and with less sleep. Forget about taking any vacation during the financial crisis. People worry about keeping their job, lay-offs, foreclosures, and downsizing.
While people are doing the work of two or three employees these days, being on the go 24/7 is counterproductive to high performance and increased productivity at work. Even athletes know that their performance will start to decrease if they train too hard or for too long.
This is no different at work. Have you ever experienced feeling stuck on a particular computer program or document, and you try and you try again completely frustrated? You then realize you've been trying to resolve the problem for two hours. You decide to take a break, refresh your mind, you do something else, and when you return to the computer, you resolve the two-hour problem with two clicks in a couple of minutes. Your mind had gotten stuck, and although the answer was right in front of you, you couldn't see it because you were focusing on the problem, not the solution.
In some instances, people work so much that the pressure starts taking a toll on their health. Many don't seek help until they are experiencing medical problems. Although stress can be motivating and inspiring, too much stress may trigger anxiety, depression, headaches, increased blood pressure, or gastrointestinal problems.
Why does this happen? When we over-exhaust our bodies or our minds, instead of producing more and increasing our earnings, we run out of ideas, unable to think of positive ways to resolve our challenges. We get stuck on the problems and have trouble looking at all options for a positive resolution. Instead, when we keep busy but are able to refresh our minds, we are then better able to make sound decisions that will have a positive impact on our ability to build our wealth.
The following are some tips to assist you as you strive to increase your earnings while working fewer hours:
1) Think of effective hours of work rather than number of hours of work. You may believe that you are the only one who can do everything that you do, but keep track of your activities. You will be surprised when you realize how you distribute -- or waste -- your time.
2) Set up clear priorities.Make sure that you achieve what is high on your list and that you discard the actions that have been on your list but haven't been done in months or years. It's time to let go. If you claim that everything is an emergency, you will fall in the trap of responding to fires all the time rather than creating ways to increase your earnings.
3) Have a plan.Most people don't have a plan, and many who do leave it in the drawer without checking their progress. By having a plan, you can constantly follow your progress and decide whether you are achieving your desired goals and earnings. Without a plan, you will end up busy and exhausted and will continue to have more busyness and exhaustion. If you have never created a plan, this is a great time to start.
4) Cut down your working hours from 16 to 12 or from 12 to 10. What would you do if you were forced to work less hours and be more efficient with your time? Unfortunately, many feel pressured to do this after they have become too sick to work many hours or when life circumstances have impacted upon their ability to work. By creating a sense of urgency and efficiency, you can force yourself to become more focused, more effective, and more productive.
5) Find effective ways to relax: Eat, exercise, sleep, and relax. If you are an executive or entrepreneur and you are leading under pressure, you will need to find and integrate times to eat, exercise, sleep, and relax in your busy schedule. Avoid too much caffeine during the day and the negative cycle of daily caffeine and alcohol or hypnotics at night. It is not a matter of whether someone who is overworked will exhaust his or her energy; it's a matter of time: When will they burn out? Learn relaxation techniques including guided imagery or meditation. Listen to music or find a hobby. In addition to these strategies, exercising is a must for busy corporate warriors and business owners. Repetitive exercises tend to be the best to help de-stress. Others prefer Yoga and Tai Chi. Nothing beats sleeping well at night.
About the Author:
Gabriela Cora, MD, MBA works with people and companies that want to be healthy while they become wealthy. She is author of The Power of Wellbeing Series: "Leading under Pressure," "Managing Work in Life," and "Quantum Wellbeing." Dr. Cora is a wellness coach, corporate wellness expert, licensed medical doctor with a master's in business administration, board-certified psychiatrist, and trained mediator. She's president of The Executive Health & Wealth Institute, based in Miami, Florida. Visit her site at http://www.executivehealth.com