We all want to know how to be more productive. How to squeeze more hours into every day, and squeeze more work into every hour. But this may be a counter productive approach, and the secret to increased productivity may look like your favourite chair and the TV remote. Stick with me, and I’ll explain…
The Iditerod is possibly the worlds most gruelling race. It’s an 1100 mile sled dog race across Alaska, and Susan Butcher was the boss of it for four consecutive years. However, when she first entered the race, she wasn’t expected to even complete the course, let alone crush the competition.
Firstly, Susan was a girl (duh!) and the Ideterod was a mans race, a real mans race where only the toughest, roughest most firm jawed man could even think about surviving the course.
Secondly, it was widely regarded (by all the real men competitors) that she babied her dogs. You see, the way the race was run was in 12 hour stints. Thrash the dogs hell for leather for half a day, rest all night, repeat for one week until you reached the end of the course. Susan did things differently. She raced for 4 hours, rested for 4 hours. Most of her rest time was taken up with caring for the dogs, so she was short on sleep. But the dogs were raring to go, and after all it was them who did all th running for 1100 miles, as opposed to sitting on a sled shouting ‘mush!’.
Susan was so successful that the first day of the race was named after her upon her death (from Leukemia).
Now I’m not suggesting that you work for 4 hours, and rest for for hours (though it worked for Leonardo DaVinci) but there is a lesson to be learned here – if you are well rested you win extreme niche races. So why is your business or job any different?
If you are like me, you not only love your work, but you feel guilty when you aren’t doing something – anything – work related. It’s ten o’clock on Tuesday night but there’s still time to get this site finished and get ahead of the game. In fact I used to work from 7am to 2 or 3am every day, working my day job and building my business consecutively. It ruined me.
My wife hated me, I did’t have a clue how to care for my diabetic son, I was in a shitty mood all the time, I had to leave work before I got fired, I was doing such a piss poor job. And I still didn’t stop. Starting work and 5am, working late. Well, I had to, I was self employed and someone had to get some money in, right? I gained customers, and I lost the quickly. Not good.
Then I changed. Firstly, my wife departed and I was in charge of a 9 year old with a condition that required 24 hour care. More than that, I was tired. Bone weary, knackered and totally bolloxed. But now I had a higher responsibility than just earning money, I had my beautiful son to care for, and this was top priority. Also I felt a bit down over my marriage break up.
So I got some help at work to do things I was struggling with. I got rid of my high maintenance low yield customers, and I started to meditate and practice yoga. I had to collect my lad from school, run the house, cook and clean. Working hours were severely limited. And you know what, my income started to go up!
By picking the customers and jobs I really wanted, by working set hours and then going and doing something else, be that the ironing or getting slaughtered on Halo or COD, my business was thriving. How come?
I was still tired, especially with the night time blood sugars and getting up to do my Yoga and be ready for school. But I wasn’t burned out any more. Yeah I still did some late nights and weekends, but only if it suited me and if everything else was sorted. I started to enjoy work, not just doggedly go through the motions for the sake of it.
I still feel that pang of guilt, but I know that an hour with Game of Thrones or getting out on the bikes will boost increase my productivity no end the next day. I’ll be focused, enthusiastic and loving it.
So go head, take a break and increase your productivity, ignore that guilt demon on your shoulder, he’s like Jon Snow – ‘He norrs nowt’.
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