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September 25, 2006

How To Get More Done — By Doing Less

September 25, 2006 | By | 5 Comments

Work hard, nose to the grindstone, work long hours — and you will succeed.

This is a lie.

Further,

mae_west_yoest.jpg

Mae West Everyone does it. And no one seems to want to stop.

Too much of a good thing can be wonderful, said Mae West.

Or is it?

An unusual trend among working people, is that people love to work and spend a lot of hours at the work they love. Every small business owner I have ever advised worked non-stop. And perhaps complained. And then would ask me about that work-family balance nonsense. But soon would excuse herself to answer an important cell call. (There are no unimportant cell phone calls.)

Non-stop work is bad for your health and bad for your productivity.

Studies show that working 21 continuous hours has the same effect as being drunk. Yes — working too much is a real high.

Among industrialized nations, none work more hours than the US of A. The two-martini lunch has been replaced with jolts of caffeine; to stay awake. Americans don’t drink to escape from work and sleep; we remain at work awake and become drunk. Intoxicated with labor. Starbucks has replaced Archie’s Bar.

And no one works harder or more hours than the boss. And you, the small business owner, will openly admit to working harder and more hours than any one.

Martyr.

(No one likes martyrs, that’s why they killed so many of them.)

Your Business Blogger would suggest that business productivity and employee health can be improved by working fewer hours.

Heresy.

I know. I wouldn’t want to stop either. But I have a trick. An answer to those 60-hour work weeks.

Put those hours into 6 days; not 7. Take a day off. Yes, yes, one whole day.

Stay with me now. Businesses actually have this as policy.

Chick-fil-A, with 1,250 restaurants and sales of almost $2 billion, takes a day off: closing up on Sundays.

Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, made the decision to close on Sunday in 1946 when he opened his original restaurant…in Hapeville, Georgia. He has often shared that his decision was as much practical as spiritual. Operating a 24-hour a day business left him exhausted. Being closed on Sunday allowed him time to recover physically, emotionally and spiritually…

It doesn’t have to be a Saturday or a Sunday. When I was working restaurants I took Tuesdays off. It matters not the day.

But pick a day. Then don’t work it.

Many business owners have pestered Your Business Blogger for a set of rules on what is work or not. Because work and play are the same for all North Americans. My only suggestion for your weekly day off:

Be Unproductive.

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Chick-Fil-A

Family Friendly Leave productivity and production and whatever work is to the other six days. On that one special day: give it a rest.

Oddly, I would suggest no prohibition on exercise. We should sweat on our day of relaxation. (This is America.) Sweating and exercise are acceptable unless your day job is in the NBA or the Golf Pro Tour.

And to make sure it works, find a friend who will hold you accountable. Which you should be doing for business, anyway.

Be accountable to your private board of directors or mentor. Or better: spend the day with kith and kin. You will be more productive — in work and perhaps, in your marriage.

So. To be more productive. Do nothing, one day a week.

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Update 25 July 2011, An Alert Reader sends this along, circulating on the web:

A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience; with a raised glass of water, and everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, ‘half empty or half full?’….. she fooled them all…

“How heavy is this glass of water?”, she inquired with a smile.

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how

long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem.

If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm.

If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance.

In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

She continued, “and that’s the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.”

“As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again.

When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden – holding stress longer and better each time practiced.

So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night…. pick them up tomorrow.

Whatever burdens you’re carrying now, let them down for a moment.

Relax, pick them up later after you’ve rested. Life is short.

Enjoy it, and the now ‘supposed’ stress that you’ve conquered ! ”

1 * Accept the fact that some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue!

2 * Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

3 * Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

4 * Drive carefully… It’s not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.

5 * If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

6 * If you lend someone and never see that person again, it was probably worth it..

7 * It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

8 * Never buy a car you can’t push.

9 * Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won’t have a leg to stand on.

10 * Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.

11 * Since it’s the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

12 * The second mouse gets the cheese.

13 * When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.

14 * Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

15 * You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

16 * Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.

17 * We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull.

Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

18 * A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

19 * Have an awesome day and know that someone has thought about you today.

20 * It was me, your friend!

Was this helpful? Do comment.

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Thank you (foot)notes:

Chick-fil-A was just recognized by the Family Research Council for a family friendly; marriage friendly workplace. More at the jump.


The Family that Fil-A’s Together . . .

. . .stays together. Or, at least that’s the hope of S. Truett Cathy, founder of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain. Cathy has implemented family-friendly policies for the 600 employees at his Atlanta-based company. Mr. and Mrs. Cathy themselves have been blessed by a 57-year marriage, an inspiration for some of the pro-marriage seminars their company offers as part of its standard benefits package. Scott Stanley of Denver’s Center for Marital and Family Studies agrees. He notes that levels of conflict at home are related to productivity and absenteeism on the job. Even more important, S. Truett Cathy’s 900 franchise restaurants publicly honor God by closing their doors on Sundays. May God bless the Cathy family and I say to them: thank you for all you do for America’s families.

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Comments

  1. Amen bro! 🙂 I would also add to actually take a vacation from your work, especially if you are a business owner. It was a killer for me last week to not bring my laptop, but what was very cool was that being away from it for a week aloud me to actually relax and vacate…on of all things…vacation 🙂

  2. Thank you, Jack, for some more words of wisdom. I enjoy your blog and appreciate the tips you share since my husband and I own our own small business. We have both been guilty of working too many hours, too many days.

  3. Stacy, you are so right about the vacation. We Americans just don’t do them – and need to.

    Perhaps we could start a trend: a Sabbath once a week; a Sabbatical every seven years.

    It certainly works in academia…

    …oh, bad example.

    Nevermind.

    Thanks for your comment,

    Jack

  4. Excellent points. Workaholicism is not the answer. Did that–didn’t work. As Peter Drucker would say, “Focus on being effective during your work hours.” Then go home and enjoy your family.

    Regards,

    Glenn

  5. Glenn, Thanks for the Drucker Tip — one of our motto’s is “Don’t work too hard” — if you can’t get your work done in six days, the seventh won’t help.

    Thanks again,

    Jack

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