As my dear friend and 4D colleague Katie Churchman once reminded me – write from where you’re at. I think right now a lot of us are at a tired, depleted place. 2021 feels like it has got off to a sluggish start but instead of slamming our foot down hard on the accelerator in an attempt to push through, I am going to make the case for why this might just be the time to take your foot off the gas and how that could be a very good thing. Dare I say it – a positive thing!
It somehow feels like we are in suspended animation at the beginning of this year. Of course, this won’t be the same for everyone – the incredible NHS workers, and individuals I work with through Frontline19, certainly won’t feel like things are slow to get going this year.
A friend of mine said – this year so far feels like wading through treacle but maybe that’s okay. Maybe this is a chance to step off the hamster wheel, reassess the busy trap and listen to physical exhaustion as a message to do things differently.
Here are a few things to think about as we wade through treacle in the attempt to gear up and energise into 2021…
How much energy you have at any one time is key to understanding whether you can go into super productive mode or whether you need to be efficient with your energy usage. When you are depleted, you might need to be more ‘energy smart’ about where you choose to invest the power available to you.
2. Effort vs Value
As Researchers from the University of London and ESCP Europe Business School found – over-working doesn’t necessarily pay off and can lead to dissatisfaction, less promotions and low recognition due to burn out and quality of work suffering. How can we work with less effort but with more valuable, noticeable and impressive results? Rather than slogging through a 60 hour week – stop and reflect on where is your energy placement going to be most valuable? Where and for whom can you create the most value?
3. Smart and Lazy
Bill Gates was supposedly quoted as saying “I always choose a lazy person to do a hard job, because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.” In business these individuals would be your super stars – your progressives, your innovators and your real strategic thinkers. When you take a look at your growing To Do list…rather than ploughing through it, how can you place yourself in the superstar category of lazy/intelligent and find smart, innovative solutions that surprise and impress? How can you create high visible value rather than high invisible workload?
Another way to think about this is Pareto’s 80/20 rule. In brief – Pareto studied a wide range of phenomena and discovered that most often 80% of output comes from only 20% of input. If you look at your input, what 20% of effort is actually producing 80% of your productivity and success? What 80% of your effort that is only producing the other 20% of your output – could you ditch?
5. The 4 hour week
By being more efficient with your energy, you have more time to really live in and enjoy the present moment. I make reference here to Tim Ferris’s book and philosophy – The 4-Hour Work Week. Tim is a strong advocate of ‘live now.’ He tells his readers not to be ‘deferrers’ and sacrifice their lives to the idea of retirement when they’re older. So – what if you were paid a super high hourly rate and a company only got four hours of your time? As you are being so well paid for that 4 hours…how would you give the business the maximum value of your talents and energy? How could you apply that to your normal working week?
6. Go with the flow
To go back to the treacle analogy – like in water – when we try to run through treacle, we get pushed back, feel blocked, and get stuck. However, when we take our time and glide through the liquid, it can feel effortless, in sync with our environment. Therefore, if the world is offering you a different energy field right now, maybe don’t fight it, rather work with it. Perhaps it’s time to stop identifying with the amount of ‘effort’ you make. That somehow prolonged effort and a 60-hour week is a badge of honour and makes you a worthwhile human being. Perhaps it’s time to take off that false badge of honour and start identifying as efficient, smart, creative, discerning, lazy and intelligent. Not the person who gets lost in three days of a grinding powerpoint build, but someone who is so creatively efficient they suddenly have a lot more hours in the day for themselves.
So, maybe it’s time to take your foot off the gas, enjoy the view and think about…what you are going to do with all that time …
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