This blog is part of the advice given by NEXT Careers Services of the University of Groningen. www.rug.nl/next
Time Off
After months filled with long workdays, I’ve been trying to win back some time. It’s been a demanding race to keep up with the responsibilities of a study and multiple jobs. I’ve vowed to not do that again. Every once in a while, I’ll need some time to catch my breath. Great choice, according to science. By deciding to do a little less every now and then, you’ll achieve more.

More and less
If you’re planning on getting more work done, try working less. During long workdays, your productivity and the quality of your work will suffer from stress and weariness. Fewer hours of work result in more outcome for each hour worked, but also in a greater total outcome at the end of the week. This notion came to light after multiple studies, including a study of the Stanford University. The Atlantic wrote a more accessible article on the same topic titled To Work Better, Work Less. An interesting read, if you can manage to find the time.

Defining limits
There’s an interesting philosophy behind our style of working and studying. We mostly seem to admire the people that devotedly stick to consecutive hours of work. Not many people will praise you for having short workdays. Surprisingly, a shift is noticeable in the business culture. The software company Menlo Innovations in Michigan forms an example of the current changes. Employees working more than 40 hours each week are frowned upon, instead of praised. Overtime isn’t considered a sign of devotion, but as proof of inefficiency. Inefficiency can be by-passed with our ability to define limits. Limits to the amount of hours during which we work. It’s a way to ensure that you won’t procrastinate on your work with the idea that you still have the entire day to do it. In the end, you’ll get more done. I can imagine it will even make you happier. Babauta wrote a convincing blog in praise of limits.

Fresh start
You might ponder on the feeling that you didn’t achieve much during the last days, and you might even have decided to make tomorrow your most productive day of the week. A day in which you’ll start working early in the morning and will keep working untill it’s late in the evening. But what if you planned on working only six hours? Or four? You’d probably be more selective about the tasks you devote your attention to. You might start of with the most important thing to do. Perhaps you’ll even discover a burning drive to keep up that fast pace. After all, four hours are over before you know it. You’ll have some energy left for the upcoming days, during which you could do the same thing. It quite likely that, at the end of the week, you’ve managed to get a larger portion of your work done than you would have if you had settled for limitless workdays.

On my way
A couple of months ago, my perspective started changing. I am still lead by the same enthusiasm when chasing after my ambitions. Every now and then, I still sleep too little, because I feel there are too many interesting things to be involved in. But I’ve discovered the necessary satisfaction retrieved from doing nothing. More and more, I understand that it helps to feel physically and mentally energized. It helps to keep hold of my enthusiasm and do the brainwork needed during work and study. Working without end certainly isn’t the best way to achieve more. Doing nothing can be a good thing, and I’m trying to accept that. I still have a long way to go, but I’m on my way.


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