5 Ways to Work Smarter and Be More Productive
System 1 glosses over the details, makes impulsive choices, and uses emotionality to render judgment. This is one of the reasons why rushing and time urgency result in a lot of mistakes. They drive impulse, gut, and intuition, which are not always correct in the emotionality of a stressful moment. Stress creates shallow, impulsive thinking, which can lead to everything from irate clients to coworker arguments.
The belief is that there is no time for thoroughness. You are too busy for that. And, besides, you trust your unvetted gut. To get anything done at work, you need to have the discipline to show up and stay on task. The willpower to do that, known as self-regulation, is undermined by stress and demands that surpass coping equipment. When the emergency alarm is turned on, discipline crumbles as emotions take over. With less focus, it takes longer to do the job and more effort is needed, which increases cognitive load and strain.
Productivity takes a tumble. If you would like to explore them, please click the button below for more details. A Glassdoor survey found that half of American workers give back unused vacation time every year. An Australian or German vacationer would find it incomprehensible to give back a single hour of their allotment of four to six weeks. Wait a minute! You are actually going to voluntarily abbreviate your holiday?
No, that would be certifiable.
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Not taking all your vacation time is like handing back your paycheck, only worse, since you are handing back priceless items such as life experiences, which studies show make us happier than material things. The annual holiday is your best chance all year of fully partaking in the panoply of life opportunities free of duty and obligation. That's not going to sit well when you look back over your life.
We regret more the things we don't do than what we do.
Researchers call it "the inaction effect. The research tells us that not taking all our time off is a lose-lose, for you and the company. Studies show breaks of all kinds, from five minutes to two-week vacations increase productivity. Minds and bodies get rebooted after the recuperative time away from the source of stress. It takes less effort to get the job done when we come back to the job.
The tradition of the American vacation was actually started back in the s and s by companies as a productivity tool. Fatigue studies back then showed that when workers returned rejuvenated from their holiday, output increased. It was a factory era back in those days, so you might think, yeah, a physical break made sense.
Researchers say the brain goes down well before the body, and when it does, so does your chief productivity tool, attention. The source of productivity in the knowledge economy is a refreshed and energized brain.
Vacations provide recreation, as in re-creation, for your mental faculties. Its main dimension is exhaustion—mentally, physically, and emotionally. It's jammed with colorful fish, a snorkeler's dream, and devoid of something that usually interrupts our dreams: stress. What prevents Americans from taking all the time coming to them? Mostly unfounded fear and guilt, all-consuming busyness, digital addiction, and the inability to plan.
These are all conquerable obstacles. Defensive overworking. Fear kills vacation time by making people think that if they take all their vacation time, or take it all at one time, that they will be seen as a slacker. It could make them more expendable in the next round of layoffs. The reality is, though, that people who skip vacations get laid off like everyone else.
One woman I interviewed had been with her company for two decades, and had five weeks vacation as a result. Yet she only took a couple of long weekends off each year for fear of it making her seem too replaceable and not gung-ho enough. Then she got laid off. Now she wonders where her life went.
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Let your productivity and engagement at work speak for itself. Vacation denial is futile. All things change, all companies change. Live now or never. Email derangement syndrome. It seems implausible that people would actually forego vacation time because of too much email when they get back to their desks, but no.
This actually happens. Nobody likes a pile of email, but is a bunch of it really worth passing on your life? Many of the issues prompting the email will have been resolved by the time you get back. You can also designate someone else to take care of issues in your absence. Coworker guilt. I hear this one a lot.
People are afraid of burdening their coworkers and teams with extra work as a result of their taking time off, so they shave off vacation days here and there. If the time off is in your company policy, you are entitled to take it. The answer here is to have cross-training within teams and departments. This is one of the secrets to European vacations as well as holidays for those in the U.
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When they are on vacations, we pick up the slack for them. Cross-training builds tight teamwork like nothing else. You are grateful to your teammates who help you get your vacay, and they feel the same about you helping them get out and live. Companies who use cross-training report massive increases in teamwork and productivity. The "I'm-too-busy" mental block. I'm too busy to think about a holiday or plan a vacation. Ask yourself, am I too busy to live? Rote busy-ness also fuels mechanical momentum, which can lead to being so wrapped up in the day-to-day duties, that it appears all will fall apart without you.
As former vacation-skippers have told me, the job, the team, and the company did not implode when they finally took a long overdue vacation. It was just a fear, and fears have an abysmal track record as a predictive tool. Macho-rexia bravado.
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Many a vacation gets shrunk or tossed out of a belief that the job is a macho endurance contest. Whoever is left standing at p. In this view taking a vacation or one of any length is wimpy or weak. Like anorexia, macho-rexia is a self-driven affliction that comes from excess concern about what others think. Extreme hours and skipping vacations may get a clap on the back, but at what cost?
Toughness is an inside job—working smarter, not at the threshold of pain. Instead of bragging about late nights and weekends worked, try telling others about that bicycle trip in the wine country of California or what it was like to parasail. Researcher Leaf van Boven and colleagues have found that people like folks more who have experiences to share. Discover the power of the rapture of being alive as fully as you can experience it for as many days as you can squeeze in. Tags: leaving vacation time on the table , vacation time , vacations and life balance. Of all the health problems triggered by stress, few are more vetted in the scientific literature than the connection between stress and heart conditions.
A raft of studies have traced the link between job stress and cardiac issues alone. Those are all counterproductive for the individual and productive output, which is one of the reasons stress management needs to be given priority attention in any organization. The latest wakeup call on the toll taken by chronic stress comes from a massive study in Sweden that looked at , people with stress-related disorders and compared their cardiovascular issues, from heart attacks to blood clots, to their unstressed siblings.
In an article in the famed medical journal Lancet , Mika Kivimaki and colleagues Jaana Pentti, Jane Ferrie, David Batty, Solja Nyberg, and Marcus Jokela examined seven studies, covering , people, on the association between work stress and mortality and found that job strain in men with cardiometabolic disease which includes everything from angina, to stroke, insulin resistance, and diabetes has a higher rate of mortality than high cholesterol, obesity, lack of physical activity, and high alcohol consumption.
Why is stress so tough on the ticker and arteries? When the stress response is activated by demands, workload, or hours beyond your perceived ability to handle them, your body goes into life-or-death mode as if the year was , B. That means your heart has to beat faster and your blood pressure has to soar to pull this off. This keeps blood pressure constantly high, leading to the number one killer in the nation, cardiovascular disease. In this state of constant activation, the blood roars through arteries like water through a firehose, a velocity that can wear down the lining inside your arteries, causing craters to develop that attract clotting and vascular obstructions.
The blood races with such force that the body does something remarkable. It grows a thicker muscle layer around the arteries to keep them from flying around your body. These can then clamp down on the blood vessels, causing constrictions and cardiovascular events. Devices we overwork break down, whether they are smartphones, cars, or hearts.
Stress puts a lot of extra mileage on your cardiovascular system and particularly your heart. Continual high blood pressure and rapid heartbeat can cause a host of damage. The increased volume and velocity of blood balloons and inflames vessels, injuring them, and increases the odds that plaque and cholesterol will find their way to injured sites.