Why Working More Is Making You Less Productive

Your downtime is more precious than you think.
April 21, 2016

You could be much more efficient, productive and happy if you changed the way you view the hours in your day. Many of the business leaders and Harvard students I work with exhibit the telltale symptoms of the “workaholic’s curse.” They consider time spent away from work as a hindrance to their productivity, so they squander it.

Related: 8 Ways to Balance Your Workload for Max Productivity

As one CEO told me: “I wanted to be productive because that’s what makes me happy, so I tried to maximize the time I spent working. But as I later realized, I had too narrowly defined what ‘being productive’ was. I started to feel guilty when I did anything that wasn’t work. Nothing else—not exercise, time with my wife or relaxation—was productive. So I never had time to recharge my batteries, which meant that, ironically, the more I worked, the more my productivity plummeted.”

If we view free time as unproductive, then we will waste it. Allowing ourselves to engage in activities we enjoy can greatly enhance our work performance. But simply doing them is not enough to see results—you have to appreciate them, too.

When your brain considers family dinner, Sudoku, fantasy baseball or a phone call with a friend a waste of time, you won’t be able to reap its benefits. But if you change your mindset so that you conceive such free time as a chance to learn new things, recharge your batteries and reconnect with others, you’ll be able to leverage the power of that rest time and return stronger than before.

Related: Want to Be Successful? Do These 7 Things in Your Spare Time

 

This article appears in the May 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

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