To work less when you’ve heard the message “you need to work harder” so many times is so shocking How often do we wonder what kind of relationship do we have with work? Is it a functional and fulfilling one or on the contrary, have we become so dependent on it that we work so hard that we can barely see anything else than that? Or we are somehow caught up in work, but we are not efficient, we only postpone important tasks, but we like to be caught in a vicious circle, in which we are busy all the time. I think we’re hearing more and more about chronic fatigue, burnout, and exhaustion.
The last period brought with it beyond the feeling of strange, the one of of fear, anxiety, uncertainty and it is not surprising that many of us feel exhausted, without energy, dried up. Work dampens our emotions and is often a barrier that helps us move forward. It goes beyond the emotional suffering and creates the illusion that we are strong. How many times have we heard that we went to work in order to forget or to overcome certain feelings or events.
While keeping the work at the level of a defense mechanism only, aren’t we minimizing the benefits that might be extracted from it, offering so much of our energy and time? Personally, I believe that work is an important side of our life and personality, being the one that defines us, helps us create an identity, gives us a sense of control and independence. At the same time, I believe that it can make sense, enrich us as human beings, help us to transform and overcome, if we manage not to reach the stage where we do it robotically, only for removing our negative thoughts and emotions.
When the hours we spend working do not translate into satisfaction and results, we might feel the urge to take a break and it’s the best thing we can do in order to reflect and improve. Perhaps many of you will say that it is not so simple: responsibilities and duties are maintained like a vicious circle from which we feel that we can no longer get out. It is certainly not the healthiest alternative to have a sabbatical year tomorrow, not all of us can afford this luxury! However, how should we find balance, become satisfied again and regain our energy?
First of all, the solution is to try to work less and charge our batteries. Sometimes it’s best to work on sprints that are followed by breaks to recharge our batteries. In order to work less, we need to be more selective in term of established priorities. So we’ll have to choose from fewer things. But when it comes to choosing what to do, it is important to be aware of the progress that is being made. Many times we start to solve things and focus on small tasks that do not bring us value, but rather make us delay to solve what is important. At the same time, if we set a time limit – meaning that today I work a maximum of 8 hours instead of 9 or 10 – as I usually do, and focus on what is important, we will end up with this little pressure of time. The biggest challenge will be for us to respect the limit we have set ourselves – that is, to work the proposed number of hours and not more. There will always be other things to do and other projects in progress, and that it doesn’t mean we should feel any guilt, anxiety for not completing everything that day. It’s obviously a totally irrational thought that only keeps us addicted to our work.
A little trick to respect the self-imposed limit is to schedule a recreational activity, through which we regenerate our energy: we read, we walk or meet a friend. Then, having already a planned agenda, maybe an event or an already set schedule, we will have a motivation to be more efficient and to respect the established hours. This means starting to notice the dead, unproductive times, the “waste” in our working activity and doing everything we can to eliminate it, so that we can focus on what is a high priority and help us achieve our goals.