Bob's Gutsy Leadership Blog

Working Super Hard and Getting Nowhere?

A couple of years ago a management research firm did a massive survey of almost 100,000 people employed worldwide and surprisingly, almost a third cited “burnout” as a problem they were experiencing. In the study, “burnout” was defined as feeling ineffective and overwhelmed with work.

Further analysis found that individuals experiencing burnout were typically doing a poor job of managing their energy and time. While working very hard, they complained of constant interruptions, the need to constantly check their email, and no time for breaks.

The researchers concluded that people need to understand that the available energy an individual has is influenced by the choices they make. They made the following suggestions that can do wonders to increase personal energy and productivity:

1.) When individuals alternate between periods of intense focus and intermittent renewal, they are most likely to perform at their peak. – The renewal can take on all kinds of forms, such as getting up and wandering around the office a bit or running a quick errand. Taking a 20-minute walk, just to get some fresh air and relax, can be invigorating.

2.) During periods of intense focus, protect yourself from interruptions – That means avoiding distractions by closing down email and isolating yourself to the degree necessary to do the work you need to do. Too often in today’s world, we get into the habit of constantly reaching for the smartphone or tablet to check for messages and get pulled into distractions that obliterate any chance of achieving the kind of productive work we may have planned.

It is important for leaders to realize that for their people to execute these kinds of habits, the leader needs to encourage such behavior, which can be done in the following straight-forward ways:

1.) Set Expectations – Constantly make it clear to employees that the kinds of suggestions outlined above are highly encouraged. Make it clear that they don’t have to be a slave to email, believing it is necessary to immediately respond to email from peers and bosses. If something urgent comes up, people will find you.

2.) Encourage Focus – Constantly remind employees that they should not let distractions pull them away from spending uninterrupted time against the one or two highest priority items.

3.) Be a Role Model – The leader needs to behave just like the way he or she is asking employees to behave.

Today’s world is crammed full of distractions that waste time and energy. The above suggestions are simple and can help people perform at their peak on a regular basis.

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