If you work more than 40 hours a week, you’re not alone. Americans spend an average of 8.8 hours per day, or more than half their waking hours on work and work-related activities, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In addition, 80% of the American workforce are in jobs that require little or no physical activity and 78% of the American workforce reports that their job is stressful. The result is an overstressed, burnt-out workforce with little-to-no time for health-promoting activities.
Now it’s summertime, the kids are out of school, backyard barbeques, poolside hangouts, lake trips, and dinners al fresco are calling your name. Summer may have started, but your workload hasn’t eased.
What if I told you that you can be as or more productive by working fewer hours? Evidence has shown that long work hours lower cognitive function and that you are significantly less productive per hour the longer you work. Here are 6 tips on staying productive and healthy during your 40+ hour work week, so you can focus on checking off that summer bucket-list:
1. Give Permission to Take Breaks
As much as we’d love to believe we can stay focused and productive for hours at a time, that is false. A research study found that after every 52 minutes of work you should take a 17 minute break. Regularly taking a 17-minute break is proven to make your working minutes even more productive!
How can you help employees feel more comfortable stepping away from their desk? Grokker CEO Lorna Borenstein leads by example -- she will occasionally join the after-lunch walking group or stretch break to demonstrate the importance of down time.
2. Don’t Idolize Multi Tasking
Anytime I hear someone bragging about their ability to multi-task I have to resist the urge to tell them that rapidly switching between tasks is torpedoing their focus and effectiveness. People who focus on one task at a time consistently outperform self-proclaimed multi-taskers. So, if you’re guilty of task switching, stop trying to do too much at once! Take the time to focus on one task and move on only once it’s completed.
If you’re serious about your improving your productivity and enjoying your summer more, you can’t ignore your regular exercise routine. Not only does exercise blast away stress, it improves concentration and overall brain functioning, oh and increases your lifespan for enjoyable times after your work is done.
4. Get Enough Sleep
The summertime may add even more activities to your agenda, but it’s important to still make time for sleep. Your body is doing a lot while you’re asleep, including repairing muscles, processing memories, and releasing hormones to regulate growth and appetite. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation drastically reduces your ability to focus effectively, so make sure you’re getting more than 7 hours each night to stay productive!
5. Create a Summer Bucket List
Maybe it’s one thing you want to do each week like attend the summer Wednesday night farmers market in your neighborhood, or gather the family for a weekend trip to the lake. Whatever it is, commit to it just like any other meeting on your calendar. Not only will you enjoy your days more, but your employer will thank you, as research shows that employees work more effectively, creatively and collaboratively when they are happy.
6. Take Vacation Days
According to a recent research study, 55% of Americans let their vacation days go to waste. Contrary to popular belief, the study shows that your vacation will improve your energy and outlook upon returning to work. Just be sure to plan at least a month in advance, and include relaxation into your vacation plans to ensure stress-free days away from the office.
Google Vice President Lisa Gevelber shared how she handles summer vacations with her staff in the latest episode of the Secrets from Silicon Valley webinar series. “Every single time I go on vacation, I send my staff a note that says “take care of each other,” Lisa said. “They don’t need me, they need each other. So I tune out and leave technology behind for the entire vacation to give my staff permission to do the same.”