It often seems like productivity plummets as everyone “checks out” between Thanksgiving and the new year. Schools are busy with end-of-semester exams and holiday parades. People at bigger companies are taking their accumulated vacation days so they don’t lose them. Investors are enjoying the holidays and usually not interested in making new commitments until after the new year.
It’s tough for an entrepreneur to keep up the momentum with sales, fundraising, and other crucial activities. But we still have to make payroll!
The Rat Race
I used to mark the holiday season as the time for “catch up.” I would respond to the less urgent requests and projects, and get my email inbox to zero. I cleaned up my files and attended to paperwork that I had been avoiding for too long.
I started the new year feeling smug and organized. But that never lasted for long, and as my email inbox jammed up I wondered why I had bothered.
There’s always going to be a backlog of work to be done. There’s always another email to compose, another investor update to send, another sales call to make. Most entrepreneurs want to feel as if they are doing everything possible to make their business succeed and don’t take time off for themselves. But counter intuitive as it may seem, the real secret to increased efficiency at work might actually be in working less—and resting more.
How Resting Improves Productivity
- Resting keeps your brain healthy: Just like every other part of your body, your brain needs rest to function properly!
- You learn to get more done in less time: Studies have shown that taking time off from work does actually increase your efficiency when you are in the office.
- You make better decisions: When you are fatigued, tired, and grumpy, it’s hard to make thoughtful and well-informed decisions.
- Rest keeps your body healthy: Rest allows your immune system to stay healthy and fight off the flu, colds, and more severe illnesses.
- You have time to review and reflect: Stop spinning your wheels! When you can reflect on how to improve your processes, you can find clever and creative ways to work more efficiently and effectively.
- Catch up on your sleep: Sleep deprivation is known to decrease productivity, health, and effectiveness.
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
The last couple of years, I’ve taken off more time at the holidays. Really taken the time off. No email, no work. I put a jigsaw puzzle on the dining room table, and my family spends some very pleasant hours chatting while fitting pieces into place (and often debating whether all the pieces are there.) I enjoy a few extra workouts. And a massage. And a walk on the beach.
When I return to work in the new year, there are emails in my inbox and some paperwork to complete. But I feel refreshed, motivated, and excited to dig in!
Image courtesy of Nikki Navta.