We often fantasize about having more holidays or a four-day week or just some extra time away from work to spend with our families. However, when we actually have these extra days off how many times do we still check our emails, make a few calls or simply check in with subordinates to make sure everything is running smoothly?
Why not? We must work hard to see results. We must be resilient to succeed in our job and progress in our careers. These messages have been ingrained into our work ethic since early education. The perception that we must work long hours with little breaks and holidays to be resilient in work is clouded. Based on research from the Harvard Business review, the problem originates from the misunderstanding of what it means to be resilient and the resulting impact of overworking and exhaustion.
The word resilience often instills connotations that you have to be ‘tough’, such as an athlete picking themselves up after a defeat and trying again. We believe that the longer we stick at something, the tougher we become and therefore the success will follow. This entire concept has been proved to be scientifically inaccurate. The absence of a full recovery period from our busy schedules is, in fact, having an adverse effect on our ability to be resilient and successful. Studies have found there is a direct correlation between a lack of recovery and increased incidence of health and safety issues in the workplace; costing companies $62 BILLION a year in productivity.
What we fail to realise is just because we have ‘finished’ work for the day, it doesn’t mean that we have stopped. We can spend our evenings and weekends thinking about how we can improve our output or trying to find solutions for the problems we have encountered in work. When our body is out of balance with little rest, we waste huge proportions of physical and mental resources trying to restore the equilibrium.
Overworked and exhausted employees deliver the opposite of resilient employees. To be resilient, you need to ensure you recharge with as much effort as you put into your work; working hard, STOPPING, recharging and then trying this again.
In order to build resilience at work, you need to actively recover both internally and externally. Internal recovery relates to the shorter bursts of relaxation that take place in the working day, i.e. lunch and coffee breaks. External recovery, therefore, refers to the activities and time outside of the working day such as weekends, holidays and the free time between workdays.
The key is to make sure you minimise the distractions during your working day, such as checking constantly checking phone or looking at and replying to emails as soon as they come through to you. To help overcome this, set aside 60 minutes in your day where you solely focus on going through your high priority tasks without getting distracted by your phone or emails. You can download applications such as the ‘Flora’ app that reduces the temptation to go on your phone and times your session for you.
Increasing productivity in these dedicated working periods whilst ensuring you actively refresh in your internal and external non-working periods, will result in higher efficiencies and successes in your work. You must recover and refresh in order to build resilience – simple.
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