Melbourne-based authors Shannah Kennedy and Lyndall Mitchell want you to stop working so hard.
Not because they're lazy, but because a recent study found that working more than 39 hours a week puts your health at risk.
Kennedy is a business and life strategist to CEOs and athletes, and Mitchell is a wellness coach (and founder of Aurora Spa group). Together they provide coaching on work-life balance to high powered execs (including with the CEOs of Deloitte, Sportsgirl, Kikki K and NAB).
Chaos to Calm is their latest book which looks at how to realistically re-think the work week -- teaching us how to say 'no' more often, cut down on obligations and manage the stress of working life.
"Many people don't use their diary efficiently and take control of time, so they end up feeling like they are on the treadmill of life," Kennedy told The Huffington Post Australia.
Kennedy's personal story resonates strongly with this topic. She herself was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome after working the crazy hours brought on by her demanding around-the-clock roles of management, PR and sponsorship working with around 100 athletes.
"We encourage people to get out of the passenger's seat of the car and jump into the driver's seat. Part of getting in the driver's seat is creating clarity and ensuring that they take some ownership of time. When we are not using time efficiently we can instantly feel out of control and that starts a path on the stress train."
The main points to be considered are:
- Work out what should be your non negotiables that don't incude work, such as exercise, food preparation, time out.
- Book in your tasks that support you and allow you to thrive like they are essential, important meetings.
- Use your diary to take ownership of your day.
- Plan ahead and don't exist day to day. Book in and commit to what makes you happy and makes you feel confident in life.
Getting started on making changes (and prioritising yourself) can seem overwhelming. Kennedy and Mitchell suggest starting with these easy and instant tweaks:
- Create some space in your diary. Block out time for yourself, to work on yourself and do what you need to feel back on control.
- Challenge yourself to have technology-free lunches.
- Learn the art of breath. Learn to breathe properly, to gain back some calmness and balance and refuel your body with oxygen.
- Reconnect with people. Talk to people and work on your friendships to fuel the soul again.
- Look at it like this: There are 72 x 20 minutes blocks every day. You can easily take just one of these for yourself.
In terms of doing the same amount (and quality) of work in less time, Kennedy and Mitchell believe it is absolutely possible. In fact, they encourage their clients to work a 4.5-day week.
"It is absolutely possible to get the same work done in less time. Focus is key. By getting rid of distraction we can do incredible work in incredible time."
Try implementing these changes:
- Do the hardest task first thing. Stop procrastinating and do what you don't like doing first. The rest of the day will be more productive.
- Tackle the 'too-hard basket' first thing in the morning. For example, exercise before work, journal before work, do the 'hard pile' at work first before you have a coffee.
- Focus on what is essential. If it is not essential, should it be on the list?
- Sharpen your to-do list with not doing more, but doing what will bring the best results.
- Get rid of the clutter and distraction. Have a clean out or tidy up and get refocused and you will feel energised and motivated to smash your goals.
Other tips Kennedy and Mitchell emphasis is the love hate battle a lot of us have each day with technology.
"Set technology boundaries. Technology can be your master or your servant. Have clear boundaries around when you check "in" and when you check "off" for the day. This creates space for you to unwind and connect with yourself or others, authentically. This is the biggest tip of all," Mitchell said.
"Technology-free bedrooms give yourself a time to switch on and a time to switch off to allow some space and recovery."
Lastly, weigh up ways you could learn more, and in turn, earn more.
"It's about education versus entertainment. If you would like to increase your salary, then increase your learning. We can spend so much time being entertained rather than educating ourselves and upskilling in areas you would like to evolve. You can have conversations with some of the greatest minds in the world through books, or audio or paper. Learn from those wise minds that have been before us."
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