Is Your Working Not Working?!

During a particularly busy week, on an early morning train, I was working through my ‘to do on the train list’, (whilst my peppermint tea was getting cold), when a nagging feeling of ‘not wanting to be doing what I was currently doing’ came over me.

I ignored it of-course, I was too busy!  However the feeling didn’t go away.  After the nagging continued I chose to tune in and listen to it, I stopped working for 5 minutes to finish my tea (before it became stone cold), and stared out of the window. I then resumed my work – and felt much better for it! The nag was gone!
This week, research released by The Chartered Management Institute (CMI), has shown that in the UK Managers are working an extra 44 days a year over and above their contracted hours, which works out to an extra day per week, or 43.8 days per year, an annual increase of 4 days since 2015.
UK working hours remain higher than many other countries, however productivity lags behind, and engagement at work is low.  I don’t see much different in Australia or the US!
Is some of this contradiction, between working hours and productivity, about being stuck in ‘old’ ways of doing and being, working the way we think we should, or how we think we are expected to, rather than listening to what our personal energy and productivity is telling us?  Old habits that get us stuck, such as getting in before the boss, not leaving before them, never taking a lunch break.

I find that rigid and out of date cultures, working practices and management views maintain and compound this kind of behaviour.



In the same week as the CMI research, a BBC news article featured a London company, Normally Design, whose employees work a four-day week but are paid as if they were doing the traditional five days, and this is seen by its founder as ‘‘… key to the company’s success – they can be just as profitable in fewer hours, as employees work more efficiently. ”
The Independent has shared an enlightening story of working hour’s vs productivity from WW2:  a munitions factory that was working 78 hour per week had the working hours cut by 10 hours per week as the Government desperately needed greater production. The change led to an increase in output per hour, and in overall factory output.
Many of us don’t have the freedom to choose to work whenever or wherever we please, however how many of us are stuck in bad habits of working that mean our working days are longer and less productive than they need to be?  Presenteeism anyone? 

What habits are keeping your work not working?

  • How in touch are you with when you are most productive – are you a morning person or a night owl?  Schedule your work to fit in with your natural rhythms.
  • Do you make time for you, to rest and re-energise?  Diarise breaks into your working day or be conscious of just having a moment of pause.
  • Are you thinking about yourself too much – is there a ‘what’s in it for me?’ malaise hampering your business and personal growth?
  • If you are a manager, are you being a role model for others around efficient working and maintaining balance?  Or are you openly stressed or pretty loose and appear to do very little (ouch!).
  • Are you a slave to your ‘to do’ list and then feel you never accomplish anything – step back and focus on what you are really trying to achieve, where are you really adding value?
  • Is your email controlling you?
    Do you allow it to interrupt you when you are ‘in flow’ on another task (warning klaxon here – switch off email alerts!) and end up most of your day working through them?   What bold step can you take to control your email – eg ignore all you are cc’d on, only check emails at set times per day etc. have an email free day and encourage others to do the same.
  • Consider:  what is my personal impact on others and my business? Am I adding value and making an impact?  Create a personal mantra for what you want to achieve.
  • We’ve talked in a previous blog (The Price of Just Being in it For the Money!) about how having a purpose at work is linked to improved productivity and health;
  • Ask yourself, what is meaningful in what I do? And then focus on this more.
  • Identify what difference you really want to make in your role, in the company.  Make this happen.  Regularly review how you’re doing to get that positive feedback loop.
  • Create a purpose of being. How do I want to be as a co-worker, team member, and leader?

Choose to make the most of everyday, wherever you are, not just for yourself but for others too.

From Courageous Success Inspiration