Could working less be the key to success?

Rachel Baker

Picture an entrepreneur, and you may well imagine a caffeine-fuelled whirlwind who burns the candle at both ends. Setting up and running a business is hard work – there’s no doubt about it. But does that mean business owners should push themselves to the limits to achieve success?

According to a growing number of founders – no, it doesn’t. In fact, there’s an increasing number of people who are finding that working less, getting enough rest and looking after yourself isn’t just “nice to do” – it actually makes your business more successful.

Breaking the mould.

The corporate world has drummed into all of us that more work = more money. We’re made to feel like we should be productive 100% of the time. Even as a founder who technically has the power to decide their own working day, you feel a social pressure to always be working.

But at the end of the day, we’re not machines. As a founder, you ARE the business, meaning your brain is a valuable resource. You need to look after it, not run it to the ground, if you’re going to be successful in the long term.

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, the author of “Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less”, states that taking more breaks from work increases our capacity for thought, innovation and productivity. In fact, while sometimes it might feel that we’re not doing anything, during times away from your desk, your brain is still ticking away processing and problem-solving. There’s a reason so many good ideas come to us in the shower.

Yet despite these facts, working less is often seen as taboo or perceived as lazy. Founders may feel embarrassed to admit that they don’t start work until 10:30, only work a few hours a day, or take an afternoon nap. But if it works for you and your business, then why not?

Ways to work less:

You know best how your business will work for you. But here’s a bit of inspiration for how you can design a different kind of work day to get more rest and boost your productivity.

  • Have a late start

Not a morning person? You don’t have to be! If you struggle in the morning and that extra hour or two will leave you feeling more energized the rest of the day, why not start a bit later than you’re “meant” to?

  • Take a long lunch break

Just because it’s often called a “lunch hour” doesn’t mean it has to be an hour. You need to eat, decompress, maybe even walk the dog. Take all the time you need to set yourself up for the afternoon.

  • Have a nap

The mid-afternoon energy dip isn’t just you. We all have a circadian cycle that dictates our energy levels, and it’s normal to feel sleepier and less alert in the afternoon. Why not lean into it and take a nap? You probably weren’t going to get much done anyway.

  • Schedule in rest activities

Resting doesn’t have to be sleep. Engaging your brain in something creative, taking a walk or doing some exercise are great ways to give your brain a rest. Scheduling activities like this into your work week can help break up more intense work and give you a much-needed break.

Remember you’re the boss!

Purpose-driven leaders often do what they do to make the world a better place. But whatever your lofty goals for saving the world, you need to look after yourself in the process. The great thing about running your own business is that you’re the boss – so take advantage of that and find a work day that works for you!
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