How important are the zzz’s?
Can more or less of it make you productive and your business more profitable?
With the UK questioning the reasons why productivity is waning in comparison to other European and global economies, our own productivity as business owners is often overlooked. It is something that I discuss with my own clients and, if you are running at 75% of your own potential or capabilities, this can have a negative effect on your business. So, I wanted to look at the reasons that effect the business leaders’ performance in more detail. Fatigue is certainly a commonality among the collective of business owners in the UK and, I suspect, other political distractions are certainly taking their toll where fatigue is concerned.
Our sleep patterns
Getting an optimal amount of sleep boosts our moods and infuses our bodies with extra energy. This impacts positively on our productivity and performance in the work place and, ultimately, our businesses benefit from a productive leader. The negative to this is sleep deprivation or irregular sleep patterns.
A study conducted in the US found that sleeping less than six hours is one of the best indicators of on-the-job burnout. The study further emphasized that sleep deprivation costs American companies, and the US economy in general, $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity. With those figures you have to question not only yourself in regards to optimum performance but also that of your staff. Like you, staff need the time to rest and recuperate in order to perform. Let’s understand why…
Improved memory:Getting enough rest is important for cementing information and what you have learnt during the previous day. Basically, it affects your recall or memory which, in turn, creates a loss of efficiency in your work practices.
Decision-making:As a leader, you will know that good decisions come from a position of rationality. Sleep deprivation brings on emotional imbalance which, in turn, means your decision-making is slower and less accurate. The old adage of ‘let me sleep on it’ has further connotations, in the fact you will be able to create clearer thoughts around your decision with some well-earned rest and respite from the daily grind of running a business. Also, a good rest enables you to improve your accuracy and speed when making those daily decisions.
Fewer mistakes:Mistakes can certainly be costly, not just financially or impacting negatively on client relationships, they are also very time consuming to rectify. Research has shown that good sleep patterns reduce the mistakes you, or indeed your staff, will make in their daily routines.
The wider issue of rest and recuperation
One of the other common traits of us business owners is a lack of time off. When you think about this further, the minimum holiday entitlements and standards of working rights are there to protect employees from unscrupulous employment practices but also provide the basis of health and wellbeing in the work place. They underline minimum rights inline with the need to create a healthy working environment. They exist to also promote the well-being and prosperity of a business. This is exactly why we are now seeing political debate around reduced hours in a working week or, indeed, the debate around the benefits in working a four-day week. The research around productivity is part of the process of why we are exploring these potential changes.
Time off to recharge and, indeed, to think clearly is absolute paramount to business success. When I take a holiday, I look to clear my own head to allow in some new thoughts and strategies. It’s a great time to reflect on my own performance in my business as well as further thoughts on how clients can do the same.
Coming back to the work place refreshed is an invigorating position that breeds new ideas and suggestions for improvements in your business. If you haven’t taken a holiday in the past six months, I would certainly suggest the need to do so.
‘Recent research has highlighted that the vast majority of business owners and leaders report working more than 50 hours per week. Nearly 20% report working 60 hours or more and almost 80% suggest they work too much.’
Is this you?
What steps can you take to make the necessary improvements that impact on your performance?
One of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs is balancing their lives between work and leisure time. The following provides recommendations on how you can make the changes you need that will proactively improve your productivity, whilst improving your work/life balance…
Prioritising your activity: As a leader, there is a natural demand on your time from yourself and those around you. Prioritisation is the process of clearing out the noise that continually impacts on your level of productivity.
Delegation:Not much to be said here that we don’t already know. The trait for most business owners is to do it themselves because we think we can do it quicker or better. However, we all need to learn the art of delegation and entrusting important activities and decisions to those around us. By doing so, naturally the wider team takes greater responsibility for the decisions and the success of our business.
Schedule:Those that work with me will fully appreciate just how meticulous I am with my schedule. In reality, I cannot afford not to be as diligent as I am. Scheduling every aspect of your daily routine, and sticking to that schedule, will create more time for you to carry out those tasks, but also increase efficiency. You will get more done. In turn, this provides you with a perfect excuse to take an early exit from the business, knowing you have achieved a great deal during the day.
Lastly… it is so important for all business owners to create a routine which includes a good amount of rest, whether that is a statutory recommended 8 hours per night, and/or taking regular holidays in order to clear your thoughts. Invariably, we all know when we are overdoing it, working too many hours, feeling fatigued and not performing as we should. The research around this is extensive and I would urge every business owner to look at huge changes in your routine if that is what you need to do or, at the very least, incremental changes and improvements that will positively impact on you, your performance, your health and your business!