Scott Anthony of Innosight published an excellent post on the Harvard Business Review blog. A frequent business traveler, Anthony used to focus on efficiency on the road: conference room, office, hotel room, room service. He wouldn’t even go out for dinner.
Partially influenced by Hal Gregersen and Jeffrey Dyer’s 2009 Harvard Business Review article entitled The Innovator’s DNA, Anthony decided to change his workaholic roadwarrior ways. He gets out a lot more now, and has seen huge benefits. Read the article for the specifics.
The underlying theme of his post is the way we spend time outside of work. He argues that while you’re on the road, you should get out into the culture. I’d like to bring that same concept home. I’m a huge advocate of short workdays. My employer is a large consulting company. About 75% of my co-workers fly in on Monday and fly out on Thursday. People work long, ridiculous hours.
I don’t believe those hours are good for them or for the company. Aside from a little face time, what are they really accomplishing? A late night on Tuesday means a slow morning on Wednesday. A life overwhelmed by work is often an unhappy life. Unhappy employees produce less.
Most of the benefit I bring to my job stems from things I do outside of work. That’s a bit of a counter-intuitive statement, but I stand by it. I’m more useful to my employer at home in the evenings than at work. While I’m at home, I read books and magazines, go out to eat, soak up culture, get things done, build websites, watch movies, and interact with other people. These activities teach me knowledge, develop skills, and expose me to ideas and beliefs. They also help me relax and refresh my mind.
Stop working. Go home. Gain a new perspective on life. Check some things off your to-do list. Relax. You’ll be a better employee because of it.