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Are We Pushing Ourselves Into Being Less Productive Workers?

Casey Wright

I don’t know about you, but for me, the daily grind gets tiring from time to time. Work gets busy, commutes get long, and when you get home, there’s dinner to be made, personal emails to catch up on, your mother to call, 90 hours of DVR judging you, and that NYT’s best seller getting dusty on your nightstand. And those are the days that you have ‘nothing’ after work. A lot of our CJPeeps have ‘extracurricular’ activities, too; marathon training (and fundraising for the charity you’re running for), volunteer work, evening classes, concerts at Brooklyn Bowl, and a few of our employees have kids—a full time job in itself. Then there’s the problem of falling asleep; even if I am home and in bed at a decent time it is almost impossible to ‘rest’ with the reflections of the day’s activities, mental preparation for tomorrow’s, and that triple shot vanilla latte from my 3pm run to Starbucks FINALLY kicking in. Inevitably, the alarm goes off way too early, and I am a little less “up” and a little less “at ‘em” than I was the day before.

How does one keep up?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I LOVE my job! If I was a person who didn’t thrive on a busy lifestyle, I wouldn’t have moved to New York from the quiet suburbs in Michigan, I wouldn’t work in fast paced environment like a PR firm, and I wouldn’t be begging my bosses for new projects every day. But it does catch up to me every once in a while, and it seems like a vicious cycle. The busier I am, the more I feel stuck at my desk, the more tired I become, the slower I do my work, the longer it takes, the more piled up my work becomes, the busier I am…

I’ll admit it. When I’m tired I’m not nearly as organized. My creativity is… what’s the word... lacking. My memory seems to fail me. And that “how may I help you” when I answer the phone is less than genuine. And I know I’m not alone. Arianna Huffington, recently ranked #31 most powerful women by Forbes, is right there with me.

Huffington, in an interview at the Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit, tells Chelsea Handler, “I fainted from exhaustion, and hit my head on my desk, and broke my cheekbone and got five stitches on my right eye.  And that's what started my love affair with sleep.”

Sometimes 24 hours in a day just doesn’t feel like enough. 5:30pm comes with to-do list that’s only half checked off. But according to Huffington, “if we actually could up our sleep portion every day, we would become wiser…. We have so many leaders at the moment, in media, in politics, in business, who are incredibly smart, high IQs, great degrees, and no wisdom, they're making terrible decisions.  And I think one of the reasons is sleep deprivation.”

According to WebMD, sleep deprivation my also lead to Decreased Performance and Alertness, Memory and Cognitive Impairment, Stressful Relationships, Poor Quality of Life, Occupational Injury, and Automobile Injury.

And as far as those stressful days AT your desk… the worst thing you can do is stay there. Sitting at a desk for 9 hours straight is not only harmful to your health, it also decreases productivity. According to the Pomodoro Technique, the best way to stay focused on a project is by taking a 5 minute break every 25 minutes. As tied down to your desk as you may feel, if you can stand up, walk around, give your brain a breather, and come back to a project, you will be a more efficient worker.

I know, I know; easier said than done in the city that never sleeps, but I am going to make it a personal goal next week. I’m going to get 8 hours of sleep every night. I’m going to start taking little breaks during the day, even if it’s just to walk around the office. I’ll even do jumping jacks at my desk if it means avoiding that 3:00 crash. And in the mean time, I’m crossing my fingers that someone proofreads this before posting. :)  CJP

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