Helping Creative People Create

Pacing Your Work Day: Are You Stopping to Smell the Roses?

by glen

Smelling a rose, feeling loved, feeling alive..
Creative Commons License photo credit: Twistiti

“Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.” – Soren Kierkegaard

As people try to get through the day, it’s sometimes quite easy to get so focused on the tasks that have to be done that we’re not taking the time to enjoy our life. There is definitely a fine line between working hard and hurrying.

The Art of Pace

As a distance runner, it’s incredibly important to know how to handle pace. Knowing how to pace yourself in a race is crucial, as it’s not only a form of strategy, it also ensures that you’re able to finish the race. It doesn’t take a genius to know that if you start a marathon with your 3 fastest miles ever, the odds of you finishing the other 22 are slim to none. The same is true with working. If you work the first three hours non-stop, blinking at your computer screen without taking any breaks, the last 5 hours are probably going to be crap.

Chunking the Day

Instead, try breaking apart the work day in sections. Block out chunks of time for work, and chunks of time for play. And be sure to treat the play times with just as much importance as the work times. Because they are. They allow you to work strong throughout the day, and keep you from turning into your head into a giant pile of mush after a month’s worth of work.

Remember, life isn’t just work. We have families and friends, and other parts of life that are more important. Work just allows us to exist. Nobody ever got to the end of their life and wished that they’d been able to put more hours in at the office.

Sometimes we just need to hear that ;)

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah June 24, 2008 at 3:45 am

This is exactly the kind of work-life balance issues that people need to think about when they are looking for a job in a work culture that matches their values. It's also the kind of thing employers need to think about when they build workplaces and want to retain their workers.

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Kate Satlfleet June 24, 2008 at 6:24 am

My lunch hour is my holi-hour. I go for a walk, meet up with friends, listen to music or a podcast, basically anything that isn't work. And lunch “al desko” doesn't count.

Productivity is so often confused with working long hours, but those are often the least productive practices when you look at hours worked in relation to output. Is the five minutes it takes to go and see a colleague rather than send an email really going to put my work schedule out for the rest of the day.

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Marc and Angel Hack Life June 24, 2008 at 8:33 am

I always commit myself to 1 hour stretches on nonstop work and then reward myself in between each stretch with a 10 minute break. I spend my break doing something I enjoy, but stick to activities that also keep my mind active and alert. It works wonders for my productivity and general happiness at work. It’s the best way I’ve found to effectively pace myself.

I wrote a bit more about it here: http://www.marcandangel.com/2008/06/23/9-black-

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LivSimpl June 24, 2008 at 12:43 pm

I agree that there's a big difference between productivity and working long hours… unfortunately, my employers don't see it that way.

Also, I struggle with the idea of taking a lunch break. If I take an hour during the day, that means I stay an hour longer at night which means less time with my family.

Suggestions?

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Heather June 24, 2008 at 2:02 pm

What a great reminder to enjoy the day and schedule in breaks.

Related to some of the comments that others have made, I think one HUGE issue is that employers confuse physical presence with productivity. I am continually baffled that employers attempt to set 8-5 schedules for knowledge workers as if “producing” a good thought can be scheduled. (Perhaps they have confused the technological revolution with the industrial revolution.) There are some promising signs though, Best Buy has started a results only work environment where employees have extremely flexible time and are just accountable for meeting deadlines. Their productivity is up and their employee turnover is down. Hopefully other companies will begin to accept this model.

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Andrea June 24, 2008 at 6:04 pm

I find myself stressing out about the way work piles through the day. I usually get myself pretty worked up, then try to do multiple tasks at once, leaving half done and shoddy work. My superior recently recommended Absolute Calm to me, a stress reducing supplement that's all natural. It's been lovely, cause 1) i'm able to focus on one task at a time, and 2) I stopped stress eating!!!!

http://getabsolutecalm.com/professional/?utm_so

Reply

Andrea June 24, 2008 at 10:04 pm

I find myself stressing out about the way work piles through the day. I usually get myself pretty worked up, then try to do multiple tasks at once, leaving half done and shoddy work. My superior recently recommended Absolute Calm to me, a stress reducing supplement that's all natural. It's been lovely, cause 1) i'm able to focus on one task at a time, and 2) I stopped stress eating!!!!

http://getabsolutecalm.com/professional/?utm_so

Reply

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