I was inspired by all this talk of independence over the past week. I thought about my work, and the work of our business clients — and, well, I’m here to offer you a challenge, of sorts:

Take a day off this week.

One day more than you normally would. No email. No work texting. Heck, even turn the smart phone off completely — and see what happens.

Here’s why I’m issuing this challenge…

Valerie McLaughlin’s
“Real World” Business Strategy Note

Work Less, Be More Productive

“To succeed in business it is necessary to make others see things as you see them.” –
John H Patterson

 

In his book The 80/20 Manager, Richard Koch cites a fascinating experiment on the subject of “forced time off”:

“…(Boston Consulting Group) consultants were obliged to take one day and one evening off, during which time they were not allowed to use email or voice mail…I’m sure you can guess the results. The teams who were forced to take days and evenings off rated higher not just on work-life balance but on job satisfaction, learning, personal development and open communication within the teams. Moreover, their clients reported greater value delivery than the clients of the control groups. Empirical proofs that less really is more.

“I’m waiting for someone to have the courage to test what would happen if a team is forced to take off two days… then three, then four. Let’s see what happens when they work just one day and one evening each week.
(page 174)

The Perlow & Porter experiment cited above hints at why this is so profoundly true. Faced with the constraint of having to take time off, the consultants at BCG suddenly found themselves having way more discussions about HOW work was being done and fewer conversations about WHAT work was being done.

“People were initially skeptical about spending so much time looking at work processes. But in the end, most teams found it helpful. The check-ins not only allowed teams to engage in explicit conversations about achieving their time-off goals, but they also sparked valuable discussions–involving the whole team–about priorities, expectations, and problems people were facing.

By contrast, in typical nonexperiment teams, consultants generally start talking about problems only when they are already overstressed and less able to think rationally or do much about them.”


Re-read that last sentence. The zero-constraint, always-on, smartphone-addicted lifestyle of the average entrepreneur makes it LESS likely that you will think rationally about the strategic decisions you need to make in your business.

But forcing yourself to take time off, one evening a week, then one day a week and, yes, as Mr. Koch recommends, even 4 days a week, will force you to make clearer, more strategic decisions.

Working less = earning more.

It’s an equation that seems to violate everything we’ve been told about work … we’ve been told that you work your tail off, lay aside a bunch of cash and then SOMEDAY you’ll be able to work less.

FALSE. Does not compute.

Working less = earning more is an equation that I believe we all must embrace if we want to take our businesses to the next level.

So, take one day off next week as a test. I wonder what would happen?
 
Warmly (and until next week),

Valerie McLaughlin
(410) 224-2600