If I Just Had Five More Minutes

“I am definitely going to take a course on time management . . . just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.” Louis E. Boone

Are you busy? Who isn’t in today’s world? Do you really have time to even read this article? It will take you less than five minutes. Still, it represents part of your day. How often within an average week are you confronted with a situation or decision where you wish you just had five more minutes to contemplate? ‘If, I just had five more minutes, I could accomplish so much more. With five minutes, I would have the time to make the best decision. Just, give me five more minutes.’Does this sound familiar? The yearning is universal.

In a recent blog, More Production in Less Time,” I wrote about the science that supports the concept of more productivity reached by working less hours. Henry Ford proved this in his automobile factories. Research on this subject shows that a more reasonable work day is better for productivity than working overtime. It seems contradictory on the surface, does it not? And for any of us who are true workaholics, (a characteristic describing me in the past), this theory seems inconceivable. Why would less time equal more output? It is not logical. Is it?

In a similar vein to a more reasonable work day, taking breaks during the day has proven to increase productivity.  In my old school of thought, working long, hard hours is a practice in which I am proud. I can remember investing long hours in a struggling company when hiring another employee was not feasible. And yet, the science concludes that taking more breaks increases output. One of the best books influencing my thinking on productivity is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People  by Steven R. Covey.  One of the seven habits he presents in this best seller is ‘to sharpen the saw’. He calls it the habit of renewal. It is the recharging of our human bodies and spirit. What is the requirement?

Take breaks.

Today I emphasize what many authors and research scientists have been teaching for years. Working less hours per day (a more reasonable work day) and taking more breaks during the day is a template for greater productivity. If you want to be successful in life, set in order your work and rest habits.

Take breaks.

You might consider reading an article by Minda Zetlin titled, For the Most Productive Workday, Science Says Make Sure to Do This. She writes, “The human brain naturally works in bursts of high activity that lasts about an hour, and then it switches to low activity for a while. When that happens, it’s in your best interest to take a break.”  Her article confirms one really great strategy. One that will give you the best possible opportunity for a successful day. One that maximizes your opportunity to be productive.

Take breaks.

Consider these questions:

  1. Do I work more than 40 hours per week? How would I rate my productivity? With the extra hours of time, am I accomplishing all that I want to achieve?
  2. Do I work without breaks for over an hour at a time?
  3. How would I rate my current work practices?
  4. When I take breaks, are they real breaks? Or, do I get on Facebook or some other Internet platform and continue with activities that utilize my brain?
  5. Do I take vacations? When I take a vacation, do I rest and relax? Do I work on my vacation?
  6. Do I ever take naps during the day?
  7. Do I disengage daily from the electronic world?
  8. Do I ever say, “I wish I had five more minutes of time?”

Most of us are not in complete control of our schedules – even as company owners.  Retirement is a busy life for many individuals.  The operation of electronic devices impact our schedules and reduces our free time for breaks and needed vacations.

What to do? Start small. A single step. A single decision.

  • Take frequent breaks. At least every hour of the work day.
  • When taking a break, rest the brain. Avoid electronic engagement during break time.
  • Schedule a real vacation that includes rest and relaxation.
  • Read scientific articles that support better work practices. Select one practice this year and make it a permanent habit.

If I just had five more minutes of time . . .