Stop Working So Hard

In this post by Chicago ASBPE Treasurer Betty Hintch, she tells us why taking time off to smell the roses from time to time is a key ingredient to success for B2B journalists.

Over the last six months, newspapers, magazines and other media outlets have been churning out a staggering number of articles about the negative impact of workplace stress. I edit publications for the human resource and workplace safety fields, so I am immersed daily in reports about the state of American workplaces. Frankly, the picture doesn’t look good. Thirty percent of managers said they are more stressed today than they were one year ago, according to an OfficeTeam survey. In addition, 28 percent of respondents expect their anxiety levels to increase.

As business-to-business editors, we have our share of stress. The reasons include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Demanding workloads that grow every time a new media platform comes along.
  • Managing the pressure to produce high-quality content that catches the eyes of readers who are battling information overload.
  • Struggling to seize new opportunities with staffs and budgets that were decimated during the recession.
So what’s a B2B editor to do? Stop working so hard, says one business expert. In her new book, Conquer CyberOverload: Get More Done, Boost Your Creativity and Reduce Stress, Joanne Cantor, Ph.D., emphasizes the importance of taking breaks to recharge and cultivate creativity.

However, not all breaks are created equal. She emphasizes the power of “brain-enhancing” breaks. Examples include physical exercise and experiencing nature. In other words, stop and smell the roses.

If you subscribe to Cantor’s logic, working 14-hour days or always eating lunch at your desk could be hurting your publication, rather than helping it. In fact, your boss may thank you for being a good steward of your work/rest balance. Here’s why: Information-free breaks allow your brain to make room for the important issues at hand. The brain has space to devise solutions or to gather energy to spit out your next award-winning idea.

Cantor shares other simple but intriguing suggestions, especially in this age of 24-hour connections and multiple messages vying for our attention:
  • Don’t be a workaholic. That’s easier said than done for many of us. We trick ourselves into thinking we need to put in more hours to meet deadlines and produce high-quality content. Cantor says a nose to the grindstone won’t see the big picture. Instead, alternate intense work with periods of relaxation. You’ll find that an uncluttered, relaxed mind is working double duty on your most pressing issues.
  • Sleep strategically. There’s a lot of truth in those two words. Cantor suggests scheduling your workload so that a night’s rest occurs before you turn in your finished product. While you sleep, your brain processes experiences that occurred during the day. You’ll wake up with new ideas and the enthusiasm to implement them.
I’ll take Cantor’s idea one step further and say that scheduling your demanding work when you are most productive allows you to create better content in less time. If you have to work late, perform easier tasks, such as answering simple email messages or administrative tasks, after hours when your mind is tired. That takes planning, but it is well worth it.

Most of us have heard Cantor’s advice sometime during our careers, but as hard-working editors and writers, it is hard to follow through. From personal experience, I have used most of Cantor’s suggestions and they work. The challenge is to resist tendencies to let bad habits creep in.

I’ll close by suggesting a Huffington Post article that includes case studies about how successful people have discovered they can accomplish more by taking rejuvenating breaks. In fact, these people are taking care of themselves while they save the world. That says a lot about the benefits of planning strategic work and rest periods to get more done.

Betty Hintch is Editor at Briefings Media Group LLC. She edits online ezines and newsletters in the HR, workplace safety, marketing and sales, and customer service industries.

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Comments:
Great post, Betty. I've heard, too, that research clearly shows we're more productive when we take breaks. I plan to try the "sleep strategically" suggestion.
# posted by Blogger Martha Spizziri : October 28, 2010 at 2:53 PM
 
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