Breaking up the Day
I have been working long hours recently. There are a few reasons for that, but all told I have been working about 10 hour days. It has been an interesting change to my schedule, since I have always been pretty good about being home on time each day. Call it trying to make a difference in the office, or trying to impress the company, either way I am spending a lot of my time at work.
We could talk ad nauseam about productivity, and working less to accomplish more, etc. I really like all these ideas, and I believe that they work most of the time, but when there are literally only two people working on ten different boards that need to be finished last week, it is easy to spend a lot of time at work (regardless of how productive I am). I wrote about my thoughts on the Pareto Principle a while back, and believe it still holds true, it is just that my 20% of inputs in this case is composed of a lot of time and effort.
Now, if this schedule was indefinite, and I couldn't see an end to keeping these hours, it would be pretty depressing for me. I know that some people deal with this kind of work schedule every day, maybe even some who read this, and I feel for you. What helps me get through the schedule is two things.
Strategically breaking up the day
Probabaly the biggest single thing to get me through the day is taking a good lunch break (coffee is a close second. Have I mentioned that the coffee here is excellent?). I am fortunate to be within walking distance of the hotel, and my family, while working here, so it is really easy to just pop home for lunch each day. I have to admit that this has spoiled me, and I will be really sad when I can no longer easily do this. Being home for lunch allows me to actually see my son during the day, since he goes to sleep around 6pm and that is about when I get home. It also allows me to see my wife and have some conversations that do not involve work.
Aside from personal reasons, it gives me an excuse to exercise. I really do believe that taking walks, and getting some exercise (however brief) can greatly improve creativity. It can help you to see things a little bit differently, and use new parts of your brain that lie dormant while sitting at a desk. Call it a thought walk. There is also a lot of evidence that taking breaks from work can actually increase productivity. Try turning the idea on its head, and think of your work as breaking up your breaks.
I know that this is only short-term
I am only here for about six more weeks, so the end is in sight. It is strange to think that this trip is about halfway over, since 3 months seems like such a long time. Before I know it, we will be back home, I will be back to a relatively normal work schedule, and we can get back to life as usual. There really is something to be said about being able to see the finish line. It gives me hope and energy to keep pushing through to the end.
There is probably something to be said here about short-term goal-setting, incremental improvement, or breaking large tasks into small, tangible pieces, but I will leave that as an exercise for the reader. At this point we know when life will return back to normal, and we have something to look forward to.