In an article from Business Insider, Elon Musk states that people need to work 80 to 100 hours a week in order to make significant contributions or “change the world”. The article goes on to say that everyone worked 100 hours per week and Musk worked 120 per week during a period of time in 2018. Is this really necessary? How does productivity change as people become exhausted? Are there more errors to fix which actually slows work down?
Claire Caruso (2013) published a study that investigate the effects of long hours and shift work on nurses. She found that there was less productivity, more errors, more incidence of obesity, poorer health, and more on the job injuries. In healthcare, such issues can translate into errors that cause patient harm. In 2015, the BMJ published a study that looked at long working hours and alcohol use. The study found that people who worked longer than recommended hours had more incidence of alcohol use and subsequent health problems.
As a nurse executive, I find it a challenge to keep a proper work-life balance. However, I know through experience, that if my life is out of balance, I am not effective at work or at home. David Williams, of Forbes Magazine, recommends several easy strategies.
· Schedule down time- As a busy executive my calendar is always booked and overbooked. However, I block of time around noon for lunch with my husband. It is a priority and I am able make it work about 90% of the time. I never schedule lunch meetings voluntarily. My husband appreciates the time with me and I get a much needed break. Williams suggests scheduling time for working out and other enjoyable activities.
· Get rid of things that waste your time and energy-. These things can be friends who gossip and who are negative or activities that are emotionally and mentally draining. Consider delegating some of those things to others.
· Keep your weekends work free- I look forward to my weekends as a time when I can detach from the intensity of work and focus on things I enjoy and take a minute to relax.
More resources and ideas for maintaining work life balance can be found at Sparkpeople.com and Roche.com. Give yourself permission to unplug, unwind and take a break. Your work will still be there when you return and you will find that you will be more efficient and productive.