Friday, May 21, 2010

The Way We're Working Isn't Working

Tony Schwartz started the Energy Project in order to help people be more effective at work - and happier in life. It turns out that we're working so hard that we're hardly working. Yup, our work isn't working. Only 20% of people report feeling fully engaged at work. Most people feel disengaged. The reason? We work too much. The productivity myth is untrue and unrealistic. Schwartz says that human beings aren't machines that can work continuously for long periods of time. People need to move between periods of high focus and intermittent rest. So Schwartz suggests the 90 minute solution. In this strategy, people work 90 minutes and then take a brief break - and then repeat this cycle throughout the day. Instead of relying on caffeine, sugar, and stress to keep us going, we should rely on rest, relaxation, and renewal. As Schwartz says: "The more hours we work and the longer we go without renewal, the less productive and more reactive we become." Seems simple enough. All we have to do is work less and relax more. But this idea is counter-cultural in our Google-shaped world, where we're connected and working 24-7. The challenge is clear: We need to unplug from our electronics and our workstations from time to time and recharge ourselves in real and healthy ways. Go for a walk. Take a nap. Talk to a friend. Read something you enjoy. The list goes on and on. The important thing is to do something you enjoy that can rest your mind and restore your energy. If we're happier at work, we'll be happier at home - and at play. So, go ahead, work less and live more. Your boss will thank you. And so will your family.


  1. It makes good sense to me. I have found that after about an hour or two (depending on the task) my attention and energy begin to lag. I want to step away for a moment and take a break for awhile. It helps me to regroup my thoughts.

  2. Thank you for this post!! I wish we could send this message out to the entire country. Our system is broken. Our people are breaking. We need to stand up and demand a change...and in the ways I can, I'm personally trying to live this change and write about it in my blog. Your blog is amazing!

  3. This is so true! I am a new follower, and I love your blog! Look forward to reading more. :-)