Why Working Less Leads to Getting More Done

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On average, Americans leave more than nine vacation days unused per year. More than a third of American workers regularly eat lunch at their desks, and more than half plan on doing work while they're on vacation. But Tony Schwartz, author of "Be Excellent at Anything" says we're doing it all wrong — and that the trick to getting more out of work is to do less.

Schwartz believes that managers and supervisors need to fundamentally rethink their investments in their employees. "It’s far better to invest in meeting their needs," he explains, "one of the most fundamental of which is intermittent renewal — providing the support for employees to take breaks; setting defined email hours, beyond which you don’t have to respond; limiting the length of meetings; providing the kind of food that is restorative…” In addition to contributing to a workplace environment that is more liveable and sustainable, these investments set the stage for greater all around productivity.

Schwartz concedes, though, that there are other notable distractions in the modern workplace, particularly technology devices like smart phones. These devices distract us and divide our attention to an addictive degree, and they also make us less fulfilled in life. "Controlling your attention is the 'sine qua non' of a good life. It's what allows you to be doing the things that you’ve deemed to be important and bring the richest of who you are to those tasks," notes Schwartz.

According to him, "more, bigger, faster is no longer better." It's a truth that many Americans may find hard to swallow.