Lean back if you want to get ahead
September 8, 2013
Two years ago I wrote a post, “Busyness and business – why the one is not always good for the other”, where I argued that people in marketing should spend more time thinking, and less time doing, doing, doing.
Only twits tweat?
Did it have any effect? Of course not – things are worse than ever! The growing popularity of social media, and the increased awareness that businesses must seize the opportunities being created by content marketing, means that people have even more ways to spend their precious working hours. Want to get noticed? Tweet and post more, more, more!
The Economist agrees
Things are getting so bad that The Economist recently wrote an article entitled “In praise of laziness”. It puts some of the blame on the “never-ending supply of business gurus telling us how we can, and must, do more. Sheryl Sandberg urges women to “Lean In” if they want to get ahead. John Bernard offers breathless advice on conducting “Business at the Speed of Now”. Michael Port tells salesmen how to “Book Yourself Solid”. And in case you thought you might be able to grab a few moments to yourself, Keith Ferrazzi warns that you must “Never Eat Alone”.”
This, they note, “is producing an epidemic of overwork, particularly in the United States. Americans now toil for eight-and-a-half hours a week more than they did in 1979. A survey last year by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that almost a third of working adults get six hours or less of sleep a night. Another survey last year by Good Technology, a provider of secure mobile systems for businesses, found that more than 80% of respondents continue to work after leaving the office, 69% cannot go to bed without checking their inbox and 38% routinely check their work e-mails at the dinner table.”
Busyness is the enemy of creativity
They then cite a recent report which, surprise surprise, proves workers are generally more creative on days when they are less pressured. This leads them to advocate that we spend more time “leaning back” – especially “creative workers – the very people who are supposed to be at the heart of the modern economy.”
Stop. Think. Think some more
I couldn’t agree more, for all the reasons I outlined in my previous article. If you want better results from your marketing, think harder – doing more of what doesn’t work, doesn’t work. And if you are going to work your brain more efficiently you need to create the space in which to do it.
The Economist article cites three examples of successful people who advocated just that: “When he was boss of General Electric, Jack Welch used to spend an hour a day in what he called “looking out of the window time”. When he was in charge of Microsoft Bill Gates used to take two “think weeks” a year when he would lock himself in an isolated cottage. Jim Collins, of “Good to Great” fame, advises all bosses to keep a “stop doing list”.
See you later – I’m off on my bike.