Don’t force it

Don't force it.

So here I sit on Friday evening, determined to write Saturday morning’s daily blog before I “switch off” for the workweek. As I sit and think about writing, I realise my brain is a bit “cooked” from the week.

Contradictory though it is that my subject actually has inspired me to write this on Friday evening and not wait until tomorrow, the theme came to me and now I’m in flow to write about it!

Don’t force it.

Over the course of my career, I recall countless times where I pushed hard, often late into the evening, “forcing it” to get work done, to clear my emails, to meet a deadline, respond to the needs of a client or colleague. In short, spinning the hamster wheel hard and fast.

Luckily hard work like that never cause me any real mental or emotional stress or burnout, but this is Mental Health Week, so perhaps a relevant topic to bring awareness too now.

In addition to your own stress, consider how much better your work will be if you stop when you are “cooked” and pick it up the next morning.

Don’t force it.

One particular profession that always has me shake my head on this is lawyers. They are highly trained experts charging high hourly rates, yet all too often they are forcing it, working long hours under pressure. Back in the days when I retained lawyers for commercial projects, I would often tell them to stop sending me emails with their work after hours. In fact I’d tell them to stop and do it in the morning. I pay them for their expertise and for them to see what I don’t see on contracts etc. I’d much rather have them look at it fresh in the morning than force it late in the evening.

I want quality work from a lawyer, I don’t want them reviewing an important contract when they are stressed and exhausted. Something quite mad about the paradigms they often seem to operate under.

Don’t force it.

Do you ever send emails outside regular hours to those you lead?

Even if you tell them you don’t expect them to work excessive hours, what kind of message does that send? Yes, perhaps now I ask, you know exactly what kind of message that sends.

Even if you then tell them you don’t expect a reply if you send one outside working hours, you are still modelling behaviour you are telling them not to do. Lead by example, perhaps and discipline yourself not to reply?

Perhaps take this tip. If you really, really feel the need to reply to get it out of your inbox, to tick the box on your “to do” list, then write the email, but don’t sent it, save it and schedule it to send, yes, at the start of the next working day.

Trust me (please trust me), when you change your behaviour and stick to it consistently, when you show you value your own time, then those at the other end of the emails will gradually (or perhaps quickly) recognise this and respect it. They may even start following your lead.

Don’t force it.

So, with that, dashing this off on Friday evening in a few minutes of stream of consciousness, I’m off out for a walk in the evening sun.

Also published on Medium.