With the convenience of technologies such as laptops, BlackBerrys and cell phones, taking a true vacation from work is hard to accomplish. Yet, for many, checking email on the beach sounds efficient. But is it really?
Featured in one edition of Health Minute Magazine, Robby Slaughter’s article “The Efficient Vacation” discusses why abandoning work while on vacation is far from irresponsible. In fact, he believes its not only a sign of great efficiency, but a healthy way to remain motivated and productive in your job.
Whether or not you’re actually aspiring to relax on vacation this summer, it can’t hurt to take a moment and read the article below. In the long run, it may just do you some good! Read the article in its entirety below.
The Efficient Vacation
Regardless of our field of expertise, all of us strive to be more productive. We want to get more done in less time and produce higher quality results while reducing overall effort. You can see our attempts to be more efficient as we make phone calls while walking to the car or listen to audiobooks while exercising at the gym. It seems as if every minute must be put to optimum use.
As a productivity expert, people sometimes jokingly ask if I try to maximize my time while on vacation. The answer is not what you might expect. The truth is that the greatest breaks from work are highly efficient.
In order to understand what that means, we need to look into the definition of the word “efficiency.” Many people incorrectly think this term is another word for speed. An efficient worker, after all, completes their tasks more quickly.
Yet “efficiency” has a precise and powerful scientific definition. It refers to the relationship between effort and results. In formal engineering terms: efficiency = work output / work input.
That might sound like more arithmetic than you’ve considered in a few years, but this is a formula you’ll want to remember. Efficiency is not just a measure of how much work you accomplish: instead, it measures what you got out versus what you put in.
Highly efficient people are not those who spend long hours at the office. Instead, they are those who generate amazing results despite a comfortable, relaxed work schedule. Inefficient people, however, aren’t necessarily those who merely seem to complete work slowly. Rather, it’s those workers whose results are unimpressive given the quantity of effort they applied in the first place.
This brings us back to our discussion of time away from the office. If you’re spending some time on the beach not doing any work, you’re actually very efficient. That’s because your work output and work input match up perfectly! It’s the people who try to check their email from the hotel pool who are tremendously inefficient. They are wasting considerable energy and focus for a meager result.
Every other aspect of your health at work echoes with this same equation. It’s not just a matter of consuming calories, but rather the efficiency by which your body can turn that energy input into energy output. Likewise, your trips to the gym should neither be effortless nor exhausting—instead you want to work just hard enough that you’re invigorated and inspired to return in a day or two. If you take prescription drugs or supplements, you should work with a qualified provider to determine a dosage that has precisely the coverage you need without being wasteful or falling short. These choices are the hallmarks of efficiency in your health.
If there’s a secret to becoming more productive and satisfied at work, it starts with understanding the relationship between effort and results. We need to look beyond simple cause and effect. Instead, we must acknowledge that our essential leverage at work is the ratio of what we put in against what we get out. As any engineer can attest, operational efficiency is the greatest sign of a healthy system. Help your company, your body, your mind and soul to become more healthy by being more efficient.
Robby Slaughter is a Principal with AccelaWork, an Indianapolis-based business process and workflow consulting company. Visit them online at www.accelawork.com