Image of matches gradually burning, symbolising burnout

“In our coaching work, we ask two powerful questions: For what purpose? And at what cost?” – Core Confidence 

 

A lot of us take pride in the struggle, long hours and hard work we endure to achieve our goals. Why is this? Could it be the belief that if something comes easily, then it is not worth having has been deeply ingrained as we were growing up? The cumulative effect of this mindset is – burnout. So many professional women fail to distinguish hard work from overworking. With relationship, health and career impacts on the line, it’s time to get strategic about how we work!

 

The reliance on working hard 

Technology has brought us unlimited access to information. But, it has also brought along speed. With speed comes expectation. Working days are filled with meetings, meaning the actual time to complete your work is overrun with discussions and more tasks to add to a never-ending to-do list. With so many competing priorities, there isn’t enough time to get everything done in regular work hours, so we work longer…and longer.

The five truths about hard work

Hard work is not always valuable work

Working hard does not equate to value. Of course, there are aspects of every role that add more value or are more important than others. But from our work with many women, we know there is a constant trade-off. You must make choices about how you spend your time and energy every day. Pouring more hours into a task doesn’t necessarily make those hours or outcomes more valuable. 

Hard work is not always creative work

Some of the best ideas come in isolated moments of doing nothing. Ideas come at spontaneous moments, often when we are accessing the incredible power of our whole brain. This could happen when you are deep in thought and learning, but creativity can also be sparked in the shower, on the treadmill, walking your dog, etc. Learning how to harness this power is an essential life skill in a world where creativity, innovation, and collaboration are key contributors to success.

Hard work is not always healthy

Working hard is exhausting, and it doesn’t take long to catch up with you. There are plenty of studies that support this, even going as far to say that the stress caused by overwork can lead to all sorts of mental, physical and social problems. Aside from your personal health, overwork impacts your company’s health; hard work and fatigue show up on the bottom line as absenteeism, turnover and presentism. And then there’s the cultural norm – what happens when the only way to fit in is overwork?!

Hard work won’t guarantee progression

When you’re so focused on working hard, it’s easy to forget or discount the skills, relationships, and opportunities you need to prioritise to develop the capabilities and experience necessary for your next role. We often talk about how the confidence gap becomes a capability gap – that the over-reliance on working hard is never the answer to feeling more confident. 

Hard work doesn’t keep you safe (or perfect!)

So often, women in our workshops share that they work so hard because they want to get everything right so that they can never be called out for making a mistake or getting something wrong. This strategy is completely unsustainable and ultimately leads to self-judgement and shame as inevitably, something does go wrong. Dr Brené Brown shares decades of research on perfectionism, shame and vulnerability. She talks about ‘daring to suck’ – starting to examine and redefine those perfectionistic and proving tendencies. The willingness to learn from mistakes, to take feedback and spend less energy proving yourself is liberating and much safer than the illusion of being able to do everything perfectly!!

Work hard strategically

Working hard is a necessity for both our sense of self and our success. However, how you work and rest is a choice and determines the quality and enjoyment of all aspects of your life. 

How to work strategically

We want to share work habits with you that promote a healthy exchange between you and your workplace. If you are ready to move from overworked and overwhelmed to empowered, strategic and productive, integrate these steps into your life.

1. Know your priorities

Ask yourself, what is important? Check-in with your values and goals, and work with senior stakeholders to understand what tasks are a priority. Be intentional about what you’ll focus on – if you are focused on the right things, your work will be directed towards worthwhile outcomes, and you’ll let go of the less important things.

2. Plan your time

Plan how you will spend your time rather than giving it away. Be conscious of and eliminate distractions. Focus on the priorities, and everything else will fall into place.

3. One thing at a time

Multitasking is the quickest way to drain your energy with little return. Although it may feel efficient, very rarely is this the case. Switching between tasks not only wastes energy but leads to decreased performance and an increase in mistakes.

4. Know your strengths

To boost productivity, invest in pursuits that complement your natural strengths. There will always be mundane requirements that you must complete, but this should only ever be 20-30% of your role to ensure your time, skills, and capabilities are being put to good use. 

5. Work with your biology

Know your rhythms and your peak times of concentration. Become curious about when you feel most productive or can best focus. Use this genius time for difficult, challenging or creative work, and save the less demanding work when you have limited mental or emotional energy.

6. Habits are your friends

The brain loves efficiency and will develop habits that help us function effectively. You can create routines and habits that allow you to complete tasks without conscious thought to conserve your energy and cognitive function.

7. Ask for help

The support of others is one of the most powerful ways to work strategically. Make sure you have a network around you to help keep you on track.

8. Take care of yourself

Integrate balance into your life. Ensuring you have a balanced self-renewal program in all aspects of your life – social/emotional, mental, physical and spiritual – is vital for avoiding burnout. 

9. Leverage the night shift

Sleep is essential for the healthy functioning of the body, mind and soul and is powerful in enabling connections and solutions that do not occur in a waking state. 

It’s time to challenge your beliefs.

We invite you to join us for Momentum 2022 – a highly interactive masterclass on Friday, June 3rd, 8 AM – 11 AM (AEST). We will be sharing our practical approach to help you redefine your relationship with fear and failure and activate your growth mindset so you can amplify your skills, capabilities, and experience. Register now HERE