Easing Up to Increase Outputs

Posted on February 11, 2022

This week I had my COVID booster shot. Upon waking the following day I had a mild temperature and felt off-colour. My partner Michelle suggested rest and being kind to myself for the day, rather than pushing myself to work at the pace I’d planned at the beginning of the week. I was an obedient man and eased up on myself, making time to rest early in the day to maximise the chance of following through on those items I had committed to. It turned out to be a helpful approach because the day turned out to be extremely productive, despite working fewer hours.

While taking it easy on a workday still messes with my head, I have learned (1) energy management precedes time management, (2) outcomes are more important than time spent at the desk, and (3) when I work with ease, strangely, I am more productive.

Sometimes it can be difficult to give ourselves permission to ease up. What helped me yesterday was having someone else prompt me to allow my body to rest. Formula One racing driver, Jackie Stewart, made a similar comment in his book Winning Is Not Enough, recounting a story where he was directed from the pits to ease off the pace, even though he and his colleague were ahead of the field. The information about easing off the pace came from an external source and fortunately for Jackie Stewart, he responded and slowed down. He says “the more we ‘eased off’, the faster our laps became.”

At a time where workloads are high and the conditions governing our work can change rapidly, it’s a helpful reminder that “sometimes the best way to raise our level of performance is to back off rather than to push even harder.”1

1 Stewart, J. 2009. Winning Is Not Enough. London: Headline Publishing Group.

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