Make Binge Working Work For You
By Eric Gilboord | October 31, 2007
As home offices and technology expand, more new businesses open. Demands on our time are increasing exponentially. Running a small business can make it seem like time is not on our side or even in our control. We are experiencing a complete change in how and when we work.
If you're like me work is always on your mind and free time is usually occupied by worrying about work stuff and planning on how to get it done, not doing it. We are forever balancing on the double edged sword of freedom and responsibility.
To accomplish a lot in a prescribed period of time I need to be in the zone. That's in a second or third draft of something I'm writing and typically late at night. Time has no meaning and hours go by in the flick of a thought. No meetings, telephone calls, emails or other distractions - just my head down and in that special place. It's highly constructive and oddly pleasurable when you get that rush of adrenaline pumping through you as you finish a section or release - that next big "aha" idea from your brain. You may get tired, but it's a good tired knowing you have used your mind and accomplished something of value. I can get in the work zone but I'm afraid I don't plan it often enough.
So I asked myself, can I redesign my work life to be more constructive? Can I get large amounts of work done while maintaining a balance of work and time free from work?
A new trend called 'binge working' is described as doing a huge amount of work in a condensed period of time (up to 48 hours) in return for an equal amount of time off. Is binge working like binge eating? While an interesting analogy, for most small business owners, the hectic work pace can act more like a drug as the adrenaline and other hormones are released by the stress that a frenetic work schedule creates.
As humans we can and do develop an addiction to that rush and therefore artificially create a situation that forces our lives into a place where we have no choice but to tackle a pile of work in a no-time-to-talk frenzy of activity. If this sounds familiar you are not alone. Just visit a 24 hour copy store in the middle of the night.
'Smart Binge Working' is where you schedule large time blocks, in advance, to get the job done. Making sure to pace yourself and taking care of the physical, mental and emotional needs to keep you going and sane. Note this is a mostly work mode with short timeouts (do not stop the flow of your work because you scheduled a timeout) set aside for big picture project reflection, balance, time to recharge batteries, be with family, eat and exercise. Surround yourself with comfortable furniture, quiet, easily accessible healthy food and drinks. This is NOT the time for high fat fast food.
Binge working can be a more efficient method of accomplishing a large task because you reduce or eliminate the lengthy in and out transitions, a good idea for anyone with the procrastination bug. Get to a consistent, strong mental state and stay there. Bring your best thinking forward and choose from all your ideas not just a short list of what you could muster under pressure. Through smart binge working you will likely enjoy the working process more while feeling less stressed. Family and friends will be more understanding and appreciative as you are more tolerable and they are aware of your schedule and availability.
At the end of a session give yourself time off to recharge, enjoy all the wonderful things life and family have to offer. Remember binge working deserves binge fun.
8 Things To Do For a Successful Binge Working Session
- Schedule the time for the session an let everyone know.
- Write down your objective for the session and post it near you.
- Make sure those around you understand you are not to be disturbed.
- If other participants are to be included for all or part of the session make they know the rules.
- Have healthy foods easily accessible and onsite.
- Give yourself a generous amount of time to get in the zone and staying there, allowing for that heightened sense to continue until it slows down or you run out of steam.
- Do not stop because you scheduled a rest time.
- Have a computer, extra paper, recorders, pencils, pens, post it notes etc. to capture all your thoughts.