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The Way We're Working Isn't Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance Paperback – February 1, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Schwartz, CEO of the Energy Project, stretches an obvious thesis to the breaking point in his plaint on how the American workplace—theoretically where technology has allowed us to reach for more, bigger, faster—has bred an atmosphere in which workers have become disengaged from their work. We fail to take care of ourselves, he points out, and end up undermining our health, happiness, and productivity. Using a series of quadrants describing the emotional workings of both employees and companies, he argues that nothing is gained—and much is lost—by constantly pushing people to achieve more and more in less time and with fewer resources; rejuvenation and rest are necessary for creative breakthroughs and broader perspectives. All well and good, but the bulk of the book is then eaten up exhorting readers to get more sleep, exercise, eat better, and take care of their emotional health. While a reminder to cultivate engagement and mindfulness is always relevant to the modern business reader, the usable content is slim—and fluffed out beyond the point of readability. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Schwartz coauthored the bestseller The Power of Full Engagement (2003) and is the CEO of The Energy Project, bringing effective energy management coaching to organizations such as Google, Ford, Sony, Toyota, and the Los Angeles Police Department. His project and this book are shedding light on what most working folks know but don’t like to talk about: that most of us are not fully engaged or satisfied in our work environment; that we are constantly running on an unsustainable schedule that does not allow for enough sleep; and in addition to being physically tired, we are not allowed the kind of emotional, creative, and spiritual outlets that we need to be fulfilled. Schwartz notes that people at work are expected to run continuously, like machines, but unlike machines or computers, people do not function well when forced to work and process information on a continual basis, but need a balance of activities that allow for both expending and recovering energy. He proposes solutions for business leaders to maximize human potential by embracing our need for both effort and renewal. --David Siegfried --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The overall striving for balance is straightforward, although the idea that a vacation is a time for renewal, rather than a slackening of effort is largely in the hands of corporate senior leadership and the company "culture." Discussion of multitasking and the illusion of increased productivity is useful as both society and technology have clearly enhanced distraction. On the other hand, although only 7 years since publication, other concepts and advice are rapidly becoming dated (likely due to the act that much of the thinking underlying the book goes back much further). For example, email is regarded as mere distraction to be relegated to a low point in the day as an opportunity for clearing all the junk spam. In fact, internal and external communications have evolved away from snail mail and phone conversations redefining how businesses operate. In addition, with global activities, timeframes for interactions may be narrow and cannot be arbitrarily set. Some of the diet advice is also dated with an emphasis on grazing behavior to maintain a steady, even blood sugar. Ironically, the concept of working in spurts with breaks seems in opposition to the dietary advice.
While the overall theme of balance is certainly reasonable, there is a bit too much expectation on senior leadership paying for the author's services so that the advice will trickle down to the rank and file along with realignment of corporate culture to allow for sufficient implementation to make a difference.
Originally titled, "The Way We Work Isn't Working," it makes a strong scientific case for getting more sleep, making time to meditate daily (and how to focus during meditation) and working in 90 minute bursts for maximum effectiveness.
But the book does more than provide logic as to why to adjust, but also how. The author shares stories of others, which makes the idea of change more real and accessible. I found the entire book compelling and very useful.
Therefore, key to increasing productivity in all areas of lives are:
1. Attention/work sprints - full, undivided attention, engagement in areas of maintainence, growth, improvement. ie Your life's work/passion, purpose. Recommends 90 minutes, 3-4x/day.
2. Rest, recovery. Following 90 minutes of pure, focused, uninterrupted work, rest/rejuvenation. Examples include: taking a lunch break, walk, meditation, watching a movie, reading a favorite book/magazine, hanging out w/ friends, family.
3. Diet consisting of water, vitamins, minerals, grains, fruits, vegetables, leans meats, w/ rigorous exercise. Best to maintain shape/fitness.
4. Gave a seminar for Eben Pagan discussing pro/peak tennis players, after a point, have certain rituals b/f after a point to rejuvenate/prepare for the next point. They 1) turn away from the net, 2) look at their rackets/play w/ their strings. This serves to disengage the player, get their heart rate back as close to normal as possible, & refocus for the next point/serve.
Follow this formula & your productivity either at work, home, business, is bound to improve. Including your happiness, emotional, spiritual well being.