Productive only 85% of the time

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time management strategies

Would it surprise you that we can have better productivity by working less?

Carl Lewis, the 9-time Olympic gold medallist sprinter, who was known as the “master finisher,” was considered to be a slow starter.

In a 100-metre sprint, he was either last or second to last at the 40-metre mark, but breezed past others before reaching the 100-metre mark. Contrary to common sense, he did nothing special towards the end.

His breathing and form remained the same throughout the race. While other runners were trying to push harder at the end—clenching their fists, scrunching their faces—Carl Lewis stayed exactly the same, and won the race.

It came to be understood later that while others were performing at full-throttle, Carl Lewis was running at 85% from start to finish.

Turns out, you do far better when you perform below your peak capacity, giving yourself some breathing room to relax.

For example, while building a business, giving 100% would mean working 20 hours a day, 7 days a week. You would be exhausted, and this clearly isn’t sustainable.

I know it feels wrong to put in less effort, but rest and relaxation is an essential element in order to do your best work.

Studies have shown that trying too hard at work doesn’t usually result in positive career outcomes and is actually detrimental to one’s career.

Whether it’s work, a hobby, or even your personal life, dialling back the intensity of your effort may turn out to be a good thing.

Where could you apply the 85% rule?

Good luck and I look forward to hearing about your success.

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