Why sprinting through your workload is less productive than you think

Here’s a question for you: is a sprinter more productive or harder working than a marathon runner?


The answer is so self-evident it’s almost stupid of Old Taskmaster to ask.


Sure, the sprinter will cover a lot of ground fast. A great sprinter will cover 100 metres in a matter of seconds. Over the first 100, 200 or 400 metres, the sprinter is far more productive than his or her long-distance running counterpart.


Over a short distance, Usain Bolt will easily win the race.


But beyond that initial burst, by distance covered and average speed, it’s the marathon runner who ends up in front. A Usain Bolt might well be catching his breath after sprinting to the 600-metre mark while a distance runner like Samuel Wanjiru is already 42 kilometres down the road.


In running, beyond a certain critical point, pacing becomes far more important to covering a large distance in a given span of time than simply running as fast as possible off the starting blocks.


This is all quite self-evident. And yet, in the office, it’s amazing how often working hard and working productively is equated to sprinting. The workplace equivalent of sprinting is encouraging people to cover as much ground in as short a time as possible – without looking at how it’s paced.


Many motivational and business coaching techniques encourage sprinting. So do many workplace cultures. And too many entrepreneurs push themselves to sprint to the point they burn out.


The problem can quickly become overwhelming, causing a burnout. This is the workplace equivalent of Usain Bolt grabbing his side after getting a stitch from trying to sprint too far, while Samuel Wanjiru jogs past while barely breaking a sweat.


The answer lies in knowing your limits, being smarter with your time management, breaking big jobs into small, manageable tasks, taking a break when you need to and getting a proper night’s sleep.


And then making sure your team does likewise. After all, there’s no gold medal for a runner who tries to sprint through a marathon!


Now, over to you. How do you keep a good, steady, productive pace in your work life? Share your secrets in the comments below!


And get that marathon done – today!

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