Are you working too hard or taking too many holidays?

Have you had too many days off recently? Are too many holidays interfering with work?

I heard a discussion recently on this subject between two businessmen. One felt that four bank holidays so close to each other (we still have two to go) was terrible for our economy. The other that holidays were a good thing.


In another take on this I heard of a Victorian researcher who went off to live with a tribe somewhere in Africa for a year. His objective was to discover how much time they spent working. He struggled to find even 20 hours a week that he could classify as “work”.

He even admitted that some of what he had classified as “work” wasn’t really work because everyone seemed to be enjoying it too much to be work.
At the end of the year, he didn’t want to come home.

Life Style

It seems a little embarrassing that a tribe living in Victorian times might have had a better life style than we do, with all the advances we have made. You would have thought that the improvements that we have made should mean we spend less time “working”. But that doesn’t see to be the case.

Why is this? Have we become less efficient or perhaps more greedy and less easily satisfied?


Here’s what Douglas Adams had to say in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”

Enjoy the rest of your holidays.

Easy learning

Do you learn from your mistakes? I’m sure you do. It’s the best way to learn, isn’t it? From your own mistakes?

Well, it might be, but there are other ways too. And they can be quicker and very powerful.

Years ago I was running a training course with some colleagues. It was in the times when courses went on for days and people had huge unwieldy manuals (we don’t do that anymore).

We ran the same day four times, each with about 20 participants. One of the days went much better than the others. People seemed to grasp the basic concepts much more easily and quickly. They found the tasks easier and the results at the end of the day were clearly better.

At the end of the four days I asked my colleagues why they thought day three went so much better. They showed no interest at all. It was just a ‘blip’ as far as they were concerned.

An easier way of learning

But I was not satisfied. I went through all my notes to see what could have been different, just on that day. Finally I found it. I had used a different example to explain one of the key points early on in the day.

So the next time we ran that session I used the same example. And I got the same result. People grasped the concepts more easily and the results were much better.

Learning by mistakes

Yes, you can do this, and you do need to investigate what went wrong and make sure it doesn’t happen again. But very often, staring you in the face, are examples of where things went right and all you have to do is work out why.

Try it – you’ll soon discover how rewarding it is. You’ll also find that, if you focus on what people have done that has been successful and ask them to work out why, they will respond much more positively than when you ask about their mistakes.

Are you middle-aged? If so you might like to know this….

Yesterday I heard an extremely interesting interview with Barbara Strauch. She had some encouraging things to say about middle-aged brains.

By the way, ‘middle-age’ is now classified as between 40 and 65.

I’ve written a lot on how to keep your brain active and working well far into your old age including blogs on how much energy your brain uses and why you need to eat more chocolate (yes, really). There are five things you need to do:

  • Aerobic exercise
  • Anaerobic exercise
  • Have friends
  • Learn new things
  • Take responsibility for your situation (known as having an ‘internal locus of control’)

Barbara also said in her interview that exercise is very important for your brain, so no change there.

Your Brain

But she also says that middle age is when YOUR BRAIN IS AT ITS PEAK. This is new to me and it is most welcome. Here’s a summary of what she has to say in her new book, “The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain”.

Special Offer

To celebrate these findings here’s a Special offer for this week:

My booklet on improving your brain: “Boost Your Brain in Your Spare Time” is just £4.99 for this week, along with the recording of my teleseminar, “How to Improve Your Memory” which is just £10 for this week only.

Keep those grey cells going and Boost your Brain now. Oh yes, and I nearly forgot, improve your Memory too.

People who don’t like change – why they are so valuable

Have you come across people who don’t like change? People who seem to block it at every turn? The ones who moan about change and claim they’ve “seen it all before”?

They are also the people who make it most difficult to implement change – and let’s face it – we all need to implement change at the moment.
But hang on a minute; it’s not that simple.

Valuable people

Most companies rely on people who don’t like change to keep their customers happy.

There are many jobs, probably in your own organisation, that rely on people doing much the same thing day after day. If the people doing those jobs loved change, they would soon get bored and be very unhappy in their jobs.

Stop moaning about people who don’t like change

So we need to be grateful to these people, stop moaning that they don’t like change and stop blaming them when we find changes hard to implement.

Problems managing change

One of the biggest problems I see when people are trying to impose change in an organisation is that they keep focussing on the change and telling everyone how much is going to change and how great it’s going to be.

Often, the reality is that it genuinely has all be done before, for many people it means they will lose their jobs and for others, much will stay the same or return to how it was before a previous change.

Forcing it down people’s throats is not an effective way to get things changed.

Instead, for those who don’t like change, or will be adversely affected by it, you need a different approach.

How to make change easier

The first thing to tackle is the situation where people will be losing their jobs. Harping on about how great things will be (as I have seen some senior managers tactlessly do) after the changes, not only upsets and annoys those who will lose their jobs, but also anyone who thinks they might lose their job.


Instead it’s much better to apologise for the situation, whether or not it is of your making, and to explain what you are going to do to assist those who will be losing their jobs.

One way to help people who are worried and shocked after an announcement is to immediately give them some help in dealing with that shock. (link)

What’s not changing?

Then you need to focus on what is staying the same. For example:

“You will still be at the same desk, doing the same job with the same hours. You will just be reporting in to sales and marketing instead of accounts. Everything else will be the same.”

It’s usually the people at the top that seem to love change and find it hard to even imagine others don’t. But they forget that their salaries are paid through the work of people who stay in the same job for ten, twenty or even thirty years.

They are the ones who are bringing in the revenue. So we need to treat them with respect and recognise the value of those who like things to stay the same.

For more on this How do you help people to deal with big changes?