When I first asked my daughter, Megan Hyatt Miller, to join our company as then COO, she agreed under one condition: she had to unplug from work and leave every day at 3:00 p.m. to pick up her kids from school and enjoy her evening at home with her family. I agreed, she took the job, and she’s been working some version of that schedule ever since.
But then something else happened. Because of circumstances outside our control, our company went through a trying season. Our employees were spent, and burnout was on the horizon. We needed to act. Instead of working a traditional eight-hour day, we decided to cut our time by 25 percent to six hours. The results shocked us. Not only did we exceed our company goals, but we found that our employees were just as productive, if not more, than they were before. So we decided to embrace constraints and make the six-hour workday a permanent part of our culture. Here is what we’ve learned—and why we’re sticking with it:
- It forces us to get clear on what matters—and what doesn’t. One of our values at Michael Hyatt & Co. is doing work that is high leverage. We invest our corporate and individual resources in opportunities with exponential return, measured by profit, impact, or both. This means it takes us less time than normal to achieve amazing results, because we maintain laser focus.
- It drives innovation. To produce the same results in less time, we’ve had to think differently about our work and come up with creative solutions. We’ve become ruthless about eliminating, automating, or delegating tasks that either don’t need to be done, don’t need to be done by a human, or don’t need to be done by someone who should be focusing on high-leverage work instead.
- It enables us to prioritize life outside work. Not only do we want our clients to achieve the Double Win, we want that for our employees too. Making work the primary orientation of our lives wreaks havoc on our health, our most important relationships, and our spirits. But having two extra hours per day—or 10 extra hours per week—gives us time back. Time for exercise, doctor’s appointments, preparing healthy family meals, picking up kids from school, volunteering in the community, or pursuing a hobby.
- It helps achieve sustainable success. Like most businesses, we have goals and a vision to get us there. But the body and mind need time to rejuvenate. If we want great ideas, we need to have great thinking. And that means having rested minds and bodies to continually, consistently, and sustainably bring our greatest contributions.
- It sets an example for others. We live in a world where workaholism is rampant. Its negative effects are unable to be ignored, including things like early death from stress-related illness, divorce, loneliness, and burnout. We want to demonstrate that there’s another option. There’s a hopeful way forward different from the status quo.
Constraints around the workday contribute to success. It causes us to think differently about what’s important both at work and at home, and enables us to achieve the results we really want without compromise. What are some ways you can embrace the power of constraints?