When I’m coaching clients, the one thing they view as an unavoidable obstacle is the workplace.

Going to work is the source of all their woes.

It’s too stressful…

It consumes their entire day…

It drains their energy…

But there’s an interesting contradiction here I’d like to point out.

The folks I deal with who see the most success have made the switch from “workplace as enemy” to “workplace as ally”.

Let me explain.

Now, some of this is cultural in nature.

In the US, we have this go, go, go mentality.

If you’re not sitting at your desk, diligently working when the boss comes by, you’re slacking.

If you don’t put in extra hours or even bring work home with you, you’ll somehow fall behind.

Some countries look at us as if we’re insane.

Try to get something done in Spain after 2:00pm…

Try to set up a meeting in Austria in August…

Why is it like this?

Because they actually shut down.

Most people have a REALLY hard time shutting down.

I know I do.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve forgotten how to relax.  And that bothers me.

Here’s the stark reality.

The people who shut down and take time off are MORE productive than those who keep the nose to the grindstone 24/7.

On a smaller scale, studies have shown that people who get up from their desks for 10-15 minutes each hour are more productive than those who don’t get up.

Creativity increases.

Focus increases.

I know more than a few HIGHLY successful entrepreneurial types who refuse to work on Fridays.  No compromise.  No exceptions.  Obviously, the weekends are off-limits as well.

I had a business advisor tell me that his income quadrupled the year he started working fewer days.

It all comes back to creativity and productivity.

Would you rather work side by side with someone who’s been grinding away at 12-14 hour days or someone who is fresh and alert and happy?

The impact of this goes well beyond the workplace.

Can you visualize how putting themselves, their stress levels, their families and their general happiness AHEAD of work affects their health and wellbeing?

A former mentor of mine, the late, great Harold Connolly (Olympic Hammer Throw Gold Medalist in 1956) told me this story.

As a vice-principal at a high school in California, he regularly saw teachers hoarding away vacation time.  Never taking a day off.  Their plan was to retire early while the LA Unified School District paid their full salaries for a couple of years based upon this accumulated vacation pay.

A big payoff.

Guess what happened?

They ended up dying of heart attacks shortly after leaving their positions.

No big payday…at least not one they would be enjoying.

Downtime is the key to doing more, enjoying more, living more.

It’s just as important as hard work and physical fitness!

The point is this…

Take just a few minutes and figure out how you can make your workplace an ally instead of an enemy that’s crushing your health.

Is it that flex time you never considered?

Adding a “remote” workday?

Adding more frequent movement patterns within the workday?

Making better use of the workday itself by planning different meals or a lunch-hour workout?

By making a conscious effort to break unhealthy workplace habits you help the company, your health, your career, and your family!

Experiment starting this week with your “workplace as ally” mindset.

See how it changes things…