ExecLifeCoaching

Helping you mobilise your inner resources to achieve your dreams

We all have the same 24 hours: do you find yourself continually wishing there were ‘more hours in the day’?

I recently read a fascinating article about Harriet Green, the CEO of Thomas Cook, and someone who gets by on just four hours of sleep per day. Amazingly, this is not detrimental to her performance; like Margaret Thatcher during her career, Harriet positively thrives on such little sleep.

Scientists recommend we get an average of seven hours per night, but if there are people like Harriet waking at 3.30a.m., and who get through an enormous amount of productive work and play with the extra hours at their disposal, is this cause for review into our sleeping habits?  

early morning commute

Not only does Harriet access her emails and deal with anything outstanding, she finds this ‘staying on top of things’ attitude sets a pace her staff strive to keep up with, which ultimately benefits the company.

Harriet also enjoys direct feedback from anyone, in any position, at Thomas Cook; following her early rise each day she reads and responds to every staff member’s email. Her ‘extra hours’ affords her a firmer grip on the firm’s reins – another plus.

Sometimes, Harriet finds she has to look for things to occupy the many hours she’s awake. An avid reader, she keeps the wheel turning in regards to her own development and knowledge. A definite thirst for moving forwards, it seems, with a firm grasp of her intellectual and emotional intelligence.

sleeping businesswomanSo, what would YOU do with three or four more hours in the day?

Good organisation and focus can be an alternative to rising at the crack of dawn: effective systems, efficient processes and successful delegation can eke extra time from any executive’s schedule, without anyone sacrificing their sleep.

I’ve had a good number of executive coaching and management coaching clients lament over their lack of time to complete all that’s expected and asked of them. Rising through various levels in any organisation commonly allows managers to delegate and offload to subordinates but some managers only take on more work, as if in an effort to prove themselves in the senior role they’ve acquired. (If this sounds like you, read my previous post on how to delegate successfully.) The last thing you want to do with more time is fill it with pressure.

Is Harriet alone in her sleeping habits?

Research shows that there are more people like Harriet, and commonly, they occupy jobs of significant responsibility: the ‘sleepless elite’, as they’re often referred. Far from straying into dysfunction at the lack of REM, this small section of the population choose to drive forward with their work rather than take up a leisurely or hobbyist activity with the extra hours at their disposal – some working up to 130 hours per week.

Donald Trump sees his shorter sleeping hours as keeping an edge over his rivals. He says, ‘How can someone sleeping for twelve to fourteen hours per night compete with someone that’s sleeping for only three or four?’ A fair point.

But is a four-hour sleep regime healthy for body and mind? Medical professionals appear vague on the subject, believing that sleep is very much a personal issue – some people can simply manage with less. It seems the rule of thumb is how rested you feel: if you wake up as bright as a button, even on four hours’ sleep, it’s clear your body can cope. The question would then be: how do you fill this ‘extra’ time? 

What are your thoughts? Could you manage on four hours a night?

If I can help you with delegation, focus, stress management or improving efficiency, contact me on 01302 220221.

Thanks to freedigitalphotos.net for use of the images
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