A simple way to increase helper productivity

Helpers crashing on their day off

Helpers crashing on their day off

Do you wish that your helper would focus better and not be so forgetful? Do you want her to work with a higher energy level and accomplish more in a shorter period of time? Do you hope to see a gradual improvement in her overall performance, rather than a slow and steady decline?  For many helpers, there is a simple way to achieve these productivity goals: MAKE SURE THEY HAVE ADEQUATE REST.

According to the Human Performance Institute in Florida, improving the quantity and quality of rest is one of the most effective ways to work more efficiently. Basically, when we are rested we think better, can work longer, can concentrate more, are more creative and achieve more.

1. Avoid frequently interrupting your helper as she works, or constantly redirecting her work. Research says that working in 90 minute bursts boosts productivity.  Constant interruptions, whether in the office or home, hurt productivity. If you are a stay at home mom, try not to always interrupt your helper with new tasks. Just because you think of something, doesn't mean you have to say it right away. Write it down, and after she has been able to concentrate on the tasks at hand for 60-90 minutes, then add the new task to her list of things to do, according to its priority.

2. Plan at least 3-4 ten minute breaks during your helper's work day. Regular breaks reduce stress and give the mind time to process and store information. I, personally, find that some of my most productive time is when I take time away from the office. Over a cup of coffee my mind reminds me of important things to do (and I write them down); and I regain a focus on what is most important at that time.  Robbing your helper of regular rest times will make her less effective in managing your household affairs. 

Tony Schwartz from The Energy Project has shown that when we take rest seriously we will almost certainly get much more done, our work will be of a higher standard, our thinking will be more accurate, and as a result our incomes are likely to rise.

3. Treat your helper's sleep as very important. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night to function at 100% capacity. If your helper works from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., how much sleep is she getting? Seven hours? NO WAY. She has to shower, wind down from the day, send messages to her loved ones, etc. After all of that she may only sleep 5 hours a day. Over 1 week, her sleep deficit is already 12-14 hours.  Now imagine that she is in charge of your 2 year old child. Do you want someone who is chronically short on sleep  watching your 2 year old? Would you want this person driving a school bus full of children? If your answer is "no", then you need to change your routine or your demands so that the helper gets adequate rest. A midday nap may be one alternative, but however you achieve it - it needs to be done. You can't cheat nature - we need 7-8 hours of sleep per day to function well.  Having a set bed-time (its not just for kids) is helpful, as is sleeping in a dark room. Encourage your helper (wouldn't hurt you either) to turn off her phone and gadgets, and anything that glows or beeps. This will increase REM sleep, and she will awake feeling more rested.

4. Make sure she gets at least one whole day off each week. Don't require your helper to do a lot of chores before she goes on her day off. Most ladies will wash up dishes, and tidy up a bit before leaving for their day off. If you are requiring much more than that, you are only cheating yourself out of an energetic smart helper. One day of rest per week is the minimum required by law. Your helper needs that time to renew her strength and focus.

Is your helper's performance getting better over time OR worse? If it is worsening, one possible factor may be the lack of adequate rest. Why not do an experiment? Make sure your helper gets adequate rest for 30 days, and see if her performance improves.  What do you think? Are performance and rest related? Leave us your comments below.

The above tips were based on an article on the importance of rest, that I read on Forbes.com. 


Hi, I'm Allan Smith,owner/manager of Arrow Employment Services. I'm married to my high school sweetheart, Ione and we have 2 wonderful daughters and 1 amazing grandson. We love serving HK families by providing them with good helpers, and the support they need to maintain a happy family in our crazy busy Hong Kong.