Be the Best You Can Be!
Have you been feeling that in the last 3 to 5 years of your life, things have just been spinning out of control? Do you feel like you are running on a treadmill at work and getting home exhausted? Does it seem like you have to put in more time and energy to accomplish all that you want, but still don’t get the feeling that you are accomplishing much? Are you far from satisfied with your own business productivity?
Unfortunately, we only have 168 hours in a week and unless you have a magic wand, that’s not changing. So how do we keep up with the increasing demand in our lives and get everything done without burning ourselves out or forgetting half of what we want to accomplish?
Here are my Top 3 Business Productivity Tips that keep me on the ball with all that I’m juggling in my personal and professional life.
Business Productivity Tip #1: 90-minute sprints of ‘absorbed focus’
Are you willing to admit that you believe you get more done when multitasking? Here’s some shocking news—Neuroscientists say multitasking literally drains the energy reserves of your brain. They observe that every temporary shift in attention from one task to another – stopping to answer an email or take a phone call, for instance – increases the amount of time necessary to finish the primary task by as much as 25%, a phenomenon called “switching time”. Imagine all the time that’s wasted… just to get that ‘high’ that you are being super productive! Sadly, it’s not true.
What is true, however, is that we get a lot more done when we crack down and focus hard on one task at a time. Although very challenging, because of all the distractions that exist (pings, tweets, rings, and your internal dialogue), our brain is designed to focus only on one thing at a time. Most humans have enough energy to maintain ‘absorbed focus’ for a good 90 minutes, respecting the ultradian rhythm we go through; from high levels of alertness to low levels of energy.
So, the key is this:
- Remove all distractions.
- Focus hard on one task.
- Take a break (a real break, not one to browse social media).
Business Productivity Tip #2: Plan tomorrow, today.
When you start your workday in the morning, do you find yourself pulled into email? Many of us do, and then, next thing you notice two hours flew by. Now you are feeling ‘off game’ and the fire you had when you first came in is now too dim to attack that daunting project that needs your full attention. Then, you finish your workday being overwhelmed and busy but feeling like you accomplished almost nothing. It’s not surprising if you feel frustrated at this point; like you let yourself down.
There are a couple of mini tricks that can change this vicious cycle once and for all, so here goes! At the end of every workday, take the last 20 minutes of your day and plan what you will focus on tomorrow. Speaking of ultradian rhythm in Tip #1, we have the most energy first thing in the morning. Therefore, plan to work on your biggest project for the first 90 minutes of your day and no matter what, no matter how tempting it is to just quickly glance over your inbox, don’t do it! If someone really needs you, they can call. Senior executives and business leaders are simply alerting their administrative staff that they can be reached by phone for an emergency. You can do something similar too. Now when you plan your next day, you can also include time to check emails. Personally, I like to put emails right after my first short break from my absorbed focus period (around 10:30 am). It feels like a reward. I’m such a nerd! 😉
Business Productivity Tip #3: Breathe to renew
I think you are getting the hint through this article that you need to take breaks to be at peak energy (a.k.a. being most productive). It is now nonsense to push yourself for hours at a time without taking a break. There is no need to be proud of staying at your desk all day and pushing yourself close to burn out, because the negative consequences are HUGE. Pushing yourself beyond normal levels of human functioning will affect your level of concentration, patience with colleagues and loved ones, your mood, your decision making, reduce your creativity, create too much cortisol in your body (alert: TOXIN), your sex drive (yep, needed to add this one), affect your food choices and more!
I say work hard and take some time to renew. It’s not the number of breaks that you take, but more the quality of your break. So, if you are a workaholic and glued to your desk, at a minimum, try to stop every 90 minutes and do this short breathing exercise.
- Sit comfortably, feet flat on the ground (eyes opened or closed).
- Breathe in deeply and slowly for 3 seconds, exhale slowly for 6 seconds.
- For bonus effect: Imagine as you inhale, energy coming into your every cell and as you exhale, all the tensions in your body coming out through your feet into the ground.
Do this exercise for 1-2 minutes.
For the most part, we all want to bring our best at work and do a good job. Do everybody a favour (including yourself) and learn to manage your energy so that you can be your best self in your personal and professional life.
Julie Richer – Workplace Wellness Consultant/Coach
P.S. I would love to hear from you. Tell me if you found this article helpful. Oh… and let’s not be selfish; please share these simple tips.😉