Do you find yourself rushing around with no time to think? Perhaps you have so much on, that it’s impossible to keep up? Or maybe you know the quality of your work is not its best and you’re worried you’re going to be found out?
Imagine 2017 is the year you get on top of things and that you will be in charge of your day rather than your day being in charge of you.
You see, “The quality of everything we do is dependant on the thinking we do first” – Nancy Kline.
So creating time to think is vital. But how do you do that? It’s certainly not always easy and not always possible but try these ideas to regain control, get some time back and be in charge of your day.
Before you look at emails, and I mean BEFORE, think about these questions:-
o What’s important to get done today?
o Who do I need to reach out to?
o What sort of leader do I want to be?
o Who do I need to appreciate/acknowledge?
You might need to lie in bed for a couple of minutes longer to do this if you can’t trust yourself not to look at emails first thing!
As you walk between meetings ask yourself these questions:-
o What was great about that last interaction?
o What would I do differently next time?
o What do I want out of the next interaction? Win:Win
o How do I need to be to get the result I want?
And during your commute home or at the end of the day
o What can I celebrate, however small?
o What’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned?
o What needs to happen so I feel done for today?
o How can I best switch off and recharge the battery ready for tomorrow?
The inability of all of us to switch off is universal these days and is evident in every sector.
The World Health Organisation states that stress is the ‘Global Health Epidemic of the 21st Century’. Stress and burnout are on the increase globally due to the increase and intensity of work and it is now the number one cause of sickness here in the UK with 12 million days lost in 2015.
The Sunday Times in 2016 stated that nearly 3/4 of bankers were suffering from insomnia, panic attacks, headaches and depression brought on by work-related stress.
The City of London police reported in Sept ’16 (9 months) a 100% increase in suicides from the previous full year 2105 in the square mile alone.
It’s a major issue.
The average user in the UK checks their Smartphone 150 times a day
70% check their work phones within the first hour of waking
56% check their work phones before going to bed
48% check their work phones over the weekend
Harvard Business School expect email volumes to increase by 16% year on year
51% constantly check their phones during holidays
73% of British workers feel they are expected to always be available, increasing stress levels and the likelihood of them leaving their job.
It’s all a false economy and we’re all colluding in this fallacy. It’s a massive problem for mental health and productivity. It’s just not possible to function at your best for long periods of time without breaks and time out.
Our brains cannot continue to process information without out time out – they get full up. Timeout allows the brain to consolidate information, make meaning, allow connections and creativity to happen and puts down memories. Being on 24/7 is not humanly possible and doesn’t allow for Eureka moments that only happen when our brains are allowed to wander.
As I say we are all colluding. Have you sent emails outside of normal working hours and expected an immediate response? Was it really that urgent? Have you sent emails to people who you know are on holiday? Have you have copied in people on emails which was not really necessary and adding to their already bulging inbox.
Instead, people need to stop this folly. We have to allow people to have time out. Within your team agree up front and between you when you will have uninterrupted time to switch off and recharge. Take it in turns to cover for each other to give people a break.
If you want the biggest competitive advantage of all, carve out your own ‘switch off’ time and stick to it. You know your competitors won’t dare and you will be so much more effective and clear-headed.
If don’t you could be yet another burn out casualty!
More than ever Leadership skills are critical for success. In the new world of hyper-connectivity and information overload being able to identify what is essential and what is just noise, will identify the true future leaders. It requires more than being a ’subject matter expert’ (SME) and in fact, I think being recognised as an SME will hold you back.
As Goldsmith said ‘what got you here, won’t get you there’ is absolutely true and being seen as an expert in your field will serve you very well in the early part of your career but if you aspire to get to the top you need to have a real shift in mindset and behaviour. No longer will you be able to rely on your expertise, and the success of your own area to show your worth. You will need to move to a place where your success is measured
You will need to move to a place where your success is measured on the success of other peoples successes and you will no longer get the lion share of the credit. Ideally, you will surround yourself with high achieving, ambitious people who may know as much or more than you and who want your job. In my experience, this is a big step for many professionals climbing the corporate ladder. As you move up and take on responsibility for businesses or departments outside your area of expertise you need to ‘let go’ of knowing the ‘answer’ and be able instead to ask the ‘right question’. This takes maturity and different leadership skills.
Often another challenge for professionals in my experience is that early on in their career they pride themselves in getting the ‘right answer’. Often black and white thinking. Right or wrong. This won’t work at the top! There often isn’t a right or wrong answer – another mindset shift and a need to exercise influencing and negotiating skills.
These mindset shifts not only require you to re-invent your own self-concept but necessitate in re-branding yourself in the workplace. Without others looking at you differently and recognising that you are now more than your technical know-how, you are stuck. One way to do this is to change roles or even organisations.
As you climb further up the tree, there is more and more need to balance future goals with current needs. This requires thinking time. Something which is less and less available these days. You need to stop doing and reflect, analyse, accept advice and decide. This long-term perspective requires a level of maturity and selflessness. No longer can you think of only yourself and your success but you need to think of the organisation as a whole and your legacy.
Growing as a leader takes constant work and attention. Watching and modeling great leaders at work can really help hone your skills but a coach can accelerate the pace and help you identify an authentic leadership style of your own that is effective and gets results.
How’s your mojo right now?
There are times when even the most positive of us loses our mojo, even momentarily … so here are my 5 tips for getting it back:
- Take a break – Ideally, take a holiday or short break. Changing your environment does wonders for changing your perspective and your state. Ideally leave all work related stuff behind and allow yourself time to un-wind. You’ll find it’s a good use of time in the long run when you come back with renewed energy and vigour. If you cant take a holiday right now take a moment. Even a short break in your day can change your mood. Take a moment and take a deep breath in, hold it and then let it go slowly.
- Get Moving – Go for a run, brisk walk or just get that body moving, ideally outside in the fresh air if you can. Do what ever it takes to increase your heart rate and circulation. Look up and enjoy the sky! There’s a big world out there waiting for you!
- Gratitude – remind yourself of all the people and things that you are grateful for. If you have a roof over your head, food in your stomach and a gadget to read this blog, you already have a lot to be grateful for, compared to many in the world. Start spotting even the small things that make you happy such a familiar smile, a cosy chair and beautiful flower, the touch of a loved one.
- Get rid of drains – are you hanging out with drains or radiators? Cut out all the people and things that make you unhappy and drain your energy. Easier said than done I know but start noticing what is affecting your mood and energy and do your best to eliminate the drains wherever possible. Sounds harsh I know but there are plenty of other people and things that would value your attention. You can’t do everything so choose wisely.
- Do something – do anything! Stop thinking of all the things you can’t do and start focusing on the things you can do, however small. These actions don’t have to be perfect or complete – just take a small step in the right direction. If you’re finding it difficult to do something for yourself, do something for someone else. Ask a neighbour if they need a hand. Help a stranger in someway. Smile at someone as you walk down the street.
Remember, you are in charge of your mojo – no one else can do it for you!
Everywhere I go these days I see people who are sleep deprived and running on very low battery levels. Did you know that sleep is the most underrated health
habit and also the most under rated productivity tool?
You see, if you don’t get enough sleep, it is not possible to function at your best and
stay on top of things.
The research findings are astounding.
o One good nights sleep can improve your cognitive scores by 20%
o Those people who get more than the minimum sleep, increase the volume
of the grey matter which is linked to improved psychological health and
o One night of insufficient sleep can lead to 20% more mistakes and tasks
taking 14% longer
o Poor sleep is associated with increased stress levels, greater risk of heart
disease and diabetes.
o Sleep deprivation negatively impacts your mood ability to focus and your
ability to access high cognitive function
o Poor or interrupted sleep affects our ability to put down and recall memories
It all adds up to sleep being vital for your welfare and productivity. With a good
nights sleep not only do you feel better, you are able to cope with stress more
effectively and you get more done.
But how much is enough?
The National Sleep Foundation recommends a minimum of 7-9 hours of sleep per
night for individuals aged between 35 and 55.
o So are you getting enough sleep? What about last night?
o How much sleep do you typically get?
If you are not getting the sleep you need, you are depriving your body and brain
and diminishing your ability to function at your best, and worst still you are saving
up problems for your future.
But how do you change your Sleep routine?
o Keep a Sleep log to track the no. of hours sleep you are getting. If less than
the recommended minimum, plan when & how you are going to catch up.
o Set an alarm for when you will to go to bed in order to get your 7+ hours
o Create a routine for slowing down your body and brain before going to sleep,
o No screens 30 mins before bedtime (blue light interrupts Melatonin)
o Make wise choices – sport tv/late night movie or productive day?
o Take naps if you can
Sleep your way to the top