5 Tips for a Healthy Work Pace
At the beginning of a new year or academic term, it can be very rewarding to consider what new, healthy habits we could start forming in our life. Here’s 5 practical tips from time-efficiency expert Petra Brask, to help you create a healthier and more sustainable pace in your workday.
At the beginning of a new year or academic term, it can be very rewarding to consider what new, healthy habits we could start forming in our life.
And as a practical tool helping you all the way, theres always your best friend: your Personal Planner.
Heres 5 practical tips from time-efficiency expert Petra Brask, to help you create a healthier and more sustainable pace in your workday.
1. Your Brain Isnt Great at Estimating TimeYou may think that a certain task will only take a minute. But if youre an incurable optimist when it comes to time, you might actually have to multiply that little minute by 10 to get anywhere close to reality, and to create a little margin.
Your brain can also work the other way around. It can imagine that a particular task will take a very long time to complete, so you dont have time for that now. But in reality, what you may actually mean is you dont want to do that now. The solution? Block off some time in your Personal Planner to tackle that task, and stop making up excuses when the time comes - just do it!
2. Breaks and the Pomodoro TechniqueMake sure youre taking breaks during your workday. After 1-1.5 hours work our brain is tired, and needs some recovery time. Breaks are actually just as important as the time you spend working.
A great method that highlights the importance of breaks versus concentration time is the Pomodoro technique. Just do a search on the web and youll find lots of helpful tools and apps that will guide you how to apply this method to your workday.
3. Reflect and PrepareTake some time to reflect, then prepare to tackle your most important tasks by first writing them down in your Personal Planner. This makes getting started easier. Perhaps you could also write a short checklist with the steps you need to take to complete the task.
Make time for reflection every day. This is where youll find your focus, and where you can prioritize your tasks. You may find that reflection time is the most important time of the day, and that it releases energy back into your life.
Schedule a follow-up meeting with yourself every Friday to get an overview of the past week and the weeks ahead. Whats happening next week and month? Try summarizing what youve been working on during the week, focusing on what youve achieved and not only on the things you havent finished.
4. Have a Strategy for Handling Meetings, Emails, and PeopleMany people feel that the biggest time thieves are the many meetings, emails and coworkers they have to deal with during their work day. Theres some truth in that, of course, but theyre also an important part of the work week. Make sure you have a strategy how to handle them so you still have control of your time.
MEETINGS: Many workplaces today have a policy in place that a meeting shouldnt last any longer than 45 minutes. And to free up even more time, its a good idea to ask yourself why youre having this meeting: Whats the objective? Write a clear agenda beforehand, stating the starting and finishing times, as well as allocating specific time slots to different points on the agenda. Distribute and rotate the roles of chairperson, time-keeper and secretary - thisll keep everyone engaged and stimulate the brain too. You could also switch meeting rooms or try a walk-and-talk meeting to keep things fresh.
EMAILS: We also need to realize that an inbox should be treated like a mailbox - not a phone. A clear availability policy stating how quickly were expected to reply to an email and during what hours will help you with this.
PEOPLE: Help people easily understand when youre available and when youre not. Close the door if you have a separate office, to signal that you need some quiet work time, and put up a sign or note on the door when youre available. If you work in an open plan office, you can signal when you need to work alone by putting on headphones, for instance. Block off time in your Personal Planner when you schedule no meetings and respect these times. Make sure you take some time during the day to refocus and project lead yourself.
5. Ditch FOMO - Choose JOMO!Most of us feel like were drowning in a sea of information and notifications. Many feel stressed about constantly having to be in the loop about everything thats going on. Most probably, were suffering from FOMO, or fear of missing out. But when were too focused on what everyone else is doing and whats happening everywhere else in the world, we risk missing our own life. We should practice feeling JOMO instead - joy of missing out!
Turn off all notifications and decide on a few times a day only when youll purposefully check your phone. Have a phone charging station somewhere in your home, but try not to take it with you to the bedroom. Put away your phone during all meals and use this time to connect with friends and family.
You may feel some withdrawal at first, but soon youll realize that youve released energy to do other things instead, like reading a book, or taking a long walk in nature, or just some time to reflect. This kind of down-time is invaluable for our ability to make strategic decisions, both in the short and the long term. Its also an opportunity for our brain to process our day and whats ahead of us.
Petra Brask, time-efficiency expert, author and speaker.
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