Improving your life doesn’t need to involve a massive overhaul. Taking simple steps each day to implement new habits can lead to enormously positive changes.
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Implement Monk Mode Mornings
Distractions are detrimental to work efficiency, and a ‘monk mode morning’ can help counter this.
Studies show that those working in open-plan offices can be distracted as often as once every three minutes. These breaks in concentration can take the form of colleagues popping over to ask a question or distracting conversations from neighbouring desks and cubicles.
Once your concentration is broken, it can take some time to return to the same level of focus.
In his book The Joy of Work, bestselling author Bruce Daisley suggests practising the ‘monk mode morning’, which involves putting your phone in aeroplane mode, turning off email and other desktop notifications, and shutting your door to visitors before 11:00.
At first, your co-workers may not understand or appreciate this distraction barricade. But if you explain that it isn’t about being anti-social, but rather an attempt to put in a few hours of uninterrupted work before engaging with phone calls and meetings, they’ll likely be more amenable to the change.
If you don’t have an office door to enforce your monk mode morning, you can try wearing headphones in order to create your privacy.
To do today: Shut your door, plug in your earphones, put your phone on aeroplane mode and dive into a few hours of uninterrupted work until 11:00 this morning.
Avoid Hurry Anxiety
Too much connection and information can lead to ‘hurry anxiety’. It’s common to feel like you’re continually in a rush, or under pressure to get things done.
Essentially, hurry anxiety is characterised by constant low-grade stress due to the feeling that you’ll never be able to finish all that you want to accomplish. It’s especially common these days, thanks to the level of connectivity and abundance of information that the internet age provides.
Studies reveal that the average person responds to an average of 130 emails and processes about 100 000 words of information during a typical working day. Given all the tasks we need to tick off and the information we need to process, it’s little wonder we feel constantly overwhelmed.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to lessen your experience of hurry anxiety. One of the important things to realise is that being constantly busy isn’t the same as being productive. In fact, you can be more productive by setting aside time in your daily schedule for doing nothing. Research has shown that it is when we are at rest that we can really tap into our deep resources of creativity. So make sure you include time off during your day when you can take a break from all the incoming information.
To do today: Set aside at least 20 minutes of time to remove yourself from all funnels of incoming information and simply do nothing.
Take Regular Social Breaks
Social breaks can offer an unexpected boost to productivity, as social interaction balances out work challenges.
A workplace study conducted at Bank of America revealed that encouraging employees to take regular social breaks reduced stress by 19%, and increased productivity by 23%.
Being able to talk about and share your workplace stressors and troubles can provide instant relief, allowing you to return to your desk remotivated and refreshed. What’s more, colleagues who have experienced similar challenges can share proven tips for navigating the situation, as well as an empathetic ear.
To do today: Make a point of taking your lunch break with a colleague or two, rather than eating at your desk or alone.
Enjoy a Good Dose of Laughter Medicine
Laughing is an effective and valuable way of coping with life’s challenges, and we could all do with more of it in our lives.
According to researchers, laughing is a great way to balance out the intense stress and situations we often face – both at work and at home. What’s more, it has also been shown to stimulate creativity.
Adding more laughter into your day requires the development of a workplace culture where laughter is encouraged. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to crack jokes all the time. Rather, it’s about approaching work with an openness to sharing laughter with those around you if the opportunity arises.
To do today: Share a joke or comedy clip you may encounter with a colleague or two, and enjoy the bonding and stress relief that will no doubt ensue from the shared giggles.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is probably the easiest way to improve your work performance, and it takes little effort.
Science has shown that enough sleep (typically eight hours a night) not only improves concentration and performance the next day but also makes you less likely to give in to cravings for things like coffee or sweet treats.
Plus, it can make you happier! According to scientists, sleeping well reduces the number of negative thoughts floating through your mind.
To-do today: Turn off your computer and refrain from doing anything too stimulating after 21:00. Instead, relax and engage in soothing activities until you’re tired enough to lie down and drift off to sleep.
This is about continually learning and honing skills to grow and elevate yourself. In his book Elevate, Robert Glazer details four areas of capacity that can be built:
Focus on getting to know yourself and your drives and desires.
Learn to think, plan and execute with maximum discipline and efficiency.
Dedicate time each day to cultivating your physical health and wellbeing.
Consciously work on growing your ability to deal with challenging situations and get the most out of your relationships.
To do today: Dedicate some time to establishing and committing to a plan of action for building capacity in all four life areas in the coming week.
Set Your Personal Compass
Do you have a clear sense of where you’re going? Are you using your resources in the best possible way to get there?
Take some time to reflect on what’s most important to you. What makes you feel happy and energises you? What gets you down and drains your energy? When do you succeed, and when do you struggle?
Make sure you’re consciously aligning your daily actions with what you value most. True success is the fruit of this alignment.
To do today: Take a moment to define four core values (e.g. freedom, independence, abundance and generosity). Look at your to-do list for the week, and make sure that each task will help you achieve at least one of these values.
Watch this space for next week’s career-changing daily prompts!