You can incorporate certain choices and strategies into every work day right where you are. That’s right. Today. Tomorrow. Which of the following ten tips appeal to you? Which would you like to try? Which could provide just enough change to refresh you without making a major move?
1. Start the work day by getting yourself grounded.
Determine what you need to do to quiet your body, mind, and spirit. Develop a little ritual that may, in total, take twenty minutes. Engage in yoga, meditation, prayer. Eat a healthful breakfast. Hum a song you love. Read a meaningful passage from a book. Exercise. Empty your head. These are some ideas but not an exclusive list.
2. Be clear about your priorities.
While you may think you have fifty priorities before you collapse tonight, you actually have five or less. Identify them before you get out of bed each morning. To do this you have to get real with yourself. Cut to the chase. What three or five things absolutely have to happen today? What are the consequences if they don’t? Organize your day around those carefully chosen priorities.
3. Schedule at least fifteen minutes twice a day to sweep out mental clutter.
Actually doing this relaxes the mind, and you will look forward to these periods as sacred time. No matter what you’re working on, lay it aside and close your eyes. Give yourself permission to daydream or to think about nothing. Breathe deeply, and become aware of how your muscles loosen up. Massage your scalp and forehead.
4. Reduce your “open door policy” time.
If you are supervising staff and feel you need to be accessible to them all day long, revise your thinking on this one. While you do need to be available as a resource, you can set boundaries around it. Decide to close your door tightly for half an hour each day, and let employees know that, unless there’s an emergency, you don’t want to be interrupted during that time.
5. Set aside thirty minutes per week for visioning.
One of the most energizing exercises you can do is allow yourself the opportunity to think about the future: yours and the company’s. Lean back in your chair and take stock of what’s going well, what isn’t going well, what can be done to relieve the problems, and what else you could contribute to enhance your experience in the organization. Be creative. Avoid limiting thoughts and ideas.
6. Find a new way to deal with mundane tasks.
If you’ve always filed paperwork first thing in the morning, try doing it before you go home at the end of the day. Instead of being distracted by incoming emails every few minutes, position yourself so that you don’t see the computer screen for an hour or more. If you don’t like establishing your calendar daily, do it weekly. The point is to do things differently from how you usually do them, no matter how slight the shift.
7. Decorate or redecorate your work space.
Consider adding an interesting plant, or bring a bouquet of flowers to the office occasionally. Change the color scheme if possible. Bring photos from home and arrange them on top of the desk or credenza. Turn a bulletin board into a work of art. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make these little additions. Just focus on making your space more interesting, more soothing, more comfortable.
8. Limit the number of interruptions.
Although this is not always possible, it is more possible than you may imagine. Schedule brief intervals throughout the day when people may interrupt you to get their needs met. Publicize those times. As a result of “planning” your interruptions, you will get more work done more effectively. Try this. It’s a great strategy that helps to preserve your sanity.
9. Delegate tasks other people can handle.
Our egos tell us we have to do everything ourselves. That is simply not true. Learn to identify what you absolutely must take care of yourself, and look for opportunities to delegate the rest of it to others who are capable of handling it. This is not about using people; it’s about managing your time responsibly. Make a list of everything currently on your plate, then mark the tasks that staff or peers can easily do.
10. Know when enough is enough.
This means know when to turn out the light. Arriving at work at 7:30 AM and leaving at 8:00 PM on a regular basis is a crazy way to live. In fact, it’s not a life at all. It’s a mere existence, and a guarantee for burning yourself out. If you are doing this, ask yourself why. Are you disorganized, tired, unproductive, wasting time? What’s the root cause of such long hours? You need to figure out why you continue to function like this and take steps to stop it.
Sylvia Hepler, Owner and President of Launching Lives, is an executive coach based in South Central PA. Her mission is support corporate and nonprofit executives and business owners as they solve problems, develop leadership skills, and increase balance in their lives. Her background includes: nonprofit executive management, public speaking, business and freelance writing, teaching, and retail sales.