Want more good days at work? Try these tips.
It’s the first week of September and that back-to-school vibe is in the air. For many of us it’s time to get fully stuck back in to our work lives.
So as we pack away the sun lotion and get the new stationery out, let’s ease ourselves back in with a focus on having more good days at work.
The tips below are the output from one of my summer workshops on 'Fuelling Your Best Work'. Using my Ten Sparks To Ignite Your Day At Work booklet as a prompt, I asked attendees to share their own best-practice tips, ideas and experiences.
Will any of these simple (but perhaps overlooked) ideas help YOU have better days at work?
Set the alarm clock earlier. A no-brainer, surely, for getting ahead of yourself. Getting up earlier and immersing yourself into your to-do list first-thing can create a positive mindset for the rest of the day. Capitalising on those early wins feels like you are ahead of the game and can fuel you for the rest of the day.
Make time for exercise. We all know that physical exercise improves well being and productivity. Those at my workshop who said they walked or cycled to work spoke of a stress-free commute - it also is a healthy punctuation mark between home and office. One woman recalled a colleague who had taken the kayak to the office. Whatever floats your boat - how can you get active before, during or after the working day?
Know when you’re at your peak. We’re all different, hitting our peak at different times of the day. Take time to tune into when you’re at your best and schedule the work that matters accordingly. One attendee added to that - he’d identified not only the time of day, but the actual day itself for doing his best work. For him, it’s a Tuesday. When is your most productive day?
Take a lunch break outside the office. A sandwich scoffed mindlessly at a desk isn’t healthy. Even a short walk outside will give you a more enjoyable and productive afternoon. One attendee told me his office was five minutes away from an art gallery but admitted he never went there. He was going to change this after the workshop, and try and get there every couple of weeks.
Be prepared. There’s a famous David Allen quote ‘your brain is for having ideas, not storing information.’ So always have something to hand that you can make notes on. A couple of workshop attendees said ideas always came to them just as they were going off to sleep. Have a notebook by the side of your bed will make sure the ideas don’t drift off too.
Stop and notice. Taking the time to slow down and notice our surroundings can help our well-being. One woman told me she makes a point of stopping to look at the London skyline on her walk home. It reminds her how lucky she is to live in such a great city.
Find your magic chair. Embrace your inner Goldilocks. One guy talked about discovering a chair in one of the spaces where he works. The chair looks nothing special. But when he sits down with his laptop his arms are at the right height for the screen and his posture is good. He always does good work there. Where is your magic chair?
Set rewards to look forward to. A visit to the gym; a glass of wine; some retail therapy. Attendees agreed that when you have your head down and the pressure is on, it’s incentivising to think about what you can look forward to when you’re done. Treat yourself. But only when you’ve done what you need to do.
Turn off distractions. This was a key point for many - there are various ways to get unplugged. The Notion note-taking app; a tube carriage with no wifi; a ‘monk mode’ morning. Everyone acknowledged the importance of distraction-free time to do deep work.
Talk to your neighbour. Attendees agreed that they were more creative and energised when they were in a more curious mindset and were keen to learn from others. They spoke about getting out of their office or industry bubble and attending talks and workshops where they can learn and mingle with other people. One woman explained that she always benefits from asking questions of people she’s sitting next to - whether that’s at work or of strangers in a café. So next time you’re stuck on something - turn to your neighbour.
Got a tried or tested habit or behaviour that gets your productivity, creativity and well being soaring? I’d love to hear it. Get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org