Reposted with permission from Eileen Pease, Dynamic Learning.
Reposted with permission from Eileen Pease, Dynamic Learning.
[Reposted with permission from Eileen Pease at Dynamic Learning]
I have just finished reading Daniel Pink’s book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing and, I would like to share with you the insights he has given me.
As with all his books, Daniel Pink did meticulous research over several years to uncover his information. For example, one study used all the words from 500 million Tweets of 2.4 million users, from 84 countries, over a period of 2 years to measure the emotional content of those words matched to the time of day.
The Time of Day
What they found was a pattern of everyday life where most people’s positive mood rises in the morning, dips in the afternoon and rises again in the evening. This pattern remains true whether you live in a large, diverse country like the USA, or a small more homogenous country like the United Arab Emirates.
You probably already know whether you are a lark, an owl or, as Pink says, a third bird. If you want to know how much of a lark or an owl you are, you can take the Horne-Ostberg Morning-Eveningness Questionnaire at https://www.danpink.com/MCTQ
This world-wide “peak, trough, and rebound” of daily life has led to many more research studies. And some interesting implications for our brains and our minds.
If you are a lark or a third bird (as 75% of us are), do your most demanding, difficult or analytical work early in the morning. This is also a good time to take exams. Expect a trough in your mood and productivity about 7 hours from the time you usually awaken in the morning. This works for owls, as well, who, if they had a choice would go to sleep closer to midnight and wake later in the morning than most people.
Taking a break after each hour of concentrated work – where you move, chat, at least look outside but, even better, go outside – will help you be happier and more productive, according to the scientists.
Napping at least once a day is also recommended, so long as you do it properly. Pink recommends that you drink a strong cup of coffee first (the caffeine takes about 25 minutes to actually get into your bloodstream). Then find a quiet, comfortable place to sleep with a timer to wake you 20 minutes later. You will awaken refreshed and, as the caffeine kicks in, you will be full of energy.
By the way, Pink recommends that you schedule doctor, dentist and other therapist appointments as early in the morning as you can. Not only is your health professional more alert and in a better mood, but you will be more focused and will absorb advice more deeply.
A study done by some New York scientists is of particular interest to me. They studied the emotional content of corporate executives’ earnings report calls to stock exchange analysts. They surveyed 26,000 calls from 2,100 companies over a period of 6.5 years. This is what they found: Afternoon calls “were more negative, irritable, and combative . . . leading to temporary stock mispricing for the firms hosting earnings calls later in the day.”
As an important part of my business is to talk to my clients about their training needs, I think I will arrange those discussions for mornings in the future.
Give Your Kids a Break
“In Finland, a nation with one of the world’s highest-performing school systems, students get a 15-minute break every hour.” (page 85) Let your children choose their own activities during their breaks, so long as it is away from their screens and their desks.
Find ways to encourage your children to get outside, preferably several times a day. Running, climbing and jumping in the sunshine (and even in the rain or snow) gives their eyes, their bodies, and their brains a health-promoting break. Even better if you go outside with them.
As any parent knows, young children are larks and teenagers are owls. “Considerable research finds that delaying school starting times (for teenagers and young college students) improves motivation, boosts emotional well-being, reduces depression, and lessens impulsivity. . . . .the optimal time for most college classes is after 11.00 am.” (page 91)
As we prepare to go back to working in the office, things might not go back to how they used to be. Managing a hybrid team might be a little bit challenging for team leaders. Read about some tips to help you out.
How well do you manage your time? If you’re like many people, your answer may not be completely positive! Perhaps you feel overloaded, and you often have to work late to hit your deadlines. Or maybe your days seem to go from one crisis to another, and this is stressful and demoralizing.
Many of us know that we could be managing our time more effectively; but it can be difficult to identify the mistakes that we’re making, and to know how we could improve. When we do manage our time well, however, we’re exceptionally productive at work, and our stress levels drop. We can devote time to the interesting, high-reward projects that can make a real difference to a career. In short, we’re happier!
In this article and in this video, we’ll look at 10 of the most common time management mistakes, as well as identifying strategies and tips that you can use to overcome them. Click here to view a transcript of the video.
Do you ever have that nagging feeling that you’ve forgotten to do an important piece of work? If so, you probably don’t use a To-Do List to keep on top of things. (Or, if you do, you might not be using it effectively!)
The trick with using To-Do Lists effectively lies in prioritizing the tasks on your list. Many people use an A – F coding system (A for high priority items, F for very low priorities). Alternatively, you can simplify this by using A through D, or by using numbers.
If you have large projects on your list, then, unless you’re careful, the entries for these can be vague and ineffective. For instance, you may have written down “Start on budget proposal.” But what does this entail? The lack of specifics here might cause you to procrastinate, or miss key steps. So make sure that you break large tasks or projects down into specific, actionable steps – then you won’t overlook something important.
You can also use Action Programs to manage your work when you have many large projects happening at once. (Action Programs are “industrial strength” versions of To-Do Lists.)
Do you know where you’d like to be in six months? What about this time next year, or even 10 years from now? If not, it’s time to set some personal goals!
Personal goal setting essential to managing your time well, because goals give you a destination and vision to work toward. When you know where you want to go, you can manage your priorities, time, and resources to get there. Goals also help you decide what’s worth spending your time on, and what’s just a distraction.
To learn how to set SMART, effective goals, read up on Locke’s Goal Setting Theory. Here, you’ll learn how to set clearly defined goals that will keep you motivated.
You might also enjoy our Book Insight into Long Fuse, Big Bang by Eric Haseltine. This book teaches you how to focus on your long-term goals without overlooking your short term priorities.
Your assistant has just walked in with a crisis that she needs you to deal with right now, but you’re in the middle of brainstorming ideas for a new client. You’re sure that you’ve almost come up with a brilliant idea for their marketing campaign, but now you risk losing the thread of your thinking because of this “emergency.”
Sometimes, it’s hard to know how to prioritize, especially when you’re facing a flood of seemingly-urgent tasks. However, it’s essential to learn how to prioritize tasks effectively if you want to manage your time better.
One tool that will help you prioritize effectively is the Action Priority Matrix, which will help you determine if a task is high-yield and high-priority, or low-value, “fill in” work. You’ll manage your time much better during the day if you know the difference. You might also want to go through our Bite-Sized Training session How to Prioritize to further enhance your skills.
Do you know that some of us can lose as much as two hours a day to distractions? Think how much you could get done if you had that time back!
Whether they come from emails, IM chats, colleagues in a crisis, or phone calls from clients, distractions prevent us from achieving flow, which is the satisfying and seemingly effortless work that we do when we’re 100 percent engaged in a task.
If you want to gain control of your day and do your best work, it’s vital to know how to minimize distractions and manage interruptions effectively. For instance, turn off your IM chat when you need to focus, and let people know if they’re distracting you too often. You should also learn how to improve your concentration, even when you’re faced with distractions.
Additionally, our article on managing email effectively teaches you how to gain control of your email, so that it doesn’t eat up your entire day.
Procrastination occurs when you put off tasks that you should be focusing on right now. When you procrastinate, you feel guilty that you haven’t started; you come to dread doing the task; and, eventually, everything catches up with you when you fail to complete the work on time.
For instance, one useful strategy is to tell yourself that you’re only going to start on a project for ten minutes. Often, procrastinators feel that they have to complete a task from start to finish, and this high expectation makes them feel overwhelmed and anxious. Instead, focus on devoting a small amount of time to starting. That’s all!
You might also find it helpful to use Action Plans. These help you break large projects down into manageable steps, so that it’s easy to see everything that you need to get done, and so that you can complete small chunks at a time. Doing this can stop you from feeling overwhelmed at the start of a new project.
Are you a person who has a hard time saying “no” to people? If so, you probably have far too many projects and commitments on your plate. This can lead to poor performance, stress, and low morale.
Or, you might be a micromanager : someone who insists on controlling or doing all of the work themselves, because they can’t trust anyone else to do it correctly. (This can be a problem for everyone – not just managers!)
Either way, taking on too much is a poor use of your time, and it can get you a reputation for producing rushed, sloppy work.
To stop this, learn the subtle art of saying “yes” to the person, but “no” to the task . This skill helps you assert yourself, while still maintaining good feelings within the group. If the other person starts leaning on you to say “yes” to their request, learn how to think on your feet , and stay cool under pressure.
Some people get a rush from being busy. The narrowly-met deadlines, the endless emails, the piles of files needing attention on the desk, the frantic race to the meeting… What an adrenaline buzz!
The problem is that an “addiction to busyness” rarely means that you’re effective, and it can lead to stress.
Instead, try to slow down, and learn to manage your time better.
To get on top of her workload, Linda regularly writes emails while she chats on the phone to her clients. However, while Linda thinks that this is a good use of her time, the truth is that it can take 20-40 percent more time to finish a list of jobs when you multitask, compared with completing the same list of tasks in sequence. The result is also that she does both tasks poorly – her emails are full of errors, and her clients are frustrated by her lack of concentration.
So, the best thing is to forget about multitasking, and, instead, focus on one task at a time. That way, you’ll produce higher quality work.
Our Expert Interview with Dave Crenshaw, looking at The Myth of Multitasking will give you an enlightening look at multitasking, and will help you explore how you can manage simultaneous projects more effectively.
It’s nice to think that you can work for 8-10 hours straight, especially when you’re working to a deadline. But it’s impossible for anyone to focus and produce really high-quality work without giving their brains some time to rest and recharge.
So, don’t dismiss breaks as “wasting time.” They provide valuable down-time, which will enable you to think creatively and work effectively.
If it’s hard for you to stop working, then schedule breaks for yourself, or set an alarm as a reminder. Go for a quick walk, grab a cup of coffee, or just sit and meditate at your desk. Try to take a five minute break every hour or two. And make sure that you give yourself ample time for lunch – you won’t produce top quality work if you’re hungry!
Are you a morning person? Or do you find your energy picking up once the sun begins to set in the evening? All of us have different rhythms, that is, different times of day when we feel most productive and energetic.
You can make best use of your time by scheduling high-value work during your peak time, and low-energy work (like returning phone calls and checking email), during your “down” time. Our article, Is This a Morning Task? will teach you how to do this.
In honor of Ergonomic Week at Dalhousie, I thought we’d kick off today with some useful information around this topic.
In an effort to stem the number of coronavirus infections, millions of Americans are now working from home, transforming kitchen tables and bedrooms into temporary home offices. Many are working under less-than-ideal ergonomic conditions—a kitchen chair that’s too low, a table that’s too high. You get the idea. Poor ergonomics can make or break your work-from-home experience.
It’s easy to work on your laptop for a few hours on the weekend, but doing so for 40-plus hours a week can lead to back, shoulder, and neck strain. If you can, use an external monitor or laptop stand (with an external keyboard and mouse) to prop up your screen. When looking at the screen, your eye line should be level with the address bar on your web browser.
Find a working height so that your elbows naturally fall flush with your table/desk height. This will promote better wrist alignment rather than impingement or carpal tunnel stress.
Adjustable features on an office task chair will save you from lumbar and neck discomfort.
If you don’t have the option of an office chair, there are some household items you can use to help you adjust. Putting a firm cushion or tightly folded towel under your buttocks will raise your hips and increase the curve of your spine, making sitting more comfortable.
Place your feet on a few books or boxes under your desk, so that your thighs are nearly parallel to the floor and your hips are slightly higher than your knees. This will reduce stress on your lumbar spine.
For every 20 minutes spent looking at a computer screen, you should spend 20 seconds looking at something else 20 feet away. This gives your eye muscles a break and helps reduce eye strain.
As tempting as it is, the couch is not an optimal place to work at your computer for the entire day. Although it may be comfortable, having your legs or full body in a vertical position can lead to muscle numbness and discomfort.
Try to set up a workstation that you can make entirely your own. Sharing a workstation means you need to adjust your computer height, chair, and furniture every time you sit down. Often, you may choose to skip adjusting the workstation altogether. If you are the only person using the space, customizing will reduce the time and discomfort of sitting at a station that does not fit you.
It’s easy to snack throughout the day instead of eating like you did in the office. Making a meal and staying hydrated gives you the opportunity to stand up, walk around, and let your eyes have a rest from the computer screen.
The goal is to get in as many steps as possible during the day, even if you are at home instead of on campus.