Entries with tag productivity .

4 Tactics for Improving Punctuality

If you're chronically tardy, then you're probably a bit like the Artful Dodger, mastering ways to sneak past your boss as you roll in late to the office once again.  However, all that sneaking around can be stressful, and it's even more so once your boss, coworkers, spouse, or friends bring your poor punctuality to your attention.  To stop being late, check out our suggestions below:

1. Be Brutally Honest with Yourself.  We tend to underestimate the amount of time certain activities take.  Rather than focusing on the one time you were able to shower and get dressed in just 5 minutes, pay attention to how long things take on a regular basis.  To make this easier, you may want to track the minutes you spend each day doing various activities for an entire week.

2. Prioritize Punctuality.  If being on time is important to you, you'll find a way to do it.  After all, how often do you show up late to job interviews?  Rather than telling yourself that it won't be a big deal if you sneak in late to the office one more day, remind yourself why punctuality is your priority.

3. Set a Timer.  If you've previously determined that it takes you 20 minutes to get ready in the morning, set a timer for that length of time each time you get ready.  By being able to very quickly see how much time you have left on the timer, you won't waste precious minutes by sifting through multiple outfits, for example.

4. Avoid Overcommitment.  If you're frequently late because you're trying to cram as much as possible in your day, it's time to reevaluate your schedule.  Rather than trying to fill your day with as many tasks as possible, we suggest you look over your to-do list and cut out those things that aren't truly important or necessary.

Could Your Company Benefit from a Sleep Policy?

Do you work at an office where people who leave by 5:30 are considered wimps?  Is a 60-80 hour work week the norm at your company?  Are you surrounded by highly caffeinated “zombies” who ingest tons of coffee just to keep themselves upright at work?  If you've answered yes to any of these questions, there's a high likelihood that sleep deprivation is the norm at your place of employment.  According to Harvard Business Review, that's bad for a number of reasons.

As HBR reports in Sleep Deficit: The Performance Killer, there are many ways our cognitive skills suffer from a lack of sleep including: slower reaction times, impeded judgment, interference with problem-solving, and grogginess.

While these impacts may not seem like a big deal, Dr. Charles A. Czeisler, the Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, says that sleep deprivation is not just an individual health hazard, it's a public one.  For instance, when his research team studied sleep-deprived hospital interns, they found that interns' “odds of stabbing themselves with a scalpel or needle increased 61%, their risk of crashing a motor vehicle increased 168%, and their risk of a near miss increased 460%.”

Czeisler suggests that rather than viewing sleep deprivation with machismo, that instead individuals—and corporations—take it seriously.  In fact, he suggests that businesses develop a sleep policy which would look something like this:

  • Limit Daily Work.  Ideally, employees would work no more than 12 hours a day and definitely never more than 16 hours a day.

  • Limit Weekly Work.  Czeisler suggests that employees shouldn't be scheduled to work more than 60 hours a week and they should be prevented from working beyond 80.

  • Give Adequate Days Off.  The more nights in a row we don't get enough sleep, the more sleep we require to get caught up.  To prevent this type of growing sleep deprivation, Czeisler says that ideally, employees shouldn't be scheduled more than 4-5 days in a row, and they should never be scheduled to work more than 6 consecutive days.

The Problem With Perfectionism

Do you sweat over every last detail of a work assignment, even changing a document's formatting repeatedly until it's “perfect”?  Do you feel guilty if you leave the gym after 50 minutes instead of an hour?  Feelings like this are common among perfectionists.  However, while society tends to view perfectionism as a badge of honor, there are some unpleasant consequences that often go hand-in-hand with this quality:

  1. Procrastination.

    Unless they have the time to do a task perfectly, perfectionists will often put it off until later.  Unfortunately, later may never come as you might never have the time and energy to catalogue your spice collection or organize your library alphabetically by genre.

  2. Less Resilience.

    Because perfectionists tend to take criticism and setbacks personally, they can be less resilient than others.  Rather than viewing the occasional setback as an ordinary fact of life that happens to us all, perfectionists are more inclined to take them poorly, viewing them as evidence that they're “not good enough.”

  3. Inefficiency.

    While it's tempting to imagine that perfectionists are capable of doing a lot of things perfectly, it's probably not true.  In fact, perfectionists tend to be less productive than they'd like.  For instance, after completing a task, most people will move on to another one.  Not so for perfectionists—they'll continue to review the task over and over again to make sure it's perfect.  While this may not seem like a lot of time when it occurs with just 1 task, the cumulative impact of perfectionism is a reduction in productivity.

If you've recognized yourself in this article, no worries.  There are strategies for reducing your desire to do things perfectly.  To get you started, you may want to check out the book, How to Be an Imperfectionist: The New Way to Self-Acceptance, Fearless Living, and Freedom from Perfectionism

Bad Day? 3 Tips for Turning It Around

If you've ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed, then you already know how common it is to have an unpleasant day quickly go from bad to worse.  However, rather than allowing your day to unravel, we have some suggestions that are going to make it easier for you to rapidly turn things around:

  1. Breathe.  Bad days are often caused by stress, and that go-go-go mindset—where you feel like you're continuously putting out fires and not taking the time to recharge your batteries—can only contribute to your anxiety.  Yet deep breathing is a very effective way to quickly get centered, and it doesn't take a lot of time.  To help yourself relax, spend a few minutes breathing slowly and counting.  For example, you can slowly inhale for a count of 8, hold your breath for a count of 8, and then, exhale for a count of 8.  This activity will go a long way toward helping you feel more relaxed about the day ahead.

  2. Practice Gratitude.  While it may seem counterintuitive to look for the positive when you're in a bad mood, this practice really can turn your negativity around.  Either spend a few minutes thinking about those things in your life that are going well or make an effort to find things to appreciate as you go about your day.  They can even be small things like the friendliness of a cashier, the great weather, or the minimal traffic you encountered on the highway.  When you look for things to appreciate, you tend to find even more things to feel good about.

  3. Exercise.  Exercise is one of the best ways to improve your mood.  Not only does it release endorphins which make you feel great, but it can also be a useful distraction when you're feeling bogged down by negativity.  Plus, after a workout session, people tend to feel enthusiastic about what they just accomplished.  If you're feeling unhappy about your day, hit the gym, take a yoga class, dance around your bedroom, or go for a walk on your lunch hour.  Any of these activities will help you experience a happier outlook going forward.  

5 Tips for Greater Job Satisfaction

Contrary to what you may currently believe, it is possible to enjoy your job more than you do today.  Read on to learn how you can experience greater happiness at work:

  1. Challenge Yourself.  One reason people grow to dislike their jobs is boredom.  To overcome a sense of monotony, think of ways that you can challenge yourself.  Can you take on a new project at work that you feel passionate about?  Can you get additional training on a new skill you'd like to learn?  Try to think outside-the-box to determine ways you can enjoy your work responsibilities more.

  2. Change Your Attitude.  Attitude has a huge impact on our overall job satisfaction.  Rather than allowing yourself to dwell on all of those things that you hate about your job, start thinking about those things you appreciate.  While it may sound overly simplistic, a positive mindset really can alter how you feel about your job as a whole.

  3. Don't Hang Out with Haters.  Chances are there are a group of cynical complainers at your workplace.  Maybe you're even one of them.  However, these people are unlikely to support you in your efforts to think more positively.  Try to avoid spending too much time with cynics and gravitate to people who have a better outlook.  As Forbes explains, “Spending time with colleagues who have a more balanced view can dramatically shift your emotional response to your job.”

  4. Take Regular Breaks.  When you feel yourself starting to get overwhelmed, take a short break.  Even 5 minutes outdoors or a quick trip to the coffee pot can be enough to recharge your energy and outlook.

  5. Avoid Multitasking.  It's tempting to try to do too many things at once.  However, research shows that multitasking slows down productivity and even lowers your IQ!  Instead, do one task at a time while minimizing distractions.  In the long run, not only will you get more done, but you'll also experience greater peace of mind.

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