‘Work smarter, not longer.’
This is the attitude more and more employers are adopting as flexible and part-time working becomes increasingly normalised by businesses. There are only so many hours in the day – to avoid taking work home with you, it’s important to be productive in the time you have. In a world of short attention spans and incessant distractions, however, that can be difficult. Here are 10 small ways you can increase your productivity at work and better attain that mythical work/life balance.
1. Document Your Time
Humans’ awareness of time is historically warped. In very few scenarios can we accurately estimate how much time has passed, with our perception able to be distorted by factors such as temperature, season, time of day or emotional state. It’s therefore a great idea to document how much time a day you actually spend on completing certain tasks. Having an objectively clear picture of how your day tends to be spread out will help you better structure your time in the future.
2. Set Deadlines
Now you know where your time is going, try limiting the amount of time you spend on one task. ‘Perfection is the enemy of good,’ so they say. You can always return to an activity and polish it up later. In the meantime, however, it’s a good idea to keep up momentum and move onto a new task when you can – you may be surprised at how much you can achieve if you’re strict with yourself!
3. Hold Standing Meetings
This one may not be for everyone, but the results behind it are interesting. It’s been suggested by research that standing meetings (literally meetings where everyone is standing) are more time efficient and productive. Without seats or tables, there tends to be less territoriality and increased group collaboration, not to mention quicker meeting times. One study found their average meeting length was reduced by 25% when participants were standing throughout.
4. Act, Don’t React
It’s easy to let your day be dictated by phone calls and emails, putting out fires with every response. While this reactionary attitude is a great way to simply ‘cope’, it stops you making headway of your own with projects that require you to be proactive in how you handle them. While it’s difficult to ignore a pop-up notification or a blaring ring tone, carving out time in your schedule when everybody knows not to disturb you, or turn your notifications off.
Many busy leaders tend to believe it’s quicker to complete a task themselves (and definitely get it right first time) rather than explain the task to a co-worker and have them complete it (maybe not quite right first time). This can result in complete overwork on the part of the leader, and perhaps an unhealthy environment of mistrust or micromanagement in the workspace. Instead, consider assigning tasks to colleagues based on their strengths, and take the time to explain to them clearly what exactly you’re looking for from them. You might be pleasantly surprised when they do it as well, or better, than you could!
6. Stay Healthy
One of the most effective ways to increase your productivity is to keep your brain in top shape. Some things you can do to maintain energy levels and sharp thinking are:
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Stay hydrated
- Keep healthy, nutritious snacks in your desk drawer
- Exercise regularly, particularly in your breaks
- Take a full lunch break
- Don’t take work home with you when you can avoid it
Taking breaks to improve productivity sounds somewhat counterintuitive. However, scientists have suggested that taking regular mental rests from work actually makes us more productive in the long run. As University of Illinois psychology professor Alejandro Lleras elaborates:
“Deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused…From a practical standpoint, our research suggests that, when faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task!”
Why not give it a go? Try working in 90-segments with a 10-minute break between each. Really disconnect from your desk during this time – take a walk, get some fresh air. When you return to the problem at hand, you’ll be forced to think about it globally rather than specifically for a few minutes, perhaps enabling you to see solutions and perspectives previously hidden from you.
8. Avoid Multi-tasking
When your to-do list is overwhelmingly long, it can be tempting to hop from task to task, generating an illusion of control for your own benefit. However, studies have consistently suggested that we are most productive when we set our minds to one job at a time. While you might feel you are getting more done while multi-tasking, in reality you are wasting time as you jump between headspaces, losing the clarity that comes with continuous focus.
9. Try Listening to Music
Research suggests that certain types of music at the right time can really boost productivity. There is disagreement as to why exactly this is – some credit the boost in mood, some claim it is the ability to drown out office chatter. Regardless, music can be really useful in helping workers eliminate distractions and power through a task, particularly repetitive ones.
Instrumental music is particularly praised as a focus-tool. The lack of lyrics means it’s hard for you to get distracted by words and meanings, enabling you to dedicate 100% of your concentration to your work. Similarly, the soothing effects of classical musical can help alleviate stress, helping you be more productive.
We all have most productive hours. If you’ve followed our first tip and documented how you spend your work time, you should know what hours those are for you. Therefore, it’s only logical that you should assign yourself your most difficult tasks, and the priorities, in those ultra-productive windows. That way, a task that would otherwise take you an entire morning could theoretically only consume half an afternoon, if that’s how you work.
As most workers grow increasingly unproductive throughout the day, it makes sense to reserve the easiest tasks for the afternoon. You won’t have to channel the same level of energy into these tasks, while also ticking items off your list.
These are just 10 ways you can increase productivity in the workplace. While these are useful tips you can enact in your everyday working life, it’s important to remember that productivity is primarily a state of mind. If you love your job and find your daily workload rewarding, you’ll likely be considerably more productive than someone who does not. If you’re struggling to maintain productivity across the working week, perhaps it’s time to take a step back and assess whether this position is really the right one for you, or perhaps consider that you are suffering from Burnout (just this week classified as a diagnosable illness by WHO).
Posted by Susannah Hunt on 16 July 2019
Doing These 10 Things will make you the Best Boss in the World – According to Google
Doing These 10 Things will make you the Best Boss in the World – According to Google
Today, 16th October is officially known as Boss’s Day. It’s a significant day considering we all have a boss or we are a boss, but what we want to know is makes a great one? You can go to great lengths to hire the best team but without a great manager the team will ultimately fail. Google is acutely aware of this, so for the last 10 years they conducted extensive research on this topic under the code name Project Oxygen. The goal? Figure out what makes the perfect manager, so companies like Google could train its leaders to be the best in the worlds. The research has paid off, as over the years Google has seen improvement in employee turnover, satisfaction, and performance. Want to know what make the perfect boss? It all comes down to these 10 behaviours… 1. A Good Coach A great boss allows their employees to solve their own problems. Rather than doing everything themselves, they teach others to do the work so they can be responsible for their own tasks. Taking the time to teach staff and encouraging them to upskill makes for a more empowered staff. A great boss allows their employees grow and guides them as much as they can. 2. Empowers Team and Does Not Micromanage Giving staff the freedom to do their job is key to being a great boss. Employees need to be trusted in order for them to succeed. Robert Gibbs, Chief Human Capital Officer of NASA is an advocate for this. During Robert Gibbs keynote at Talent Summit he explained how NASA’s raison d'être boils down to the flourishment of human kind, giving NASA the ultimate competitive advantage. Robert believes in “the power of presuming positive intent”. Belief goes a long way and sometimes to get the best out of people the best thing a boss can do is to just believe in them. 3. Creates an Inclusive Team Environment, Showing Concern for Success and Well-Being Putting emphasis on building social capital in the workplace is a trait of a great boss. Margaret Heffernan is an entrepreneur, CEO, writer and keynote speaker who understands that social capital takes time, focus and energy, but if the ingredients are right, can bind human capital to achieve success beyond measure. A great boss will know that loyalty, friendship and comradery in the workplace create a shared commitment to success, something we may struggle to replicate in the gig economy. In short, being trusting and trustworthy is the basis of creating a just work culture that inspires success. 4. Is Productive and Results-Oriented The best type of boss will motivate and inspire their team purely by just working hard at their job. If a manager is lazy and their team doesn’t really see them doing much it really just encourages the staff to do the same. Having a boss who is not afraid to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in to any given task is the type of leader that inspires their staff. 5. Is A Good Communicator — Listens and Shares Information A great boss shares information from their staff. Having a transparent boss means staff learn more and are encouraged to be transparent themselves. A great boss is a good communicator but an even better listener. 6. Supports Career Development and Discusses Performance A great boss will always encourage their staff to develop, praise them when they do well and constructively criticise when it’s needed. Sir Ken Robinson is a believer in the importance of a culture that gives us the opportunity to engage in creativity and how creativity should be encouraged in our businesses. Humans are born with endless capacities but they need to be adapted in order to become abilities. Sir Ken uses a clever anecdote about learning to play guitar to explain his theory. We are all born with the capacity to play guitar, but we don’t have the ability until we learn to play the instrument. We need to open up our employees to new opportunities to learn and adapt skills and unlock talents they didn’t even know they had. Criticism is also very valuable to employees. A great boss will always praise their staff on doing a good job but will have the capacity to explain in a constructive way when work isn’t at it’s highest standard. This kind of behaviour encourages learning and development which is a key behaviour of a great boss. 7. Has A Clear Vision/Strategy For The Team A great boss had a plan. They know where their team is, where they are headed and what is needed to reach their end goals. A great boss needs to be catalyst for the team/companies vision. When the team loses motivation or drive, the boss needs to be there to remind everyone of the strategy and keep things in motion. 8. Has Key Technical Skills to Help Advise the Team Understanding every staff member’s job is crucial to being a great boss. A great boss will appreciate the work that goes into completing tasks and is on hand with useful advice when needed. If a boss has unrealistic expectations because he/she doesn’t understand their staffs role, employees will only ever feel like they are underdelivering and when they need advice they feel their boss doesn’t quite understand the problems at hand. A boss who has the technical skills will welcome their staff seeking guidance. 9. Collaborates Across Effectively A great manager always sees the big picture. They work for the good of the company as a whole and encourage their teams to do the same. A great leader will promote camaraderie and integration and encourage everyone to come together and work on goals that benefit the company as a whole. 10. Is A Strong Decision Maker A great boss is decisive and not impulsive. They are confident in their knowledge and make decisions that they stick to. Being a leader means being brave in your actions to lead and guide others. You need to be courageousness to lead beyond the odds, stick to your decisions to be a great boss. Google have really hit the nail on the head with these behaviours. If you can promote these behaviours and train your leaders using these 10 points from Google, you’ll build teams that will trust and inspire one another to achieve success beyond measure.
How To Avoid Burnout
How To Avoid Burnout
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place. – Definition by HelpGuide.org Now that “burnout syndrome” has been recognised as an official medical diagnosis, it is important to recognise the signs so you can catch it before it happens. Here are small, yet effective, measures you can take to improve your wellbeing in the workplace that can spread into your personal life in a positive, affirming way. Work/Life Balance Sir Ken Robinson noted in his keynote speech at Talent Summit 2018 that, although the invention of emails was promised to save us time, we have since found that, if anything, we are less and less able to leave work behind in the workplace. It is now part of most people’s routines to check their phones first thing in the morning and reply to work-related emails at all hours of the day, always thinking about what needs to be done. It’s important that you ‘work smart, not long.’ This means actively leaving work behind in the office, working efficiently during the day so you don’t feel compelled to continue with it after hours. If the quantity of work you are being expected to complete within working hours is too much to do so successfully, be sure to speak up and discuss the manageability of your workload with your supervisor. Communication is key – they’re going to keep piling on the work as long you stay quiet about how overwhelmed you are, so make sure you speak up and be heard before it becomes too much to handle. Employers won’t know where the pressure lies unless you tell them. If you’re unsure of how much your work life spills over into your personal life, why don’t you try keeping a log for a month? Jot down in a diary how many hours you work every day – not just when you’re sitting at your desk, but when you’re thinking about work at home, composing emails and returning calls out of hours. It may build a more objectively troubling picture than you can see currently from the inside. Make The Most Of Your Breaks Don’t be afraid to make the most of the breaks you are allotted at work. Once you’re on a roll, it’s tempting to power through lunchtime and eat at your desk, one eye always on your computer screen. Try and avoid doing this when you can. Take a walk, practise mindfulness or meditation, experience new places to eat, socialise with co-workers or friends who work nearby. “But I don’t have time to meditate!” I hear you exclaim. Yes, you do! ‘Meditation’ is not always synonymous with pulling on yoga pants, lighting up a stick of incense and adopting the lotus position. You can meditate absolutely anywhere – in a local park, at a café… even sitting at your desk! If you’re not confident leading your own meditation, you can find five-minute guided sessions free online, like this one here. There are also some great customisable apps you can get on your phone, such as Timer and Headspace. It is impossible to overvalue the importance of taking time to relax, clear your head and focus on your own wellbeing. You’ll find this re-energises you for the rest of the day, as well as provide an invaluable opportunity to assess your current state of mind and mentally address any emotional concerns or anxieties. You may also be pleasantly surprised at how easily solutions pop into your head when you take just a few minutes to collect your thoughts. Communication This one works both ways for employers as well as employees. Communication is the key to destigmatising conversations about mental health. In his TEDx talk on workplace mental health, Tom Oxley says ‘you don’t make people unwell by talking about mental health – you give them the opportunity to speak out sooner’. There’s a flawed unspoken terror that speaking out about mental illness will somehow worsen the problem, as if it’s contagious or seem as if you conjured it up into existence within your own mind. The reality is that many sufferers don’t feel able to speak up due to the prejudice surrounding mental health, and the fear that their workplace would not be supportive of them if they did so. The best way an employer can foster an atmosphere of positivity, health and wellbeing is to ensure that their workers know that they are free to talk openly about any feelings of stress, anxiety or depression and won’t face indirect penalisation for doing so. The first reaction of many employers is to offer a struggling staff member limited time off to recover, then expect them to return to work and continue as usual. While time off may be a solution for some employees, bosses should also consider the advantages of offering flexible working hours to affected workers. Tom Oxley strongly advocates for good communication practices between employers and employees to ensure that no one ever feels alienated from their place of work, and that anxieties don’t build up over time into uncontrollable crises. In turn, employees should communicate to their employers about their feelings on mental health in the workplace, as far as they feel comfortable to do so. Being transparent about how you’re feeling and what you need from your job to help you recover will give your boss the tools to help you in the way that’s most beneficial for you. If you are worried that taking time off would only serve to isolate you from the company, voice that concern. Your employer should want to get the very best out of you – they hired you for a reason. It’s in their interest to give you the support you need. Create a Healthy Routine Studies have consistently proven a strong link between mental health and physical health, and specialists are adamant that one of the best ways to maintain good mental wellbeing is to look after your physical welfare. Your job can be intellectually demanding, with long hours and difficult tasks taking a toll on your mental health. Your job is also more than likely sedentary. Indeed, scientists have connected the rise in global obesity to the increasing number of jobs that don’t require any form of physical activity. It can be hard to find the time to exercise during a busy work week, but it’s important you look after your body – the injection of endorphins from exercising can only beneficially impact your mental wellbeing. Take a stroll during your lunchbreak, do 30 mins of yoga before work, or even try training for a half marathon over the course of a few months. The same can be said for your diet, avoid that pastry to go with your coffee and instead be sure to stock up your desk drawer with nutritious snacks rather than sugary ones, such as nuts, fruit and protein bars. Snacknation has published an extensive list of delicious office snack ideas if you’re dry on inspiration. These are just a few ways you can work to improve your mental wellbeing in the workplace, which will in turn hopefully boost your productivity, energy happiness and eliminate the possibility of getting Burnout Syndrome. While mental health is something we can’t always necessarily control, we can impact the way in which we talk about it, breaking down the harmful social barriers that currently ruin constructive discussions on preventative measures.
3 Common Job Seeker Mistakes
3 Common Job Seeker Mistakes
Job seeking is tough and there’s no exact rules to follow so it’s easy to make mistakes, without even realising. These are 3 of the most common mistakes that many job seekers make. If you’re job hunting and some of these look familiar to you, it might be time to rethink your job seeking strategy. You Don’t Know What You Want This is the first mistake a lot of job seekers make. Whether you’re a graduate or more experienced a lot of the time people feel the need to apply for everything that sounds like something they could do. For instance, this could be someone who is qualified in Marketing and applies for a Public Relations role. Yes, they may be linked, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re qualified or that it’s the job you’re actually interested in. When it comes to job seeking, you need to be specific and apply for jobs that you can do and that you have an interest in. You can’t just batch apply and hope for the best. Know what you want and demonstrate your interest in your application. A hiring manager can always tell when someone applied without any real interest. Too Much Waffle in Your Application Now that you know what you want, the next thing is to portray that to the hiring manager, but the problem is you undersold yourself by sharing the wrong information about your experience. Hiring managers appreciate stats, facts and figures in an application and will instantly lose interest in an application if there is too much waffle. It’s a common mistake to make, but it is one that can obliterate your chances of getting the job. To make your CV and/or cover letter more concise, why not include some stats on what you’ve achieved? It depends on your industry, but information that will impress a hiring manager are things like sales figures, marketing statistics or facts about your accomplishments in your previous roles. Not Matching Your Qualifications/Experience to The Job This is another critical mistake. When you are applying for a job you need to show the hiring manager that you are the perfect match for the job. You do this by specifically stating all the relevant experience and qualifications you have that match the job description. When a hiring manager sees this, it will make their job easier because they will clearly see how you tick all their boxes. If you have been applying for jobs with the same CV, it might be time to rethink that approach and tailor your CV to each job specifically. Job seeking isn’t easy, but there are ways to make it easier. If you’re making any of these mistakes, fixing them could really improve your applications. Best of luck!
The Benefits of Allowing Dogs in the Workplace
The Benefits of Allowing Dogs in the Workplace
We are a dog loving nation with over 450,000 people in Ireland having one or more pet dogs. With all those furry friends running around, it’s no wonder more workplaces are adding dog friendly benefits and jobseekers are looking for dog friendly employers. But what is the value of having dogs in the workplace? Stress Buster Werewolf Food co-founder and dog trainer, Chris Hanlon said in an Irish Times article that dogs can decrease workplace stress. “Let’s face it, the office can be a very stressful environment with client deadlines and colleague tensions bubbling from time to time but the presence of a dog, the petting of it and the cuddles instantly lowers blood pressure and acts as a coping mechanism lowering negative atmospheres.” Social Aid It’s no surprise that dogs are excellent ice breakers and sometimes in an office environment that’s exactly what you need. Tensions can run high and we can get very wrapped up in our day to day tasks, but a dog can help us to take a step back from that and talk to the people around us. Chris says “For starters, dogs are excellent social lubricants that instantly bring employees together, bettering the bond amongst colleagues and improving the way the team works together. All good news for a business’s bottom line.” Giving Employees Personal Help Lots of things can happen in an employee’s life and sometimes dog sitters can let you down and what happens when it’s 9pm on a Sunday and you have no one to look after your dog the next day? It’s not always ideal to take annual leave every time life happens and you have no one to look after your furry friend. It can be a huge weight off an employee’s shoulders knowing that they can bring their dog to work when they need to. In Sigmar we are happy to say that we allow bring your dog to work options, which has meant we have seen all three of these benefits first hand and how they can really give positive change to the workplace. On this International Dog Day we want to highlight these benefits and encourage small changes like Pawternity packages, bring your dog to work Fridays or reforming an outdoor area for dogs and see the positive impact it can make to your workplace. Here's some pictures of our Sigmar dog Daisy enjoying her office perks