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motivation

Fostering a Work Environment that Works

Andy Core is an expert in Work-Life Balance, Well Being and Peak Human Performance.

There are a lot of things we want from our job. Money, benefits and time off are all important goals, but perhaps one of the most sought after requirements in a job is that you like being there. So for managers who want to create a culture of employees who enjoy their job, here are a few tips.

Practice an attitude of transparency

If you mess up, admit it. If you are confused or overwhelmed, ask for help. Thank others for their honesty when they do the same. This way, fear won’t be the driving force that motivates people and collaboration will be the norm. The point of working in an office is to be a team. This requires regular interaction, honesty and the knowledge that you won’t be fired for imperfection.

Stop Venting

That being said, it’s important not to complain. Venting does not make you more productive, less stressed or more motivated. Instead it creates negativity and wastes time. A positive culture is vital, and if you or your coworkers spend your energy complaining, this is impossible.

Laugh

I have a theory that productivity corresponds with laughter. Joking around with your coworkers increases energy and revitalizes motivation, making work feel less like work. Especially if you’re the manager, it’s good to goof off a bit, and lead the trend.

Work hard, but with Attitude

Everyone is different. And the best way to like your job is to be accepted for your unique self. As long as the work gets done and done well, any personality should feel welcome. This allows for a vibrant workplace that is comfortable and positive.

 

How to: Take Charge of Your Life.

keys-to-happiness_o_1511909When an article is discussing work-life balance, the subject is often directed to working mothers. However, Andy Core’s advice to change your life is for everyone who may be overwhelmed or discouraged with their day.

For instance, everyone has now finished up their holiday season, and soon we will all embark upon the most dreary months of the year. Because when the holidays have ended and the lights are packed up, we’re left with three months of winter and no opportunity to take a vacation. Many of us will hit a lull in our day to day lives that make us feel like we’re on autopilot. Maintaining an upbeat and motivated perspective may seem impossible.

1.) Reflect

However, studies show that if you feel yourself slipping back into bad patterns for whatever reason, be it depression, lack of motivation or just plain fatigue, the best way to get back on the wagon is to reflect back to a point in your life that made you feel happy. When were things going well? If you keep a journal on a regular basis, this might be an easy exercise. However, if you tend to live life by the moment, and don’t take time to reflect on a regular basis, this may take more time.

Either way, just remember the times that you felt the best about you. One great article I read yesterday suggested that we change things according to how we did things as a child. Check it out here. What were you doing differently that you fail to do now? Were you cooking meals with your family? Were you exercising? How much TV were you watching? How much sleep were you getting? Were you prioritizing your relationships? Were you excited about your job?

2.) Reformat

All these questions relate you the minipatterns you’ve designed. If you haven’t stuck to the most beneficial ones, then you most likely won’t be in a good mindset. Therefore, to stay energized at work during this next year, focus on the small, daily habits that you know you should do. Putting technology on the backburner could help significantly. Get your blood flowing with exercise to feel the excitement of health, oxygen and stress relief. Eat mindfully both at work and at home. Practice gratitude.

Picture this for a moment. A three-year old has your laptop in its grubby hands getting ready to bang on the screen, drop it or get the keys sticky with food. You’d freak out, right? You’d instantly take your laptop back, assess the damage and take control of the situation.

Sadly, it seems that we care about electronic devises more than ourselves.  Due to whatever reason, we often continue to let our life be out of sync for years at a time. We give the laptop to the toddler.

I’m not asking you to freak out about changing your life, but I am asking you to value your peace of mind, health and community at least as much as an electronic device. You have the power to assess the damage and create daily habits slowly in order to change your life.

The hardest part is getting started. The worst thing you can do is get overwhelmed by a huge list of things to do. Once you have the motivation of one small adjustment, a tailwind affect will occur and change will snowball with that momentum. One encouragement will serve as a catalyst for transformation. Just change one thing in your day, and if you keep it up, in time, you’ll have reached an amazing goal.

 

Creating a Daily Vacation

mister-rogersIt’s January, and the holidays are officially over. For many, the next months will be dedicated to work without the hope of a vacation and may be the hardest part of the year to enjoy. To stay motivated, some may focus on when the next getaway is, but it’s more beneficial to develop a daily habit of renewal.

In the article, “Recovery, Work Engagement, and Proactive Behavior: A New Look at the Interface Between Nonwork and Work,” the study found that if you practice recovery rituals on a daily basis, your work engagement and productivity levels will increase. Therefore to maintain positive motivation both at work and home, we must create a mini vacation on a daily basis. Forming this habit is a simple exercise that requires three easy steps.

1.)    Evaluate

Recovery will be different for each person, but the first step is to recognize your current pattern when you leave work. Do you have a coming home ritual that allows you to unplug? Do you mentally leave work, or do you instead stay connected to technology and the stress of your job? Do you exercise or plop on the couch with your dinner and remote in hand? Can you talk to those who matter in your life,  or are you distracted and irritable?

2.)    Envision

After you’ve contemplated what your day looks like now, decide what needs to change. One important step is to “bookend” your day. Some call this the Mr. Rogers method because as we all remember, every time he entered his doorway, he put on his cardigan and slippers. Take this a step further, and instead of putting on your old man apparel, put on tennis shoes and go exercise. Yoga is also a great way to engage in recovery because it melds fitness with centering yourself in the present moment while it purges out your stress through breathing. Think of exercise as a stress filtering tool rather than a chore, and remember that it doesn’t have to be intense, it just has to be consistent.

3.)    Engage

After you’ve relieved your stress, then you can enjoy those around you who make your life what it is. Whether it’s your spouse, your child, your dog or your journal, truly participate. I often am greeted by daughters inviting me to dance when I enter the house. This ritual releases me from work and allows me to appreciate my family, my home and my life.

Also, eat your evening meal with intention. I know that every night can’t be a gourmet experience, but you can do better than fast food from a chain restaurant or your microwave every night. The experience of cooking is good for community building, health and happiness, and try sitting at the table rather than your couch. Doing so will support communication much more deeply, and connecting to your food will help you eat the proper amount and be satisfied.

Practicing the habit of gratitude will also increase your motivation. This is because being thankful for the bright spots in your day make it worthwhile. If you take time to reflect and appreciate, your gratitude will reframe your mindset into a positive outlook. Also, rather than worrying about work or dreading going in the next day, contemplate what you actually enjoy about your job. Choose something that you’re thankful for and say it audibly. Attitude is by far the most important factor in maintaining happiness.

In short, figure out what habits make you feel mentally at ease and positive. If you get home and do things that make you feel grateful for the life you’re living, you’ll more motivated and energized on a daily basis. These mini vacations are necessary to recharge your perspective and prepare you for work the next day.

So again, recognize your current status, decide what small habits you can change in your day to develop a pattern of recovery, and practice those changes. Doing so will change your mindset and give you a better sense of balance in both work and life.

 

 

 

Preventing Burnout In the Workplace

flexibleAt the beginning of the New Year, many CEO’s and managers will be considering what adjustments to make to the benefits package they provide their employees. This year especially, many may consider offering more intrinsic benefits. Over the past few years, it hasn’t been enough to offer salary and health care. Employees want to feel valued in a deeper way.

According to a recent LinkedIn survey, 63 percent of women define career success as having a job that allows them to balance their personal and professional lives. Men are less likely to value this, but still find it important.

This means offering employees flex-time to work from home, respecting vacation time and making sure new responsibilities are feasible before they are assigned.
According to a 2012 poll from the Society of Human Resource Managers, only 10 percent of companies offered formal flex-time.

However, this number is likely to increase. Technology is the main factor which will allow for such job perks. In many office settings, communicating with the fellow employees and/or clients is just as easy through outlets such as email, Skype, GoToMeeting and the phone. As long as the employee is organized, this option should work seamlessly.

Offering work-life balance benefits not only makes an employee feel more successful, but it can also attract top hires and keep them there at less cost to the business. Evidence shows that many people today are more likely to take a job, even if it pays less money, if they are offered flexibility. In addition, studies also show that overall moral will improve, absenteeism will decrease and motivation will be sustained if these benefits are offered.

David Posen, Oakville, Ont. stress doctor and author of Is Work Killing You?, explained the necessity of work-like balance benefits in this article by Harvey Schachter. “Work-life balance is not a luxury. It’s a necessity – for good health, energy and productivity. And there are serious consequences if our lives fall out of balance for too long. Balance is an antidote, a counterbalance, to chronic stress. Balance prevents burnout.”

To create a sustainable business, managers and owners need to maintain a culture that prevents burnout and promotes productivity. Proper work-life balance may be the best method.

 

The Secret Recipe to Productivity

Productivity is one of the most used words in our vocabulary. It’s a quality that matters to both a business and the individual. Everyone wants to feel like their life has purpose, and productivity is a measure of whether or not you’ve applied yourself and have something to show from your day.

There are apps, books and careers dedicated to getting us to be productive and yet, the average person tends to trudge through their day and force their productivity to come out. It’s a chore, not a habit.

In a recently discovered blog called, TYNAN, the article, Why Obsess About Productivity?, got me wanting to pinpoint the key ingredients for productivity.

  1. Be Excited

This might seem obvious, but too many people are living a life that they simply aren’t passionate about. It’s no wonder why the daily tasks that make up their day are less than stimulating. For instance, if you like writing and yoga, these tasks will be easy. They make you happy, and with some intention, they’ll become habits. If you hate running and coding, these tasks will most likely take forever to finish, and even when you did manage to, it’d most likely be done badly.

So before you can change your day to become the better version of yourself, first decide if the way you’re spending your time is actually the way you want to spend it. Reflect over your day. Are you proud of your work, your hobbies, and your habits? If not, what else would you like to do? Zen Habits Leo Babauta gives this encouragement in his article, Letter to an 18-year-old on the Career Path Less Traveled, “Try a lot of things. When you get good at something, by the way, you’ll like it much more. You’ll suck at everything at first.”

Imagining change is scary, but the idea of doing something that makes you miserable just because it’s available is even scarier. You have one life. Get excited about it.

  1. Make your work a Sprint. Not a Marathon.

This advice comes from Jamie Herzlich’s article, “Small Business: How owners can reduce stress.” The concept is essentially to work hard and stay focused when you’re doing a task rather than attempting to work constantly and running out of steam.

Jeff Haden’s article “The 8-Hour Workday Doesn’t Really Work,” gave this advice, “Instead of thinking, “What can I get done in an 8 hour day?” I’ve started to think, “What can I get done in a 90 minute session?”

Also, Give yourself breaks after you finish a task and clear your head. This keeps you from “multitasking” for the sake of working, which usually equates to scattered, unproductive effort with little product. If you’re bogged down, try to stretch, walk, or laugh rather than sit in your chair and go on autopilot.

  1. Stop Rushing and Get Organized.

Have you ever been to a restaurant where your server was going nonstop? Did you enjoy the experience? Did it make ordering your food easier? Was your server even doing a better job?

Now imagine that your coworker rushes like this hypothetical server. Does working with a manic manager make you a better employee, or a scattered one? Most people would agree that it’s easier to accomplish a task and enjoy yourself while you do it if those involved stay calm and collected. This point is expanded upon in Will Yakowicz’s article, “Stop Rushing at Work: Stress Makes you Less Productive.” “The key is to plan and prioritize instead of being reactive. Being in control instead of being rushed helps your employees to stay calm, avoid stress, and be more productive.” The point: don’t rush your tasks, rank them.

On this same thought, you don’t have to respond to every email immediately. Instead, try to set aside a few times in your day to respond to all your emails at once so that you don’t lose focus on what you have set out to do.

  1. Stay Motivated

Now that you’re passionate, focused, and organized, the only thing you’ve got to do is maintain that energy. This is done by accomplishing the tasks you’ve set for your day and giving yourself the credit for these achievements. Whether it’s making a checklist and steadily eliminating your tasks, or the positive momentum you’ve collected from knowing that you’re having a successful day, recognize your pattern and repeat it with joy. Because you are now doing a job you love, and you’re doing it well.

Living the dream is possible. You just have to enjoy yourself and set your pattern.

 
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Change Your Day, Not Your Life
A realistic guide to sustained motivation, more productivity, and the art of working well
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About Andy Core
Author and speaker on work-life balance, productivity and wellbeing
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