How long does it take you to reach for your inbox each day? This is followed shortly afterwards by a coffee, and the day starts in a rush. On the way to work you crunch through more emails and messages, making the odd call. You hit work at a run, bounce from meeting to meeting, task to task, juggling, responding and executing. It feels like demand after demand; you’re drowning but you mustn’t show it. So you plough on, faster, head down, doing, doing, doing.
At some point you leave the office, still working, you enter your home. You try to relax with and the TV and go to bed exhausted (with a final check of your phone for email). Your sleep is shallow; your brain is still working and worrying.
Tomorrow you’ll wake up unrefreshed.
The alarm sounds and you reach for your your emails…
Does this sound familiar? Are you too busy at work? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, here are five simple ways to help clear your head. These simple suggestions will help you to do less, do things quicker and better and help you feel more in control of your time.
- Turn off the notifier
Whenever we switch tasks, the brain needs to reorient itself to the new rules of the game. Research suggests that jumping backwards and forwards between even just two tasks increases the time take for overall completion by up to 40 per cent. One of the biggest culprits for gratuitous task switching is the email or IM notifier. How many of us can resist the allure of the ping that announces a new message from the world out there? Yet in taking a peek, we distract ourselves and reduce our efficiency.
- Cancel a meeting
Meetings are a major source of busyness. They are on the increase, and have been increasing steadily in frequency and duration since the 1960s. Yet the value of many of these meetings in questionable. So do yourself a favour: cancel a meeting this week. Identify at least one meeting that you can either cancel or simply not attend.
- Watch the clock
How much work do you get through the day before you go on holiday? Loads, I imagine. Research shows that when we are more aware of time, we are significantly more productive. So the suggestion is simple: if you want to crunch through a lot of stuff, make yourself more aware of time. For example, get a very big clock and put it where you can see it easily, or set little alarms for every thirty minutes. It will feel like time is expanding!
- Finish on time
Do you have a spare room in your house? Is it empty? The fact is, there is something inherent in human nature that, when given space, we fill it. Giving yourself a clear time to finish (whether a deadline for a project, or a time to leave work) helps in two ways. First, as suggested above, it raises your time awareness, creating a goal. Second, it stops you from creating space and time in your calendar, because things will always fill up that time.
Smiling is good for you: it reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and releases endorphins. As Ron Gutman, founder and CEO of HealthTap announced in his TED talk, a single smile stimulates the brain as much as receiving over twenty thousand dollars. People think you are more competent and remember you better when you smile.
Try out a few of these tips to see if it improves your work day and leaves you feeling more in control of you work load.