With so many of us working from home, now is the time to establish healthy routines and find your work-life balance. “Balance” is a bit of a myth, because our lives are truly never perfectly balanced. Instead we can learn to prioritize. By learning to always focus on your priorities and productivity, you will reduce stress, get more done and be a whole lot happier.
The term “burnout” refers to when your body, mind, or emotional capacity has been in overdrive or has reached too high of a threshold for too long, so eventually you crash. You’re tired, irritable, and still stressed because there is always “more to be done.” Here are some ways to prevent burnout and why they will help improve your work capacity while decreasing your stress.
1. Improve Your Productivity
- Designated Work Space: Setting up a room, desk, or even specific objects, will put your brain into a “work mode.” One example of this is putting your shoes on as you work around the house. Our brains associate having shoes on with being “on the go.” This can help get you into the working mindset and remind yourself that you can relax after your work is completed. Your work area should be clean and clutter free so you can focus.
- Time Block: Making a schedule and setting specific hours in the day for “work only” tasks will help separate your work and life. By time blocking, you will be able to be more focused because those “work hours” will be for work only and nothing else.
90 Minute Blocks: It is recommended that a prime amount of time for productivity is around 90 minutes. Follow this with a 10 minute recovery period where you are able to relax or do something besides work – ideally this should be screen-free time. Read a book, listen to a podcast, go for a quick walk or meditate. This gives your brain a break so you can come back refreshed and ready to continue the workday!
Tight Bubble of Focus: In Robin Sharma’s book, The Five AM Club, he discusses the way that our phones are robbing us of our fortune. With every email, text or social media notification, we are mindlessly training our brains to become distracted and limiting our ability to focus. Instead, turn of all notifications, silence your phone and set your alarm for 90 minutes of distraction-free work time. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish.
To To Lists: If you are not working with a to do list, you are probably in “reactive mode” all day. Project management tools like Asana or Teamwork allow you to list all of your tasks for the day and also collaborate with a team to stay on track. Here’s the problem, most people will put WAY too much on their To Do list. In an effort to feel like you’ve accomplished something, you are naturally inclined to check off the easy tasks to shorten your list.
The One Thing: In Gary Kellers book, The One Thing, the author points out that your “One thing” is the thing that is so important that by doing it, all other tasks become easier or irrelevant. Keeping this in mind, put no more than your 3-6 TOP PRIORITIES on your list in a given day, and only work on the most important item first.
Beat Brain Fatigue: Continuing on the point above, always schedule your most important tasks first, ideally at the very beginning of your work day. Research suggests that our brains fatigue after too much thought and distraction. By doing the most important items first, you ensure that you feel you go the most out of your day.
Time Your Tasks: We may not always realize it, but we are our own biggest competitor. We naturally want to do better than how we did before and here’s how to play that to our advantage! Time your tasks whenever you do them. By timing your tasks, you won’t only be able to work more efficiently but you’ll also get a better idea of how long things actually take you. A task that you thought would take you 2 hours only took 30 minutes.
2. Meal Prep
Preparing your meals and nutrition goes far beyond just benefitting body builders. By planning your meals ahead of time, you save time, money, and are way more likely to stay on track with your fitness goals. There’s just a couple ways you can do this:
Prep all your meals for the following day
Prep all of one meal for the entire week (ie. prepping just lunch or dinner)
Prep for just 3 days in advance
Invest in things to make your cooking easier such as using an Insapot or crockpot to cook your protein in bulk. You can also shop at Costco and purchase many of your vegetables pre-chopped.
Don’t like to cook? That’s OK! Just have a plan. You can use meal prep/meal delivery services such as Protein House or Atlas Meals. Services like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh send you all the ingredients you need so you don’t have to worry about what to make or do any of the shopping!
3. Fill Your Cup
After all of your hard work throughout the day, you deserve some sort of break or way to recharge yourself. You need to fill your own cup in order to be productive and contribute to your job.
Some examples are:
- Listening to a podcast
- Talking to a loved one
- Being creative
4. Adding some movement to your day
Moving your body throughout the day doesn’t need to be a high intensity 60-minute workout. Like we mentioned above, it’s helpful to plan for when you are going to move throughout the day. Even if you are just walking for 10-15 minutes a few times a day, this will make a huge difference and might even leave you feeling more energized as you return to your workspace.
Although everyone is different, scheduling some sweaty exercise first thing in the morning is very beneficial:
- Reduce stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline which are highest in the morning.
- Stimulate the production of endorphins, which are the chemicals in the brain that reduce pain and elevate your mood.
- By elevating your heart rate first thing in the morning you’ll improve energy levels when you might normally be tired.
- Support healthy weight and fitness. Not only does exercising in the morning boost your metabolism, but you have fewer distractions that will come up if you save exercise for later in the day.
- Improve brain health and cognition which can improve your ability to focus throughout the day.
Productivity is not about devoting endless hours in front of your computer. Quite the contrary, it has everything to do with planning, prioritizing and examining your daily habits and health. These tips will help you eliminate the burnout, increase your productivity, balance and happiness. Want to learn more? Drop us a line and let us know how we can help.