16 Sept 2010

Use your breaks to boost performance!

Whether you've recently returned from your holidays & are frantically trying to beat that heap of awaiting paperwork or maybe you work in education & are grafting overtime to be ready for the next academic year, here's how you can use breaks as your secret weapon!

1) When? - identify when to take breaks. If your 'in the zone' then there is no sense in stopping here, take a break if your finding a piece of work stressful, physically demanding or you struggle to concentrate.

2) Where? - even if you feel comfortable at your work station, you will work so much better on return if you temporarily change your environment. Go to the staff room, catch up with colleagues in another dept or best yet go for a wonder & get some fresh air. Often the most effective breaks are those spent in environments opposite to our working environment: E.g. If you're sat down indoors - get up & walk outdoors, if you do active work out side - sit down in the warmth with a cuppa & chat.

3) How long? obviously don't 'milk it' otherwise you're boss will probably give you a longer break than you wanted. Just a 5 minute break can be extremely effective. If you don't have the freedom to take your own breaks or really feel you don't have time then try changing tasks for a short while instead as this can have a similar effect.

4) Why? our mind & body work best when sufficiently stimulated. If we have a sedentary or repetitive job then we easily start to switch off & not produce our best work. The more restricted we are in our job, the more important it is to stimulate our senses by changing our environment, even just changing the layout / lighting / colour of your office can have a beneficial affect.

How many of you have your lunch at your desk? - yeah me too. Lets just try it out today & see if it makes a difference, we have nothing to lose & perhaps a lot to gain!

P.S. struggling to concentrate can often be caused by dehydration so grab a glass of water on your walk about too.

9 Sept 2010

Letting your workforce off the leash!

Put down your bagels folks because this week while further researching performance enhancing techniques, I came across some very intriguing methods you may find useful.

This alternative line of thinking is that by sticking to 'best practice' and adhering to a truck load of processes and procedures, we are not giving ourselves / our employees the opportunity to excel, but only ever achieving average results. Yes, various protocols and SOPs are needed for guidance and to ensure a good job, but these days doesn't there seem to be too much control, always having to do things the long way round? By keeping your employees challenged, acknowledged and in 'the loop' instead of suppressing them, you may just unveil the employees with those great ideas or that extra level of service capable of giving your company the edge.

The reason I have become a geeky fan of this type of management is not just because it helps companies progress, it also is much more psychologically and therefore physically healthy for the individual. It engages them raising their job satisfaction, increasing productivity and decreasing sickness absence.

Think about your job role and the effect such an approach would have on you. You may just be able to see over your in-tray!

3 Sept 2010

Addressing your basic priorities!

If I asked you to list your life's top 5 possessions would you put your car, designer sunglasses or laptop before your mattress & footwear? In a high-street survey I would expect so.

Lets think about this for a second, surely the things that we do most often are therefore the things that have greatest potential to affect our daily health & performance. We spend about 2/3rds of our life in a pair of shoes and the other 1/3rd lying on a mattress, so it makes perfect sense that they are good quality and fit for purpose in order to promote our well-being.

Shoes: Now, if as your reading this your conscience is screaming then don't worry, I'm going to help you. Lots of money can be spent on desirable footwear but lets save those for special occasions. At work they may be out of sight anyway under your desk, driving your car, or 1/2 hidden by your trouser leg so why not make them comfy and functional instead. Choose shoes that fit the natural shape of your foot (they don't restrict the foots movement when walking), go for flat or low-heel options with support & cushioning where you need it while allowing the foot to move naturally. This is especially important if you are stood for long periods of time!

Mattresses: It's not always necessary to splash out on a slab of 'space-age foam' mattress, good quality conventional ones can be just as good. My main message here is 'try before you buy'. Rather than just jumping on it in the showroom, ask for a 5-7 night trial (most retailers offer this). This way you can truly test it as you will fully relax when semi-conscious in sleep. Ultimately go with what feels most comfortable to you, for most of us this will be medium-firm. If your current mattress sags - change it! A good nights sleep = a healthy and productive days work.

Further workforce advice on these and related topics is available in our courses and workshops.