Balancing High Performance in a Professional Services Business
How many times have you thought, “Where has the day gone? I still haven’t finished everything I needed to!” In our always on society, meeting work deadlines or satisfying the expectation for instant responses, often results in our individual health being pushed to the back of the queue.
However, times are changing. Having a healthy body and mind has never been more prevalent and many Companies now encourage employees to look after themselves better, as they see improvements in productivity.
Read on for the habits that I employ at Versent, to maintain my personal well being to make me more effective at work.
1. Morning Exercise
Whether it be a quick stroll to the local coffee shop, walking the dog or turning up at the gym for a lung busting spinning class, the positive effects of getting out from under the doona and doing something active are well renowned. Exercising at any time of the day gives a feeling of accomplishment whilst releasing hormones that improve cognitive function, allowing you to think clearer and improve focus.
Personally, I believe there is no better way to set yourself up for the day, than exercising before other distractions enter our lives?
2. Cold Water
Cold and water are words that when put together, are the nightmare of most of us! However, cold water has been proven to leave you feeling invigorated, boost you immune system, increase your resilience, combat anxiety and allow your muscles to recover from all that morning exercise. Standing under a cold shower for as little as 20 seconds is enough to begin reaping these benefits. For those more hard core, taking a dip in Port Phillip Bay for 20 minutes, works wonders!
Photo by mali maeder on Pexels
3. Morning Pause
Whether you walk from your kitchen to home workspace, take on the morning commute, have been rushing around getting the kids to school, or are still in shock from your cold shower, it is worth taking a couple of moments to pause and clear your mind, before you turn your attention to work matters.
Find a space where you will not be disturbed (outside amongst nature is the absolute best) and perform two minutes of breathing exercises, concentrating on your inhales, exhales and senses. This will lower your heart rate and allow you to think more clearly as you begin your work day.
Remember to log this in your smart watch app to allow analysis of trends.
4. Start of Day Planning
You are now in a good state to open up your laptop. Before jumping straight into responding to emails, instant messages or even voice mails, review your calendar to see what meetings or actions you have scheduled for the day ahead.
This will assist with not being caught off guard and unprepared by a reminder for something you had forgotten about.
5. Movement Snacks
Movement snacks are short bursts of exercise that are performed for 1-2 minutes every hour to get you out of your seat and raise your heart rate. These can be performed without any equipment, such as squats, push ups or sit ups.
Sitting hunched over a keyboard, staring at a screen for long periods of time, is not good for you. Your back, eyes and smart watch exercise app will be ever grateful for completing regular movements across the day.
6. Midday Reset
Life as a consultant can be challenging and stressful, as we try to satisfy client’s needs whilst adhering to Versent’s core principles. Meetings or tasks undertaken during the first half of the day, may leave you feeling a little overwhelmed and it is therefore worthwhile taking a couple of moments to perform another round breathing exercises (see habit #3) to clear your mind for what is sure to be a busy afternoon.
7. End of Day Reflection
You’ve reached the end of your day. It is important to be able to switch off from work activities and shift your focus onto family time or enjoying hobbies. End of day reflection, is time set aside in your calendar to draw a conclusion to the day and ensure you are setup to tackle the right priorities tomorrow. Taking another two minutes to breath (see habit #3) will also help you switch between professional and personal time.
8. Week Ahead Planning (Friday)
This is similar to the daily start of day planning activity (see habit #4), but expanded to ensure you are ahead of what’s coming up across next week.
Versent employees hold ourselves to a high standard of integrity where we have to manage competing priorities on a regular basis. Try doing the following to assist in those frantic times:
- Organise your calendar with colours to differentiate internal Versent meetings and those with your respective Clients.
- Check your To Do list so you can block out time to complete actions.
- If using multiple email accounts, ensure all calendars are in sync with one another.
- Set reminders for your movement snacks and breathing time.
9. Participate in Team Bonding Events
We spend one third of our adult lives at work and being able to enjoy what we do every day is key to employee engagement. Here at Versent, there is a big focus on creating a culture where people feel empowered to cultivate their respective craft.
A huge part of this, is giving people the opportunity to step out of their comfort zone in a supportive and non judgmental environment. Taking part in the annual Footy tipping competition, physical challenges such as the 10k steps or 5 minutes plank, DevJams or writing your first blog, are team bonding events where everyone is encouraged to participate. It all helps making the decision to go that extra mile an easy one.
Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU on Pexels
10. Continuous Personal Development
In an extension to participating in any company wide team events, I am a strong believer in continuous personal development.
Having a growth mindset to seek out learning opportunities in everything that you do, contributes to having a higher effectiveness in your job.
It is easy to think that you don’t have time, however, look at maximising opportunities by thinking outside of the traditional 9-5. I listen to a leadership podcast instead of playing music whilst at the gym, play the 15 minutes daily TED talk whilst reviewing my calendar at the start of the day and join the regular Brown Bags hosted by fellow Versentonians during lunch. These are examples of how I empower myself to own my personal growth as oppose to waiting for free time to appear in my day.
11. Enjoy Whatever You Do In Your Time
We all work hard to enjoy time for ourselves, families and friends. When life becomes busy and stressful, it is often these people who suffer the most. Therefore, being able to close your laptop and detach from you office environment (see habit #7), is key to meaningful personal time.
Find an activity that gives you pleasure and a chance to recover from your job. Whether that be meditating, going to the gym, volunteering in your community, or coaching your child’s sports team, spending time doing something other than work, is great for releasing those endorphins that allow you to remain in a healthy mindset.
12. Good Sleep Hygiene
After a long day, there are fewer better feelings than putting PJs on and climbing into your comfy bed. However, your sleep will be impacted by how busy and stressed you have been, the food and drink you consume and the activities you have been involved with during the day. Having good sleep hygiene is absolutely crucial to ensuring that no matter what the day throws up, you have a positive night’s rest.
- Replace your electronic devices by reading a book.
- Write down your thoughts in a journal.
- Perform another round of two minutes breathing (see habit #3) to really clear your mind.
- Use a sleep app, such as SleepScore or Sleep Cycle to track how well you are recovering each night.
In today’s fast paced world, where it has never been easier to be connected 24×7, it is absolutely critical that we look after our personal well being. The damage to our health by not doing so, will lead to a decrease in productivity in the workplace, which can quickly become a downward spiral that is difficult to recover from.
I started working for Versent, just as the Covid-19 pandemic started to impact and the world changed overnight. I was extremely keen to make a good impression and began neglecting my own well being by working long hours and not moving from my desk from early morning until late evening. As part of my attendance at a License to Lead training program, I was able to recognise the cracks that were starting to appear and quickly set about making some immediate changes to prevent any negative connotations personally, to Versent or it’s customers.
The habits laid out above are simple, practical steps that can be applied easily to office based employees, or tailored to suit other types of working environments. I can say, without doubt, that proactively improving my state of mind, has created a much healthier work life balance that not only I benefit from, but so to do my family, friends and work colleagues.
I hope these steps can assist your own journey to high performance and I am interested in finding out about what techniques you employ to make yourselves more productive. Please reach out with any comments or feedback.
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