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20 Questions to Help You Reflect the Past Year

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20 Questions to Help You Reflect the Past Year
Reflect

Now we are approaching the end of the year, and it’s the perfect time to reflect how we have done in the past year. We can then take some lessons for the new year. One good way to reflect, I believe, is using four facets of prosperity:

  1. Material prosperity
  2. Spiritual prosperity
  3. Physical prosperity
  4. Social prosperity

These four facets give us a complete and balanced view of prosperity. By reflecting on them, you will get a complete view of how your life as a whole progressed in the past year.

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To help you reflect, I’d share some questions you can ask yourself for each facet. By giving honest answers to them, you will be able to see whether or not you have progressed the way you wanted in each facet. For the questions to which your answer is no, you can also ask why to find out the reason behind it. For example, take this question:

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Did you achieve the desired net worth?

If your answer is no, you can then ask:

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Why?

The answer might be because you didn’t save enough, or there were unexpected expenses you weren’t prepared for. You can use such answers to better prepare yourself for the coming year.

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So, here are 20 questions to help you reflect the past year:

1. Material prosperity

  • Did you achieve your desired net worth?
  • Did you achieve your desired income level?
  • Have you built the habit of spending less than you earn?
  • Have you been able to eliminate debt?
  • Have you built the habit of saving?
  • Have your career progressed as you wanted to?
  • Have you reduced your spending on some unnecessary expenses?

2. Spiritual prosperity

  • Have you found your life mission?
  • Did you feel fulfilled?
  • Could you honestly say that you are happy?
  • Have you built the necessary habits for spiritual growth? The habits here depend on your belief. They could be meditating or reading sacred texts, for example.

3. Physical prosperity

  • Have you built the habit of exercising?
  • Have you built the habit of consuming nutritious food?
  • Have you had good rest?
  • Did you feel physically fit in doing your daily work?

4. Social prosperity

  • Has your relationship with your spouse been as good as you wanted to?
  • Has your relationship with your family been as good as you wanted to?
  • Has your relationship with your friends been as good as you wanted to?
  • Did you make a lot of new friends?
  • Did you get to know people from more diverse backgrounds?

While the questions listed here are not comprehensive, at least they can give some ideas about how your progress is. Besides, you will be able to see which facet requires the most attention. Since you should maintain the balance of all facets, the facets you lack most are the ones that you should pay more attention to.

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The questions can also help you identify the specific actions you should take for each facet. For example:

  • If your answer to the question Have you built the habit of exercising? is no, then you should focus on building the exercise habit.
  • If your answer to the question Did you get to know people from more diverse backgrounds? is no, then you should focus on knowing people from different worlds.
  • If your answer to the question Have you found your life mission? is no, then you should focus on finding your life mission.

You can then prioritize the actions based on what will make the most impact on your life. All these, I believe, will help you set your goals for the new year. Your objective should be to have good and balanced progress in all four facets.

More by this author

Donald Latumahina

Donald Latumahina is the founder of Life Optimizer, a self-improvement blog to help people reach their full potential.

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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