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A Reinvention Revolution; 3 Sacred Cows to Start With

A Reinvention Revolution; 3 Sacred Cows to Start With

Reinvention is one of my favorite words these days. It actually started doing this rumba in my brain over a year ago, but back then I was pretty good at tuning out the music and ignoring it.

Not anymore.

I’ve become increasingly bothered by business people in my corner of the world settling for good enough that definitely is not good enough. It’s particularly annoying in regard to workforce discussions, with wannabe entrepreneurs and business owners complaining about labor and talent shortages, aging boomers and other workforce demographics making things tough on them and their prospects. The “oh woe is me” whining is driving me crazy.

Yes, I know the problems are real. However I have no patience for those who refuse to see that they must make some pretty revolutionary changes in their own business models and operational m.o.’s if they are ever to see that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

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The workplace labor and talent shortages we’re all experiencing in business aren’t going to miraculously get filled up if those “shortages” don’t start to look and feel much different. Our math in the “lose one, replace one” equation no longer computes; many of our old jobs have to be redesigned or reinvented for anyone to want them.

If you find you’re nodding your head right now, I’ve got a Reinvention Challenge for you. Are you feeling restless, rebellious, and perhaps even revolutionary? Great!

You can rid your workplace of the status quo, and lead the way with an organizational revolution which will turbo-boost your company with engaging, new-lease-on-life work at the same time, if you are willing to put some old standbys out to pasture. Here are the 3 sacred cows on my hit list:

Organizational Charts

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Organizational Charts proliferate hierarchies, and hierarchies mean there is too much protocol getting in the way of more productive relationships. The organizations which will thrive today must be more fluid and flexible, where people have the freedom to enlarge their circles of influence when they are willing and able to. People must feel they can readily team up in partnerships up, down, and all around them without worrying about delineated reporting structures. You needn’t fit your square peg in the right square box if there aren’t any boxes to pigeon-hole you in the first place.

Annual Performance Appraisals

I’ve ranted before about how poorly annual performance appraisals are done by most managers and won’t repeat those arguments now (although they still exist and are far too rampant). There are two specific ways annual performance appraisals sabotage business today by inhibiting reinvention; a) “annual” is way too slow, and we are all moving must faster than that, and b) nine times out of ten appraisals are somehow connected to compensation structures, and hence those aren’t being reinvented either. Capped out at a 3% increase in your annual review? So do you stop performing well after that? Or perhaps your window of opportunity isn’t included in this next one on my list…

Job Descriptions

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Job Descriptions give us low ceilings when the sky should be the limit. Look around you. With few exceptions, you’ll probably notice that most people at work are not fully engaged in their jobs 100% of the time. The world has changed all around us at an amazing pace, yet the vast majority of our jobs have not changed, and we’re bored with them. The job descriptions which map out recruitment efforts in most companies are still structured around sets of qualifications which are old and unexciting, and frankly, they don’t matter any more. Experience in old qualifications don’t necessarily equate to the capacity-stretching performance needed today, and they certainly don’t light our fire any longer.

So what do you say? Brave enough to put these on your hit list too?

Be a revolutionary and do some reinvention with me. Turn up the music and let’s rumba.

Article References:
The 3 New R’s: Restlessness, Revolution, and Reinvention
Everyday Performance Reviews
Adding Value to Performance Reviews
5 Questions for your Performance Appraisals
No Room for Mediocrity

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Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is also the founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.

Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: Learn to Love Projects.

More by this author

Rosa Say

Rosa is an author and blogger who dedicates to helping people thrive in the work and live with purpose.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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