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How To Improve Your Life By Discovering Your Why

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How To Improve Your Life By Discovering Your Why

We live in a world filled by constant distractions. There are unlimited activities floating around us at all times that can take our attention, and often the ones that scream the loudest win. A simple way to improve your life is to discover your personal why.

Most people live their lives by focusing on what they have to do. The endless tasks continue to mount up, and we wonder why we never feel like we’re getting ahead. It feels like we’re sprinting on a treadmill just trying to keep up, and every task completed is quickly replaced by new ones.

Life gets a lot simpler when we stop to ask ourselves why we do things.

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What Is The Purpose Of Your Life?

Now this is not some big esoteric question that you will ponder for a lifetime. It’s really just something that you decide for yourself and can change at any time. What is the list of things that are most important to you in your life?

I find it helps to write down things that you really love doing. Maybe it’s spending time with friends and family, doing a particular hobby, your job, or traveling. The answers are going to be different for every single person reading.

What’s important… is what’s important to you. It’s very hard to improve your life if you don’t know what improvement actually looks like for you personally.

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Refining Your List Of Priorities

Once you have your initial list, you want to look at what’s really important to you. You do that by asking yourself why you love it and why it’s important to have it in your life. I’ve been doing this exercise over the last 3 years and found that my list got more and more refined as I went.

You also want to look at how much time you put into these activities that you love. Do you get to spend as much time as you’d like with each one, or do they get pushed to the back behind the other tasks in your daily life?

Discovering What’s Really Important

If you made another list of all the things you are actually doing in your life, then you’ll probably find a bunch of things you don’t really love. Some people may hate cooking and others will love it. Everyone is unique, and this is about finding out what you want to be doing… not what you feel you should be doing.

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It’s easy to fill our lives up with things that don’t really matter to us. The trick is to ask ourselves how we spend less time doing unimportant things and more time doing the things we love. It’s not a perfect process where you can drop everything right now, but as you focus from this point on, you’ll be amazed at the results.

Always Ask Why

Whenever a new item comes across your plate, you simply ask yourself why. Is it really important to join that new committee for your child’s school or would it be more effective to actually spend that time with your children instead? Does it matter if you miss your gym time at lunch because your boss needs you to work overtime or is your fitness break more important to you?

As I said before, everybody will be different. Some will rank career over fitness and other’s will rank it in reverse. What matters is that you’re making the choice that is right for you.

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It May Sound Simple… But That Doesn’t Mean It’s Easy

Our world is full of expectations that are placed on us by others… and also by ourselves. We’re expected to be super people that run around and accomplish a myriad of different things every day to be great at work and at home. People will often look at you strangely when they ask you how you are and you don’t answer with “busy” with that frantic look in your eye.

However, once you start examining your life through the lens of why, you’ll start asking yourself, “What’s important to me?” You need to step away from society’s expectations and start focusing on and refining your own expectations instead. When you do this, you’ll see the world from an entirely different viewpoint and be free to improve your life in any area that really matters to you.

More by this author

Craig Dewe

Craig founded Lifestyle Outlaws, with the belief that everyone should have the time, money and health to do what they want with life.

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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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