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How to Find a Better Rhythm at Work

How to Find a Better Rhythm at Work


    A month ago, I wrote about how you can take a relaxing vacation. But as the calendar shifts from August to September, vacation season is coming to an end for most of us. Fortunately, going back to work doesn’t have to mean going back to the same old grind. Here are some tips for finding a new, better rhythm when you head back to work.

    Set Better Goals

    In my experience, many people set their work-related goals the wrong way. They ask themselves, “what am I best at?” and “what do I like doing?” While the answers to these questions certainly matter, they’re only part of the story. You should think beyond the “supply side”—what you want to do and what you are best at doing. You must also consider the “demand side”—what the world, your organization, or your unit needs most from you.

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    For instance, in my career as an executive at several mutual fund companies, many brilliant analysts came to me with their plans to start new, exotic mutual funds. While their ideas were always fascinating, I usually directed these analysts to focus on maintaining the performance of our existing mutual funds—our company’s highest priority.

    Don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing wrong with creativity. Indeed, some organizations need their employees to take risks and be creative, even if that is outside their comfort zone. The point is simple: your organization’s particular needs—whatever they are—should heavily influence the goals that you set.

    Manage Up

    At all levels of your organization, your boss will be under pressure from above—maybe, to cut costs, or perhaps to expand globally. When considering how you can be most useful to your organization, you should keep your boss’s own pressures in mind. In general, if your boss gives special weight to a particular goal, you should too.

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    (Of course, if you work for a “bad boss,” you probably won’t want to go along with him or her: here are some tips for dealing with this situation.)

    More generally, you should consider “managing up” to be a critical goal in its own right. You’re unlikely to be very productive (or very happy!) if you don’t have a mutually beneficial relationship with your boss.

    So make an effort to do your work in a way that’s compatible with your boss’s personality and habits. As a simple example, you can match your boss’s communication style: if he or she tends to communicate through email, that probably reflects his or her preferred method of incoming communication as well. In a broader manner, use your interpersonal skills to learn to anticipate what your boss wants.

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    Establish a Solid Routine

    Put bluntly, professionals can’t be at their best if they regularly sleep less than 7-8 hours each night. They might be able to spend more time at the office by burning the midnight oil, but in my experience, they’re often too tired to actually get much done.

    Likewise, professionals might skip their regular workout in order to stay in the office a little longer. However, a short workout session is a good investment of time: it will leave you feeling happier and more energized for the rest of the day.

    So, for your health and your productivity, you should commit to a daily routine that allows you to sleep eight hours and exercise nearly every day. Schedule your workouts around the same time every day, and try to sleep during a particular eight-hour window (for example, from 10:30pm to 6:30am each night). Over time, this schedule will help your body and mind get “ready” for each activity.

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    After a fun vacation, going back to work can be a drag. But by setting better goals, managing your boss, and fitting sleep and exercise into your daily routine, you can establish a better, more pleasant rhythm—both at home and at work.

    (Photo credit: Drumstick on Cymbal via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on May 7, 2021

    Productivity Boost: How to start your day at 5:00 AM

    Productivity Boost: How to start your day at 5:00 AM

    I have been an early-riser for over a year now. Monday through Friday I wake up at 5:00 AM without hitting the snooze button even once. I never take naps and rarely feel tired throughout the day. The following is my advice on how to start your day (everyday) at 5:00 AM.The idea of waking up early and starting the day at or before the sunrise is the desire of many people. Many highly successful people attribute their success, at least in part, to rising early. Early-risers have more productive mornings, get more done, and report less stress on average than “late-risers.” However, for the unaccustomed, the task of waking up at 5:00 AM can seem extremely daunting. This article will present five tips about how to physically wake up at 5:00 AM and how to get yourself mentally ready to have a productive day.

    Many people simply “can’t” get up early because they are stuck in a routine. Whether this is getting to bed unnecessarily late, snoozing repetitively, or waiting until the absolute last possible moment before getting out of bed, “sleeping in” can easily consume your entire morning. The following tips will let you break the “sleeping in” routine.

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    Relocate your alarm clock.

    Having an alarm clock too close to your bed is the number one reason people simply cannot get up in the morning. If your alarm clock is within arms reach of your bed, or if you can turn your alarm clock off without getting out of bed, you are creating an unnecessarily difficult situation for yourself. Before I became an early-riser, there were many times that I would turn off my alarm without even waking up enough to remember turning it off. I recommend moving your alarm clock far enough away from your bed that you have to get completely out of bed to turn it off. I keep my alarm clock in the bathroom. This may not be possible for all living arrangements, however, I use my cellphone as an alarm clock and putting it in the bathroom makes perfect sense. In order to turn off my alarm I have to get completely out of bed, and since going to the restroom and taking a shower are the first two things I do everyday, keeping the alarm clock in the bathroom streamlines the start of my morning.

    Scrap the snooze.

    The snooze feature on all modern alarm clocks serves absolutely no constructive purpose. Don’t even try the “it helps me slowly wake up” lie. I recommend buying an alarm that does not have a snooze button. If you can’t find an alarm without a snooze button, never read the instructions so you will never know how long your snooze button lasts. Not knowing whether it waits 10 minutes or 60 minutes should be enough of a deterrent to get you to stop using it.

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    Change up your buzzer

    If you use the same buzzer day in and day out, you begin to develop a tolerance to the sound. The alarm clock will slowly become less effective at waking you up over time. Most newer alarm clocks will let you set a different buzzer tone for the different days of the week. If you change your buzzer frequently, you will have an easier time waking up.

    Make a puzzle

    If you absolutely cannot wake up without repetitive snoozing, try making a puzzle for yourself. It doesn’t take rocket science to understand that the longer your alarm is going off, the more awake you will become. Try making your alarm very difficult to turn off by putting it under the sink, putting it under the bed, or better yet, by forcing yourself to complete a puzzle to turn it off. Try putting your alarm into a combination-locked box and make yourself put in the combination in order to turn off the alarm — it’s annoying, but extremely effective!

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    Get into a routine

    Getting up at 5:00 AM is much easier if you are doing it Monday through Friday rather than sporadically during the week. I recommend setting an alarm once that repeats everyday. Also, going to bed at about the same time every night is an important factor to having a productive morning. Learn how much sleep you need to get in order to not feel exhausted the following day. Some people can get by on 4-6 hours while most need 7-8.

    Have a reason

    Make sure you have a specific reason to get up in the morning. Getting up at 5:00 AM just for the heck of it is a lot more difficult than if you are getting up early to plan your day, pay bills, go for a jog, get an early start on work, etc. I recommend finding something you want to do for yourself in the morning. It will be a lot easier to get up if you are guaranteed to do something fun for yourself — compare this to going on vacation. You probably have no problem waking up very early on vacation or during holidays. My goal every morning is to bring that excitement to the day by doing something fun for myself.

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    As I previously mentioned, I have been using these tips for a very long time. Joining the world of early-risers has been a great decision. I feel less stressed, I get more done, and I feel happier than I did when I was a late-riser. If you follow these tips you can become an early-riser, too. Do you have any tips that I didn’t mention? What works best for you? Let us know in the comments.

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