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The Promises We Make to Ourselves

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The Promises We Make to Ourselves


    Each day offers us a new promise.  A new beginning. A chance to do better and be a better person at home, work, and everything else in between. We set goals for ourselves to accomplish.  It starts off good.

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    But then the kids wake up, the phone rings, the emails come through, Facebook and Twitter messages come in, a conference call occurs, lunch happens, client meetings, and then next thing you know, it’s dinner time. Time to relax. Sip a good cup of tea, a cup of coffee, wine (or whatever your choice might be), and then bedtime.  We then lay our head down on our pillow, look up in the dark room and think to ourselves:

    “What did we really accomplish today? What happened to our promises to ourselves? Sure, we were busy, but did we get the right things done?  Did we forget or just talk ourselves out of our vision to do better today because we were too busy?”

    In this post, I’ll share with you three ways to change this routine.

    Write it down

    Keeping yourself accountable is one of the best ways to see measurable results.  Think of one to three things you want to do differently and write them down.  This is the “what”.  It could be anything at all, like I want to run a 5k, I want to learn how make sushi, I want to become a better public speaker, etc. From there, write down why this goal is important to you. It might seem foreign or bizarre, but it will feel good after you do it. Next, write down where you need to be in order to accomplish those things you wrote down (i.e., the gym, a community college course, at home, etc). Then, write down when you believe you can accomplish these things and jot down key milestones you want to accomplish along the way (i.e., rewarding yourself for finishing week 4 of an 8 week running course).  Be honest with yourself in your time commitments. Finally, and most importantly, write down how you are going to feel when you finish.  How will your spouse feel?  How will a business partner feel?  Knowing how you’ll feel is almost more important than knowing what you want to do because it enables you to clearly define the outcome.

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    Check it off

    Create a chart.  Nothing fancy.  In fact, make one that you can physically check off.  It will feel better!  On this chart, you’ll check off every day that you plan to accomplish this task.  For instance, if I promise myself I will run three times a week so that I can run a 5k, I will check off each time I do it.  When I get to week 4, I’ll have a place that shows I’ve accomplished a key milestone.  All too often we get caught up in “which app should I use” but I assure you, simple pen and paper will win here – and if you put it in a place that you will always see, it will help keep yourself accountable.

    Review what you’ve accomplished

    Each week, review the checkmarks on the chart.  Did you accomplish what you set out to do for that week?  What few things went right for you?  What challenges did you have?  What could have gone better or differently? What did you learn about yourself during this process?  Writing a log at the end of each week helps you to “think out loud” about the things that will help you.  When you successfully complete those one to three things (because you can!), reward yourself.  You’ve honored your commitments.  Write down how it feels and then compare that to what you wrote down in the beginning.  Do you feel the same? Better? Different?  How has your life changed, if any, as a result?

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    If you follow these three steps, each day won’t just be a chance to do better or become better … you will be better as a result! You will be able to go through the course of your day more confident, and when you rest your head on your pillow and look up in the dark room and think to yourself about what you accomplished during the day, you can smile and sleep better!

    (Photo credit: Child with Raised hand Making a Promise via Shutterstock)

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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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