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7 Things Workaholics Should Do To Take A Break

7 Things Workaholics Should Do To Take A Break
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Most workaholics dismiss taking a break as a waste of time. I know, because that was how I approached my work. Fortunately, after finishing up in hospital, I learned to change my ways and I was no longer a chronic workaholic. Here are 7 things I did. You should do these too if you really want to get out of the workaholic spiral. Get a life!

1. Don’t work long hours

Take a leaf out of Nick Francis’ book. He is the CEO of Help Scout and he and his staff close their laptops at 5.pm and they go off and have a life. The reason he does this is because he found that when they were working double the hours, the productivity did not match all that input at all. The results were dismal. His conviction is backed up by research too. Studies have found that working 60, 80 or even 90 hours a week resulted in a short burst of productivity initially but then faded away. Tiredness, distraction and poor decision making reared their ugly heads. The longer you work, the less productive you are. You can read the International Labour Organization study here.

2. Work smarter

Here is the way I coped with all the distractions and endless requests for the deadly ’10 minutes of your time’ syndrome.  Learn how to say NO to all those extra meetings and ad hoc requests which will rob you of your valuable prime time. Having a list of priorities for the day helps you to get these into perspective and they will usually be way down the list. Respond accordingly and work smarter. Remember that urgent phone calls and pressing deadlines are great ways to extricate yourself from these requests. You can even get an app on your phone which will send you a fake call, if your colleagues are really intruding too much.

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3. Take a real break, even a 10 minute one

An Italian friend of mine who is working in London as an architect has noticed that her colleagues are workaholics. In addition to talking only about work, they also tend to have lunch at their desks.

My advice is to get out of the office for lunch, if you can. The walk to the restaurant, the fresh air and the sunshine (if you are lucky!) will more than compensate for the time you have lost. If lunch outside takes too much time, opt for a ten minute walk outside just to get some air or have a coffee.

4.  Use an app to rest your eyes and joints

Workaholics also need to rest the parts of the body that get overworked while at the computer. No surprise that repetitive strain injury (RSI) has increased by over 30 per cent in the last year in the UK. This is costing a bomb in terms of lost revenue and productivity according to a Microsoft report. So, before your wrist and hand freezes up, use an app to make sure that you are resting the joints and your eyes at regular intervals.

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These apps can help to:

  • Dim your screen and tell you to do a few eye exercises.
  • Longer breaks will disable your screen for a set period.
  • Tailor your breaks as regards frequency and length. Decide on which sounds to alert you that a break is about to happen. They will also advise you on the ideal position of your monitor and so on.
  • Other apps will show you stretch demos so that you can give your limbs a well deserved break.

5. Lock your work up in the office

This is the hardest test of all. Most workaholics bring their work home and even check their messages in the bathroom! When you do go home, give yourself, your loved ones and the dog a break. Switch off your phone and try to become a normal person again. They will love you for it!

6. Change your mentality about breaks

The problem is that our society has a sneaking regard for workaholics because they think it is a sign of a great work ethic. Breaks and naps are regarded with distaste. It is time to change this outdated concept and you have to start with yourself. Go ahead companies are now providing nap facilities.

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7. Don’t become addicted

Nothing wrong with hard work. But when workaholism becomes all consuming, then it really is time to call a halt. Have you thought about your other life? Are you putting your relationships and your kids at risk, simply by not being there or through neglect?

Do you recognize the symptoms:

  • You are not frightened by more and more work
  • You think about work all the time
  • Work is the only thing you are passionate about
  • You find it impossible to take a break.

In the short term you may get promotion. In the long term, you will risk your health, happiness and relationships. Time to step back and discover the real meaning of being happy at work. You can start by taking a break!

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“Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend.” – Lao Tzu

Featured photo credit: Home office work station/Unsplash via pixabay.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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