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Ask the Entrepreneurs: How Do You Take a Relaxing Break From Work?

Ask the Entrepreneurs: How Do You Take a Relaxing Break From Work?

Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of those involved in the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in an area of management, communication, business or life in general.

Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

What’s your most effective tip for taking a midday, relaxing break from work?

1. Take a (Bike) Ride

    Hop on your bike and go for an easy 30-minute ride around the city. It takes you away from the chair, gets your blood flowing, and allows you to explore where you live and work. Side effects may include clearer mind, healthier body, happier mood — and sometimes, epiphany.

    W. Michael Hsu, DeepSky

    2. Meditate

      When I am having a stressful day and seem to be hitting roadblocks left and right I like to close the door to my office, turn off my cell phone, and meditate for 15-30 minutes. There is no better way of unwinding and starting over fresh. You can’t believe what a 15-30 minute meditation session can do for you. Ideas come to you faster and you can execute things on your list much faster.

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      Jonathan Shokrian, MeUndies Inc.

      3. Walk the Dog

        I happen to work from my home office, so taking my dog for a walk is easy. It’s also a great way to get some extra exercise in, not to mention lots of fresh air. I also think there’s something uplifting about spending time with a furry friend.

        Nathalie Lussier, The Website Checkup Tool

        4. Order Group Lunch

          Order lunch in, and have a group lunch where everybody takes a break from work and relaxes with other co-workers. It keeps everyone connected and motivated.

          John Hall, Digital Talent Agents

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          5. Chat With Local Vendors

            I live in China, and given the pollution, sometimes walking the dog isn’t the best option for relaxing in the middle of the day. What I do is visit the nearby small business shops and local street vendors and talk about their life, their business and any random topic in Chinese. This not only allows me to relax my brain, but lets me take a step back and see life in a different perspective.

            Derek Capo, Next Step China

            6. Read a Novel

              I’ve sworn off business books. Instead, I read fiction novels to relax and take my mind away from work. I usually read before bed (helps me fall asleep,) but I occasionally take a break during the afternoon and read my book at the nearby park. Fresh air and a good story helps clear my head and get ready for some more work!

              Jay Wu, Best Drug Rehabilitation

              7. Have a Walking Meeting

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                I schedule midday meetings that are intentionally set up as a walk and talk instead of sitting in a coffee shop. They’re very energizing and help avoid the temptation to rely on caffeine in a meeting. Being in a beautiful city like San Francisco, it’s also a great excuse to soak in the great weather that you can only see out the window most of the day.

                Jason Evanish, Greenhorn Connect

                8. Fantasy Football

                  Update your Fantasy Football team sometime in the middle of the day. During football season, I can’t think of a more relaxing activity than figuring out who to start for your next week’s matchup! Running backs are hard to come by, so pay as much attention as you can to the waiver wire/weekly injury list :).

                  Sunil Rajaraman, Scripted.com

                  9. Read the Sports Page

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                    I used to try to grind through the days with purely work. We take team walks and lunches outside of the office, but I finally realized that allowing my mind to “shut down” by reading sports news was as effective of a break as anything. Take time to do things you are excited about, and you will come back refreshed and ready to go.

                    Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

                    10. Whatever It Is, Be Consistent!

                      I try to keep my schedule open at 1 p.m. every day so that I can use that time for a walking meditation, some yoga, or another activity that allows me to disconnect from work. Consistency is key!

                      Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World

                      Featured photo credit:  businessman relaxing via Shutterstock

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                      Last Updated on December 5, 2018

                      How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

                      How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

                      Being an efficient manager and a charismatic boss at the same time can seem like an impossible task. Is there a way to deliver the desired results for your business while remaining liked and respected by your staff?

                      We all know bad examples of team leaders who seem to fail at one aspect or the other, or even at both. But we’ve also heard of awesome managers who seem to juggle both things well enough.

                      How do they do it?

                      By sticking to few proven ways that let them maintain a positive karma score while remaining efficient. In this article, we’ll guide you through 11 smart management tips on how to lead a team and become something more than a boss – a leader.

                      1. Find a Management Strategy and Stick to It

                      There’s nothing worse than a boss that keeps changing his or her opinions and assignments depending on their mood or a book they read this week. Chaotic decisions increase the insecurity and frustration of your team, so you better find your strategy and stick to it.

                      If you do find some new methods you want your staff to follow, make sure they don’t contradict the general direction you are taking. Otherwise, you risk making your team take one step forward and two steps back.

                      2. Set Goals​ and Track Progress in Reaching Them

                      Set individual and collective goals​ for your team and track the progress in reaching them. This might sound obvious at first, but too often we find ourselves stuck between daily customer requests and monthly reports, and the bigger goal or vision seems to fade away.

                      According to Elon Musk (and many other successful CEOs around the Globe), it’s crucial to have a clear and motivating aim to where the company is heading. His aim for the space transportation company SpaceX is “to make humankind a multi-planetary species”.[1] That’s a huge goal but the company is slowly moving closer to it by reaching smaller steps and milestones, like launching self-landing rockets. This is also a very inspiring and meaningful goal that helps employees endure the company’s extremely high expectations and 60 to 70-hour work weeks.[2]

                      Even if your goals are not as grand, setting and reaching milestones will give you a clear insight into the team’s overall efficiency and daily progress. With time, you will be able to see the weak spots and improve your results.​

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                      3. Demand Learning from Your Team

                      CEO of print on demand startup Printful, Davis Siksnans, believes that:[3]

                      “The key for a company going through rapid growth is to empower your employees’ self-development.”

                      His company with 500 employees spanning two continents demands a culture of learning and provides all the tools necessary to do it.

                      Their idea is –  as the company scales, people have to grow in their positions too, which means that they have to be constantly learning. Siksnans says:

                      “We try to hire people for what they might become, but they need to have that drive.“

                      Alternatively, you can provide educational courses for your employees or invite informal lecturers to educate and inspire your team. You can also encourage peer-to-peer learning by asking employees to teach their particular experience or skill to co-workers.

                      4. Invest in a Pleasant Work Environment

                      Studies show that a well-designed office environment can increase your team’s overall performance by as much as 20%. You’ll be surprised to see that even very small interior tweaks that don’t require major investments can improve your workers’ performance.

                      Some ideas for a more productive and pleasing work environment:

                      • Invest in modern furniture – offer ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and individually arranged workplaces​.
                      • Start an in-house library – reading for pleasure just 30 minutes a day is proven to be enough to become more effective at work,[4] improve focus, and deal with problems like depression and anxiety.​
                      • Play jazzy office music – rhythmic background music will help workers feel more energetic and enthusiastic while doing everyday tasks.​
                      • Set up entertainment or break rooms – being able to relax and have fun at work creates a strong commitment, helps employees relax and clear their minds, and boosts productivity.​
                      • Bring in uplifting office decor – it’s been found that art in the workplace can boost productivity,[5] lower stress, and even encourage employees to innovate.​
                      • Decorate the office with live plants for freshness and a welcoming feel. Furthermore, plants are found to ensure better air quality and increase workers’ productivity by 15%.[6]

                      5. Be Kind and Sincere to Your Team

                      Did you know that 50% of employees quit because they dislike working with their manager?[7] In fact, most times when people leave their jobs they actually leave their managers. Being friendly and sincere may not be enough to be a successful manager, but it’s a big part of it.

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                      Some ways to show you appreciate and care for your staff:

                      • Celebrate the progress and achievements of your employees. And don’t be shy to simply say thanks.​
                      • Talk to your employees regularly and really listen to what they have to say. Address their concerns, help them reach their goals and do your best to improve their work and daily life.
                      • If you’re having a bad day, don’t pour out your stress and anger on the staff. Instead, try to recharge yourself by appreciating the achievements of your team and setting the next goals.
                      • Try not to overload your team with work. Every company has rush periods when it’s okay to have more work than usual. But remember that people cannot work under prolonged pressure and stress.
                      • Don’t be selfish – it can be very demotivating to see that the manager only focuses on what you can do for him and doesn’t care about your goals and well-being.​ As the CEO of Xerox Anne M. Mulcahy put it,[8]

                        “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person — not just an employee — are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled.”

                      Whenever you are having doubts about your kind attitude, remember – satisfied employees are productive employees which lead to satisfied customers and eventually – success for your company.

                      6. Offer Flexible Work Hours

                      The traditional Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job is beginning to slip away. Increasingly more people are working remotely or having flexible work hours, and we can expect this trend to continue. To adapt to these changing habits and remain competitive in the labor market, more employers are offering the chance to choose your own work hours, work from home or even from another city or country.

                      Offering flexible hours is a powerful way to inspire your existing staff and give them intrinsic motivation. Why not let your employees choose their preferred working hours while keeping the 8-hour day? For example, night owls are unhappy and unproductive if they have to come to work before 10 AM, while others might prefer to start at 7 and finish earlier.

                      You can go even farther and hire remote workers – this way you’ll be able to recruit from a global talent pool and even save money on office expenses like desks, stationery, electricity, etc.[9]

                      7. Track Your Team’s Productive Time

                      Not monitoring your employees’ progress and efficiency can result in poor performance and slacking. Instead of letting things go with the flow, you should consider installing time-tracking software on your employees’ computers and see who’s doing great and who might need a productivity boost.

                      But don’t get it wrong – there’s no need to become big brother and watch every step your employees take. If you use the time-tracker as a spying tool, you will only see increasing suspicion and insecurity around you, and your employees’ happiness levels will drop.

                      On the contrary, choose software that allows employees to mark private time that won’t be tracked. In addition, consider these time-management tactics:

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                      • Allow flexible work hours. (see Tip No 6)
                      • Encourage breaks – studies show that employees who take regular breaks are more productive than those who don’t.[10]
                      • Enable remote work to show your employees that you trust them and that they can work from home or even from another country (if they can maintain sufficient productivity).
                      • Consider offering bonuses to your most productive employees (those who show productivity levels above 90 or 95%).

                      8. Use Only Constructive Criticism

                      Constructive criticism means offering valid and rational opinions about the work of others, involving both positive comments and remarks about what should be improved. Constructive criticism is usually expressed in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.

                      When you evaluate your team’s work, give them feedback that’s helpful, specific, and sincere. Don’t be shy to praise, but also be direct and even strict when necessary.

                      9. Don’t Give Special Treatment to Yourself

                      The boss’s actions are – directly or indirectly – observed by your team. This means that your employees look up to you and often mimic your attitude towards your work and the company – especially if your actions don’t show commitment. Nobody wants to work for a leader who doesn’t go all in or inspire motivation.

                      What you should do is lead by example. If you expect your employees to arrive at work on time and work 8 hours, do the same yourself. If you want them to show initiative, show it yourself and encourage others to do the same.

                      Jeff Weiner is the CEO of LinkedIn – a company of 3,000 employees that consistently ranks as one of the best workplaces with a 92 percent employee-approval rating.[11] Weiner’s workdays are reported to be equally long or even longer than those of his employees, allowing him to stay “extremely credible as a leader.”

                      10. Empower Your Employees

                      Here’s a common mistake many managers make:

                      They don’t motivate their staff and assume they simply love to work for their company.​ Such belief can result in painful losses for the company – especially these days when many companies are in desperate need of a reliable workforce.

                      Instead of directly thinking about bonuses and perks, consider intrinsic motivation. For example, enable flat organization in your team and listen to your employees’ ideas when they come up with opinions and suggestions. Your company might actually benefit a great deal from the feedback, and the unique ideas employees come up with.

                      You can also start an initiative where employees can freely share or pitch their business ideas to you or the founders of the company. If the idea is accepted by the management, the project can be developed, and the employee can have equity options.

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                      If people feel they have an impact in the company, they become more motivated, engaged and interested in the company’s growth.

                      11. Nurture Your Company Culture

                      Company culture is the personality of a company that defines the overall work environment and relationships between teammates. It also includes company mission, values, ethics, and goals.

                      Some examples of company cultures are the Horizontal corporate culture (collaborative and equal; popular among startups and free-spirited businesses) and Conventional corporate culture (a more risk-averse and hierarchy-based approach common in traditional companies).

                      However, you don’t have to stick to pre-existing boxes when creating your corporate culture. You might think of your team as a family, a sports team, or even a hippie camp if it fits your business and purpose. But keep in mind that by the time a company’s size reaches 20 employees, the company culture is set,[12] and any changes will need to be implemented in smaller teams.

                      Whichever personality you choose for your company, make sure to live by it and nurture it. Some things that might help:

                      Team building events, relevant books in your office library and proper on-boarding for the new employees to get everyone on the same page from the very beginning.

                      Be a Leader, Not a Boss

                      Using the words of Printful’s CEO Davis Siksnans, the ultimate goal is to “Hire great people who don’t have to be managed.”

                      However, when you do need to demonstrate some initiative and control, act as a leader rather than as a boss.

                      In other words, don’t be afraid to show the personality behind your role. And keep these 11 tips close to your heart.

                      Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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