Posts Tagged ‘work-life balance’

Overworked and OverwhelmedMost professionals do not realize that mindfulness, or the balance of awareness and intention, is the antidote to extreme stress. While mindfulness may initially seem like a complicated and elusive goal, leadership coach Scott Eblin demonstrates in his book, Overworked and Overwhelmed, that there actually is a straightforward methodology to achieving it. To this end, Eblin provides readers with an in-depth guide to the nature of mindfulness, as well as a set of mindful routines they can implement to curb feelings of burnout and be happier and more productive in both their work and home lives.

Eblin advises readers to:

  • Combine awareness with intention. Mindfulness requires professionals to cultivate an awareness of what is happening in the present moment and then take intentional steps to reduce the feelings of being overworked and overwhelmed.
  • Breathe. By practicing mindful, meditative breathing, professionals can control both their bodies’ fight or flight stress responses and the harmful effects on their health and cognitive abilities.
  • Identify best performance qualities. In order for professionals to identify the best routines to achieve mindfulness, they must first understand what their best performances look like. This way they have a reference point as to how they want to “show up” in their personal and professional lives.
  • Develop routines to reinforce mindfulness. Routines enable professionals to reduce the amount of time they spend making decisions. Mindful routines also provide a positive foundation for professionals to consistently show up at their best.
  • Strengthen body, mind, relationships, and spirit. In order to achieve mindfulness, professionals must adopt physical routines to stay healthy, mental routines to keep their minds free of clutter, relational routines to maintain their humanity, and spiritual routines to reinforce their sense of purpose.
  • Take measures to stay on track. To ensure that they stick to their mindful routines, professionals must work to mitigate their self-doubt, make themselves accountable to others, and practice time management.
  • Determine desired outcomes in the three important areas of life. In order for professionals to take mindful actions, they must first understand what outcomes they want to achieve in the domains of their home lives, work lives, and communities.

To learn more, please visit http://www.bizsum.com

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The 5 ChoicesAs the demands of work and home life continue to escalate, people are feeling more overextended, overwhelmed, and overstressed than ever before. However, at the same time, people want to be more meaningfully productive and live personally fulfilling lives. In The 5 Choices, Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill, and Leena Rinne explain how extraordinary productivity and personal fulfillment is attainable for everyone—it just requires making the right choices when it comes to managing decisions, attention, and energy. The authors present a matrixed and logical process for choosing, on an ongoing basis, how and where to best spend one’s time and attention in order to create a productive and fulfilled life.

According to the authors:

  • Anyone can do extraordinary work. Every person has unique gifts, skills, and talents he or she brings to the table. By making the right decisions about which activities to focus attention on and ensuring energy is expended and replenished appropriately, those gifts, skills, and talents can be maximized for extraordinary results.
  • Being extraordinarily productive is both easier and harder than ever before. In the high-tech information age, individuals have more opportunities than ever to make significant contributions in their work lives. However, the information age also brings with it a constant barrage of demands that can distract them from getting the most important work done.
  • Do more by doing less. Being busy is often confused with being productive. By focusing efforts on the truly important things, individuals can do less overall while ultimately achieving more.
  • People can change their brains. The brain is capable of both reactive (automatic) decision making and proactive(thought-based) decision making. By becoming more conscious and less automatic in decision making, people can change their brains to be more thoughtful on an ongoing basis, which leads to better choices in the long term.
  • Do not just think–do! Thinking about making life changes is well and good, but without a developed plan for executing these changes, they are nothing more than wishful thinking. Extraordinary productivity requires a plan, a schedule, and follow-through.
  • Technology is both a blessing and a curse. Technology has the capability to make life much easier by streamlining processes, enhancing communication, and creating new opportunities. However, it can also be distracting, intrusive, and a time waster if not used properly. The goal is to rule technology rather than be ruled by it.
  • Manage energy, not time. There are myriad time management systems to help people make better use of their time. The problem is that time is finite. It makes better sense to manage energy by continually using it and replenishing it to get the right things done in the time available.
  • Extraordinary productivity is a choice. People must choose between operating on “autopilot” and giving in to the lure of time-wasting activities or consciously taking charge of decisions regarding how to spend their time.

To learn more, please visit http://www.bizsum.com

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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has been getting a lot of attention in the news lately after it was announced that the company would no longer allow employees to telecommute from home. The practice of telecommuting has been on the rise in recent years in the United States as more and more jobs are able to be accomplished from the comfort of the home. Telecommuters typically only need access to a computer, Internet connections, and phone to do their jobs. The question Mayer’s announcement raises is whether or not this practice of telecommuting works.

Mayer cites decreased engagement, productivity, and innovation as reasons for Yahoo’s new policy against telecommuting, but do these reasons hold water? Many studies indicate that telecommuters are actually more productive than their in-office counterparts, perhaps due to the belief that they need to work harder to prove they can do their jobs at home just as well. As far as engagement and innovation are concerned, it seems that Yahoo is the one lacking the creativity to reach out and engage these employees, many of whom see telecommuting as a solution to busy family schedules and other duties.

In the short-term, Mayer’s decision may impact employee morale and productivity. In the long-term Yahoo’s non-friendly stance on telecommuters could cost the company talent as many people seek work flexibility from other companies. Time will tell whether or not Yahoo ultimately benefits from this policy, but in a business world increasingly defined by mobility and flexibility, I think it is more likely to backfire.

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With Thanksgiving leftovers still in the refrigerator and the Holiday season in full swing, it’s an important time for all of us to recognize what is important in our lives. Much of leadership training involves prioritizing work and managing time in an effort to become more efficient, but now more than ever, a good work/life balance is essential for a healthy and productive workforce.

Many companies have started offering benefits such as flextime and telecommuting to help workers reach a balance between their personal and professional lives, but this may not be enough in many cases. According to Jennifer Lacy, director of research for The New York Times Job Market, “There is a general perception among employees that working long hours is important for career advancement…This notion, and the pay and promotion policies that support it, often undermines attempts to promote work/life balance.”

For corporate work/life initiatives to succeed, they must be supported from the top. Culture is one of the largest driving forces in any initiative, but the recession has put even more pressure on those wishing to take advantage of work/life benefits because they are afraid of being viewed as not dedicated to the company. However, if companies can launch successful work/life programs, they can reap rewards that include less absenteeism, lower burn-out rates, and a more productive workforce.

So, while enjoying those leftovers and planning the family festivities this season, leaders and managers should also be thinking about how to best serve both work and family all year round.

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