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Work Life Balance

Work Less, Work Better. Use These 5 Steps to Design Your Perfect Week

Checking in at intervals during the week is something any business can implement to help their employees achieve balance between their work and personal lives.

Thierry Brunfaut

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Admit it: You want to work less. And work smarter. You want to enjoy your free time, but you need to make good money. And of course, you want keep learning and enjoy your career at the same time.

Whether you work in a so-called creative industry or not, balancing personal autonomy with productivity and great teamwork is a challenge we all face. Is there a possible solution to this seemingly impossible equation?

Actually, yes. It takes planning, consistency and teamwork, but by properly structuring your time and work methodology, you just might be able to have it all.

Related: Building Real Work Life Balance

Here’s a plan of action:

1Monday morning: Start focus

Begin by gathering all your team members in a room where you’ll spend 20 minutes reviewing the challenges of the week.

Each person writes their three personal challenges for the week on a post-it, puts it on wall and reads it aloud it to the group. These challenges must be clear objectives with completion dates.

Whether it is personal (I want my desktop cleaned by tomorrow night) or linked to others (I want to deliver that project to the client on Wednesday night), it must something that can be accomplished. This works because it is a commitment you make in front of your teammates. To keep everyone motivated, the post-its remain on the wall the entire week.

2Wednesday morning: Share with others

At Base Design, we call this the creative meeting, but it can be adapted to fit many types of businesses.

This time, everyone is present, from the office manager to creative and financial directors, and you’ll spend about three hours getting on the same page about all aspects of the business. While that may sound like a long time, it’s a crucial way to glue the team together.

It is the moment where ongoing projects, discoveries, research, presentations are shared and discussed. And other things will be shared as well: Emotions, feelings and passion.

The creative meeting is lead by one person (it could be someone different each week) that is in charge of the agenda and the time keeping.

Importantly, the meeting starts with the inclusions, where each participant openly responds to the following three questions:

  1. What is my mood today?
  2. What are my expectations for this meeting?
  3. What will I bring to this meeting?

As implied by its name, the inclusion method is a tremendous tool to include everybody and give everyone a voice of equal importance. The meeting ends, after all presentations, sharing and debates, with a round table of constructive feedback.

Related: Richard Branson on Parenting and Work-Life Balance

3Thursday lunch: Forget work

office-life-lunch-breakThis is the true feel-good rendezvous of the week. It’s a very simple concept: One staff member takes a turn cooking for the rest of the team.

There’s no work, no agenda, just time to enjoy a meal and the company of your colleagues. Time your team spends getting to know each other as friends is as important as the time they spend collaborating as co-workers.

4Friday afternoon: Look back

Time for a review of the week. Duration is variable. This is when the team gathers and each one gets returns to his or her Monday post-it. Did everyone fulfill their three challenges? Yes, great. No? Let’s analyse why, discuss it with the others and learn from it. Remember, the goal is to work less and better – and here’s an opportunity to discuss how to do just that.

5The rest of the week? Full autonomy

We’re all adults here. Each member of the team is certainly mature enough to organise the time spent on their own projects and meetings, inside and outside the company, and combine it with the demands of their personal life in a way that works for them. No judgment, no second guessing. Just deliver good work on time, and everyone is happy.

Related: (Video) How to Get the Work-Life Balance Right

Checking in, staying on the same page and cheering each other on at intervals during the week is something any business can implement to help their employees stay on the right track and achieve balance between their work and personal lives.

By respecting these milestones with absolute discipline, you will see responsibility and autonomy raise naturally among your team members, and these gatherings will become an essential and enjoyable way to support the well-being and efficiency of your team.

 

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Thierry Brunfaut is creative director and partner at international branding firm Base Design where he oversees all strategic and conceptual issues for the company. He believes in the power of creative autonomy mixed with teamwork and pleasure and imparts a philosophy of graphic and conceptual simplicity for client work. Brunfaut is a professor at La Cambre’s visual communication and design departments, and lectures about design and branding around the world.

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1 Comment

  1. Concerned Citizen

    Jan 16, 2016 at 09:46

    This is a good post like the strategy it is worth implementing:-)

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Work Life Balance

Avoid Burnout With These Small Changes To The Way You Work

Follow these five tips to work smarter, not harder.

Lisa Promise

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Workplace burnout is real. I know, because I’ve been there, and I know most others have as well at some point or another. Thrive Global’s Arianna Huffington is no different. She’s on a mission to fix what she deems a “culture of burnout,” after her own collapse from exhaustion in 2007.

Huffington rightly says: “When we take care of ourselves, we are more effective, we are more creative and we are more successful in a broad definition of the word.”

Medical News Bulletin recently published “Can Positive Psychology Traits Prevent Burnout?,” referencing a study where participants completed a survey about the balance of the effort versus reward from a job. This particular research was focused on the manufacturing industry in China, given the “monotonous and repetitive nature of their work,” but this can be said for many professions and sectors. It was found that hope, self-efficacy, resilience and optimism can help to manage work stress, and people with these qualities are less likely to become burnt out.

Related: (Video) Avoid Burn Out

There have been many studies published over the years that working less results in higher productivity (hint: the optimal number is less than 40 hours per week). Perhaps even more important is that it’s nearly impossible to stay focused for long stretches at a time. Some research suggests that you should be breaking as frequently as every hour.

Work smarter not harder

In line with that, I believe in working smarter, not harder. While there are 24 hours in a day, they weren’t all made for work. I’m in the camp that working eight hours nonstop is actually more unproductive than it is beneficial. Your brain has peak operating times, and what works for one may not work for another.

Some people are at their best in the mornings, while others are most efficient late at night. I firmly believe that dictating what hours you should work and when is not the best method to yield quality work.

I often get asked how I can get things done. I work from home, and some have the perspective that I have no one to hold me accountable throughout the day. Inquiring minds wonder everything from what my daily schedule looks like, to how I motivate myself to finish up a project or prospect for my next client.

Related: Even If You Work Hard And Love What You Do, You’re Still At Risk Of Burning Out

tim-ferrissLet me start by saying that I strongly value flexibility. It’s the reason why working for myself is the best fit for me. But I hold myself accountable, and there’s a certain amount of self-discipline involved in doing that. Everything I do is because I’ve set goals for myself.

I have a duty to uphold to my clients and my partners, and a commitment to myself about the success of my business. I also pride myself in the underrated aspect of efficiency. It’s not how long you do something for, but how well you do it.

Several books I’ve read over the years on this topic have stuck with me. Getting Things Done, by David Allen, addresses the two-minute rule. If you can do something in two minutes or less, do it now. Don’t make a note and come back to it later. The time you spend thinking about it, planning it and recording it is more than the time it actually takes to complete the task.

Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Work Week covers the topic of efficiency as well. He’s a prime example of taking the phrase “Work smarter, not harder” to a whole new level. To be successful, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to work more, only that you need to work more efficiently.

Based on experience, I’ve adopted these top five tips to do just that:

Free up your mind

There is no need to remember everything. You read that right. Why are you keeping everything in your mind, which only serves to bog you down and make you feel overwhelmed? Find a record-keeping system that works for you.

Related: Admin Hacks For Entrepreneurs

Some people prefer old-fashioned paper notes. I prefer electronic. With a Mac laptop and an iPhone, I use Notes and Reminders apps to store everything I need to do or think about. I schedule reminder times to make sure I’ve checked something off my list. No matter what device I’m on, I know it’s available to me.

Schedule

Plus, I schedule everything on my calendar – my morning activities to start my day, hours allocated for every client and even things like time to take a walk. But again, I’m flexible. I move things around as needed, but I know I have set time to focus on a task at hand.

Plan and bucket

Some projects seem daunting from the start, but they need to be done whether you want to or not. Oftentimes the hardest part of a project is starting it.

Create a plan and break it down into manageable chunks. If you can complete a portion each day, not only will your mind stay sharp, but that focus will also help to make the task more bearable. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Follow the 80/20 rule

I’m a longtime follower of the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle: 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of the work.

Why are you spending time on things that take 80 percent of your resources but deliver 20 percent of the value?

Stop doing meaningless tasks, or outsource them if they must be done. Prioritisation is one of the most important keys to efficiency.

Take breaks

It might seem counter intuitive that you can get more done by working less, but the human mind was not created to work non-stop. As research suggests, breaks are beneficial. Go for a walk, have lunch away from your desk, read a book, catch up with a friend or colleague – I promise you’ll feel refreshed and ready to reengage.

Related: Is Working Too Hard Destroying Your Business?

The 40-hour workweek is so synonymous with the American culture that it’s unlikely to change in the corporate world anytime soon. Most of us know that 40 hours isn’t really 40 hours anyway, it’s “whatever it takes.” That being said, with influencers like Huffington working to educate companies on the detriments of overwork, there’s hope.

There’s nothing wrong with working hard – it’s to be admired and valued. But don’t work long hours only for the sake of it. The companies that are getting it right realise that face time isn’t everything.

The results you deliver, the reputation you hold and the relationships you build should always outweigh the hours of your workweek. As an entrepreneur, you can take advantage of this and you can evangelise this approach to others. Work smarter, not harder, and you’ll be better for it.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Work Life Balance

4 Ways Sleeping Naked Makes You Healthier and Wealthier

What if I told you in just ten seconds a day, you can sleep better, make more money, reduce stress and lose weight?

Travis Bradberry

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Sleeping naked can improve your sleep habits and income earning capacity, while reducing stress and helping you to lose weight. All you have to do is take off your clothes. While there are countless strategies floating around out there to help you improve in these areas, none is as simple — and many are less effective — as stripping down before you go to sleep.

Since only 8% of people sleep naked, almost everyone can discover the benefits of sleeping in the buff. This may sound far-fetched, but hear me out before you throw those cozy flannel pyjamas on.

1. You sleep better naked

We’ve always known that quality sleep is good for your brain, but recent research from the University of Rochester demonstrates exactly how so. The study found that when you sleep your brain removes toxic proteins from its neurons that are by-products of neural activity when you’re awake. The catch here is that your brain can only adequately remove these toxic proteins when you have sufficient quality sleep.

When you don’t get high quality, deep sleep, the toxic proteins remain in your brain cells, wreaking havoc and ultimately impairing your ability to think. This slows your ability to process information and problem solve, kills your creativity and increases your emotional reactivity.

Related: 7 Motivational Habits That Drive Millionaires

Researchers at the University of Amsterdam found that lowering your skin temperature increases the depth of your sleep and reduces the number of times you wake up at night. Stripping down to your birthday suit is a great way to lower your skin temperature without changing the temperature of the room.

2. Sleeping naked reduces stress

We all know that prolonged stress is bad news. It suppresses your immune system and increases your risk of heart disease, depression and obesity, in addition to decreasing your cognitive performance. Stress throws your cortisol levels out of whack. Proper rest helps to restore normal cortisol levels, which improves your stress level, regardless of what’s happening around you. As described in the section above, sleeping naked will help you to get a better night’s sleep.

3. Sleeping naked is healthier

Sleeping naked has a slew of health benefits, including helping you to lose weight. A study conducted by the US National Institutes of Health found that keeping yourself cool while you sleep speeds the body’s metabolism because your body creates more brown fat to keep you warm. Brown fat produces heat by burning calories (300 times more heat than any organ in the body), and this boosts your metabolism all day long to help you lose weight.

In addition to the metabolic effects of sleeping in the buff, removing your clothes improves blood circulation, which is good for your heart and muscles. The quality sleep you’ll enjoy also increases the release of growth hormone and melatonin, both of which have anti-ageing benefits.

Related: 10 Things Successful People Tell Themselves Every Day

4. Sleeping naked builds confidence

Confidence doesn’t just feel good; it’s the pillar of success. It pushes you to try new things, take on challenges and persevere in the face of adversity. A University of Melbourne study found that confident people earn higher wages and get promoted more often than their less confident counterparts. Sleeping naked makes you more comfortable in your own skin. As your comfort with your body increases, so does your self-esteem and confidence.

Bringing It All Together 

The benefits of sleeping naked are many — so many that you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

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Work Life Balance

Even If You Work Hard And Love What You Do, You’re Still At Risk Of Burning Out

And no, it can’t be be resolved by blowing off some steam or meditating for 30 minutes.

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When we’re deeply immersed in our work, we’re often committed to a goal and a quality standard and making progress accordingly. This is what people mean when they talk about “engagement.” Is the person not only working hard, but truly invested in what they’re doing?

Naturally, however, working hard can result in stress, which can lead to burnout, even if a person is extremely passionate about their work. A recent study from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence found that nearly one in five people are both highly engaged with their work and experiencing exhaustion and burnout.

The researchers conducted an online survey to suss out the conflicting emotions this group feels toward their jobs – these individuals are interested in their work, but they’re also frustrated and stressed out by it. They’re stressed out to the extent that they think more about leaving their current jobs than people who aren’t engaged with their work do.

Related: How To Go From Burnout To Breakthrough

In other words, there’s such a thing as too much engagement. So what can we do to make sure workers don’t get too wrapped up in their work? The answer isn’t workplace programs that involve nutrition or meditation, the researchers warn.

“While we know that chronic stress is not good for employees, company wellness initiatives are not the primary way to respond to that stress,” study lead Julia Moeller writes in Harvard Business Review. “Our data suggests that while wellness initiatives can be helpful, a much bigger lever is the work itself.”

The researchers break down the factors that determine a worker’s experience into two categories: Resources and demands. If a worker has tangible resources such as time, money and equipment at their disposal, as well as intangibles such as empathy or even friendship from their team, they’ll be better off. They’ll also benefit from rewards and recognition for the work they do.

But if all of this is coupled with an environment that doesn’t demand that they work or think too hard – one that fosters work-life balance and doesn’t involve goals so lofty they’re impossible to achieve – most workers with this set of circumstances will thrive.

Related: What I Wish I Knew About Avoiding Burnout As An Entrepreneur

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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