Don’t run on empty at work

In our experience we believe it’s impossible to operate consistently on a high level in your business if your health is compromised. You may well be able to operate for a period of time on full tilt and smash through your work, hit deadlines and earn a decent chunk of money. The problem occurs when you literally just run out of energy and there’s nothing left in the tank. This energy level affects both your physical and mental health – both are vital commodities.

Here are my top 7 tips (a random number I know!) for seeking balance at work. There are many good resources to help you cultivate effective practices. These are the ones that have had the biggest impact on me.

1. Create order to reduce stress

The team at Ascend360 are big advocates of planning our weeks in advance. Ideally, you’ll take an hour each Sunday evening to plan your diary. Add time for exercise first as this is priority, then family time and then work – allow yourself enough time to have breaks in between meetings. Keep your schedule realistic – that’s important or you’ll be disheartened constantly.

By planning your week it removes the worry over what you’ve got to do and when you’ve got to do it. Interestingly, you allocate a task to your diary and then your brain starts to the task in advance of you tackling it (the brain is an amazing tool).

2. Prioritisation and delayed gratification

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Eat that frog’. We love this concept – do the hardest task of your day in the morning, which means that everything else you do the rest of the day will feel easier. Make the difficult call, start the challenging task, complete the niggling project – whatever it is, get it over with.

3. Manage your energy levels

Inevitably you will have periods of your business career when you are working long hours and will be under duress. The key to managing this is to ensure that you can see this coming, and you plan down time or easy work to neutralise the tiredness which will allow you to refresh and go again. Its unsustainable to continue to operate at 100mph and will inevitably end in tears. If I have a long day with traveling and many meetings I will plan the next morning to be easy (ideally with a lie in and no meetings or work until mid-morning)

4. Think about your environment

Particularly throughout this current period we have found ourselves spending more and more time at our desks which is not good for posture. Probably the best investment I have made in recent years has been a stand-up desk. You adapt really quickly to standing up and working and it’s just all round better for your posture and health. I often find myself stretching and doing exercises whilst on Teams meetings and I feeler better for it. If you’re not sure about this idea, try a stand-up desk that powers and down as you require, that way you can sit sometimes too. If you have any work that needs good energy, standing always seems to make it easier.

Your environment generally should be kind to you. Make sure you have water to hand always, that your lighting is good (natural light is best) and you take lots of breaks. Working from home is good in this respect as you can break from work to do a domestic chore and switch your brain off momentarily!

5. Moving meetings

I have found myself feeling exhausted after being at my desk (albeit standing now!) taking part in Teams and Zoom meetings all day long. Recently I have started to go for walks whilst taking calls and being part of group meetings. I have politely explained that this is how I work and it helps me to work better whilst in nature and moving. All of my co-workers and clients have been fine with this – in fact only last week I was on a call with a client whilst I was paddling in the local river! The downside is that note taking is a little trickier but recording the meetings is a good way to overcome this – with everyone’s permission of course

6. Meditation

Taking 10 minutes out to meditate really does have a positive impact on your day. The fact that you’re setting aside some time for you means that you’re setting correct intentions for the world. I will quite often lie down on the floor in my office prior to an important call or meeting to get myself in the right mind space. Meditation also helps me to slow my breathing and regain perspective when I am overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work.

7. On it, not in it

There will be times within your career where you come up against big issues and challenges that will test your resolve. I find that the best ideas and solutions to problems are presented to me when I am riding my bike, out for a run or swimming in a lake. When you’re in the day-to-day bustle of work and business it’s hard to have clarity at times. Exercising and being away from your work allow you the space to do this.

Make a plan for how you might prioritise your health. It’s different for everyone so talk it through with us if that helps – we’d love to support you, however that is needed.

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