Sunday, May 13, 2012

Power of Introverts!

We live in a world that increasingly promotes the ideology of being assertive and outgoing, sociable and even self-promoting, and if we are not that way, we are given the message that we need to fix ourselves, do some self-help (:-) and change! However, (and that’s a BIG however), studies now show, conclusively, that up to one third of us are actually introverts, and many more of us are only outgoing and sociable some of the time. So even if you, reading this, are a full on extrovert, you are bound to know many people who are not! Personally I can be both extrovert and introvert, so I was delighted to watch a great TED talk the other day actually promoting the power of introverts, with author Susan Cain.  I invite you to check it out – it’s MOST enlightening!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Counter Intuitive?

Doesn’t it sometimes feel as if all this insecurity about the future will never end?. Worry and anxiety is ever on the increase, as is our faith in our leaders (all of them, it seems!) Result? We are more likely to take work home, agree to excessive overtime and avoid taking breaks. Does this sound like you? Do you increasingly find yourself eating lunch while still working? Do you continue working at home, during dinner, texting or emailing while sitting with your partner or children and their homework? Although all this gives us the feeling we are being more effective, getting more work done, I have news for you: that's an illusion!

Studies conducted over decades, have found that as the length of the workday increases so too does our lack of efficiency, and that productivity increases only when we take breaks and ensure we have ample time to rest and recover form our workday! One study, published in September last year found that it is even possible to use work time for exercise or other health-promoting measures and still attain the same or higher production levels. Imagine that!

So increasing productivity by effectively relaxing, while feeling worried and anxious? Surely this is counter-intuitive? The big challenge is that it will only cease to be counter-intuitive when we accept that we can choose our emotional responses – when we find ways to shift the anxiety to another response. Fortunately this can become more doable if we have some practical steps, and as this is particularly relevant for the people I currently see, I am getting opportunities to test numerous tools!
Here are some suggestions that have worked for me and for my clients:

1.    MAKE A ‘WIND DOWN’ LIST: After lunch make a list of what you need to accomplish before you leave work and what you will tackle tomorrow. This gives you time to complete your tasks and help you to leave work feeling more like you've wrapped up your day productively.
2.    USE MUSIC. If you can, use music to help give you energy and focus. Use an mp3 player or your computer. Your favourite music will make your work more fun!
3.    LIMIT TAKING WORK HOME. Try to reduce this to once or twice a week, only taking with you what is absolutely necessary. If in doubt, take three deep slow breaths and then ask yourself how much more efficient this would make you.
4.    BUY A JOURNAL. If a particularly challenging issue or situation at work makes it difficult to relax once you get home, open you journal. And write about it: write about the issue, how you feel, and where in your body you feel the associated tension. When you’ve finished writing, put your journal away. Later, when you’ve eaten, relaxed and feel better, come back to your journal and see if you have a different perspective.

You can also go to the Member Zone on our website for loads of free audios to help you relax - at work and at home, alone and with your kids!