Part 3 : 6 Ways to Improve your work environment
This time we are looking at your personal life and how making changes and thinking cleverly about your out of work time, can create a positive impact on your work environment. Everything is about balance and these few steps can make a difference to how you manage your work life.
- Build downtime into your schedule:
We are, in general, pretty proficient at filling our schedules with goal based activities. Scheduling in some downtime however, is often left out of our daily calendar, even at work. Make downtime a specific goal. Remember how this used to be called lunch or a coffee break. I am constantly telling my staff to take their lunch. It is an important part of the day to step back, relax (even for an hour), and do non-work-related activities. Go for a walk, read, talk about your out of work life, listen to a podcast or music, whatever you need, step away from your work for an hour. You will feel revived and refocused as a result. Why not extend the concept to be part of your routine? Perhaps you can set a goal of achieving 3-5 relaxation activities a week and build them into your calendar. If circumstances require you to miss a scheduled downtime event, (let’s be real, it will happen), replace it with another to make sure you maintain an increasingly better balance of work time and play.
- Drop the activities that sap your time or energy:
Have you noticed that some activities take more time than they should? Or are physically and mentally draining that extends beyond the time they should take to complete? Maybe you have a workplace friend or a set of friends who seem to only bond over too much drinking or negative gossiping. Workplace friendships, come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, but if you leave their company feeling dragged down instead of enriched, time to rethink how you spend your precious hours. Alternatively, are you clinging to some tasks that you could delegate to someone else. Sometimes our need to control our workplace ends up with us having a long list of tasks we don’t need to really do on our own.
Make time for exercise:
This is a big theme for me as I have struggled to find time to exercise, even after having a long athletic based childhood. Finding moments to exercise in my busy, sedentary life (there is a lot of sitting in my line of work), is a challenge. As you consider your health and well-being, determine the kinds of exercise that will add value to your life. Try to schedule your workout activities for realistic times that you can achieve. Lunchtime walks or runs, early morning workouts, or forms of exercise that can help you unwind after work. I put my room upstairs in my clinic to force me to go up and down stairs all day. Park your car further away from the office. Keep your plans flexible. It is hard to stick to a regimented plan if your work commitments can very. Think cleverly about the kinds of fitness you want to achieve, to strike a healthy balance between cardio workouts, weights, and activities that emphasize stretching, strength and agility. Start somewhere, even if it once a week. You can add more exercise in as you feel better and fitter. The healthier you are, the less sick leave you will need. All equates to a happy you at work.
- Remember that a little relaxation can go a long way:
If you allow time for 10-15-minute visits with a friend or loved one, to read an enjoyable article, do a 5-minute breathing exercise, a moment of mindfulness, even a short stretch, will can go a long way towards increasing your emotional well-being and health. Tidy and declutter your work area. Stop to enjoy the small things. Use nature and those around you to develop a pattern of peak experiences (notice an everyday thing, in a new way). Keep your spirit fed and your motivation and commitment running high to improve your work space.
- Enjoy your weekends and vacation:
If weekends and workdays blur together, your body and mind will struggle to rest. While it may not be possible to avoid all work-related activities, be sure your weekends and holidays are times that you allow yourself to relax and enjoy the downtime. Concerts, family and sporting activities are important times to for your working brain to take a nap and be thoroughly present with others. Put your phone down, your iPad away and let those around you see they are more important than work. Remember it is a job, people are what is really important in life. If you must work while on leave, then schedule a time to do it in that won’t interfere with your social time with others. Being relaxed at the beginning of the week because you took time out, will improve your attitude and enjoyment of your work environment.
- Make a time for chores, and get your chores done:
High achieving people are good at organization. That is how things seem to run smoothly for them. Use your organization skills out of the workplace as well. Particularly when it comes to accomplishing unwelcome chores. Schedule them in to avoid letting things turn into emergencies. Yes, there may be days you face a flat tire, or you may come down with the flu, but if you schedule time for health checkups, car maintenance and general cleaning you will face fewer health or maintenance emergencies and those you confront will likely be smaller in scope and easier to work through or to bear. Remember a stress free personal life means your working life will also be less stressed.
Hope this ideas are all helping you think about your work environment and what you can do to make it a happier and more relaxed place to spend your time.