Even though Labor Day is all about giving you a break from work, its secret purpose may be to prime you for the fall and winter holiday madness. While some companies face their heaviest workload during this time of the year, the fact remains that Thanksgiving and Christmas season both drum up a desperate desire to be anywhere but here. Yet, as the New Year so grimly reminds us, there’s really no escaping your daily duties, so rather than trying to day dream through your work day, you’re better off finding some quality hacks to get you through it.
First off, stop thinking of work as work. If you have the privilege of doing what you love, then remember you’re always at “play” and not work. If that’s not the case for you, then try creating personal goals.
Goals or games – any little trick to get you personally competitive against your desired end result will certainly take the drudgery out of your work day and temporarily help you forget that you could already start your holiday shopping. For me, I’d always set some sort of achievable standard. Let’s say, instead of 15 organic links for that week, I’d try and secure 20 … and instead of 4 articles for the week, I’d add in some creative time to play with some new concepts. In this way, work would become play and I would be happily invested in my own little scavenger hunt for work-related goals.
Of course, this isn’t for everyone. Some people simply aren’t invested or granted the opportunity to play in their work environment. For some people, it’s about showing up, clocking in and clocking out. The monotony in this routine isn’t what you think it would be. It’s not about the daily ritual of showing up for work. Rather, it’s about the “sitting disease.”
Rachel Gillett wrote an article for Fast Company called “How Taking a 20-Minute Walk Everday Transformed my Approach to Work.” In it, she writes about challenging your team to take a 20 minute walk during lunch, or alternatively, to take your walks during your two 15 minute breaks. She quotes researchers from the University of Edinburgh, who say that “taking a walk through green spaces can lessen your brain fatigue, [adding that] scientists have long found that exposure to the sun can alleviate feelings of sluggishness and boost productivity.”
Gillett also challenged her own team and had them write a weekly progress report about their experience. This was perhaps the most unexpected turn in discovering what hacks work and why. Reading the private thoughts of management and their struggles and experience in carving out walking time was really illuminating. There was some initial trouble with finding a place to walk in an always-under-construction NY urbanscape and with letting your mind wander instead of surveying your to-do list. Gillett’s own hack during her walk was to spend that time catching up with favorite podcasts or listening to music – creative activities that inspire the imagination without too much work on your end.
If you’re able to, listening to podcasts in the office is also a great way to keep tuned in, stay mentally active and focused, while stirring your creative juices. Meanwhile, getting out for a walk and exposing your self to sun is the best way to shake off a lack of sleep – which is bound to happen with the onslaught of holiday festivities.
Meanwhile, a New York Magazine article by Melissa Dahl, titled “How to Get Through a Workday on No Sleep,” encourages us to try to work on our most demanding items between 9am-11am. Quoting researches, Dahl shares how there’s “a very small window for the sleep-deprived brain, opening about one hour after waking and closing two hours later.”
While you’re at it, your morning coffee should be taken around this time too. According to a blog on neuroscience, written by Steven Miller, a Ph.D candidate at the Uniformed Service University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, “your coffee will probably be most effective if you enjoy it between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., when your cortisol levels are dropping before the next spike.”
You can inspire your own team by creating small contest to inspire reaching new goals. For some people, rewards are the highest incentive. You can offer small bonuses, gift certificates, longer lunches, work from home days, or any other reasonable measure to motivate employees. As for work hacks, try using this opportunity to launch a weekly internal company newsletter, one which features a column on “Work Hacks to Get You Through the Day.” You don’t even have to write it; you can just pull this post, plug it in, and send it out.
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