Friday, 18 December 2015

Take this time to stop and think!


Check your email, call your colleague, delegate your work, look back at the e-mails, remember that someone is coming to repair the door lock of the building, write up the meeting notes, attend the lunch with the new client, get stuck in traffic due to some demonstrations which block the main street, go back to the office, check your schedule, rearrange your appointment for the next day, write another e-mail, check the budget John sent you 3 weeks ago.. Work! Keep going, no stopping! Don’t waste your time! Go, go go! Ahh ENOUGH! STOP IT! If this sounds all too familiar, stop and pause for a moment if you intend to achieve something effectively while keeping your sanity. 

It is very common to fall into the trap of believing, that the time is getting out of hand but that we need to hold on to it as if our success depended on it. A large number of companies believe that employee productivity (and in turn the profitability) solely depends on maintaining a hectic work pace and unlimited pressure.

It doesn’t help that we live in a world where technology "fills every gap" of our time, so that each time we could make a brief pause and reflect (even going to the toilet or to moving from one place to another), is now filled with some simple and stimulating activity. In the end, we are losing the opportunity to look ahead or within ourselves to find an idea, which would teach us something new or help us solve a problem, since these ideas can’t access our minds if the space is already filled with apps or our inbox.

Juliet Funt, the general director of the consulting company "WhiteSpace at Work", speaks about the premise, that companies should implement strategic pauses called "WhiteSpace" in their work environment. In this space/time, employees can manage their performance and be more creative, productive and committed as it gives them a moment to do so. She says:  

"When people work continuously and do one task after another without taking the time for a break to think and reboot, it is simply impossible to get the creative and complex results that they would’ve been able to if they had the break." 

This is why the pausing and reflecting about what we are doing and what our goals are, is an essential activity for both our professional and personal life.

Within a couple of weeks, 2015 will end and many of us have a couple of days off, which we can use to get off the "roller coaster of life” and give us that much needed time for reflection. Check out what you did this year, both personally and professionally, and make an honest assessment about it. Take a moment to just observe and not think about what you have to do, change, stop, etc. and just concentrate on the observing. Reflect on the things or situations that somehow are hindering your ability to get the results you want or, conversely, what is driving you in the right direction.

Most professionals agree, that the first step in increasing the productivity is to have clarity on what we are doing today. If you do not know this, the starting point, then it will be very difficult to improve yourself. But how do you know "the truth" of your behavior and what you are doing? And how to do we accurately record our (working) time without spending hours on it and distracting us from what really matters?

Perhaps your first intuition is to look at your schedule or try to remember the things you did, but, I regret to say, that this information is most likely going to be imprecise and probably won’t help you identify where and how your effort is going. Unfortunately we can’t turn back time, but one suggestion is that from now on, you make it a habit of tracking the time.

You might disagree with this, as I’ve also read some articles which argue that tools like time tracking don’t improve productivity. To some extent they are right, as time tracking does not facilitate our administration, help us do things faster, create better projects, or manage our activities, but, it does help us gather the information we need to analyze what we are doing and figure out how we can improve.

Remember that the most important is not the data itself, but what we do with it. To check how many hours we spend and record what we’ve done is of no use, if we don’t make it a habit to analyze this information and above all, do something with it. Without this action, it makes the “WhiteSpace” useless in regards to improving our life.

So review what you've done, be objective. Don’t reprimand yourself for mistakes and be honest with yourself. Only like this can you find a way to simplify and get rid of useless tasks or systems, bad habits, negative people and anything else that is weighing you down. Take the opportunity this season to open your mind, step away from the rollercoaster and find a more enjoyable and better way :-). On this note, primaERP wishes you a happy and reflecting holiday season!

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