In today’s workplace, it’s easy to get burned out. We have to do so much more than we ever had to do, with fewer resources. In order to learn how professionals can maintain a high energy level throughout the day, I spoke to Andy Core, the author of Change Your Day, Not Your Life. Core has spent the past 15 years researching ways to become healthy, energized, and better equipped to thrive in today’s hectic society. He is an award-winning thought leader on increasing employee engagement, productivity, and wellness motivation. In the following brief interview, Core talks about how to work smart, maintain high energy levels, be more productive and more.
Dan Schawbel: What can employees do about working hard versus working smart?
Andy Core: Replace junk hours with regeneration. “Junk hours” are a little like junk food: While they provide short-term pleasure, they contribute to long-term imbalance and exhaustion. For instance, junk hours might include chasing rabbit trails on the Internet, checking email in order to avoid doing other work, or even attending an unnecessary meeting.
Don’t be ashamed that your junk hours exist, because everybody needs to take breaks and shift gears. You need to identify when you’re going through the motions of work, versus when real work is being done. Sometimes taking a break at the right time enables you to jettison your afternoon junk hours. One of the easiest ways to do this is to work through lunch less often.
Schawbel: How can professionals maintain high energy at work without getting burned out?
Core: Most working adults are not short on the “want” to be successful. But, they are short on regeneration. They often let their drive to succeed squeeze out emotional and physical regeneration time. If your readers are asking themselves, “Why don’t I do what I know I should?” “Why am I so tired all the time?” “Why am I not as happy as I should be given what is going on in my life?” Then it is a safe bet that their heart and body are sick of being neglected and are rebelling. To fix this, take a hard look at how you are regenerating and hard code more of that into your daily life. Do so and more energy and motivation are right around the corner.
Schawbel: How can someone change what they do during each day to make themselves more productive?
Core: My book is titled, Change Your Day, Not Your Life to make a point. Attempting to make too many changes in a crowded schedule is an amateur move, and one that will likely leave you less confident. We all live by a 24 hour schedule. That constant in our lives is one that we have significant control over. Don’t try to change your life, just change your day, and not even your whole day. My advice is to pick one change, like getting up fifteen minutes earlier to reduce the stress of the mornings. Keep focused on that one change until it becomes an automatic part of your day. Only then move to the next area of improvement.
Schawbel: What do you find are the top productivity drains and what can professionals do about them?
Core: The top 3 productivity drains in our current work culture are:
- Lack of physical energy. When your body hits “Empty,” so does your motivation and ability to concentrate.
- Lack of connection. If it takes you more than 20 seconds to answer, “Why are you working so hard?” in a motivating way, then lack of connection is draining your ability to be and stay productive.
- Too much time trying to multitask. The more research that emerges about multitasking, the more we understand that there is no such thing. Multitasking is better labeled as task switching. You really can’t do more than one thing at a time very well. And, when you are constantly switching your brain needs a “refractory” time to get back up to speed. This reboot time is consistently delaying and sabotaging your focus, energy and creativity.
Schawbel: What can you do during the final two hours at the office that will give you enough energy to finish the day?
Core: It may be good news or bad, but the answer is not much. The hay is in the barn. If you get a big energy lull toward the end of your day, then your daily life is creating that deficit. Make that a learning experience, and a trigger to put some effort into changing your daily patterns. The good news, however, is that research into what energizes us at work has shown we can temporarily increase energy with the following three mindsets.
As you approach the last few hours of work, or the next time you are feeling tired, overwhelmed or stressed, become more:
- Learning oriented. Think, “What can I learn from this or what do I need to learn to be more successful?”
- Meaning oriented. One of the most energizing breaks you can take is to reflect upon the meaning of your work.
- Goal oriented. Setting a new goal, even a small one, is far more energizing than reorganizing your to do list.
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