Have you ever noticed how your team seems to run like the Energizer bunny all day long?
They come into the office already frazzled from the stress of getting the kids out the door in the morning.
They skip lunch to catch up on work that has piled up.
They leave the office at top speed because they meant to leave 10 minutes earlier and now they’re late to pick up the kids.
Have you ever stopped to reflect on how much this non-stop pace impacts their productivity?
It may seem like your team gets a lot done because they are working at top speed all day. But our brains aren’t made to function at that pace for such extended periods.
Imagine what they could get done if they just had a moment to breathe and get out of a reactive mode.
The other day I was getting the kids ready for summer camp and started thinking about how much easier our routines have become in the morning. There’s much less arguing and tension. Communication has become much easier.
I found myself reflecting on how the one little change we had made to our morning routine at home could also be implemented at work to alleviate stress in the midst of a crammed work schedule. If you can get your team to use this strategy consistently, it will unquestionably decrease stress levels and make work-related communication more productive and enjoyable.
The simple change that I made to create a more harmonious morning with my kids was to set the alarm 15 minutes earlier in the morning.
Are you feeling skeptical?
I do not lie. This teeny, tiny change took off the pressure we experienced each morning almost entirely.
Consciously incorporating an extra 15 minutes into our routine gave everyone just a little bit of extra time to get ready, which helped everyone stay much calmer. Once everyone was calmer and less stressed, situations no longer blew up the way they once had.
The thing is that, just like at home, this strategy is beyond simple to implement at work.
Building in small amounts of extra time into your work routine can alleviate stress enough to keep everyone calmer in their interactions with others.
Now, your employees may not feel that they can build this time into their routine. But your job as a leader within your organization is to model this behaviour for them. The more you do this, they more they will feel that they too can make decisions to slow down (which will ultimately enable them to speed up).
Here are three times of the day where you can use the simple strategy of building small moments of extra time into your work routine:
1. Don’t book any meetings for the first 15-30 minutes of your work day. Leave yourself space to settle into your work day. Grant yourself time to overview and consciously prioritize what needs to be focused on today before you get caught up responding to emergencies.
2. Always leave yourself 15 minutes of unscheduled time between meetings or calls. This time is not meant as a buffer in case one meeting runs late. It is meant to allow you a few minutes to centre yourself before you move on to a new task. This is particularly important if you are walking into a meeting where you anticipate that communication amongst participants may be challenging.
3. At the end of your work day, leave yourself 30 minutes of unscheduled time. Use this time to tie up anything that is outstanding so that you will be able to truly unwind from your work day. No matter what, make sure that you are not rushing out of the office at full-speed to home.
By implementing these small, simple changes in your routine and giving yourself more breathing room in your day you will experience less stress, easier conversations, and a happier day both at work and at home.
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