Charles Benayon

Founder & CEO of Aspiria

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3 Steps to Help Your Staff Work Smarter not Harder

hardsmartThere is a misconception in many workplaces that working harder and putting in longer hours will lead to success, but in fact working overtime can lead to a lack of relaxation time and tip your work-life balance in the wrong direction.

A recent study by HR Magazine found that “34% of people check their email as soon as they wake up every day, 38% of people check their email after work at home every day and yet 46% felt that it was a task and not email that detracted them away from more important work they prioritized.” Taking on too many tasks and needing to rely on working late to complete them can affect your mental wellbeing.

As employers, we want our employees to work hard and meet targets and deadlines, yet there is some degree of pressure associated with this. Pressure can be a great asset to productivity, but it can also cause detrimental effects on the health of your employees and in turn on the business.

Let’s face it, there’s no catch-all solution to a stress-free day in the office, or a cure for eliminating stress altogether. But there are positive steps you can implement on a day-to-day basis to ensure your staff is working smarter and not harder, yet still ensuring you meet your business targets and deadlines.

  1. Take Frequent Breaks 

Although the employee standard at many companies is to take 15 to 20-minute breaks after 4 hours of steady work, it is rarely put into practice. In fact, on average, your brain is able to remain focused for only 90 minutes, and then you need at least 15 minutes of rest. (The phenomenon is based on ultradian rhythms.) By giving your employees breaks roughly every 90 minutes, you allow them to renew their mind and body and be ready to fire off another 90-minute period of high activity.

  1. Improve Time-Management Skills

Provide time management training for your employees. It will help them use their working hours more efficiently, feel more in control, be more productive and more secure in their jobs. Good time management skills lead to increased job satisfaction because it allows your staff to feel more relaxed and in control.

  1. Schedule Concentration Time

Encourage workplace culture that allows staff to block out some time every day when they can’t be disturbed except in an emergency. Let them use that time to get the most important tasks of the day done. Allow staff to close the door to their office, or move to a meeting room for an hour to ensure they have this blocked time.

Although the number of hours in the day will always remain the same, letting your staff know there are ways to adjust their habits that will allow them to work smarter and buy more time for the things that matter most.

What tips do you have for working smarter?

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8 Tips to Changing Your Work and Life Habits

Changing-HabitsNew Year’s can serve as the “reboot button” for many of us who are looking to make changes whether personally or professionally. We all know we have the power to break bad habits, change our lifestyles, and create new habits but getting it done is another matter.

Although we are creatures of habit, changing habits is no small undertaking. Studies show that if you can repeat an action every day for 21-28 days, it will become habit. If you continue the habit for 66 days it will become a well-ingrained habit.

When you create a new habit, whether good or bad, your brain changes. These changes can be undone to stop a bad habit. They are also easily resumed because the foundation for the pattern is still there. This is very good news if you want to resurrect a good habit from your past. If you want to eliminate a bad habit, it can be more difficult.

After you pass the 21-day mark, you are over the most difficult part. Your new habit will be so easy to continue that you may reach the 66-day mark without even realizing it.

Knowing how difficult changing or initiating a new habit is, I have outlined 8 tips to keep you on track, but remember consistency is the key to your success.

  1. Make it easy and specific. It is much easier to form new habits than eliminate bad ones, so focus on starting a new habit. Choose something simple to begin with. For example, if you are looking to enhance the collaborative environment at work, establish daily team meetings at 9am or if you already have team meetings, change the format up by having different staff members facilitate each meeting. On the personal side, instead of planning to lose 40 pounds, set a measurable goal of losing 1 pound a month.
  2. Choose one habit at a time. No matter how simple the habit is, don’t complicate your efforts. Stay focused on creating one habit.
  3. Take it seriously. You must be fully invested to make a change. The change must be important to you. For example, if staff members are looking for a more collaborative culture in the office, creating a regular morning team meeting to foster collaboration is a great idea. Don’t decide to create a habit on a whim. If you are not committed to making a change, you won’t. Get excited about your new habit by listing the benefits you will experience.
  4. Be committed. Quitting is not an option. Put a calendar on your wall and mark the start date that you will begin to make a change and the 28-day mark when you will be “over the hump.” Mark off each day that you are successful and watch your calendar become a page of “X”s.
  5. Keep the time consistent. Make sure that your new habit takes place at the same time EVERY day. Don’t put it off. If your new habit is part of a routine, don’t change the order. It must be the same every time.
  6. Create visual reminders. Visual cues are reminders that you can see. Put notes in places where you will be when it’s time for your new habit. Use Outlook reminders, or put a reminder on your mobile device.
  7. Stay positive. You’ve made a long-term commitment to making a change, and there are bound to be setbacks, but try to stay positive so that “I can’t do this,” becomes “I can’t do this yet, but I will soon.”
  8. Ask for support. Outside support helps you be accountable. Explain to your colleagues or other managers why you are implementing your new habit and get their buy-in to help support this change. For personal habits, get your friends and family involved and let them know what they can do to help.

By following these steps you can look forward to having your new habit run on autopilot. Imagine how much more smoothly your life will run. Once you have one new habit in place, you can move on to others. As time passes, your new habits will take very little effort to maintain.