September 30, 2011

10 Ways Work/Life Balance Leads to Greater Success

There is often a general perception that, while the notion of a balance of work and life is a good idea, it is contradictory to maximising your value to your company, or it's a luxury in today's high-pressure marketplace.

However, consider that a balance between your work and personal time actually increases a your productivity and performance. Here's how:

1) Increase your perception of control  - when you are able to engage in needed personal time, you experience a greater sense of being a master of your own destiny. You're then more likely to experience an increase in self-confidence and be more independent at work.

2) Decrease stress and anxiety - Having a balance of work and life is linked to a perception of abundance of time and resources. This decreases your anxiety and stress in the workplace and often leads to an improved mindset. Your brain works best when it's in a relaxed state.

3) Improve your quality of thinking - Ever notice that your best ideas happen when you're engaged in a mundane activity? When you're busy in the doing of work, you have less time to engage in high-level critical thinking. Taking time out to go for a walk or just stop and relax helps you shift gears, take a step back and up and consider a situation from a different perspective.

4) Increase your available energy - It's no secret that you perform best when you're rested. Sleep deprivation leaves your brain in a similar state to being drunk. You experience a decreased ability to cope with stress, an increased irritability and difficulty in concentrating and retaining information.

5) Maintain good health - When you're stressed and tired you're more likely to indulge in comfort foods  full of sugars and starches or stimulants like coffee or soft drink that leave you feeling even more sluggish and irritable. Over time, this can lead to weight gain and other health issues. Poor eating and sleeping habits also decrease our immune system leading to more sickness and time off work.

6) Improve your relationships - When you feel good you tend to relate well to others, have more patience and be more mindful. You are more likely to respond to situations in a positive, measured way and deal effectively with stressful events.

7) Retain a learning state - When your stress levels are low, your brain is in a more relaxed state which is ideal for learning and development. Your success is dependent on learning from your mistakes, otherwise there's a greater possibility to making the same ones over and over again.

8) Do more in less time - Notice how revived you feel after time off? When you take time to rejuvenate our minds and bodies, you can approach our work with a renewed passion and vigor. Your productivity increases as you have the energy to think faster and do more in less time. 

9) Think long term - Being in a stressed state challenges the ability to think long term as you get caught up with immediate,l often pressing, concerns. When you know you can take time out, you're more likely to relax at work and be able to engage in long term thinking and planning.

10) Be happy and positive - Work/life balance leads to happier employees. Happy people think better. When you're stressed, your body prepares for fight or flight sending blood flow away from your brain and towards your limbs. Conversely, when you're inspired, excited and happy, the blood flow increases to your brain. So people who have a positive outlook are more likely to remain in effective action leading to success.

September 13, 2011

Are you a beast or an eagle?

While most of us aren't crazy, we all have an incessant internal dialogue running in our mind. At best, we can attain a sense of inner calm that enables us to manage the voice and choose our dialogue. In calming ourselves, we become more aware of external events of the moment and less caught up in our own thoughts.

Why is this so important? Because, in essence, we are two different selves or forces - our irrational, reactive self and our logical, responsive self. I'll call them the beast and the eagle.

The beast within us is wild and out of control. It's driven by emotion and instincts to react swiftly and aggressively. Because it is running on the ground, it is too close to the events to be objective. It makes mistakes and often is powerless to stop or modify self-destructive behaviour.

Whereas the eagle flies high and can look objectively at what is taking place on the ground. It is driven by rational, intelligent thinking and can choose emotions and respond appropriately.  It can modulate behaviours to ensure the best outcomes.

The challenge human beings face is that these two forces exist within all of us - each fighting for dominance. At times we are the beast, at others we are the eagle.When we are provoked, the beast gains an upper hand, unless the eagle is able to assert itself and calm the mind.

Taking a moment to assess a situation from a calm, rational perspective allows us to make the right decisions and respond, rather than react. Pausing and taking a deep breath or even physically stepping back will help us be an eagle.

It takes training - more so in some areas than others. But, giving yourself time for your rational mind to take command will always pay dividends.

Keep in mind the difference between reacting and responding is only ten seconds.