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5 Team Performance Insights That All CEOs Need To Know

Putting people first: The simple answer to a complex problem. PUSH was among those leading the discussion on how we can work better at the recent Getahead Festival in London.

The Getahead Festival, which took place on Friday 14 June in London, is on a mission to help a billion people positively impact their lives in the next 25 years. This absolutely chimes with PUSH’s objective: “To make sure that no one ever feels like they are just existing, or that they dread work”, so we were delighted to be Getahead Festival’s official Work Better partner this year.

We assembled a panel of some of the best minds across mental health and wellbeing, people management, diversity and inclusion and technology to answer an extremely important and pressing question: How Do We Work Better?

We are working more hours than ever but UK productivity continues to lag behind that of the other G7 nations. The country has also seen a 40 per cent increase in mental ill-health over the past 20 years which undoubtedly has an impact in areas such as absenteeism and performance. The figures show that something clearly isn’t working and this situation cannot prevail much longer.

Our panel put forward a vast range of views pertinent to this discussion, including: is tech slowing us down rather than speeding us up?; are we using the right language around mental health?; and would working less hours actually make us more productive?

We came to a number of conclusions but there was one overriding message: putting people first makes them happier and more productive. Based on our discussions, we’ve put together 5 team performance insights that all CEOs need to know to ensure their teams work better.

 

  1. Use Culture To Turn Human Vulnerability Into Strength

Culture has moved up the corporate agenda but few CEOs have truly grasped the important part it can play in keeping workforces healthy and happy as well as more productive. We need to create inclusive, diverse, nurturing and supportive company cultures that make people want to come to work and do their jobs well.

A positive and open culture also means that if they do feel under pressure at work, or have external factors placing a strain on them, they won’t feel this is seen as a weakness. They are more likely to tell their boss which gives everyone options and the chance to improve the situation rather than make it worse.

The right culture can help to turn human vulnerabilities into a positive because it enables us all to learn from experience and adversity and push forward rather than fall back.

 

  1. Make Technology An Enabler 

We’ve allowed technology to create an out-of-control, always-on, 24/7 workplace that is detrimental to our wellbeing and a drain on time and energy. On average we send 200 emails a day and download six times’ more information than we did years ago. How can this equal efficiency and increased productivity? And if we haven’t even learned to manage our inboxes effectively, what hope is there when technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and robotics enter the workforce, bringing more data and information?

We need to take back control of technology and use it as it was originally intended: as an enabler that frees up employees to add more value at work and therefore feel more fulfilled. This means instead of mapping old ways of working onto new tech, flip the approach, and consider how a  new system or piece of software can create a new, better way of working.

 

  1. Learn From Mother Nature And Build An Ecosystem

In nature, an ecosystem is a community of organisms and their environment which all have a relationship with each other (often a complex one). A tree sends distress signals when it experiences disease or drought and in turn, surrounding trees send water and nutrients via their network of roots. They work together as a single system and their individual actions and interactions help them to survive and thrive. In the same way, teams of people in the workplace benefit from being part of an ecosystem.

Working together as a whole, the ecosystem can help to create an environment in which everyone can flourish. Such an approach makes individuals feel like they are contributing and collaborating to something bigger as well as being supported to achieve their own goals. It encourages them to not only be themselves but also to bring their whole selves to work in the ecosystem. This has an extremely positive impact on both wellness and productivity.

In short, the value of an ecosystem in terms of improved performance and can be worth far more than the sum of its parts.

 

  1. Innovate And Challenge Workplace Norms Like The 9-5

The pressure on day-to-day operations mean that many leaders find it difficult to think differently about how they structure the workplace and the working day. As a consequence, although far more people are working remotely or at home, most of us remain largely in the confines of a 9-5, five days a week role.

Those who have invested time in re-imagining the workplace have seen it pay off though. For instance, one of the PUSH panel speakers found that moving to a four-day week has increased engagement at work and has meant people have the time to use their weekends for achieving goals outside of work. This is hugely fulfilling personally and has a positive impact on mental health. It also means they return to the workplace after the weekend feeling more energised to do their job.

Allowing individuals more control over their working hours can also provide wellness and performance benefits. Working in the evening may better suit an individual for a raft of reasons. Any change needs to be well thought through though. If you know someone is working non-standard hours, managers can’t expect them to be available at other times any more than they would a 9-5 worker to be available for a call in the evening.

 

  1. Take Responsibility For Your Individual Impact 

Decision-makers undeniably influence an organisation, but what can be overlooked is simply that each person makes a difference. “Leadership is not top down. It’s within us all as individuals.” one of the PUSH panelists stated. 

How then, do you become an everyday leader and take responsibility for your impact on the team? First, it’s important to understand that leadership always starts with leading yourself first, and to lead yourself, you must learn how best to do so. Key questions you could ask are: when are you your most efficient? Do you spend your energy in the right places? What holds you back? How can you overcome your challenges? How much attention do you pay to crafting your skill set? When you master leading yourself, confidence follows. 

The second layer, is realising that how you feel has a direct impact on the way you work, the way those around you feel and your daily interactions. By taking agency over which version of yourself you bring to work everyday, you can be empowered to make decisions and take the lead. It’s time to step into your influence. 

 

Getting your team to work at their best is a challenge all CEOs face. There’s no one-size-fits-all or easy route to putting your people first, but we can help. Get in touch to talk about how together, we can improve the performance of your team.

 

Why We All Need To Be More Human In The Age of AI

We’re never far away from another survey telling us how technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) will change how we do our jobs. Professional services firm Accenture recently published its TechVision 2019 report, which says workers are becoming “human+”, with employees empowered by a new set of technological capabilities that will be integrated alongside their own skills and expertise.

The prospect of AI in the workforce is simultaneously exciting and scary: it may well supercharge us to achieve all sorts of things that weren’t possible before but it could, of course, also wipe us out and ultimately make us extinct.

At PUSH we believe that amid all of the hype and discussion around automation and AI, there is a trick many employers are missing. Ultimately, if the vast majority of organisations adopt the same kind of technologies that do the same kinds of things, it will cease to be a disruptor or a differentiator. And, therefore, the biggest potential weapon you have to mark yourself out from the competition remains your people.

In a discussion paper by the McKinsey Global Institute entitled, Skill shift: Automation and the future of the workforce, the consulting firm says that accompanying the adoption of advanced technologies into the workplace will be an increase in the need for workers with “finely tuned social and emotional skills – skills that machines are a long way from mastering”.

It predicts that between 2016 and 2030, demand for social and emotional skills will grow across all industries by 26 per cent in the United States and by 22 per cent in Europe. The Institute says that while some of these skills, such as empathy, are innate, others, such as advanced communication, “can be honed and taught”. Its research also finds that the demand for higher cognitive skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, decision making, and complex information processing, will also grow through 2030.

We believe that such skills could be among the differentiators for organisations over the coming years along with a host of soft skills such as excellent powers of communication and judgement, interpersonal and team-working skills and the ability to empathise and see all points of view. In short, in the technological age, we need to become even more human to maintain a competitive edge.

This isn’t an argument about who is best – humans or robots – but assessing what each can do best and playing to our strengths. A computer algorithm can more efficiently identify patterns of behaviour that might indicate a consumer’s buying preference but a machine won’t have the creative powers to dream up that next killer product to sell to them. Data might detect the flight risk of a top performer, but a computer won’t be able to persuade them why they should stay.

And while AI may well be able to analyse facial and microexpressions and work out when a candidate is lying in an interview, it needs a human being to probe and find out why.

Even though science-fiction might have us believe that robots and computers are becoming sentient we know that, in reality, they still need us as much, if not more, than we need them. Which is why PUSH is working with a number of clients to develop their managers’ emotional intelligence, creativity and critical thinking through coaching or other programmes and workshops. We believe the more developed our unique human skills, the more powerful our service and product offering will be to customers and clients and the more future-proof the organisation will be.

PUSH can’t pretend it has seen the future but we believe our experience has given us a pretty clear picture of what will be required in many workplaces and it is much more human than many people currently think.

How can you encourage the development of your team’s emotional intelligence, creativity and critical thinking? We work with companies to improve employee performance to future-proof a business – find out more or get in touch, we’d love to work with you.

Bridging The Organisational Perception Gap

Bridging The Organisational Perception Gap

At PUSH, we have no doubt that people are the unique differentiator in an organisation and one of our overarching missions is to get this message across to employers far and wide. So, we were pleased to see that findings in a new research report by Barnett Waddington, a consultancy at the forefront of risk, pensions, investment and insurance in the UK, adds more grist to our mill.

 

Meaningful and Productive Employment: Bridging the employment experience gap highlights the chasm that exists between a leaders’ perception of the day to day reality of an organisation and that of their employees. For example, the majority of employers (61 per cent) believe the wellbeing of their teams to be high but only 18 per cent of employees surveyed agree with them.

 

It goes on to report that the experience gap isn’t just confined to wellbeing and is amplified by the lack of open and honest communication and engagement that exists between UK organisations and their people.

 

The company states that “an organisation’s people is its greatest competitive advantage, so failure to fully understand employees’ concerns and requirements limits the chance of having a successful business.”

 

Our experience shows that this is especially the case for companies that are similar in terms of structure and process, such as in the media and creative industries. Standing out from the pack, therefore, is down to unlocking the potential that exists within the workforce and this begins by understanding your people and how they feel about their role and the organisation.

 

We’ve been busy developing one of our service offerings in recent months that directly addresses these dangerous perception gaps and issues that can harm a company if left to fester: The PUSH Audit.

 

The role of the audit is to benchmark the present status, essentially the ‘where we are now’, either in relation to the company as a whole or in line with a particular objective. The data and insights gathered can then be assessed against desired outcomes to inform strategy and the necessary PUSH programme of work and action plan implemented. It also can highlight further recommendations for management on internal policies and processes that may need addressing.

 

Such audits can reveal a great deal and don’t just serve as a barometer about how people are feeling but of the overall health of the company. Crucially, they are often a great way of shining a light on any blind spots. For instance, a business transformation programme may have been viewed as a success by management but structural or process changes may be a source of worry and anxiety for those on the shop floor. These may remain hidden but ultimately will negatively impact performance.

 

Talking to your employees about how they are, why they feel a certain way and what help they need to do their jobs is extremely empowering for them, and is also the key to enabling them to do their best work. Employees are often reluctant to bring such issues up with their manager but are more likely to confide in a third party because it amounts to being given permission to be open and honest without any comeback.

 

PUSH uses quantitative and qualitative methods to gain a clear picture of what is going on and both are extremely important. The quantitative approach, which typically includes an online survey, allows us to reach the whole company, while the qualitative part allows a deep dive into what is really going on at a granular level. The latter involves actually talking to the organisation’s people to find out what lies behind some of the issues and problems that they face in their daily work and what would help overcome them.

 

The audits represent a major exploratory exercise for an organisation, which touches and provides insight into all of the key areas affecting business success; from the business process through to performance and productivity. They can also help to assess training effectiveness and any other interventions by measuring the before and after.

 

There is huge power in understanding where we are now across the organisation in order to really home in on what is required to make improvements. It might take a brave company to delve this deeply as what they find isn’t always pretty. But those leaders who are willing to go there will be the ones that drive businesses forward and retain the best staff.

 

Ultimately, they will be employers with the most productive, healthy and engaged workers, and who are aligned with the company’s mission and aspirations.

 

In short, as painful as the reality of an audit might be initially, it makes great business sense.

 

Much like our approach to all of our work together, the PUSH audit is a bespoke design tailored to the company’s individual objective. Contact us to find out more and let’s make a plan to help your company future-proof and thrive.

 

Graphic of Oath WIN and Rise Up logo

How Can Organisations Support Women To Flourish As Leaders?

“Leadership does not emerge in a vacuum. If companies are serious about developing the female executive pipeline, they should ensure that their organisation truly enables talented women to flourish as leaders.”

 

Those were the words of Dr. Elena Doldor, a senior lecturer at Queen Mary University, who was speaking on the back of new Cranfield School of Management research [published 15 July 2018] which criticised the lack of progress in improving gender diversity within leading UK companies.

According to Cranfield’s ‘Female FTSE Board Report’, the number of women holding executive positions in FTSE 100 companies has flat-lined for a fourth consecutive year – only 25 women held executive roles in 22 companies in June 2018.

Although the percentage of female non-executive directors is at an all-time high at 280 (35.4%), the overall picture for the FTSE 250 arena is gloomy, the report suggests.

Here, the percentage of women on boards increased only marginally from 22.8% in October 2017 to 23.7%.

Worryingly, the number of female executive directorships fell from 38 to 30 while male-only boards rose to ten.

 

So what needs to change?

 

A LinkedIn Global Recruiting Trends 2018 report published earlier this year revealed that forward-thinking companies were focussing on creating a culture of ‘belonging’ as well as inclusion to make diversity ‘stick’.

“Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance and belonging is dancing like no one’s watching,” it states.

“Belonging is the feeling of psychological safety that allows employees to be their best selves at work. Even at the most diverse of companies, employees will disengage and leave if they don’t feel included and accepted.”

 

OATH UK CASE STUDY

One firm that encourages employees to flourish and become the best version of themselves is media technology company Oath UK.

It has created nine Employee Resource Groups that aim to empower workers by providing a sense of inclusion and community and a chance to share their experiences, discuss issues, find guidance and support.

The groups range from UNITED (Progress through Unity) which supports multiple cultures, and PACT (Parents and Caregivers Together) to Neurodiversity (Minds of All Kinds).

Another is WIN (Women’s Inclusion Network), which promotes women and gender equality issues, and is one of the company’s largest ERG’s, spanning 26 offices across countries including England, Germany, India and the United States.

According to Emily Heath, Oath UK’s regional lead for diversity and inclusion, the insight provided by these groups enables the business to ensure it is building an inclusive environment from the ground up and help embed diversity in everything it does.

“Embrace, empower and educate are Oath’s guiding principles,” she says. “We celebrate what makes each of us unique and the communities we build together, we empower by bringing D&I to all parts of the business and we educate on the value we’re seeing. We focus on making it real by having those diversity conversations with our top C Suite businesses helping them understand, what’s happening and talking about the solutions we can provide. “We’re actively working to make facilities like multi-faith rooms and designated spaces for returning mothers to express milk available in our central London office.”


The purpose of WIN, she adds, is to empower women to be their authentic selves and drive their career in the way they want to. “Through WIN we have a greater sense of community, and the women of Oath are enabled to share their experiences, be change champions and encourage mentorship across all levels.”

 

But it doesn’t end there.

 

Oath UK is well aware that if people feel better, they’ll perform better too. Which is why it has gone one step further and teamed up with PUSH to implement Rise Up, professional coaching programme to help women address issues that might be causing them stress in either their home or professional life or affecting their performance.

All Oath UK employees who identify as women have been offered two free coaching sessions with a PUSH expert of their choice. The aim is to bring staff up to their full potential so all sorts of topics are covered including mindfulness, nutrition, personal development, women’s health, and finance.

The worker is assigned a PUSH coach for 30 minutes. She then explains what she wants to achieve – be it a professional or personal goal – and the tools are then put in place to help her achieve it.

Around a month later the employee meets with her coach again to see what progress has been made and what tweaks might be needed.

“We really wanted to provide a coaching element that covered everything from wellness, nutrition, and finances to executive and personal development because ultimately all those things impact how you show up to work,” Heath continues.

“By covering of all of those areas we knew we would be providing the tools to set up the women in our business to be their best selves in the office and give them the confidence to do so.”

 

Additionally, Heath points out that a lack of confidence might hold some women back especially when it comes to things like negotiating pay rises. “A man might argue his case and be considered, while a woman doing exactly the same thing might worry that she is seen as pushy and aggressive”, she adds. “There needs to be a level playing field.

“Just like our Employee Resource Groups which are led by individuals who identify with those communities or are allies of that community, PUSH provides coaches who have real-life experiences and bring the knowledge of how they’ve overcome life’s obstacles.”

So far 200 women have enrolled in the pilot programme, which ends in October, and could be extended globally. “This is just one of the different projects being managed and delivered by the different ERGs and everyone is super positive and engaged with the initiative,” Heath smiles.

PUSH’s founder Cate Murden points out that many women spend much of their time switching between all of the many hats that they wear – mother, daughter, friend, boss, colleague, wife, girlfriend… the list goes on!

“We all just keep going and going and so rarely take time to stop and think to ourselves – what do I actually want to do?” she says. “What do I actually want to change? Indeed the only time that we do tend to stop and think about ourselves is when it’s too late and those carefully balanced plates have come crashing down around us.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be working with a forward-thinking company like Oath. From the moment that we launched the programme, we could feel the palpable excitement in the room when the women there realised – ‘wow, this can genuinely help me create change in my life’ and the response has been overwhelming. With one employee saying the hour of coaching has been the best hour of L&D they’ve received throughout their entire career, it feels incredible to be part of something so inspiring, energising and life-changing!”

 

PUSH is a corporate wellness company, we are passionate about helping companies build a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Find out more about our team of coaches and read more about the Women Rising Up at Oath UK.  

 

This article is by Helen Gilbert, a freelance journalist who can be found tweeting @gilberthels

Rise Up Launch Event Photo

Women Rising Up at Oath UK with Coaching Programme

The issue of diversity, inclusion and gender equality in the workplace is a hot topic. How exactly are organisations supporting and driving the experience for women in their workforce? How do you ensure that all the women working in your business have the potential to be the best version of themselves? And what opportunities can you create for your employees to build success together?

 

We do know that put simply, happy, healthy, energised and empowered women don’t just function, they thrive, meaning they deliver both in business performance and personal achievements.

 

But our lives are complex. Against our ever-changing and challenging back-drop, women in particular, are guilty of taking everything on, rarely considering or supporting themselves. Juggling the pressures of work and the strain of being all things to all people. And with diversity, comes uniqueness and complexity too. The formula for one woman to be her best self is often different to the next.

 

Genuinely progressive companies recognise their cultures can support the individuality of the women in the organisation. The Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN) at Oath was created to enrich the culture of its company by supporting and developing a diverse workforce. At PUSH we are so proud to have partnered with WIN to bring forward the ‘Rise Up’ initiative, a coaching programme exclusively for all 250 women in the company.

 

The intention of the programme is to cover everything that could be important to a woman. The principles of PUSH are that we want to help support the people we work with, in an area that might be causing them stress and affecting performance. We are also incredibly lucky to have an amazing network of talented coaches to bring into this programme who specialise in niche areas of wellness.

 

All women are offered two free coaching sessions with an expert of their choice, with coaches covering executive, personal development, nutrition, mindfulness and women’s health. Someone who has recently been promoted might have an impending sense of imposter syndrome and therefore would benefit from talking to an executive coach. Their colleague could be experiencing strains around specific money issues, so working out a solid savings plan with a financial coach would work better for them. We recognise a tailored approach offers women the tools they need to manage whatever comes their way, as well as giving them a well needed moment for themselves.

 

We launched the programme with an inspirational panel discussion outlining how coaching can optimise all areas of women’s lives. In the audience, eyes lit up as the opportunity to make a fundamental change to their lives became evident.

 

What could rising up mean to each of them?

 

Shereen Hoban one of the Executive Coaches on the programme tells us,

 

“Rise up is about standing up to ourselves as women, supporting each other successes and helping each other to get to wherever it is we want to be.”

 

Maxine Altman, PUSH personal development coach comments,

 

“I love the fact that the women at Oath are rising up. To me rise up means not to be afraid of who I am, to know that I am and always have been good enough. And that ahead of us there is no path, our path is made by walking”

 

We are so incredibly excited to be partnered with such a forward-thinking organisation. This gesture of carving out time for every woman will, in turn, ripple out, creating a movement of positive change throughout the company.

 

How can you lay the groundwork for a more diverse and inclusive workplace? We would love the opportunity to work with you to take action to support your incredible women. Get in touch.

How can NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Help A Company Thrive?

What is the difference between a company that succeeds in the same market as another who fails?

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Is it the amount of capital they began with? Not always. There are many startups that have successfully grown from a couple of people with a great idea to multi-million pound businesses. The founders of the toy company Mattel were picture frame makers who began to make toys from their home using left over materials. Soon the toys were making more money than the frames, and so the company was born. Conversely, cash-rich drinks giant Coca-Cola made a huge blunder in the mid-’80’s when they launched the ‘New Coke’. It lasted a mere 78 days and is reported to have lost them $30 million!

Perhaps it is the people? Then again a big brain doesn’t necessarily equate to a huge income. The average salary for a research scientist with a PhD can be significantly less than that of a London underground train driver who left school at 16.

Maybe its a gap in the market or the need for a product? That doesn’t explain though why VHS triumphed over the now obsolete Betamax. Both offered the consumer the ability to watch films and record in their own home but one was distinctly more successful than the other.

It would seem that it is quite possible to succeed or fail, whatever the starting point. As any business person knows though, the secret to success is down to far more than just luck. It is in the way we operate, plan and perform. The way we communicate, both internally and externally. How we view or create opportunities. The way that those who work with us think and behave.

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Introducing Neuro-Linguistic Programming

A fantastic set of tools for positively impacting on these crucial elements is NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programming. First created in California in the 1970’s by Bandler and Grinder as a technique for self-improvement, it has since been adopted by many organisations from Fortune 500 companies to Major league baseball teams to improve performance and get results.

Part of its success is due to the speed with which it works. Its techniques are based on a number of well researched behavioural and social psychology disciplines. Due to this many of the concepts are already quite familiar – but once we learn how to apply them it can transform the way we work.

If you are wondering whether NLP might be of benefit to you, here are a number of areas that it can be used in a business to promote positive change;

How we think

The outlook that a company has from an organisational level right down to each individual within it can have a huge impact on a company’s performance. NLP encourages us to actively use a positive mindset to work towards our aim. It helps to get rid of limiting beliefs that hold us back and re-frame things so that we see the opportunities within a situation. In every problem lies a raft of potential solutions.

How we behave

Having grand plans or change programmes will have a limited impact if we don’t change the way we behave. NLP techniques allow us to notice the way we are behaving and identify if it is helping us get where we need to be. It is fantastic for encouraging us to break out of old patterns and work in a way that is often easier and will bring greater rewards.

The Right Plan

NLP uses strategies to get us where we want to be. It takes into account whether the strategies we have been using have been driving toward the desired outcome and helps us modify our strategy to one that will help us achieve it.

Flexibility

NLP allows for changes that need to be made. It requires us to regularly calibrate our behaviour and its effects with our goals, ensuring we stay nimble and adapt to changing conditions.

Modelling

Just as with any business model, looking at what is already working, in reality, can help us shape our plans and get us where we want. Taking on the behaviours of others that are already succeeding and, indeed, noticing how we have operated successfully in the past will help us get what we want in the future.

Outcome Focussed

NLP always starts by identifying where we want to get to and ensuring that the objective we have will actually deliver the benefits we want. If each individual’s personal outcome is aligned with that of the business, things start to function at a much higher level.

Quick Results

The beauty of NLP is that the beneficial effects can begin to be seen very quickly. Once the need for change has been identified and accepted, providing that change is of value, progress begins almost immediately.

 

NLP is a really engaging way to help your business get where it wants to be, whatever your starting point. It has great personal benefits for leaders and employees, as well as benefitting a company as a whole.

 

PUSH Coach Rachel Coffey is a qualified NLP Master Practitioner, trained in hypnosis and timeline techniques. Rachel specialises in Personal Change, Voice Coaching, Corporate & Business Coaching and Dialect Coaching. She also has a raft of business experience to draw upon when creating highly tailored sessions for corporate clients. If you’d like to know how NLP could impact your teams performance, please get in touch.

Business People using the phone at coffee shop

The Ongoing Battle of Busy Vs. Productive

You know the feeling, you’ve a mile-long to-do list, mounting deadlines, incessant emails, never-ending meetings, and you can feel the stress levels beginning to rise. Whilst we sometimes feel trapped it this situation, this is exactly the time you need to stop and ask yourself whether you are being productive or just needlessly busy.

Unfortunately, busyness rarely equals productive. Sometimes endlessly crossing items of your to-do list is just another form of procrastination that takes us further away from what we really need to achieve. Being busy is easy, being productive is where the real work comes in.

Here are our top tips for turning your busy into productive.

 

Take off your busy badge

In today’s world, being busy is often worn as a badge of honour. An endless to-do list and a full calendar can sometimes make you feel important. How many times have you heard friends and co-workers say they’re “so busy” in response to you asking how they are? Let’s redefine how we determine our value in the workplace. Because constant busyness is neither productive nor sustainable.

Simplify

Leaping from task to task on your to-do list without any direction is not likely to get you closer to your goals or result in a high level of productivity. Instead, why not simplify your focus to three top goals or priorities to help you remain focused and productive. Get clear about what the most important things for you to accomplish are and then plan your day accordingly.

Focus

Don’t multitask. Countless studies show that humans are actually terrible multitaskers. When we constantly switch between different streams of information we have difficulty paying attention and recalling information, meaning it can take us twice as long as if we just focused on one task at a time. It might make you feel like you are being super-productive, but in truth multitasking decreases your efficiency and just ends up leading to more stress.

Say Yes Strategically
Busy people say yes to everything, productive people say yes strategically. Being intentional and considered in what you take on prevents overpromising and under-delivering, which ultimately is more detrimental than saying no in the first place. Trying to please everyone doesn’t please anyone. If you don’t believe me, take it from Steve Jobs who said, “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do”.

Reflect

Regularly taking time out to stop and reflect helps to break the cycle of busyness and put you back on the path to productivity. Mindfulness can be particularly helpful when you feel stuck in a busy loop. Become aware of where your attention goes and reconnect to your priorities and goals. This simple yet highly effective practice will have you moving through that to-do list in a more meaningful and efficient way.

One-Step-Approach

Time To Simplify

The one step approach to achieving goals

Self-help blogs are full of three, five, and ten step approaches to self-improvement. May I offer you a one step approach?

Let’s say you have an endeavour ahead of you. A goal you want to realise. Or maybe it is just a work deadline.

Perhaps it is something you once wanted to achieve, but now you no longer feel motivated. You feel the task looming, and your head is rapidly filling up with “should”, “need to” and “have to”. 

As a result, your stress levels are rising but your energy is draining, your motivation is dissipating and your performance is dropping. None of that is helpful. However, you are stuck in this vicious cycle, for the moment.

So, how to come unstuck? How to beat procrastination and just get it done?

When we think about what we need to achieve or do, we often automatically zoom out and focus on the whole, enormous, complex accomplishment demanded of us (even if it is just meeting a work deadline). In doing so we overwhelm ourselves and our brain, specifically our prefrontal cortex.

There is too much to take in. Too much to do. Too much to analyse. Too much that can go wrong. There is simply too much to process. As a result the cortisol floodgates open and we fret and stress. And crucially, we do nothing. Except beat ourselves up for doing nothing.

Sounds familiar?

This is where the art of the one step approach comes in.

If it is too much for your prefrontal cortex, then give it less. A lot less. Instead of thinking about all the things you need to do to achieve the goal, focus on one small but effective step right now. Just one simple step.

You need to write a proposal, or maybe even a book? Let go of “the proposal” or “book” in all their overwhelming, vested enormity.

All you need to do right now is to write a sentence. Just one sentence. Then after that, you only need to write one more sentence. Just one sentence. Then another.

In every single narrow moment, there is only one step you need to take: write that one sentience.

You want to be fitter? You want to start running?

Right now, you only need to tie your shoelaces. That is all you need to do. After that you only need to open the front door. Once outside, you only need to put one foot in front of the other. There is no 5k or 10k. There is just the next step in that moment.

Your prefrontal cortex can cope with that. It can write one sentence. It can tie shoelaces, and it can open a front door. Before your prefrontal cortex knows it, you have tricked it into running 5k or writing the dreaded proposal.

If the big picture is too big, don’t zoom out, zoom in. Zoom right in on the here and now, and the one small step.

It is you, not cortisol, who should run the show. Take the power back, one single step at a time.

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