Does this sound like you?
You rush into work to go directly into a meeting to debate the newest product release. It runs over so you missed half of your next meeting and now you’re playing catch up. No break in sight, your calendar is double booked most of the day and triple booked in some areas. Lunch is a pipe dream or at best scarfed down in between meetings. When your head hits the pillow at night you struggle to process everything that happened today (what did happen?). Finally ready for sweet sleep, you have trouble turning off your internal monologue, your worries for tomorrow and potential mistakes from today replaying over and over.
You’re not alone
You’ve landed your dream job at a growing startup that seems to be moving faster every day. The fast-paced, action-packed environment can be exhilarating. It’s exciting and almost addicting to be so connected and operating at the edge of your capabilities all of the time. But, instead of feeling galvanized, you’ve completely drained your physical and mental energy.
We don’t question regularly needing to recharge our phones; why do so many of us fail to recharge ourselves?
Crushing it at work requires a combination of both intensity and rest. Many fast-paced organizations offer varied resources to promote employee wellness. We’ve heard of offices with sleep pods, unlimited snacks, energy drinks and even mindfulness coaches.
But often there is a stigma associated with using these resources. People who tap into them while on the clock are viewed as being aloof about their performance, or as failing as a team player. It’s not just employee health – the entire organization suffers when its members are trying to operate at 1%.
It’s past time that we learn to prioritize our long-term capacity to deliver results and feel great doing it. If you’re in an environment that both excites and overwhelms you, here are 3 helpful ways to take charge and recharge.
Prioritize your AM and set yourself up for success. Transition times – those fleeting moments between items in your calendar – are pivotal to staying energized and focused throughout the day. Things become a blur where we carry over our stress, emotions, and hangriness from one activity to the next. The first important transition time is your commute to work; we’ll come back to that later. Next is the moment after you walk in the door to the office. Instead of launching straight into a meeting or discussion, use this time to focus yourself, plan the day, and put yourself in the right mindset. Rehearse some key points you want to address or jot down ideas for follow-up later. Prioritizing this “buffer zone” may feel awkward at first, but by protecting a few key moments and creating habits around our transition times, we can better manage our daily mental strain.
Not at all moments during the day are created equal. Lunch is another important transition time. If you recharge by being around people, try to schedule lunch with others at least once per week. If you need alone time to get your mind right, make it a priority to carve out solo lunches. Remember that this break is often the largest chunk of time you get every day to recenter and recharge yourself, so make it count. While we’re at it…
The physical space around us can have a huge impact on our state of mind. Just like we’re ready to chill at a spa or on the beach, try to find places that you can associate strictly with recharging. It doesn’t matter if it’s a shared eating area, the cafeteria, or a food truck. The idea is to find a space that signals to your brain: “Oh I can relax.”
Convert your commute. Your trips to and from work are some of the most powerful transition times you have. We often fill these with more phone calls, music or podcasts, trying to optimize every minute of our day. Instead, think of these as perfect times to reflect and recharge.
Instead of carrying work baggage home with you, what if you processed it during your commute and practiced re-framing? This time and space creates a mental and emotional gap before you arrive home and can help you separate your home and work lives.
Your attention is your most precious resource. It’s no surprise that the number one killer of our mental focus is interruptions. We are faced with a barrage of conversations, open offices, desk drive-bys and slack daily. This constant contact can be awesome; it can increase the speed by which we coordinate, collaborate and make decisions.
There are many, many sites with recommendations on how to minimize interruptions at work, but often these ideas are hard to execute.
Instead, we suggest accepting some level of interruptions as part of your work life and trying to bundle them together. In a fast-growing organization, eliminating and vilifying interruptions isn’t helpful – we must take a proactive, thoughtful approach to managing them.
Start by noticing all of the most common interruptions in your day to day life. You’ll find the 80/20 rule applies here – a small handful of common interruption sources make up the vast majority of your time being spent interrupted. Make a list of the top 5 drivers of interruption and ask yourself “how can I work around or schedule these?”
By accepting, anticipating and planning your interruptions you’ll realize that there are all sorts of strategies you can take to bundle them together and optimize your time. This approach not only makes you more proactive and feel more in control, but it will also give the impression to your coworkers that you’re on top of everything and thinking forward about what might happen.
At this point, it seems like an article about mindfulness comes out every single hour. It’s dangerously close to becoming a corporate cliche or buzzword. However, it is still one of the strongest most valuable activities you can integrate into your daily routine. Mindfulness serves as a keystone habit. That is a habit that bleeds over into many aspects of your life and amplifies your ability to be more resilient, thoughtful and regulate your emotions.
The thing is, almost all of us have downloaded a mindfulness app, used it for a few days and quickly forgot about it.
The key is finding the right type of mindfulness for you. There are different flavors and practices, so try a bunch of them and find what you like best. Like all things in life, if you find something you enjoy you’re going to do it more often. Our team uses at least 3 different apps to practice mindfulness and it’s all based on personal preference. Some variables to consider:
To get you started, here are some apps we like:
Not interested in full-blown mindfulness? We get it – try integrating box-breathing into your routine. It’s the perfect practice to pair with your transition times and offers many calming physiological benefits that can help reduce anxiety and bring you closer to zen.
Want to learn more techniques and tools to help you stay recharged and perform at your best? Check out our Recharge Training. An immersive one or two-day training designed to elevate performance and fully energize people.