The Key to Your Best Work

Written by Caroline Dowd-Higgins. Posted in Featured

Published on October 13, 2021 with No Comments

Time to Think Helps Productivity

by Caroline Dowd-Higgins, authored the book “This Is Not the Career I Ordered

After the pandemic, employees have become overwhelmed and overworked with back-to-back meetings throughout their workday. For many, this seems to have quickly become the dangerous status quo of the workplace.

My clients, friends, and colleagues have said the blitz of daily meetings has left no time to do the actual work. They spend evenings and weekends catching up on the mountain of emails and projects that never got attention during the week. The chaos of their schedules leaves no time for their brains to rest.

Neuroscience and Work

In her Huffington Post piece, Amy Brann eloquently wrote about the necessity of the resting state of your brain. Many organizations place value on actions that produce outcomes. Yet, the act of thinking, reflecting, and processing allows for higher insight and creativity.

Companies like Google and 3M, who set aside time for their employees to simply think, have reported this as the catalyst for their most successful products.

Brann proposes the benefits of giving employees time to think and reflect. “Think time” should be honored and prioritized because it stimulates creativity and allows essential room for great work. The endless meeting cycle is counter productive if process time is not part of the daily routine. 

Thursday is the New Friday

I interviewed Joe Sanok on my podcast about his new book, Thursday is the New Friday: How to Work Fewer Hours, Make More Money, and Spend Time Doing What You Want.

While not everyone can craft a 4-day work week, Sanok discussed practical adjustments you can implement into your workday.

Sanok believes we are stuck in the almost century-old Industrial model of work based on the 8am to 5am, 40-hour work week. Sanok’s book contains case studies from people and companies who have successfully embraced the less-is-more approach to work. They have done so while meeting, and exceeding, goals which have reinvigorated the human capital of employees.

Sanok’s tactics for a productive workweek:

  • Stop, eliminate, or reduce tasks (email, meetings, etc.) to make room for creative work and mitigate stress.
  • Slow down at work.
  • Experiment with a new schedule: find the time of day you work best, even if outside of traditional hours.
  • Set and enforce daily, weekly, monthly, and annual boundaries to positively impact your personal and professional life.
  • Let go of guilt as you design a healthier work life. Give yourself permission to thrive.

White Space Allows for Your Best Work

Juliet Funt is a speaker, consultant, and a self-proclaimed warrior in the battle against busyness. She has been in the trenches with thousands of busy people who tolerate the misery of work. She has helped them exit the “overwhelm paradigm” to find satisfaction and enhanced productivity.

I interviewed Funt on my podcast about her book, A Minute to Think: Reclaim Creativity, Conquer Busyness, and Do Your Best Work. She talks about the power of time to think, reflect, and ponder. This allows the spark of productivity to ignite. The missing element in most workdays is white space – short periods of open, unscheduled time, that, when recaptured, changes the very nature of work. Funt believes that white space has the power to radically reinvent our approach to work.

Funt’s tactics to liberate yourself from burnout:

  • Schedule time to think.
  • Find out what makes work miserable/challenging for your employees. Be open to the possibilities of creative solutions.
  • Don’t overscheduling meetings. Meetings should last 25 to 45 minutes and follow an agenda.
  • Take the Busyness Test to learn how to find and create white space based on your work environment.
  • Eradicate the shame of rest at work: Celebrate the power of reflection time
  • Delete unnecessary meetings from your schedule. Consider if you really need to attend every meeting.
  • Cut overuse of the cc line in emails to avoid message overwhelm. Only cc those who are essential to the action.

It’s time to challenge the way we have always worked. Innovative companies will retain top talent by giving their employees time to think, reflect, and process. When we slow down we make room for more productive results and heathier employees. 

Try something new for a few months and compare that to what you’ve always done. You may find unexpected, innovative results you want to adopt long term.

Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book “This Is Not the Career I Ordered” and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is vice president of career coaching and employer connections for the Ivy Tech Community College system and contributes toThrive GlobalEllevate Network, Medium and The Chronicle newspaper in Indiana. Her online video series about career & life empowerment for women is on YouTube. Caroline hosts the 3-time award winning podcast,  Your Working Life on iTunes, Spotify, and SoundCloud. Follow her on FacebookLinkedInGoogle+, and Twitter. Her TEDxWOMEN talk about reframing failure and defining success on your own terms is available on YouTube.

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About Caroline Dowd-Higgins

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" (now in the 2ndedition) and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Vice President of Career Coaching and Employer Connections for the Ivy Tech Community Collegesystem and contributes to Huffington PostThrive GlobalEllevate Network,Mediumand The Chronicle newspaper in Indiana.Her online show:Thrive!about career & life empowerment for women is on YouTube. Caroline hosts the award winning podcast, Your Working Lifeon iTunesand SoundCloud. Follow her on FacebookLinkedIn,Google+,and Twitter.

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