Reboot You, 2014














December 2013

The holiday season conjures visions of joy, cheer, and shiny things, but it's not always a stress-free season. Closing out and assessing the past year while drawing up and implementing a plan for next year can create or add to feelings of frustration or stress. So this holiday season, take some time to reboot your mental software, clear out residual stress from 2013, and implement positive productive changes to make You, 2014 even more focused and productive.

Maximize your time off. Fully commit to what you're doing – that means if you're on vacation, be on vacation. If you have an email autoresponse and a period of PTO – or even just a Saturday – own that time off. Don't check your work email, don't make a few calls, because it's not a vacation if you're working.

And don't neglect your vacation; studies show that taking a vacation positively affects your weight, blood pressure, and stress hormone levels, as well as extends your life. One study found that among men at risk of heart disease, a higher frequency of vacations indicated a longer lifespan.

Take your getaway a step further and take a vacation from your devices while you're away as well. It's not easy to disconnect, so try leaving your device at home or asking someone to hang onto it for you to minimize temptation. It's hard to give it up initially, but chances are once you're off the device leash, you won't miss it, and a hiatus from screens will give you the time and space to focus on and engage with why you took time off in the first place: to reconnect and recharge.

Minimize multitasking. We've all been there – talking to one person on the phone while typing an email to another person. Texting during a meeting. Watching TV and scanning Facebook. For some reason, we want to multitask, even though endless studies have shown that multitasking slows you down and increases errors, and that generally, human beings are terrible multitaskers.

Instead, aim to improve your productivity and focus, which could lead you to feel more satisfied and accomplished with your work. Focus on one thing at a time, boil down your to-do list to just two or three things, and create habits to keep yourself on the productivity track. Have a large project you're working on? Tackle it a little bit at a time.

Try completing your most difficult – or most dreaded – tasks first. That way, instead of spending the day avoiding or dreading that task, your day is free to focus on more pleasant things, and you have the momentum of accomplishment to power you through the rest of your day.

And instead of getting up earlier in an attempt to increase productivity, examine your work habits to determine your most productive time of day. If you tend to get things done in the morning, make that the time when you block out distractions and plan your day around your most productive times.

Say "No" to GIGO. Garbage In, Garbage Out. It's the idea that everything you put into a project – your attitude, thoughts, time, content – becomes your product. It's a snappy, acronymic way of saying "You get what you give."

There are a lot of pitfalls to GIGO: incomplete data, misleading results, poor performance, and inefficiency are just a few of those. It ties to everything you do – cooking dinner, creating progress reports, or even your overall progress at work. Eliminating GIGO in yourself, work, and life holds all those elements to the highest standards and quality, in turn enriching your knowledge base and elevating your performance.

Is there anything more draining than going back and fixing or re-doing work you've already done? That's a standard GIGO trait. Commit to doing things right so you only have to do them once. Sure, it's daunting to invest time, energy, and resources up front, but coming up with the right solution instead of any solution will not only save you time, but also preserve your sanity. Step away from your project, then come back and reassess a day or two later to bring fresh perspective, instead of rushing through a final proof just before the deadline. Consider asking for or assigning deadlines that are earlier than the actual deadline in order to account for time away.

Get inspired. Inspiration keeps your work fresh and your soul energized. Think inspiration is nebulous, random, and unable to be incited? Well, it's not. It comes down to neuroplasticity, your brain's ability to form new connections and neural pathways; the more plastic your brain, the more creative and inspired you become.

It's hard to get inspired when all you're thinking about is how to get inspired. Instead, focus on a completely different task or think about something else; this "distraction" frequently incites that "Aha!" moment. Short-term solutions can include changing your location by switching up where you sit or going for an afternoon walk. And take note of the activities that inspire you; reading may inspire one person, while video games inspire another.

Don't rule out your ability to self-inspire. Habits are good for productivity, but repetition and boredom can be bad for inspiration. One habit that's shown to be excellent for inspiration and productivity? Meditation . Think of it as stretching for your brain. Allowing yourself to release your thoughts and focus on just being can help you stay focused and spur inspiration. If meditation isn't your thing (it's hard work!), find that "something" that has the similar effect of helping you let go, whether it's exercise, cooking, or even folding laundry. Look for inspiration in the most mundane of places, and give your brain permission to let go.

Get some sunlight. We know that new years are about goals and resolutions, and you probably spend a lot of effort at work creating measurable goals and tracking progress. So instead of creating lots of personal goals and resolutions, why not create one personal goal that will probably make you happier and healthier, and in turn, more productive? Get some sunlight. To do this, you have to be outside, and lucky for you, studies have found that being outdoors makes people substantially happier, and even improves mood, working memory, and overall health.

Try to take a few minutes on sunny days to step out of your office and take a breather in the sun. You may even find it's an excellent way to refocus your brain and get inspired. But even if it isn't, being in the sun for just a few minutes a day can improve your mood and your sleep , which in turn can improve your productivity and inspiration. Don't dismiss sunlight because it seems so banal; improving focus, living in the moment, getting rid of GIGO, and seeking inspiration link back to health, mood, and sleep. And it's a simple solution that has the potential for bigger career impact.

Don't get derailed by sweeping New Year's resolutions. You can make your 2014 personally and professionally fulfilling simply by focusing on achievable goals that are small in scope but big on impact.

About BurrellesLuce

BurrellesLuce is the U.S. leader in media monitoring. Professionals in a wide range of industries rely on our comprehensive curated content from local and national print, online, broadcast, and social media sources. BurrellesLuce has a turnkey copyright compliance program that allows us to provide copyright-compliant, behind-the-paywall content not available to other services. BurrellesLuce combines grade-A content with easy-to-use software, allowing users to evaluate and analyze their media coverage and PR efforts. It's all integrated into our user-friendly interface, BurrellesLuce WorkFlow™.

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