Work life today is hectic, to an extent that might have been hard to imagine just a generation ago. Stress levels are through the roof, and many workers struggle to stay engaged, let alone productive.
Author, lecturer and motivation coach Andy Core addresses these issues in his new book, “Change Your Day, Not Your Life,” offering advice on how to move from “striver” to “thriver.”
2. Get big things done before 9 a.m.
Impossible, you may think. My third latte hasn’t even kicked in! But Core insists that any normal person can put several achievement notches on their gun belt before the dreaded staff meeting.
“Ever notice how your morning sets the tone for your whole day? If you get a groggy, frustrating start, you’ll probably feel sluggish and behind the eight-ball all day long. However, if you start your day with positive and productive ideas, actions, thoughts, and feelings, you’re likely to gain momentum throughout the day.”
4. Own up to your junk hours.
“Junk hours” are those minutes we spend doing nothing to avoid doing something, Core says. You know them: checking your stock portfolio four times a day. Reliving the big game’s highlights with your cubicle buddy. Checking out the latest fashion posts on Pinterest. And on and on.
“In order to maximize each day, you need to own up to your junk hours,” he says. “You need to identify when you’re going through the motions of work, versus when real work is being done. Don’t be ashamed that your junk hours exist, because everybody needs to take breaks and shift gears. Your task now is to exchange your low-value ‘junk’ activities for ones that build greater health and value into your workday.”
6. Start with one thing. Then add another. Then another.
Referencing the No. 1 New Year’s resolution — I’m gonna lose weight — Core explains that the reason this rarely works out for people is that the goal should not be to lose weight, but to make healthy lifestyle choices. If we eat well, get rest, exercise and engage in activities that gratify needs other than hunger, the weight will disappear.
“Don’t take on more than you can handle. Break each goal down to its smallest components, then pick one of them to tackle. Pursue this change until it becomes a habit, then move on to the next one. Start with one thing and don’t add another until you’re ready. Positive motion creates positive emotion,” he says.
8. Think about it so you don’t have to think about it.
This is about focusing on what slows you down so you can speed up those particular processes or activities. He uses the example of preparing a meal. If you have trouble doing it, then plan meals ahead of time, maybe several days or even a week’s worth. Get the ingredients, know how long it will take, and maybe do some prep before you leave in the morning.
“Figure out where these areas are for you and commit to learning a new pattern. Yes, learning new patterns can initially be tedious and laborious. But once they’ve taken hold — often in three weeks or less — they’ll speed up your performance, streamline your effort, and lower your stress. By putting in some thought about ‘problem areas’ now, you’ll save yourself from having to think about them later. Eventually, this method changes once-tedious tasks into automatic behaviors.”
10. Seek to serve, not shine.
This one’s a little touchy-feely. Core urges us to put aside our ambitions and egos and approach life from the viewpoint of service to others. You Type A characters may have trouble with this one, but here’s what he recommends:
“To some extent, it’s human nature to look out for Number One. We all want to rack up accomplishments, receive accolades, and garner recognition. But in many situations, the desire to shine can cause you to get in your own way.