5 Steps: Staying Productive in 2022
Updated: Nov 21
A Healthy Lifestyle is the Key under Covid
Image: Start your day with exercise in nature / Credit: Running in Whistler
It will soon be New Year's resolution time. Here is some food for thought before the festive season starts and your mind turns inevitably to a life refresh in 2022.
How can you stay productive at work under Covid? At a time when remote or hybrid working is the new norm? Sipping a pint of craft IPA by a cosy pub fire on a crisp-cold November afternoon, The Hub chatted to his friend Mike on his personal 5 Steps to staying productive.
How many of Mike's steps would work for you and what 5 steps would make your working week more productive? Read on for a bonus musical finale!
Step 1: Adopt A Healthy Morning Routine
Mike instinctively said his first step would be to regain a healthy morning routine. After family health issues and a busy period at work he now gets up, snatches some breakfast and rushes into the office.
Mike wants to re-create some "me time" before work in the morning, including exercising for 20 minutes. He has started a morning walk in a nearby park and plans to make this a routine activity.
There is much evidence on the benefits of exercising in nature. The Woodland Trust says: "Exercise is a wonderful thing. It releases endorphins, improves physical and mental health and helps you sleep better. It’s also a brilliant hobby, a great way to meet new people and can even ease stress. But, did you know that where you exercise can make a real difference too?"
The link sets out the specific benefits of green exercise on: Mental Health, Reducing Stress, Increasing Vitamin D, Getting A Better Workout, Alleviating Boredom and Saving Money.
Step 2: Don't Work At Weekends
Image: A group of people relaxing at the weekend / Credit: morningadvertiser.co.uk
Mike said the next thing he needs to do is to make every weekend a family and friends weekend by downing tools on Friday evenings. Before Covid he fell in to taking on increasing face-to-face work over the weekend. Covid restrictions stopped this work allowing him to realise it's an unnecessary weekend activity.
Instead, he values* a full weekend away from work, relaxing on his own and spending quality time with family and friends. Mike has been able to join The Hub with a group of local friends for occasional beers at Saturday lunchtimes. He also now realises how much he values spending more time with his wife, who has a busy professional role in the City.
* For a primer on how to reassess your life priorities via a values review see The Values Blog by occasional The Hub contributor Howard Elsey.
Step 3: Eat Healthy Food
Image: Jamie Oliver presenting one of his 6 Jamie Oliver 15-Minute Meals /
Another activity Mike enjoys with his freer weekends is cooking healthy home food. Something he and his wife enjoy taking turns to do, as well as cooking together. They typically refrigerate the leftovers for meals and snacks during the week.
Mike wants to eat more healthily during the week and rely less on bought or processed food. For beginners, like The Hub, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has a range of healthy 15-Minute Meals like Crackin' Crab Briks, Falafel Wraps and Thai Chicken Lhasa.
Says Jamie: "These brilliantly simple recipes are all about cooking something from scratch every night of the week. They’re so quick to make, incredibly tasty, and you’ll be amazed what you can whip up in just a quarter of an hour."
Step 4: Reduce Your Workload
Covid has also allowed Mike to think about his preferred work life balance for his remaining professional career. Being financially secure, and not striving to be a multi-millionaire by the time he retires, he plans to reduce his workload by 25 per cent.
Mike loves his work when he has the time to provide a thoughtful personal service to his clients. Then his work is more a hobby than a job. But taking on additional duties, accrued over years of being too nice to say "No!", added unnecessary activity and stress to his in tray. From now on Mike intends to politely, but firmly, say "No thanks." to this extra work.
He also intends to reassess and reduce his private consultancy. Allowing him to focus on the complex activity he loves and, he believes, is of genuine benefit to others.
Step 5: Take Proper Holidays
Image: Deck chairs with a view / Credit: vietexpertravel.com
And finally... despite his stressful end of year Mike has struggled to give himself permission to take the time off he is entitled to and he knows he needs. He admits to falling into the trap of checking and responding to emails when he is on vacation. Meaning he never really takes proper holidays and never really clocks off.
Mike has recently started to get chronic pain in his shoulder, a repetitive strain injury from work. He readily agrees he is on track to facing a physical or emotional crisis forcing him to be signed off for incapacity.
So, he will set an out of office before taking a couple of days annual leave next week. The message will say: "Thank you for your email. I am out of the office for two days. If your message is urgent please contact my department. Otherwise I will respond shortly after returning to the office."
Mike will set a similar message before taking a two week end-of-year holiday with his wife in December. He plans to put his 5 steps in place before returning to work in January. Smiling as he finished his pint of IPA, he said: "That's how I plan to be more productive!"
The Man In The Mirror
YouTube video: Michael Jackson - Man In The Mirror (Official Video)
Regular Hubsters know The Hub likes to illustrate his blogs with a musical finale. Step up Michael Jackson with The Man In The Mirror from 1987 album Bad. The song resulted from co-producer Quincy Jones asking songwriters from his publishing company for "an anthem" that would spread some "sunshine in the world".
Complementing the theme of self-reflection in the blog, the song riffs on the idea that making a positive change in the world begins with realizing change starts from within. Jackson, who added to the original lyrics, later said it was one of his favourite songs.
The Man In The Mirror
I'm gonna make a change
For once in my life
It's gonna feel real good
Gonna make a difference
Gonna make it right...
I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could've been any clearer
If they wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change...
Songwriters: Glen Ballard / Siedah Garrett Man in the Mirror lyrics © Yellowbrick Road Music