5 Steps: Staying Productive in 2022
Updated: Mar 17
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 fire on a crisp-cold November afternoon, The Hub chatted to his friend Mike* on his 5 Steps to staying productive in 2022.
How many of Mike's steps would work for you and how could you make your week more productive? Read on for a bonus musical finale!
* Mike's name has been changed to maintain his privacy.
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 is 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 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.
Step 3: Eat Healthy Food
Image: Jamie Oliver presenting one of his 6 Jamie Oliver 15-Minute Meals
/ Credit: www.jamieoliver.com
Another activity Mike enjoys, with his freer weekends, is cooking healthy home food. He takes turns to cook with his wife and they also enjoy cooking together. Typically, they refrigerate the leftovers to use as 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!", has added unnecessary activity and stress to his in tray. 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 face a physical or emotional crisis forcing him to be signed off for incapacity.
He will set an out-of-office before 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 my return."
He 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, he declared: "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. Co-producer Quincy Jones asked songwriters from his publishing company for "an anthem" to spread"sunshine in the world".
Complementing the theme of self-reflection, the song riffs on making a positive change in the world from within. Jackson, who added to the original lyrics, 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