08.01.17

Banish “The Mondays”: 5 Ways to Stay Engaged At Work

Karl R. LaPan President & CEO, The NIIC

A confession – I have always been jealous of the concept of the 4 hour work week evangelized by Tim Ferriss. In fact, I have never been able to put into practice his concepts very well yet many people have implemented his shortcuts and it became life changing for them. Yearly, I try to re-read sections of his book, and put into practice some of his tips.

So for the rest of us who can’t outsource our lives or take mini-retirements, it’s easy to fall into a rut. We all have a case of “The Mondays” (Monday Blues) from time to time. The antidote is to find ways to stay motivated, productive and passionate every day on the job, so that you don’t fall into a downward spiral of burnout and disengagement.

Here are ways to stay ‘connected’ at work:

1. Keep the end in mind.

Covey was right by identifying habit #2 – begin with the end in mind. The happiest people have goals they are always working toward. At the beginning of the day (or the evening before), make a short list of actionable goals you want to hit to move your big ‘rocks’. They should align with your long-term aspirations. That feeling of accomplishment will keep you motivated and on track throughout the day. Covey suggests a personal mission statement, and always asking yourself reflective questions like what do you want to be when you grow up? What do you want in life?

2. Start the day on a high note.

The simple pleasures in life can provide some comfort and energy to get you through the day. Maybe it’s a cup of coffee, morning jog, meditation, etc. Whatever your pleasure, make sure you carve out enough time in your morning routine to fit it into your day. It truly does set the tone. Rhythm is an essential ingredient in success. While I am not a very relaxed person, I have been trying to do the free 10 day basics of meditation on the Headspace app. I like the notion of living a happier and healthier life and the science around mindfulness suggests I could live a less stressful life by incorporating these principles into my daily life.

3. Surround yourself with trusted advisors and an accountability partner.

Everyone needs a buddy—in business and life. Join forces with people who support your goals (and have a vested interest in your success) and from whom you can get candid feedback and insights. The right person will help you see the bigger picture and celebrate wins alongside you. Make sure you return the favor, too! We often confuse our to do lists with getting results. Vulnerability and openness are the only straight paths to professional growth and maturation. Simply put, we need to find people who make us better. As Disney regularly asks its cast members, how can we plus things up for our guests? Who pluses you up in your life?

4. Stay organized to maximize creativity.

Our workspaces reflect and affect our mental state.  Is yours a complete mess or tidy? Can you easily retrieve documents? Also, be mindful of your workflow. Work on one or two tasks at a time instead of taking on everything at once. Depending on your personal “wiring”, doing fewer tasks better might work better for you in the end. Some scientific studies suggest having plants, listening to music, colors, ergonomic furniture and lighting can all create a productive and inspired workplace. At the NIIC, we pay close attention to these details incorporating our formula of A²TF – architecture, artistic expression, technology and furnishings creates an inspired and productive workplace. We recognize a cubicle farm or the lack of collaborative space can impair and stunt community-building and creativity. Where and when do you get your best ideas?

5. Be strategic.

I’ve discussed this point before. You shouldn’t take on just any project just for the sake of getting money in the door fast. Clients who want cheap work fast won’t get you to your goal. Just as companies vet candidates for employment, you too should vet potential clients or customers to make sure they align with your values, mission and goals. The right client and project will energize you, while the wrong one will only continue to stress you out and suck the life out of you—and who wants that? It’s OK to turn work down. Toxic clients might get you some quick cash, but you will be miserable doing the work.

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