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What kind of break best recharges energy levels?

July 13, 2012

One big challenge we all face during the workday is maximizing our energy so that we can work productively for an extended period of time. One of the tips I have written about is to take short breaks throughout the day to refresh your mind and recharge. I have quoted Tony Schwartz and his book Be Excellent at Anything that recommends taking a few minutes away from the computer to stretch your legs, get a glass of water or some other activity that provides a break from work-related stimuli.

Now a research finding has emerged out of Charlotte Fritz’s work at Portland State University that tells a different story. Harvard Business Review Magazine in the May 2012 article “Coffee Breaks Don’t Boost Productivity After All” interviewed Fritz about her findings. In essence what Fritz discovered through a series of studies she conducted is that “breaks that involved work-related tasks appeared to boost energy.”

Fritz states in the interview: “The only time people showed an increase in vitality was after they took short breaks to do work-related things, such as praise a colleague or write-a-to-do-list.”

She also found that microbreaks that were true breaks from work didn’t appear to provide any positive impact on a person’s mental clarity or energy levels.

If Fritz has it right then this provides yet another great reason for mentoring. Taking a scheduled microbreak to help someone with a question or a problem might provide also provide a helpful energy boost.

The question is who has it right? I suggest this is best answered by what works for you in your own practice. Over a few days try out taking short breaks in which you discuss work with a colleague, or write your to do list, or engage in some other work-related activity. Note after each break what kind of impact you experience on your energy levels. Later, try out short breaks in which you take a brief time out from all things work related. What impact do these breaks have on your energy levels?

If you have a moment please email me to let me know what you discover.

Posted in: Balance, Strategy, Thought provoking ideas | Permalink | No Comments →

Weekly Meeting with Yourself

September 19, 2011

Remember that old Maxell tape ad?  The commercial with a guy sitting in the armchair with his hair blowing back from the intensity of the sound waves? Well that’s pretty much what I look like these days as I move through my weekly schedule. Abundance is great and abundance can be a challenge. For those of you who are in a similar state, here’s a simple practice that will help keep your priorities on track. I call it the weekly meeting with yourself.

Schedule a meeting with yourself.

Go somewhere where you can be undisturbed.  If you stay in your office turn of your email and blackberry.  Work on your project-list, to-do list, and calendar, and spend time reviewing what you finished in the past week.  Treat this meeting with the respect you would give to a client meeting.  Put it in your calendar and don’t book over it.  This ritual is very effective for being mindful of how you are spending your time.

Here’s a Harvard Business Review blog post with great additional information:
How to Stay Focused on What’s Important by Gina Trapani

Best wishes for a productive September!

Posted in: Balance, Goals, Strategy | Permalink | No Comments →

Focus on your strengths to get ahead farther and faster

July 17, 2008

Many times lawyers tell me they want to hire a coach to be sure they are making the right investments of time and energy to build their practice.  Should they be writing articles?  Presenting?  Taking contacts out for lunch?  Attending networking events? 

It all comes down to the central question:  What activities are going to be the most effective?

The answer to that question is going to be different for every lawyer.  One of the first steps I do when I begin working with a new coaching client is to conduct a strength analysis. 

Why the focus on strengths? Because by focusing on what we are good at we start ahead of the game. We all come into this world with a unique set of talents, and over our lifetime with the addition of experience and learning we establish a foundation of knowledge, skill, and ability. The winning strategy is on maximising your strengths. Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Work Week puts it this way:

It is far more lucrative and fun to leverage your strengths instead of attempting to fix all the chinks in your armor. The choice is between multiplication of results using strengths or incremental improvement fixing weaknesses that will, at best, become mediocre.

If you have never done a strength analysis then think of it as a detailed answer to the question: What am I good at and what have I got going for me? I have an article posted on the cooperative Canadian weblog Slaw.ca with a short list of questions that can guide you in conducting your own strength inventory. Who do you know? Do you enjoy writing or presenting? The answers to these and other questions begin to form your inventory of strengths.

In addition you can try taking the free VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire found on the Authentic Happiness Web site. You have to register (free) on the web site in order to access the test. This test will indicate your top 5 strengths. It was developed by Professor of Positive Psychology Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania. Thanks to Alexander Kjerulf and his blog Chief Happiness Officer for passing on this tip!

Your goals provide the directions and your strengths (and values!) make up the foundation for your business development efforts. The right moves so often take advantage of the resources you have at hand, the people and contacts you have in your life, and your natural abilities, drive, and motivation.


Posted in: Business Development, coaching, Strategy | Permalink | No Comments →

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