By Emma grey from WorkLifeBliss
Lining up at the starting gates of 2012, how would you rate your energy level on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)?
If you've been able to properly switch off over the holiday season, perhaps you're still floating on a blissful combination of high energy and low stress. Maybe you're wondering how long that state-of-mind is going to last once you're back in the swing of 'normal life'.
How can we capture that post-holiday balance and keep it flowing as the year marches on?
Take the WorkLifeBliss challenge for a high-energy, low-stress year:
1. Flick the switch
Imagine that you have with you at all times a personal remote control. When you're engrossed in one 'channel' for a long block of time (particularly at work), you may notice things becoming a little 'fuzzy'. Thoughts aren't as sharp as they were and you're irritable or drowsy.
This happens because our brains have a natural 'ultradian' rhythm that allows for concentration blocks of 90-120 minutes. After this - whether you want it to or not - your brain will disengage and wander. Performance drops, and often we make the mistake of reaching for caffeine or a chocolate bar and pressing on.
Instead, take the remote control, flick the switch and find a channel that uses another part of your body. That might mean a brisk 30-minute walk, or a chatty lunch with friends or sitting on a park bench, escaping into a novel.
After resting your brain, flick the switch back again and notice how much clearer that concentration channel has become. Repeat this throughout the day whenever you start to flag, even with short breaks of 5-10 minutes and notice your rise in mental energy.
2. Stop colouring in the title page
Do you experience 'compulsive preparedness'? You've got something challenging to do and, rather than do it, you get everything 'ready'. It's that 'I'll just tidy my desk, put the washing on, make a cuppa...' syndrome.
We've only got a certain number of waking hours and a long list of tasks. We could go on indefinitely, ticking off the minor, easy stuff that won't make a big impact. At the end of the day, we pay for it with more pressure to get things done, and a sense of failure over our procrastination.
The simple decision to tackle the hard stuff when you're fresh and the no-brainers afterwards can make an enormous difference to your day. Manage 'energy' - as opposed to time - and throw yourself at the most challenging tasks when you're at your peak.
3. Plan your next holiday
People who take proper holidays organise them early. People who don't, tend to blame 'no time and no money'. Spontaneous breaks are great, but they rarely happen - particularly once weekends are taken up with social and kids' stuff, and when there's not enough money in the account.
This January, sit down with your partner, or a friend, and your near-empty 2012 diary and lock something in. Make it far enough away to be able to save for it comfortably and think about what you'll cut from your weekly budget in order to squirrel some cash away. Seek leave well in advance.
If it's not time or money that's stopping you, perhaps its a belief that: 'I'm too busy/too important/the place will fall apart without me...' While it's nice to think this way, and gives us a sense of significance, the 'nobody does this as well as I do' notion is just one of the ways that we manufacture our own busyness, to our detriment.
Choose whether you will power strongly through 2012, or drag yourself through it. It's then a matter of selecting the circumstances that will either boost or drain your vitality. This could be about getting more or less sleep or changing what you consume or the amount that you move. These are all choices within our control (noting the sleep one can be tough with littlies - I'm there right now!)
What it's not about is getting it right all of the time - just enough of the time to make a positive difference.
Emma Grey is a Life Balance specialist and runs WorkLifeBliss. Through a suite of innovative concepts and tools, Emma offers organisations and individuals practical solutions to the modern challenge of ‘having it all’.
Emma holds a BA (Hons), Graduate Diploma in Education and Advanced Practitioner certificates in Coaching, Training and NLP. She is a published author, speaker and freelance journalist. Her book, Wits End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum (Lothian, 2005), was reviewed as ‘fresh, witty, hilarious, sharply-observed and relentlessly truthful.’ Emma writes regularly on a range of social issues in the national media, including for Mia Freedman’s ‘Mamamia’, The Punch, Australian Women Online and HerCanberra. She is a mother of three and has two step-children. When she can sneak the time – she’s writing a vampire-free novel for young adults.