Being productive in an ever-changing working world
The way we work has changed, but some things remain the same.
Whether it is working remotely from home, at the office or a hybrid of both, there is the same struggle: burnout
Things can be different
At Evexia Collective, we help busy professionals maintain her mental health and wellbeing. To do so, we look at managing work-related stress before it accumulates to cause burnout and related mental health concerns.
Why workplaces should be concerned
Burnout has become a great concern for both employees and employees around the world. The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes burnout as a syndrome due to ‘chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed’. High burnout levels mean lower productivity and employee retention. And, burnout is getting increasingly widespread. In Singapore, 62% of workers in Singapore acknowledge they are negatively affected by burnout from work – according to ‘Wellness at Work 2022’ by Employment Hero.
“Those who felt burnt out were 42% more likely to feel that their productivity was low.” – Wellness at Work 2022
This report highlights a vicious cycle between burnout, poor work-life balance and low productivity. But, going to work does not have to be at the expense of our wellness.
We know it is hard to maintain focus, keep calm and sustain energy – consistently – throughout the work day. Even more so when working remotely and asynchronously from your team. This World Productivity Day 2022, we asked our team to share their thoughts on work, productivity and burnout:
Photo by Pauline Bernard on Unsplash | Source
1) What does productivity mean to you?
“Productivity, to me, means getting things done with good quality.”
“I feel most productive when I’m ticking things off my “to-do list”, even if those things are small!”
“Get s**t done! For me, getting through what I need to do is closely linked with a sense of accomplishment for having achieved what I need to, which in itself helps me to be more productive!”
“Personally, what drives productivity is the mindset that every task is a work in progress regardless of the status or results. Making progress is not just about singing praises but also recognising that the march and race are not yet over without losing sight of the big picture and that change is constantly upon us.”
“To get things done in a timely manner. And also, feeling good about the process as I am doing it!”
2) What is your morning routine before work?
“My morning routine includes making myself a cup of Americano or latte, putting on sunscreen and contacts, and then getting straight into reading email and news. Occasional breakfast is also rewarding and can kick off a productive morning.”
“I struggle to wake up in the morning, however much sleep I’ve had! So I usually start with some green tea and take my dog out for a walk to wake myself up. Then I’ll shower and get myself ready for the day. I don’t tend to have breakfast regularly so it’s straight to work.”
“For much of my working week, I work as a busy GP. My morning clinics start early, and I can’t always face breakfast as soon as I wake up, so I prepare something light like granola, yoghurt and berries to eat at my desk whilst I work through my admin tasks. Most of my tasks are electronic, but I will always write a list of other tasks that I need to achieve, and tick off as I go along.”
“A short walk in the morning helps me have a clear vision of the day's goal and at the same time, reset myself.”
“I am grateful to be working remotely. In the morning, I take time to make my bed, charge my devices, prepare a cup of coffee or milk tea, and diligently do my skincare routine before starting the day. Before I begin work, I review my to-dos and create a list of things I like to accomplish within the day.”
3) How do you set up your workspace?
“I have my laptop and a monitor, and I keep a notebook on the side to jot down thoughts (though usually I use Notion to write down my to-do list). I keep a diffuser on the left corner of my desk as well.”
“I tend to work from home most of the time, so I have a desk set up with my laptop, notes and ipad set up. I use my ipad as a second screen when I need it or for creative tasks. Occasionally I work in a co-working space as I find a change in scenery really boosts my productivity and focus.”
“My workspace set-up is clean and tidy, with a selection of useful resources such as books and journals on my shelf. I also have a reed diffuser, to keep my room smelling fresh and invigorating, and I have a plant that was gifted to me by a patient - looking at this always makes me smile.”
“I like a clean and simple setup with a wide monitor and wireless peripherals. More importantly, window-facing with a view for inspiration.”
“When I work, I need: my laptop, GoodNotes and lots of iced water in my bottle.”
4) How do you maintain focus, keep calm and sustain energy when working?
“Sometimes I find it helpful to play soothing music and remain focused. Other times I would go make a second cup of coffee after lunch so it can push me through in the afternoon. I also think it’s important to take a rest and walk around the apartment without sitting for too long.”
“I’ve already mentioned my “to-do list” and that really helps me remain focused. I start off each day breaking down what I need to do into small, manageable tasks so it doesn’t feel too overwhelming. I then find being able to tick those small things off helps motivate me to continue. I try to make sure I stand up from sitting regularly and take a couple short walks outside throughout the day to boost my energy.”
“Maintaining focus is usually relatively easy for me; when working as a GP my day is very structured, as I have appointments and specific tasks I must complete each day. Since I know that having scheduled times in which to do work helps me focus, when I am working for Evexia I try to structure my day similarly, where I have set tasks to achieve by set times. I re-energise by getting up and walking to collect each patient from the waiting room, or go for a brisk walk. On days where I am working from home, I make sure I don't “dismiss” the reminder from my Fitbit to get up and do some steps! To help me remain calm, I have a short break with my colleagues where we have a coffee - sometimes this is work-related and we brainstorm or discuss things which are stressing us out or sometimes it’s nice just to have a natter or a laugh to break the day up.”
“To get into the smooth flow, I structure my approaches to get the menial work completed soonest and then attend to the heavy task in an orderly manner. Staying organised to multitask, at the same time, prioritising work is crucial in any profession. Segmenting tasks and taking short breaks in between helps me to stay focused and reduce distractions.”
“To maintain focus, I start a stopwatch timer. This helps me stay focused because it reminds me I am ‘on the clock’ even though I can be working from anywhere. At the end of the day, seeing my hours worked gives me a sense of achievement. To keep calm, I like to work in a quiet, peaceful place – earplugs and noise-cancelling headphones have been my best companions when working from home. To sustain energy, I take breaks throughout the day. What has been helpful, too, is to take a short walk or spend some time outdoors every day.”
Photo by Aviv Rachmadian on Unsplash | Source
5) How do you cope with the afternoon slump?
“I have a bar table that I use as a standing desk. I switch between the bar table and my desk whenever I feel like I need to take a break. Also, a second cup of coffee is a must.”
“I keep my lunches really light and healthy, usually a salad topped with a source of protein. If I’m struggling to concentrate in the afternoon I’ll go for a run or a walk to get the blood moving. I actually don’t drink coffee (I don’t like the taste) so the only caffeine I have is green tea but I avoid this in the afternoon as it affects my sleep at night, so no caffeine for me to rely on!”
“I always try to get up and go for a short walk at lunch-time, sometimes with a colleague. I find fresh air really helps me to boost my energy. After midday, I try to avoid relying on coffee for energy, but I have a SodaStream in my office so I often find cold, fizzy water helps me feel hydrated and energised.”
“Having something light for lunch certainly helps. If time permits, a walk in and around the office would be ideal. Also, reading short unrelated articles or having some meaningful conversations and small talks with peers can pivot afternoon slumps.”
“Iced coffee! It always makes me feel better. Sometimes when I feel a little more of an afternoon slump, I will take a slightly longer lunch break to reset my mind.”
6) What are some tools that help you be productive?
“Notion is where I keep my day-to-day to-do list. I also block off time on my calendar to remind myself what needs to be done within that hour.”
“I find listening to music without vocals really helps me, whether it’s classical, soft piano or deep house, it stops me being distracted by anything else going on around me. I’m also quite “old fashioned” in that I like to physically write things down, which really helps me focus on them. I have a weekly planner which is always in front of me when I work with my focus for the day and my “to-do list” so it keeps me on track.”
“I have a “to-do list” app on my phone, which I find helpful to tick items off. I find this easier than hand-written lists, as often an idea will come to me when I’m out walking or just sitting down to relax, so I’m not as good at jotting them down if a written list isn’t immediately available! I also find familiar, upbeat music helps me to be more productive.”
“I have created a personal playlist with different genres on my Spotify account for various settings depending on my mood at that moment. Setting the right mood helps me to visualise the work outcome better.”
“I keep a work journal where I can write out my thoughts and plan my days. I have also been using Notion for years and recently made Ellie and Sunsama essentials in my productivity toolkit. However, I still feel that the best tool for productivity is believing in yourself. Self-doubt has either wrecked my confidence or stopped me from completing a lot of things in the past. Putting self-doubt aside and affirming myself to be confident about what I do has been an absolute game changer.”
7) How do you wind down after your work day?
“I incorporate at least one hour of working out in my daily schedule 4 to 5 times a week. I pace it out: sometimes after work, sometimes during lunch time. Exercising is a great way to let go of all my stress throughout the day and it’s a way for me to practise self care.”
“My evenings tend to be quite busy, from playing netball, catching up with friends or making dinner with my husband. If I’ve had a stressful day then all of these things help to relax me and get myself out of my head. Although I’m not opposed to the occasional evening in front of the TV watching a good tv series!”
“I absolutely love cooking (and eating!) Part of my wind-down into the evening will always be to cook dinner, and I love trying out new recipes. After this, my partner and I will usually go for a walk; this is a habit we got into during lockdown and it’s stuck - we leave our phones at home, detach from the digital world and go and enjoy the fresh air and each other's company. I also enjoy a long, relaxing bath and sometimes indulge in guilty pleasures on TV…”
“Have good family time over a meal or a downtime warm bath and change out to comfortable slouchy clothes. Binge-watching some favourite movies or series before unplugging an hour or so before bedtime.”
“To wrap up a work day, I close my tabs and documents, and clear out my workspace. I try not to linger at my desk and instead, get moving: whether it is to head to the gym, go for a swim or begin food prep to cook dinner.”
Thank you for reading about Evexia Collective and what we do.
To find out more about mental fitness, head over here: https://www.evexiagym.com/post/mental-fitness-it-s-time-to-train.