We’ve been thinking about easy ways to enhance people’s energy in the workplace and researching what it takes to have a meaningful existence both inside and outside the workplace. Whilst these sound basic, the idea is that they are entirely manageable. They are aimed at those who are just starting to think about improving their wellbeing and looking for simple ways to improve their working lives. If that’s you, then try adopting these rituals:
- If you can, begin exercising, something that gets the heart rate up for at least 20 mins a day 3 times a week. Even if it’s a fast walk, just get up earlier and get your body moving before your day begins. If you can’t fit this in before work, then go out for a brisk walk at lunchtime, or at the end of the day. Jo Wicks has some great exercises you can easily do in your home in 15 mins a day. If you can, incorporate strength training into your routine too. This helps to develop strong bones. By stressing your bones, strength training can increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Strength training can help you manage or lose weight, and it can increase your metabolism to help you burn more calories.
- Go to bed at a designated time, giving yourself 7-8 hours sleep a night. It will make the world of difference to how you feel when you wake up and how you interact with others.
- Take brief but regular breaks at specific intervals throughout the workday (always leaving your desk). Ultradian rhythms are 90-120 min cycles during which our bodies slowly move from high-energy stage into a physiological trough. Watch out for signs of this such as restlessness, yawning, hunger and difficulty concentrating. When we ignore these we get more and more worn down as the day goes on. Breaks mean you sustain your energy over the day which results in higher and more sustainable performance. Several minutes can often be enough as long as you properly disengage from what you are doing. Talk to a colleague, go and walk up and down the stairs, listen to a few minutes music. Don’t underestimate the value of these breaks.
- If you can, factor in a 20 minute walk in the afternoon. Focus on slowing down and being aware of your breath in order to relax and re-engage with your body. If you can find a park to be amongst nature, even better!
Getting people to establish rituals like these can certainly lead to extraordinary results across an organisation. But what else? I’ve been looking into what American best-selling author Jonathan Fields considers we need in order to make our lives fully functioning and fulfilling. I love these – he puts life into 3 buckets. These are:
1. Vitality: which can be described as
Energised. Fit, strong, and flexible enough to participate in life. As free from pain, disease, and disability as possible. Aware of and capable of being in the moment. Optimistic about the future and what it holds. Peaceful and calm, able to dissipate stress. Able to bounce back from adversity. Immersed in a process of growth. Grateful for what’s right in life. Fuelled by a sense of meaning. Feeling generally happy with your life.
2. Connection: which can be described as:
Giving and receiving love without condition. Having a sense of belonging—we’re seen, understood, and embraced by friends with shared values, interests, and aspirations (and sometimes culture). We are connected to something bigger than ourselves.
3. Contribution: which can be described as:
This is about how you bring your talents and gifts to the world. It’s the answer to the poet Mary Oliver’s gorgeous question, “Tell, me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
There are 3 laws to your life buckets (there’s always a downside 😉
Bucket Law No. 1
The buckets leak. In the early days, our buckets are new and shiny. No dents or cracks, no rust or tarnish. But over time they get a bit dinged, the paint wears thin, and the seams that held together so tightly begin to separate just a bit. Then they begin to leak. Not loads, but enough so that we can’t just fill them once and know they’ll stay topped up for life. Left alone, our buckets eventually run dry. And so does life. Our job, then, is to keep circling around, filling them as needed, and never ignoring any one long enough for it to run dry.
Bucket Law No. 2
Your emptiest bucket will drag the others down with it. Intuitively, we know this. If we allow our vitality to run dry, it’s be impossible to contribute anywhere near the level of our true potential or sustain relationships in a way that fills us effectively. At this point, we often lose some of what’s in our Connection Bucket and if these run dry, it becomes brutally hard to muster the energy needed to do the things that fill our Vitality and Contribution Buckets. If we let our Contribution Buckets run dry, spending all our energies on things that take up our time but empty our souls, and we’ll have trouble finding the reserves needed to cultivate rewarding relationships and a vital mind and body. It may seem obvious, but just to point out – all the buckets are connected. We cannot fill any one to its full capacity unless the others fill along with it. Put another way, we can abandon one in the name of filling the others for only so long, before we need to circle back and do all our buckets right.
Bucket Law No: 3:
The buckets never lie. We often bring a certain amount of well-intended delusion to the assessment of how full or empty our buckets are. We like to think they’re fuller and easier to fill than they are. Think what you like, but the buckets don’t lie. If you let one run dry, all the delusion and excuse in the world won’t help. Empty is empty. You can’t think it full. Be optimistic about the future but honest about the present. Now you have a new tool to guide your decisions and actions – both inside and outside the workplace. These are a simple set of rules to help get you. It’s great new information, but, as author and visionary thinker Derek Sivers suggests
If information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.”
Knowledge is, of course, meaningless without action. So get going!