One of the great things about running the Athena Alliance is the vast amount of knowledge and sharing. For the summer months I thought I would like to share with you some of the great articles written by my Alliance Members. Please enjoy the following article submitted by Wendy Woods:
Three Keys to Make 2011 a Great Work Year
Here are three tips guaranteed to increase your engagement and productivity.
Work is always filled with challenges so it’s easy to focus on what isn’t working or the endless frustrations. Expressing gratitude is an easy and quick way to increase your engagement and productivity. Whether it’s simply acknowledging your gratitude or expressing it to your coworkers, clients or suppliers, research shows that it has valuable benefits.
Specifically employees who express gratitude have greater personal satisfaction, adaptability, and energy. They also promote greater communication and cooperation within their organizations.
How can you express gratitude genuinely at work? (the key here is genuinely) Let your colleagues, boss or clients know when and how they have made your life easier. Also at the end of each day, acknowledge three things you are grateful for no matter how small.
It’s hard to be focused on the present when there are so many pressures, deadlines, and distractions everyday. A constant state of multitasking, 7/24 availability and busyness has become the norm. The assumption is that this increases productivity resulting in greater professional and personal success. According to the research, these attempts at greater efficiency have the opposite effect making it more difficult to learn, remember or be creative.
So what is mindfulness? The best definition is Jon Kabat Zinn’s “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” It’s taking things back to basics. Focusing on and working in the now instead of multiple things, thoughts or conversations at once.
How will mindfulness help you create a great year? The scientific research says it all. Mindfulness improves areas of the brain responsible for decision making, emotional flexibility, and empathy as well as increasing attention, focus and emotional wellbeing. It’s also been shown to improve health by lowering blood pressure, boosting the immune system and managing depression and anxiety.
How can you add mindfulness to an already jammed packed day? Start by taking 1 -2 minutes several times a day to focus on your breath. Push everything else aside and simply breathe where your abdomen inflates when you inhale and deflates when you exhale. This will make you more mindful giving you greater concentration and appreciation of your work.
Laughing more at work, appropriately of course, is guaranteed to help make a great year. Why? First it is a fast stress buster. According to William Fry of Stanford University, 20 seconds of hearty laughter is equivalent to 3 minutes of hard rowing. Second, laughter facilitates cooperation. Researchers found that people are more helpful with those they share a laugh. Finally, laughter increases creativity and innovation which are critical organizational skills.
How can you laugh more with your co-workers? Share cartoons, stories or even laugh at yourself (an easy and safe target). As long as you are laughing together, never at anyone, then laughter is constructive and everyone benefits.