Do You Want a Better Break at Work? Here’s How to Get it



Here’s news that benefits both workers and managers: If you want to maximize workday breaks to boost concentration, energy and motivation, here’s new thinking on the subject.

Apparently, there are break-time myths according to research.

Employees commonly take breaks such as coffee breaks, visit with coworkers or take walks around the block.

If that’s you, too, a pair of Baylor University management professors provides information that you might want to consider.

imagerymajestic supply chain risksThey say it will make you happier and more productive. That ought to please bosses, too.

The study entitled, “Give Me a Better Break: Choosing Workday Activities to Maximize Resource Recovery,” was conducted by Emily Hunter, Ph.D. and Cindy Wu, Ph.D.

It was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, Aug. 10, 2015.

Why the study?

The professors indicate that little research into employee breaks have been conducted – not to mention when, where or how to take breaks.

Professors Hunter and Wu studied the break-time habits and well-being results for 95 workers ranging in age from 22 to 67 over a five-day period. But their study, of course, didn’t include bathroom breaks.

“Multilevel analysis results indicated that activities that were preferred and earlier in the work shift related to more resource recovery following the break,” write the authors.

The professors analyzed a total 959 break surveys with an average of two breaks per worker each day.

“We also found that resources mediated the influence of preferred break activities and time of break on health symptoms and that resource recovery benefited person-level outcomes of emotional exhaustion, job satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behavior,” they add.

“Finally, break length interacted with the number of breaks per day such that longer breaks and frequent short breaks were associated with more resources than infrequent short breaks,” they write.

Key findings:

1. The most beneficial time to take a workday break is mid-morning.

“We found that when more hours had elapsed since the beginning of the work shift, fewer resources and more symptoms of poor health were reported after a break,” they write. “Therefore, breaks later in the day seemed to be less effective.”

2. So-called better breaks incorporate activities preferred by workers.

Sometimes, employees prefer to take breaks with work-related tasks.

“Finding something on your break that you prefer to do – something that’s not given to you or assigned to you – are the kinds of activities that are going to make your breaks much more restful, provide better recovery and help you come back to work stronger,” asserts Professor Hunter.

3. People who take better breaks experience better health and job satisfaction.

The study shows such workers suffer less headaches, eyestrain and lower back pain.

4. Longer breaks are good, but frequent short breaks are beneficial.

“Unlike your cellphone, which popular wisdom tells us should be depleted to zero percent before you fully charge it to 100 percent, people instead need to charge more frequently throughout the day,” writes Professor Hunter.

Unless you subscribe to the Journal of Applied Psychology, it will cost you $11.95 to read the study.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related tips:

24 Tips to Reduce Stress, Work Happier for Top Performance — You have a 35 percent better chance of living longer if you feel happy. That’s the upshot from a 2011 British study that links feelings of happiness to longevity. So the emphasis is on feelings. Makes sense, right? The study acknowledges some people inherently feel happy.

30 Time Management, Stress Reducing Tips — Tips that will enable you to take bold measures to invest in your future and make money by saving time and reducing stress.

Communication – You Can Train Yourself to Stop Stressing — It’s OK to be nervous before giving a speech or when you’re entering an important round of negotiations. Feeling pressure is one thing but allowing it to morph into stress and tension is another. When you allow this to happen, in a sense, you’re giving away your personal power, which inhibits your performance.

Proof Positive: How Supportive Spouses Help in Work-Related Stress — First, it was the book, “The Millionaire Mind.” The book by Dr. Thomas J. Stanley revealed several traits of millionaires. One important statistic from his study of millionaires: They were successful largely thanks to a supportive spouse.

How You Can Improve Your Memory for Career Success — Data is important in business but only if you retain and understand it. Your memory helps you to embed, store, maintain and recover information. Here’s important information to improve your memory.

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

-Lou Holtz


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy imagerymajestic at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Solutions to Rejuvenate Yourself and Business



How’s business? Are profits meeting your expectations?

Possibly, because you’re reading this article, you feel as though you’re chained to a heavy weight.

If profits or cash flow are subpar, chances are you also have these symptoms.

ID-10057558 David Castillo DominiciTypical stress factors:

* Boredom – you’re tired of the same tedious routine.

* Clutter — your office and home need cleaning and organization.

* Disappointment – perhaps you lost a bid, a customer or a major client.

* Emptiness – you’ve successfully reached a goal or acquired a major piece of business but feel let down.

* Fear – you fear some challenges. You feel paralyzed.

* Personal problems – a troublesome, prodigal child or lack of support from your mate.

* Reading — you haven’t read an inspirational book or article lately.

* Sense of betrayal — an employee embezzles money or your spouse starts drinking or finds a lover.

* Tired – you’re demoralized when you fail to make progress in being overworked.

* Too few options – you can’t find enough customers or projects.

By the way, FEAR (an acronym for frantic effort to avoid responsibility) is the root-cause of all the symptoms.

Solutions

My friend, you need to develop some hope. That’s what you get from developing options.

This means you need to take time for reflection or some deep strategic planning. Yes, I know — lack of time is one of the biggest complaints of businesspeople – they’re too busy putting out fires. So, that’s why it’s vital to budget the time whether you plan a big block of time for reflection or just an hour a day. But you can do it.

If you’re a small-business owner, yes, it’s difficult to set aside the time. To paraphrase Reggie Jackson when he was hitting homeruns for the New York Yankees, you’re the straw that stirs the drink. You’re the sparkplug.

However, you can’t afford not to get the job done. Your work suffers from stagnation. Clients and customers become resentful. Your income will drop.

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”

-Michael Althsuler

Do you have employees? Your employees need your leadership. They look to you as the role model. You can influence their performance simply by being energetic and positive.

But what to do?

Here’s a business principle to remember: “No matter what there are no big deals. No matter what.” Remember this axiom to take the emotional sting out of your problems. You’ll be better prepared to deal with issues.

Here’s another: Budget your time so you can better understand your problems.

Here’s how to get going:

  1. Write about your situation. Analyze your problem with a piece of paper and pencil
  2. Get help from an outside participant. Find a consultant or coach.
  3.  If you can’t afford help, and don’t have a mentor, find one. Even in college, I’d call a successful person in my chosen field and ask for a brief appointment. Once, as a junior I was offered a job as a TV announcer in a Top 50 market. After my career was underway but I was laid off, I called the founder of a major broadcasting company. He met with me three times and provided outstanding counsel.
  4. Clean and organize. Refrain from using post-it-notes and put things away.
  5. Create a vision – some goals. One page will work.
  6. Then, develop a balance sheet – pros and cons of the possible solutions.
  7. Can’t get things done? Start a to-do list. Do the most-challenging project the first hour of your day. You’ll start experiencing some energy.
  8. Take other actions. Even if it’s only going for a walk, take baby steps. Then, accelerate your footwork.
  9. Start reading — something helpful each day.
  10. Periodically review your goals. Do you want to remain an entrepreneur? Do you need more money? Do you need more time?

By the way, here’s proof positive: Supportive spouses help in work-related stress.

Especially during the holidays, excessive drinking is a pressing problem — whether it’s an employee or spouse.

The best-known, least-expensive solutions for problem drinking:

  • For friends, relatives or associates of drinkers, Al-Anon (www.al-anon.org) provides free tools. There’s even a program for youngsters. It’s called Alateen.
  • For the alcoholic, Alcoholics Anonymous (www.aa.org) is the proven free solution.

Don’t be discouraged. Alchoholics will be hesitant to consider AA until they’re sick and tired of being sick and tired…or until a judge requires AA attendance after a drunk-driving incident.

If you’re the boss, but still don’t feel like working, perhaps you’re burned out. It can happen to anybody – whether it’s procrastinating on difficult decisions, paying bills, or dealing with difficult employees and customers.

So, take some time off. If you can’t get away for 10 to 21 days, then plan a series of mini-vacations. Get some exercise.

Remember: You can’t afford not to relax and exercise.

Good luck in your rejuvenation!

From the Coach’s Corner, here are 30 time management, stress-reducing skills.

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”

-Michael Althsuler

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at www.freedigitalphotos.net

10 Strategies to Overcome Stress and Energize Your Career



If you feel stressed at work, join the crowd. Job stress is everywhere. It causes absenteeism, lower productivity, weight gains, high legal and insurance costs, accidents and turnover.

Stress costs business about $300 billion a year, according to the American Institute of Stress (AIS).

It’s no surprise that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), says there are several warning signs of workplace stress: headaches, lack of focus, short fuses, sleep deprivation, ulcers, and workplace injuries.

NIOSH says employees are worried about downsizing, increased use of temporary workers, and lack of control over their careers.

So, if any of this sounds familiar to you, there’s nothing like a fresh start to energize a career.

For stepping stones to a new approach, here are 10 career strategies:

1. Perform a SWOT analysis of both your personal skills and your job

Identify all strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Assuming you have the passion and skills for your job, then if you still feel overwhelmed at times, the cause might be stress.

Identify the underlying reasons: Relationships with the boss, co-workers and customers; and finances, at work and home.

Launch a campaign to reduce your stress factors by developing a diary of your stress. Analyze how you react to stress. Are your reactions productive? If they’re not, learn relaxation-response techniques, such as deep-breathing exercises or the art of positive thinking (seeing every challenge as gift).

Write a balance sheet and seek the answers to these questions: Is this a real problem? Is it quantifiable in dollars and cents? Is it worth fixing? Do the cons outweigh the pros?

Instead of focusing entirely on the challenges, spend more energy creating possible solutions. For every problem, write 10 possible options.

Alcoholism adversely impacts one out of every 10 Americans. If you need help for drinking, see Alcoholics Anonymous. If you’re troubled by the drinking of friend or relative, check out Al-Anon. (For children of alcoholics, there is Alateen.)

If you determine acceptance is the only answer to your situation and no amount of footwork will solve the problem, it will help if you write a gratitude list. It’s common for a person to dwell on the 10 percent that isn’t working in her or his career instead of the 90 percent that is. Otherwise, if you need to make changes, get busy and set realistic goals.

2. Design a motivating theme to jump start your day

There are days when you need a little extra emotional edge to succeed. You can’t think of one? Some people are motivated by the Nike branding slogan, “Just do it.”

Others rely on listening to music in headsets as they exercise, such as the lyrics in the 1982 Survivor’s tune, “Eye of the Tiger”: “Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past; you must fight just to keep them alive.”

By the way, do you exercise?

3. Get enough rest and recreation

Is lack of sleep preventing you from exercising? The temptation is to ignore the signs by thinking lack of sleep is a result of stress. It was surprising to learn that former NFL great Reggie White apparently died of sleep apnea, which afflicts perhaps as many as 18 million Americans. Most often, sleep apnea causes a person to unknowingly stop breathing while sleeping because of a blockage in the breathing passage. Symptoms include feeling tired during the day and high blood pressure, which lead to a stroke or heart attack.

The diagnosis entails an overnight study; patients are wired to measure their sleep patterns. If sleep apnea is the diagnosis, then usually the patient undergoes surgery or is fitted for a mask and a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) breathing machine, which leads to spectacular results. The CPAP machines cost about $2,000 but insurance companies sometimes have to be lobbied for coverage.

Focus on your hobbies whether they be gardening or playing golf.

4. Improve your management of time and priorities

Does it seem you have too much work and too little time? If so, you might evaluate your time-management skills. While it might be apparent, many people waste time because they don’t fully understand what’s expected of them in their job priorities.

All employees deserve to learn answers to three questions: 1. What’s expected of them? 2. How are they doing? 3. What’s in it for them?

Invest time to understand the big picture and your responsibilities in helping the business attain its objectives. If training is warranted, then negotiate for it and make certain your performance matches your job description goals.

Strike a balance: Make certain you’re perceived as a team player; especially on jobs that aren’t necessarily of benefit to you. On the other hand, learn assertion techniques and don’t let others treat you as a doormat. I recommend the best-selling book, “When I Say No, I Feel Guilty,” by Dr. Manuel Smith.

5. Use education as a powerful tool for success

Obtain the highest degree you can, and invest time and money in continuous education. Preferably, a nonprofit university is best —for quality of education, savings and image. Remember knowledge results in power, but only if it’s used.

Join professional organizations for professional growth, and learn transferable skills so that you can rebound from a layoff or be prepared for unforeseen opportunities.

6. Make certain your communication skills are up-to-date

That includes interpersonal, verbal, and written skills. Don’t be one of these statistics: the National Commission on Writing reported U.S. companies expend $3.1 billion in training each year because their employees can’t write properly. (For tips see the 25Best Practices for Better Business Writing.)

7. Get a mentor

A mentor is someone capable of being objective about your strengths and has the desirable expertise. A good mentor will be honored to be asked for help. Make certain you express your appreciation and learn all that you can so that you can become a mentor yourself someday. A mentor of the same gender is suggested.

8. Act with confidence

Once you’ve performed your SWOT analysis, start growing your confidence: write out a series of affirmations about your abilities, dwell on your past successes, and remember that you’ve been prepared for future adversity. Without being ostentatious, learn to market your skills with your bosses, colleagues, industry peers, and customers. Start by public speaking or writing articles.

9. Look around for someone to help

No matter what your struggles, you can always find someone less fortunate, which will give you a better perspective.Consider Winston Churchill’s words: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

10. Consider self-employment

If your SWOT analysis identifies entrepreneurial skills, it might be worth becoming your own boss.It’s very hard work to own your job, but a career as an entrepreneur can be very rewarding, especially if you’re skilled at finding needs to fill.

Good luck!

From the Coach’s Corner, for more insights on managing stress:

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.”

-Hans Selye


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.