Increase productivity by working less.



We are an increasingly busy society with enormously long ‘to do’ lists. A worrying trend in recent years has been that many people forego a lunch break in order to work more and make inroads into that to do list. However, is this wise?

Research shows that breaks are necessary in order to be more productive and get more work done in the time available. And it’s not only a lunch break, it’s a 10-minute break in the morning and a 10 minute break in the afternoon. How does this make us more productive some might ask.

Here are three Factors to be considered:

Breaks restore focus.

Our brains are not designed to carry out continuous uninterrupted work. If we do this, we will affect our ability to concentrate which can lead to frustration, irritability and inefficiency. By taking a brief mental break this can restore our focus which will enable us to concentrate properly on the task in hand.

Breaks minimise fatigue

Taking breaks during the day, which will include a 10 minute one at mid-morning and mid-afternoon with at least half an hour at lunch, is an effective way to fight fatigue and increase productivity. Without sufficient downtime to refresh and recharge we will become less efficient, be more error prone and less engaged in what we are doing.

Breaks improve well being.

If you are physically and mentally stressed you will produce the stress hormone cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels over time are related to a number of diseases.

Research indicates that by taking regular breaks this will have a positive effect on reducing blood pressure and improving sleep quality and contribute to overall wellbeing making you less likely to take time off work due to illness.

Summary.

If you are one of those who believe that you are more effective by just working, working, and working then please examine your performance. Take the advice to factor breaks into your work day and examine your performance on a before and after basis.

Having breaks will be better for you and you may be surprised by your results.

Remember, Mayfair, we care.

Are 24/7 Communications Detrimental to Our Health?



Business today

In our highly competitive world businesses are using all the means to maintain competitive advantages. The main group of people that can suffer as a result is the staff.

Business owners and executives who influence the direction of the company and are rarely ‘off duty’ but maintaining a competitive edge will also impact on staff working conditions. Employees can often endure long working hours with weekend work frequently being a necessity.

The effects on the workforce

During the working hours, staff are supposed to be in constant communication with each other. Thanks to the advancement of technology, they can now communicate through various platforms such as social media, emails, messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Skype, SMS, mobile phone and landline calls.

As much as this may seem to be a positive, if not highly necessary set of basic business needs and will streamline the overall performance of the business, it comes with its disadvantages. Did you know that 24/7 communications can be detrimental to your health?

Several reports have proven beyond doubt that such activities have adverse effects on your physical and mental well-being and we examined the findings of a report entitled “Can work make you sick?

(http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02678373.2011.569175#.U1l2eVe9bc)

A relationship between “long working hours and stress” gave shocking findings on the effects of prolonged working hours to the stress levels. The study found out that stress in a business comes in different forms.

Workforce conflict

It is ridiculous to believe that all the interactions with your colleagues will go smoothly. It is quite usual to challenge another’s thinking and makes for healthy debate – usually. However, there are those instances that can also result in anger and frustration creating tension and stress which can carry over into so called relaxation time at home.

The types of disputes can include workload, remunerations, lack of cooperation, and conflict on respective roles; personal issues may also occur and all can be troubling and affect your life directly – especially if carried out by email, text etc which have no respect for time of day.

Workforce health

A poll published by NPR News revealed that 43% of staff admit that their stress is caused by long working hours and poor sleeping habits (https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/07/11/484917853/work-can-be-a-stressful-and-dangerous-place-for-many).
What should you expect when you are required to be at your workplace very early
and leave late?

Professor Robert J. Blendon of the Harvard Chan School and the director of this research study stated that “The first task of the American employers should be to reduce stress levels at their working place,”

One negative effect of long working hours and 24/7 communications is the loss of focus. Your ability to stay sharp on the job goes down, and you may find yourself making unexplained mistakes.

Those working in risky environments such as busy workshops can be easily injured by lack of concentration. Long working hours accompanied by inadequate safety measures are a recipe for high-stress levels. This is why, according to the same research, staff in retail shops and construction industries lead in having high stress levels of 26% and 23% respectively.

Summary

From this article, it is clear that staff in a lot of organizations are a frustrated lot. Apart from suffering from burnouts, they also go through depression and we look towards responsible employers to be ever more conscious of how 24/7 communication can be detrimental to your health and provide the necessary support and advice to employees.

Mayfair, we care.

Life in the fast lane.


 

Our world is a busy one. We have 24 hour rolling news day in, day out. There is always something new to worry about.

Many people have never worked so hard, for so long and with communications as they are, we are never out of touch with work. Even at the weekend and on holiday.

Is this good for us?

If we are always rushing, always feeling overworked, always on call, the reality is we are probably doing far too much for our own good.

The body will release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol which can make us impatient, anxious, and irritated. This puts us under stress and can raise blood pressure with all the consequent problems associated with high blood pressure such as heart disease.

Why are we so reluctant to make our own lives that little bit easier?

Is it because we feel we might be judged by others as lacking ambition, energy and commitment? Or do we worry that if we do slow down, the to do list will just become out of control?

Okay, so we want to slowdown for our own benefit. How do we go about it?

Prioritising tasks

1.      Sort your to do list out into three levels of importance and concentrate firstly on level one. Even if these are the tasks that you least want to tackle, you know that they are important and you will feel so much better for having tackled them and got them out of the way.

2.      Avoid multitasking. In the work situation multitasking can lead to a number of jobs being half done and taking twice as long! 

Tackle one job at a time but do it thoroughly and properly to your own satisfaction and high standards.

 3.      Delegate more. Many of us do not delegate because we believe “it is quicker to do it ourselves“. That is a fallacy. Which means that we either do not trust our colleagues or we have a basic insecurity and feel that to be seen delegating would be a weakness?

4.      Take breaks and exercise more. Regular breaks and exercise will keep you refreshed and make you feel better and more able to tackle the tasks on your to do list.

5.      Don’t be a slave to emails and messages. These days we are inundated with emails and text messages, What’sApp messages etc. and these can interrupt your train of thought on projects if you let it. Don’t let it!

Let your contacts know that you check your emails and messages once a day at 16:00 and deal with any important ones then. If something is very urgent then advise them that they should ring you! This will make a huge difference to your working day and guess what? You won’t receive many phone calls either.

In summary.

There is little we can do about a fast moving world and communications that seem to increase our workload rather than manage it better, but we can handle ourselves better and lead a less stressful lifestyle by taking small steps to improve our personal situation

And remember, Mayfair cares.

The Importance of Good Work/Life Balance


We are living in a fast-paced world where the ability to achieve a healthy work/life balance is becoming more difficult and almost impossible due to overwhelming business needs.

Employers are putting more pressure on their employees in a bid to keep up with the competition and on the other hand, employees are putting additional pressure on themselves in order to achieve greater results and reach the set target.

For many, the 9-5 has now become 8-7- and sadly, many have come to accept it.

It’s the same situation in the self-employed and the small business.

But it shouldn’t be this way. No matter how difficult it may seem, maintaining a good work/life balance is absolutely essential when it comes to good personal health, relationships, and a achieving a happy, productive lifestyle even in a very demanding career.

With the perfect work/life balance:

·         You will be less susceptible to burnout

·         You will keep health problems at bay

·         You will be able to put more focus where it’s due

So why is it becoming more difficult to achieve a good work/life balance? What do we get wrong about work-life balance?

It’s all About Juggling Family and Work

The truth of the matter is, it’s not how much time you spend at work or at home or in lifestyle activities - it’s also about how the quality of that extra time enhances your ability to put your best effort at work.

Fewer Working Hours, Happier Life

Most people also assume that the fewer hours they work, the happier their lives will be. Well this is just a, misconception. There are numerous factors that can affect work-life balance even for those who work 20 hours or less a week.

The perfect balance shouldn’t only take into account the number of hours you work, but also your hobbies, family, health and wellness, and even stress management.

What Works for My Colleagues Works for Me Too

Wrong.

No one knows you better than yourself. So it’s not right to assume that what your colleague does to get the perfect balance can work for you too.

If working longer hours during the week to get some time to guarantee quality time with your family during the weekend works for you, then go for it.

How Can We Benefit By Achieving the Perfect Work-Life Balance?

·         Your Productivity Will Increase

A healthy work-life balance will boost your productivity, both in your work life and personal life.

All you have to do balance your work, family time, and rest to stay fully functional and motivated.

·         You will have better Focus

When you have a healthy work-life balance, you will have greater control of where your focus remains.

This simply means that if you leave your work at the office, you will be in a position to fully focus on your family, relationships, and hobbies.

·         You will Experience Fewer Health Problems and Enhance Your Well-Being

When you experience burn out, you are not doing your health or well-being any favor.

Burnout leaves you completely exhausted and stressed out, and this can bring about many health complications.

With a good work-life balance, you will be less susceptible to health problems and greatly enhance your well being.

·         You will Love your Job More

Why do people say they hate their jobs?

Well, there could be many factors such as low pay or bad work ethics but evidently, many people with a poor work-life balance loathe their jobs.

If only they could try and balance the two, may be their jobs would suck a little bit less.

Additionally, you will have some more “me” time, you will stop missing out on important things in your life, and also enhance your stress management skills.

Always remember that achieving the perfect work-life balance most often comes down to your ability and dedication to prioritizing what’s most important to you.

And remember, Mayfair Cares.

The benefits of listening


 

It is Mental Health Awareness month and we want to emphasise how little things can go a long way in making people feel better about themselves – we examine the importance of listening first up.

A friend in need

If you are more of a listener than a talker, you've probably been told on more than one occasion that you're a good friend.

When you take the time to listen you're giving the other person your full attention, which is often all that is needed. But there are other good reasons to stop and listen more.

Are you feeling down?

Pop in your ear phones during your lunch break and go for a walk. Researchers found that listening to music can lift your mood.

The best type of music to listen to? One study found those who listened to tunes that were ‘beautiful but sad’ noticed the greatest improvement in their mood.

Need to focus?

If you're studying after work it can be very hard to concentrate. Listening to the sound of birds singing could be the answer according to a study. It works because birdsong has been shown to relax you physically and stimulate your brain at the same time. Exactly the state of mind you need to be into focus.

You can try this out with an app called study available free from the App Store and Google play.

Workplace stress?

Listening can play an important role in helping you defuse tension at work. Most people appreciate having supportive and understanding colleagues. Whether you're a manager or a team member others will find great value in having a person around to actively listens and shows understanding.

Listening is a skill – here are some pointers.

  • Pay attention – face the speaker and give them your undivided attention. Don't look at your Watch phone or other people.
  • Be attentive but relaxed - it's okay to look around from time to time when you're while you're listening. Too much I contact can be unnerving for the person doing the talking.
  • Keep an open mind – listen without judgement or jumping to conclusions.
  • Don't interrupt or offer solutions – if someone wants advice they last for it.
  • Give regular feedback – nodding, smiling or using words and sounds of encouragement will make the talker aware that you're actively listening

‘When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen’ – Ernest Hemingway

Remember, Mayfair cares

 

Clear the mental clutter and become more focused


Mental clutter – is it a new thing?

 

First of all mental clutter has been around forever, we’re just more aware of it now and it is accentuated by modern communications. Think of rolling TV news, the internet, social media, smartphones, emails, texts – the list is endless.

So is it any wonder that at times you find yourself unable to keep your mind in one place. It’s hard to think about what matters when you have hundreds of messages floating in and out of your mind.

Mental clutter is anything that preoccupies your thoughts and stops you from thinking straight. This clutter comes in all shapes and sizes; sometimes it’s a snide remark from a workmate or an echo from the past or one of the many responsibilities you shoulder. 

Aside from negative emotions that drain your energy and occupy your thoughts, overstimulation also causes mental clutter. We reply to texts on WhatsApp while watching something on YouTube and at the same time checking our email. While multi-tasking like that could be advantageous, you can only take so much. 

How do we get rid of all the clutter?

If it’s not something from the past which keeps creeping back to mortify you, it’s something just recent that you can’t quite get a handle on. Whatever the case, you find yourself always caught up in this chaotic feeling, and some days are worse than others. There are a few things in your life that you can tinker with and reduce the clatter so that you have a clear mind again:

1. Organize yourself from the inside 

Organization from the inside helps you direct your life in one course. The first thing here is to know that if you don’t write it down, you probably won’t commit it to memory. Put notes on your smartphone or carry a notebook to record your to-dos. 

Visualising your life can also help you achieve internal organisation. What do you want to have achieved in 2 weeks? 6 months? 1 year? The timeline is not the issue; it’s all about finding a goal. This visualisation helps you understand where you are going and what you need to do, and soon everything starts to come together.

In other words – prioritise to achieve your short, medium and long term goals.

2. Find a system or develop a habit to help Personal Organisation

It would be nice to know where everything is. Having to remember where you put something is irritating. Have a regular place for everything so that you know where to go when you can’t find your car keys or mobile phone in your pocket.

3. Improve your lifestyle 

The body needs physical nourishment for you to stay healthy. When you look out for your health, your mental state also improves. A good diet, physical activity and sufficient sleep will help clear the mind.

While getting rid of the voices in our heads remains a personal battle, the truth is, you can’t do it without some help. One needs to find a system that works in combating their mental clutter and add some proven tips to help them, however, the most important thing is have a strategy, goals and some milestones to help you get there on a personal and professional level.

Remember, Mayfair Cares. 

The Effect of Happiness on Workplace Productivity

When it comes to incentivising employees to be more productive, employers often resort to raising salaries and/or reducing working hours. While doing this does result in some measure of short to medium term success, nothing quite compares to the productivity that is exhibited by a staff member who is happy in their work.

Staff benefits

Recent studies show that no matter how well you pay or how many staff benefits are available, an unhappy employee is found to be 10 % less productive than the average whereas a happy employee is 12 % more productive.

The study, which was conducted in the University of Warwick, showed that happiness has a positive effect on the productivity of a human being. Feelings of positivity stimulate employees to perform better and enhance their self-drive. Monetary benefits are not enough when it comes to boosting workplace productivity.

Professor Andrew Oswald, a member of the team that conducted the research, pointed out that employers who invest in employee satisfaction initiatives benefited from more productive employees.

37% improvement

He highlighted Google where employee satisfaction spiked by 37 % solely because of the company’s efforts to improve their employee support systems. This goes to show that financial incentives are just not enough to inspire motivation in employees.

According to Shawn Anchor, positive feelings greatly impact on the brain, which in turn improves the productivity of an individual. The author of The Happiness Advantage explained that positive feelings inspire people to be more creative and also enhances their problem-solving skills.

Happier employees are also more willing to work as a group and prove to be more driven towards achieving common goals, according to another study. In Anchor’s perspective, companies that build strong, personal relationships with their employees always enjoy greater profits, all because of the enhanced productivity brought on by the positive environment. 

Employee satisfaction however cannot be classified as the responsibility of the employer alone. There are easy ways employees can create a positive working environment full of good vibes and happy individuals.

This can be through helping each other out, healthy interactions between co-employees and even some light meditation for a few minutes every day. The main idea is to create an environment where the employees feel like they are an important member of a family, not an insignificant cog in a larger scheme of things.

Happiness & Leadership

To prove that strong relationships do impact on happiness in the workplace, two researchers from Harvard conducted a study on students which revealed that students with better social lives and healthy relationships both at home and in school tended to be a lot more productive and less likely to develop stress.

Phil Stone and Tal Ben-Shahar also noted that these happy students carried on those acquired traits and skills to their respective workplaces and proved to be better at stress management and better suited to forge strong relationships with their co-employees. 

The two researchers concluded that happier employees also make the best leaders thanks to their superior human interaction capabilities. Woohoo Inc founder, Alexander Kjerulf also agrees that happiness in the workplace is the key to employees with better leadership traits, better time management skills and, ultimately, better productivity. 

So, what does your company do to create a positive, happy working environment and could you do more?

Remember, Mayfair Cares

5 Ways to Beat Procrastination


Have you ever experienced procrastination? Stupid question? All of us have, at one time or another!

Procrastination is the number one killer of success. It is the single most common state that keeps people from taking action. It's when you know that you should do something, but keep putting it off.

This article provides you with five ideas that you can apply immediately in your everyday life to help you overcome procrastination and get more things done in 10 minutes a day.

Break down your goals into a series of smaller goals.

If you have a long-term goal, break them down into a series of short-term goals.

By breaking down big goals into smaller achievable steps, it makes you feel a constant sense of achievement. Ultimately, it motivates you to work harder and building a sense of fulfillment every time you accomplished each of them.

Replace negative images in your mind with inspiring positive images

Your mind runs with pictures. Think about this, what comes to your mind when it comes to working on your goal? Do you feel motivated, inspired, tired or lazy? Whenever you see negative images pop up in your mind; you know that your brain is associating negative states with your goal.

Identify all the negative images in your mind and replace them with motivating images. Think about how exciting, fun and happy you will be when you achieved all of them and become successful.

Place something meaningful besides your office desk

Place something that serves as motivational sources such as inspirational quotes, vision board or family photos just beside your workplace. This simple yet powerful tip helps to destroy procrastination because it serves as a constant reminder of why you are doing what you are doing.

Boost your energy to prevent exhaustion

Being too tired is the top reason for procrastination, and your energy stores (physically and mentally) are both limited. Therefore, actively replenish them and allocate your efforts wisely. Here are few things you can do to boost your energy and prevent burnout:

a) Make time for exercise several days each week. Exercise not only helps you to reduce stress, but it also increases your brain power, sharpens your memory and focuses at work.

b) Reserve your morning and mid-day peak performance hours for your most demanding tasks.

c) Take an afternoon nap. The boss might not approve so explain that research and study have found out that taking 20 minutes to 40 minutes rest dramatically improve your productivity, creativity, better stamina and work performance.

d) Respect your limitations. If after all this, you are still too tired to take on responsibilities, try to cut back on your commitments or get help completing them.

Taking charge of your physiology

When you were procrastinating, you were using your science in a particular way. Your breathing was probably slow and shallow. Your muscles were droopy; your eyes were looking down, and your facial muscles were probably flaccid.

Therefore, taking charge of your physiology is a key way to managing your states and overcome procrastination. You can snap out of procrastination by changing your entire physiology. For example, you can sit up straight, put your shoulders at the back, do stretches and take few deep breaths.

Remember that you can get control of your time and life only by changing the way you think, work and deal with the never-ending river of responsibility that flows over you each day.

 

Practice these simple ideas 10 minutes a day. Review them regularly until they become firmly ingrained in your thoughts, and watch how your performance improves.

And remember – Mayfair cares!