Recharging skills – when do we need them?
The workplace was highly intense pre-pandemic, already screaming out for recharging skills. Post pandemic, for many, it is now a place of high-intensity on steroids! What has changed? The pandemic has changed all of us, some more profoundly affected than others. There is no going back, contrary to what is widely referred to as “go back to the way it was”. We must find a new way forward…add to this adaptive challenge, a growing global crisis:
- Inflation at levels not seen by most working-age adults,
- governments with eye-watering debt levels leaving little room to ease inflationary or economic pressures, and
- a conflict in Ukraine that threatens global stability.
Within this environment, companies are doing what they can to retain clients and employees alike. So it is clear that leaders have not been under so much pressure in recent times! As workplace uncertainties set in, many leaders start their day early, stay late, work weekends, and are routinely on call to manage last-minute fire drills.
Every employee needs to recharge themselves but arguably none more so than leaders. They manage pressure from their leadership team, their peers, and from their direct reports – getting it from all proverbial sides. So, what can leaders do to effectively recharge themselves?
A three-step recharging strategy
- “Have a break, have a KitKat”
- Use Technology to your advantage
- Manage the Zeigarnik effect
Diving a little more deeply into recharging skills
- The Nestle tagline is a helpful reminder to stop, breathe, appreciate the little things and challenge our self-sabotaging inner voice. Why? Because most of us exert a significant amount of energy daily to manage our biases. Self-sabotaging is a self-determined drive to seek out information (positive or negative) to confirm our inherent biases. We can balance against those forces by taking mindful breaks. For instance: take time to appreciate what’s working well in your life, or challenge the self-doubting voice by reflecting on a recent personal or professional success. Let your mind wander and consider all the good things in your life, and think about how you can do more of those things.
- Leverage technology to help you manage your focus, and your time. The apps Quality Time and Stay Focused track phone screen time usage, or Freedom blocks distractions on all devices; Headspace and Calm bring about a sense of mindfulness and clarity. Therefore, a mindful approach allows us to remain focused, balanced and healthy throughout the day. It is a great way to recharge our batteries in little and easy everyday ways!
- Bluma Zeigarnik discovered that a group of participants recalled their interrupted tasks 90% better than the tasks they completed, and a second group of participants recalled interrupted tasks twice as well as completed tasks. The implication? When we start working on something but do not complete it, our mind drifts back to the unfinished work even if we have moved on to something else. It is this urge that we need to manage. We can do so with a simple strategy, beyond the obvious finish what is started, keep a notebook to write things down. Therefore, this action of writing allows our mind to let go of this recall cycle. We can focus on the activity at hand now.
Recharging throughout the workday to achieve high levels of well-being, performance and resilience is a critical recovery skill. It is a process through which our functioning returns to normal. because we take mindful breaks and manage the Zeigarnik effect. A process made distinctly easier using a few well-chosen APPS. Recharging skills are important to everyone, however are particularly so for leaders managing pressures from all sides!
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Cartoon credit: Michael Leunig