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By Ross Crouch.
Technology means we have never had more opportunity than now to work on the go, glance at our emails or look at our phones for latest news or market updates. The reality is that for our own mental and physical health, we all need to be more mindful of wellbeing and get better at managing it.
Wellbeing is an integral part of the business here at Wadkins Associates and, as the father of a two-year-old daughter, it’s certainly something I value.
One of the reasons why I love working in the Legal sector is that it's a constantly evolving profession and those working in it need to stay on top of developments and remain innovative and proactive. So how do we strike a balance?
I don't believe there's a quick fix or magic solution here; we all face challenges maintaining a healthy lifestyle and prioritising our mental health. But I can point to some of the ideas that have helped both me and the team here feel fresher, more engaged and, simply put, happier.
Focused times to complete tasks
Whether on holiday, on the train, or coming out of the shower, my wife tells me I am constantly checking my emails. Alongside this ‘constant’ email checking I found I was neither wholly focused on what I was meant to be doing or appreciating the benefit of proper downtime.
Setting myself focused timeslots to complete tasks has helped me remain far more productive and maintain a better balance. Do I slip back into old habits? Yes, of course, all the time - and sometimes it is through necessity. But now, every time I find myself doing this, I'm conscious of it - and I make a concerted effort to redress the balance.
These focused timeslots have been key to maintaining productivity within our team and the output has increased significantly.
As a team we have considered the science of when you are most likely to get the best results from completing certain tasks; whether these tasks are more administrative or you have a number of calls to make.
We subscribe to the theory that we all have an internal clock and it is this circadian process or rhythm that shapes our energy levels throughout the day. Perhaps the best example of this is the post lunch slump which actually has nothing to do with the lunch itself but is more reflective of a natural dip in our energy levels in the early afternoon.
Crucial to the success of this approach is being realistic about what I want to get out of the day and when, for me as an individual, it is best to achieve different tasks.
Taking regular, mini-breaks.
One of the principles that is wholly beneficial is the ability to dedicate 5-10 minutes in between these tasks to specifically avoid doing anything on the to do list and grab a drink, have a walk or anything really that will enable you to mentally shake off the previous task and wholly focus on what comes next.
I've found doing this helpful, but I'll admit to finding it difficult to commit to. Once I hit my productive flow then, in my mind, it seems sensible to avoid doing anything to break it. But I completely appreciate the potential for a short break to help me be more engaged and focused on a new task. It's fair to say that I'm finding this very much a work in progress while others in the team have utilised this to far greater effect than I have.
Getting a good night's sleep.
As a relatively new parent, the long sought-after eight hours sleep a night seems like a distant memory and has really made me appreciate the value of good quality sleep!
It might sound obvious, but sleep is incredibly important for our wellbeing. A lack of sleep affects our memory, thinking, concentration and mood which are, to state the plainly obvious, key to just about everything we do in our day to day life. And with ever more frantic lifestyles, it's very easy to develop the bad habit of 'burning the candle' at both ends of the day!
I have made a concerted effort to minimise the temptation to check emails late at night or look up the latest sports updates (I’m an avid fan). I've found that this discipline with screen-time late in the evening has certainly helped me switch off and have a better sleep.
Exercise - it doesn't have to be hard!
A ‘Dad bod’ is sadly more of a reality now and the aspirations of an Anthony Joshua type physique are now (sadly) tempered with realism. The idea of a couple of hours in the gym each day is neither appealing nor realistic.
However, over the last few months I have tried to incorporate 20 minutes exercise a day into my routine. I’m certainly not qualified or the right person to suggest what exercise people do but, for me, this can be a walk, push ups or sport but frankly anything that gets the blood pumping.
I’m not a slave to the time of day - or even to exercising every day - but when I have exercised during the working week, I have definitely felt far more energetic and positive thanks to the benefit of the stress killing endorphins that it produces.
There’s a real sense that my focus on Wellbeing is in its formative stages which is certainly the case - but the more time I commit to it, the more I appreciate the importance of an area that is, for so many, overlooked or viewed as a ‘fluffy’ topic.