Neil Kelders: Daily wins to inspire better performance
Introducing simple new habits can transform your mindset and leadership capabilities, writes Neil Kelders.
Small wins in a working day can mean progress to many of us. We are most intrinsically motivated and happiest, and have more positive observations, on days we make progress in our work.
The process of filling your day with daily wins begins the day before and is a continuous process. Knowing how today went will feed into a more progressive tomorrow, but that progress takes work to bear fruit.
Working from home has shone a spotlight even more on our mental health and need for self-care, so finding the right balance is crucial.
With that in mind, here are some daily wins that have the potential to transform your productivity and mindset:
Begin with the end in mind
Before you plan tomorrow, it is important to check in and see how today went for you.
Answer this question at the end of each day
“Can you briefly describe one event from today that stands out in your mind?”
Too often we are like hamsters on a wheel, rushing from day to day and week to week. It is important to shut down the wheel at times to reflect and recognise oneself and others for what is going right.
Could you have imagined that such a simple question could be a form of self-care? You are expressing in some way, shape or form some gratitude and showing yourself some kindness. By asking this question, you are creating an awareness of something positive in your day and highlighting a small win.
Do a quick check-in
Do you conduct a daily self-evaluation?
If you don’t, how can you know if you were effective with work and self-care? How do you know you met your goals for the day? How do you know if you were in tune with your body and mind?
This information is invaluable for your productivity each day. The beauty about ‘checking in’ with yourself is that it can be completed on the commute home and can be part of your transition from your work role to your home role, while also allowing you to plan more effectively for tomorrow.
With so many of us working from home, of course, we have had to get creative with how we check in. Even something as straightforward as a walk around the local area can be an effective tool to transition from the hustle and bustle of working in the home office to everyday activities.
To pinpoint what went well in your day, ask yourself a few questions such as:
- What turned out well and why?
- What should you take from this experience and use again?
- What didn’t work so well and why?
- What kept you focused?
- Where did you get distracted?
- What did you learn that will help you be more productive tomorrow?
Find time for transition
Many of us are stuck between two roles each day; our home role and our work role. While the lines between the two have been blurred by the realities of virtual working, how you behave during your working day will likely be very different from how you behave in your leisure time. Some of us can naturally switch between the roles, while others struggle, creating a sense of conflict that can compound work-related stress.
Changing your perspective about this transition time between work and home can have a positive effect on your overall experience so that it no longer casts a shadow over your day.
Allowing for a few moments of ‘thinking about the day ahead’ can help towards a smoother transition, reducing stress once you settle down at your desk – whether that is virtually or in person.
The evening routine
This can be a good time to consolidate your memory of the things you have learned throughout the day and put the tip of ‘beginning with the end in mind’ into action.
Wipe away your day
I have a client who has used this transition time between work and home very effectively. She would go through the aforementioned morning and evening routines and once completed she would physically and mentally wipe herself down. Her trigger to initiate this wiping away of her day was when she crossed over the River Liffey in Dublin.
You don’t need to spend too long on any of these activities, but if you do, devote a little time to reflection; this pause between the two roles could help to enhance your sense of achievement and your productivity.
If you change nothing, then nothing changes
You have now created awareness about how your day has gone and around how you have been mentally affected by it. With this informed knowledge you can make the changes necessary to have a different outcome or even more progress tomorrow.
Bookend your day
We all like to feel that we have some control over our lives. We can’t control every hour of every day, of course, but we can ensure we set ourselves up for the day ahead and that we unwind effectively from the day’s events – bookending your day. Steps one and two are small wins you can include into your morning and evening routines, which will contribute to exercising some control over your day.
Developing a consistent morning and evening routine ensures I am productive every day. Simple wins I include in my morning are: drinking water, meditating and making my bed. Evening wins include 30 minutes reading a book, connecting with a friend or family member or writing down something I am grateful for.
Middle of your day
We can exercise some control over the beginning and end of our days, but it is a little more difficult to do so over the middle of our day due to interactions with other people, which can create a world of challenges and surprises. What you can do is accept the fact that challenges and surprises will arise and then ask yourself these three questions when faced with a challenge:
- What are the things I can control?
This is about how you respond a challenge or some adversity. Look at your thoughts, behaviours and actions when a challenge arises.
- What can you influence or impact when a challenge arises?
Consider what you can indirectly control. You can probably offer support and foster good relationships with your team, for instance. Try to anticipate future situations which may lead to conflict.
- What can I not control?
It is important not to waste time on things outside of your control. Change your perspective and focus more on question one above.
These are your go-to questions when faced with any challenge in life. Remember where your ‘focus goes, your energy flows’. You need it to flow with those things you can control. This is another great tool for self-care and can be used not just for individual challenges, but those faced by your teams.
The quality of our communication affects the quality of our lives
Effective leaders establish themselves as resources, making sure to check in on employees while never seeming to check up on them. Switch your focus from managing people or the whole organisation to managing their progress, by changing how you communicate with your team. With virtual communication such a fixture of our daily lives, reaching out to your people has taken on added importance.
Try to find out each day what type of intervention would have the greatest impact on your team’s emotions, motivations, and perceptions during a working day. In essence, what small wins can be introduced to make a difference in how they feel and perform?
You cannot underestimate the power of small wins. They are your journey to the bigger picture, they are your crutch when you are just ‘not in it today’ and they are your motivation to progress the next day.
Remember to mark those little wins because they become the big wins. These small wins remind us that we are making progress and progress feels good, creating a positive feedback loop. As leaders, making daily progress on meaningful work boosts motivation, productivity and creativity and can deliver a transformational impact.
Neil Kelders is a performance and wellbeing coach and ambassador for mental health awareness. He has worked with a diverse range of groups with the objective of overcoming barriers to them sharing equally in the economic, cultural and social aspects of life.
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