Lifestyle impacts on productivity

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By lifestyle, I mean how you’re living your life. In this chapter we’re focusing on what you do when you’re not at work. One of the reasons I chose to start with lifestyle is that it’s something you can address without drawing attention to yourself at work. It’s also an easy way to show you that you can do something about your behaviours – once you become aware of them and their potential consequences beyond your front door.

Sleep deprivation

If you’re still wondering what influence your lifestyle choices could possibly have on your productivity, type ‘sleep deprivation’ into your search engine of choice and hit ‘enter’.

Here’s a list of some of the effects of sleep deprivation* you’ll find that relate directly to work performance.

  • Reduced alertness
  • Shortened attention span
  • Slower than normal reaction time
  • Poor judgement
  • Reduced awareness of the environment and situation
  • Reduced decision-making skills
  • Poor memory
  • Reduced concentration
  • Increased likelihood of mentally ‘stalling’ or fixating on one thought
  • Increased likelihood of moodiness and bad temper
  • Reduced work efficiency
  • Loss of motivation
  • Errors of omission – making a mistake by forgetting to do something
  • Errors of commission – making a mistake by doing something, but choosing the wrong option
  • Micro-sleep – brief periods of involuntary sleeping that range from a few seconds to a few minutes in duration.

*Source: Better Health Victoria

Living in separate boxes

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We tend to divide our work and home lives into separate boxes and ignore the impacts each has on the other. You’re no doubt familiar with stories about workaholics, people who destroy their family lives by spending too much time at work. Those stories actually illustrate the interconnectedness of the different parts of your life, so it’s really not all that surprising, when you think about it, that your home life can impact your work life, and, therefore, your productivity. And, it’s not just your sleeping pattern. It’s all those things, like the following, that can cause you stress.

Relationships

If things are going well in your relationship with your significant other, chances are you’re feeling good about going to work and the state of your relationship is not distracting you from the task at hand. If, on the other hand, you’re experiencing some relationship issues, you’ll probably be finding it difficult to concentrate on the job. You may even be having some trouble sleeping, and we’ve already seen what that can do. This is one aspect of your life you can do something about if it’s causing you stress and impacting on your productivity. You might only need to talk to your partner. You might need to make some behavioural changes or get help to sort out your issues. You may need to end the relationship. Point is, you can either do something about it or simply hope it will go away. The choice is yours.

Money

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Most money problems are self-inflicted. Sure, there will be times when something comes out of left field that you weren’t expecting but, if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know that your money problems are the result of spending more than you earn. Take a look at your credit cards. They exist to allow you to do just that.

If you’re worrying about how you’re going to pay this month’s bills when you’re supposed to be working, you will not be as productive as you could be. The good news is money problems are fixable, if you’re prepared to exercise some self-control when it comes to spending. But, again, the choice is yours to make.

Health and fitness

Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy, especially when it comes to how you look after your body. You eat fast food. You settle for being a couch potato. You mess with your brain chemistry by drinking too much alcohol or using so called recreational drugs and narcotics, or overusing medical opiates. You reduce your lung capacity by smoking cigarettes or weed, despite all the health warnings on the packet. If you’re a ‘party animal’, you might want to go back and read that list of effects of sleep deprivation, and ask yourself why they do blood tests and impose sleep restrictions on pilots and people operating machinery in underground mines. You might only be operating a computer but you’ll face the same problems.

When you think about it, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out that if you’re overweight, unfit, and mess with your brain chemistry and lung capacity, you probably won’t be at your best when you turn up for work.

But there’s more to wellbeing than physical fitness and healthy eating habits. There’s also how you look after yourself from a mental or spiritual perspective. If you want to operate optimally in the workplace, you need to give yourself some downtime and have some fun. You’re not going to be productive if you’re running on empty most of the time. Fortunately, there are ways of addressing these issues but they all require one thing: self-discipline.

Family responsibilities

The extent of your family responsibilities changes with time. If you have young children they get sick, they have trouble sleeping, and they’re involved in all sorts of things. If you have elderly parents you may end up with carer responsibilities. Point is, if you have family responsibilities there will be times when they impact on your work commitments. If they’re regular and ongoing, it’s probably a good idea to discuss them with your employer and plan around them. There is no point in trying to hide them. That’s a stress you don’t need. Sometimes you have family emergencies and you either can’t go in or you need to leave work early. You need a plan for how you’re going to handle those emergencies that includes how you’re going to meet any critical deadlines.

If your employer is unsympathetic to supporting you meet your family responsibilities, it may be time to find a new job or to seek help from your wider family or the community. Sometimes people only need to be asked.

The next step is to conduct a self-audit of your lifestyle choices. A self-audit can help you become aware of behaviours that may be impacting on your productivity – if you’re honest with yourself. Your findings will either confirm that you have no issues or that you have a few things to attend to in your own time that may help you increase your productivity.


This is a draft of a chapter that will eventually appear in Everyday Productivity, the next title in my Everyday Business Skills books. Over the next few months I’ll be writing Everyday Productivity as a series of posts, and providing you with an opportunity to download a free copy of the workbook to complete the exercises designed to help you get the most out of the content. Please feel free to offer feedback in the comments.


Peter Mulraney has forty years experience working in schools, banking, and government. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic, The New Girlfriend and Everyday Project Management.

3 secret ingredients of productivity

Before we examine the factors that impact on your productivity in detail, let’s take a moment to think about what it means to be productive in the workplace.

Being productive is more than just being busy. You’ve no doubt had days when you were busy all day but, at the end of the day, felt as if you hadn’t actually achieved anything. I know I have.

Work is something we do with intent. It has a purpose. It’s not just a way of passing the time. You generally don’t get paid for that.

Being productive at work or in your own business is about getting things done that you want to get done for a specific reason, and I don’t mean so you’ll get paid. That’s a by-product of being productive.

Contrary to what many people think, business is about service. It’s about producing goods and providing services that others need or want. If you’re being productive, then what you are doing is contributing to either the production or delivery of those goods and services. When you’re not being productive, then, basically, you’re not contributing.

If you’re reading this, it’s probably safe to assume that you’re interested in contributing by being productive in your chosen field, and that you want to be as productive as possible. After all, we live in a society that rewards people for being productive, and there’s nothing wrong with being paid for making a contribution.

As I mentioned in the overview, there are a lot of factors that can either help or hinder your efforts to be productive. There are three other things though, what we might call the three secret ingredients, that are more important than all of those factors: awareness, purpose and action.

3 secret ingredients

Awareness

You can’t do anything about things of which you are not aware. You can probably recall a time when someone at school stuck a sign on another student’s back as an April Fool’s joke. It was a laugh for everyone – except for the poor person totally unaware of the sign. You don’t want to be that person in the workplace.

The focus of this book is on helping you bring things into awareness, so that you can (1) assess their impact on your productivity, and ( 2) do something about them.

Purpose

It’s important to be aware of the purpose of your work. If you don’t know what it is that you are working to achieve everyday you’re not likely to be very productive.

Before reading on, take some time to identify the purpose of your work. This might take a moment or it may require a little research. You may need to review your vision or think about articulating one for your business, or you may need to read your duty statement or job description.

I’ll come back to purpose in the chapters on attitude and knowledge, but I suggest you stop and answer the appropriate question below before reading the next chapter.

  • If you’re an employee; what is it that you’re being paid to do each day?
  • If you’re self employed; why do you get up and go to work every day?

Action

There is no point in knowing all there is to know about being productive if you don’t take action, and not just any action. If you want to be productive you need to take action aligned with your purpose.


This is a draft of a chapter that will eventually appear in Everyday Productivity, the next title in my Everyday Business Skills books. Over the next few months I’ll be writing Everyday Productivity as a series of posts, and providing you with an opportunity to download a free copy of the workbook to complete the exercises designed to help you get the most out of the content. Please feel free to offer feedback in the comments.


Peter Mulraney has forty years experience working in schools, banking, and government. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic, The New Girlfriend and Everyday Project Management.

Productivity – an overview

Productivity in the workplace is a measure of your effectiveness – with a focus on both the quality and quantity of the work you do.

Your personal productivity is influenced by a range of factors:

  • Lifestyle
  • Attitude
  • Work Environment
  • Habits
  • Tools
  • Skills
  • Knowledge
  • Community

productivity

Lifestyle

Lifestyle is about how you’re living your life. Your lifestyle choices impact your productivity in the workplace. The secret is becoming aware of how what you’re doing when you’re not at work is influencing your productivity at work.

Attitude

Attitude or mindset is about how you approach things mentally. If you hate your job, you’re going to find it difficult to be more productive. If you’re set in your ways and not open to change, you’re going to struggle with doing things differently, which is often a key ingredient for increasing productivity.

Work Environment

If you work in an environment that does not encourage change or innovation, you’re likely to meet resistance whenever you try something different. Sometimes you have to take a risk and lead from where you are, even if you aren’t in charge. And, more importantly, when you are.

Habits

Your daily habits either facilitate or impede your productivity. You need to bring your habits into awareness and to assess their value. Some of them may have to go. You may need to develop some new ones.

Tools

There are plenty of productivity tools or apps available on the open market – but what’s available in your workplace? If you’re self-employed you get to experiment and choose. If you’re an employee you’ll need to master what’s available.

Skills

What are the skills required to do your job? Do you have them? Can you learn them? Are you prepared to invest in your own education?

Knowledge

What do you know about your job or your role in the workplace? And, just as important, what don’t you know about it? What knowledge do you need to have to be more effective? Are you prepared to get that knowledge?

Community

Who are the people around you? Are they supportive of your desire to increase your productivity? Does your productivity depend upon the actions of others?

If you want to increase your productivity, you’ll need to address each of these factors.


Peter Mulraney has forty years experience working in schools, banking, and government. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic, The New Girlfriend and Everyday Project Management.

What’s blocking your personal productivity?

10Productivity is an economic concept that arose as a way of measuring the efficiency of production processes.

Now, it’s routinely applied to employees – people like you.

You are expected to be more productive every year.

You need to deliver more from your personal effort to justify your continued employment.

‘What, you want a raise? Show me how you’re going to be more productive. This is a business, not a charity!’

And, don’t think you’re immune if you are self-employed – all productivity depends on your personal effort.

One step towards increasing your personal productivity

A first step towards increasing your personal productivity is to identify the things that stop you from being more productive, and then find ways to get around those obstacles.

You’re not alone. We all have habits and things in our environment that seem to hold us back from reaching our full potential in the workplace. Some of you have, no doubt, found ways to be more productive.

For example, one thing that used to distract me from the task at hand was all those notifications that pop up to tell you that you have received a new email.

Seeing one from the boss always interrupted my line of thought, even if it was something that didn’t need my immediate attention.

I solved that problem by turning off the notifications and looking at my inbox after I had taken a break. That way the important emails got attended to in a timely manner and I got to concentrate on whatever I was doing without interruption, which allowed me to get things done faster.

What’s blocking your personal productivity?

Use the comments to share how you have overcome something that was blocking your productivity or tell us something you need help with.

The One Who Got Away

The+One+Who+Got+Away

The One Who Got Away is the latest offering by Caroline Overington.

It popped up in a recommendations email from Kobo the week I was planning to fly across the Pacific.

I haven’t read any of her other books but I had seen her name in an article discussing women crime writers. Apparently, they’re doing things differently, like not having an investigator as the protagonist, so I bought the book. Had every intention of reading it on the plane. Finally got around to reading it – in one sitting – last weekend.

Intriguing story and, yes, it’s not driven by a police investigator, but what I like about the book is the way in which the story is told. It has four narrators, so you get four perspectives – five actually, when you consider that one of the narrators interviews one of the other main characters in the story who doesn’t otherwise get a say. And, I wasn’t expecting the ending.

Here’s a link to the book’s page on Kobo but you might not be able to buy yourself a copy if you are in the US – an example of the games played by publishers.

Here’s a link to Caroline Overington’s profile on Kobo so you can see what else she’s written.


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Peter Mulraney is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic, The New Girlfriend and Everyday Project Management.

Looking behind the curtain

It's time to take a look behind the curtain.

image by maxime amoudruz | unsplash

If you’ve seen the Wizard of Oz you’ll know about the man behind the curtain.

It’s a great visual reminder that things are not always what they seem on the surface.

Looking behind the curtain is an essential skill for anyone investigating a crime, and creating curtains is a fun game for crime writers.

It’s also an essential life skill if you don’t want to be taken in by appearances.

How often have you judged a book by its cover and been disappointed? And, how often have you judged a book by its cover and missed out on a great read because you failed to look behind the curtain?

You need to look behind the curtain in all aspects of your life, not just when choosing a book to read. Think about all that advertising you’re bombarded with and all that political spin. Think about what you’re being fed as news.

If you never question or examine what you’re told you’ll end up like the citizens of Oz: believing in a fraud.


IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic, The New Girlfriend and Everyday Project Management.

Why do you read?

Old Book

If you read for entertainment, check out the Inspector West series or The New Girlfriend.

If you read for information, check out the Living Alone series or Everyday Project Management.

If you read for inspiration, check out Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic.

 

Digital libraries

40 years is a long time to live in one house.

It’s definitely sufficient time to accumulate a lot of books.

We’re moving out and going overseas for a while.

Photo_kazuend_UnsplashImage by: kazuend | Unsplash

We stood together in the library and looked at the seven floor to ceiling bookcases holding somewhere in excess of two thousand books, and at the six yellow containers of children’s books piled up between two of the bookcases.

The question on our minds – what do we do with all these books?

Our initial reaction to the question was a decision to store the library. After all, how could we throw away a book?

Then we realised that was an emotional response.

We spent some time examining what was on those shelves and in those yellow containers. There were books from our university days, books from our teaching days, even some books from our school days, and books that our sons had loved to death. There were books we knew we would never read again. Some were so dated we knew no-one would ever want to read them again.

We decided on a cull.

Now there is a large stack of books waiting for their final trip to the recycling depot.

When we finally decide on a new house, we won’t be needing those seven bookcases.

The cassette tape collection, which had been collecting dust since the advent of the CD, was not as fortunate as the books. It was added to the pile of stuff waiting to go into oblivion.

The CDs did better than the cassettes and the books. They have been boxed for storage. Who’s got time to review all that music? Some of the DVDs survived to be viewed another day, others are going to new homes to entertain other folks.

I’m not sure how many of the books and CDs we have retained will survive our next move but I do know that the majority of additions to our reading and recording libraries into the future will be digital.

The thing about digital libraries is they are stored in the cloud and copied to your device. They take up no space in your house; they do not require bookcases or any special shelving. You do not need to store them when you are between houses. You can access your libraries from anywhere in the world, as long as you can connect to the internet, and you can read or listen to the copies you have downloaded to your device when you can’t.

I suspect that we’re part of the last generation that will accumulate physical books into home libraries. But, who knows? Maybe the allure of the physical book will survive.


IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic, The New Girlfriend and Everyday Project Management.

Holy Death

Holy Death, book 3 in the Inspector West series is now available for your reading pleasure.

Holy_Death_Cover_for_KindleMurder. Arson. Revenge.

Detective Inspector West investigates the grisly deaths of two elderly priests: one in a suspicious fire; the other obviously murdered.

The inspector is not the only one hunting the priest killer.

If you like murder mixed with mystery and conflict, you’ll probably love the suspense and intrigue in Peter Mulraney’s Holy Death, the third book in his Inspector West series

 

Grab yourself a copy from  Amazon | GooglePlay | iBooks Kobo Smashwords.


IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic, The New Girlfriend and Everyday Project Management.