Most of us will know that feeling - our attention can drop off during the day and our efficient mornings can then blend into less efficient afternoons. And Friday afternoon? Well, you can write that off!
This feeling, or assumption, is now backed up by some science, and pretty solid science at that in a novel piece of research.
The research was conducted by a team around Drs. Taehyun Roh and Nishat Tasnim Hasan of the Texas A&M University. Much previous work has used self report studies or wearable technology for short periods of time - these can be invasive and in the case of self reporting very subjective.
In this study the researchers tracked a large group of workers (789) at an energy company in Texas over two full years making this an impressive real world dataset. What they found is that computer use and output increased to Wednesday and then dropped off until Friday.
What’s more, usage dropped off in the afternoon and also typos increased - a sign of fatigue and wavering attention. This was particularly bad on Friday afternoons - probably no surprise there - fatigue setting in not to mention the psychological impact of the looming weekend.
The authors argue that this also supports shorter working weeks and other forms of work such as hybrid work or working from home as this can counter fatigue and increase productivity.
After looking at the data it seem like it would make sense to just cancel Friday! Alas but then Thursday may become the new Friday. But seriously, evidence is strong for the effectiveness of the 4-day work week. One solid study published early in the year for Cambridge University showed increased wellbeing while preserving productivity.
Sounds good to me!
by ANDY HAYMAKER
Photo credit: Pexels
Taehyun Roh, Chukwuemeka Esomonu, Joseph Hendricks, Anisha Aggarwal, Nishat Tasnim Hasan, Mark Benden.
Examining workweek variations in computer usage patterns: An application of ergonomic monitoring software.
PLOS ONE, 2023; 18 (7): e0287976
More research showing that a little can do a lot
In the quest for fitness and health there has been a focus on exercise as a key factor - we all know that. And recommendations are normally about increasing heart rates over long periods of time or possible also shorter more intensive sessions. These have also been shown to improve cognitive function - making your brain more effective.
However, the route to greater health may be easier - or more specifically of enhanced brain function. The effects of light activity in the focus on more intensive and extensive exercise has been largely underestimated - and is considered by some to be a key factor in public health. Our engagement in light activity has over the decades decreased significantly - see my previous article here.
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In this research just out Ryuta Kuwamizu and colleagues of the University of Tsukuba in Japan conducted a simple but effective experiment. In this participants did 10 mins of easy exercise - in this case light pedalling while seated. During this they measured pupil dilation because this is also related to brain function specifically executive function. Executive function refers to harder cognitive tasks such as decision making, short-term, memory, calculation, and analysis - basically what many consider the heavy lifting of the brain in our daily lives.
Yes, and indeed just this short light exercise intervention increased delation of the pupil and this was directly related to improved executive functions which was determined though scanning the frontal part of the brain where our executive functions reside with a technique called near infrared spectroscopy.
This therefore points to, as I have mentioned in other places, the significant benefits of short bouts of light exercise on improved brain function - something of particular interest to businesses no doubt. I have long since promoted the idea of regular short walking breaks - this shows again why. For a review of the benefits of walking see this article here).
Not that it has to be at work - a walk or light exercise will improve your brain function - and that is good for all of us, all the time.
by ANDY HAYMAKER
Photo credit: Pexels
Ryuta Kuwamizu, Yudai Yamazaki, Naoki Aoike, Taichi Hiraga, Toshiaki Hata, Michael A. Yassa, Hideaki Soya.
Pupil dynamics during very light exercise predict benefits to prefrontal cognition
NeuroImage, Volume 277, 2023.
When a company focuses solely on reaching targets and continually pushes employees to reach these goals, the side effects often result in a high turnover and burnout rate.
Ironically, this can cause the company NOT to achieve its targets in the desired timeframe. Pushing too hard in one direction results in an inevitable push back from the opposite direction. This is a law of nature that applies to the business world as well.
Stressed employees trying to reach sometimes unrealistic or unnecessary targets tend to operate at half of their capacity. They start to make mistakes and lose track of the details amid their overwhelming work schedules. They tend to suffer physically exhaustion as well. All of this hurts productivity, the very thing the company is trying to increase.
A lack of self-confidence can negatively affect one or all areas of you life. Life Coach Rebekah Fensome provides 8 surefire ways to boost your self-esteem.
I am so proud of my client Sophie.
She came to me six months ago with self-confidence issues. She felt intimated by certain people at work as she believed they were better than her and when she was placed in social situation where she had to talk to new people she felt they did not really want to be stuck talking to her.
I truly believe that no one want to talk to me, she told me. I am boring and do not know what to say most of the time. My mind goes blank when I meet new people and I get really embarrassed trying to make small talk at work. As for dating – I have not done that for 2 years!
After a couple of sessions with Sophie, it became clear that she had lost sight of who she was, what her values were and what made her unique and special. She had also got into the unhelpful habit of putting herself down in front of people and been in her current job for two years without a promotion. She also strongly believed that men did not find her attractive and regarded her as a friend and nothing else.
Eight tips to better self-esteem
Here are some of the discoveries we made and techniques we developed together:
In the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of a “control freak” is “a person who feels an obsessive need to exercise control over themselves and others and to take command of any situation.” The Merriam Webster dictionary says that a control freak is “a person whose behaviour indicates a powerful need to control people or circumstances in everyday matters.”
This personality trait could stem from a chaotic childhood, alcoholic parents, abusive behaviour, or early abandonment. Such experiences can make it hard for people to trust or relinquish control to others. The fear of falling apart pushes them to control what they can. As their emotions are all over the place, they feel loss of control. For this reason control freaks will micromanage whatever they can with the belief that this makes them strong. People who feel out of control tend to become controllers.
I imagine each and every one of us is a control freak, or takes on the behaviour of such, at some point or another. The fear of failure is what makes it so important to control everything when you do not trust anybody else to do a good job.
One difficult aspect of being around a control freak is accepting that they do not understand how their behaviour and choice of words affect the people around them. Another difficult aspect is not to take it personally. This behaviour comes from deep inside and the person is actually quite unaware of being a control freak.
Even the most enlightened of us can’t always stop ourselves from worrying about the future and asking ourselves “what if?” Underneath our connection to our Higher Self that we work so hard for, lurks the fear of future problems just waiting for an opening to ask us “what if?”
You know how it is…trouble is brewing at your job, layoffs could be coming. What if you lost your job? There have been a rash of pedestrian traffic accidents lately. What if your child is hit by a car? Your mother’s routine check-up turns into several follow-up appointments. What if she is sick? And on and on.
Before we know it, our Chatterboxes have taken over. We are filled with fears about the future and the “what if” questions drag us down to our Lower Self. Many of us “what if” ourselves into a perpetual state of worry.
“What if” questions come from our Lower Self, our inner chatterbox that wants us to live in perpetual fear. Susan wrote in Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, “When the ‘what ifs’ are out in full force, the internal Chatterbox is at it again. You look at the unknown and try to predict the future; you try to take control of outside forces. Both are impossible. At this point you might notice you are driving yourself crazy.”
Thoughts about change usually only occur when life no longer offers you the feeling of being satisfied. They can also emerge when things are basically alright but there is room for improvement. The difficulty frequently lies in finding out specifically what you can improve, what you should move on from, what you should let go of.
Change is not easy or simple. It can only really take place if you are ready to take action. Research shows 90% of the strategies designed for change assume people are ready to take action. In reality only 20% of the people already involved in some process of change are actually ready to take action. This helps explain why so many attempts to keep New Year’s resolutions, lose weight, change behaviour patterns, etc. are doomed to fail. If you have been told you should change, but are not really convinced this is true, you are more likely to fail at completing the process.
It is most helpful and supportive and will increase your chances of successfully completing change if you
There is nothing like being comfy and cozy in our comfort zones. Right? The problem with that is, of course, that we can’t change or grow if we hold on to our comfort zones. As Susan wrote in Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, “Most of us operate within a zone that feels right, and outside of it we are uncomfortable. For each one of us that zone of comfort is different, but whether we are aware of it or not, all of us—rich or poor, famous or unknown, gay or straight, male or female or whatever our gender identity— make decisions based on the confines of that comfortable space.”
While we may feel secure in our comfort zone, we likely are living with the pain of neediness and the fear of change. While comfort zones can make us feel secure, they also keep us from feeling powerful. If we want to grow, to experience, to learn, we have to start moving out of complacency in that comfortable space. We have to start expanding our boundaries. To do so, we have to take action, we have to put in the work—even if it means being uncomfortable. That is the only way we can know our own power.
The first and most important step is to realize and truly acknowledge that unless you take care of yourself nobody else can or will. When I say, “truly acknowledge”, I mean that you have accepted the following:
These are a few examples, expressed in simple terms: You have taken charge of your life, know your Values and maintain your Personal Power. You can live your life … it does not have to be living you!
As an independent adult you have become the “director” of your life. If you are feeling stressed, one of the simplest yet most effective ways to reduce the tension is to spend some time doing something that involves your senses. Look out of the window, take a walk, listen to music, sing, do something creative, draw, bake, cook, garden, pot a plant, take a bath and light some candles, buy some flowers, look at nature, or revisit a long forgotten hobby – to name just a few options. Taking a few breaths does not take a long time, but does 'break the energy of the stressful / challenging moment. Once the energy is broken you can think more clearly to deal with the issue.
Whenever possible take a break from technology, even if only for one hour. If that is not possible, try 10 minutes during which you turn off your computer, your phone, TV, etc. If you cannot go outside, then look out of the window at the sky. Regardless of the weather, the sky can be inspiring and energizing.
Here are some helpful suggestions to ask yourself:
by Suzie Doscher, Professional Executive Coach focusing on Self-Development, Self-help Author since 2014.
3 Editions (2014, 2018, 2022) of BALANCE - A Practical Handbook for Life's Difficult Moments.
Photo credit: Pexels
Contact Suzie for a chat on how she can help support you.
How about going out for a sail, swim, drink, run, or meet friends, play with your children,
talk to your partner – without your head still being full of work-related information?
It can be difficult to leave work related thoughts behind at the end of the day. Too many people arrive
home and are not really present. Their body might have walked through the door but mentally they are miles away. This seems to be the reality in today's world. Remember: There is more to life than just work.
You do need some kind of balance between down-time and work to be the most effective.
Clarity will come easier if you give your brain a rest. It is amazing what thoughts, ideas, solutions and insights can come to you by creating some space for them.
This is a common topic with my coaching clients. I might work with five different clients all on this particular topic, yet each one will find his or her own unique way to help themselves unwind and reenter their personal life.
First of all, it helps to remember and accept as an important truth that your work is only part of your life. It is wonderful if you love what you do and have passion for your work, but do not forget that your personal life is at least as important as your work.
The goal is not to neglect your work but also not neglect your family, friends, and self.
Establish and maintain a routine of self-care – start by unwinding from work on your way home.
Some examples that help my clients include: listening to music or an audiobook in the car or on the train, taking a walk and being more mindful while doing so, meeting a friend, or exercise.
Start instilling this habit and you will experience life as more satisfying, rewarding, happy, and healthier in mind and body.
“Challenges in life either do or do not have solutions.
If there is a solution somewhere,
then there is no need to be overwhelmed by the challenge.
If there genuinely is no solution,
then there is no point being overwhelmed by it”.
If you genuinely believe there is a solution to every problem there is a greater likelihood that you will find the solution. Personally, I believe the approach “where there is a will, there is a way.” I do not always find the way as soon as I had hoped for – which can sometimes be due to a lack of motivation. I then remind myself that I know nothing stays the same and therefore have nothing to fear.
Things will change even if I do nothing.
Obviously, I might not get the outcome I had hoped for but then again if I chose not to get myself motivated then that was my choice!
When I find myself lacking motivation I either find someone to talk to or brainstorm with me, or I take any time pressure off myself and see what comes up on its own.
Sometimes it is not the right time to deal with an issue, solve a work related problem, make a change or whatever the challenge is you might be facing. This does not mean you have given up on finding the solution. To me this means I am not in the right frame of mind, nor am I in a strong emotional place or have enough time, to focus on resolving whatever requires attention.
Really believing that you can find a solution to a problem gives you an advantage. This advantage is strength and personal power. You are more likely to overcome nearly all, if not all, the problems you are faced with. Sometimes the best solution is to walk away from something.
If an issue overwhelms me I break it down into smaller issues I can cope with.
I remember having to read through a rather large contract one day. The only way I could cope with it was to give myself permission to only have to read five pages in the morning and five pages in the afternoon. So, my solution was to break the reading down into smaller steps.
If you are fully convinced that a solution exists for every problem, then problems no longer feel like problems, instead they become tasks to deal with. I suggest they be regarded as projects that now need project management.
Your thinking makes a world of difference to what you achieve.
(an excerpt from the 1st edition of Balance - A Practical Handbook for Life's Difficult Moments.
by Suzie Doscher, Professional Executive Coach since 2006, Self-help Author since 2014.
Raise your self-awareness with this: