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New Year’s resolutions that will make you smarter, healthier, and happier

December 30, 2014

It’s so easy to get and stay connected today. It’s too easy, in fact. What’s become difficult is disentangling ourselves from the onslaught of emails, social media, apps, contacts, etc. that bombard us constantly through our laptops, smartphones, tablets. And who knows which other devices are planning to “communicate” with us in the near future.

We’re pushing our multitasking abilities to the limit. This year, make a resolution to:

Quit the multitasking.

Here’s the thing–it turns out that we’re really bad at it.

“Well, maybe some people are bad at it, but I know that I excel at multitasking.” Is that what the voice in your head is saying? According to the research, that voice is lying to you. It’s about how the prefrontal lobe works. There’s a lot of neuroscience involved (you’ll find a good, plain-English explanation here), but the fact is when we think we’re multitasking, what we’re actually doing is toggling between tasks extremely quickly. We think we’re being efficient, but really we’re just exhausting ourselves.

And it’s not just our brains we need to worry about. We’re sitting–probably hunched over our computers–at all-time-high rates. And that’s really bad for you, too.

Give yourself (and your team) a break.

You know that it’s important to take breaks. And yet, if you are like most people, you just don’t. Even if you think you are building in short breaks throughout the day, you’re probably doing it wrong (which means your brain isn’t getting that much-needed break after all). Companies are starting to recognize the toll that the go-go-go mentality has on productivity and some are even starting to build in procedures to ensure that employees can unplug to prevent burnout. So make a New Year’s resolution to take proper breaks. As a leader, you can set an example. You can show that taking restorative breaks is not just okay, it’s encouraged. Try these tips:

  • Schedule 10- to 15-minute blocks in your calendar to unplug for a few minutes every day.
  • Change your default printer to one that is stationed across the office. Every print job becomes an opportunity to take a short walk and clear your mind.
  • Take lunch.
  • Turn off the notification pop-ups and alerts on email, social media, and other communications systems to minimize the continuous barrage of distractions.
  • Get yourself a cup of water once an hour. You’ll take a short walk to the water cooler and you’ll stay hydrated!

Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish with your time.

Yes, you are extremely busy. But taking small breaks won’t prevent you from getting it all done. Just the opposite–those small breaks will enable you to be more productive the rest of the time. And that will let you take the bigger breaks–weekends, vacations, etc.–with much less stress.

Now that you’ve heard our tips for 2015, what are some of your New Year’s resolutions?

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