UNDISPUTED BENEFITS OF TAKING A SMOKO BREAK

Smoking is one of the filthiest and unhealthiest habits that have formed in the human race. Ironically though it has developed one of the healthiest byproducts from a work-place performance and productivity point-of-view.

I don’t know how many times I have shaken my head seeing the same person outside having a smoke break for the 5th or 6th time for the day. I wonder what their boss thinks and also how much money they would save if they didn’t smoke?

The one thing that I admire about the filthy habit of smoking is the psychological and physiological wellness byproducts that occur because of it:

  • Taking regular 5-10min breaks from focusing on a computer screen or a task every 60-90minutes.
  • Getting up, moving and walking to a space where smoking is allowed.
  • Breathe control commonly used when smoking with long and deliberate slow breathes.
  • Day-dreaming and switching off work that occurs when smoking.
  • Social aspect of chatting with another smoker.
  • De-stressing component of controlling your breath and switching off your work.

These are all very healthy activities for your mind and body, to improve productivity, performance and reduce burnout, but they are as a result of a habit that has many major negative effects on a person.

Now, I need to be very clear that I am 100% against people smoking, and think it should be banned from society. I had one puff of a cigarette when I was a teenager, and I never had another one in the rest of my life. Personally I can’t stand the smell, it had an effect on me as an asthmatic to be around it, and I struggle to see how people make the choice to destroy their lungs and exponentially increase their chances of attracting cancer.

So the big question is:

What can we substitute for the filthy habit of smoking that will provide employees in the workplace the same psychological and physiological benefits as noted above?

I have thought about this, spoken to colleagues, asked former smokers and none of them can find a substitute that is as effective at combining all aspects of byproducts listed above. Using a mobile phone, having a coffee, going for a walk, reading a magazine or doing meditation don’t create the same effect.

So the challenge is for you to either find the ultimate solution or commence small activities that can gradually improve your productivity and performance.

Before we go onto techniques to improve your workplace productivity and performance, I would like to highlight some of the negative aspects of smoking and how they easily negate the positive benefits they get from the activity of taking smoking breaks:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Smelly hair and clothes
  • Unhealthy teeth
  • Bronchitis
  • Smokers cough
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Infertility
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Blood clots
  • Early menopause
  • Poor vision
  • Dull sense of taste and smell
  • Lung cancer
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Loss of appetite
  • Yellow fingers
  • Cervical cancer
  • Wrinkly skin
  • Problems with pregnancy and new born implications
  • Higher rate of mouth, throat, bladder, blood and kidney cancers

I know from experience that I perform at my best when I take regular breaks, and have lunch away from the office, with friends, have fun and discuss non-work topics. What is interesting is that studies show only 20 to 33% of employees take a lunch break, and of those who take a break many still eat at their desk while working.

Research has shown that the more hours that elapsed before a break the less energized and the more symptoms of poor health. It has also indicated that breaks are most effective when they are taken before they’re needed. It all comes down to planning, just like a marathon runner who develops their training plan with a balance of workouts and recovery.

Taking a break recharges the batteries, so to speak, prevents long-term stress and burnout, which have negative effects on your health and performance. Breaks can replenish the psychological costs associated with working hard, improve work performance, and boost energy.

The positive effects of taking regular, short and frequent breaks include:

  • More stamina
  • Fewer aches & pains
  • Less headaches and eyestrains
  • Higher job satisfaction
  • Reduced emotional exhaustion
  • Increased concentration levels
  • Improved motivation
  • Enhanced energy
  • Reduce fatigue
  • Increase productivity
  • Improve mental acuity
  • Increase alertness

Sometimes a little distraction is good for your brain. Psychological detachment, by shifting our focus, helps us to directly reduce work demands that are causing fatigue and to naturally recover. It also prevents us from getting bored and losing focus on the tasks that really matter.

The following activities are great for detachment:

  • meditation to clear the mind and focus on relaxation
  • physical activity to increase blood flows to the areas of the brain that are necessary for focus or attention
  • learning something new or playing a game to improve confidence and boost motivation
  • help out a colleague as it helps social connectedness, feel comforting and positive
  • Set a new goal and think about the future to see the bigger picture and re-evaluate life in a positive way
  • Fun and the influence of humour on persistence behaviour

Without any downtime to refresh and recharge, we’re less efficient, make more mistakes, and get less engaged with what we’re doing. Taking a few deep breathes, stretching and standing, and taking a 20 second gaze break are simple activities that allow you to regain focus and to improve your energy so you can complete the task at hand.

In the next article we will take a look at productivity boosting activities and break methods that you can use during your breaks to recharge.

READ MORE ARTICLES

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Are You Leading A High Performing Culture? Link
Are Leaders Born? Link
It’s Your Story Link
Be A Rookie Link

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Craig Johns Flatline Break The CEO Code ATOMIC PRESSURE High Performance Leadership

OVER TIRED OF OVERWORK?

Do you find yourself over tired, exhausted or underperforming during a day, week, month, year or even over your career? 

As humans, many of us work or perform back-to-back tasks until we are exhausted. If it’s physical we notice the fatigue and generally stop earlier for a break, however if it’s mental fatigue we tend to go a lot longer allowing our performance to drop to quite low levels. 

For example with the world turning more to online meetings with the advance of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are finding themselves in more back-to-back meetings and periods of focused work without breaks. Previously we would get a break walking or driving between meetings, going somewhere to each lunch or would find ourselves in conversation with others. Now, it’s more common for people to remain at there computer and switch from one piece of focused work to another, while eating (if they remember) in the go.

Have you noticed how, as humans, we are very good at adapting to a gradual change in state and we don’t realize that our performance has dropped until it’s too late (sick, exhausted or react negatively)? 

I will be first to put my hand up and say, I pushed too hard and over did it as an Athlete, employee and CEO. I even flatlined in hospital when thinking I was invincible and could keep working harder and longer in the false hope that I was being a high performer. 

“Have you ever over done it in your life, for all the right reasons?”

CRAIG JOHNS

To perform at our best we need to proactively balance periods of focused work with rest or recovery. In Break The CEO Code we focus on energy management, starting with a 3:1 Work to Recovery ratio and modifying the ratio depending on the intensity of work. Called CEO Periodization, we use the ratio of 3:1, which is consistent with recent research conducted by the Microsoft Human Factors Lab, athlete performance literature, military protocols and a number of other work performance related studies. 

The research shows that after 45-60min of sustained focused work, our performance starts to decline. It will be less time if the physical or mental intensity of the work is greater than normal and the recovery time needed will be much greater. What is interesting is that it takes approximately 15-20min of recovery or rest to return the energy and performance back to high levels. 

Example if you have a meeting or focused work for 45min then you need 15min recovery or rest to return to a high performance state. 

So, what is the difference between rest and recovery?

REST is the absence of activity or movement.

Sleep, mindfulness, meditation and even exercise are great examples of rest that can reduce the mind activity. However if you want to rest the body as well, then you would exclude exercise or activity that is physical in nature. 

RECOVERY is a proactive restorative approach to bring the mind and body back to balance or lift to a better state. 

Meditation, hobbies, exercise, massage, yoga, comedy, change of location, getting fresh air, walking in nature, eating healthy food, staying hydrated and many other activities can increase the restorative  process of recovery. 

How can we proactively incorporate breaks in our day?

It’s important that we define what a break is to us. It could still be doing work, however it would need to be low cognitive in nature to help with the restoratative process. 

Any recovery or rest approach is beneficial when applied effectively. You just need to find what works for you and implement it proactively. If you are finding yourself feeling depleted as the week goes on, then you haven’t got the balance right. 

The mind and body will partake in restorative processes while still working or doing some form of activity. The higher the workload, stress load and intense focus, the less restoration that can occur and the result is lower performance as the breakdown exceeds restoration in our mind and body. 

This happens when athletes breakdown due to physical/mental stress overload. In workers they can experience burnout or other mental/physical health issues if the long term loading is excessive. For parents, it could be “snapping” at our children as the pressure boils over. 

High Performance or sustaining a high level of performance throughout a day, week, month, year or career requires energy management. 

It’s important that we manage our energy proactively rather than reactively. 

Scheduling your recovery and energy in your diary before scheduling meetings and periods of focused work, is a great proactive approach. 

How can you structure your meetings and work so that you can sustain a high level of energy and performance?

READ MORE ARTICLES

People Are Our Greatest Assets Link
It’s All About Trust Link
Have We Got The Hiring Process Totally Wrong? Link
Are You Leading A High Performing Culture? Link
Are Leaders Born? Link
It’s Your Story Link
Be A Rookie Link

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Top 5 Lessons In 2020 That Shape The Future

What are your top 5 lessons from 2020?

By Craig Johns

I was asked the question the other day – what would I leave behind in 2020? It stopped me in my tracks, as I tried really hard to think of anything that I didn’t want to take into 2021. In the end I said “the Fridge”, yes, like many I have worn a nice track between my home office and the kitchen during 2020.

Otherwise, there is absolutely nothing I would leave behind. Everyone responds differently in crisis, uncertainty and change. For me I thrive on it and in fact, it is right in my element. Did everything in my life go perfect in 2020? Far from it! However, I was quickly able to draw on my natural intuition to learn from every mistake, uncertainty and crisis to make a number of effective decisions.

Here are my top 5 lessons from 2020 for the future…

  1. Resourceful before resources
  2. Collaboration wins
  3. Serve others first
  4. Be the calming influence
  5. Simplification is sophistication

#1 RESOURCEFUL BEFORE RESOURCES

My parents naturally displayed the importance of being resourceful before resources when I grew up on the farm in New Zealand. Be more effective with what you have before you get anything else. My parents had to work extremely hard to weather the highs and lows of building a farming business from scratch and it was a great lesson to see first hand.

When catastrophic bushfires, poor water quality and COVID-19 restrictions caused event cancellations from January through to March, my natural instinct was to look at what we had with Triathlon ACT and use what we had available and conserve our financial resources. Losing half of our season was challenging enough on our financial reserves, but the prospect of losing the next 1-2 seasons was cause for deep concern. We had experienced financial uncertainty in 2014-15 and the measures we put in place then, ensure that our low risk, but agile model could cope with the toughest challenges sport could face. We looked at what human resources we had available and used our skills and talents to keep our members engaged, active and optimistic for the future. In fact rather than losing resources we had increased our financial reserves by 32% by the time I resigned in September 2020.

Within 2 weeks of restrictions being implemented by governments around the world, Ben Gathercole , James Thorp , Debbie Dionysius, my wife Julie and I knew that sport coaching was going to be one of the most heavily affected professions. We called on a few friends and some new ones to create the world’s 1st online endurance coaching business summit, called COACH 2020 VISION. With 12 weeks preparation we delivered an 8hr event of 20 speakers 20min each on areas such as; own your own coach brand, become a high performing coach, your coach business essentials and future of coach businesses. Among the 20 speakers were 13 people who were either an Olympian, World Champion, or had coached or worked with at least one.

Producing online content was something I was used to, so it made sense to produce 40 videos in 40 days that focused on different ways to lead during uncertainty and crisis. Using the content I was also able to support initiatives with ASCTA (Australian Swim Coaches and Teachers Association), Canberra Business Chamber, Mass Participation World and the Institute of Civil Infrastructure.

#2 COLLABORATION WINS

As a very determined individual I was always keen to develop my own ideas, lead my own company and create new projects. I remember a couple of friends always saying that you will produce you best work and have more success when you learn to collaborate and partner with other people. Over the past couple of years I started to realize this potential and in 2020, I gained the confidence to bring collaboration to the forefront of everything that I was doing.

One of my active CEO Coaching clients Sasa Sestic is an incredibly talented individual representing Australia in Handball at the 2000 Olympics, winning the 2015 World Barista Championships, leading the most high performing team I have ever seen inside a company, and manage to open a new specialty coffee café in Melbourne during lockdown. As I worked closely to support him during huge uncertainty, as a business owner in hospitality, we partnered up to co-host The Coffee Man Podcast, where we blend a world in coffee with a world beyond coffee. The first four episodes are some of the most rewarding interviews I have ever done as Sasa gave us an insight into how he successfully rode the rollercoaster of emotions in 2020.

If I wasn’t busy enough as CEO of Triathlon ACT, running my own business NRG2Perform and setting up World Sport Coach in April, a friend of mine, Sam Cawthorn, reached out in April to see if I could help him with the corporate section of Speakers Institute, in May. I was working 80 + hours a week at this point, but I knew there was something special that we could do, so offered 1-2hours per week until July and then we could regroup. Within 3 weeks we had locked in two Fortune 100 companies, IBM and EY global as clients. It all felt so natural and we could see that each other’s strengths were complimenting each other effortlessly. At the beginning of July we commenced discussions about creating a new company Speakers Institute Corporate and going into business partnership. On October 1st 2020 we launched the new company and now have more than 30 people, from four different countries working for us. The growth has been quite staggering and going into 2021 we are developing a team that speaks Portuguese to work in Latin America and we continue to expand our client base.

Its important to me to give back and serve the communities that have supported me so well. As Vice-Chair of Speakers Tribe Global, I didn’t hesitate when I was asked to contribute a chapter to a co-authored book Make A Difference. The book became an Amazon #1 Best Selling Book. Asootosh Kkant and the team at Speakers Tribe India have produced three Amazon #1 best selling books in 2020, helping 62 people become best selling authors for the first time. They did it all without pay and all proceeds going to charities around the world. They are in the middle of producing two more books with the target of having more than 100 Speakers Tribe members reach Amazon Best Selling Author status.

#3 SERVE OTHERS FIRST

My mum is like Mother Theresa to me. She has always served as a Nurse and been a huge contributor to non-for-profit community groups. She has always put everyone else’s interests first and I love my mum for that. Like Simon Sinek says, Leaders Eat Last, my mum serves other people first.

I put my own book Break The CEO Code on hold during 2020 to serve and support others who needed a helping hand. As someone who has always been a natural coach and thrives in environments where I am teaching and mentoring people, I spent a lot of time in 2020 on phone calls and zoom meetings checking in to see if people were ok and to help them find clarity, when their vision was blurred. It is extremely rewarding when you see people find their space, confidence and thrive rather than survive when the going gets tough.

I was initially due to finish working at Triathlon ACT in April, but for me, I knew it was important to ensure that the organization could sustain the next 2-3 years of restrictions and uncertainty before I finally finished in September. I sleep well at night, know that the sport is in safe hands.

I love facilitating and have had an amazing opportunity to facilitate and coach with Speakers Institute both online and on stage in 2020. During one of the programs in September I met Erwin Diaz from Qantas. He was speaking about Rage and Resolution. When he shared the challenges that he was facing along with 30,000 employees at Qantas Airlines, I felt it was my duty to support an industry that had supported me and my industries as an athlete and speaker for many years. Conversation with Sam Cawthorn led to offered our services being offered to support Qantas with 2 keynote speeches for all staff. What transpired was shutting down an airport and a museum, moving a Qantas airplane and arranging Sam to do the keynote in front of a Boeing 747-400.

#4 Be The Calming Influence

The feedback I receive from the people I work with, guests I interview on the active CEO Podcast and people I coach is that I make them feel comfortable and relaxed through my calming influence. I have had some great mentors in my life, but this trait definitely comes from my late Granddad Richards. Through your body language, tone and presence with people, you can make a profound shift in the emotions people feel.

Before we initiated the COACH 2020 VISION summit I commenced an 8-week free online webinar series called Endurance Coach Connect, providing a place for sport coaches around the world to stay connected, support each other and learn. The coaches opened up with me and shared their vulnerabilities. They felt comfortable in my presence to let go of the tension created by an uncertain world and a life they have always known.

For some reason, I knew it was important to reach out to people who were relatively quiet, when COVID hit, to ask the simple question, are you ok? For me I felt calm, comfortable and in my element when COVID hit, but many people where in a state of overwhelm, stress and bewilderment. Reaching out and saying hi was enough to help people find some clarity and focus their attention on things they could control.

Since I was 12 years old I have had opportunities to coach people in a sporting, business and other areas of life. I have always been good with problem solving, puzzles and seeing patterns when other people see a mess. What I have enjoyed most is through strategic questioning and providing belief, I have been able to help a number of people find clarity in 2020. Whether they are an Olympic coach, world Barista Champion, successful businessperson, sort after sports physio, super mum or CEO, I know my job as a High Performance Leadership Expert is to help talent become world class at what they do. My calming influence creates a safe psychological space where people can be vulnerable, allowing them to explore what they are 100% passionate about and really want in life.

#5 SIMPLIFICATION IS SOPHISTICATION

Every year I watch people set New Years Resolutions, which many are in fact every day resolutions, and fail to fulfill them. My business partner, Sam and his wife Kate Cawthorn introduced me to “what is your word for the year?”. By focusing on one thing, it is much easier to stay connected to it and ensure that you make a positive behavioral change.

My word for 2020 was FOCUS. I have had a photo of an eye on my phone, which reminded me every day to focus my energy. What we know in the world is that we don’t have an ideas problem, we have a focus problem. What is the one intention of where you will focus your attention? Some people may look at my year and say where was your focus with so much happening? For me it’s absolutely clear, as I narrowed my focus to high performance leadership and ensuring every decision I made was based on whether it was high performance leadership or not. The interesting thing is that when you find clarity and focus on your vision, you begin to say NO rather than YES. It is what I was extremely good at as an athlete and I now have it embedded in my life purpose. My word for 2021 – PARTNERSHIPS – As you may have already seen, I got a head start on this one in 2020.

The easiest thing in the world to do is make something complex, the hardest thing in the world is to simplify something. Being selected to speak on the TENx stage in February gave me 150 hours of dedicated and specific focus on simplifying Break The CEO Code. When you can make something simple in life it removes the barriers from the consumers mind and therefore they understand it. The simpler something is, the more sophisticated it becomes in their minds. Simplification is Sophistication. This will be my next book and is a key focus of what I do in High Performance Leadership.

Having a supportive wife, best friend for life and calming influence in Julie, is what makes this all happen.

What are the top 5 lessons you learnt in 2020 that you can take forward into 2021 and beyond?

READ MORE ARTICLES

It’s All About Trust Link
Have We Got The Hiring Process Totally Wrong? Link
Are You Leading A High Performing Culture? Link
Are Leaders Born? Link
It’s Your Story Link
Be A Rookie Link

LEARN MORE

active CEO COACHING
active CEO CORPORATE
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Craig Johns SPEAKER
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