Practicing Your Beforehand

You may have seen one of those saucer-shaped robotic vacuum cleaners that will roam your floors, gyrating, and humming like some sort of crazed gerbil bent on throwing itself at every baseboard and table leg in the house. The first model would peter out of power in, say, the back of a closet, and after hunting down the dead-ended dingus, you had to carry it back to a docking station for recharging.

The new, improved model returns to a charging outlet by itself before its batteries are exhausted. If only we humans would do the same!

My friend and former co-worker Emily does. Emily was highly creative, but her productivity ebbed and flowed dramatically. As the nursery rhyme goes, “When she was good, she was very, very good, and when she was bad, she was horrid.” Her job was never in danger because her good work far outweighed the bad, but her inconsistency drove our boss nuts.

Emily was keenly aware of this, and finally developed a strategy that vastly improved her relationship with the boss. Whenever her productivity slumped for a few days, she went to the boss and said, “I know I haven’t been producing lately at the level you’d like. I want you to know I’m aware of it and I’m trying hard to get back on track.”

After doing this a few times, Emily was told by her boss: “Every time I’m getting ready to call you into my office to have this discussion, you beat me to the punch. I appreciate that; it’s easier for both of us when you call yourself on the carpet instead of making me do it.”

Emily had tried another, ineffective strategy before she adopted this approach; see if you recognize it.

At first, Emily tried to force herself to change by going against her nature. If she couldn’t be highly productive all the time, she would at least be consistently productive at a lower level. That worked for a while, but Emily was soon back in her on-again, off-again work pattern, and because she was worn out by straining against herself, her overall productivity fell lower than ever.

After some time, Emily finally hit on her proactive approach of recharging her batteries when she felt herself slowing down, rather than waiting until she was at a standstill. Her conversations with her boss gave her the boost she needed, and in time she performed productively more regularly.

How would you benefit if you proactively redesigned some of your ways of doing things at work? Like Emily, you’d at least reduce the stress you feel. Also, like the improved, self-recharging version of the robotic vacuum cleaner, you’d probably see less of your effort going to waste and more of your time spent productively.

Maybe you pride yourself on going to work, even when you feel yourself growing unwell. Why not rest and recharge before a serious ailment puts you out of commission, instead of dragging in and infecting your co-workers like Typhoid Mary?

Do you schedule your life down to the nanosecond, allowing just enough time to get to appointments but no leeway to accommodate the occasional inevitable delay? You could instead leave 10 minutes early, building in time to negotiate your way around that traffic jam, or to stop for gas when you suddenly notice that you’re running low. Imagine how much calmer your life would become if you started arriving for meetings or planning for work projects before wearing yourself out.

The Law of Attraction says you get more of what you focus on. By taking a few simple and proactive steps, you will feel more in charge of things—your time, your energy and your well-being—and you’ll be recharged as well!

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