The Einstein Window

The Einstein Window: The Key to Time Management

A huge part of time management is knowing what to work on and when. Your productivity can be seriously hampered if you do not properly organise your time. When you are going to work on what task. Having a clearer picture of this is key whether it is to maximise your hobby potential, or to ensure you meet that crucial deadline at work. Think about the issues you might face at work or when otherwise trying to organise your time. What challenges do you face? I can tell you that there is a period of the day when you will get your best work done and that is the Einstein Window.

What is the Einstein Window?

The Einstein Window is the time each and every day when you have a mental peak. Work might feel almost fun as you manage to complete tasks with each and push onwards to the next one. It is the time of day you feel capable and productive as your power through your work and those problems you face seem more like fun puzzles waiting for you to solve them.

If you are not sure of what I am talking about, try to think back to your last day at work. Think about how productive you were throughout the day. You are not at the same level for the whole day. Consider when you were the most productive and how that felt.

The mental peak of the Einstein Window normally lasts two to four hours. It can happen at widely different times for different people and can vary based on your lifestyle and diet too. Luckily, where we spend so much time at work it is likely to fall whilst we are there, enabling us to capitalise on its positive effects.

For me, it starts around the middle of the morning. I feel incredibly motivated and I can get through tasks with ease. I think for most people it would probably be during the first few hours of your work when you are better rested and not worn down by any monotonous tasks. Take a few minutes to identify when your Einstein Window is.

The Einstein Window

Protecting Your Einstein Window

Once you know when your Einstein Window happens, you need to learn to protect it. This is the period of the day you have the capacity to get the most done and you do not want it to be hijacked by outside forces. You want to be able to effectively use your entire window.

The process of protecting your Einstein Window begins with occasionally saying no. You need to prevent interruptions from happening to your work by anyone at any time during your window. I’m sure you can probably think of a few times someone has asked you to do something whilst you have been deep into other work. Moving on to help that person with their problem makes you lose focus and time for your own tasks. Some of you might even be able to think of an occasion when you have had person after person requesting your help, eating up all of the time you had to work on a particular task yourself.

When you agree to help your colleague, that is when the interruption happens. If you can, I would recommend politely telling your colleague that you are unable to help at the moment but will come back to them later. Make a note to go back to them at a more convenient time for yourself, and then continue with the task at hand.

It is important not to come across as unhelpful. That is not the vibe you are going for! So be sure to follow up with your colleague when you can and not to forget about them. They will appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to assist them, as long as you do!

If you work in an office you will not be surprised when I tell you that they seem to be designed to maximise interruptions! Working in clusters seems to promote talking over computers and desks at each other. This can make it difficult to get your work done and make the most of your Einstein Window. You need to be able to focus without getting distracted by colleagues, and the best way to do this is to leave the office. Or, at least, your normal office space.

Maybe there is a breakout room, or unused meeting room, that you can make use of. Maybe you have the option to work at home. If you have a particularly important task to get down during your window, I would recommend trying to remove yourself from any situations that might distract you too much.

Collaboration and creativity are valuable to teams and businesses, which is why offices exist in the way they do. It is important to know when to make use of those resources and when to back away to get important work done. This is especially true during your Einstein Window.

The Einstein Window

Distractions we create

Take a moment to think about all of the distractions that you might create yourself. Primarily, I am talking about your mobile phone. Here we have a device which is constantly connected and going off all of the time.

I am sure that some of us are very good with our phones and do not keep them on our immediate person whilst at work. In some cases, however, you might need to keep it on you so you can be reached on it. This is particularly true for the self-employed and freelancers, who rely on their phone to generate work!

Even if you do need to have your phone on your person and not silenced, it is worth thinking about what distractions you are willing to allow during your Einstein Window. I would certainly recommend either removing or temporarily blocking access to social media apps, and other apps you might waste your time on. Not only will this significantly cut down on the number of notifications you receive, but you also will not be able to waste any time scrolling through your feeds. Most modern phones have a function built in that you can use to restrict access. I promise you the world will not end if you switch off from your phone for a couple of hours.

Mobile phones are not the only distraction that we make for ourselves though. Self-sabotage might also come in other ways, such as booking meetings too close together. You need to allow yourself either a decent amount of time between meetings to effectively complete tasks, or book them almost back-to-back as not to waste time between them.

Whatever you do, try your best to remove any distractions during your Einstein Window to reap the best results.

Now you have identified your Einstein Window, it is time to go out there and make use of it. Try organising yourself so you have tasks to do during your next window and see how you do. I’m confident you will be very pleased with the results, particularly if you are normally prone to distractions or moving from task to task without resolving them.

Have you heard about the Einstein Window before, or does it sound familiar? What time do you have your window and what do you do to make the most of it? Let me know in the comments below!

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing
Building in Wellness at Work 1 - copy

Wellness at Work: Are you getting the most out of your workday?

This is a guest post written by Paige from bizwellu.com. If you like what she has to say, be sure to check out the rest of her amazing content on her website!

Employees across the country have started to notice a phenomenon happening in the workplace. Organizations are starting to hop on the Wellness at work Bandwagon. Each employer’s offer may look different, but one thing is the same: employers are recognizing that wellness in the workplace is a benefit.

Who is it benefiting?

            Both the employee and the employer have something to gain when wellbeing initiatives are implemented in the workplace. Employers recognize that employees who are healthier are more engaged, have less sick or vacation days taken on average, have increased productivity and are generally happier than their less-healthier counterparts. And, the literature supports these statements. Add in the fact that healthier individuals amount fewer healthcare costs over time, and the outcome is a no-brainer. Employee wellness programs are an investment for the organization.

Programs can include:

  1. Gym membership reimbursements
  2. Healthier food during work meetings
  3. Wellness speaker events
  4. Smoking cessation programs
  5. Financial education classes

            But employees benefit from the investment in wellness too! Individuals who engage in wellness programs often feel more valued than those who work at an organization that does not have a wellness program, they feel better able to manage their stress, and they are able to use the tools and tricks to implement not only a healthier workplace but a healthier home life as well! The trickle-down effect will start to saturate the lives of their spouses, loved ones, children and more!

“This sounds great” you may be saying to yourself. Why doesn’t every company offer a wellness program? Well, because it is costly. Including a wellness program either into the benefits department or through HR is going to cost the employer money. Companies like to typically see what is called an ROI. Return on Investments is an exact dollar amount returned to them, for every dollar spent.

Building in Wellness at Work 2

            Encouraging an employer to invest in a wellness program is challenging. More often than not, if the executive team does not believe in health and wellness, there is a good chance they may not take the steps needed to adopt a culture that supports wellbeing at all.

And yet, just because you may work for an organization that does not have a wellness program, that does not mean you are unable to add wellness behaviours into your day-to-day lives!

Here are some tips on how to add wellness into your workday.

Making Wellness Work

  1. Move on the Hour – Have you heard the statement, “sitting is the new smoking?” The average workday is 9am-5pm, and most individuals spend a large majority of that time in a chair. Then, when people go home, they sit some more. With the vast amount of time the average individual spends sitting during their day, it is no surprise just how sedentary the general population has become. One way to break up that time is to get up on the hour and take a lap around the room. Start by setting an alarm on your workplace calendar. Just by taking a lap around the office you will begin to add in extra movement during the day. If that is hard, walk up and down the stairs once or twice. The time amount is not the trick, it is the number of times you are getting up each day! Are you a technology person? Some individuals have invested in a Fitbit or Apple Watch. It is possible to set wellness goals on those as well. “Active Hours” or “Workout Rings” will help keep you on track. Not able to build those walks into your day? Then make a point to take a short walk on your break!

  2. Water Over Wine (or should I say Coffee?) – Due to how many meetings, phone calls, and emails individuals are bombarded with, the average consumption of coffee has gone way up! But coffees are not just black coffee with milk anymore. With the rise of coffee chains like Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and more, the “coffees” are more like milkshakes in a cup. As someone who used to religiously stop at Starbucks every morning at 8:05 am on the dot, to the point that the baristas knew my name, I realized that this is a problem. Individuals should try and replace coffee with water during the day. The extra water consumption will lead individuals to feel more hydrated, alert, and getting up for an extra walk due to how much they have to use the bathroom! (Win on all accounts). Plus, what better excuse to go pick out a new cute water cup or bottle to keep at the office? This is the most important part. Keep a water bottle at the office that never leaves! That way you never arrive in the morning and realize you forgot your water and need to go down the hall and wind up with another cup of coffee. Bonus tip? Request HR to bring in filtered water, or a water cooler!
Building in Wellness at Work 1 - copy
  • Pack Your Lunch – This is a big one. Not only will packing your lunch help you on a financial wellness front, but you are more in control of the foods you are eating as well! I used to work in an office that every day, there was a minimum of 3 boxes of doughnuts every morning. In the event I had conveniently forgotten to eat breakfast, I knew I had a sugary-option, feet from my desk. Offices across the country have been fueling their employees with sugar and caffeine instead of healthier options like fruit and nuts. When you take control by packing your lunch, eating breakfast at home, and keeping healthier snacks in your desk, you will be able to stop any last-minute binge attacks by having a prepared option available. Ever heard the line, “A failure to plan, is a plan to fail?” Yup, don’t fall into that trap! Pick up some trail-mix, and clementine’s to leave in your desk!

  • Don’t Be Afraid to Voice Your Suggestions – This may come as a surprise, but many programs in the office are implemented based off of employee feedback. Does your office send out an annual employee satisfaction survey? Do you have a suggestion box hung up in the kitchen? Are you pretty friendly with your supervisor? Don’t be afraid to voice what you are looking for. By approaching your employer with an idea, maybe even one you have researched yourself, you are better off getting what you want, rather than sitting around waiting for it to happen! Many companies post reviews of their programs online. See if there is a company similar to yours, and review what they did to get started. Heck, call their 800 number and ask about it! Write down a couple of suggestions and bring them to your employer. Worst they can say is no, and then you are in no different position then you are right now.

Wellness may be a change, but one that can be built into any facet of your life. Start with just one step! The tips mentioned above are all things that can be implemented in any workplace, whether you work hourly in a retail store, or full-time in an office.

Building in Wellness at Work 4

I hope just one of the items mentioned above help you on your journey to health and wellness. Interested in learning more? Check out my blog! Bizwellu.com.

Best,

Paige

Appreciation and Happy Thoughts

Appreciation and Happy Thoughts: Why Being Nice Matters

At my workplace, I have recently been involved in a training day about dignity and respect at work. The policy itself is a lengthy piece of work, as you might imagine, and deals with all sorts of issues from harassment and bullying to discrimination and victimisation. During the training session – which was aimed at managers so we could identify and deal with issues as they might arise – it became obvious that there are many ways to insult people without even realising it. Certainly, since the training, my awareness of the issue has increased tenfold and now I really know why being nice matters. Appreciation and some happy thoughts can take you a long way.

“Snowflakes” and Appreciation

I can almost hear it now – and literally did in the training session – “people are too easily offended these days”.

Is this true? Perhaps. Is it a bad thing? Not at all. Why? Because everyone deserves to be happy and free from harassment.

It is easy to get confused about why people are offended about things that don’t, or “wouldn’t”, offend you. But in reality, you have no idea what it is like to live the life of that person. You might comment on their hair colour just once, but they might have heard it a dozen times already that day. Maybe they’ve been hearing about their hair colour for as far back as they can remember. Chances are, this person has been associated with their hair colour (of skin colour, or disability, or other mental or physical feature) for so long that it has taken an irreversible toll on their mental well-being.

Their “safe places” that you might criticize are actually important areas they can escape from the constant badgering of others.

Whilst I have become pretty much numb to it and think nothing of it now other than a minor nuisance, I have had people for all my life commenting on my height. Just the other day a carpenter came into my house and upon seeing me exclaimed how tall I was. Almost like I didn’t already know! If it were the first time I might almost be inclined to have a conversation about it. But it wasn’t the first time. It happens all the time – wherever I go. I’m not even the tallest person I know!

I don’t take much issue with it, but imagine if it wasn’t my height they commented on but my weight. Imagine a person who has struggled with losing weight all their life and is now constantly reminded about it by strangers on the street. Try having your beauty commented on continuously in the office by colleagues who objectify you. If you are honest with yourself, you would tire of it too.

Some people like to jump on the snowflake bandwagon too easily. Funnily enough, I find these people to be some of the biggest “snowflakes” when they have their views challenged. Easy to cling to notions of freedom of speech and the like. Well, I have some news for those people: freedom of speech is not freedom from repercussion. No one has to like what you have to say. And no one has to put up with it if they don’t want to.

Appreciation and Happy Thoughts

The Ease of Negativity

During the training session I had at work, we were instructed to perform a task were we would categorise insults, sayings, and even memes on how offensive they were. There was also 7 protected characteristics which they might fit into – things like age, sex, race, etc. – as defined by the Equality Act 2010.

What was remarkable is that some of these phrases were not really insulting at all. One might, at a glance, understand how some could be annoying – such as the “would you like to get a drink with me?” But what about “can I walk with you?” or bending over to talk to someone? Are these things that could be considered harassment?

Obviously, there was missing context from a large portion of the sentences and words we had to play with. Some not so much – “tramp”, “whore”, “pizza-face”. But others left us slightly puzzled as isolated they might not be considered to be ‘bad’. After all, if no one was ever able to ask people out for drinks our population might be considerably lower!

It turned out that all the phrases we were unsure of had been featured in tribunal cases where the plaintiffs were awarded large sums of money for harassment or discrimination in the workplace. Several of the phrases we had worked with, relatively innocent on their own, had been used in conjunction – repeatedly and/or over a period of time – to harass or discriminate against individuals.

It was striking how situations can develop into real pain for people, often due to throwaway words.

Throughout the whole training and afterwards myself and my colleagues were deeply reflecting on ourselves and our own actions at work. Have I been unkind to others? Have I passed judgement on another unfairly? To my great sadness, the answer was yes.

We have all done it – but it does not make it feel any better. Even if the damage that was done was only minor, to make another person feel bad is not something I enjoy. All of the things I must have done over my life. It was so easy.

Let’s not forget that you can be mean to people indirectly as well! I talk, of course, of gossip. A trade we all indulge in from time to time. Comments about another person because of their perceived work ethic. Because of their habits. Feeding our own superiority complexes. I have written about this before – the self-delusion epidemic. It is alive and well in all of us.

A stray word to a friend here. An unguarded comment to a colleague there. The short-lived satisfaction of gossip. Some people crave it like they might a drug. But it is damaging to ourselves and others. Why do we do it? Because being negative is so easy. So damn easy.

Appreciation and Happy Thoughts

Fight Back with Gratitude and Happy Thoughts

What can we do to stem this tide of negativity? How can we make others feel valued and treat them well? It’s all about showing dignity and respecting others. You must stop yourself when talking negatively about others (or yourself – but that is a topic for another post!).

Since the training, I am now much more aware of what I am saying. Some of my colleagues have even made a bit of a game of it – if another starts saying something that could be considered undignified to another we scream “DIGNIFIED” at them. Jokes aside, it is a great way to challenge others. And without being challenged, people will never change.

Some people have lamented that this new ‘trend’ means we can no longer have fun at work. No longer engage in banter with others. It simply isn’t true, however. You can still joke, laugh, and have fun with others. You just have to do it without being mean! If the Dalai Lama can laugh and joke with those he speaks with then we all can.

I challenge everyone reading this to go away and take care to catch themselves when speaking negatively of another. I want you to pay special attention to what you say to others, or about others, and how they might feel upon hearing it. How would you feel if it was said to or about you?

A good guideline is THINK. Is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind?

If it fails these criteria, then you probably shouldn’t say it.

Being nice to others, all of the time, matters. It matters because not only will it make you feel better in yourself, but it will make those around you happier and more willing to be your friend. Instead of pushing people away you will draw them in. Be kind so much that it becomes easy.

Appreciation and Happy Thoughts

Let me know in the comments below how you get on with the challenge. Have you received similar training or have an opinion on this topic? Let me know below as well!

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing
My experience with interviews and tips to answer 4 basic questions you almost always get

My experiences with interviews and tips to answer 4 basic questions you almost always get

I have some interview tips for you today, although my own interview experience has not always been brilliant. For the most part, my stories involving interviews are tales of woe. I’m am known to be bad at interviews! Even with confidence before going in I still suddenly have issues when answering questions. A change in the tone or pitch of my voice or abrupt memory loss is a common problem I have. Luckily it isn’t normally an issue that goes past the first interview question once I’ve settled in.

Still, first impressions and all that.

My Experience with Interviews

Whilst I have yet to meet someone who declares they are good at interviews those people are out there. Meanwhile, I’m towards the bottom of the list when it comes to how articulate people are during interviews.

Planned answers often go astray for me, as I will accidentally skip ahead, panic, and then mess up the weird loop back I try to make to clear up the holes in my storied examples. That’s if I even remember the planned answer.

My experience with interviews and tips to answer 4 basic questions you almost always get

I’m sure you’ve had it too where you have sudden onset amnesia after being asked a question. Often times making it look like you have nothing to say whilst you sit there, sipping on the glass of water provided in an attempt to buy some time, and the interviewers stare on.

Sometimes the interviewers themselves might be the problem. People you know? You become too comfortable and skip saying the bits they need to hear! People you don’t know? Those people are scary.

On the subject of interviewers, I will interject with a tip/statement on them: they often don’t really know what to expect and they are interviewing you because they have a vacancy to fill. They need someone. They are also human. It’s easy to forget they are flawed beings when they sit opposite you whilst you’re being interviewed. I probably wouldn’t tell them that though!

Recently I attended an interview and in my preparation for it, I looked at a lot of information on answering questions. The best ways to do it, tips and tricks, even example answers.

With all this knowledge still swirling around in my brain, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share it with you! I have a few posts planned but this will be the first which will look at what I found in my experience to be the 4 most commonly asked (in some variation or another) questions.

My experience with interviews and tips to answer 4 basic questions you almost always get

Tips to answer 4 interview questions

1) Tell me about yourself?

This is almost a trick question. They don’t want to know about you as such, just about your life at work. Most importantly they want to know about your work-related skills which can be transferred into the role you’re applying for.

Make sure you study the skills and requirements of the role and talk about your job history whilst highlighting the same skills. Remember to use those cheesy words which interviewers eat up, such as loyal, flexible, adaptable, hard-working, etc.

Remember you must positively reflect on your working life even if that time in your life was not a positive one. Being negative in an interview is a sure way to not get the job. Companies are looking for happy people!

2) Why do you want to work here?

We all know what the real answer to this question is in 9 out of 10 situations: it pays better than my current job and is a step up. However, you already know you shouldn’t say that.

This is actually an ideal time to make them aware of how much preparation you have done for the interview. Link why you want to work for them to things you know about them, such as their excellent customer service. Praising them at this stage can pay dividends. If you know some big changes are coming up then use that as a reason too.

Don’t forget to focus on the skills and requirements of the role, the job description, and anything you have learnt about the company. If you manage to speak to anyone who works at the company that’s even better! Just don’t mention their names.

Also, if they mention in the job description that there are opportunities for training or progression within the role then citing these can be a boon.

3) What are your strengths?

It’s always good to throw out the usual buzzwords at this stage. Start by saying you have many positive qualities and list a few. End on one you can cite an example for. Better yet, give two examples!

With any interview question, you really need to crank out the examples if you want to “score the big marks” and actually get the job. In my experience of interviewing people, those who failed to give good examples did not get the job.

A great example of the strengths question would involve firstly a challenge – ideally set by a manager perhaps during an appraisal – a learning process, and lastly a resolution.

For example: “I feel I stand out particularly due to my strong innovative skills. For example, in an appraisal I had last year my line manager asked me to look at ways that the company could appeal to a larger audience.

I went away from this and gave the topic some deep consideration. I realised an easy way to expand the appeal of the company, as a tourist attraction, would be to make as much as possible available in other languages.

Using my own foreign language skills, as well as those of my teammates, I produced a series of documents, such as price lists and fact sheets about what was on display, which I made available to our international visitors.

Once completed I felt a personal satisfaction from completing such a task but, also, both myself and my line manager noticed improved feedback from international visitors and even some correlating sales in our shop.”

See what I did there? It’s a journey that you need to take your interviewers on!

4) What are your weaknesses?

First and foremost you do have weaknesses so don’t dare go telling anyone you don’t. Especially the interviewers, they won’t be impressed.

The trick here is to provide a weakness that is framed in such a way as to show a learning curve and an attempt to turn the weakness into something positive. Becoming irritated by a certain thing that is out of your control is a good example to give.

This can be framed to suggest you firstly got over it by focusing on your own job/working around the problem. Then you can go on to state that you are actively trying to improve the irritating thing, perhaps by assisting a colleague, taking matters into your own hands to fix something, etc.

Don’t forget to say how that benefits the company too!

Pro-tip: having too much of a positive trait is not a weakness. i.e. your weakness is not that you work too hard or always arrive too early.

My experience with interviews and tips to answer 4 basic questions you almost always get

I’ll probably revisit interview questions in the future. There is always more to learn and better ways to do things and that is reflected in interview techniques as much as it is in any field. For now, I hope you found some good tips here.

As a final tip I must urge you to always do your research and properly prepare for interviews. I know you are because you are reading this, but make sure you are doing all you can do so you can have a strong foundation to rest on for all of your job interviews. I write about this more in this article, so check it out!

I’m interested to know what tips you have that you want to share with us? Any valuable insights you can provide for those getting ready for a big interview? Share it in the comments!

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing