EARNING A LIVING these days places added
demands on our energy. It’s tempting to take on
too much and to ignore the signals our exhausted
bodies send us when we’re overworking. Fatigue
is the No. 1 signal that tells us that we’re not
managing our energy well. Without energy we
can’t get much done as well as we would like.
If we keep pushing ourselves, ultimately we
burn out on our business. Signs of burnout include
feeling chronically tired, especially in the morning
and afternoon; feeling depressed; handling stress
poorly; craving foods high in salt, sugar or fat;
experiencing a diminished sex drive; having
trouble waking up in the morning; feeling
lightheaded when getting up from sitting or lying
down; and struggling with memory.
To prevent and recover from burnout, keep
reasonable hours, get sufficient sleep, rest and
relax. This may sound counterintuitive, but you
get more done if you feel at your best. Creating a
supportive work environment can help, too.
Improve lighting. Natural light is preferable,
and according to a Harris Poll for Steelcase, lighting
is the No. 1 contributor to productivity.
Control noise. Too much noise certainly
interferes with work, but a total absence of sound
also can be stressful. Assess how much sound you
need to stay mentally alert.
Examine office furniture. Furniture should
be comfortable and designed to prevent the aches
and pains that eat away subtly at your concentration and add to fatigue.
Eliminate toxic odors. Research suggests
that fragrance affects alertness, performance,
stress levels and even heart rate, muscle tension
and blood pressure.
Consider colors. Office colors affect you
and your visitors both physiologically and
psychologically. For a sense of excitement, cheer
and relief from boredom, use warm colors such as
reds, oranges, yellows and browns. Keep in mind,
however, that reds may contribute to tension
while yellow may improve productivity.
Ensure clean air. Bad air can lead to health
issues, such as “sick building syndrome.” Indoor
plants absorb smoke, contaminants and gases
such as formaldehyde, helping to clean the air.
The bottom line is that you are your business’s
most important asset, so taking care of yourself is
the best thing you can do for both your business
and your customers. C
WITH THE HOLIDAYS right around the corner,
wouldn’t you prefer to cut all ties with the office
while you’re out and concentrate on rest, relaxation
and family? Brian P. Moran and Costco member
Michael Lennington, co-authors of The 12-Week
Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Do
in 12 Months (Wiley, 2013; not available at Costco),
say it’s possible. They offer these tips to help you
prepare, so your vacation can be a real one.
Picture the perfect vacation. Once you understand the link between your vision of the perfect
vacation and your work, you can define exactly what
you need to do to make that great vacation happen.
Create a work plan for each pre-vacation
workweek you have left. Identify the most important tasks and projects that need to be completed in
the weeks leading up to your vacation, and align
your time and efforts to ensure they get done.
Resign yourself to being uncomfortable now
so you can be comfortable later. Take care of any
tasks you’ve been avoiding now so that they aren’t on
your mind when you’re trying to have a good time.
Don’t respond to the demands of the day
reactively. Keep control of your day by breaking
it into three kinds of blocks: strategic blocks
(uninterrupted work time), buffer blocks
(unplanned or lower-value tasks) and breakout
blocks (free time to refresh and reinvigorate).
Isolate yourself from modern-day distractions.
If you allow yourself to get distracted by email, social
media or the latest viral video, before you know
it you’ll be on your vacation, stuck in your hotel
room, working on the project you didn’t finish.
www.12weekyear.com for more information. C
Just say no to a
are the authors of
Lifeboat and 16
other small-business books.
PAUL AND SARAH EDWARDS: LIFESTYLES FOR THE MILLENNIUM
AS A BUSINESS owner, do you
and your employees see eye
to eye? You might be surprised.
American Express OPEN Forum
recently surveyed more than
400 business owners and 400
employees to see points of
agreement and disagreement.
Here are some of the findings.
Do you hold the right amount
Business owners: 21 percent
said too many; 52 percent said
Employees: 35 percent
said too many; 45 percent said
How much influence do employees have on business decisions?
Business owners: 74 percent believe employees sway
Employees: 50 percent
believe they have little to
On average, do you believe
people are paid the right salary?
Business owners: 58 percent
believe their employees are paid
sufficiently or too much
Employees: 66 percent
believe they are not paid enough
To see the full survey, go to
more valuable information for
business owners, go to www.