“Play is valuable — very valuable. In fact, the benefits of play cannot be overstated. So run, sing, and dance. Play games and have fun!”

I took the references to children out of this quote from the article; what’s good for kids is good for us as adults I’d say. How are you having fun at work?

Healthline.com

Play is one of the most important aspects of a child’s life. Why? Because through peekaboo, patty-cake, and playing house, children learn to think creatively and interact socially.

Through play, they develop physically and discover a slew of emotional skills,and they learn how to process the world. In short, play is pivotal to your child’s development.

“Play is how children learn,” says Dr. Tiff Jumaily, a pediatrician at Integrative Pediatrics and Medicine Studio City in Los Angeles.

What’s more, according to a 2012 studyTrusted Source, play reduces stress. “On the whole, play is associated with responses that facilitate learning… [and] work off stress,” says Jumaily.

But what are the benefits of play and what type of engagement, toys, and activities do children really need? We asked some experts to weigh in.

The benefits of play

While the benefits of play are innumerable — play helps children develop cognitively, physically, socially, and emotionally — there is more to play than fun and games.

Mayra Mendez, PhD, LMFT, a licensed psychotherapist and program coordinator at Providence Saint John’s Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica, California, tells Healthline, “Play is important because it provides a primary foundation for learning, exploring, problem-solving, and building an understanding of the world and your role within it.”

But how do children learn through play? Well, it’s simple. Play allows children the chance to emulate what they see and practice skills. It gives them an outlet for creativity and experimentation, and play helps them learn how to interact and communicate with others.

Cognitive benefits

Play promotes healthy development and critical thinking skills. It reinforces memory, helps children understand cause and effect, and, according to Mendez, helps children explore the world — and their role in it.

“Young children learn how things fit together through play. It allows them to use their senses and encourages exploration and curiosity, and these skills are the foundation of intellectual development and cognitive processing.”

Play also inspires children to pretend, create, and imagine. Creative, open-ended play helps children conceptualize, brainstorm, and exercise critical thinking skills.

Physical benefits

Physically, play benefits children in a few ways, namely in the development of their fine and gross motor skills.

“Play benefits motor development by encouraging movement [and the] understanding of spatial relations, promoting motor planning skills, and supporting balance and dexterity,” Mendez says. “It also supports gross motor skills, such as energy, stamina, flexibility, and body awareness.”

Examples of physical play include running, jumping, swimming, block building, dancing, riding bikes, and climbing trees. (When you’re providing opportunities for these types of activities, remember key safety precautions — from bike helmets to pool supervision.)

Social benefits

Play is also important for social development because it helps children learn how to interact with others.

Through play, children develop an understanding of social expectations and rules, and play provides opportunities to share thoughts and ideas, to listen, and to compromise.

Emotional benefits

Additionally, play helps children understand and process their emotions.

“Kids process their emotions and new concepts through play,” Kim Wheeler Poitevien, a child therapist in Philadelphia, tells Healthline.

When a child loses a game, for example, they learn to process sadness, anger, and grief. Playing also helps build confidence and encourages the development of their identity and self-esteem.

Vistage CEO Sam Reese shares simple ideas to increase your workplace resilience.

Vistage.com

Almost nothing is easy right now. These times demand resilience. To be resilient in today’s workplace is to persevere toward a goal, even if progress is hard to see. Over the past few months, I have heard from Vistage CEO members who did not let setbacks deter them, and kept moving forward in the face of enormous challenges. At a time when resilience is required more than ever before, leaders are taking these six steps to incorporate the trait into their company culture and their leadership:

1. Develop a culture of ongoing learning, development and mentoring.

Having mentors on the team who believe that it is still possible to win, even if they’re behind, inspires the team to continue to move forward in the face of tremendous challenges. People with this quality keep others energized, pick up colleagues when they are down and fuel those around them. Resilient people inspire others to do the same.

2. Be transparent as a leader.

Resilience can be even more difficult to foster in the era of a virtual workforce. When leaders are transparent about what the company is facing, the team is able to face the challenge together and work through solutions. Inspiring leaders share stories about their company’s history and customers that showcase their values and operating principles, and demonstrate that there are no shortcuts or life rafts on the path to success. They also communicate how each team member is a valuable part of the company’s story, and how their work contributes to the company’s purpose.

3. Encourage employees to find balance between their work and personal lives.

The pace many employees work at today is unsustainable and will lead to burnout. Part of resilience is the ability to set boundaries when it comes to workload and timelines. The reason Vistage employees send an email at the end of the day to their managers is twofold: to allow employees to reflect on everything they accomplished that day and to sign off at the end of the day. It may seem counterintuitive, but when leaders encourage their teams to unplug during these difficult times, it recharges the team so they can stay focused on the goal.

4. Refine the interview and hiring process.

Successful leaders seek out resilient employees from the outset by asking interview questions that will shed light on whether the prospect is a problem-solver or plays the victim when things turn south. If a prospect plays the blame game or considers their losses strictly “bad luck,” they most likely don’t have the resilience the company needs.

5. Create cross-functional teams.

Cross-functional teams bring people together from different areas of the company and build trust among employees. These offer an opportunity to employees from all levels to practice leadership. People leave with hope, perspective and renewed energy to think about possibilities at all levels. Cross-functional teams also give company leadership unique insight into the challenges frontline employees are facing, and help employees understand that leaders are standing alongside their team.

6. Challenge thinking with fresh perspectives.

World-class leaders seek diverse perspectives on important decisions from trusted peers. They actively work to combat insular thinking and confirmation bias. They find other CEOs and business leaders who’ve tackled similar issues but in different industries. These peers understand the nuances and challenges of the role but bring fresh perspectives, unhampered by institutional knowledge. CEOs can share the real-time learnings that come from leading a company through a pandemic.

Fostering a resilient workforce is an invaluable investment. Resilience is something everyone has to have right now just to be productive. When a company builds resilience into its culture, it shows employees their leadership is committed and fearless. Effective leaders persevere toward goals, are transparent and allow employees to make room for personal growth, promoting a culture of resilience to face these unprecedented times.

This article was originally published on Small Biz Daily.

This article from HBS explains how keeping weary employees engages is as easy as ABCD.

Harvard Business School

Humans are motivated by four drives: acquire, bond, comprehend, and defend. Boris Groysberg and Robin Abrahams discuss how managers can use all four to keep employees engaged.

We recently asked 600 CEOs: What is keeping you awake at night during this global pandemic? A major and multifaceted concern that emerged is how to keep employees motivated when their world is crashing around them. The circumstances of work have become more difficult. Their responses included:

  • “Keeping morale and motivation up amongst employees while they are dealing with the stress of COVID-19 as well as parenting/schooling children while working from home. How can we be supportive while maximizing productivity? How do we help employees with work/life balance?”
  • “How to keep people engaged and connected and OPTIMISTIC in appropriate measure while so many have so many competing personal and business and health and family issues right now.”

Meanwhile, cost-cutting, uncertainty, and the necessities of social distancing attenuate or alter the traditional organizational levers. Several CEOs observed:

  • “Keeping spirits high in a sales environment. At the moment our sales force has to work twice as hard for a quarter of the results. We have reduced the expectation of results but they still feel like they are losing every day. I believe this will be a marathon, not a sprint, and I will need help for the next many months to keep theirs and others’ spirits high so we can keep them for when we recover.”
  • “How to motivate a team that has been furloughed? With our operations totally shut down by the government, we had to furlough 90% of our team. They still receive benefits but no wages. We plan on bringing them all back as soon as we are allowed to reopen, but for now they have no income from the company. Many in our industry laid off their employees, we did not.”
  • “How to keep executives motivated who were asked to take a 50% salary reduction. Because we are now closed and have no revenue, we asked senior staff to take a 50% pay reduction until we reopen. Our CEO took a 100% pay reduction.”

On the positive side of the spectrum, CEOs report that their teams are eager to be motivated, to find meaning at work during this crisis.

Research by Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria and colleagues suggests that people are guided by four basic emotional needs, or drives, that are the product of our common evolutionary heritage. These four drives—the “ABCD” of human motivation—are:

  • Acquire. Obtain scarce goods, including intangibles such as social status.
  • Bond. Form connections with individuals and groups.
  • Comprehend. Satisfy our curiosity and master the world around us.
  • Defend. Protect against external threats and promote justice.

The extent to which a job satisfies these four drives accounts for a large portion of how much an individual is motivated in their work. While improving the fulfillment of any one drive enhances employee motivation somewhat, the key to a major employee-motivation advantage relative to other companies comes from improving all four drives in concert.

To some extent this is because of the balance required between two pairs of drives.

The drives to acquire and to bond are in tension with each other because the first is competitive and the second cooperative. A major part of management is to keep these two drives in healthy balance, for example by giving rewards for both individual and team performance. Without direct oversight, “Relationships can all too readily slide into cutthroat competition or totally collusive bonding. Either extreme will harm the firm’s performance.”

Organizations can balance these drives by allocating rewards and resources for both traditional performance and for learning activities.

What has changed and what hasn’t?

The four drives themselves, fundamental to human psychology, have not changed. The COVID-19 pandemic has not altered these dynamics as much as it has intensified or complicated them:

  • Cost-cutting and remote work mean that both the acquisition and bonding drives are harder to meet via traditional means such as raises and team outings.
  • Uncertainty around the pandemic itself, and its effect on industries and governments, have increased people’s comprehension and defensive drives.
  • The implicit, almost unconscious ways we get information and reassure each other are lost when people go remote. Colleagues are not going to overhear useful conversations while getting coffee. Because of this, functions of leadership that may have been automatic must now be done explicitly and with intent. The implication for leaders: overcommunicate, and over-reinforce boundaries and expectations.
  • While organizational policies are the infrastructure of meeting employees’ four drives, managers implement those policies and can do so in ways that increase or decrease engagement. Subcultures within organizations can differ as much as organizational cultures themselves. Most people have encountered a team that performs well above—or below—the organizational norm. While this has always been the case, widespread moves to remote work mean that individual managers are now, for many employees, the only face of the company that they interact with. This greatly increases the importance of managers.

A big question remains. What can organizations and team leaders do to increase fulfillment of each of the four drives? The graphic below displays the four-drive ecosystem.

The four-drive ecosystem

Acquire/Achieve

On the organizational level this drive is usually met through the compensation and rewards system. Best practices include:

Pay as well as competitors. There can be exceptions; the need to acquire applies to intangibles as well. Organizations with good reputations may be able to attract talent at a discount; the reverse may be true for stigmatized organizations. Likewise, investments in employees’ long-term prospects via continuing education/development or ownership options may allow for a discount in pay.

Sharply differentiate good performance from average and poor performance. This should be based on metrics that are clearly tied to the company’s mission. Note that we say performance, and not performers. Performance may be based on factors besides the talent and motivation of the individual in question, such as job or market conditions. A person may perform well in some aspects of the job but not in others. Avoid creating a system that plays favorites or denies people the opportunity to improve.

Tie rewards clearly to performance. Ideally, this should be done at both the individual and group (organization and/or team) level. This requires deciding what performance metrics are truly important and being consistent in their application. There is no point to encourage senior employees to mentor juniors, for example, but only reward them for time spent with clients.

These practices are possible regardless of the amount of resources available, with the possible exception of the first.

Managers work within this system and their team members understand that they are constrained by it. Managers who succeed at meeting their team members’ drive to acquire:

  • Set clear expectations by which performance is evaluated
  • Demand high performance
  • Ensure their team members receive rewards and recognition.

Be exceedingly clear on metrics and priorities. People are stretched to the limit: Don’t demand busywork or needless perfectionism.

During this pandemic managers may be the only witnesses of extraordinary efforts employees are making to stay focused and productive. Sincere, informed acknowledgement of these efforts can go a long way. Recognize outstanding accomplishments during meetings or some other way.

For example, gifts and services are appreciated by people more than ever before. Gifts of consumable items are actually valued these days! A fruit basket looks pretty exciting. Especially good are rewards that will ease workers’ daily strains—deliveries, dog-walking, online entertainment or classes for children. With so many companies in flux, it may be possible to get good discounts or in-kind exchanges of items that team members would appreciate. Gift certificates for takeout to local restaurants, personalized miniature embroideries, and online classes in yoga (for adults) and improv (for kids) are only some of the creative rewards managers have given their teams.

Celebrate not only splashy wins but the steadfast, regular business-as-usual activities that are now being accomplished under extraordinary circumstances. Everyone on your team can now add the line “ … during a global pandemic” to their list of job duties. Acknowledge that! At the same time, be authentic and don’t condescend.

Don’t be afraid to give course corrections when necessary. In the words of CEO coach Sabina Nawaz, “Small and frequent performance guidance circumvents major corrections down the road and allows everyone to stay in sync despite distance and daily change.”

Bond/Belong

On the organizational level, this drive is usually satisfied through company culture. Best practices include:

Foster mutual reliance and friendship among coworkers. Much has been written about how to manage remote teams and encourage collegiality. Teams that have only recently gone remote because of the pandemic have a few differences. On the upside, they have already built relationships and can leverage those. On the downside, the distance from colleagues and work friends is experienced as a possibly demotivating loss.

Value collaboration and teamwork. There is also the issue that over the next 18 to 24 months some people will return to the office while others continue working from home; this can lead to rival subcultures. Onboarding and integrating new employees is also especially difficult. The major issue with remote workers and motivation appears to be feeling isolated and second-class relative to the onsite workers.

Encourage sharing of best practices. Encourage employees to tell you what they are doing well and how they are lifehacking. Share best practices and praise them.

Managers who meet their teams’ bonding needs:

  • Make employees feel a part of the team
  • Are people-oriented
  • Care about employees on a personal level.

Start meetings with a check-in or opening ritual before diving into business.

Think about creative bonding experiences—an online talent show? Recipe contest? Game night? Show-and-tell of each team member’s favorite piece of art or travel souvenir? These might even be ways for team members to show new skills or facets of their personality.

Zoom fatigue is real. Not all bonding has to be in the moment. Take advantage of asynchronous communication with a page or Slack channel for sharing recipes, articles, and snapshots.

The leveling effect of remote work may make this a good time for cross-team collaboration, assignment rotations, or peer mentorship opportunities. The fact that sales was on the third floor and R&D on the second isn’t quite as relevant as it once was.

Comprehend/Challenge

On the organizational level, this drive is usually satisfied through job design. Best practices include designing jobs that comprise distinct and important roles, have meaning, and foster a sense of contribution to the organization.

This does not mean all jobs must be knowledge work, or that employees must work at the peak of their intellectual or creative capacity to be fulfilled in this drive. There are two main ways that the drive to comprehend is satisfied on the job. The first is through whatever opportunities for learning, problem-solving, and creativity exist in the job itself. The second is through understanding the role and value of the job within the organization. This understanding can transform even mundane jobs.

The many unknowns of the pandemic mean that people’s overall need for comprehension and control is severely stymied. Organizations that can satisfy this drive for their employees will find them highly motivated in return. People are desperate for a chance to feel in control, as if they are making a difference.

Managers meet the drive to comprehend by:

  • Empowering team members
  • Giving team members challenging assignments
  • Helping team members learn and grow.

Do “office hours” on videoconferencing to replace the informal conversations you once had in the office. This will encourage people to come forth with questions, and with observations and suggestions that might not seem important enough for a full meeting.

Job design may have to take a back seat to immediate needs at this moment because some companies may not be able to perform all of their usual functions, and others may be in all-hands-on-deck mode. At the same time, the crisis brings the opportunity to interrogate business practices. Managers should continually connect their employees’ efforts to the organization’s higher-level goals. If they are not able to do this they need to be having conversations with their own bosses. This may be a good time as well to “[Challenge] employees to think more broadly about how they could contribute to making a difference for coworkers, customers, and investors.”

Providing employees with opportunities for continuing education can be highly motivating. At the moment, experts, educators, and entertainers are releasing a great deal of content online due to public events being cancelled. Furloughed or underutilized employees, especially, should be empowered to do continuing education—in things they are interested in, regardless of its apparent relevance to their jobs. Organizations will need creativity in the coming months and years, and the most reliable recipe for it is to collide one way of thinking or body of knowledge up against another. Sign your best salesperson up for those violin-making classes!

Nawaz also recommends:

“Stay ahead of the game by inviting problems, not just solutions. Our previous rules of engagement have gone by the wayside, so no one has definitive solutions. Invite your team to come to you with problems, even if they don’t yet have solutions. Consider saying, ‘In our current world, we all have questions, few people have answers. If you see signs of trouble, issues that aren’t visible to me, don’t wait to come to me until you have an accompanying solution. Bring me your early indicators and together we’ll devise experiments to tackle the challenge.’ Explicitly signaling you want to know about budding problems will enable greater periscopic vision and access to broader sets of solutions.”

Defend/Depend

The drive to defend, though primitive—it’s rooted in the basic fight-or-flight response—is nonetheless complicated. Animals are concerned only with “mine” and “might.” For humans, the defense drive is combined with a sense of justice or fairness. The desire to have something valuable—a well-paying job with a good title, say—is the drive to acquire. The drive to defend is the desire to be known to have deserved the job and gotten it fairly, and to believe that the job will not be capriciously taken away. When this drive is negatively affected, people become fearful, resentful, and disengaged.

On the organizational level, this drive is usually satisfied through performance management and resource allocation systems. Best practices: Processes must be transparent and fair, and their transparency and fairness must be communicated to employees.

Managers who meet the defend drive well:

  • Create a psychologically safe environment
  • Treat people fairly. Encourage team members to speak up and listen to what they say.

Overcommunicate. Even without economic turmoil remote workers can develop negative attribution tendencies, such as assuming they were left off an email chain because they are being eased out when in fact a simple error might be to blame.

Creating a psychologically safe environment does not mean compromising on performance. Instead, it means acknowledging that mistakes are inevitable, especially in times of learning and transition, and that success consists of surfacing errors and learning from them. Make a clear distinction between mistakes and malfeasance. Allow time for team members to process losses with new technology and altered ways of doing things. Encourage them when necessary. Typing is faster than writing, but not when you’re first learning.

Normalize asking for help. Offer help before it is asked for.

If resources need to be cut, be clear about why. Let employees know that it is acceptable to be frustrated or upset; those emotions are entirely valid. This does not mean condoning unprofessionalism or abuse by any stretch—it means not putting the emotional burden on them to make you feel better about it. Explain the business case, give them time to process.

Integrate the drives, empower the managers

When employees report even a slight enhancement in the fulfillment of any of the four drives, their overall motivation shows a corresponding improvement; however, major advances relative to other companies come from the aggregate effect on all four drives. This effect occurs not just because more drives are being met but because actions taken on several fronts seem to reinforce one another. The holistic approach is worth more than the sum of its constituent parts, even though working on each part adds something.

When these actions come through one person—the manager or team leader—some integration automatically takes place. A course correction serves to hone the competitive edge (acquire), while improving understanding (comprehend), and, if it is delivered in a helpful and respectful way, strengthens the relationship between manager and employee (bond).

Please look to your managers: Do they have what they need to lead and manage? Are they leading, managing, and motivating their employees during these difficult times?

Tara Parker-Pope, the founding editor of Well, The New York Times’s award-winning consumer health site, shares 10 ways to calm down.

Peak Anxiety? Here Are 10 Ways to Calm Down

Can’t concentrate? Losing sleep? Binge-eating your feelings?

In a year of unprecedented stress, the nation collectively appears to be heading toward peak anxiety this week. People are sharing stories of stress eating, clearing their calendars (who could sit through a Zoom meeting during a time like this?) and threatening to stay in bed for a week.

The stress has consumed both sides of the political aisle. A poll released by the American Psychological Association showed that 76 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Republicans are finding the 2020 election to be a significant source of stress.

While there’s nothing you can do to speed election results or a coronavirus vaccine, you do have the power to take care of yourself. Neuroscientists, psychologists and meditation experts offered advice about the big and small things you can do to calm down. Here are 10 things you can try to release anxiety, gain perspective and gird yourself for whatever comes next.

As you feel your anxiety level rising, try to practice “self interruption.” Go for a walk. Call a friend. Run an errand. Just move your body and become aware of your breathing.

“Interrupt yourself so you can shift your state,” said Ms. Williams. “Get your attention on something else. Focus on something that is beautiful. Get up. Move your body and really shift your position. I think people really need to move away from wherever it is they are and break the momentum.”

When you feel your stress level rising, try this quick calming exercise from Dr. Judson A. Brewer, director of research and innovation at the Mindfulness Center at Brown University:

“It’s a different way to ground yourself,” said Dr. Brewer. “Anxiety tends to be in your chest and throat. Your feet are as peripheral as you get from your anxiety zones.”

It just takes a short burst of exercise — three minutes to be exact — to improve your mood, said Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University whose latest book is “The Joy of Movement.” Do jumping jacks. Stand and box. Do wall push-ups. Dance.

“If you give me three minutes, it works, as long as you’re moving your body in ways that feel good to you,” said Dr. McGonigal, who suggests picking an inspiring song to get you moving. “Anytime you move your muscles and get your heart rate up, you’ll get a boost in dopamine and sense yourself as alive and engaged. Movement for me is a way I sense my own strength and feel connected to hope and joy.”

Get rid of clutter, make a scrapbook, get a new comforter, hang artwork.

“It’s not frivolous to do something like declutter, organize or look around your space and think about how to make it a supportive place for you or anyone else you live with. It’s one of the ways we imagine a positive future,” said Dr. McGonigal, whose TedTalk on stress has been viewed nearly 24 million times. “Anything you do where you take an action that allows you to connect, whether consciously or not, with this idea that there’s a future you’re moving toward, that’s like a hope intervention. It’s something you’re doing now to look after your future self.”

This simple practice is easy to remember and is often taught to children to help them calm themselves in times of high stress. (I tried this the other day in the dentist chair, and it helped a lot!) Dr. Brewer has created a video explaining the technique, which works by engaging multiple senses at the same time and crowding out those worrying thoughts.

Step 1. Hold your hand in front of you, fingers spread.

Step 2. Using your index finger on the opposite hand, start tracing the outline of your extended hand, starting at the wrist, moving up the pinkie finger.

Step 3. As you trace up your pinkie, breathe in. As you trace down your pinkie, breathe out. Trace up your ring finger and breathe in. Trace down your ring finger and breathe out.

Step 4. Continue finger by finger until you’ve traced your entire hand. Now reverse the process and trace from your thumb back to your pinkie, making sure to inhale as you trace up, and exhale as you trace down.

Spend time outside. Watch birds. Wander amid the trees. Take a fresh look at the vistas and objects around you during an “awe walk.” Recent research shows that consciously taking in the wonders of nature amplifies the mental health benefits of walking.

Numerous studies support the notion that spending time in nature and walking on quiet, tree-lined paths can result in meaningful improvements to mental health, and even physical changes to the brain. Nature walkers have “quieter” brains: scans show less blood flow to the part of the brain associated with rumination. Some research shows that even looking at pictures of nature can improve your mood. Our brains, it seems, prefer green spaces. One small study found that exercisers exposed to the color green found it easier to exercise and were in a better mood than exercisers exposed to gray or red.

Many of us are vertical breathers: When we breathe, our shoulders rise and fall, and we’re not engaging our diaphragm. To better relax, learn to be a horizontal breather. Inhale and push your belly out, which means you’re using your diaphragm. Exhale and your middle relaxes.

For a deep (and somewhat complicated) dive on belly breathing, grab a tape measure and take this “breathing IQ” self-exam from Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist and author of “Breathing for Warriors.

“If you’re breathing with your shoulders, you’re using auxiliary muscles, and you’ll have a higher heart rate, higher blood pressure and higher cortisol,” Dr. Vranich said. “If you breathe diaphragmatically, you’re more apt to be calmer.”

Give your mind a break by watching this cat comfort a nervous dog, or check out the jellyfish cam at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. You’ll find more fun diversions on our new interactive Election Distractor, including a digital stress ball, a virtual emotional support dog and Donald J. McNeil Jr., the Times’s infectious disease reporter, giving you optimistic news about the coronavirus vaccine.

Take a lavender foot bath, burn a scented candle or spritz the air with orange aromatherapy. It’s only a temporary reprieve, but it just might help get you through election night.

A study of 141 pregnant women found that rubbing or soaking feet with lavender cream significantly reduced anxiety, stress and depression. Another study of 200 dental patients found that orange or lavender aromatherapy helped them relax before treatment. Lavender baths lower cortisol levels in infants. Even antidepressants work better when combined with lavender therapy.

Why does aromatherapy, particularly lavender, appear to have a calming effect? Some research suggests that lavender reaches odor-sensitive neurons in the nose that send signals to the parts of the brain related to wakefulness and awareness.

Accepting the result of the election doesn’t mean giving up if things don’t go your way. In fact, you’ll be more effective at pursuing change if you accept the situation. “Our anxiety comes from the desire to have things be different,” said Ms. Williams. “There’s going to be the day after the election. And the day after that. We need to be present to what is, regardless of the outcome you want.”

Thinking about history and those who have faced seemingly insurmountable hardship in the past can help you gain perspective, accept current events and make plans to pursue change.

“My ancestors had to prepare themselves, over and over again, for moving toward a freedom that was nowhere in sight,” said Ms. Williams, referring to Black Americans. “We prepare for life as it unfolds, not our ideal image of it. That is, literally, the only path forward.”

I’ve been doing some personal Positive Intelligence work, and this article from Fast Co reinforces the ideas to decrease how anxiety impacts you.

FastCompany.com

Chances are you’re experiencing some stress and anxiety right now. Between the pandemic, politics, and the economic downturn, there are plenty of potential calamities out there.

But what is actually happening in your body? When you notice a threat, you engage your avoidance motivational system, which gives you energy to engage in activities that will help you to evade that threat. Research pioneered by Tory Higgins and his colleagues finds that when you are trying to avoid a particular threat, it also makes you more sensitive to other threats in the environment. As a result, the whole world can seem like a more stressful and dangerous place when you’re dealing with a particular problem than it does when you are focused on pursuing a desirable outcome.

In many situations in the past, you could ultimately deal with the stress and anxiety by avoiding the threat. If you were stressed about something at work, you could finish the report, correct the error, or deal with the client that was causing the potential problem. And after that, you could focus your energy on something else.

In this environment, though, many of the factors that engage your avoidance motivation are things you can’t fix by yourself—and some of them won’t go away quickly. Here are four things you can do to deal with this anxiety (presented in the order that goes from easiest to hardest, but also least to most effective in stopping the anxiety for the long run).

1. DECREASE THE ENERGY

Whenever your motivational system engages a goal, you have motivational energy that is put against the goal. That energy is there to spur action. If there was a dangerous animal in your environment, you could run from it or fight it off. When there isn’t a specific action you can take, then that energy just intensifies the emotional response without allowing you to accomplish anything.

That is where energy reduction techniques come in. You can either engage in meditation and mindfulness techniques aimed to calm the motivational energy, or dissipate that energy through an activity such as exercising or going for a walk.

Calming that energy reduces anxiety in the short run, but you haven’t done anything to remove the threat from the environment. As a result, you’re likely to build up stress and anxiety again. You’re treating the symptom, but it will return.

2. STOP THE CYCLE OF RUMINATION

One of the other reasons to engage in mindfulness techniques (rather than just exercise) is that by paying attention to your pattern of thoughts, you become able to recognize when you start a cycle of negative thinking about what you find stressful. This pattern of repeated thoughts is called rumination, and it can lead you to maintain your anxiety.

As you become better able to recognize when you are ruminating, you can then explicitly focus on something else. Write about what is bothering you so that you don’t feel like you have to keep thinking about it. Call a colleague and have a conversation about something else. Read an article about a topic you are eager to learn about.

By learning to redirect your thoughts rather than ruminating, you can decrease the duration of the episodes where you feel anxious.

3. TAKE SOME CONTROL

Part of why many people are anxious right now is because there are many threats out there you can’t do anything about. That can lead to feelings of helplessness.

That is when you should find something on your to-do list that’s easy and doesn’t require a lot of effort to complete successfully. It always feels good to finish a task. So, do something that doesn’t require your best work self (because the anxiety may make it hard to summon that best self) and get it done. The combination of completing something and taking an active role in your work will reduce your level of stress. It might even let you get to work on something more difficult.

4. ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE

Finally, the most effective (and hardest) way to deal with anxiety is to focus on something desirable you want to achieve. It is difficult to do that, because your avoidance motivation will cause you to see the flaws and problems with any course of action you want to take. And so, it can be difficult to truly engage with a goal to achieve a desirable work outcome.

But, when you do start putting energy toward something desirable, you actually flip your motivational system from the avoidance mode that led to the stress to the approach mode that you use to go after desirable outcomes.

Getting into the approach mode has two desirable outcomes. First, pursuing a particular desirable outcome helps you to notice other potential desirable things in the world. The whole world will look better and more hopeful when you are energized to achieve something positive.

Second, your motivational system signals that you are in the approach mode with a different set of emotions than the avoidance system uses. When you are pursuing a positive outcome, you experience anticipation. And when you achieve it, you feel happy, joyous, or satisfied. Even if you don’t succeed, you’ll feel disappointed rather than stressed.

Ultimately, you want to develop skills in using all of these techniques so that you can handle the next several months as the pandemic continues as well as that time off into the future when the pandemic is over, but there are still undesirable outcomes in the world you want to avoid.

As leaders we always make decisions with limited information. Fast Company shares 5 ways to do that more strategically.

FastCompany.com

Business often requires bold actions on important decisions such as launching an innovative idea, creating a new advertising campaign, or changing the direction of a company. These decisions offer a rare opportunity to acquire a valued “psychological currency,” in the form of a mental payoff: courage.

Courage might even be viewed as one of the psychological enticements of doing business. It’s a reward people receive for taking bold actions, whether it comes to buying stocks, becoming an entrepreneur, or changing the direction of the company. The motivational force of courage might even contribute to the recent spurt in new businesses being started at the fastest rate in a decade, hoping to capitalize on an evolving economy.

Conventional wisdom states that people are generally risk-averse, especially when it comes to monetary losses from gambling. People generally choose smaller, safer bets over larger, riskier ones. However, recent research that David Gal of the University of Illinois at Chicago and I conducted shows a different pattern of results when people make major or important life decisions. People exhibit a preference for larger and risky options, such as leaving the security of a safe job to start a business. A potential contributing factor is that people want to feel, see themselves as, and ultimately be, courageous.

Boldness is a fundamental requirement of pursuing high-risk, high-reward outcomes in many endeavors. In our research, we observed people were more prone to take riskier options such as putting themselves all in to win or lose by making a gusty call in a football game instead of playing for overtime, or opting for riskier medical treatments with more positive payouts versus safer alternatives with less-positive payouts.

MANY FACES OF COURAGE

Too often, people mistakenly assume courage is pursuing something without fear. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is acknowledging fear and going forward with your eyes open despite that. Business abounds with such opportunities: buying a risky stock, starting your own business, or engaging in a hostile takeover.

There are other aspects to courage as well. Aristotle linked courage to the pursuit of a higher purpose. For those in business, this could be accomplished by important decisions that allow growth, mastery, and realizing potential. Courage is enhanced by making the choice for yourself—an act of free will feels courageous.

Courage is not all risky actions. It’s the result of measured and appropriate actions. Granted, at times it’s hard to discern between pursuing something with heroism versus reckless abandon. Given the natural attraction we have to see ourselves as courageous, how can we help ourselves make good decisions over reckless ones? Here are five steps to take.

1. STOP AND ASK

Don’t do anything purely in the service of courage. Ask yourself: What am I doing and why am I doing this? This simple approach can help build the muscle of self-awareness. Balance the desire for boldness with business acumen. Weighing the risk/reward of your actions can increase your odds.

2. SEEK OUT A NEUTRAL MENTOR

A useful person to give you feedback is a powerful ally. Even more important is to solicit that feedback from someone who is neutral—who is uninvolved in the outcome of your decision (e.g., not a partner or coworker). A neutral mentor increases your chances of receiving unbiased feedback.

3. DON’T JUST WIN, MAKE THE RIGHT PLAYS

It’s easy to get caught up in the end goal. Even more important than winning the game, however, is the successful execution of every play. Focus on the success of each step in launching and scaling your business as opposed to purely the end objective.

4. HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE

Business decisions often include a number of options, each associated with different levels of risk. Weigh the risk/reward of each option to identify what straddles the line between feasible and fulfilling.

5. ALWAYS REASSESS

With each success or failure, reevaluate your decisions. If you’re diligent, you will likely see a pattern. Are you too focused on making big bets so that you appear bold? Or do you appreciate the importance of the smaller bets until that opportune big move comes along? Assessing your results will help you fine-tune your decision-making.

As a leader, you’ll need to instill courage throughout the organization to keep innovation alive and ideas fresh. However, it is important to assess whether your actions reflect blind obedience to the desire to feel courageous or reflect sound and wise business decisions.

The Future is teams

From CEO World

Renowned American basketball coach Phil Jackson once said, “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”  If this makes sense to you, consider the difference between groups and teams, and let’s explore why they need each other to create the individual and team strengths Jackson is talking about.

Groups convene to help their members achieve individual goals. It’s the mechanism that serves as the practice field, where peers help each other learn and grow to be more substantial individual contributors to their teams. Teams are comprised of individuals charged to work together to achieve a collective goal or create a shared work product. Such units may involve a business team working to develop an innovative product or a sports team striving to win a world championship.

The Attributes Common to Great Groups and the Best Teams

Group work strengthens relationship bonds among team members, helps these members hone their individual skills, and inspires a culture of accountability (member-to-member) that doesn’t make employees feel they are always playing defense. Here are five attributes shared by great groups and the best teams:

  1. A robust Learning-Achieving Cycle.
    The Learning-Achieving Cycle is a reinforcing loop of learning, sharing, applying, achieving, learning, sharing, and so forth.  Employees learn better when they learn together.  When a group or team drives a culture of learning and growing, everyone wins – the individuals, the teams, and the organization as a whole.
  2. A culture of team member accountability.  Among groups and teams, accountability in this narrative doesn’t mean accountability to the leader.  Top groups and teams are comprised of individuals who accept personal responsibility for bringing their best selves to work every day.  Their currency in the organization rests in their peers’ belief that they can be counted on to do what they say they will do – and do so exceptionally well.
  3. A focus on outputs as well as outcomes.  All too often, whether it’s a team or a group, being too focused on outcomes draws attention away from the outputs necessary to achieving the lofty results you’re looking for. Don’t be the person at the poker table who can’t help but stop and count his chips when he’s supposed to be playing the game.  The people who are laser-focused on outputs will beat those focused on outcomes every time – in fact; it won’t even be a fair fight.
  4. A leader who is a part of the team, not apart from it.  A significant factor in developing a member-to-member accountability culture is for the team leader to consider him or herself to be a part of the team, not apart from it. The leader (her special role notwithstanding) is still on the team and accountable to the team, just as the members are accountable to one another. As a group and a team, you win together, lose together, and celebrate and mourn as one in a manner that builds individual character and team strength over the long-term.
  5. A commitment to big goals as rewards.  No matter what the pursuit (a game-changing new client or a world championship), focusing on the big end-goal is less effective than pursuing the goal of doing everything it takes to get better as individuals (group work) and as team members (teamwork).  It’s all about continuous improvement – that’s the goal. The win is the reward. It’s the difference between teams who are always competitive (in business and sports) and those who are not.

What Groups Will Help Your Teams Do Even Better

If you were to conduct an online search for the words “business practice,” with rare exception, just about everything you’ll find will involve business as a practice or business best practices.  Run a search for “golf practice,” and you’ll discover endless links on how to practice your golf game, including videos, tools, articles, etc.  In business, every day is a game day, and consequently, we don’t take the time to practice our craft nearly often enough. Conclusion: this lack of practice compromises the individuals in your company who don’t take the time to hone their skills and your teams who are not as strong as possible if you believe in Phil Jackson.

Groups will also help your teams create better strategic alignment and engagement, particularly your cross-functional work teams, who provide a lens into the organization’s broader needs with the help of their peers from other departments. They help team members forge better relationships and build trust in each other’s talents and skills.  Group work also shines a light on extracting inclusion from diversity – the essential part of any diversity and inclusion initiative.

Finally, groups are fantastic vehicles for operationalizing learning and development.  In most companies, no matter how great the content or how talented the trainers, there’s typically little learning or development that takes place.  To be fair, the deck is not exactly stacked in their favor.  Unless, as a leader, you provide a means for people to take what they learn, practice it, and apply it to their work as individuals and as team members, it’s simply not going to happen.

Summary: To adapt to the challenges and opportunities in this ever-changing world, our employees and their teams need to be continually learning, growing, applying, achieving, and learning some more. Leading that effort today, one that empowers your employees to grow in groups and teams, will assure that your company will have the talent and skills to adapt and thrive in the foreseeable future.

The consumer is still spending; here’s where

From ITR Economics

Amidst the economic recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer spending has contracted. Yet the decline is not equal across the consumer space. Rather, certain spending categories are booming while others fall dramatically. So what are we buying, aside from facemasks and hand sanitizer?

To answer that question, I examined Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) data to determine which categories grew by the highest percentage, and which contracted by the highest percentage, year over year.

Worst-Performing Spending Categories

Several of the worst-performing categories were to be expected. Spending at movie theaters has plummeted in the wake of shutdowns and delayed film releases. Travel, especially foreign travel, has also come to a standstill with border closures. In-school lunch spending nearly ceased due to school closures. Spectator events have largely been canceled; those sporting events that still take place mainly do so without an audience.

Bottom PCE Categories:

Motion Picture Theaters-47.5%
US Travel Outside the US-46.4%
Foreign Travel in the US-45.2%
Elementary and Secondary School Lunch-43.4%
Passenger Fares for Foreign Travel-40.2%
Admission to Specified Spectator Amusements-37.7%
Package Tours-37.7%
Railway Transportation-37.5%
Photo Studios-37.3%
Spectator Sports-36.9%

Best-Performing Spending Categories

But spending is not contracting across the board. Certain categories of personal consumption are rising at double-digit paces year-over-year. The top-performing segment, video media rental, is a fitting complement to the worst performer: former movie-goers are now enjoying films at home.

Unsurprisingly, emergency and relief services spending spiked in response to the extraordinary pandemic effects. What may be more surprising, however, is that spending in the newspaper category is rising at a pace last seen in 1980.

The consumer’s desire to engage in safe and socially-distanced hobbies is evident in the five categories rounding out the top 10, including purchases of audio and sporting equipment, and even big-ticket items such as motorcycles, boats, and pleasure airplanes. Businesses that align with trends related to social distancing in both consumer consumption and B2B avenues will likely grow more in the near term.

Top PCE Categories:

Video Media Rental20.6%
Miscellaneous Household Products18.9%
Newspapers18.4%
Community Food and Housing, Emergency, and Other Relief Services17.5%
Other Delivery Service by Non-US Postal Facilities15.8%
Audio Equipment15.0%
Pleasure Boats13.7%
Pleasure Aircraft13.7%
Motorcycles13.7%
Sporting Equipment, Supplies, Guns, and Ammunition13.1%

Habits and spending patterns are changing. Now more than ever, it is critical to look to dispassionate data – not subjective media reports or assumptions – to determine your company’s path forward.

What is your protocol if you’ve been hacked?

From Foster Institute

You’ve trained your users to be vigilant for symptoms of cybersecurity issues. Now teach them to share their concerns confidentially.
Alert your users today: Tell them to, if they suspect something, avoid opening a support ticket or emailing your IT professionals about the concern.

More often than ever before, bad actors infiltrate organizations in a slow, methodical way. They can remain undetected for weeks, months, even years. The FBI uses the term dwell time to designate the period from when attackers infiltrate systems until you discover them. The FBI warns businesses that attackers can cause significant damage during dwell time. Bad actors quickly establish backdoors to ensure access, even if you block their first point of entry. They deploy keyloggers on systems to record keystrokes. If your cyber assets are compromised, the bad actors can potentially monitor your messages to find out when you discover their presence in your network, computers, applications, cloud resources, websites, or anywhere else.

Once attackers know you’ve discovered their infiltration, that triggers them to move forward with their next phase, often contacting you to demand a ransom. Sometimes they threaten severe consequences if you attempt to recover your system in any other way than paying them. Since they are in your systems, you must take the threats seriously.

Establish a protocol for workers to communicate suspicions in some method other than email.

Even your IT department must avoid emailing each other questions such as, “I received an alert that someone is resetting an administrator password. That’s odd. Is that you?” Instead, they must communicate by mobile phone or radio.

If you suspect a breach and contact us, consider phoning. If you must email, use a personal account outside of your company account, and use a phone or some device other than a company computer’s keyboard to send the message.

I’m not talking about when users receive a phishing message. I’m talking about if they receive a phishing message that includes customer account information, if an important file is missing or won’t open, or if they receive an unexpected login request on a website or to open a file. IT needs to investigate these early-warning signs.

Please forward this to other executives who you care about to establish a mobile hotline number for users to reach the IT team to report suspicious activity. Help avoid triggering attackers’ responses before your IT team has time to react and, hopefully, mitigate a potential cybersecurity disaster.

Time management guide for executives who don’t have enough time

Vistage Staff

What is time management?

Time management is perhaps the executive’s most important tool. C-level executives are besieged by texts, calls, emails, meetings, charities, the news, board members, employees, other executives, their own health, personal obligations, and managing the company, among many other things.

But what, exactly, is the definition of time management? Time management is a process of planning and organizing projects, as well as the activities you and your team must do to complete those projects. Executives adept at time management always have an overview of their work and personal lives, allowing them to do more by working smarter.

Importance of time management for high-level executives

To leave time unmanaged is akin to being managed by your time. As Peter Drucker once said, “One cannot rent, hire, buy, or otherwise obtain more time.”

By managing time, executives will see immediate benefits. An executive who manages their time can prioritize what needs to get done to keep from feeling overwhelmed.

Time management ensures that executives don’t get stuck in the details—it may take an executive less time to create a spreadsheet, but their time is better spent on high-level tasks. And time management can help executives better control company time—once executives have a grip on their own time, they can see where their teams are needlessly slow.

Example of time management in business

While working at Bethlehem Steel Company, Frederick Winslow Taylor invented a process that nearly quadrupled the speed of cutting steel. A mechanical engineer by trade, Taylor became rich by patenting the new process. Even so, Taylor squabbled with other managers and was forced out of the company in 1901, freeing him to spread the word of his passion: measuring and managing time. 

On his own, Taylor convinced shovel workers to use more efficient movements and shovels. His ideas were novel and helped the workers make more money—pay depended on their production. Quickly, his ideas spread across shovel-using workers—as well as managers and researchers—and became the standard.

While Taylor’s ideas have been updated, he created a time management definition that, in spirit, has stood the test of time: Logic, analysis, and rationality should be used to determine where time is best spent.

Benefits of time management

1. Prioritize work life and personal life

An executive can use time management to take on more important projects. If an executive is working on five big projects, for example, time management can give them an overview of where the parts of each project will fit into their schedule, allowing them to prioritize and arrange their work.

2. Keep from getting overwhelmed

To be a good time manager is to be organized, a skill that will keep executives from becoming overwhelmed. If an executive is working on those same five big projects, they’ll stand a better chance at success and confidence if they know when and how to work on each project. Time management can be the difference between knowing what needs to be done next and merely guessing.

3. Avoid getting stuck in the weeds

Executives who find themselves working on too many administrative tasks or spending too much time in meetings must become better time managers. The problem with getting stuck in the weeds is losing track of time, which is a lone main non-renewable resource. Effective time management allows executives to be rich in time.

4. Delegate to grow your team

An effective executive is able to delegate tasks and projects. A good team, one able to handle more complex projects, is often the difference between success and failure. There are few better ways to create a successful team than to trust employees with important tasks. Executives with too much on their plate can delegate tasks to their team and instantly gain more time.

Time management infographic

7 time management tips to create more time

 Here are seven ways executives can improve their lives immediately by using the best time management techniques.

1) Set boundaries by saying “no”

Marcey Rader, founder of executive coaching firm Work Well. Play More!, recalls an executive she coached who said “yes” to almost everything.

“She had all this FOMO [fear of missing out] and she came to me because she never had time,” Rader said.

 Rader gave the executive a challenge: Say “no” to everything for 30 days. If the executive really wanted to say “yes” to something, she could wait until after the challenge.

“Since then, she has written a book,” Rader said. “She got into the practice of saying ‘no’ and then realized that her business still actually existed. She opened herself up. She was free to do the things that she really loved, so she wrote a book. I see that often.”

Executives often have a hard time saying “no” or setting time boundaries. They get sucked into multiple meetings, events, or tasks they don’t have the time for. Instead, Rader said that executives must practice setting boundaries, ahead of when they may be asked for their time.

A time boundary could be a canned response, such as an email template, or it could be setting a limit of the number of boards or charities they’ll serve on. The point is to avoid the moment where an executive is asked for their time, caught unawares, and agrees to an action simply due to social pressure.

“People are put on the spot and want to be helpful,” Rader said. “I find that creating those boundaries ahead of time—whether it’s where you contribute your money, where you contribute your time, or what your company is going to contribute to—makes it easier to say ‘no.’”

2) Plan your next day before you leave

Executives are brilliant high-level thinkers and planners, but what about the tactical effort of each day? One way to better manage time is to list what needs to get done the next day—meetings, tasks, deadlines, and anything else that’s important—the day before.

It may take some work to break down long-term goals into day-to-day tasks, but the practice will pay dividends. A study published in Psychological Science found that people who converted their year-long goals and deadlines into day-to-day actions were better at working on what matters.

3) Set goals

Goals are at the heart of time management. By managing time, executives will have the ability to prioritize the goals important to themselves, their family, their employees, and their company.

The best long-term goals are those that cause an executive to stretch but not break, those that allow creative executives to have a sense of direction while doing their best work. As psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has found in his research on flow states, humans feel happiest in the moments when they’re stretched to the limits of their voluntary efforts to accomplish a goal.

The best way to set goals is to find what matters and turn those ideas into SMART goals. These are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. In management coach Charlie Gilkey’s book “Start Finishing“, he suggests starting each goal with a verb. If your goal is to write a book, for example, don’t simply write “book” as your goal—write it as “write a book.” It’s a simple tweak, but action has the power to make ideas real.

Goals are inherently action-based and need high-level planning, which makes them perfect to work toward after executives have delegated low-impact work to others.

4) Delegate low-impact work

In his book “The Leader of the Future”, Peter Drucker wrote that, “Effective leaders delegate, but they do not delegate the one thing that will set the standards. They do it.”

Put another way: Do the work that matters, the work you do best, and delegate the low-impact work that can done by competent members of your team.

Gilkey wrote in his book “Start Finishing” that if one can list the steps of a task, they can delegate that task. By delegating, executives will have more time for high-level thinking, planning and management.

Rader said that executives often have tasks that they can do faster than someone to whom they’d delegate the task. But they should delegate those tasks anyway, she said, as it will save their own time.

In Rader’s business, she created a video and manual for how her employees can best distribute her books to companies that buy them. The video and manual were time consuming to create, far more than simply sending the books herself, but she sends books two or three times each month. By delegating the task, she’ll likely save hours over many months.

“A lot of times, people just think in the moment,” Rader said. “But a month from now, you could have recorded the video or written down the process, and somebody could be doing it for you.”

5) Prioritize with the Pareto Principle (the 80/20 Rule)

Once an executive has set their goals and delegated tasks, they’ll know what’s important to get done. But how can they prioritize what they do?

The Pareto Principle observes that for many events, about 80 percent of the results comes from 20 percent of the effort. This principle isn’t a law, but it contains a huge nugget of truth: most things in life have an uneven distribution. The most effective executives find where they can make the most impact, where they can find their 20 percent of input that creates 80 percent of output.

A big part of reviewing what needs to be delegated, what tasks should be prioritized, and how you manage your time should be thinking about where your effort is best spent. Each executive will have to review their own skills to see where they’re most effective, which may take some trial and error. But the power of Pareto, when paired with effective time management, gives executives the power to do more with less.

6) Stop multitasking

For most, multitasking simply doesn’t work. Arthur Markman, a professor in the department of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, told LiveScience that maybe 10 percent of the population is adept at multitasking. For the rest, multitasking is taxing on the brain, overloading its working memory, and badly hurts productivity.

Research has found that multitasking creates more mistakes and multitaskers retain less information. Psychologist David Meyer said that even seemingly small task switches—how often do most executives check their phone throughout the day?—can cost someone as much as 40 percent of their productive time.

But for many, multitasking has become habitual. To fight the seductive pull of habit, Rader suggests practicing single-tasking, just as one might practice playing instrument, doing an exercise, or speaking a new language. Practice won’t make perfect right away, but with practice will come incremental improvement.

To better focus on single tasks, Rader suggests creating theme days. For example, Monday can be a day for high-level thinking, Tuesday for marketing, Wednesday for administrative tasks, and so forth. “It doesn’t mean you don’t also do those tasks throughout the week,” she said. “But you’re batching them together to better focus on them on individual days.”

7) Schedule time between meetings

“Never let anyone own your schedule,” said Lou Gerstner, the former CEO of IBM, and this is especially important if you want to make good use of your time between meetings.

Every executive will have free time, even if it’s only 15 minutes. Make use of this time on your schedule by scheduling it rather than leaving it empty. If an executive has an hour between meetings, that may be a great time to schedule exercise or lunch. If an executive only has 15 minutes, that may be a great time to sit in solitude, away from the buzz of business.

Busy executives are in demand—people will seize the dead time on their calendars, if given the chance. Instead, executives should schedule their dead zones, downtime, and moments to feel rejuvenated and refreshed. Executives who schedule their downtime give themselves the space to be humans in addition to executives.

Time Management Toolkit

For executives who want to quickly improve their time management skills, download Vistage’s free Time Management Toolkit for Busy CEOs. In this toolkit, executives will find what the research says about how CEOs spend their time, what the experts say about the best time management practices, and what leaders need to manage their time, stay healthy and feel supported amid tough moments.

time management toolkit