A-Z of Interim: Z is for …Zzz!

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ID 480247 © Kts | Dreamstime.com

It’s the end of the year and here I am, at the end-point of my blog series A-Z of Interim. If you’ve managed to stay awake through all my previous posts, good for you!

If not, pull up a comfortable pillow and … zzz.

This post is about sleep. Not getting enough can seriously impact your performance and yet many of us stumble through busy working lives without sufficient nightly rest.

If workplace wellbeing is the new black, then sleep is the new self-care.  Much as I would like to follow Arnold Schwarzenegger’s advice to ‘sleep faster’, I am definitely one of those people who need at least eight hours of shut-eye. In fact, one of the reasons I love travelling for work is that – after a long day with clients – I get to go back to my hotel and curl up early.  Not exactly glamorous, I know!  But essential. 

Why should this matter to an interim?

Well, research demonstrates that not getting the requisite number of hours per night lowers your immunity to infection, affects your mood and impacts your concentration. Sleep deprivation raises your blood pressure and blood sugar levels, causes inflammation in your body and increases the chance of an early death.  Not really conducive to being a badass interim, is it?

Still not convinced? Sleep also promotes the formation of neural pathways which help us to process new information.  Sleeping less than five hours per night compromises decision making processes and creativity.  Not to mention, making you short-tempered and prone to mood swings.  A recipe for over-whelm and under-par client-side.

Personally, I like to be firing on all cylinders when on assignment.  So, I try to prioritise sleep with the same diligence I handle client commitments. I have a sleep tracker at home.  I take melatonin to avoid jet lag when travelling across time zones.  I ensure that when working away my digs are within brisk walking distance of my client – fresh air helps clear the mind, and also promotes sleep.  Of course, I don’t always succeed, but my rule is to aim for about 70-80% compliance. It evens out over time.

Now, where did I put my pillow…

 

 

 

 

 

 

A-Z of interim: W is for … Well-being

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ID 104737202 © Adonis1969 | Dreamstime.com

I was talking with a former colleague the other day. She was recounting her recent experience as an interim at a company with a culture that she described as ‘going back to the 80’s’. And not in a good way…

Evidently, this kind of “work till you drop dead, crush your (work) enemies, trust no one” style of working still exists. Eh? At this point I’m thinking, W is for What the flamingo!!?

Needless to say, the culture was toxic and the teams and individuals she worked with operated in one of two modes: high-anxiety or super-stressed. Not much of a choice.

Now don ‘t get me wrong. I’m realistic. I know that as interims, we are never brought into a client if everything is going swimmingly and nothing needs to change. We are fixers and do-ers. We use our expertise to bring solutions and steer a way through in difficult times. We work hard. Long hours, challenging clients and complex organisational problems can be the norm.

Which is exactly why you owe it to yourself – and your clients – to ensure you stay well enough to work well.

‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office’ said no one’s gravestone, ever!

Workplace stress and burn-out is rising significantly – In a recent article, the US Institute of Stress, cites 42 worrying workplace stress statistics. And the European picture isn’t much brighter. In a recent study, ‘The workforce view in Europe’ highlights Polish, British and French workers as having the greatest amount of stress, compared to other countries.

Wellbeing isn’t something woo-woo. As far as I’m concerned it’s an essential tool for today’s interim. Just as you would ensure you service your car regularly to keep it on the road, making sure you have good foundational health habits – sleep, exercise, hydration – prevents you from being another interim casualty languishing in the lay-by. We all know we are sharper, more productive and generally better human beings when we take care of ourselves. 

My advice…? Take the time to switch off on weekends by switching off your phone, getting outside or indulging in your favourite hobby. Make sleep an important priority. Carve out time in your working week to walk, or think or read. Whatever energises and inspires you.  And for all you A-types out there, I’m advocating the 80/20 rule.  Work hard, and remember it doesn’t have to be hard work, health-wise.