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Today we have a guest post from Camille Preston, PhD. Camille is the founder and CEO of AIM Leadership, one of the country’s premier organizational and leadership development firms. She is a pioneer in the field of Virtual Effectiveness and the author of Rewired: How to Work Smarter, Live Better, and Be Purposefully Productive in an Overwired World. For more information, please visit www.aimleadership.com.

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Workshifters enjoy great advantages over our office counterparts, but even we can get caught up in an “overwired” lifestyle. Overwired means moving at lightning speed – all day, every day – with our plates piled high and little time to pause, reflect and focus properly. Wouldn’t it be great to work with better purpose and clarity? With renewed vigor and focus? Wouldn’t it be great to rewire ourselves so that we work smarter, live better and be more productive in the New Year?

Yes, it would. This year, I am urging all of my clients to make one big resolution: to rewire their overwired lives. In my new book, Rewired: How to Work Smarter, Live Better and Be Purposefully Productive in an Overwired World, I explain what’s got us so overwired, why we must unwire and then how to rewire. Here are 4 tips to get started on rewiring for wellness:

1. Stop running full out. Start recharging regularly

In order to rewire ourselves, we first have to stop the madness of going full tilt 24/7 so that we can unwire and recharge ourselves on a regular basis. The good news is that we don’t have to go on a retreat; we can unwire in small but meaningful ways throughout the day:

  • Start your day unwired. Have coffee before checking your smartphone or email.
  • Before diving into your email and phone calls, take 5 minutes to review your schedule, look at the day and think things through.
  • Have phone-free lunches. Do you really need to be available?
  • Take a walk at lunch rather than surf the web as you eat at your desk.
  • Unplug for 10 minutes or so every hour. Get up from your desk, stretch, walk around, step outside, etc. And leave your phone behind.

A few minutes here and there may not sound like a lot, but it all adds up. You will be amazed at the impact even these short periods of unwired time have on your rejuvenation.

2. Stop letting technology use you. Start using technology

Because the wired world is always at our fingertips, we have conditioned ourselves to always be available to it. We can sometimes feel like technology is using us, instead of the other way around. But the great thing about technology is that we can use it to our advantage. The 2 most common complaints I hear from my clients are email overload and smartphone overexposure. Let’s tackle email first:

  • It’s your inbox — take control of it!
  • Before opening anything, scroll through and delete all non-essential messages.
  • Use your spam filter!
  • Get off all those email lists. Unsubscribe and don’t sign up in the first place.
  • Create a separate email address just for junk mail, RSS feeds, newsletters, etc.
  • Establish a clear protocol with clients and colleagues about when to cc so you don’t get unnecessary emails.
  • Train yourself not to respond every time you see the new email icon. Better yet, turn off that function. Even better, pick 2 or 3 times a day when you will open, read and respond to emails.

The smartphone is a bit trickier, as for many workshifters it is the only phone we own. You can’t very well just turn it off or ignore it. But you can:

  • Be liberal with caller ID.
  • Let calls go to voicemail.
  • Let callers know what your office hours are and when you will return calls.

By using technology properly, we can prevent it from using us.

3. Stop shifting clutter. Start organizing and simplifying

Clutter is distracting – really distracting. In fact, researchers at Princeton’s Neuroscience Institute reported last March that clutter actually inhibits the brain’s ability to focus and process information because it vies for our energy and attention. Just like when computers slow down when too many programs are open, we slow down when we have too much stuff demanding our attention. This is critical for workshifters! So, to think and perform better, get rid of the clutter and get organized:

  • Take a look at your office or work area. Is it well organized or cluttered? Can you find what you need?
  • Develop a system where you touch a paper or email only once. Throw out or file papers you don’t need.
  • Organize your supplies and files so you can find them.

Something draining or distracting you? Hide it or get rid of it. You want to create an energizing environment that helps you stay productive and focused, not distracted with clutter.

4. Stop worrying about work-life balance. Start doing more of what energizes you and less of what depletes you

Work-life balance is a tricky thing, especially for workshifters, where work and life occupy the same physical space. Instead of worrying about achieving work-life balance (whatever that is!), we should focus instead on doing the things we love and being with the people who energize us, avoiding the things that deplete us in the process.

Of course, there will always be things we don’t want to do but have to, and there will always be people with whom we must interact, whether we want to or not. But try to think of your time as precious (it is!) and, as much as possible, be critical and judicious with the things and people who take up your time and attention:

  • Who are the people who are draining your time and attention?
  • If you have to deal with them, how can you do so on your own terms?
  • What are the commitments you do not enjoy and that you could give up?
  • Who do you love to be with? Who brings out the best in you?
  • What do you love to do?

As much as possible, fill your life with the people and things that fulfill you, engage you and inspire you. Choose them, and you’ll never worry about work-life balance again.

Resolving to rewire means making small but significant changes that can add up to profound productivity and personal fulfillment. Little tweaks here and there, consistently employed, can lead to big results.

Photo Credit: jaxxon

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  • http://twitter.com/cre8ivegirl Grace Powell

    Great post!

  • Matt

    Interesting points and will try and put some of them into practice – could do with getting an electrician in Cambridge to rewire my life it’s so hectic! Matt