Taking care of others is at the heart of the administrative profession. Our primary objective is to support our executives and teams so that they can be as productive and successful as possible. Yet all too often, admins set aside their own personal needs to achieve this mission, and in doing so, they negatively impact their ability to think clearly and innovatively.
As I prepared to write my first book, The Innovative Admin™, I researched several topics related to how our brains work, and what we can do to increase our learning capacity and our innovative thinking abilities. I knew it was important to live as healthfully as possible. But what I didn’t know was how detrimental some lifestyle choices can be to our overall success – personally and professionally.
So, how do you develop healthy habits that foster a creative, innovative mindset in your admin career? For many admins who are used to taking care of others, it can be a challenge. However, focusing on these three key habits can dramatically improve not just your health, but your ability to be innovative in your admin career.
Sleep to Stay Productive
It’s hard to function when you don’t get enough rest. Your memory, focus, and productivity all suffer. Yet rest is one of the needs a lot of admins neglect. This is a big mistake, according to Tony Schwartz, the president and CEO of The Energy Project, who says sleep is even more important than food.
“We continue to live by a remarkably durable myth: sleeping one hour less will give us one more hour of productivity,” he said in a Harvard Business Review article. “In reality, the research suggests that even small amounts of sleep deprivation take a significant toll on our health, our mood, our cognitive capacity, and our productivity.”
Eat to Increase Energy
On days when the phone won’t stop ringing, your executive gives you a to-do list that’s a mile long and the emails keep piling up, it’s easy to skip a meal in the name of productivity. But foregoing food doesn’t just leave you with a grumbly stomach. Your blood sugar levels plummet along with your metabolism. Brain metabolic function tanks. Stress hormones increase. The result is a serious slump that hinders your ability to work – and you likely end up getting less done than you would’ve if you had taken time to eat.
“Eating regularly throughout the day keeps your metabolism running at full speed, prevents dips in your energy, keeps you alert and focused, and [can help keep] your weight steady by preventing overeating at later meals,” Brigitte Zeitlin, M.P.H., R.D., C.D.N., founder of the New York-based BZ Nutrition, said in SELF.
The type of food you choose is also important. The British Journal of Health Psychology found that the more fruits and vegetables people consumed, the greater their happiness, life satisfaction, and creativity.
Take Breaks to Maintain Focus
A lot of admins avoid taking breaks because they have too much to do, or they feel guilty about stepping away for even a few minutes. However, focusing for too long on one task can actually be counterproductive, according to University of Illinois psychology professor Alejandro Lleras.
“Deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused,” he said. “From a practical standpoint, our research suggests that, when faced with long tasks, it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task!”
So, whether you go for a walk around the office, or head outside for some fresh air, giving yourself 10 minutes to reset can improve your energy level and focus, which will help you get more done…not less.
Your ability to do your admin job well and think innovatively are directly impacted by the daily habits and routines that you choose for yourself. When your brain isn’t working at its full potential, you are not able to function as optimally as you need to. This ultimately affects your capacity for innovative thinking. So, you must address these habits if you want to be successful.
I can tell you from personal experience that good health is a choice. But it also takes time and effort to achieve and maintain. However, once you achieve it, maintaining it is much easier because you have the habits to support your healthy lifestyle going forward. Give it a try for yourself!
This article first appeared in Executive Support Magazine, a global training publication and must read for any administrative professional. You can get a 30% discount when you subscribe through us. Visit the website at www.executivesupportmagazine.