How to get the most out of your day, your career or even your life by being as effective as possible? How to be and stay an effective Architect?
That question is worth considering, especially in the architecture sphere where you will often find yourself within an environment of high intensity and heavy workloads. For many people, being effective means merely to work a lot, to put a lot of hours into daily work. Everything seems to be pretty much about what they do at work.
But what about the things you do outside of work? What if the things you do after, before and even between work are as much important for your effectiveness than just doing the actual work itself?
Consciously increase your energy level!
Consider how you sleep, how you eat, how you put your mind in the right shape, how you relax and how you recharge. In sum, how to balance your energy level to keep a high level of effectiveness and concentration throughout the day, the week and the years to come. How to create your inner peace and the mental conditions for reaching your highest potential?
“It is important to know how to turn it off and know how to turn it on and vice versa.”
How to be and stay effective?
The idea of “Effectiveness” seems to be misleading in many architecture practices around the world since it is usually defined by the number of working hours.
What is generally expected from an employee is hard work and many working hours. Sure, you have to deliver. But without being in a state where you can thrive and without being able to reach and preserve that state, your effectiveness will drown out sooner or later. The number of hours might look good on your timesheet, but what is it worth it when the quality of work becomes mediocre and ineffective.
Without being in a state where you can thrive and without being able to reach and preserve that state, your effectiveness will drown out sooner or later.
If you don’t set the conditions for sustained effectiveness for yourself, it is most likely that the company will not do it for you either.
Being effective has different dimensions
Of course, one obvious point is to pick the right things to do at work and to do them well. But, just working and trying to squeeze the best out of yourself without knowing your true self and being able to care for yourself doesn’t do the trick in the longer term. It is like thinking first and foremost about the fancy bricks of a high-rise without creating a reliable and robust foundation.
Becoming an effective Architect
A large part of being effective includes that you know in which conditions you are able to reach your full potential.
1. Know yourself
Know yourself to create the space for reaching your highest potential. Find out, under which conditions you thrive and proactively create that state during your free time outside of work.
(vision and goals, inner peace, stress management)
One of the most effective ways to become more aware of yourself is to train your awareness through meditation. 10 minutes a day of guided meditation with an app like Headspace can be enough. As Chade Meng Tan put it, Meditation enables you to observe your life in a “higher resolution”. You learn to step outside of yourself and observe your feelings, motivations, goals, and sources of energy. Any form of daily meditation practice has the inherent potential to develop a natural resilience and a mindset of awareness and calm. Meditation creates the conditions to be non-reactive to all the noisy things that appear during a day and in that way provides calmness and ease for an effective mind.
(personal health, eating, moving, sleeping)
Listen to your body! By understanding how your body works and by making the right decision towards sleeping, eating and moving every day, you create the foundation for sustained personal health. Listen to yourself: What throws you off balance? How much sleep do you need to be laser focused and effective? How can a 30-minute walk after lunch increase your ability to regain focus at work? Learn what makes a healthy lifestyle and then create that lifestyle pro-actively. You are your greatest asset!
(Take a look at the book recommendations in the end as a starting point.)
You are your greatest asset!
“We are the instruments of our own performance, and to be effective, we need to recognize the importance of taking time regularly to sharpen the saw.” (Steven R. Covey)
Satisfaction of core needs
(friends, social groups, you name it)
Make time for the activities that satisfy your core needs. Whatever that may be. Neglecting yourself will make you miserable and will throw you off balance. Go out an enjoy yourself. It will set the foundation for you to be energized for work the next day.
By taking care of your mental, physical and satisfaction level – you invest in your overall energy level which is key to thrive at work and life.
2. Preserve your production capability
Know how to preserve your production capability and energy level. Find your own way to recharge, relax and refuel and implement it into your day.
“In the quest for short-term results, we often forget and neglect the relation between production and preserving the production capability as one crucial aspect of a healthy and effective lifestyle.” (Steven R. Covey)
3. Be proactive
Be proactive – towards yourself, your life, and work by taking action!
At the end of the day, everything you do or don’t do is a choice for either an increased or a decreased energy level. For that reason alone, it will be quite beneficial to take some time to reflect and adapt.
“Sometimes when I consider
what tremendous consequences
come from little things …
I am tempted to think …
There are no little things.”
To sum up, if you just work, give it all you got and just let life outside of work just happen to you instead of consciously taking action, you might burn out sooner or later and lose your ability to be effective. That is a loose/loose situation for everyone involved.
Therefore, start to examine what fires you up what conditions create the perfect space for you to thrive. On the other hand find out what brings you down, develop the ability to listen to your body and rest. Know how to turn it off in order to be able to turn it on again the next day. Understand yourself and start to balance your energy level instead of letting life happen to you while you just give it all you got at work.
Understand yourself and start to balance your energy level instead of letting life happen to you while you just give it all you got at work.
I firmly believe in the power of reading since it opens up a resource of valuable knowledge from decades of already made experiences reflected by other people.
So why not taking some shortcuts?
Don’t get irritated by the title. This book was on my reading list for quite a while but the title somehow didn’t resonate with me. I didn’t read the book until all of a sudden it got recommended by so many people around me that I gave it a chance. Turned out it really is one of the most brilliant books I’ve ever read.
This is one of those books, everybody should’ve read at some point in their life, preferably as early as possible. It had a profound impact on my own life and my personal habits. With 4,5 Stars from 5430 customer reviews and 22,527 ratings on Audible, it feels comfortable to assume that this book changed many other lives as well.
Search Inside Yourself is born out of Google’s core. The author Chade-Meng Tan was one of Google’s earliest engineers. Since he is also a personal growth pioneer, he developed a proven method for enhancing mindfulness and emotional intelligence in life and work. At first, Search Inside Yourself became a successful internal company program for Google’s own employees, but eventually, they decided that the value of what they discovered should spread across the globe.
The idea in a nutshell:
1. Practice mindfulness and awareness to be able to concentrate your mind.
2. Learn to observe your life in a “higher resolution” and eventually being able to step outside yourself and learn to observe your thoughts and actions from a neutral position.
3. Establish the habits of compassion and inner peace.
Drawing from my own experience, meditation is the perfect tool to create a foundation of awareness. The App “Headspace” provides a guided form of meditation in a very pleasing, smooth and gentle way and has become an essential part of my daily morning routine. Search Inside Yourself in combination with Headspace is an amazing combination for paving the path to personal progress.
At the beginning of 2019, I stumbled upon this book by Tom Rath, and it had a profound impact on my own everyday behavior. The beginning of a new year was generally a good time to reflect my habits and behavior patterns. The key idea: Besides having a tight schedule and huge workloads, it is possible to enhance the quality of life by improving the small choices that everybody of us faces every day. This book creates a solid foundation of knowing how the right decision around eating, moving and sleeping lead to more substantial improvements for our health and happiness.
With the right behavior which manifests itself in the small daily decisions we make, one is able to create the foundation for a healthy lifestyle and sustained effectiveness.
Shawn Anchor is one of the worlds leading experts on human potential. The book is based on research from his work with thousands of Fortune 500 executives worldwide and on his work at Harvard University. The book describes seven actionable and proven patterns to develop a new perspective that fuels success and achievement. Highly recommend reading it to improve both, your personal life and your company outcomes.
The statement: “Happiness fuels success, not the other way around.” If you can raise somebodies level of positivity in the present than their brains experiences what he calls a happiness advantage. Once we accept this new order in the working universe, we can change the way we work, interact with colleagues and lead-out teams to give our own career and the whole organization the competitive edge.
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This article was part of the February issue of “The Monthly Archiitect“. Be awesome and help us grow The Monthly Archiitect community. Invite your friends, or other Architects and creative minds to join The Monthly Archiitect and stay in touch on how to work smarter.
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