Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Do you have a business warm-up routine?

The start of my in-the-office-days is unexciting: a cup of peppermint tea, checking email, and catching up with gossip before settling down to work. Nothing unusual, but not terribly inspiring either. It doesn’t really set the scene for a high performance day.

Of course a meeting is different: I prepare differently, think differently, and take time to get myself ready. What a contrast! The day in the office I handle routinely (because it is), whilst meetings I give the respect and care they deserve.

Yet I spend far more time at my desk than I do in meetings. I get far more done at my desk than I do in meetings. My overall results are influenced every bit as much by my work in the office as those all-important meetings. So why don’t I prepare as carefully for a routine day?

My gym routine fares better. I always start with 20-30 minutes on the bike as a low impact way to get my body used to the idea of physical work. The warm-up prepares me mentally and physically for the exercise session to follow. It’s the norm in the gym; everyone knows you have to warm-up first.

Some days I get into the office already firing on all four with a clear view of everything I want to accomplish - days when I’ve done all the planning, and can get straight on with what needs to be done. But there are also days when I stare at the urgent tasks in front of me; a rabbit caught in the headlights of specifications, project plans and paperwork.

My business warm-up routine isn’t nearly as well established as my exercise warm-up. Nor is it setting me up for the high performance results I want. In fact until recently I’ve never really considered the need for a warm-up before the day starts.

Yet business is every bit as demanding as physical exercise. It may tax different muscles, but it needs focus, concentration, and preparation. If only we had business coaches in the same way we have sports coaches; someone to remind us that we have to warm up before starting work. Someone to point out that you have to see success in your mind before you can make success a reality. Someone to say: take 20-30 minutes before the day starts to get in the zone for the challenges that lie ahead.

Business borrows much vocabulary from the sports field, maybe its time to steal a few routines too. Nor only for the physical benefits, but for mental alertness, improving focus on important goals, and getting into high-performance flow mode.

11 comments:

  1. Hi Caroline,

    I work from home, and "office days" are not the norm. If I have one, I often first walk out of the house and down to the corner café to take some time for idea-gathering away from the computer. Usually, after a drink and a bun, I have more overview where the day is going.

    (This may be a hangover from my old office job where I used to use a time management system that included a ten minute planning session each day.)

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