A Few Tips for Conserving Your Time and Energy
When working in a team, you should know how to organize yourself in order to manage your individual work and the collective phases (meetings, requests from your fellow team members, clients, manager, etc.).
Here are a few methods to help you manage your time:
The Pomodoro Technique
This technique gets its name from its Italian inventor, who used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato 🍅 (or pomodoro in Italian 😉).
At one time or another, we’ve all accomplished a task more efficiently because we were short on time (i.e., a train to catch).
Go about it like this:
Safeguard your internal and external appointments by synchronizing all your electronic calendars, using alerts so as not to forget any. Plan ahead for traveling time using the Plans application (which calculates the time and alerts you when you need to leave).
In your schedule, define work slots of 2 hours at a time.
Break each 2-hour slot down into 4 detailed tasks, listed on a to-do list. 🙂
Complete four 25-minute timed sessions (1 session = 1 task), using your smartphone’s timer.
The sessions are interspersed with 5-minute breaks.
As you complete each mini-task, cross it proudly off your to-do list.
At the end of the fourth session, take a 15-minute break and give yourself a reward. 😎
The 2-20-2-2 method
This is the method I recommend for dealing with so-called “urgent” requests from above, from fellow team members or from external partners.
Except where the request immediately and unambiguously specifies the degree of urgency, in all other cases, it’s your own perception that categorizes it as such. Askers can often wait a certain time, letting you stick to your own work schedule.
Assessing the time needed to deal with the request
I’ll do it right away.
I’ll do it as soon as I’ve finished.
I’ll negotiate the deadline or the deliverable.
I’ll inform my manager and/or ask for the priorities to be revised.
Know How to Say “No” While Remaining Positive
It’s possible to say “no” in order to respect your own needs, without making the other person feel guilty.
Go about this in three stages:
State the facts: “I’m not going to be able to have lunch with you at noon after all” or “I can’t deal with this call for tenders.”
Talk about your needs: “I need to get in some activity to unwind” or “I don’t know the field well and I’m liable to make mistakes.”
Look for another option: “I’m up for dinner with the whole team any time you like!” or “Do you think I can get a training course?” or “Maybe I can help you with something else?” or “Can you think of anyone else to take care of it?”
The Jackpot Question
Sometimes requests you receive are not clear and become time-consuming. Or the enthusiastic asker doesn’t realize they are monopolizing you. You can then launch the “jackpot question,” which may cause a short silence followed by rapid clarification.
Manage Your Motivation
There are phases where working in a team increases your motivation and gives you a boost – and others where it saps your energy. You must learn to manage your motivation, as it’s not just your manager’s responsibility!
To do this, you can work on three levels:
Increase your personal coherency.
Anchor your resources and know how to bring your positive internal states into play.
Know how to maintain perspective and let go.
1) Increase Your Personal Coherency
Take Stock of Your Objectives Using Your Four Brains
In order to mobilize your four brains:
Describe your objective (in terms of steps and processes) using words: The left neocortex (language, logic) is speaking.
Then draw, or make a collage, using the images and symbols that appear in your vision of your objective: Here, the right neocortex (imagination, analogies, intuition) is expressing itself.
Now, imagine you have achieved your objective. Describe what you are feeling in terms of emotions, feelings and the physical effects of this perception. This is your median brain revealing itself.
Lastly, concentrate on the sensory experience, the gestures, the relationship with space and movement that is involved in accomplishing your objective (I visit all our sales outlets, I smile, I shake hands, I assemble a prototype, etc.). This time the cerebellum, the movement brain, is working.
Deepen your visions. Use “visioning” to get your four brains in harmony.
Align Yourself With Your Fundamental Values
In the first part of this course, in the Understand the Way You Function chapter, you explored your value system and defined the seven values that are the most fundamental for you.
In order to align yourself to your values:
Pick the four most important ones (e.g., 1. success, 2. sharing, 3. freedom, 4. justice).
Identify the daily actions and tasks that are in line with each of these values.
Assess the time taken up each day by the tasks that are in line with your four values.
2) Anchor Your Resources: Bring Positive Internal States Into Play
Identify Your Energy Reserves
The energy reserves on which you draw are fed by your fundamental needs being satisfied.
Go back to the detailed Maslow pyramid in the very first chapter of this course and assess your levels of satisfaction.
As soon as certain levels are insufficient, begin taking long-term measures and, while waiting, balance with out-of-work activities.
Get Rid of Interference
Make a list of 10 situations, attitudes (your own, other people’s) or thoughts that generate interference for you.
Assess the cost/benefit ratio of keeping these sources of “interference.”
Decide to rid yourself of the interference by elimination or changing.
You’ve done your troubleshooting and decide to change your habits.
Then, choose to anchor your resource states (e.g., being calm and serene during an oral presentation or being assertive in sales negotiations). To do this:
Imagine and rehearse the situation.
Go through the gestures, speak the words, adapt your posture and your breathing in accordance with the state you want.
Repeat this anchoring three times, then regularly: Your four brains will remember this when you are in the real situation!
3) Maintain Perspective and Let Go
Because it involves confronting the unknown and creates interdependency between fellow team members, working in a team can generate stress in those who have a need for security that expresses itself as a desire for maximum control. You must be able to maintain perspective to preserve your own well-being and motivation.
Stress is a phenomenon that is distinct from emotions. It is a reaction to the feeling of not being in charge, losing control and not having the means for the performance expected. It aggravates emotional oversensitivity; but while an emotion is triggered by an event or current situation, and hence a real detonator, stress, however, concerns the future and is most often based on the anticipation of unpleasantness to come.
If you think back over the irritations of your day at work when you go home in the evening, if you go back the next morning in the same mood, if you find yourself increasingly bearing grudges, it means you’re dwelling on things too much: You need to learn to let go.
Each time your are dwelling on something, ask yourself these questions:
Does this situation really justify my getting myself into this state?
Will I lose face if I give up my own proposal and adopt someone else’s?
What if today I allowed myself to say to a fellow team-member: “You’re right”?
The two exercises I’m suggesting to you below will enable you to start letting go and gain the serenity needed for relations with your fellow team members. They are preventive as much as curative. In the case of chronic stress with psychosomatic symptoms (backache, pain, headaches, dizziness), don’t be afraid to consult a specialist in order to pursue a more systematic anti-stress plan: Serenity is possible!
Exercise 1: Cardiac Coherence (3 min): Practice while sitting comfortably with your back well supported. Breathe in and out deeply, 6 times per minute (i.e., breathe in for 5 seconds and out for 5 seconds). Set a stopwatch for 3 minutes. With a little practice, you’ll be able to do it without even thinking. To help you stay concentrated on your breathing rather than on counting the seconds, close your eyes and draw oscillations at the rhythm of your breathing (upwards for breathing in, downwards for breathing out) on a piece of paper. When the alarm goes off, check you are getting gradually closer to 6 oscillations/minute (i.e., 18 oscillations for the whole exercise). This slow rhythm allows your heart rate to be in sync with your breathing.
Exercise 2: Full Consciousness (3 min): Concentrate on taking deep, calm breaths. Be in the present moment and awaken your sensory perceptions (sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste). Multiple thoughts will present themselves. Don’t try to hold them back. Welcome them in and observe what they provoke in you physically and in your physical posture. Note the movements that escape you. Don’t stop concentrating on your breathing. The more you practice this so-called “full consciousness” meditation, the more the endless film of your spurious thoughts will be appeased.
In Conclusion: Choose Serendipity
Have you heard of serendipity?
Serendipity is, simply put, an unplanned yet fortunate discovery. This applies to our mindset as well: it’s an optimistic attitude of being open to unexpected events and an ability to find opportunities and pleasure in change.
Serendipity is also a way of feeding one’s motivation: knowing that by your open attitude, you will be able to make the most of unforeseen events!
This Work Effectively in a Team course is coming to an end. I hope you’ve found some techniques, methods and tips that will be helpful to you in your onward journey as a great team player.