Changing Gears

This post was written by Hannah Morris, Director of Assessment & Advancement at The Latimer Group.

If you were fortunate enough to have some time away from work, whether it was a couple days or a longer stretch, you may have experienced and/or may be currently facing the challenge of changing gears.

At the end of a busy stretch, it can be very hard to slow the spinning gears. Even when we have stepped away from our work, we find our minds returning repeatedly to recent conversations and unfinished business. It can take a few days to truly downshift and decompress; but when we do, the reward is great. Taking these opportunities to separate ourselves from work and focus entirely on other parts of our lives is highly restorative. It sets us up for future success and helps us avoid burnout.

But then when it is time to return, we can feel sluggish. We are out of our routines and now need to expend extra energy to get back into gear and rebuild the momentum we once had. Inertia is a strong force to fight against.

How do we jumpstart ourselves to get back to high-level functioning as quickly as possible?

The answer I have found lies in the connection between our bodies and minds. To stimulate my mind and reengage the mental overdrive that was the key to prior success, I need to move.

First, to increase productivity and remind myself how to complete tasks which are now less facile and familiar, I need to increase my heartrate and blood flow. Three to five minutes of exercise – some jumping jacks, planks, squats, etc. – will achieve this. When I then return to my desk (easier to do now that my desk is in my home office, i.e. bedroom), I am more alert. I move more quickly and with greater focus and precision.

Second, to increase creativity and get the ideas flowing again, I need to walk. If I have a problem to solve and need to consider different angles, or want to brainstorm a new concept, walking is the answer. I like to do this outside, on the trails, with my dog, and I have taken to calling the results of these outings “Dog-walk Epiphanies”; I credit them with my best thinking and writing. Research says that this can take place indoors and be just as effective to stimulate creative thinking.

In the pandemic, many people are now incorporating walking meetings – a strategy touted decades ago by Steve Jobs – into their routines and finding additional benefits in improved listening and interpersonal connection, and, of course, physical health.

Indeed, all of these strategies can be employed throughout the year to help us sustain high levels of work, but they are especially important when we seek to emerge from a period of stasis, where the wheels are turning, but not as intentionally or efficiently as we would like.

So, however you got there, when you are engaged in the process of changing gears to increase productivity and creativity, consider incorporating movement into your routine.

Happy New Year.

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

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5 responses to “Changing Gears”

  1. frederick nicholas says:

    Not concerned about changing gears; Am concerned about gaining years! Saludos Derick

  2. Ralph Alldredge says:

    The “brain bath” of blood energized with the chemistry of an active body also helps relieve stress in addition to boosting productivity and creativity. Win/win/win.

  3. Hannah A. Morris Hannah Morris says:

    No doubt! There’s nothing new here — the Romans were right with “mens sana in corpore sano.”

  4. Hannah A. Morris Hannah Morris says:

    Interestingly enough, the same advice applies!

  5. Dean Brenner says:

    Great to hear from you, Ralph! Thanks for reading and participating!

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Hannah Morris

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.