Ready or not, 2021 has begun. Take a deep breath with us, find your centre, and let’s make this year count.

We made it to 2021. That’s worth a smile even if the year ahead is still a little uncertain. How will we all deal with this new rollercoaster year? Team Wetu would rather focus on the things we can control, and accept the things we can’t control.

We’ve researched the best hacks to support the new normal and maintain a positive attitude, no matter what the year throws at us, because it’s easier to deal with and overcome difficulties with a good attitude, and a smile.

We share our findings with you, divided into three categories: focusing on what we control; tips to stress less; and ways to work smarter, not harder.

1. Control What You Can

We can’t control the outcome, but we can control our actions.

The first and toughest truth to accept is that we can all choose our actions, if not the outcome. Even with hard work, we can still fail to achieve business goals. The power of focusing on what we can do – how well we do the work before us – is that we put our energy and attention into constructive, useful outcomes, instead of fear and worry.

Taking the right action consistently is helpful and makes us more effective. So, what sort of things can you control?

  • Mindset: your thoughts and beliefs shape how you feel, what you think, and do. Mindset governs attitude. Attitude determines how positive and persistent you are. So, your mindset can help you cope and even thrive in challenging times.
  • Work ethic: it’s the reason you work hard and take pride in what you do. It’s demonstrated in how you show up every day to do your best, to be good to your teammates, determined to go the extra mile (or 10!) to get results.
  • Care for others: most of us learned this Golden Rule as kids, to treat others as you want to be treated. In difficult times, being the colleague who brings kindness, consideration, respect and humour to a team, makes a huge difference.
  • Self-care: we all know it’s important to eat nutritious food, get enough sleep, stay hydrated, and make time for fitness and relaxation. This balance is usually the first casualty of a busy work life; so build self-care into your daily planner.

2. Stress Less

Focusing on what we can control takes discipline.

Worrying about things we can’t control has a nasty way of soaking up time and energy, but it’s a natural response to all the bad news headlines flying at us. We need to become protective of our energy – when stress pops up, we ask: can I control or influence this? If the answer is yes, we take action. If the answer is no, we have to let it go and redirect our energy into the next task.

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that feeling helpless and overwhelmed can be hard to shake off once it takes hold. Stress is sneaky. We start the year, week, or day with the best intentions and a reasonable To Do list. Suddenly, we’re struggling through a storm of curve balls and giving into unproductive worry and bad habits (we see you, cookies).

Follow these simple habits to protect yourself from overwhelm:

  • Tidy desk, tidy mind: at the end of the day, tidy your desk and make a short to-do list for the next day. Write it down so it’s the first thing you see when you sit down, making it easier to crack on with your priorities, and harder to be distracted. Turn this into your ritual for closing off the day, and you’ll start each morning in a great space.
  • Organise your computer: clear your desktop of distractions and set your browser tabs for the next day’s priorities. Decide what notifications to allow – be ruthless about pesky pop-ups that swallow your attention and break your concentration. Sort out your folders, inbox, and the programmes you use most – keep your priorities easy to find and use.
  • Create a focus ritual: give the Pomodoro technique a try – its 25-minute focus period is an ideal block of time to be productive, and the timer creates a useful sense of urgency to reduce procrastination. Also try meditation apps that encourage mindful breathing or listening to nature sounds for a few minutes. Mindful breathing is an ideal, super easy focus ritual to schedule every hour to 90 minutes – try doing it standing up, and combat the physical fatigue that comes with being desk-bound all day.

If you’re feeling totally spent, don’t fight it.

We love this piece of advice. We’ve all experienced moments of feeling as useless as a dust bunny. It’s tempting to fight through the fog to get things done, but the simplest way to tackle fatigue is to simply step away. Do something that refuels you or allows your mind to rest – tick off mundane tasks, take a short walk, or get a change of scenery (and an espresso shot!) at a coffee shop.

For those of us working from home, the 20- to 30-minute power nap is a wonderful option. It delivers a better energy boost than caffeine, reduces stress and anxiety, and resets the brain’s ability to focus, analyse and problem-solve. Power naps for the win!

3. Work Smarter Not Harder

Team Wetu loves good tech solutions like astronauts love space. There are so many to explore, and some very smart people constantly developing and improving how we use tech.

We’ve uncovered these hacks to get you working smarter, not harder, this year:

  • Technology: even geeks like us find it helpful to regularly identify bottlenecks and complex tasks in the workflow. Try to look for solutions that ease specific points of friction. This yields meaningful search results and allows you to compare tools that will actually solve the problem you need solved. Most online tools offer demos and live chat staffed by helpful techies – use these resources to find your best solutions.
  • Automate: try automating repetitive and routine tasks as much as possible. Collect information via forms (we love Google forms), use your website analytics to learn about your customers, and set up your team tasks a month or more in advance. Save time by setting up auto-responders to simplify inbox management, and directing non-priority emails into their own folder. Create templates for tasks you do regularly, like presentations, correspondence, and reports.
  • Simplify: start by reducing paperwork wherever possible – keeping everything electronic makes it easier to store, find and automate business documentation. Reduce the number of decisions you have to make on any given day. Decision fatigue is no joke – it causes avoidable mistakes and ramps up stress; so put whatever decisions you can on autopilot. For some, that’s creating a work “uniform” so you don’t waste energy deciding what to wear. For others, it’s prepping meals on a Sunday so you don’t need to think about lunch and dinner during the week.

Here we go

Hopefully some of our ideas are useful to you as you get stuck into the work and demands of 2021. The past year taught us to adapt thoughtfully to the uncertainties of a global pandemic. We believe the ideas we’ve shared will bring you simplicity, focus and steady progress. So, try the ones that appeal to you and adopt what makes your work easier and happier.

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