Vail Symposium event highlights helpful tools for daily living
Does it ever feel like there is not enough time in a day to get everything done? According to the raise of hands that belonged to a majority of the Vail Symposium event audience this past Wednesday morning, a lot of people can relate. Speaker Stephanie Wachman asked the group that question, followed by a poll of stress present in the audience.
“In Vail, do people get stressed?” she asked with a chuckle. “How many of you are stressed?”
Once again, a majority amount of hands popped up.
The 90-minute program began at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday at Colorado Mountain College, put on by the Vail Symposium in collaboration with the Vail Valley Partnership.
Wachman is a certified executive coach, author, public speaker and trainer. She works with all types of organizations, providing them with tools they need to improve their performance, leadership, culture and productivity. She has published a book titled “Own Your Time,” along with the soon-to-be-released title, “Sales Without Selling.”
The session focused on how to manage your time, energy and stress more effectively and efficiently.
“The talk today is not about how you can use Outlook better,” Wachman said. “It’s about your behaviors. You all have certain behaviors that impact how you use your time and how you manage your stress.”
Manage Your Mind
It’s all about managing your schedule, Wachman said, and an important element of that process is taking a little time every morning to write down the priority tasks you want to achieve for a successful day.
“If you don’t block time every day to think about what it is that you really need to achieve, then you’re going to get caught in this endless cycle of getting nothing accomplished and just putting out fires,” Wachman said. “My suggestion is every single morning, write down three things that you really want to accomplish that day.”
These accomplishments are related to a greater plan or goal for the month or the year, a project or the entire success of a business, she explained.
Wachman also suggested using a strategy she called “brain dumping.” Since mental clutter can get in the way of vision and clarity, using a notebook to jot down ideas as they come up throughout the day can help clear the mind.
Even with a structured schedule and a clear mind, however, distraction will still arise and disrupt.
“We get distracted during the day,” Wachman said. “People come into out office, we have emails, we have pings and dings and all kinds of things. When we lose our concentration on what we’re working on and we shift our attention, we lose time.”
Each distraction, she said, can make an individual lose up to 25 minutes of productivity.
Some of her suggestions for eliminating distractions include: silencing your phone, shutting your office door, wearing headphones, turning off alarms and pop-ups, setting timers to take breaks, creating boundaries with email and saying “no” to certain things.
“By saying yes to something, you are saying no to something, and by saying no to something, you are saying yes to something else,” Wachman said.
Also, cut out the multitasking.
“Our brains are designed to switch from one task to another — back and forth, back and forth, back and forth,” she said. “So when we try to do too many things at once we are more likely to make mistakes.”
Like the ding of a text message or a social media notification, Wachman said receiving an email releases dopamine into the brain.
“This creates a sort of prehistoric response where we feel the need to check on whatever is going on; to check in with community,” Wachman said. “So when we get that hit of dopamine, a lot of people have a behavior addiction to it and then check their email.”
Wachman provided some tips for managing email. She said to set a timer for 15 minutes and try to get through as many as you can in that time, including deleting, unsubscribing and responding as necessary. Also, don’t check your email all the time, and don’t check it after 8 p.m.
“Again, it’s about setting boundaries and having control of the situation,” she said.
Manage Your Energy
Wachman explained our Ultradian Rhythm, a cycle repeated throughout a 24-hour day. We generally have energy cycles of 90 to 120 minutes of energy, followed by 20 to 30 minutes of fatigue.
“Use your energy wisely,” Wachman said. “If you have great energy in the morning, use that energy on tasks that require focus and concentration.”
Energy and our productivity are also related to stress, shared Wachman, and she encouraged the audience to assist in the release of dopamine and serotonin to help counteract the cortisol and adrenaline that is released from life’s daily stresses. Meditation and exercise are great actions to help counteract stress, Wachman said.
“Laughter is one of the best ways to manage stress,” Wachman added. “And being grateful. Keep a little gratefulness notebook on your desk and use it to write down grateful thoughts.”
In closing, Wachman emphasized that time and stress are completely related, and if you can manage your time it will help you to manage your stress.
“And in the words of Oprah,” Wachman said, “‘Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.’”
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