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I just got done reading a book by Scott Eblin called Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative. 

In the book, he states that many professionals feel burned out due to increased responsibilities at work, a corporate downsizing or restructuring, the constant onslaught of technology, or other aspects of modern life. Eblin suggests routines to improve your physical, mental and spiritual health and your relationships through exercise, meditation, reading, connecting with others, and thinking about the big picture. The benefits of being fully present include improved health, decreased stress and stronger relationships.

I have picked what I thought was the best from the book. This small post will serve as your "spark notes" to this leadership book. Enjoy!

“Overworked and Overwhelmed” 

Too many professionals step on the gas all the time and, thus, end up in a chronic fight-or-flight stressful state. Keeping the sympathetic nervous system constantly activated adversely affects a person’s health and can lead to higher blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, insomnia, weight gain, infections and cancer.

Lack of awareness is a barrier to mindfulness, as is distraction, often the result of technology. Research from the University of California at Irvine indicates that interruptions occur every 11 minutes at work and that it takes about 25 minutes to get back to work after an interruption. 

Increasingly, managers and professionals report their lives seem out of control due to economic pressures and to ever-increasing use of technology. As downsized corporations “learned how to do more with less,” their surviving employees faced the “blessing and the curse” of “the rise of the smartphone.” Smartphones can be fun, but they make it, first, possible and, then, nearly necessary to work around the clock. A survey of executives, managers and professionals (EMPs) found that a typical smartphone-wielding EMP “is interacting with work” 72 hours of each 168-hour week, or about 43% of the time. Factor in sleeping, eating and grooming, and EMPs have only 40 hours a week – about 24% of their time – for other activities or leisure. 

Building Strong Relationships 

When your interactions with others suffer because you’re not fully present, your work also suffers, your health declines, and “your humanity” wanes. A meta-analysis of 148 different studies examining the social habits of more than 300,000 people worldwide found that “having weak relationships is more harmful than not exercising, twice as bad as being obese, and about as bad as being an alcoholic or smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.” 

Your strengths can become weaknesses if you hoard opportunities and don’t delegate. Let your team shine instead of doing everything yourself. “Working too hard to be good at stuff that you’re just not wired to be good at” is the major factor that hampers being at your best. As you challenge yourself to succeed, be aware of your true strengths and weaknesses. 

Setting Routines for Mind and Body

Effective time management fuels mindfulness. Investigate how you spend your time. Find your rhythm, so you can do your work when you’re at your peak energy. Some executives process their most important work first and tackle emails and the like later in the day. Others set specific hours for mundane tasks. High-capacity professionals schedule time for unfiltered thinking to spark creativity, say no with ease, and are clear about their boundaries.

A healthy body supports a healthy mind, active spirit, and good relationships. Simply moving around decreases stress hormones, refreshes thinking, and makes you more productive and confident. The best movement routine is “the one you’re likely to do.” Practice your physical routine with others. Eat healthier to develop better nutrition habits.

Don’t neglect sleeping. Medical experts recommend seven to eight hours a night, but most Americans get less than seven. For improved sleep, go to bed and wake up at scheduled times, even on weekends. Limit food and drink within two or three hours of going to sleep. As bedtime nears, avoid electronic screens and don’t work out. “Keep your bedroom quiet, cool and dark.” 

Perseverance on Your Journey

Stay with your routines, but give yourself permission to make mistakes. It may take time to analyze which routines work best for your natural rhythms. When in doubt, “pick the routines that are easy to do and likely to make a difference.” Schedule routines that reinforce your most important goals. Recruit your friends to help you. 

“As they say in the military, no plan survives first contact. Life is a process of adjustments.”