Be Well, Work Well is all about everyday behaviors and habits that fuel our four dimensions of energy—physical, emotional, mental and spiritual—which are proven to help us become our best selves, personally and professionally. The Habit Bank is intended to provide some inspiration for habits that can energize you in each dimension. To maximize your success, we recommend you focus on starting just two new habits at a time, and that you try and keep it up for at least 21 days. It’s the best way to get them to stick! Share your chosen habit(s) with a friend to help keep each other accountable.
The behaviors suggested in the Habit Bank fall under three categories:
is your fundamental source of energy—your energy expenditure should be balanced with intermittent energy renewal, so you perform at your best in a sustainable way.
Improve your physical well-being with these individual, team and quick win habits.
Projects usually take as much time as is in the schedule or more—rarely less. The same goes with meetings. Keep meetings quick, concise and efficient by standing for short meetings. Standing creates a sense of urgency, keeping meetings on topic and to the point. An added benefit—you’ll be more focused and engaged.
Discuss the importance of sleep and preferred sleeping and waking times. This will foster consideration of scheduling early or late meetings: deadlines, flights, etc., so everyone meets their physical energy needs. Don’t use it as a way to try and schedule more in a day!
When you’re busy and deadlines are looming, it’s easy to lose track of time or power through, but skipping lunch leads to lower productivity, irritability, fatigue and a lack of concentration. Prioritize meal time by blocking off time in your calendar.
Choose snacks high in lean protein and low in sugar and simple carbohydrates (e.g., unsalted raw nuts, carrots or celery sticks, hummus, etc.,) to maintain your energy throughout the day.
Scientists have found that even mild dehydration can lead to decreased cognitive ability and a negative impact on mood and stamina. So don’t forget to drink eight cups of water a day (64 oz). Keep a glass of water at your desk and refill it every hour (which also is a reminder to get up and walk around!), or use a large water bottle to track your daily water intake.
If you’re feeling tired, stressed or fidgety at work, you may find relief in a rather unexpected place: exercise. According to this blog, employees who exercise during the workday are more productive, happier and have more energy than those who don’t. Take a break and get active, even if it’s just standing up doing a lap around the office once every hour or two.
Commit to getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night. An hour more of work is not worth one hour less of sleep. You’ll find yourself feeling healthier, more productive and cultivating better relationships.
Make your bedroom a serene, comfortable and device-free zone. Add a new ritual: a cup of herbal tea, a hot shower or bubble bath, a few minutes of reading (nothing suspenseful!) or meditation. Quality sleep sets you up to have a more productive day tomorrow. In the end, you’ll end up getting more done and will feel less stressed.
Do you wake up feeling tired? Are you having trouble falling asleep? Track your sleep to see how you can change your habits to promote a longer and more restful night’s sleep. Note when you go to bed and when you wake up, along with any medications or supplements you are taking and caffeine intake. Over time, you will noticed trends that illuminate habits you should change, such as no coffee after 3p.m.
If you struggle to fall asleep because you can’t shut your mind off, put a pad of paper and a pen beside your bed. Whatever you’re worrying about before you go to sleep, write it down. Do the same if you tend to wake up in the middle of the light. This is a powerful way to calm your mind, freeing up memory in your brain so you can get a better night’s sleep.
If you find you’re eating too much or you are skipping meals too often, log your eating habits for a week. Tracking what, how much and when you eat is the first step to changing your eating habits.
Make your commute earth-friendly and reduce your carbon footprint by biking to work at least twice a week.
Schedule a workout in your calendar and make it happen. Breaking a sweat has a variety of health benefits, such as lowering stress levels and increasing energy, which help you stay focused and feeling positive.
is your internal climate from which you act and react. Your emotions impact your performance, so the higher your reservoir of positive emotions, the more resilient you are.
Improve your emotional well-being with these individual, team and quick win habits.
People who practice gratitude consistently report greater physical, emotional and mental well-being. Make a habit of thanking your team members for their help throughout the day. Send a thank you note, text or tweet someone, and be specific about how they made an impact. Encourage your team members to recognize others too.
Have a daily laugh with your team. Encourage everyone to share a fun fact, some trivia or a funny video clip each day and take a break to enjoy each other.
Stepping outside for 15 minutes a day has been linked to better mental health—and simply looking at scenic photos can increase positivity, happiness and emotional stability. Try a ‘Vitamin D at 3’ break and step outside at 3p.m. each day or a ‘Pause for positivity’ break and look at a few scenic pictures.
End your day by thinking of five things that you were grateful for that day. It could be as simple as the electricity that powered your kettle, the water you enjoyed today or a client thanking you for your work on a project. Take it one step further by jotting your gratitudes down in a notebook and challenging yourself not to repeat anything.
Stress is entirely driven by how you choose to react. Tell yourself the most realistically optimistic story and ask yourself: “Is there a more hopeful and empowering story I can tell without denying the facts?” Inform your team members if you catch them reacting negatively. Sometimes we don’t realize we’re doing it!
If you notice you’re feeling tense, take a break away from your desk or task at hand. Set a calendar reminder to check in once or twice a day: Are you rushing for no reason? How tight are you clutching your pen? How furiously are you typing? Are you clenching your jaw? Are your palms sweaty? How close are you leaning into your screen?
Get to know your colleagues so your brain can shift focus for a bit. Encourage participation in discussions about people’s backgrounds, interests and experiences by implementing Cultural Mondays or Team Tuesdays where team members share fun facts about themselves. These activities build a greater sense of community and trust among your team.
Give the people you're talking to or meeting with today your full, focused attention. At the most basic level, listening makes others feel valued and appreciated.
Begin a meeting by asking each team member a simple question: “How are you feeling today?” Encourage responses that express emotion and state, not just ‘fine’ or ‘good.’ Sharing what we’re feeling in simple terms helps us to better contain and manage even the most difficult emotions. By naming them out loud, we are effectively taking responsibility for them, making it less likely that rogue feelings will spill out at the expense of others during the day.
With each win—big or small—take a moment to celebrate your success as a team. Celebrating can be as simple as pausing for a moment at the beginning of a meeting and giving a round of high fives or can be as robust as a team dinner after the successful completion of a project.
Regardless of the win you are celebrating, taking time to honor the hard work will allow you to appreciate the outcome, recognize the effort that went into the work and spread feelings of value across the team.
Initiate weekly challenges with your team, rotating who develops it each week to keep things creative. Announce and recognize the winners during weekly team calls. Some challenge ideas include:
Stay connected and maintain team relationships by scheduling a virtual lunch, coffee break or happy hour with your team. Use video so you can see each other and enhance the virtual experience.
To spark creativity or recenter your focus, try a change of scenery and spend part of your day experiencing the different workspaces around you. When working from home, test out different rooms, work by a window or try an outdoor space. When working in the office, try a private ‘telephone’ booth, group booth, comfy chair or walking desk.
is your ability to drive focus and direct your attention at will—your attention is like any other muscle, the more you train it, the stronger it gets.
Improve your mental well-being with these individual, team and quick win habits.
Setting a time limit for every task no matter how small can make you incredibly efficient in maximizing time at work and checking items off your to-do list.
Check your cell phones and computers at the door when participating in a meeting – except for the person leading a presentation or taking meeting notes.
The constant dinging of emails, reminders, texts, tweets, etc., is distracting and interrupts your concentration. Turn notifications off to give yourself the space to focus on one thing at a time. You can always turn notifications on if you’re expecting something important or aren’t in a place where and when you’re trying to concentrate.
Resist the urge to continually refresh your inbox. Set specific times to manage your email to allow for absorbed focus. Share when you plan to manage your email by including a note in your email signature or with an autoresponder.
Try a ‘no phones during lunch’ or a ‘device-free commute’ to give your mind the space to renew and unwind. Try turning off your chat and email alerts at intervals during the day to allow yourself a distraction-free, focused sprint to complete a task or to simply mentally re-energize.
Incorporate meditation into your work day. Start small with three minutes to quiet your mind by focusing on your breathing. This will release tension, refresh your mind and prepare you for what’s next. Meditation is great for stress reduction, a powerful way to connect to your inner wisdom and genius and an effective way to train your focus and attention. Be patient—it takes practice to stop mental chatter.
To help others manage their energy and priorities, put an ‘action/input requested’ line complete with due date and time in the body of an email when asking others for help. This will enable them to quickly see any action and deadline and not have to read the entire email unless they need further context.
Foster an environment where team members can freely voice concerns regarding requests or deadlines perceived as unnecessary or unrealistic. Achieve this by initiating daily discussions on priorities and be a champion for your team in challenging unnecessary or unrealistic requests.
Taking a break from the task at hand helps your brain refresh and work harder and more efficiently. The most effective breaks are spent away from all screens. The best break of all is one that makes you feel good—so whether it’s a 20-minute power nap or a 10-minute stroll, know that your brain will always benefit from a little ‘me time.’ And remember, hold yourself accountable for setting boundaries to make sure it happens.
Practice some simple breathing techniques: Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of three, hold your breath for a count of two and exhale completely through your mouth for a count of six. Embed it into your day. Include a short breathing exercise in your meeting agendas.
Practice doing only one thing at a time for a day, working your way up to a week. This means no scrolling through emails on your phone while waiting for your coffee. Keep only one browser tab open at a time and keep a minimum number of programs open on your computer at a time to address a single task. Try to work in uninterrupted 90-minute sprints before taking breaks.
Reading is not only rewarding in itself, but it's also a great attention-building practice. Begin with a subject or genre that demands less absorption and work your way towards books that require more focus. The practice will quiet your mind and lengthen your attention span.
Successful leaders are linked by one common thread—they read and educate themselves daily. Dedicate yourself to constant learning—it’s mentally stimulating and broadens your knowledge. Make your commute or lunch break a learning session. Even 15 minutes a day can add up.
Most of us have the highest energy and the fewest distractions at the beginning of the day. Decide the night before on the most important task for the next day. Try to do it first thing for 60 to 90 minutes without interruption.
Keep meetings and calls small. Other team members can always get up to speed via a shared minutes app that tracks all meeting notes in real time (when possible) and any post-meeting actions.
Don't let your earned time go unused. We need to take time off to renew and those who take time off to recharge are healthier and happier than those who don't disconnect from work. Plus, having time off on the calendar gives you something to look forward to!
Each month, review your calendar and think about which meetings are critical for you to join, which can be held without you and consider saying ‘no.' Also, look at personal obligations that fulfill you and those that drain or stress you and find a way to reduce or restructure your commitment.
Set ‘no email’ zones with your team (e.g., no emails between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.). Leverage the 'schedule send' feature within Gmail to schedule emails for the next morning. Be mindful that your recipients may be in different time zones from you!
Increase your delegation skills by reviewing your responsibilities and identifying one task each week to delegate to someone else. Delegating creates capacity for yourself and provides development opportunities for others.
When working from home the line between 'home' and 'work' can become blurred. Create a shutdown ritual as a mental signal that it's the end of your workday. Examples include shutting down your laptop, signing out of chat, not checking emails past a certain time each day or scheduling an errand or workout at the end of your day.
Assuming positive intent at work means to consciously choose to believe our coworkers are operating with the best intentions in mind. Take a pause and look at the situations you encounter today. Is your internal story positive or negative? When we choose to assume positive intent, we find ourselves more times than not, having better relationships, higher quality communication, stronger bonds of trust and the opportunities for growth and rewards are plentiful.
Block your calendar or agree as a team to no emails, calls or hangouts when you need guilt-free, uninterrupted time to renew, including on evenings and weekends. And, unapologetically stick to your plan!
Incorporate 25-, 60- or 90-minute work sprints into your week to focus on a client project, learn something new or check off that item on your to-do list that's been lingering for a few weeks. Close your inbox and shut off notifications so you can focus on the task at hand more easily.
taps into your individual core values and purpose—you serve yourself and others best when you act in alignment with your values.
Improve your spiritual well-being with these individual, team and quick win habits.
Put the most important tasks for your day on your calendar. By doing this, you’re more likely to actually spend time doing what’s important to you. Block time for activities, such as diving into a new podcast to learn something new, calling that friend or colleague you’ve been meaning to connect with or reflecting on how to achieve your personal and professional goals. Use reminders like your phone alarm or calendar reminders to hold yourself accountable. Invite a coworker or friend to do the same for greater accountability.
Rather than saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity, consider your values and purpose to make a conscious decision about what you do and don’t need to do or be a part of. Understand what is important to you and use it to filter through opportunities and tasks, allowing you to prioritize, hone in on and seek out those that connect to something personally meaningful.
Create structure in your day by establishing daily goals to help set the tone for your day, no matter the setting. Start every day by identifying what's most aligned to your purpose and goals. By setting your intention each day, you are consistently connecting your work back to your greater purpose—a powerful source of spiritual energy.
Replace 15 minutes of TV, social media or other similar activities with something that enriches, recharges or renews you, such as sharing a random act of kindness or reading a new book. Remembering how energized or fulfilled you feel after doing more meaningful activities will make you think twice before scrolling through a social feed.
Place a visual cue at your workspace—physical or digital—that reconnects your work to a larger purpose. Maybe it's a thank you note from a client or colleague or a personal or team photo. No permanent workspace? Update your desktop background image or add a digital sticky note reminding you of your ‘why.’
Rather than focus on the aspects of your job that you enjoy less, think about the aspects that you find most challenging and meaningful and create a plan to spend more time doing those activities. Rather than always leaving those aspects as a reward after completing less fulfilling tasks, use them intermittently to fuel and refresh you.
Each quarter, make a list of your current voluntary activities and involvement—at work and in your personal life. Think about which ones fulfill you and which ones drain or stress you. For those not meaningful to you, consider transitioning one of the other activities to something else that contributes to your sense of purpose.
On your next project, make sure that its greater purpose is clear; if not, ask why it is important and what role it will play in achieving broader project, team or practice goals. Make a habit of talking about ‘why’ with your team.
Consider what relationships or types of relationships are most fulfilling in your work today. Is it being a mentor or mentee? A trusted advisor? A loyal friend? A reliable teammate? At the start of each week, find a meeting or project already on your calendar or to-do list (or go seek them out!), that will give you an opportunity to build on a relationship that matters to you.
To begin each week, reflect on one area of your work or personal life where you want to make a bigger impact. Identify meetings, tasks or other projects already on your week’s schedule that can help you amplify your impact. You can do this by teaching someone something new, better understanding the needs of those around you or seeking out the expertise of someone outside of your team.
Think about activities that help you grow, personally or professionally. Review your calendar and task list at the start of each week to identify three growth opportunities. Those could be asking for feedback from your team, having a colleague share their favorite tech tip or experimenting with a new approach or process.
Giving back can have a positive impact on you and your community. Volunteering builds empathy, strengthens relationships and makes you happier. Find a cause that you're passionate about and share your skills. Find volunteer opportunities within your organization or community and make a difference.
Leadership Development & Well-being Leader, PwC US
Director, Well-being Strategy Leader, PwC US