Canadian Lawyer InHouse

August/September 2020

Legal news and trends for Canadian in-house counsel and c-suite executives

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www.canadianlawyermag.com/inhouse 39 Aytekin Tank is founder and CEO of JotForm, an online form creation software with four million users worldwide and more than 100 employees. A developer by trade but writer by heart, Aytekin shares stories about how he exponentially grew his company without receiving any outside funding. Even more striking? Distractions make us unhappy. As Killingworth explains, "Mind- wandering is an excellent predictor of people's happiness. In fact, how often our minds leave the present and where they tend to go is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged." That's a stunning thought: Being focused can actually make you feel better, regardless of what you're doing. From starting a business to finishing a spreadsheet (without checking Instagram), single-tasking will not only help you achieve great results, but you'll enjoy the process a lot more. Startup gurus and productivity experts have endless suggestions to help you stay focused, but here's what consistently works for me: Box your time. Creating time limits is oddly motivating (and effective). Whatever you want to do, try "boxing" it into a set time period and ignore distractions, including email, calls, texts, making coffee, alphabet- izing your bookshelf or grooming the cat. Get laser-focused for that set period of time and then take a break. Repeat as needed. You can apply this same principle to projects, teams, products or just about anything else that requires true focus. Box your energy. We all have energy limits. Even the so-called "sleepless elite" (high performers like Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi and fashion designer Tom Ford) will eventually run out of fuel. Doing one thing at a time will preserve your precious energy. And just like time boxing, you can get even more intentional about shifting your energy toward what matters. For example, if I have a big interview or presentation on my calendar, I'm careful about what I schedule around it. I try to avoid meetings. I get more sleep. I eat more leafy greens and I do what I can to stay relaxed. I'm "boxing" my energy toward an important goal. Make a clean break In June 2018, the makers of a message board app surveyed more than 11,000 employees at 30 of the biggest technology companies. They asked: Are you currently suffering from job burnout? More than 57% of participants said yes. Many people are struggling to stay on what can feel like a treadmill without a "stop" button. The tech-fuelled blur between work and personal time can be difficult — and confusing. And if you're an entrepreneur or business owner, it's all in your hands. The solution? Create as many boundaries as you can, within your sphere of influence. As much as possible, separate work from your personal life. I know this might sound overly simple, but even if you work from home, it's up to you to create real limits. Even if you're working hard to build a business or accomplish great things, downtime is not optional. Your body needs to recover, your brain needs to consolidate all those inputs, and you'll be infinitely happier and more productive if you give yourself a break. Set office hours, for example, and don't clock in outside those periods. When I leave the office, I do everything I can to leave work there, too. I want to be present for my family. I want to enjoy my time with them — and I need to rest and recover. I don't work on the weekends, either. If I do have a new idea on Sunday afternoon, for example, I'll send a quick note to myself (but I won't dig into it). If I want to share something with a team member, I will send them an email, but I'll write "FOR MONDAY" in the subject line. If I see emails at night, I remind people that they should wait until the next morning (and then I try to take my own advice). Take real time off I can't say it enough. Even if you're working hard to build a business or accomplish great things, downtime is not optional. You need to rest. Your body needs to recover, your brain needs to consolidate all those inputs and you'll be infinitely happier and more productive if you give yourself a break. The data confirms it: After a vacation, 64% of people say they're "refreshed and excited to get back to [their] job." Hiking in nature and staying disconnected from all devices for four days can lead to a 50% spike in creativity. If employees took just one extra day of paid leave each year, the result would add $73 billion in output to the U.S. economy. So, whether you're crafting a business plan, writing a novel, lifting weights or perfecting your Bolognese sauce, give it everything you have. Do that one most important thing and then move on. It's that simple — and that powerful.

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