Why Hiring the Wrong Employee Is One Expensive Mistake

From Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Professionals, written by Ernie Smith.

A recent survey from CareerBuilder suggests that it can cost employers thousands of dollars to make up for an employee who isn’t a good fit. Observers suggest that the problem might be with the person doing the hiring as much as the employee.

We all want to make sure we hire the right person, but sometimes that doesn’t happen—the person isn’t a fit for the role or doesn’t grasp the organization’s needs.

And when an organization gets that wrong, it can get costly—very costly. One recent survey from CareerBuilder put the cost of making a single wrong hire at $14,900 in the past year, a situation that roughly three-in-four employers have dealt with in the past.

The survey, conducted online by the pollsters at Harris, noted that many respondents felt that bad hires had affected productivity (37 percent), cost the employer precious time (32 percent), and hurt the quality of the organization’s work (31 percent).

The report noted that the most likely factors behind the failure of an employee included poor work quality (54 percent), poor attitude (53 percent), work conflicts (50 percent), and attendance problems (46 percent).

Most interestingly, skills deficiencies were a major factor in many cases: In cases when a company made a bad hire, the employee didn’t have the necessary skills (35 percent), or lied about their qualifications (33 percent). And when a worker’s skill didn’t match their claimed abilities, as was the case 45 percent of the time, it often was seen as a sign of a poor hire.

So what’s the reason for bringing on a bad hire? Often, it may lie not with the employee, but the manager, who may not have the right skills for interviewing a potential hire. Arte Nathan, a human resources advisor and founder of The Arte of Motivation, recently told the Society for Human Resource Management that it’s important to consider a person’s interviewing and hiring skills.

“Instead of blaming the person who was hired, we need to blame those who are doing the hiring,” he told SHRM. “There is an assumption that because someone is a manager, they know how to interview and hire the right person for the job. Hiring managers need to know what they are looking for [and] how to ask the right questions, discern candidate responses, and get the right person for the job.”

The recruiting firm Robert Half likewise made the case that it’s easier to hire correctly the first time around, rather than trying to fix an on-staff problem. The firm estimates that it takes 17 weeks to resolve a bad hiring decision, including nearly nine weeks to let the person go.

“The wisest hiring managers put in the time and effort on the front end to make sure they have the best available pool of applicants for every job opening,” the company explained in a blog post earlier this year. “And determine whether they have good procedures in place for evaluating candidates.”

Of course, things could always be worse: You could be replacing someone who you actually want to keep. That, according to the CareerBuilder survey, comes at a cost of $29,600 per employee this year.

 

What words should you never say when being interviewed for a job?

Here are a few that are considered “red flag words” by interviewers. Avoid these because these words don’t do you any favors. I’ve listed alternatives to use instead!

Perfectionist — another word for “procrastinator”

These people often put off work because they are daunted by the expectations. They begin to write a report and can’t get past the first sentence because they are paralyzed by the belief that their first draft has to be flawless. Psychiatrist Dr. Elana Miller, MD, says that perfectionists are often sensitive to criticism and need clearer guidelines so that they don’t waste time on things that are not important.

What the candidate should say instead: detail oriented

Multitasker — another word for “unfocused”

According to current neuroscience research, our brains can not focus on multiple tasks at the same time, but actually switch between tasks quickly, giving us the illusion of multitasking. Meaning, people cannot listen in a meeting and write an email at the same time – they are doing each of these tasks for a few seconds at a time while constantly switching their attention back and forth. While this sounds impressive, serious productivity is lost in both activities.

Candidates may boast that they can move quickly between tasks, but this lack of focus is actually less efficient, increases mistakes, and can be ultimately exhausting. These candidates may have an inhibiting sense of urgency which will lead to them to work hard, but not work smart.

What the candidate should say instead: organized, can work under competing deadlines

People-person — another word for “I don’t understand what this job entails”

This is an especially common word used in interviews for positions in sales, human resources, recruiting, and customer support. “People-person” is a phrase with no meaning, and is usually said by someone who doesn’t understand the demands of the job. You want the candidate to describe him or herself in a way that shows they understand the specific competencies of the job.

What the candidate should say instead: Collaborative, customer-focused, client-facing

Intelligent — another word for “I don’t have to try”

Adults who outright declare themselves as intelligent often take pride in mastering tasks quickly and ranking well among peers. This self-labeling as “intelligent” starts from a young age, as according to the groundbreaking studies by Claudia Mueller and Carol Dweck in 1998.

In a series of experiments on 5th graders, children who were constantly praised for their intelligence preferred easier tasks where they could quickly show mastery and were focused on their competitive standing among others. In contrast, children who were praised for their hard work sought out new challenges and adopted an internal sense of competition of beating their personal best.

These mentalities can follow us to the workplace, and those employees who assert that their intelligence is their greatest strength may display high competitive nature between coworkers, avoidance of unfamiliar tasks, and poor reactions to failure.

What the candidate should say instead: analytical, big-picture thinker, fast learner

By Madeline Mann. This article first appeared on Quora.

Maintaining High Ethical Standards

CMCAs’ Commitment to Following Strict Standards of Professional Conduct

An important – yet often overlooked – component of CAMICB’s Credentialing Program
requires a Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) to adhere to a high standard of ethical conduct. This means Certificants must comply with the 10 CMCA Standards of Professional Conduct, which govern their professional activities.

StandardsFlowChart

Standards Flow Chart

These Standards of Professional Conduct, detailed at http://www.camicb.org/standards, range from understanding laws applicable to community association management, to being knowledgeable on association policies and procedures, to carrying out fiduciary responsibilities, and participating in continuing education coursework. A violation of any of these Standards of Professional Conduct may be grounds for administrative action and possible revocation of the CMCA certification by CAMICB. Abiding by these Standards of Professional Conduct help protect consumers and associations that hire or contract with community association managers.

“When a community association manager earns the CMCA, they’re pledging to uphold a strict code of professional conduct which is critical to the profession,” said Ron Perl, Esq., a Partner at Hill Wallack LLP, who leads the firm’s community association practice group. “This is more than understanding the many facets of community association management and troubleshooting challenging situations, it brings about accountability, responsibility and trust to the individuals the profession serves.” Read more …

 

Wanna Improve Creativity? Work Together, Then Alone

A new academic study with a Harvard Business School pedigree finds that mixing collaborative and isolated creative approaches helps improve consistency while maximizing the potential for something great.

When a project needs to get done, perhaps your instinct is to call a meeting to get stakeholders working together. Or maybe you just want to hole up in your office.

How about both? According to a new study from researchers at three Boston-area universities, you might want to try a variety of strategies when it comes to solving the big problems.

In “How Intermittent Breaks in Interaction Improve Collective Intelligence,” a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers—Harvard Business School associate professor Ethan Bernstein, Boston University business professor Jesse Shore, and Northeastern University professor David Lazer—analyzed a series of three-person groups that conducted a deep-dive into a complex task that required problem-solving skills, judging the results based on their creativity.

The groups varied in their tactics: One worked closely together on the task, a second group worked together occasionally, and a third worked in complete isolation.

The authors anticipated that the group that worked in isolation would come up with the most creative individual solutions, but the solutions wouldn’t be as consistent overall; the authors also expected that those who largely worked together in groups would produce more consistently good solutions, but that the solutions wouldn’t reach greatness. Their research matched existing findings on this front.

But what was new was the finding that mixing isolation and collaboration offered the best of both worlds; the results tended to be more consistent, but faced better odds of going above and beyond.

“Intermittent breaks in interaction improve collective intelligence,” the report states. “Being exposed to diverse answers boosts performance, even if the answers one sees are worse than one’s own.”

Commenting on the research in a news release, Harvard’s Bernstein suggests that the lessons on creativity apply not just to working alone and working together, but also highlight how constant notifications on smart devices can take away some of that isolation.

“As we replace those sorts of intermittent cycles with always-on technologies, we might be diminishing our capacity to solve problems well,” he stated.

The researchers add that some models worth researching in improving your own creative process include hackathons, which often mix interaction and isolation, and the approach of the design and consulting firm IDEO.

By / for Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Executives.

10 things confident people won’t ever do

In The Empire Strikes Back, when Yoda is training Luke to be a Jedi, he demonstrates the power of the Force by raising an X-wing fighter from a swamp. Luke mutters, “I don’t believe it.” Yoda replies, “That is why you fail.”

As usual, Yoda was right — and science backs him up. Numerous studies have proved that confidence is the real key to success.

Studies exploring the performance gap between men and women in math and spatial skills have found that confidence plays a huge role. Women who were asked to identify their gender before taking a spatial skills test performed more poorly than those who weren’t. Women also performed better when they were told to envision themselves as men, and both genders performed better when they were told that their gender is better at the task.

What’s even more interesting is that the gender gap practically disappeared when participants were required to answer every question. Apparently, when the women were allowed to skip questions, they did so not because of a lack of knowledge, but because of a lack of confidence.

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincent Van Gogh

True confidence is very different from egotistical swagger. When people believe in themselves and their abilities without bravado, there are certain things they simply don’t do.

If there’s one trait confident people have in spades, it’s self-efficacy — the belief that they can make things happen. It’s about having an internal locus of control rather than an external one. That’s why you won’t hear confident people blaming traffic for making them late or an unfair boss for their failure to get a promotion. Confident people don’t make excuses, because they believe they’re in control of their own lives.

They don’t quit

Confident people don’t give up the first time something goes wrong. They see both problems and failures as obstacles to overcome rather than impenetrable barriers to success. That doesn’t mean, however, that they keep trying the same thing over and over. One of the first things confident people do when something goes wrong is to figure out why it went wrong and how they can prevent it the next time.

They don’t wait for permission to act

Confident people don’t need somebody to tell them what to do or when to do it. They don’t waste time asking themselves questions like “Can I?” or “Should I?” If they ask themselves anything, it’s “Why wouldn’t I?” Whether it’s running a meeting when the chairperson doesn’t show up or going the extra mile to solve a customer’s problem, it doesn’t even occur to them to wait for somebody else to take care of it. They see what needs to be done, and they do it.

They don’t seek attention

People are turned off by those who are desperate for attention. Confident people know that being yourself is much more effective than trying to prove that you’re important. People catch on to your attitude quickly and are more attracted to the right attitude than what, or how many, people you know. Confident people always seem to bring the right attitude. Confident people are masters of attention diffusion. When they’re receiving attention for an accomplishment, they quickly shift the focus to all the people who worked hard to help get them there. They don’t crave approval or praise because they draw their self-worth from within.

They don’t need constant praise

Have you ever been around somebody who constantly needs to hear how great he or she is? Confident people don’t do that. It goes back to that internal locus of control. They don’t think that their success is dependent on other people’s approval, and they understand that no matter how well they perform, there’s always going to be somebody out there offering nothing but criticism. Confident people also know that the kind of confidence that’s dependent on praise from other people isn’t really confidence at all; it’s narcissism.

They don’t put things off

Why do people procrastinate? Sometimes it’s simply because they’re lazy. A lot of times, though, it’s because they’re afraid — that is, afraid of change, failure, or maybe even success. Confident people don’t put things off. Because they believe in themselves and expect that their actions will lead them closer to their goals, they don’t sit around waiting for the right time or the perfect circumstances. They know that today is the only time that matters. If they think it’s not the right time, they make it the right time.

They don’t pass judgment

Confident people don’t pass judgment on others because they know that everyone has something to offer, and they don’t need to take other people down a notch in order to feel good about themselves. Comparing yourself to other people is limiting. Confident people don’t waste time sizing people up and worrying about whether or not they measure up to everyone they meet.

They don’t avoid conflict

Confident people don’t see conflict as something to be avoided at all costs; they see it as something to manage effectively. They don’t go along to get along, even when that means having uncomfortable conversations or making unpleasant decisions. They know that conflict is part of life and that they can’t avoid it without cheating themselves out of the good stuff, too.

They don’t let a lack of resources get in their way

Confident people don’t get thrown off course just because they don’t have the right title, the right staff, or the money to make things happen. Either they find a way to get what they need, or they figure out how to get by without it.

They don’t get too comfortable

Confident people understand that getting too comfortable is the mortal enemy of achieving their goals. That’s because they know that comfort leads to complacency, and complacency leads to stagnation. When they start feeling comfortable, they take that as a big red flag and start pushing their boundaries again so that they can continue to grow as both a person and a professional. They understand that a little discomfort is a good thing.

Bringing it all together

Embracing the behaviors of confident people is a great way to increase your odds for success, which, in turn, will lead to more confidence. The science is clear; now you just have to decide to act on it.

By Travis Bradberry. This column first appeared on LinkedIn.

 

Reconsider These Leadership Mantras

(BrianAJackson/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Holding on to traditional management mantras may be stopping your organization from moving forward. Also: how one nonprofit brought its event theme to life in a fresh way.

Are conventional leadership mantras holding you back from innovating? Sometimes best practices and forward thinking don’t go hand in hand.

An article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review shares several typical management mantras that need some rethinking. Take this one, for example: “We need to define the problem we are trying to solve.” The author, Polina Makievsky, argues that an innovative thinker should focus not on the problem but on the positive goal she wants to achieve.

“To conduct a productive idea-generation process and motivate employees, it’s important to define an aspirational North Star for every innovation effort,” writes Makievsky. “In human-centered design, this is called a ‘positive goal statement,’ and it articulates the person or group you seek to influence and the behavior you want to see occur.”

The need for a “big idea” is another common management mantra, but Makievsky says small ideas can deliver big results: “Instead of trying to eat the whale in one swallow, organizations should tackle smaller, incremental challenges.”

By for Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Executives.

7 words that make you sound passive aggressive at work

Maintaining healthy and happy relationships with coworkers is important to an overall healthy and happy work environment. And one way to do so is by avoiding language that might make you sound passive aggressive — an adjective no one wants to be.
Refrain from using these seven stereotypically passive-aggressive words when interacting with people at work, and you can avoid unnecessary and unproductive tension in the office.

1. “Fine”

Using the word “fine” in the workplace is as obviously ingenuine as when you use it in your relationship. If you’re describing something as “fine,” your coworkers are very much aware that said situation is, in fact, not fine.

2. “Thanks in advance”

This phrase indicates that you expect someone to do something for you without them having actually accepted to do said favor. It’s a passive-aggressive way of communicating to someone that they have no choice but to complete your request.

3. “Per my last email”

On the technology side of the workplace, this phrase indicates that you believe you shouldn’t have to explain yourself because it was thoroughly explained in the last message. Someone who is genuinely confused or maybe simply missed an email or two will note this obvious insinuation.

4. “In case you missed it … “

The face-to-face version of “per my last email.” This phrase hints to coworkers that you know they heard and ignored whatever message you believe to be too important for them to ignore, and you’re (im)patiently awaiting a response.

5. “Sure”

The word “sure” communicates to coworkers that you’re technically saying “yes,” but you would rather be saying “no.” Just say “yes,” and prevent all further awkwardness and unnecessary friction.

6. “I thought you knew”

This phrase hints at simple negligence. You are assuming the other person should know something that you chose not to inform him/her of. It could also make that person feel unimportant to you, as though he/she was not worthy of your time.

7. “I hope you don’t mind”

This phrase indicates that you are already doing/have already done whatever it is you are asking for permission to do. Basically, you’re disregarding your coworker’s professional opinion on the matter and doing what you want to do anyway, which no one appreciates.

Avoiding these seven phrases can help to eliminate all hostility in the workplace while also improving relationships you have with your peers.

By Leah Thomas for http://www.theladders.com. This article first appeared on Fairygodboss.

CMCA Recertification – Oct. 1 Deadline

CAMICB sent reminder notices to CMCAs who need to recertify and/or pay their annual service fee by October 1, 2018. Here are a few helpful links:

A few things to note:

1.    It is the responsibility of each CMCA to provide documentation of their 16 hours of continuing education at the time of recertification. CAMICB does not track your CEs. If you took a class with CAI, please go to www.caionline.org to print out a certificate of completion.

2.    Only courses completed between October 1, 2016 and October 1, 2018 count as continuing education.

3.    An active AMS, PCAM, FL CAM, NV CAM or NAHC-RCM satisfies the continuing education requirement. Check option 1 on line item #4 of the Recertification Application to receive credit.

4.    Credit hours may be earned only for education that pertains to community association operations or management and/or contributes to the professional development of the CMCA.

5.    The CMCA Annual Service Fee is $105.00. Oftentimes this fee is confused with CAI’s individual manager membership. While CAMICB maintains an affiliate relationship with CAI, we are an independent credentialing body: separately incorporated, governed by an independent Board of Trustees, and guided in the administration of our program by the standards of our accrediting body, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. We are not a membership organization; we do not collect membership dues. We assess our credential holders an annual maintenance fee which is used to support the development and delivery of our core exam and the operation of our program in accordance with best practices in professional credentialing.

Still have questions? Contact CAMICB at info@camicb.org or take advantage of the upcoming program CMCA Recertification Notice – Free Webinar on September 6, beginning at 2:00 p.m. EST. Register Today

 

The ultimate morning routine: Get back over 20 hours per week

The traditional 9-5 workday is poorly structured for high productivity. Perhaps when most work was physical labor, but not in the knowledge working world we now live in.

Although this may be obvious based on people’s mediocre performance, addiction to stimulants, lack of engagement, and the fact that most people hate their jobs — now there’s loads of scientific evidence you can’t ignore.

The myth of the 8 hour workday

The most productive countries in the world do not work 8 hours per day. Actually, the most productive countries have the shortest workdays.

People in countries like Luxembourg are working approximately 30 hours per week (approximately 6 hours per day, 5 days per week) and making more money on average than people working longer workweeks.

This is the average person in those countries. But what about the super-productive?

Although Gary Vaynerchuck claims to work 20 hours per day, many “highly successful” people I know work between 3-6 hours per day.

It also depends on what you’re really trying to accomplish in your life. Gary Vaynerchuck wants to own the New York Jets. He’s also fine, apparently, not spending much time with his family.

And that’s completely fine. He’s clear on his priorities.

However, you must also be clear on yours. If you’re like most people, you probably want to make a great income, doing work you love, that also provides lots of flexibility in your schedule.

If that’s your goal, this post is for you.

Quality vs. quantity

“Wherever you are, make sure you’re there.”
— Dan Sullivan

If you’re like most people, your workday is a blend of low-velocity work mixed with continual distraction (e.g., social media and email).

Most people’s “working time” is not done at peak performance levels. When most people are working, they do so in a relaxed fashion. Makes sense, they have plenty of time to get it done.

However, when you are results-oriented, rather than “being busy,” you’re 100 percent on when you’re working and 100 percent off when you’re not. Why do anything half-way? If you’re going to work, you’re going to work.

The concept is simple: Intensive activity followed by high quality rest and recovery.

Most of the growth actually comes during the recovery process. However, the only way to truly recover is by actually pushing yourself to exhaustion during the workout.

The same concept applies to work. The best work happens in short intensive spurts. By short, I’m talking 1-3 hours. But this must be “Deep Work,” with no distractions, just like an intensive workout is non-stop. Interestingly, your best work — which for most people is thinking — will actually happen while you’re away from your work, “recovering.”

For best results: Spend 20% of your energy on your work and 80% of your energy on recovery and self-improvement. When you’re getting high quality recovery, you’re growing. When you’re continually honing your mental model, the quality and impact of your work continually increases. This is what psychologists call, “Deliberate Practice.” It’s not about doing more, but better training. It’s about being strategic and results-focused, not busyness-focused.

In one study, only 16% of respondents reported getting creative insight while at work. Ideas generally came while the person was at home, in transportation, or during recreational activity. “The most creative ideas aren’t going to come while sitting in front of your monitor,” says Scott Birnbaum, a vice president of Samsung Semiconductor.

The reason for this is simple. When you’re working directly on a task, your mind is tightly focused on the problem at hand (i.e., direct reflection). Conversely, when you’re not working, your mind loosely wanders(i.e., indirect reflection).

While driving or doing some other form of recreation, the external stimuli in your environment (like the buildings or other landscapes around you)subconsciously prompt memories and other thoughts. Because your mind is wandering both contextually (on different subjects) and temporally between past, present, and future, your brain will make distant and distinct connections related to the problem you’re trying to solve (eureka!).

Creativity, after all, is making connections between different parts of the brain. Ideation and inspiration is a process you can perfect.

Case in point: when you’re working, be at work. When you’re not working, stop working. By taking your mind off work and actually recovering, you’ll get creative breakthroughs related to your work.

Your first three hours will make or break you

According to psychologist Ron Friedman, the first three hours of your day are your most precious for maximized productivity.

Typically, we have a window of about three hours where we’re really, really focused. We’re able to have some strong contributions in terms of planning, in terms of thinking, in terms of speaking well,” Friedman told Harvard Business Review.

This makes sense on several levels. Let’s start with sleep. Research confirms the brain, specifically the prefrontal cortex, is most active and readily creative immediately following sleep. Your subconscious mind has been loosely mind-wandering while you slept, making contextual and temporal connections.

So, immediately following sleep, your mind is most readily active to do thoughtful work.

So, your brain is most attuned first thing in the morning, and so are your energy levels. Consequently, the best time to do your best work is during the first three hours of your day.

I used to exercise first thing in the morning. Not anymore. I’ve found that exercising first thing in the morning actually sucks my energy, leaving me with less than I started.

Lately, I’ve been waking up at 6AM, driving to my school and walking to the library I work in. While walking from my car to the library, I drink a 250 calorie plant-based protein shake (approximately 30 grams of protein).

Donald Layman, professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois, recommends consuming at least 30 grams of protein for breakfast. Similarly, Tim Ferriss, in his book, The 4-Hour Body, also recommends 30 grams of protein 30 minutes after awaking.

Protein-rich foods keep you full longer than other foods because they take longer to leave the stomach. Also, protein keeps blood-sugar levels steady, which prevent spikes in hunger.

I get to the library and all set-up by around 6:30AM. I spend a few minutes in prayer and meditation, followed by a 5-10 minute session in my journal. The purpose of this journal session is get clarity and focus for my day.

So I write down my big picture goals and my objectives for that particular day. I then write down anything that comes to my mind. Often, it relates to people I need to contact, or ideas related to a project I’m working on. I purposefully keep this journal session short and focused.

By 6:45, I’m set to work on whatever project I’m working on, whether that’s writing a book or an article, working on a research paper for my doctoral research, creating an online course, etc.

Starting work this early may seem crazy to you, but I’ve been shocked by how easy it is to work for 2-5 hours straight without distractions. My mind is laser at this time of day. And I don’t rely on any stimulants at all.

Between 11AM-noon, my mind is ready for a break, so that’s when I do my workout. Research confirms that you workout better with food in your system. Consequently, my workouts are now a lot more productive and powerful than they were when I was exercising immediately following sleep.

After the workout, which is a great mental break, you should be fine to work a few more hours, if needed.

If your 3-5 hours before your workout were focused, you could probably be done for the day.

Protect your mornings

I understand that this schedule will not work for everyone. There are single-parents with kids who simply can’t do something like this.

We all need to work within the constraints of our unique contexts. However, if you work best in the morning, you gotta find a way to make it happen.This may require waking up a few extra hours earlier than you’re used to and taking a nap during the afternoon.

Or, it may require you to simply focus hardcore the moment you get to work. A common strategy for this is known as the “90-90-1” rule, where you spend the first 90 minutes of your workday on your #1 priority. I’m certain this isn’t checking your email or social media.

Whatever your situation, protect your mornings! As Richard Whately said, “Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.”

I’m blown away by how many people schedule things like meetings in the mornings. Nothing could be worse for peak performance and creativity.

Schedule all of your meetings for the afternoon, after lunch.

Don’t check your social media or email until after your 3 hours of deep work. Your morning time should be spent on output, not input.

If you don’t protect your mornings, a million different things will take up your time. Other people will only respect you as much as you respect yourself.

Protecting your mornings means you are literally unreachable during certain hours. Only in case of serious emergency can you be summoned from your focus-cave.

Mind-body connection

What you do outside work is just as significant for your work-productivity as what you do while you’re working.

A March 2016 study in the online issue of Neurology found that regular exercise can slow brain aging by as much as 10 years. Loads of other research has found that people who regularly exercise are more productive at work. Your brain is, after all, part of your body. If your body is healthier, it makes sense that your brain would operate better.

If you want to operate at your highest level, you need to take a holistic approach to life. You are a system. When you change a part of any system, you simultaneously change the whole. Improve one area of your life, all other areas improve in a virtuous cycle. This is the butterfly effect in action and the basis of the book, The Power of Habit, which shows that by integrating one “keystone habit,” like exercise or reading, that the positivity of that one habits ripples into all other areas of your life, eventually transforming your whole life.

Consequently, the types of foods you eat, and when you eat them, determine your ability to focus at work. Your ability to sleep well (by the way, it’s easy to sleep well when you get up early and work hard) is also essential to peak-performance. Rather than managing your time, then, you should really be focused on managing your energy. Your work schedule should be scheduled around when you work best, not around social norms and expectations.

Don’t forget to psychologically detach and play

Research in several fields has found that recovery from work is a necessity for staying energetic, engaged, and healthy when facing job demands.

Recovery” is the process of reducing or eliminating physical and psychological strain/stress caused by work.

One particular recovery strategy that is getting lots of attention in recent research is called “psychological detachment from work.” True psychological detachment occurs when you completely refrain from work-related activities and thoughts during non-work time.

Proper detachment/recovery from work is essential for physical and psychological health, in addition to engaged and productive work. Yet, few people do it. Most people are always “available” to their email and work. Millennials are the worst, often wearing the openness to work “whenever” as a badge of honor. It’s not a badge of honor.

Research has found that people who psychologically detach from work experience:

When you’re at work, be fully absorbed. When it’s time to call it a day, completely detach yourself from work and become absorbed in the other areas of your life.

If you don’t detach, you’ll never fully be present or engaged at work or at home. You’ll be under constant strain, even if minimally. Your sleep will suffer. Your relationships will be shallow. Your life will not be happy.

Not only that, but lots of science has found play to be extremely important for productivity and creativity. Just like your body needs a reset, which you can get through fasting, you also need to reset from work in order to do your best work. Thus, you need to step away from work and dive into other beautiful areas of your life. For me, that’s goofing off with my kids.

Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, has studied the “Play Histories” of over six thousand people and concludes playing can radically improve everything — from personal well-being to relationships to learning to an organization’s potential to innovate. As Greg McKeown explains, “Very successful people see play as essential for creativity.”

In his TED talk, Brown said, “Play leads to brain plasticity, adaptability, and creativity. … Nothing fires up the brain like play.” There is a burgeoning body of literature highlighting the extensive cognitive and social benefits of play, including:

Cognitive

  • Enhanced memory and focus
  • Improved language learning skills
  • Creative problem solving
  • Improved mathematics skills
  • Increased ability to self-regulate, an essential component of motivation and goal achievement

Social

  • Cooperation
  • Team work
  • Conflict resolution
  • Leadership skill development
  • Control of impulses and aggressive behavior

Having a balanced-life is key to peak performance. In the Tao Te Ching, it explains that being too much yin or too much yang leads to extremes andbeing wasteful with your resources (like time). The goal is to be in the center, balanced.

Listen to brain music or songs on repeat

In her book, On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind, psychologist Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis explains why listening to music on repeat improves focus. When you’re listening to a song on repeat, you tend to dissolve into the song, which blocks out mind wandering (let your mind wander while you’re away from work!).

WordPress founder, Matt Mullenweg, listens to one single song on repeat to get into flow. So do authors Ryan Holiday and Tim Ferriss, and many others.

Give it a try.

You can use this website to listen to YouTube videos on repeat.

I generally listen to classical music or electronic music (like video game type music). Here’s a few that have worked for me:

By Benjamin P. Hardy for http://www.theladders.com. This article originally appeared on Medium.

What 50-year-olds know that 20-year-olds often don’t

Here are some lessons I’ve learned during my half century on this planet:

  1. Be kind. The benefits of being kind—or at the very least courteous—far outweigh the effort you put in. Do random acts of kindness. Compliment someone. If a retail or food-service worker makes a mistake, be understanding and patient. Kind people live longer than unkind people.
  2. I know myself better than anyone else. I don’t let anyone else’s opinions control what I do, what I wear, or what I say. Other people’s opinions are suggestions—take them or leave them.
  3. Everyone else is as worried and insecure as you are. Some people just hide it better. It doesn’t mean that they are any smarter or better than you.
  4. Laugh it off. If you make a mistake, fall down, or do something dumb, just laugh it off. Other people (and you) will forget it a lot faster if you just let it roll off your back. EVERYONE makes dumb mistakes. Everyone. You aren’t alone, and you aren’t the biggest idiot in the world. Give yourself a break.
  5. “Fitting in” is highly overrated. Be you. Confidence is sexy. Besides, great leaders didn’t get where they are by following the crowd.
  6. Don’t stay in a bad relationship, even if it’s “for the kids.” Oftentimes, kids really thrive outside the bounds of a toxic relationship.
  7. It’s just stuff. Sure, stuff gets broken—oftentimes accidentally by people you love—and that’s annoying. But your stuff can be replaced. You can never erase the hurtful words you say to the person you love, because they broke your stuff. Stuff is never, ever as important as those you love.
  8. You’re probably a lot smarter than you give yourself credit for being.
  9. Don’t judge. You don’t know all the facts. That lady speeding down the road with her toddler unbuckled in the back seat may be panicked, heading for the hospital for an emergency that you can’t see. That “big kid” having a “tantrum” in the store may be on the autism spectrum, and is having a melt down, which he/she hates as much as you do. The fat lady in the bikini may have lost 100 lbs so far, and she’s pretty darn proud of what she’s done. Don’t shame people for smoking, drinking, or being fat. We all have our faults and bad habits. As a pretty famous guy is alleged to have said, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
  10. Never lose your inner child. Dance. Sing. Skip. Tell poop jokes (not to strangers, though). Go down the slide. Bounce at the bouncy house, if the attendant says adults are welcome. This is an advantage to being older. When you’re 20, people often think you’re “too old” to do these things, but when a 50-something does them, it’s charming. And if people think it’s dumb, screw them. See #2 above.
  11. Don’t make major life decisions to please other people. Maybe your parents expect you to go to college, but you just want to go to trade school and become an auto mechanic, because that’s where your heart is. Or maybe (as in my case) your parents don’t want you to go to college, but you really want to be an attorney. Live life for YOU. The world needs good auto mechanics and good attorneys. It’ll all work out.
  12. Don’t beat yourself up about stuff. Do what you can to fix your mistakes, then move on. Guilt is only good for pushing you toward making things right again. After that, it becomes shame, and shame is a toxic substance which will eat you up inside. Same for worry.
  13. Enjoy life. Literally, stop to smell and admire the flowers. Wonder. Smile at strangers and see how many you can get to smile back. Have fun.
  14. Life goes by really, really fast. Live each day so that, at the end, you’re reveling in how amazing your life was, not regretting all the things you did or didn’t do.
  15. Life is better after 50.

By Phyl Bean for http://www.theladders.com. This article first appeared at Quora.