Entrepreneurial lesson with Jessica Meijer

How to stay healthy and productive in your professional life: Balance your energy, reward yourself, build a happy jar!

Managing time, having a healthy work-life balance, and staying productive are key aspects that any entrepreneur needs to master. Jessica believes it is all about balancing your energy, rewarding yourself, and staying positive. She sat down with the Future Females team to discuss her knowledge, tips, and advice to master these three elements and stay healthy as an employee.

Jessica is an international business professional working in Communication, Organization & Stakeholder Management. She is a communication specialist, content editor, freelancer, speaker, and event organizer. Alongside her job at VodafoneZiggo, Jessica manages FitStop, an internal page for employees in which she shares knowledge and tips about wellbeing, sustainable employability, and work-life balance. 

Like any other employee, Jessica has experienced herself the struggles to manage her time and finish her tasks, but her techniques have allowed her to do it all avoiding frustrations and staying productive.

I always try to prioritize. I divide my tasks between the ones I get the most energy from and the ones that are most important, and then I balance them. If something doesn’t give me much energy but is really important, I will do that first but then I’ll do something that gives me lots of energy. We always have those tasks that we don’t like. Every job has its flaws, sometimes you have to do things that you don’t like. But then after you can do something fun to treat yourself. That’s my technique to manage everything and still do the things that I don’t like doing.

For Jessica, timing is also an important aspect of being productive. “It’s really hard to do something you don’t like when you are already tired. There is a method, called eat the frog. It’s a fun method from Mark Twain. He says that the most difficult thing you have on your to-do list, you have to do first. The pressure to finish a difficult task that you don’t like to do can be frustrating, but if you do it as the first thing in the morning, the rest of the day will feel better! I think it’s a great philosophy, and it helps you to avoid procrastination.”

Having tips on how to stay healthy as an employee is not enough. Jessica believes there is something more important than just knowing what to do, and it comes from our own realization. “After some research at work, we picked awareness to be the most important aspect to stay well as an employee by self-experience. We were looking into tricks and tips on how to stay healthy at work and outside work, and we noticed that the more aware you are about the state of your health and about the things you can do to improve it, then the more you will implement these tips even unconsciously in your daily life.”

Jessica’s work in Fitstop and ReConnect at VodafoneZiggo aims to share useful information to improve the wellbeing of employees. She believes you cannot force people to do things but provide them with information, options, and the possibility to decide themselves. Here, Jessica shares with us her personal useful tips to create a healthy workflow. 

Practice the eat the frog method, the worst thing in your to-do list, do it first. Also, meditation can help you shift your mindset from work mode to relaxation mode, so to practice a few minutes of meditation after your work hours is important. Another great advice is to visualize that your week is made out of 100 energy points and this way you can plan your days by giving energy points to everything you have to do. When the points are finished you have to stop working. Maybe, in the beginning, it is strange to do this, but it can give you a clear view of your energy. If you make it tangible it is easier to divide it into several tasks. Otherwise, it is just something in space, comparable to cloud storage. Your data on the cloud feels like nothing until you give it something tangible, making it measurable, GB, or MB. It’s the same with your energy!.”

Managing a healthy workflow is essential for entrepreneurs, but sometimes, the balance between work and personal life can be difficult to achieve. In these concerning quarantine times, when working from home is a daily routine, work hours can become blurry and overwork can become part of your routine. 

The hardest part for workaholics —sometimes I can be one— is to accept that something is not done yet and accepting that is okay if you do it tomorrow. It is the opposite of laziness. You want to finish a task, and that may be frustrating. Sometimes I am in a bubble working and I only want to stop when I finish. I can forget to eat, and forget the people around me. One thing that works for me is to ask myself ‘what happens if I don’t finish this now? Is the world going to end?’ Probably not —laughs—, ‘is finishing this now more important than to have one more hour of sleep? or eating?’ No, it probably is not —laughs—. And then I stop for the day and meditate for 10 min to shift my mindset.”

Jessica agrees that the long hours and the frustration to finish projects without a break can make you less productive. “When you are so focused, when you are frustrated and want to finish things right away I believe you will make more mistakes than if you have a break and finish it the next day with a clear mindset.”

To fight against demotivating moments, anxiety, or frustration, Jessica has a fun, simple, and creative idea to change your mood almost immediately. “What really works well for me comes from positive psychology assignments. Before you go to sleep, when you finish your work or at any other time you prefer, write down the things you are happy about. It can be super small ‘I am happy that I ate a jelly and peanut butter sandwich’ —laughs—. When you write it down, you can put it in a jar, and any day that you feel sad, unmotivated, or don’t have anything to write, you can take one out and smile. It is something so little and it can make you so happy. It can really change your mood.

Jessica gets up her chair and reaches a big glass jar. Inside she has memories, post-its, stress balls, amulets. Her enthusiasm is obvious. She calls it her happy jar. She is passionate about her workflow and wants to share her creativity with others. A big smile draws on her face. Her jar has definitely the right name. 

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