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7 smart things to give up for Lent

Lent isn’t just about giving up the sugary treats

When we think about giving things up for Lent, we often think about giving up chocolate, sweets or other treats, but have you ever thought about how giving things up for Lent could work in a business environment?

Lent can be a great opportunity to give up some bad work habits and trial some new approaches.

Here are 7 smart things to consider giving up for Lent which could have a positive impact on your productivity, working environment, well-being, and work-life balance.

1. Saying yes to everything

Saying no isn’t always easy and that ingrained politeness often means we’ve agreed to something before we’ve really thought about it. This isn’t about saying no to everything but rather thinking about requests which impact your time and other priorities. It’s about only saying yes to the right things and not saying yes out of habit or politeness.

Once you start saying no to requests which aren’t valuable or don’t support your goals, you’ll be amazed how much it improves your focus on what is important.

2. Sending too many emails

Emails have revolutionised the way we all work but do you send too many? It is so easy to send a quick email but just pause for a second and consider the message. Could you walk across the office and speak to the person instead? Or pick up the phone and use that call as an opportunity to get to know a client better or gain some customer feedback? Does the email really need to go to all of your staff? All staff emails can seem impersonal and whilst they may be useful sometimes, many organisations overuse them.

For the six weeks of Lent, every time you are about to send or reply to an email just pause to consider whether it is necessary. You might find that at the end of Lent you’ve improved your relationship with colleagues or upsold to an existing client. You might even start to receive fewer emails yourself as others begin to follow your lead.

3. Not taking breaks

This is important year-round but the run-up to Easter could be the perfect time to make a change that continues beyond Lent. Too many of us are guilty of not taking proper breaks in work, but the fact is it’s counterproductive. If you are one of those people who works at their desk or arranges back to back meetings without leaving space for lunch, then stop.

Breaks are an opportunity to mentally declutter. Make sure you are fed and hydrated, and if possible, head outside for a walk or some fresh air. You’ll return to your desk in a better frame of mind and will achieve more, not less, because you’ve taken a proper break.

4. Office snacks

Workplaces can be notorious for treats and snacks. It is lovely when colleagues bring in their home-baked cakes or cookies but when biscuits, crisps, chocolates, and other snacks become a habit rather than a treat then maybe it’s time to give them up.  Try replacing them with fruit, nuts and healthy snacks for the six weeks of Lent and you might even find your energy levels improve when you stop relying on sugary snacks as an afternoon pick-me-up.

5. Working long hours

If you routinely work long hours then Lent is the perfect excuse to switch up your routine. Often people work late as they feel it’s expected of them, while others are worried about deadlines. Whatever the reason is for being first at your desk and last to leave, it probably isn’t necessary. Knowing you are leaving work on time will help you focus and complete work tasks more efficiently.

Be clear with your colleagues about the timescales for projects or tasks you are working on so they don’t have unrealistic expectations. There might be the odd occasion when working late or working from home are necessary but more often than not, this isn’t the case.

6. Answering the phone

This might seem an odd thing to give up but interruptions such as the phone ringing can be a significant distraction. Then there is the time spent politely listening to sales calls, or redirecting calls to the relevant person. Depending on your job, stopping answering the phone might make you more focused and improve productivity. Obviously, it is vitally important that phone calls are answered but this could be the perfect excuse to look at how the phone is answered in your organisation and to consider trialing a call answering service.

7. Driving to work

Obviously, not everyone can give up driving to work, but thinking about your work commute and whether you can change it for the better is something to consider. Could you walk or cycle instead? If you did, you would be reducing your emissions, and benefiting from exercise and fresh air at the same time. Would taking public transport free you up to read a book on the way to work? Is there someone you could car share with for Lent? You might get to know a work colleague better while at the same time reducing your carbon footprint.

These are just a few ideas. We’re sure there are lots of other things that individuals or businesses as a whole could challenge themselves to give up or change. If you are taking on the challenge we would love to hear about your Lent efforts over on Twitter!

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