Monthly Archives: May 2022

By Romée Jager

Do you feel overwhelmed and overloaded before the day has started? You are not alone! It is 7:30 AM, and I started working half an hour ago. Even though it is only the beginning of my working day, I already feel way behind. I am staring at my screen and scrolling through my emails, marking them as unread again and giving them a color code. 

I feel overwhelmed. I don’t know where to start. My solution? Making myself a second cup of coffee. While the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans reaches my nostrils, I think about how to structure my tasks for the day. 

I wonder why we ‘’only’’ have 24 hours in a day, and I start wondering whether I will make it in time for my dinner appointment, as I will probably have to work late again. I feel like my mind is going in a downward spiral, and suddenly I remember something that Angie Weinberger once told me: ‘’it is not that we need more hours in a day; instead, we should prioritize better’’. 

It would be great if somebody could invent the time machine and double the time we have in a day. But let’s face it, as the time machine has not been invented (yet), we need to find ways to boost our productivity by getting more done in the time we have. 

Peak, Through, Recovery

If you enter ‘’Improving Productivity’’ on Google, more than 226 million results pop up, including many articles providing productivity hacks. We have already provided you with Angie’s seven productivity hacks.

However, it is fundamental to consider your biorhythm when implementing those tips. Knowing your chronotype is key.

Instead of just scrolling through our emails and randomly doing some of our tasks, we should carefully reconsider when we do certain tasks in order to increase our productivity. According to Daniel Pink, international best-selling author of six provocative books about business and human behavior, significant changes in performance can be seen depending on the time of day we choose to do certain types of tasks. Therefore, instead of just accomplishing them randomly, we should carefully plan and structure our day. Our day is divided into three periods of productivity that Pink calls: Peak, Through, and Recovery. 

Identify Your Productivity Periods

As you plan your day, you need to consider your different periods of productivity. Do you recognize any of the mentioned productivity periods? When do you have the most energy during the day? During which part of the day are you the most focused? These are all questions that you should start asking yourself. 

Research shows that everybody has their own subjective understanding of chronological time. Edward T. Hall identified that time is a concept greatly influenced by culture. He distinguishes two main types of time perceptions. In some cultures, the people have a polychronic time perception, which ‘allows’ them to do several things simultaneously, whereas, in monochronic cultures, people prefer to do one task at a time. 

It is critical to understand your preferences. For example, try identifying the different productivity levels you have during the day and plan your tasks accordingly. Personally, my peak time is during the morning until just before lunch; therefore, this is the best time for me to do some highly focused work. As I am mono-focused, this is the time for me to turn off my Skype/Zoom/Slack notifications and get some work done. 

After lunch, my productivity drops, and I see myself scrolling through my emails again. As I already had three cups of coffee, I really can’t solve that ‘low’ with yet another cup. Instead, this is the time for me to start on the administrative tasks and routine activities. During my ‘’Through’’ period, I feel that the ‘’Recovery’’ is coming, and I move to more creative and insightful tasks again. 

How to Get Started

Maintaining a Have-Done Diary could help recognize how you use your daily time and understand when you are better focused. When you have identified your different productivity periods, the next step is to plan your tasks accordingly. After a while, you can see your productivity skyrocketing and your pile of work getting thinner. Try these two methods to improve your productivity.

Consequently, after you go through the steps of the Have-Done Diary and Productivity Level Periods Analysis, you can peacefully shut down your work computer and feel satisfied. You can even plan your tasks for tomorrow already. You can now be at ease and attend dinner parties with your loved ones. You might even sing along with the radio while driving home because you got things done! So you come home, and your mind is where it needs to be, present in the moment. 

If you want to learn more about timing and our hidden patterns, we recommend you this book ‘’When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing’’ by Daniel Pink. 

Do you find it challenging to identify your productivity periods? Or do you feel that you need to reset yourself again? Then our RockMeRetreat from 17 to 23 November 2022 is for you! 

During the RockMeRetreat, we will work on boosting your productivity. Hopefully, once you come back from this week, you will feel refreshed and inspired again and ready to tackle whatever challenges arise. Does this sound interesting to you? 


Sign up here to be invited! Angie will be happy to set up a meeting with you to discuss your participation.

About the Author

Romée Jager is the Intercultural Consultant at Global People Transitions. She loves traveling and is passionate about exploring new cultures. Romée has an MA in Intercultural Management and considers herself an interculturalist. She has been working in a Dutch governmental youth panel for over seven years, where her aim was to give the youth a voice in the Dutch political system. She believes in continuous learning and is passionate about doing research. She wrote her master thesis about Defensive Nationalism, is currently a research assistant, and is interested in furthering her research by pursuing a Ph.D. in social sciences.

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Ilanz, Graubuenden, Switzerland

Have-Done-Diaries are a great tool to boost your productivity. It is the opposite of the To-Do-List and was promoted by my coach educator Boudewijn Vermeulen. Like me, Boudewijn used to work in a consultancy company, and he also coached a lot of lawyers. He knew about our ridiculous hours and how we were always trying to multitask to get more done in a shorter time frame, but you probably have experienced this situation yourself.

It’s 6.05 AM, and you are just getting out of the shower… Your hair is toweled up, and you light two candles. You get into your meditation pose and close your eyes. Then you realize that you have not set your alarm. So you get up and get your phone from the bathroom where you were reading an interesting article about the entrepreneur scene in Europe. Then you see that you have three new messages on WhatsApp…

At 8 AM, you realize that you’re late, and you hardly remember to take your train ticket, your badge, your purse and sunglasses, and whoosh – you’re out of the door. You remember the candles, open the door again, blow them out, and while you run to catch the train, you think: “Didn’t I plan to meditate?” Sounds familiar?

We have so many distractions nowadays (ugh! … I overcooked the pasta while writing this) that I often wonder how people get any work done. Have you ever caught yourself in the last 24 hours thinking, “What am I doing right now?”. We have programs and routines that do not seem to require the same brain activity as real challenges. 

Often we are just keeping busy, but our output is not that relevant.

I saw several people walking on their Sunday stroll the other day, and they all talked to someone on the phone via a headset. They did not just get a call. They planned to use their walking hour to speak to someone. I sometimes combine routine activities with other activities too. For example, I would watch a video or listen to a podcast while ironing. It works very well to combine such activities.

However, it does not help me to create. I prefer to mono-task and give my full attention to the task, even if it seems mundane. I want to give my brain time to reflect and digest the input, it receives during the week (and believe me, there’s a lot of input). My creative side suffers when I don’t give my brain time to digest, reflect and organize. 

Unfortunately, with Social Media, I have such a love-hate relationship that I really need to discipline myself to get off them.

If you constantly feel that you are not getting enough relevant work done, I urge you to try the Have-Done-Diary.

1) Write down how you spend your time by using a “Have-Done-Diary”

I find the easiest way to do this is by having a notebook (I mean, the old-school paper version) next to my laptop or computer, which only serves this purpose (and other creative ideas running through my head). You can add everything and anything you have done during that day, even this: “Sat down on a bench and enjoyed the sunshine on my face.”

If you want to improve your productivity you can also add the Pomodoro method to this productivity hack and write down what you worked on for each Pomodoro.

2) Join our RockMeRetreat

After the RockMeRetreat, you will apply practices such as the weekly reflection exercise. Invest only fifteen minutes per week, and you will be amazed at how much more you achieved than you thought possible. The thing is, if I don’t gently encourage you to do this, you’d rather spend those fifteen minutes watching cat videos. 

If you are feeling in a rat race or stuck in the same recurring story as if you are in “Groundhog Day”, you will profit from joining our RockMeRetreat.

Please share this post with all your lab rat and corporate clone friends. They will thank you for the productivity tips! Now, go get that notebook so you can start trying this method. 

Then call Angie to discuss your participation in the RockMeRetreat and TADAAA! Now you can write down “Had a talk with Angie about the RockMeRetreat and registered for the retreat in November – Sounds like this is going to be so fun AND useful”!! It’s that easy! 😉

This year we will offer the RockMeRetreat from 17 to 23 November 2022 again at Haus der Begegnung which belongs to the monastery in Ilanz. I hope you will join us there. The atmosphere in the mountains is rather stimulating and at the same time emanates peace.

I will be happy to set up a meeting with you to discuss your participation and goals for the RockMeRetreat.  

Kind regards,

Angie Weinberger

Back to School – Seven Virtues for Purpose, Performance, and Productivity

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/my-favourite-productivity-hacks-seven-tips-to-claim-back-your-diary/

Immersive Experience

Richard Harvell, a Bestselling Author and Publisher, and Diccon Bewes, the very famous author of “SwissWatching” and other books about living in Switzerland as a foreigner contacted us to announce this great pilot project they are conducting. They will hold an all-inclusive cultural integration retreat weekend in Bellinzona on 17-19 June and thought we might have the most suitable candidates to benefit from this exciting experience!

Cultural integration has been proven crucial to the success of an expat’s assignment, but it has often been overlooked. This kind of crash course (it’s not a course really, rather a touristy weekend where you also learn lots!) allows the participants to learn about their new setting in an informal and enjoyable way. This transition period (from the moment you decide to accept the assignment, to the preparation, to settling in your new place and job) is stressful enough; this weekend is designed to help you ease in and be ready to bounce back. Employers will also benefit from this retreat: having better integrated and less stressed employees prepared to become more efficient faster can only be positive. Switzerland has long struggled with this challenge, and Richard and Diccon are here to make change happen!

Registration is now open here.

Mountain View

As I have mentioned in this post, my mother could not find yeast during the early days of the pandemic. Her village in Southern Germany had a yeast shortage. We didn’t have a shortage of anything here in Zurich, neither toilet paper nor yeast, even though demand for both was higher than in “normal” times. My mother likes baking, but I felt she needed to bake even more during these times. 

I went to SPAR and bought five packets of dry yeast. The man at the post office laughed when I told him what was in the small parcel—my second delivery since the beginning of our lockdown. The price of the stamps was higher than the value of the goods, but hey, this was the only thing I could do for my family from here. I was so happy that I could help them with a small gesture. This year, I did not order anything online for Easter: I used my social media skills to locate the flower shop in my mother’s village, and we actually talked on the phone (I know, bizarre…). Once she understood my relationship with the village’s eldest woman (my grandma), I think she completely trusted me, and I trusted her. We agreed to her delivering flowers that I would pay via bank transfer. No credit card, no contract, just trust, and five minutes of small talk. She understood that this gesture was important to me. I only live about two hours away from my family, but I might as well live in Cochin or Costa Rica.

I’m an accidental “expat.” I didn’t really think of myself as an expat since I’ve lived the closest to home for the last 11 years. Coronavirus “expatriated” me. I’ve worked with expats most of my professional life, lived abroad, and been on international assignments. I’m an expert in Global Mobility, but it took a virus to make it hard to return to my passport country. 

I feel your pain and your stress. We are all experiencing varying levels of emotional and mental turmoil. There is no solution to the root causes of that anxiety, but we need to maintain our mental health like we do our physical. The World Health Organization, correctly anticipating that the longer the pandemic lasts, the more it would impact mental health, has spent the last couple of years publishing support and guides for people to follow. I have been following them, and they have proven helpful in centering me and giving me better control of my mental health.

Pause. Breathe. Reflect.

Take some slow breaths, inhaling through your nose, then slowly exhaling through your mouth. 

Slow breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress because it signals to your brain to relax your body.

Connect with others

Keep in regular contact with people close to you and talk to them. Talking to people you trust can help. Tell them how you are feeling and share any concerns, or discuss everyday things.

Keep to a healthy routine

The emphasis here is on both healthy and routine. That means not using alcohol and drugs to deal with fear, anxiety, boredom, and social isolation.

Instead, focus on establishing consistent sleeping patterns, maintaining personal hygiene, eating regularly and having healthy food, and improving time management to include exercise, work, and personal time.

One thing that works for me is to take regular breaks from on-screen activities and go offline.

Be kind to yourself and others

We are human and thus not immune to doubt and anxiety. Don’t expect too much of yourself on days that are more difficult than others. Instead, accept that some days, you may be more productive than others.

One way to practice self-kindness is to reduce how much you watch, read or listen to news that makes you feel anxious or distressed, especially news from your home country. Limit news to fixed times in the day and listen only to trusted sources. 

If you can help yourself and have the capacity for it, helping others can be good for you too. If you can, offer support to people in the expat community who may need it. Because as expats, we have learned to be resilient, we have survived previous crises, and we have managed to turn our lives around in the oddest situations. But now, we are not so sure anymore. When will this pandemic end? And how will we live when we get out of it? Which part of the world still feels safe? Will our children ever be able to catch up on the school lessons they have missed? 

I miss having offline workshops and what I love about this retreat is that we can be offline most of the time and connect with our inner creators again. We can work on our relationships with people who are important to us. We can build a community of people who help each other (irrespective of their cultural or religious background but based on shared values and deep love for people).

Like we need yeast to bake bread, we need energy and love to work and live with people around us. We might think that we can just stay at home and send our avatars to work, but who would we then be? 

We need to get dressed in nice clothes, have a commute to work and a distance between “work” and “leisure.” Otherwise, we lose our fire and inspiration, and lose touch with our inner creator. I look forward to hearing from you!

I wish all of us to support each other in communities, and I’m convinced that an OFFLINE RETREAT will most certainly create miracles despite the wonders of technology. Because of the travel situation and insecurities around the world, I have decided to offer the RockMeRetreat in Switzerland at the Ilanz monastery. I have been on a retreat there before, and it’s a humble, yet quiet and comfortable place, and the sisters are extremely warmhearted and welcoming, and the mountain view is just amazing.

We will offer the RockMeRetreat from 17 to 23 November 2022.

I hope you will join us in Ilanz. I will be happy to set up a meeting with you to discuss your participation. 

Richard Harvell, a Bestselling Author and Publisher and Diccon Bewes, also very famous author of “SwissWatching” and other books about living in Switzerland as a foreigner contacted us to announce this great pilot project they are conducting. They will hold an all-inclusive cultural integration retreat weekend in Bellinzona on 17-19 June and thought Global People Transitions might have exactly the right candidates to benefit from this exciting experience!

Cultural integration has been proven crucial to the success of an expat’s assignment, but it has often been overlooked. This kind of crash course (it’s not a course really, rather a touristy weekend where you also learn lots!) allows the participants to learn about their new setting in an informal and enjoyable way. This transition period (from the moment you decide to accept the assignment, to the preparation, to settling in your new place and job) is stressful enough; this weekend is designed to help you ease in and be ready to bounce back. Employers will also benefit from this retreat: having better integrated and less stressed employees, prepared to become more efficient faster can only be positive. Switzerland has long struggled with this challenge, and Richard and Diccon are here to make change happen!

Registration is now open here.

https://www.immerse-swiss.com/bellinzona

The Expert Guide to Your Life in Switzerland (trailer)

Resources and further readings

NewInZurich

Looking at the whole family in the expatriation process

Our epic blog posts

Global TV Talk Show with Ed Cohen:

Interview with Ed Cohen on Minority Expats