The result of our never-ending to-do lists is the loss of camaraderie among co-workers. While productivity is important, the balance between completing tasks and taking time to connect with your team is important to avoid burnout and make work more enjoyable. A common misconception is that there isn’t enough time (or energy) in the day to get your work done and socialize; The truth is that just a quick slack message, coffee run, or group share to start or end a meeting are all simple but effective actions that require little effort and time and thus make the former argument that is useless. Studies show that socializing, despite feeling like a daunting task, can be effective in combating mental fatigue by strengthening us. More energy improves performance and therefore proves that socializing is more beneficial than work that one can prioritize over improving connections with colleagues.
When you feel like you’re behind on tasks and pressing deadlines, reaching out and connecting with colleagues is the last thing you want to do. You just want to put your head down, check off the tasks on your to-do list, and get things done.
There are absolutely times when you should put on the blinders and focus only on your tactical goals. But interacting exclusively in a transactional way with your coworkers can cause you to lose any sense of personal connection, especially if you work remotely. By taking even a few minutes each day to develop a sense of relationship at work, you can unlock the key to a greater sense of purpose and well-being, reduce burnout, and even improve your performance.
So how do you make time for people without feeling more stressed and overwhelmed? As a time management coach, I find that with a little more intention, you can make more meaningful connections without investing a lot of time.
Chat in One-on-One Meetings
If you have one-on-one meetings scheduled with your team, take a few minutes to start the discussion to find out what they’ve been up to before getting down to the business agenda. . You don’t have to spend the whole hour on personal updates, but even reserve five minutes to ask about their recent vacation, find out if their mom is in the hospital, or to see how they recover from surgery can be a difference.
You can use the same strategy for one-on-one meetings with colleagues you regularly work with on projects. Depending on the length of the meeting and how much you need to cover, you may not have time to catch up every time. But if every few meetings you use a few minutes at the beginning or end to talk about more than just the projects being prepared, you can strengthen relationships. This might include sharing your passion about a particular sports team, talking about your families, or talking about anything that gives you room to connect beyond a one-dimensional, task-oriented level.
If remembering details about people’s lives doesn’t come naturally to you, make a private note on your calendar with reminders, like asking them about their new puppy, about the latest their children’s extracurriculars, or how their side venture is going.
Encourage Group Sharing During Meetings
In a big team meeting, there isn’t much room for personal catchups. But if you have a small team, it might be worth spending a few hours on a weekly or monthly basis for updates. It can be as simple as a quick part to start a meeting about a recent event, such as attending an industry conference. It can also happen organically if you work in person and have a specific forum designated for it: for example, if you bring coffee and bagels on Monday morning and have breakfast together, or if you have a happy hour on Friday at afternoon. Even 15 to 20 minutes of unstructured conversation can lead to a greater sense of team engagement.
If you’re part of a remote or hybrid team, it can be harder to connect organically. Consider hosting a virtual happy hour or sharing with a few people during a team meeting. Just keep it updated so that high and low cannot become a viral meme.
Turn Breaks into Informal Social Time
Eat with your colleagues at your lunch. Your meeting schedule may not allow for a proper lunch every day, but blocking off at least two days a week where you’re not multi-tasking on your computer can make your lunch more enjoyable and more enjoyable. social. This can be planned in advance, where you meet someone in another department you don’t see often, or it can be more informal with a team member who works alongside you. If you want to take a more relaxed approach, ask someone if they’d like to join you when you head out the door or reheat your leftovers.
Social breaks can also effectively combat mental fatigue mid-afternoon slump and help you feel refreshed for that last task before you finish the day. If you notice that your eyelids are drooping and your head is drooping, stand up and move. If you are in the office, this is the best time to walk the halls and connect with some people or invite someone over for a cup of coffee. Like at lunch, you can stop to chat with members of your own team or drop by another department. Movement and conversation will stimulate you and serve as a time for connection and possible internal networking. If you work remotely, send a friendly Slack message to a colleague, instead of scrolling through social media. Even if they are too busy to respond, they may offer to get back to you later.
Call During Your Commute
If you commute to the office or travel for business, some of your travel time may provide an ideal opportunity to catch up informally with colleagues. One of my clients who is an executive with a full meeting schedule uses his drive home to talk and have informal conversations with his leaders. This helped him get a more personal view of their thoughts and concerns, as the company was going through a big transition.
When you’re on the road, you can call from airports, Uber, or hotels or send messages when you’re waiting in lines or on trains. Even a five to 10 minute conversation will increase your relationship and, most importantly, show that you care.
Take advantage of Virtual Messaging
If you work remotely, the options for informal social connections can be limited. In these cases, you can simply send a quick chat or text message asking how someone is doing or sharing a quick update with them.
These conversations can take up a lot of time if you don’t know how long they’ll go, so you’ll want to limit how often you engage in pure social messaging. But coming a few times a week can be fun and help you feel connected. Consider pinging people at natural times when you say “Hello!” with former coworkers, such as when you first arrive at your desk, at lunch, or when you’re waiting for a meeting to start.
It can be a challenge to find time to talk to people when you hardly feel like you have time to complete tasks and projects. But there are benefits to connecting with your coworkers. Instead of putting your head down and focusing only on work, find pockets of time in your schedule where you can thoughtfully connect with colleagues.