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What would you do if you could clear the decks for a week - no meetings, no interruptions? Would you focus on one big project? Optimise some processes? Tame that backlog that's gotten out of control?
At Articulate, we decided to slow our roll for a stress-free 'Week of Calm'. Here's what we did, and how it went.
What we did in our Week of Calm
An independent working group in the business took the lead in organising activities for the week. It was intended as an opportunity for us all to focus on positive habits, take time to slow down, and practice mindfulness as a company. Participation was voluntary, so people could choose what activities they felt would be most calming.
Some of these activities were:
- Two-minute mornings
- Mindful walks (and pictures of nature!)
- Daily discussion groups on mental health topics
- A group session with a qualified coach (thank you, Chiara!)
- Happy Breakfasts and Happy Half Hours
- A presentation on Wellness Action Plans
The group also collaborated on a resource workspace on Notion (our intranet). This was packed with book, film and article recommendations, as well as YouTube yoga and fitness videos. Now, we have that collection of resources to access in the future.
And, we reminded everyone of our already existing company subscription to the Calm app, as well as our BUPA mental health resources such as the Employee Assistance Programme.
During the week, we cancelled meetings, reorganised work and took a deep breath. And another. Inhale. Exhale.
Feeling calm yet?
How the Week of Calm helped us regain balance
People found our group session with executive coach Chiara Blosio eye-opening and helpful. We'll definitely be bringing in more third-party guests who can offer unique insights that kick-start a conversation.
More generally, the chance to reset and rest was welcomed by all.
'I felt that the activities that made myself more aware of my current state of mind and being present with people was very beneficial for me. I would say I now think a lot more about my everyday actions.'
— Ben Holness, Specialist Designer
More time to focus
'My weeks are normally so full of meetings that I really enjoyed the meeting-free space to organise my own schedule and tackle some bigger projects and do some deeper thinking.'
— Matthew Stibbe, CEO
Many departments took the time to work on process improvements or a single, focused project. The business development team, for example, worked on research and data gathering so we could improve our lead nurturing workflows. With the time to think about one thing, without distractions, we came up with a lot of creative ideas!
Starting new healthy habits
'The morning sun filled me with energy and happiness.'
— Mirela Mart, CFO
From trying out some Yoga to going for walks in the mornings, everyone had a go at using this week to implement a healthy habit or two. Those of us lucky enough to live in Spain shared some enviable scenes at the beach.
'My walks felt more mindful. Stopping to look at things and take photos, trying to notice the beauty of the particular day... it was sort of mindfulness in action.'
— Liz Fielder, Chief Happiness Officer
Opening up about mental health
'The week had me thinking a bit more introspectively on my mental health. It even opened up conversations for me with the team, friends and family.'
— Jenny Davies, Specialist Business Development Representative
Although our mental health discussion wandered wildly off topic, there was an atmosphere that meant people shared their personal experiences and feelings more openly. It was brilliant to see the how the team views Articulate as a safe, inclusive space where these discussions can happen without judgement or stigma.
Time to relax, with friends (and dessert!)
It's a lot easier to chill out in small groups, where everyone can join in on the discussion and the pressure's off. So, we peppered the week with chats, or 'poddles' as we like to call them.
In one, we decided to have a desert island desserts poddle - people even took the time to bake some admirable white chocolate and raspberry blondies, and scones:
Our advice (for what it's worth)
It was a worthwhile week, but not as stress-free as perhaps we might have hoped. In reality, work still had to happen. A pandemic still lingers, somewhat oppressively. And - somehow - we got a bit frenetic about this whole idea of having to be calm, which is what happens when you have a company full of Type A personalities. Calm, sorted. Next week, world peace.
Our advice: find ways to bring calm into your life, and into your business, but know that you can't do it all in a week. In the end, our Week of Calm set us up for better habits, more focused work and was a welcome change of pace. It was a place to start, but not the end of the journey.
So, take a moment. What would you do with a week of calm?