When work and life are both fast-paced and hectic, don't forget to take time out to reflect, relax and recover, reminds Jerene Ang.

Having recently attended the Performance Course by Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute (HPI), I picked up some terrific ideas. Here are some dos and don'ts I've learned to help us perform at our best.

Do: Connect to your purpose

Aligning what you do under the company's mission is just one part of the equation. The other, and perhaps more important part, is to ensure your actions are aligned with your personal purpose and values – remember that life isn’t all about work. If you have already defined your purpose in life, take the time to reflect if you are living it. If you have not defined it, then it's time to look inwards and discover where you want to go and what matters most to you.

Jim Loehr, Ed.D, and Co-Founder of Johnson & Johnson HPI, said: "Discovering and living your personal brilliant purpose brings energy, fulfillment and wellbeing to your life."

For me, my purpose is to live life to the fullest. I want to excel in my career while not losing touch with my family and friends, being able to travel, and without forgetting about self-care.

To me, connecting to this purpose means choosing to fully engage while at work and giving my best there. It also means to fully disconnect from work while with friends and family, or while on holiday, to fully enjoy the little moments of joy.

Don't: Multitask

I used to pride myself on my ability to multitask, but I now realise that multitasking actually diminishes performance as you're only partially engaged in each of your multiple tasks.

I've discovered the key to stop multitasking is to eliminate distractions and to intentionally focus on one thing at a time. Of course, that urgent email still needs to be attended to, and you still have to discuss next week's event with your colleague.

But instead of trying to do everything at the same time, set aside chunks of time for such tasks. Also, instead of discussing something with your colleague or boss in the middle of a task, schedule a meeting time for discussion.

"If you have already defined your purpose in life, take the time to reflect if you are living it."

Do: Take time for recovery

According to Willis Towers Watson's 2017/2018 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey, 60% of employees in Singapore admitted to having above average or high levels of stress.

While stress is seen as a stimulus for growth (since you can never grow your capacity without stepping out of your comfort zone), too much stress is detrimental to productivity as demonstrated by Aon's APAC Benefits Strategy Study 2017, where 72% of employers in Singapore considered stress and mental health an issue affecting productivity.

In line with that, it is crucial we take time out to recover. Some ways to do so include practising mindfulness, meditation, celebrating successes, exercising, pampering yourself at the spa or socialising with friends. In fact, a recent study from the Singapore Management University (SMU) found that mindfulness training can help middle managers cope with the stress and emotional exhaustion associated with their jobs.

Don't: Neglect your health

You often hear people saying "mind over matter" when they burn the midnight oil to get a project done – I've done so many times myself. While that simply gets the job done, chances are, it may not be your best work. To ensure you are performing at your best, you need to ensure your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy are all in check.

The physical aspect is the foundation to having good mental, emotional and spiritual energy. In fact, according to Chris Jordan, Director of Exercise Physiology at Johnson & Johnson HPI, the keys to maintaining all four aspects are simply moving more, sleeping better, exercising smarter and eating light and often.

My tried-and-tested tips? Move more: get up and walk for one to two minutes every hour. Develop a bedtime routine by winding down one to two hours before you would like to fall asleep (I find reading and meditation useful).

Further, exercise smarter: research shows that exercising for just 72 minutes a week can also bring significant improvement to your fitness. Just make sure you reach your target heart rate zone. Finally, eat light (five handfuls of a variety of food at each meal), but eat often (eat a healthy snack two to three hours after each meal).

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