How to improve our work performance with a good work-life balance?

As a CEO and the founder of our clinic, Mind & Body Garden Psychology Inc., and working with a wonderful team with 9 other clinicians, I am often struggling with the following challenges:

I often feel that I have too much to do but not enough time.

I find myself get distracted easily by emails or random things, nothing important gets done and time flies by.

Sometimes, my energy level is low and feel exhausted/tired.

When I work a lot, I ignore my heath, develop poor eating and excising habits.

I find myself work a lot of hours, but make very limited progress sometimes.


After taking a brief workshop from a psychologist, Ron Friedman, Ph.D., I summarized some of his general suggestions about being efficient at work he proposed. Some of these suggestions are consistent with what I teach my clients who suffers from insomnia or poor work-life balance.

1) Should we try to do the most important things in the morning?

NO. We all have different circadian rhythm so we have different peak performance time. We should listen to our body and decide when would be the best time for us to work on important tasks.

2) Should we work harder and longer hours in order to be “productive“?

NO. Working longer hours does not guarantee productivity. We all need to learn how to manage distractions.

  • Using computer screens saver with reminders of our goal of the day.

  • Using alarms to remind ourselves to enter certain tasks or to end certain tasks. (I often recommend this method to my clients and many of them like it.)

3) What should we do if we feel tired?

I often told my clients that sleep and fatigue are different concepts. I am happy to see Dr. Friedman mentioned this in his lecture also. Here are some key points:

  • Improving sleep quality is much more important than sleeping for longer hours.

  • “Visit gym after work, not before. “ Dr. Friedman gave two reasons for this:

    • 1) When we move our bodies and exercise, it helps us to manage our stress.

    • 2) When we sleep, our body temperature drops. National sleep foundation reports evidences that when the room temperature is around 65 degree, we sleep better. After coming out of the gym, our body temperature starts dropping, as we get tired slowly, which can help us improve sleep quality later.

  • After lunch, going out for a walk, increase sunlight exposure, instead of drinking an afternoon coffee. Caffeine enhance performance, but also increase our level of anxiety. Dr. Friedman suggests us to stop taking coffee (including decaf coffee) 8 hours before bed time, ideally finishing the last cup before 2pm.

  • Avoid spicy foods in the evening, because it raises body temperature.

Highlights of the Q & A:

Q: What are some good strategies for us to mange our stress better?

A: Psychologists normally teach ppl a lot of strategies, such as breathing. However, the skills more likely serve as “bandage“, and we need to find where stress come from. A lot of times when we have stress, we don’t feel we have enough control over things.

Q: Can alcohol help with our sleep?

A: Alcohol can help increase creativity, but suppresses our REM sleep. Dr. Friedman suggests that if we take 1 drink, then we’d better drink it at least 3 hours before bed. If we take 2 drinks, then finish them 4 hours before bed. If we take 3 drinks, then finish them 5 hours before bed, and so on. Of course, we don’t want to drink that much at night any way. This timeline suggestion does not make it ok to drink much at night at all.

If you want to learn more about sleep, or treat your insomnia, welcome to find more information about my insomnia online group.

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885 N. San Antonio Rd., Suit O,

Los Altos, CA 94022

SF Bay Area