Message from Our CEO: Maintaining Your Focus by Taking Care of Yourself

Photo of hilly landscape and cloudless sky

During these COVID-19 times, we may find ourselves struggling to find a sense of belonging. Without the in-person-connection and our teams working out of home offices, I have been made more aware of how difficult connecting can be. For those of us who are used to daily interaction with our clients, our teams, and our colleagues, this “shelter-in-place” order can have unintended side-effects or can create an array of challenging situations or circumstances.

I know sometimes we focus more on the tactical and strategic business responses and decisions during this crisis. Keeping our team billable and engaged in projects, keeping our projects moving along their deadlines, and continuing to support our Business Development and Marketing processes all seem to consume our workday. While these tangible activities are very important to the health and well-being of West Yost, West Yost is who we are because of all of us – the PEOPLE who make up our company. And while it can’t be measured by billable hours, or deadlines met, our health and well-being is just as critical. We cannot forget about the intangible things like the mental, emotional, and psychological impacts COVID-19 has on us.

There are many challenges when people first start working remotely, including a tendency to work too much. Without the distractions of your normal day at the office, it’s tempting to plow through task after task without a break. In the long run, however, this can be counterproductive. Research has shown that after an hour or two of concentrated work, your brain becomes fatigued and your productivity plummets.

The “Pomodoro Technique” is one proven method for helping maintain focus in a healthier way. Set a timer for 25 minutes to do highly focused work. Then take a five-minute break, and then repeat. After two hours take a longer break for 20 minutes. This technique will help you feel more productive while breaking up the day to attend to other needs while working at home.

Another activity that has proven to improve people’s well-being is providing support to others. Assisting others in their time of need benefits both the person receiving support and the helper. I’ve heard amazing stories of our West Yost team checking in on neighbors, gathering families together on video calls, or even sewing masks for our healthcare community like our own Andy Smith.

Especially in times of stress, we need to engage in healthy activities that we enjoy and find relaxing. We need to exercise regularly, keep regular sleep routines, and eat healthy food. We need to stay connected and engaged, both professionally and personally.

With this in mind, we launched Spirit Week to boost our West Yost connectivity. This is a space where we are connecting on a human level on different topics throughout the month. We look forward to sharing more with you.

Charles Duncan, PE, President and CEO

West Yost Associates