Healthy Habits For SAP Consultants
SAP Consulting is an extremely engaging and rewarding career, but it is also a highly competitive arena and can be stressful at times. By adopting some healthy habits for SAP consultants, these busy professionals can make themselves happier and more productive.
Because the success of SAP implementation contracts is measured in terms of how long a project takes, as well as the return on investment and added value for customers, it is easy to underestimate the importance of physical and mental health as part of your career maintenance and development.
In the worst cases, disregarding these aspects of working life can lead to burnout, and eventually to a change of employer or even a new career.
This week IgniteSAP will discuss some of the most common ways in which SAP consultants take risks with their physical and mental health in the pursuit of their career goals, and share with our community some simple changes they can make for healthier, more sustainable working habits.
When your body and mind are functioning optimally you will be happier, think more clearly, and be a more effective and highly employable as an SAP consultant: so here are a few healthy habits for SAP consultants.
Short Term Thinking Leads To Bad Choices
Sometimes it feels like there is never enough time, and nobody wants to let their team and their customers down, so consultants are often put in a position where they make choices in the short term to prioritize their work rather than their well-being.
Keep your short term goals in context and use long term thinking to put things in perspective.
Staying up late or working through a weekend to finish the next piece of a project might sometimes be the only option, but with careful project planning and time management these unsocial working hours might be unnecessary.
Planning For Well-Being
Realistic schedules that take account of team members’ needs should be fundamental to the planning stage of any SAP project, and if you feel that you are being given too much to handle it is always best to say so at the outset. If you are in the middle of one then talk to your team leader or project manager about your concerns. You may not be the only one and your request for intervention and support may save the project from running into a roadblock.
When a team is distributed across two or more time zones it can be difficult to set boundaries so that each member has a clear break from the working day. Schedules for SAP projects should also take account of the location and time zone of each team member so meetings do not need to occur in the middle of the night.
Sleep And Relaxation
The value of rest is constantly underestimated. Your brain cannot function at its optimum when dealing with a sleep deficit: meaning that if you are feeling tired you may make a serious mistake that could come back to haunt you later.
Also, make sure you have time to rest (while awake) and take a break from thinking about work-related topics as well as sleeping enough. Your brain requires variety of experience and you will allow your thoughts to occur naturally rather than in an intense burst of cognitive effort.
Even when not actively thinking about work, your subconscious mind can resolve problems for you during periods of rest and relaxation, leading to a higher capacity for problem solving and creative thought when you return to the project.
Eat Well and Eat Healthy
Don’t skip meals. Include meals and snacks in your daily planning for work activities, and prepare healthy alternatives rather than opting for convenience foods. Stay hydrated, and drink water more than coffee!
Your work as an SAP consultant requires that you think clearly, so eat light and regular meals to provide yourself with fuel for your brain.
Even though IT consulting is not primarily a physical activity, regular exercise helps you to feel happier, reduces stress, and helps you concentrate more easily on your work. Cardio and weight-bearing exercise can increase your vascular health which improves the functioning of your brain.
Try to schedule short periods during the working day to get away from your desk and move around. Go for a short walk to relieve tension in your muscles which can accumulate when sitting for long periods of time.
Practicing breathing exercises and mindfulness are a great way to not only address your physical needs, but also provide an antidote to the stress that can build up at work.
Travel For Work
SAP consulting work can involve travel which means time away from your family. While its always possible to speak to your loved ones while on business trips, being present in the same physical space as them is crucially important to the maintenance of those relationships and for your own mental well-being. There are lots of motivations to work and one of them is to provide for your family, but don’t let work commitments stop you from spending time with them for too long.
Try to ensure that you can maintain healthy eating habits and exercise even when traveling, and always bear in mind that travel between time zones is disruptive to your sleep patterns.
Also, take into account how much time it will take to commute each day to your place of work from where you are staying when considering a new contract or new employer. Sitting in traffic and on crowded public transport systems can add significantly to the mental and physical stress of the working day.
Assess Your Working Environment
If you are working in an office, you may find that there is insufficient provision for well-being.
Sometimes a simple change, like switching off bright overhead lights in favor of lower lighting levels to reduce eye strain, or improving the ventilation by opening a window can make you far more comfortable.
Whether working from home or in the office make sure that the combination of desk and seat is comfortable. Chairs should support your back and you should be looking straight ahead at your computer screen, not turned slightly to the side. Back problems can build over time to the point where they limit your ability to work at your desk and concentrate.
Setting boundaries when working from home is particularly important as it is easy to slip into an “always on call” mindset. Again, planning ahead and scheduling meetings will help you to finish work at a reasonable time each day.
The Work Culture Of Your Employer
Many of the leading consultancies recognize the importance of a working culture which promotes well-being as this leads to greater efficiency and productivity, but sometimes this can be overlooked or slip as deadlines approach and pressure increases.
The best way to make sure that your employer values the physical and mental health of their employees is to assess this when applying for a new position. Do they encourage employee engagement with surveys and team building activities? Are they flexible employers?
If you are unhappy and can see a solution to a problematic work culture, don’t be shy about sharing this information with your manager or the executive level. They may thank you in the long run as changes to improve the culture and environment of a workplace can improve employee retention rates for the organization, saving the cost of regularly onboarding new talent.
Communicate And Socialize
In some workplaces employees are under pressure to be seen constantly working at the task in hand to justify their salary, but getting to know the people you are working with will always help to create healthy working relationships.
Humans are social animals and it is important to recognize the need for communication, and the role this plays in promoting happiness. Understanding what your colleagues value and what motivates them can help to avoid conflicts before they happen. By reaching out to our co-workers we can create a supportive environment which in turn can lead to better collaboration, more creative thinking, increased productivity, and a healthier, happier team.
Personal Growth And Development
While IT consultants can measure their success in monetary terms, it is important to assess your career regularly with respect to personal growth and development, and emotional health. Adopting a few of these healthy habits for SAP consultants might make all the difference, but maybe you need to make some fundamental changes.
You might be paid extremely well in your current job but are you happy with how you spend your time? Do you work too much? Do you feel that your effort at work is recognized and validated? How do you expect to feel about your working life in five years time?
It is of course particularly important for SAP consultants to undertake further professional training periodically because SAP is constantly upgrading and augmenting the products and services they offer, so consultants need to be familiar and competent at implementing this new technology for their employers and customers.
As well as being able to see a clear path to career development, SAP consultants should take time to step back from their work and ask themselves if they are happy in their work and their relationships. It is easy to become habituated to circumstances at work and elsewhere, but there is always the possibility that with a little effort and a few simple changes, you could be happier and healthier.
If you are considering your next role, speak to one of our SAP career specialists who will help you find your ideal employer. Join our community at IgniteSAP.