Have you come back from your holiday refreshed? Or are you feeling like you need another holiday?
Many people I’m hearing from right now still feel tired and exhausted even after their holiday. Is that you?
Maybe you didn’t get a chance to read that book or quietly sunbathe despite your best intentions.
Or perhaps you took some work away with you. You may not have literally taken your laptop but work nevertheless invaded your space. Maybe the odd email, phone call or conference call just had to be done.
So no time to really stop, unwind and relax.
Possibly you had reports to read, projects to plan or resources to juggle.
So have you really come back to work having caught up on sleep and with your batteries recharged?
Whatever is the reality for you, how is you battery level right now and is it enough to carry you through the next few months? If it’s not great, how are you going to get back on track and be ready for whatever comes?
Here are the top five tips and techniques I have gathered with my clients over the years.
If you want to increase your productivity, mood, creativity and well-being, the best thing you can do is get more sleep. Unless you’re getting from seven to nine hours of sleep a night, chances are you’re not getting enough. If you want to be a high-performer and get quality work done, research has shown that if you don’t get enough sleep you make more mistakes and things will take longer to do. An extra 30 minutes a night will make all the difference
2) Get ahead of your day.
Creating space and time to plan your day before it starts seems to be the crucial tactic for high-performers. Knowing what must get done today before looking at emails will help you stay on track. After all, emails are just a convenient way of organising other people’s agendas. If you mean business you need to be clear about your own agenda.
3) Agreements avoid disagreements.
How often have you found yourself working late into the night only to discover that what you’re working on wasn’t needed, or you did more than was necessary? Has that ever happened to you? Certainly it happened to me in my time at Goldman Sachs. You see, I never used to have the courage to seek clarification, particularly with more senior colleagues. As a consequence I often did more work than was necessary. But it doesn’t have to be so. Seek clarification before you get started.
4) Stop and take a break.
In today’s fast-paced world, which is continuously changing and bombarding us with distractions it’s easy to think that we need to keep going to get things done. However, the reality is that when you have information overload and decision fatigue it’s time to take a break. Even a short walk to the bathroom or to grab something to drink can be enough to allow your brain to recover and get back on track.
5) Choose who you hang out with.
If you want to hang on to that holiday feeling and don’t want to get dragged into office politics then choose your company wisely. Choose people who are going to motivate and energise and not those who will drag you down with their moans and groans. As my mum says, ‘hang out with radiators, not drains’.You are after all the average of the people you hang out with.
I hope you found these tips and techniques useful.
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You might do your job out of necessity, or it might be your passion that drives you, either way, have you ever wondered – is your career killing your marriage? There is nothing wrong with your focus being on your career, this is a highly positive thing, and you’re in a fortunate position if you are driven by something that fulfills you and gives you a great sense of achievement. However, should this come at the expense of anything else that is also important to you, in particular, your marriage? What you need to aim for is giving all aspects that make up your life sufficient time and attention; be it work, relationships or health and wellbeing.
Here we give a few pointers on how you can tell – is your career killing your marriage?
Do you have a good work/life balance?
With a busy work schedule, we can often go into autopilot, leaving the house early, not getting back until late, followed by dinner, bath, bed – and then doing it all again. Making time for a marriage or a relationship in the working week can seem difficult, and for some it might even be seen as unnecessary. However, even the healthiest of relationships still need nurturing in order to flourish. Giving time to a marriage on a daily basis can seem unimportant, however in the bigger picture this can lead to neglecting the relationship and taking your partner for granted. Make time in your day for your partner. This could be sitting down and having breakfast together, or dinner, or having some quiet time in the evening where you focus on each other, and not the TV or smartphone. If this is something you would rather avoid, you should be asking yourself why.
Does you partner hate you working?
Having a career we love and are good at can deliver a great sense of achievement, build self esteem, and keep us feeling fulfilled. However, it is not unheard of for a partner to dislike their other half having a career. The only way to overcome this is to communicate, and get to the bottom of the reasons why. Your partner could feel threatened by your success due to their own insecurity issues. Or, they could resent the fact that it takes up so much of your time, especially if work spills over into home life and the things you do together. Be sure to communicate how you both feel, and come up with compromises if need be. Make sure you are putting as much effort into your marriage as you need to, and try and see it from the other side.
Do you snap at your partner for no reason?
Sometimes you can snap at your partner without even really being aware of it. If you are feeling irritable, it could be for many reasons (medical, tiredness, stress) however it can often be related to stress at work. When you feel stressed about work, and do not deal with this stress, it can spill into other areas of your life. Try to be more self aware, and when you catch yourself snapping at your partner, acknowledge it, apologise, and explain the feelings behind it.
Do you feel resentful toward your spouse?
When small things aren’t discussed and dealt with properly, they can fester and grow. If you find yourself feeling moody and resentful toward your partner, take a step back and see if you can figure out why. Is it because you feel you are doing more housework than them, despite working full time, or do you feel they don’t understand you? Whatever the reason, communication is key. As well as communication with your spouse, being able to know yourself and how you really feel about things is vital.
Do you speak up at work?
Not speaking up at work can mean you come home feeling frustrated and unheard, or perhaps undervalued. And as you might expect, if these feelings are not dealt with in the workplace, they are brought home. These feelings of frustration, maybe anger, at work are likely to spill over into your home life, and it is common that these feelings can be projected onto your partner. It could be that you are acting as if you are unhappy at home, when really you are unhappy with issues at work. Try to deal with work issues in the workplace, and you will be less likely to take them home with you.
Take time out for yourself
In addition to having a career, and being a spouse, perhaps a parent, and any other role you may be fulfilling, it is important to take time out for yourself. This doesn’t mean having a cup of tea or a glass of wine and scrolling through your phone. This means, quiet time when you are alone with your thoughts and you can work out what is really going on. If you are stressed, ask yourself how you are feeling, and what might make it better. If you or your partner seems unhappy, ask yourself what can make it better. While it is important to put time and effort into your marriage, it is also vital that you nurture your own self and deal with your own feelings about things too. As they say on planes these days, fit your own oxygen mask before you help others to do the same.
Do you find yourself rushing around with no time to think? Perhaps you have so much on, that it’s impossible to keep up? Or maybe you know the quality of your work is not its best and you’re worried you’re going to be found out?
Imagine 2017 is the year you get on top of things and that you will be in charge of your day rather than your day being in charge of you.
You see, “The quality of everything we do is dependant on the thinking we do first” – Nancy Kline.
So creating time to think is vital. But how do you do that? It’s certainly not always easy and not always possible but try these ideas to regain control, get some time back and be in charge of your day.
Before you look at emails, and I mean BEFORE, think about these questions:-
o What’s important to get done today?
o Who do I need to reach out to?
o What sort of leader do I want to be?
o Who do I need to appreciate/acknowledge?
You might need to lie in bed for a couple of minutes longer to do this if you can’t trust yourself not to look at emails first thing!
As you walk between meetings ask yourself these questions:-
o What was great about that last interaction?
o What would I do differently next time?
o What do I want out of the next interaction? Win:Win
o How do I need to be to get the result I want?
And during your commute home or at the end of the day
o What can I celebrate, however small?
o What’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned?
o What needs to happen so I feel done for today?
o How can I best switch off and recharge the battery ready for tomorrow?
The inability of all of us to switch off is universal these days and is evident in every sector.
The World Health Organisation states that stress is the ‘Global Health Epidemic of the 21st Century’. Stress and burnout are on the increase globally due to the increase and intensity of work and it is now the number one cause of sickness here in the UK with 12 million days lost in 2015.
The Sunday Times in 2016 stated that nearly 3/4 of bankers were suffering from insomnia, panic attacks, headaches and depression brought on by work-related stress.
The City of London police reported in Sept ’16 (9 months) a 100% increase in suicides from the previous full year 2105 in the square mile alone.
It’s a major issue.
The average user in the UK checks their Smartphone 150 times a day
70% check their work phones within the first hour of waking
56% check their work phones before going to bed
48% check their work phones over the weekend
Harvard Business School expect email volumes to increase by 16% year on year
51% constantly check their phones during holidays
73% of British workers feel they are expected to always be available, increasing stress levels and the likelihood of them leaving their job.
It’s all a false economy and we’re all colluding in this fallacy. It’s a massive problem for mental health and productivity. It’s just not possible to function at your best for long periods of time without breaks and time out.
Our brains cannot continue to process information without out time out – they get full up. Timeout allows the brain to consolidate information, make meaning, allow connections and creativity to happen and puts down memories. Being on 24/7 is not humanly possible and doesn’t allow for Eureka moments that only happen when our brains are allowed to wander.
As I say we are all colluding. Have you sent emails outside of normal working hours and expected an immediate response? Was it really that urgent? Have you sent emails to people who you know are on holiday? Have you have copied in people on emails which was not really necessary and adding to their already bulging inbox.
Instead, people need to stop this folly. We have to allow people to have time out. Within your team agree up front and between you when you will have uninterrupted time to switch off and recharge. Take it in turns to cover for each other to give people a break.
If you want the biggest competitive advantage of all, carve out your own ‘switch off’ time and stick to it. You know your competitors won’t dare and you will be so much more effective and clear-headed.
If don’t you could be yet another burn out casualty!
More than ever Leadership skills are critical for success. In the new world of hyper-connectivity and information overload being able to identify what is essential and what is just noise, will identify the true future leaders. It requires more than being a ’subject matter expert’ (SME) and in fact, I think being recognised as an SME will hold you back.
As Goldsmith said ‘what got you here, won’t get you there’ is absolutely true and being seen as an expert in your field will serve you very well in the early part of your career but if you aspire to get to the top you need to have a real shift in mindset and behaviour. No longer will you be able to rely on your expertise, and the success of your own area to show your worth. You will need to move to a place where your success is measured
You will need to move to a place where your success is measured on the success of other peoples successes and you will no longer get the lion share of the credit. Ideally, you will surround yourself with high achieving, ambitious people who may know as much or more than you and who want your job. In my experience, this is a big step for many professionals climbing the corporate ladder. As you move up and take on responsibility for businesses or departments outside your area of expertise you need to ‘let go’ of knowing the ‘answer’ and be able instead to ask the ‘right question’. This takes maturity and different leadership skills.
Often another challenge for professionals in my experience is that early on in their career they pride themselves in getting the ‘right answer’. Often black and white thinking. Right or wrong. This won’t work at the top! There often isn’t a right or wrong answer – another mindset shift and a need to exercise influencing and negotiating skills.
These mindset shifts not only require you to re-invent your own self-concept but necessitate in re-branding yourself in the workplace. Without others looking at you differently and recognising that you are now more than your technical know-how, you are stuck. One way to do this is to change roles or even organisations.
As you climb further up the tree, there is more and more need to balance future goals with current needs. This requires thinking time. Something which is less and less available these days. You need to stop doing and reflect, analyse, accept advice and decide. This long-term perspective requires a level of maturity and selflessness. No longer can you think of only yourself and your success but you need to think of the organisation as a whole and your legacy.
Growing as a leader takes constant work and attention. Watching and modeling great leaders at work can really help hone your skills but a coach can accelerate the pace and help you identify an authentic leadership style of your own that is effective and gets results.