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  1. Key Strategies for Achieving a Balance between Work and Home. How do Working Parents do it?

    December 16, 2014 by Jenna

    We are delighted to share this week’s blog from Virginia Herlihy, who works for an organisation called How Do We Do It. They provide in-house programmes to help working parents in Australia and the UK combine their dual roles. For those of you that may not know her, here is her background below and we hope you enjoy her featured blog:

    A note from Founder, Virginia Herlihy

    My passion for helping working parents find a successful way to manage their work and home lives has meant I’ve witnessed first-hand the issues that organisations face in attracting and retaining talent, particularly female talent.

    As a working mother of two and a successful small business owner, I’ve personally faced the challenge of combining work and family.

    It’s been critical for me to examine and understand my values and develop strategies to achieve success and satisfaction in both areas of my life.

    My background in executive coaching, training and group facilitation means I can help both organisations and parents acquire those skills and strategies– to facilitate greater work-life harmony and success.

    I’m proud to say, the feedback we’ve received means the programmes and coaching we’ve developed, work.

    Key Strategies for Achieving a Balance between Work and Home. How do Working Parents do it?

    •  45% of couples with children under 2 are both in the workforce
    • 66% of couples with primary school children are both working. Australian Financial Review 2011

    Today many couples are jointly responsible for sharing their work and family responsibilities, so getting some kind of work/life balance can be a real challenge. If you’re a working mother you probably feel that family and work are competing (and constant) demands. You’re likely to be juggling your own expectations and responsibilities about how you should perform in both areas, as well as those of your colleagues and family. While mothers might get most of the attention when it comes to the challenge of balancing family and work, fathers also struggle to juggle their responsibilities and aspirations.

    So, how do YOU do it? Here are some tips that you have time to read because they are short and that we know help, from our experience with working with hundreds of working mothers and working fathers.

    • Strategy 1

    Continue to identify, acknowledge and appreciate the benefits of what you’re doing that is working for you/what you gain from the choice you are making to be a working parent.

    •  Strategy 2

    Remind yourself that you are not alone, and your challenges are normal which is very helpful in itself.  Keep actively talking to others like you and sharing experiences. Your network and the tips they share will help normalise your experience.

    •  Strategy 3

    Stop tuning in to others negative judgements/biases of how you are supposed to make being a working parent work. You can only get this right for you and your family/work.

    •  Strategy 4

    Get clear on your version of success as a working parent by answering theses questions – What does success look like for me as a working parent? What’s most important to me about my life? What’s most important to me about my working life?

    •  Strategy 5

    Avoid the language of compromise/trade off/sacrifice, which is negative and implies loss. Instead recognise that you are making choices, which have consequences and benefits so consciously use the language of choice.

    •  Strategy 6

    Use a scaling technique i.e. rating things from 1-10, low to high – to assess how much you want to do something out of 10 in terms of your energy, motivation, ability, how important it is to others etc. You can also use this to get perspective and rate how important something is in terms of your life overall so that you are less stressed by it. Your intuitive response will give you useful information.

    •  Strategy 7

    Check your energy around choices you are making/people with whom you are interacting and see whether or not you are being drained or filled.  When you have choice, in your personal life particularly, you can limit your exposure to draining people, situations.

    •  Strategy 8

    Remember to position shift – consider the decision/situation from different perspectives, your position, the other’s position.

    Author – Virginia Herlihy, Founder and Director of How do YOU Do It – Working Parents Programmes tailored to your business.

    Contact details:

     Who is How Do YOU Do It?

    • We deliver in-house programmes to help working parents in Australia and the UK combine their dual roles. We’re specialists in helping businesses support their talent.
    • We help businesses solve issues including female attraction and retention, flexible working strategies, as well as “on and off ramping”.
    • We help working parents find success at work and at home and balance their responsibilities in both areas
    • The result is a win/win for both businesses and parents

  2. Work-life balance: Collaboration NOT Separation

    December 9, 2014 by Jenna

    I can remember a time when I lived and breathed work. It wasn’t healthy. I was pulling longer hours out of fear of not looking productive enough, and while I had a passion for that industry I eventually started to resent it. My employer at the time did provide many benefits within the workplace, however, outside of work I may as well have been a ghost to my family and peers.

    For every individual work-life balance is different. Some of us love to work the longer hours because that is the lifestyle that they prefer. Others need to have a more flexible workplace that allows parental care/leave, opportunities to work from home etc.

    The problem that we have with the concept of ‘work-life balance’ however is that we imagine work and life as two separate entities that are not meant to intertwine. Therefore it becomes a constant struggle of which one do I choose as opposed to letting them co-exist.

    I am very fortunate now to work for an employer that provides a very flexible workplace that meets the needs of all staff members. And because of this I was able to achieve some extraordinary goals in my personal life without having to compromise work commitments over my personal goals.

    Both can work together if we let it, it just requires certain changes and planning to make it successful.

    When I was training to trek towards Everest Base Camp, I would often have to do altitude training in Mosman in the mornings, and one night a week I would do endurance training with a woman’s walking group. I would sometimes bring a giant backpack with me to work so that I could go directly to training without worrying about rushing home first and arriving at training late. During down time I could enjoy spending time with friends and family as a reward for getting through the working week and training requirements. It also required discipline to maintain momentum and setting a routine for myself daily to reach those goals.

    Of course there were times when I would need to work back later than expected, or perhaps I would have an off day and sleep in and not go to the gym, after all we are only human! But for the most part I was able to maintain both work and personal success and I kept my workplace informed about my goals and what I was trying to achieve.

    You may not always have an even allocation of time to do everything you want to do, but be realistic with what you are trying to achieve on a daily basis and what it important for your to spend time on. If you are juggling too much or agreeing to take too many things on at the same time, you will burn out and be disappointed in yourself. That is another important piece of advice that I have come to discover about myself over the years is to know your limits. This will help you better establish whether you are capable to put your hand up to take on another assignment or goal, or whether it will be much easier to delegate it to someone who is more than capable and available.

    Working for a job that you love and enjoy is also a key factor in making your work and personal life co-exist. Otherwise if you are working 80% of the time at something you no longer have a passion for, it can affect your mental well-being as well and create a negative mindset. This can therefore effect relationships with those around you. If you love what you do, you will find that your attitude and outlook on life can really make a difference for you in a positive way.

    How do you get your work and lifestyle to collaborate? What steps do you need to take to ensure you get the balance that you need?


  3. Writing a self-evaluation: Are you promoting yourself in the best light?

    November 25, 2014 by Jenna

    Self-evaluations are often used as part of a review process, either at the end of the probation period or as part of a performance review. They include providing a personal review of your workplace experiences and accomplishments to date. Many people find this process nerve racking. However, if you take the time to plan your evaluation properly it can be an enlightening and valuable experience for both you and your boss.

    Why do we write self-evaluations?

    Staff are asked to write self-evaluations for two main reasons; Firstly so that managers can get a staff members of perspective about working in the company or team; Secondly it gives you the opportunity to reflect on your experience in the role, your accomplishments and as well as areas for improvement.

    Where we fall short and how it should be viewed

    Errors can occur when individuals assume they need to answer the questions in the way they think their managers would like to see their review. They may also fail to ask for clarification on a question or subject or fail to elaborate when there is the opportunity.

    Sometimes the thought process of writing the review is a scarier process than actually writing it yourself and we can often put it off until the last minute.

    Self-evaluations should be a great opportunity to showcase your skills and display your best qualities as an employee.

    Take out some time in your busy schedule to block out distractions and take down points on what you have accomplished over this time period, you may surprise yourself!

    Benefits of writing a self-evaluation

    • Having your own voice: This is your opportunity to give an honest reflection of the work you have done for the company so far and outline how well you have accomplished your objectives.
    • Creating awareness: While management may provide you with assignments and tasks, they may not be fully aware of what other projects and tasks you complete regularly and what you are contributing to the company. It also increases your own awareness of what you are capable of and can build self-confidence.
    • Promoting your key skill sets: This is an opportunity to provide examples of when you had to use those skills to achieve outcomes. Perhaps even provide a list with dates to present with the document.
    • An chance to ask questions and seek feedback: Some potential questions you could ask might be: 1) Where do you see my role progressing? 2) Is there an opportunity for further training or mentoring in a particular field? 3) Are there any future goals or targets that I need to be aware of? 4) Do you see me taking on further responsibilities within my role?

     You also have to opportunity to provide feedback on your current working environment (what works and what doesn’t work). Perhaps you can even provide suggestions based on improvements within your work environment, show initiative.

    • Reflect on your personal development needs: While this can seem scary at first, establishing weaknesses can also open up the opportunity to discuss how management can best assist you to work on areas of improvement and how to further develop in that area you may be struggling in.
    • Building a closer bond between you and your manager/supervisor: By writing a self-evaluation, you can open up barriers and allow communication to flow more freely. Working collaboratively to achieve future goals and outcomes together as a team.

    Writing your self-evaluation

    Take the written evaluation seriously and consider the following:

    • Presentation – Check your spelling and grammar (as well as formatting – make sure the information flows well). If it appears like the work has been added in haste or looks rough around the edges, management may think you don’t take this process seriously.
    • Be specific when you can – include dates, examples, who you reported to (for validation) etc.
    • If there were problems or difficult situations, discuss the issue and provide feedback on possible solutions so that mistakes do not repeat themselves. Take responsibility and show your genuine interest in self improvement.
    • Re-establish your understanding of the role and how it ties to the goals and vision of your company/team
    • Highlight achievements, but make them relevant and try not to come across as arrogant or boastful.

    What feedback have you received before regarding the self-evaluation? What have you learned from writing your own evaluations?


  4. How to handle the toxic employee in the workplace

    November 17, 2014 by Jenna

    During your career life-cycle, you may end up working with someone that you may not see eye to eye with. Individuals that can be placed in any of the following categories – complainers, controllers, gossipers, bullies, judges, or someone who is not flexible with accepting another opinion or feedback. This can make your working environment tense, it can increase stress levels and it can also give you a more negative outlook towards work. However, there are ways to rise above it so that it won’t affect you on a daily basis.

    An article on by Travis Bradberry on SBS News provided insight on How to Handle Toxic People and I have highlighted the most important points to share from this article below:

    Don’t give up too easily

    It’s important to fight through another day, that’s what all great successors do, even if there are toxic individuals in your workplace. Try and be aware of your emotions and respond appropriately so that you can stand your ground when the time is right. If you leave your emotions unchecked and let items build up, it can lead to more damage than good.

    Stay aware of your emotions

    You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognise when it’s happening. You may find yourself in a situation where you need to regroup and choose the best way forward. Buying yourself time to assess the situation can often save an emotional reaction or putting your foot in your mouth by saying something that isn’t necessary.

    Giving yourself some time to assess a situation can also allow you to provide a better and more calculated response to set the situation straight.

    Establish Boundaries

    When you need to face your toxic co-worker on a daily basis it can feel like you are in a trap that you can’t get out of. You may think that this is out of your control and you can feel defeated and have to put up with being in their presence 24/7.

    If you set boundaries and decide when and where you’ll engage a difficult person, you can control much of the chaos. You can establish boundaries, just make sure you do it consciously and proactively. Otherwise you could find yourself getting wrapped up in difficult conversations or situations more often than you have to.

    Don’t let anyone limit your joy

    When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something that they have done, they won’t let anyone’s opinions or snide remarks take away from them.

    While we value feedback and opinions of others, we don’t have to compare ourselves with other people and it’s important to take options with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what toxic people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within.

    Don’t focus on the problems – only solutions

    When you fixate on the problems you are facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress. When you focus your actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and reduces stress.

    By focusing your attention on the toxic person, you are giving them exactly what they want. It gives them a sense of power over you. By focusing on how to handle the toxic person as opposed to thinking about how troubling they are, you are effectively putting yourself back into control and it will help with reducing stress when this person is around you.

    Squash negative-talk

    There is nothing wrong with feeling bad about how someone is treating you, but your self-talk (the thoughts you have about your feelings) can either help intensify the negativity or help you move past it. Negative self-talk is unrealistic, unnecessary and self-defeating. You should avoid negative-talk at all costs.

    Use your support system

    To deal with toxic people, you need to recognise the weaknesses in your approach to them. This means tapping into your support system to gain perspective on a challenging person. Identify these individuals in your life and make an effort to seek their insight and assistance when you need it. Having someone provide a solution who does not have an emotional connection to the situation can really open up a new perspective.

    Test different methods

    You will be faced with different tests when it comes to dealing with difficult people and interactions. This will involve practicing different behaviours, and sometimes learning from failure. However, the more techniques you try (as each individual behaves differently) the more you will train your brain to handle stress more effectively and decrease the likelihood of ill effects.

    In summary, the best way to handle working with a difficult person is to first understand your own emotional reactions and knowing what makes you tick. That way you can better establish how to avoid setting off a time bomb and keeping the workplace functioning in harmony. It will also help to maintain a positive outlook to your role and your working environment.

    Have you recently faced a toxic or difficult person in your workplace? How did you handle it? What worked and didn’t work?


  5. Don’t forget your office etiquette!

    November 10, 2014 by Jenna

    When we think of the term ‘etiquette’, we often think of table manners or presenting ourselves professionally and politely in a social setting.

    Whether you are new to a role or have been working in the company for a long time, office etiquette is also an important factor that needs to be applied daily. You may be wondering, ‘What are some of the office etiquette factors that I need to be aware of?’ A recent article on Careerealism.com outlines the basics so that you don’t get caught out making these mistakes:

    That Text (Or Facebook Update) Can Wait

    While smartphones and tablets are advantageous in providing us with information instantly, setting reminders, etc. Be careful not to all them to become a hindrance when it comes to your meetings or presentations.

    How would you feel if you are trying to close a business deal with a client to observe them as they stare at their phone and answer a text during your pitch? The same would apply to an internal meeting with staff if you are sharing ideas with the group only to see that no one is paying attention because they are reading their Facebook updates.

    While we all believe we are great multi-taskers, if we lack engagement or connection with others it can be damaging to workplace relationships. You may also miss out on information relating to important tasks which in turn could affect your performance. So make sure to prepare in advance for your meeting. Advise management and others that you are attending meetings so that you will receive less distractions, and if need be, switch off any devices that may ‘beep’ or ‘ping’ during that allocated time frame.

    Engagement and human interaction is still a vital part of business and maintaining connections with others so make it count. Be present.

    Pretend There’s A Wall

    This needs to be considered in an open office space. While you have free reign to walk around and interact, it is still important to respect and consider others and their personal space. This includes:

    • Talking loudly or over someone else’s shoulder when they are on the phone
    • Keeping your paperwork and office items within your desk space and not allowing it to spill over onto someone else’s desk
    • Setting your phone to silent every time you receive a message or call

    If you are respectful of others and their space, they will be respectful towards you in return.

    For Workplace Fashion, Go With The Crowd

    This doesn’t mean that you need to wear the latest Cue dress or business suit, but obviously be aware of your office environment and how others present themselves. Different workplaces will allow different dress codes but you don’t want to appear like you have rolled out of bed when others are dressed in corporate attire. Find out from management what they expect from you in terms of attire, and remember that how you present yourself is showing a representation of your company image. So why not dress to impress?

    Gossip On Your Own Time

    Whether you are the source of it or partaking in it, office gossip (or gossip of any kind) should be conducted in your own time and not in the workplace. It’s not only a distraction, but it can also create tension in the workplace if the gossip is of negative nature. If someone else is trying to administer it, take your initiative to coordinate an appropriate time to discuss topics. For example your lunch break or at after work drinks. Don’t be afraid to tell someone that you are too busy at the time to join in the conversation, otherwise it could affect your workplace productivity too.

    Believe It Or Not, You Can Still Learn Some Things

    This involves paying respect to other employees’ ideas and contributions to tasks, even if you would do the job differently yourself. Take the time to listen to what they have to say, especially if they have new suggestions that could improve outcomes of tasks, because you would hope for the same respect in return.

    While you may have been hired as an expert in your field you should still be open to new suggestions, feedback and even changes within the workplace. It is never too early or too late to learn new things.

    Don’t Search For Jobs On The Job

    Believe it or not I have heard of employees doing this before, and to get caught doing so at your current place of work is quite embarrassing. It also demonstrates a lack of respect and loyalty to your current employer.

    The same thing applies to telling colleagues that you are looking for another role before bringing it up to management. As office gossip can go around, this may potentially damage your current position before you even find the potential new role. If you feel it is time to move on, keep your job search within your own time and conduct it with discretion.


  6. Steps to develop self-confidence when you are a new employee

    November 3, 2014 by Jenna

    When it comes to being new at any role, you can feel apprehensive and even a little bit overwhelmed with what you need to take in during the early days of training and development. You are also in a new environment with colleagues and associates to impress and that will naturally make you nervous. However, this isn’t an ongoing feeling and there are ways you can start building your self-confidence so that you can let yourself shine in the workplace.

    Jacqueline Smith from Forbes outlined ways to be more confident at work and I have chosen to outline nine key steps from this article below:

    Stay focused on you. “Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.” – Paul Coelho. Remember why you are here and what it is you want to achieve and don’t let distractions get in the way of pursuing your goals.

    Identify your strengths and capitalise on them. Be aware of what your strengths are and try and utilise them in your role as much as you can. By driving your best qualities, you can feel a greater sense of accomplishment and it helps you maintain engagement and stay energised. Don’t be afraid to outline these strengths with your manager. That way they can extend opportunities that will be beneficial to those skill sets when they arise.

    Identify weaknesses, and work on them. With your strengths there are also weaknesses and it is important to be aware of what they are. At the same time, judging yourself harshly or wallowing in self-pity over mistakes will not help you overcome them. The purpose of identifying weaknesses is to discover ways to improve on issues for the future or avoid repeating bad habits and mistakes.

    Believe in yourself. How will others start believing in you and what you are capable of if you don’t believe in yourself? While this may sound like common sense, doubt will hold you back from taking risks and pursuing opportunities. Set yourself achievable targets, mentally motivate yourself to keep moving forward and don’t be afraid to sell your personal brand to those around you in the right light.

    Closely monitor your successes. Keep track of your daily accomplishments from a to-do list or in writing. It helps you keep track of what you are achieving on a daily basis and as you progress whether you feel you would like to take on more responsibilities. This is also advantageous when reviews take place by management or even once the probationary period is reached to present your written accomplishments.

    Seek encouragement from others. This doesn’t mean that you are trying to seek constant praise. Ask people you trust or management to evaluate you on what your strengths and weaknesses are. You can also ask for feedback and direction on projects to see if you are meeting or exceeding expectations.

    Challenge yourself. As a new employee you will not need to rush this process as you can attempt this over time with baby steps. Accomplishing new challenges can be a great way to boost your confidence. Find projects and assignments that give you an opportunity to use your strengths and projects that stretch you once you feel further established in the role. Don’t be afraid to also raise your hand if colleagues or management need assistance on tasks as it shows initiative.

    Be a role model of positive attitude. By showing a positive attitude you will see how positivity will spread within your working environment. This doesn’t mean you always need to be smiling and acting cheerful. It can also be your attitude when you approach a challenging task and showing resilience at times of change. You need to be wary of how you react to situations as it can affect the outcome of assignments and relationships with colleagues or management.

    Don’t let failure or setbacks take away your self-confidence. Great successors didn’t get to where they are today without failing their first attempts and sometimes second or third attempts. It can bruise our confidence a little bit when things don’t go according to plan. However, the worst thing to do about it is to shrink away, hoping it all blows over and say to yourself, ‘Well I’m never doing that again!’ Admit that you have failed at the time, assess the situation and brainstorm areas for improvement. Taking a step back to review things is sometimes the best way you can move forward.

    How do you set yourself up in a new role? What are some of the struggles that you had to face and how did you overcome them?


  7. Do you know what your employer expects of you?

    October 28, 2014 by Jenna

    Your role has been assigned and management has worked with you to outline your job description and your daily tasks. Now that the reigns have been passed to you, what are the key personal characteristics your manager is looking for?

    I found five characteristics that I have elaborated on that I believe you can apply regardless of what role you are currently in:

    Positive Attitude

    Your attitude will not only affect your relationship with your manager, but it affects your entire work environment (your colleagues, clients, suppliers etc.).

    Employers are looking for someone who looks forward to coming in to work each day. Someone who willingly takes on new challenges and finds ways to accomplish even the most tedious of tasks without complaint.

    We have all been there and know what it is like to be in an environment with someone who is not flexible or enthusiastic about the task at hand. Someone who complains to get out of an assignment or has nothing positive or encouraging to contribute to the group.

    How can you expect managers to trust you will do well in a higher level role if you are not making your current position appear positive? If you are feeling in a motivational slump, try to find ways to clear that negativity so that your thoughts and behaviour create a more favourable lasting impression.

    Dependability

    Being dependable means you follow through on tasks you have committed to. Whether it is a task set by management or a team assignment, your contribution to the task contributes to the overall success of others (and the company), not just yourself.

    Dependability means holding yourself accountable to meet deadlines. It also means knowing when to speak up if you are struggling so that items do not fall behind. To consistently be dependable you need to be well organised and disciplined.

    Continual Learning

    Brushing up on your skills or learning new skills allows you to contribute more to your organisation. You can help the company develop by taking on training in your current position. This helps you become more indispensable in the workplace.

    Continual learning doesn’t mean you need to study on the side part time while trying to balance a full time role. Asking questions, taking advantage of training programs at work, and reading books all count as learning opportunities. You will be seen as showing more initiative in your personal progression.

    Another important note is to accept feedback when it is provided and apply it.

    Initiative

    While you may be comfortable with your daily routine, when is the last time you thought outside the box, or even stepped outside of your comfort zone? Have you tried contributing new ideas lately? Or even volunteered to take on a challenge that no one else in your team has put their hand up for?

    This will give your employer a chance to see you in a new light. To show a side of yourself that you may not have had the chance to show before. You won’t be successful every time but it’s a good way to establish where your strengths are and learn from your experiences.

    Cooperation

    Almost every job will comprise of an element of teamwork and being able to co-exist with others to collectively achieve goals. Each team member will have strengths and skills that they contribute to the team. Working in harmony will make it much easier to reach success.

    Not only will getting along with team members make your environment more enjoyable, they can encourage you and motivate you to achieve your best and vice versa.

    Managers need to know that they can rely on their team to perform and it won’t help if you are the missing link.

    Don’t be afraid to contribute ideas and show how your skills can help the overall outcome of a group assignment.

    Do you follow any of these traits? What do you think your employer expects from you the most? How do you meet those expectations?


  8. Productivity boosters no matter how busy you are

    October 21, 2014 by Jenna

    When you are trying to get ahead at work it is important that you are productive and show initiative. Sometimes that can be difficult when you are busy balancing multiple tasks and find yourself feeling physically or mentally drained. However, there are some simple steps that you can follow daily to help you to continue to perform at your best.

    So what are the easiest ways you can stay productive daily? I have reviewed the article 5 Instant, Effective Productivity Boosters for Busy People and provided my own advice on each point below:

    1. Put things where they belong.

    Sometimes it can be as simple as clearing the paperwork from your desk and removing unnecessary clutter. It is much easier to manage yourself if items are clearly set up on your desk or surrounding environment and are easily accessible when you need them. The great part is, it usually will only take you five to ten minutes to do so. Avoid letting mess build up as it only makes it harder to manage your workload. This includes, cleaning out your inbox and managing calendar appointments.

    1. Pause before saying, ‘Yes’.

    I used to have this problem and still do at times where I like to be a people pleaser and say yes to everything that is asked of me. The truth is, my manager and colleagues will not know how busy I am unless I advise them otherwise.

    Often people think that by saying ‘no’ you will be letting the team down. On the contrary, if you take on something that you do not have the time for, you will be letting the team down if you when achieve the deadline.

    Focus on the important tasks you already have in front of you, and only agree to commit to additional work if you believe you can realistically achieve the outcome.

    1. Make technology your friend.

    You may be on the go and may not be at your desk to see your written to do list. So manage your calendar, set reminders, read from a tablet or smart phone while on the morning commute. With so many different methods of accessing data you don’t have an excuse not to be able to organise yourself!

    Another tip is to be realistic about setting your appointment times, for example don’t set your appointments too close to one another if you know there could be transport delays or if you think the first meeting will run over time. You want to appear reliable to clients. If you are arranging the meeting, nothing is more embarrassing then arriving late!

    1. Stay hydrated and nourished.

    This is one point that is very important but we tend to overlook it. We think that by putting off our breaks we will reach our deadlines faster. While it may allow more time, your body requires fuel to perform, otherwise you reach a slump and turn into a zombie.

    If you want to minimise that amount of time you get up from your desk, keep a bottle of water and small snacks in the drawer of your desk so that you can continue to hydrate and provide energy bursts when you need it.

    Sometimes though, it is important to get up and go for a walk for 5 minutes to allow time to clear your thoughts and come back to the task with a fresh set of eyes.

    If you are not managing your health and well-being you not only feel bad, but you may miss important opportunities because you are not in the right mindset to do so.

    1. Implement just one change at a time.

    Set your to-do list so that you are tackling the important assignments first and tick them  off your list when you complete them. Some assignments will require more urgency than others and there is nothing worse than showing up with a half completed assignment because you were trying to accomplish five things at once.

    If you organise yourself and stay focused you will achieve a whole lot more.

    What do you find works and doesn’t work when you are trying to keep productive? Do you keep a daily list or routine? What can you recommend for others to try?


  9. When it comes to setting goals, don’t let obstacles hold you back

    October 14, 2014 by Jenna

    We have all been guilty of setting a goal and getting side tracked. But when it comes to your career progression it is important to break through the barriers that may be preventing you from achieving success.

    So what are some of the main obstacles that could be holding you back from achieving your goals? Is there something that you can think of right now? More importantly, what can you do to overcome them?

    While conducting research on the topic, I sourced an article on the top obstacles to your goals and added my personal perspective on ways you can overcome the obstacles:

    1. Procrastination – Are there certain items that you have been avoiding and you notice the paperwork and emails are slowly piling up? Do you keep telling yourself – I’ll do it this afternoon, tomorrow or next week? Does it suddenly become urgent and you wish you had tackled it sooner?

    Try this instead:

    - Firstly, be aware of it, admit it to yourself, and take action to change it.

    - If it is a tedious task that you don’t enjoy doing, get it out of the way first and don’t keep putting it off.

    - Set up a list of tasks and put them in order of priority for the day.

    - Set a timeframe in which to complete it, this will give it a sense of urgency and a deadline for you to achieve the task.

    - Repeat this process for longer term goals as well

    2. Lack of time – Whether it is work, family commitments, the daily commute etc. Different commitments will pull at your attention and dedicating time to your goals can be difficult. However, it is important to make sure that you are managing time to balance everything on your plate before you add more to your to-do list.

    Try this instead: Firstly, establish what you currently have on your to-do list and narrow down your top three priorities of the day. By setting yourself three realistic priorities to accomplish you will feel a greater level of satisfaction completing those items as opposed to trying to tackle 54 items at once with no results.

    3. Lack of organisation/motivation – Sometimes when we let projects and paperwork build it can appear overwhelming and you often don’t know where to begin.

    Try this instead: Pick one project and work on a specific goal around it. Get clear on what you need to do to achieve this goal – do research, seek training, and then write out a time frame in which you need to achieve it by. And most importantly, hold yourself accountable for it so that you are continually driving yourself and not losing focus on the task at hand.

    4. Distractions – Meetings, phone calls, emails, reminders, social media connections or a colleague or manager asks you to drop what you are doing to complete and urgent task. Does this sound familiar? Wish you could block out the world long enough to complete that project? But how?

    Try this instead: Sometimes it can be as simple as advising your colleagues that you are working on an important assignment for the next hour or two and to approach you only if it is urgent.  You may need to divert your calls to voicemail for a period of time or put an out of office reply on your emails until you are done. And if your phone or other devices are set to make noises to remind you of appointments or when you receive a message, it may be best to set them to silent. Allocating the amount you wish to shut out distractions is up to you, as long as you can make the most of that time to be productive and achieve your desired results.

    What do you find are some of the major obstacles that you find come up with goal setting or pursuing a goal in your career? What steps have you taken previously to overcome them? What did you learn from the experience?


  10. Interview Responses: Why did you leave your previous role?

    September 30, 2014 by Jenna

    Once you have been considered for the interview process, it is important to know that the employer or recruiter will ask questions to assess your suitability for the role.

    One of those questions they tend to ask is: ‘Why did you leave your previous position?’ Depending on your current situation there can be a variety of answers associated with this, but what answer will best get your foot in the door?

    I decided that it would be best to ask the experts in my team for their point of view when it comes to screening a candidate with this particular question. This was their feedback on suitable responses:

    • Looking for a new challenges/ Wanting more responsibility – You may have been excelling in your current role but the opportunity was not available to take on new challenges or move up in the company. You are taking on the initiative to pursue new options and take on more responsibilities.
    • Something different/ change of scenery – This is fine to admit, but not in the event that you are applying for a role that exactly matches the outline of your previous one.
    • Redundancy/Restructure – Of course this can be a sensitive subject but the recruiter can often relate to these situations.
    • Cultural change within the company – This can also be an acceptable answer, just make sure you try to be diplomatic and where possible try to avoid sounding too negative about the situation.
    • Career Change – if you have any transferable skills that you could bring to the new role it can always be advantageous to mention them.
    • The role became too demanding/long hours/not enough work-life balance – Think carefully before describing what ‘demanding’ or ‘long hours’ mean to you. Make sure it is relevant to why this new role is more appealing and fits with your career prospects.

    Do keep in mind there are also responses that should be avoided and this is why:

    • Being negative about a company or person within your previous employment – There may be circumstances where you have had a bad experience, however, how you relay this information is important. You don’t want to appear bitter about management or your previous work environment. Try to make your answer is more diplomatic rather than accusing.
    • A higher salary – Most managers/recruiters won’t hold this against you however, if it appears that money is the only driving force for behind you pursuing this role then the chances of getting this new position may be slim.
    • Not being able to give a valid reason – This can be a concern to the employer if you have a history of moving employment frequently. It may cause the employer to question your longevity in this upcoming role.

    Try preparing answers to these types of questions before the interview takes place so that you are not caught off guard. It is the employer’s way of trying to get to know you, what your interests/passions are, and whether you are the right fit so make sure to put your best foot forward.

    What have you learned from these types of questions in an interview? And for employers, what are some of the responses you have received from star candidates?




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