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  1. Is Work-Life Balance REALLY Achievable?

    December 2, 2014 by Jenna

    When you look at the term ‘work-life balance’, you may wonder if there really is such a thing. Now while there is no ‘perfect’ way to find work-life balance, we shouldn’t aim to believe that it isn’t achievable. So what’s the solution?

    An article published by Alyssa Gregory discusses three important elements to consider when creating a work-life balance compromise:

    Firstly, when you think of the word balance, you think of weighing scales. Your work life on one side and our personal life on the other. It can add extra pressure to continually be striving to find an even balance between the two on a regular basis. Alyssa challenges you to get rid of the ‘balance’ aspect of the term and instead focus on ‘compromise’. Imagine compromise as a means of aiming for a level of give and take that satisfies all of your needs in the best way possible.

    In order to do this, there are three essential things you need to keep in front of you to make our struggle for acceptable compromise achievable.

    Priorities

    The first essential element involves taking a long, hard and realistic look at your priorities. You will then need to rank the level of importance of all aspects of your life, whether it’s work commitments, family, hobbies etc.

    It’s also important to recognise that your priorities will change, sometimes frequently, and if you’re not clear on what parts of your life need your attention first, achieving an acceptable compromise will be a struggle.

    Flexibility

    Being able to react and adapt to changes and unexpected surprises are vital as nothing is ever set in stone. Regroup and shuffle your priorities, and change directions when necessary. By doing this, you’ll gain the flexibility you need to move with the changes.

    Acceptance

    The reality is that some days are better than others and some priorities will be easier to satisfy than others.

    The key is to remember that with a constant give and take, and the goal of doing the best you can at any given time, you can trust that it will eventually all even out in the end.

    I personally agree that if all three points outlined above are applied, the outcome you want can be achieved.

    If I don’t set out my priorities in order of importance then I won’t be able to balance the time and energy I need to put towards them. If I’m not flexible or adaptable to changes in my work or personal life, then I will find it harder to move forward in the right direction. And if I don’t accept that some days I will kick a goal with my checklist and other days I won’t, then my expectations of perfection may add further pressure on myself and to my workload. So why not apply these methods and see what happens?

    Do you believe that work-life balance is achievable? If so, what do you do to make it work?


  2. 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?


  3. What I learnt about myself from climbing 5545 metre mountain in -20-degree conditions

    March 19, 2013 by Jenna

    We have all heard the phrase ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’, though that is often easier said than done. Our common instinct in times of trial or being outside of our comfort zone can be to lose confidence, take a step back, and ultimately accept a sense of defeat. However, we as humans are also capable of extraordinary feats, especially in times of change and adversity.

    My resilience was definitely tested during my 18 day trek through Nepal in January this year. I have a reputation in my office for being a bit of a ‘fitness freak’, which involves me being at the gym quite often and partaking in hiking and adventure races over my weekend. While most people use weekends as a quality rest period I tend to strive and push myself to see what I am capable of.

    Shortly after the New Year, our group had come to the hardest part of our trip in Nepal, reaching the top of Kala Plattar (5545m). After countless nights of poor sleep due to the altitude, and physical restraints of only being able to make baby steps when climbing hills, we had a 6.30am departure (before breakfast) to the top of Kala Plattar, which was supposed to have one of the greatest 360 degree views on our trip so far.

    The sun had not yet reached the hill that we were climbing, and overnight a wind had picked up that created a chill of -20 degrees. The walk took our group just over two hours to complete and even without packs on it was a struggle. We were spread out at our own pace but the sideways wind was blowing strong and I could feel it to my core.

    I was tired, cold and hungry and I honestly thought that I could not make it to the top. Tears built up in my eyes and while I wanted to have a tantrum, no one was surrounding me to hear it, nor would it have made getting to the top any more productive.

    I knew that I had two options; to go back the way I came, which would take at least an hour only to prove that I had wasted time, or I could make it to the top, experience this once in a lifetime experience and head back down with feelings of achievement, celebrating over a well-deserved breakfast.

    And that was the reality at the end of the day. When would I ever get to experience being here again? Would I want my memory of this day to be that I didn’t make my hardest challenge so far and spend the rest of my days wondering ‘what if’?

    So there I was at that crossroad where I knew my decision would affect the outcome of this overall experience. So what did I do? I climbed it. And the views were incredible. Not only that, but one of my teammates brought chocolate to the top and that was perhaps the best tasting chocolate I have ever had in my life! I have some amazing photographs that I was able to show my friends and family, and while it was a hard day for me, I overcame it, which is often the outcome for all of us if we take on the challenge.

    The most successful people are often those that are the most resilient. But just like any new skill resilience isn’t built overnight.

    So what is resilience?

    Resilience is the capacity to withstand stress and catastrophe. Psychologists have long recognised the capabilities of humans to adapt and overcome risk and adversity. Individuals and communities are able to rebuild their lives even after devastating tragedies.  Being resilient doesn’t mean going through life without experiencing stress and pain. People feel grief, sadness, and a range of other emotions after adversity and loss. The road to resilience lies in working through the emotions and effects of stress and painful events.

    So what personal or professional challenges are you scared of taking on? Are situations changing around you and you have to make a decision? Or perhaps you have been in a similar situation in the past. If so what did you do to overcome it?


  4. What are the best ways to cope with workplace stress?

    May 16, 2012 by Jenna

    Workplace Stress: This isn’t an uncommon term. We have all been stressed within the workplace, but whether you thrive or crumble on the daily adrenalin moments is a different story.

    Linking closely with my previous blog about effectively managing your time on a daily basis, for those that are in those situations of being in an environment that is likely to trigger stress, what are the best ways that you cope with it?

    When I worked in the events industry, it became common practice to expect that the unexpected would happen. Not necessarily to predict that something will go wrong, but it certainly teaches you to respond and adapt to any changes that may occur with an event last minute, and in some cases problem solve on the spot if need be.

    There were the times, however, when handling enquiries, liaising with chefs and the operations team, meetings, client calls and emails would get the better of you and this is where communication was a valuable tool, but often not enforced enough. Each team member that I worked closely with did not want to appear defeated or unable to cope with our assignments and we would often handle our stress in silence. This was often noticed by a tense atmosphere of mood swings, sending emails to one another instead of communicating directly, and late hours catching up on work from earlier that morning.

    At least our manager had a keen sense at detecting this tense atmosphere and had individual meetings with us to establish what was really going on.

    Working as a team environment however, one should never feel that they cannot speak up for themselves in times of stress, because the most harm that an individual can do to themselves is bottle up the feelings of anxiety inside.

    Some of the feedback that I received last week from respondents were:

    • Have a good work life balance so that outside of work, you have something else to focus on which is meaningful to you.
    • Ensure you advise your managers and direct reports of the reasons why you are stressed.
    • Try to avoid it in the first place! Stop for 10 minutes and go for a walk whenever it gets too much.

    A recent article on www.inc.com pointed out that once upon a time, society would work from 9.00am to 5.00pm. But now the demand for that has changed and in some cases individuals are expected to be available 24/7.

    I have a friend that looks after the audiovisual side of events which as you know is quite a significant component of any event. While he works a set number of hours a day with setting up, testing equipment and operating for events, he is also expected to be on call after hours in the event that there are any ‘technical difficulties’. This means he can be called at any time, and often is called at any time. He is also on his phone constantly checking email updates from the events team to make sure he has the most up to date instructions for all upcoming events. But while the job will often encompass moments of stress, he loves his job and he doesn’t let the stress get the better of him.

    Having said this, he will also know when to say ‘no’ or advise if a job cannot be completed at a set time due to another job that he may be working on. He is assertive and realistic when it counts as well as competent to achieve tasks.

    This leads me to the multiple choice options of how you rated the ways to cope with stress in the workplace, to which the responses were as follows:

    • Avoid being a ‘Yes Man’: If you have a lot on your plate, do not add to the pile if you cannot do it in time. – 16% of you agreed to this, and I know I have fallen for this.

    And the following three options were looked upon as the same level of importance at 54%:

    • Communication: If you are overloaded, make sure to speak up and ask for help
    • Effective Time Management: Setting realistic achievement goals for the day
    • Having A Positive Mindset: If overwhelmed, take a break, then come back to the task at hand with more clarity

    I threw in the last option of a positive mindset because I have known so many people who have told me, ‘I don’t feel like getting up and going to work this morning,’ or ‘today is going to be a bad day I can just feel it.’ Now while we may have different situations at work causing us to feel that way, has this viewpoint ever really accomplished anything? How often if you look upon a situation negatively will the outcome be just what you thought it would be?

    What’s to say that we can’t change the outcome of a situation for the better if we look upon it with fresh eyes and less bitterness?

    To get to an even further point, if you are that unhappy with your employment, why are you staying in that current position?

    Another website I reviewed called www.helpguide.org outlines the importance of establishing what is causing the stress in your current situation. You may not even realise you are stressed and showing the common signs by dealing with it in the following ways:

    • Drinking too much
    • Overeating or undereating
    • Procrastinating
    • Using pills or drugs to relax
    • Withdrawing from friends, family and activities
    • Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence)

    If this sounds like you, don’t be discouraged as there are healthy ways to relax and recharge:

    • Go for a walk
    • Call a good friend
    • Write in a journal
    • Sweat out the tension in a good workout
    • Savor a warm cup of tea or coffee
    • Get a massage
    • Enjoy a good book

    If you find that time restricts you from doing these things, then perhaps you need to review my previous blog What are the ways in which you effectively manage your time?

    A website called angelawilson.suite101.com outlines that one of the ways to cope with stress is to recognise the ‘Good Stress‘ from the ‘Bad Stress‘. Good Stress gives you a optimal amount of arousal to give you the motivation and focus to achieve a task (such as running a race, taking a test, getting to work on time). Whereas bad stress, when out of control, prevents us from feeling content and being successful in our daily lives. It releases nasty hormones into our bodies and has a negative effect on our health.

    Some of the other coping methods include:

    • Decrease your body tension
    • Face your anxiety situations – doing those least favourite things first so that they do not build up into something worse when it could have been handled at the time.
    • Be truthful – when people are unhappy or struggling, you can often read it in their behaviour. If someone asks you how you are, telling the truth will better deal with the tension then saying ‘I’m fine’ when it is clear you are not.
    • Don’t Give Up – Some people get so overwhelmed by stress that they often shut down and stop reacting to situations around them because it has become too much to handle. Do not let the stress get the better of you!

    Well I hope some of these tips have proven to be useful in your day to day situation, and if you have not had a chance to respond to this poll then we would be more than happy to hear your thoughts below.

    Also, don’t miss out on this week’s poll: Are more people today settling for any job as opposed to finding their dream job? Your chance to win a Hoyt’s Cinema Double Pass are up for grabs!




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