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  1. Stress: We all encounter it, so how do we overcome it?

    December 2, 2013 by Jenna

    I think one of the biggest mistakes we make is that once we start feeling the level of stress build in our daily lives, for various reasons, we tend to push the feelings aside believing that it will either ‘blow over’ or that it will sort itself out. But the problem is, if we don’t take actions to start managing our stress levels it creates in the longer term reduced morale and health problems and overall decreased productivity.

    Sometimes the idea of tackling your stress head on can seem like a much larger task than what it actually is. We are never going to live a life that is stress-free, but here are some tips below that you can start applying slowly and steadily to start getting your work/life balance back on track:

    1. One thing at a time.

    There can be many things piling up at once that seem overwhelming and create a lot of anxiety. But the fact of the matter is you need to pick one at a time in order to truly manage the task effectively. Of course you will be expected to be a multi-tasker, but prioritise your tasks in terms of timeframe and urgency, clear away anything that could be a potential distraction or obstacle, and tackle the task now! Even if it is something you don’t enjoy doing as much, you may as well get it out of the way, otherwise it can put more pressure on you by saving items to the last minute, especially when you know you have other pending tasks awaiting.

    2. Simplify your schedule.

    The more items you have back-to-back the more increased your stress levels will be. I too struggle with saying no but sometimes you need to focus on your priorities and if you have appointments space them out so that you are not rushing from one meeting to the next! This will allow you to be covered in the event of delays or meetings running over time. And for those not so urgent priorities, most people are flexible if you re-schedule to a more suitable time where you can perform at your best and be in the right head space.

    3. Get moving.

    Do something each day to be active — walk, hike, play a sport, go for a run, do yoga. And it can be for any timeframe that suits you and doesn’t have to be extremely difficult. But being healthy sometimes means stepping away from your desk and computer to let your mind relax and keep your body fit and healthy. I live by this, the healthier you are the more productive you will be, not to mention refreshed.

    4. Develop one healthy habit this month.

    This ties in with number 3, as stress tends to keep us at our desks we either limit our food intake or help ourselves to unhealthy, easily accessible snacks such as chocolate, soft drink etc. If you only get one day of the week to shop why not pre-buy nuts, fruit and vegetables, protein bars etc. This week one of the girls in our office introduced Kale Chips to share with one another as a healthy alternative. Keep your insides clean and you will feel less sluggish.

    5. Do something calming.

    What do you enjoy that calms you down? For those that may be less inclined to step out and try kite surfing like I did last weekend, finding a relaxation method like reading a book, painting, taking a nap, gardening, etc. it is important to find a bit of ‘me’ time to shut out distractions and do something that makes you feel good! Why not even try something new and creative that you haven’t tried before?

    6. Simplify your finances.

    Finances always tend to be a contributor to stress, whether it’s bills to pay, living expenses and transport costs, unexpected repayments etc. But do you currently set yourself a budget or a payment plan?

    For example, I get paid once a month so I set out ahead of time what my total cost of bill repayments will be for the following month. I also include gifts or personal purchases that I may know of ahead of time or events that I need to pay for. Then I allocate myself a set amount to spend per week to spend on food, transport etc., while allowing myself to save some additional money on the side for any unexpected payments so that I am not left unprepared. That may sound like a lot of work but if you set this up as a routine, you will find this to be quite manageable and a great way to reduce financial stress.

    7. Declutter.

    Many of my colleagues will agree that a good ‘spring clean’ or even a 10-20 minute tidy of your desk and surrounds not only makes you feel better but it also allows you to manage your paperwork and tasks when you have enough room and you can see the tasks clearly laid out in front of you! It can be a very easy habit to be a hoarder or get side-tracked but getting organised with little tasks like this will help you tackle the larger tasks. Keep a routine so that you are doing this regularly.

    8. Be early.

    How many times do you tend to stress out because you are running late for your next appointment or meeting? Too many. When you are late you are filled with anxiety, regret and often you are unfocused and it can make you unprepared and not appear at your best. Similar to what I have covered in my previous blog about interview preparation, allowing yourself that extra time to get to a location will leave you more alert, refreshed and at ease.

    My parents for example are great creatures of habit. They get up every morning at 6.00am to have time to walk the dogs, have breakfast and watch the morning news, water their garden and head to work. They have been doing that for years and have never looked back and again they have set this routine for themselves so that they can better manage their time and prepare themselves for the day ahead.

    Do you have any handy tips that you follow daily to help cope with stress? What has worked for you previously and what hasn’t?

  2. Does your manager really care what you think, and is their door really ‘open’?

    November 8, 2011 by Jenna

    Personally speaking, having worked four metres away from my manager for the last eleven years has meant that she has little choice but to care about what I think, because I certainly tell her! A lot. About everything. Like recipes, movies, novels … and work-related issues, too. Sometimes. The other day I started to talk to her about a family member and promptly burst into tears. Very professional … 

    Being physically the closest team member to her also means that I am usually, alas, the first to hear uttered those dread words: “I’ve been thinking …” 

    I was really heartened by the overwhelmingly positive response to our latest online poll: Does your manager really care what you think, and is their door really ‘open’? Almost 92% of respondents said “YES”. 

    If you’re a manager reading this, you might like to refer to the article featured in this week’s edition of The Challenge Consulting News, Articulate and Inspiring Managers Motivate Employees, in which the report cited states that “nearly half of Australian employees (48%) rate the ability to motivate and inspire as the single most important attribute of a successful leader … Often executives and managers do not realise the profound effect their words and actions have on their employees … Leaders who are able to effectively communicate their organisation’s strategic direction can have a massive influence on employee engagement levels.” 

    Two poll respondents had some very striking feedback regarding the open style of their management team:

    – “I feel confident speaking on everyone’s behalf by saying that no one team member feels intimidated or out of place by wandering (or Moonwalking) in to her office to discuss anything. Big, small, personal or business.”

    – “Our managers have a ‘Know Your People’ workbook. My manager knows that I love pugs and chocolate. Likewise, I know she hates dirty shoes but loves rom-coms and Max Brenner’s hot chocolates.” 

    Lots of studies have been conducted on why people stay with and leave companies. A quality that organisations who do manage to retain employees seem to share is really caring about the wellbeing of their employees. From the top of the company structure all the way down, there is a genuine sense of caring, listening, involvement. Employee engagement is strong, retention is high, productivity is excellent and people get along. 

    The other quality these organisation seem to share is that they are careful about who they hire to lead employees.

    They understand that the managers have to be compassionate, caring, and nurturing while still having the ability to hold employees responsible for high levels of performance. These managers aren’t afraid of developing relationships with employees. Those relationships sustain employee satisfaction even when difficult issues have to be addressed. 

    Think about it. Are you more likely to give your best to a manager and an organisation who just wants to extract as much out of you as possible in the short-term, or one who invests in your professional development, allows you to grow into your role, and gives you time to learn so you can perform at your best and give your all?

    This week’s online poll is now LIVE and wonders: Where do you go first when you’re looking for a job?


    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. Click the FB icon to “Like” us now and stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …

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