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  1. 4 Work Habits to Help Increase Your Performance at Work

    March 31, 2015 by Jenna

    We all want to be top performers at work. We want to work hard, achieve goals and be recognised for our efforts.

    Here are four habits that will help you achieve more:

    1. Make Yourself Accountable: While working independently is advantageous, it is also important to have someone that you report your progress to, whether it is members of your office team or a supervisor. This can often enforce more urgency and effort to complete the task when you know you need to report your progress to someone on a regular basis.

    2. Discipline yourself to set priorities: It will make it easier to focus on the important tasks. Address the higher priorities in the morning when you are freshest and save the more repetitive ones for later in the day. If you receive assignments as the day is winding down, use the last five to ten minutes to prioritise for the next day. Lists are very helpful, and checking items off as you complete them will further encourage you to accomplish more.

    3. Don’t let fear prevent you from completing challenging tasks: If fear takes control of our daily lives it can paralyse us from completing tasks. It results in achieving less and we may start avoiding commitment to tasks. The remedy for fear is planning. Start by making a list of things you have accomplished (even if it’s only two or three) and keep it in a visible place to use as self-encouragement. Then make a list of things you want to accomplish and the steps to complete each one. The best way to successfully complete a big project is to break it down into smaller pieces.

    4. Avoid Procrastination.The longer you put off a task the more it will end up haunting you. You can save a lot of time and stress if you work on the difficult/important tasks first, then the rest of the day will seem less daunting.

    What steps do you follow to keep yourself performing at your best? How do you keep track of your progression? What works best for you?


  2. Changes to increase happiness at work

    January 16, 2015 by Jenna

    We’re now settling back into our work routines for the New Year and as 2015 is a time to set out new goals and resolutions, why not aim to make changes that benefit your happiness and well-being at work?

    There are some simple steps that you can apply regardless of your role or background, and an article by Catherine Conlan will be my inspiration for this week’s blog. Here are six steps that you can apply below:

    Develop a Structured Routine

    Setting a structured routine gives a better indication of what to expect from your day and prepares you for what lies ahead. Sometimes this will require you to plan the night before, compile a list of priorities etc.

    Setting up a list of tasks and duties for the day can also save on procrastination as you have made yourself aware of what important deadlines need to be achieved. Be specific with what details you set out in your routine and what you want to achieve so that you can maintain it for a long term basis.

    Other routines may also include healthy eating plans and exercise routines which in turn can help improve daily performance.

    Become a Mentor

    If you have experience in your field and are looking for opportunities to share your knowledge and direction with other junior employees or candidates, there is a lot of fulfillment in helping others. You are not only leading someone in the direction of their future career, but you will be challenged by them to provide insight, reflect on what you have learned so far and review your career development up until this point. This can be a rewarding experience.

    Change Your Mindset

    Approaching your job as a daily investment towards your personal development will motivate you to pursue further responsibilities within the role and seek training and development in your career.

    If your daily mindset is going to work because you have to or because of financial gain, you may be limiting your motivation level and ability to perform at your best.

    Seek Out Opportunities To Give Back

    If your employer has a community service program that you can get involved in, why not take the opportunity to do something good for someone else and get away from your workplace for a few hours a week.

    Volunteering your time can allow you to develop different skill sets, and may inspire you to take on different volunteering opportunities in the future.

    Switch Things Up

    As your goals and targets will change throughout the year, make sure in turn that you are creating and adapting your routine to suit these goals. If the routine is not working to meet your personal development goals, you need to take measures to assess what isn’t working and make changes sooner rather than later.

    We also as individuals need to change processes regularly to keep us engaged and motivated, otherwise the routines can become stagnant. It is important to keep reviewing your routine over time and managing it accordingly.

    Keep Learning 

    If management would like to you take a course to further develop a particular skill or to be trained on new database/software, it is important to take up the opportunity.

    If you also feel that taking on some new training will benefit the organisations’ success, present it to the manager and don’t feel that you need to wait for training to be offered to you first. Pitch why you think the training would be beneficial and review with management to see if now is the right time to pursue it, or if there is an opportunity to pursue options in the future.

    What are some of your New Year’s resolutions? What measures will you take to develop your career and reach daily satisfaction?


  3. 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?


  4. The art of procrastination: Why we put things off

    October 30, 2012 by Jenna

    At one stage or another we are all guilty of procrastination, I know I am. Perhaps you are procrastinating right now by reading this blog.

    For me procrastination is putting off those tasks that I just don’t enjoy doing as much. Nearly half (43%) of you said that you too are procrastinating because the “Task is unpleasant or something that I don’t like”. Whilst another 43% are procrastinating because there are “Too many tasks on the to-do list, I don’t even know where to start.” The rest are procrastinating because “I don’t have enough time or energy to do it perfectly and I don’t want to do it badly.”

    “If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.” – Olin Miller

    The easiest choice would be just to get started and do those less appealing tasks first, so why is it that we continue to put those tasks off?

    Timothy A. Pychyl posted an article in Psychology Today about procrastination summarised:

    ‘… if we have internalised unrealistic standards, are plagued with self-doubt and prone to self-criticism, we’re most likely to avoid our work to avoid what we believe is inevitable failure. And, while this short-term avoidance may provide some immediate mood repair, in the longer term, we pay the price with the distress that task avoidance and last minute efforts bring.’

    And let’s face it, how many times have we put something off, only to then be thinking about it and letting it ‘stew’ in the back of our minds until we actually do complete it? And the more we worry about trying to do something perfectly, the less time we have to actually complete it.

    Whether you are a perfectionist or not, or whether you put off items for only a certain period of time, the long-term results will be increased stress, missing deadlines, and most importantly not having time to do the things we actually enjoy.

    The more I think about a task as unpleasant or impossible to start, the reality is I will make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. We create more stress by struggling to balance other deadlines and not knowing where to start…perhaps what we really need to do is Just Start!

    I am making a choice from now on to do the important tasks of the day first so that I can plan the rest of the day in a more realistic fashion.

    Make that dreaded phone call, send that response email to a complaint, do those tedious tasks or not so ‘thrilling’ filing jobs and don’t look back! Don’t let the fear of doing/completing the task prevent you from achieving results. As they say, ‘The greatest thing to fear is fear itself.’

    “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ~ Anne Frank


  5. Do you need some help to just get started?

    October 9, 2012 by Jenna

    Do you find yourself battling with the art of procrastination? Have a to-do list that just does not appear to be getting any smaller? Want to just get started on that task that somehow keeps reappearing day after day on your to-do list?

    Unfortunately getting started can sometimes be easier said than done, especially if your schedule changes on a daily basis. But have you heard of the Pomodoro Technique?

    The Pomodoro Technique is a time management philosophy that aims to provide the user with maximum focus and creative freshness, thereby allowing them to complete projects faster with less mental fatigue. Each 25-minute work period is called a “pomodoro”, named after the Italian word for tomato. Francesco Cirillo used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato as his personal timer, and thus the method’s name. After each pomodoro you can take a 5 minute break time and after four “pomodoros” have passed, (100 minutes of work time with 15 minutes of break time) you then take a 15-20 minute break.

    This technique not only keeps the mind fresh and focused, but also helps you to get through projects faster and enforces you to adhere to strict timing within your working day. It also helps you to overcome distractions. But most importantly it helps you to just get started. We all know that once we get started it is easier to get that task finally, finally off of our to-do list.

    Now this technique can be subject to personal preference, but if you are struggling to get started or meet deadlines and want to try something, anything to help you manage your time then what do you have to lose?

    And let’s face it, having better time management can:

    • reduce stress
    • give you a sense of achievement
    • increase energy
    • increase productivity’
    • stronger financial stability
    • more time for the things you love doing!

    What time management techniques do you use? Or perhaps you have used this technique before? Speaking of procrastination, don’t miss our newest monthly poll on Why do you put things off?


  6. How much does positive thinking influence your outcomes?

    October 25, 2011 by Jenna

    One fine morning a few years ago, my very lovely and well-meaning neighbour thrust a DVD into my hands. It was “The Secret”. Many of you will be familiar with this title. The book spent forever at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. I still remember my feeling of absolute incredulity as I viewed the film. Was I being too negative as thoughts such as “you have got to be kidding me” and “what a load of nonsense” floated through my mind? 

    “The Secret states that desirable outcomes such as health, wealth, and happiness can be attracted simply by changing one’s thoughts and feelings. For example, if a person wanted a new car, by thinking about the new car and having positive feelings about the car, the law of attraction would rearrange events to make it possible for the car to manifest in the person’s life.” [Source

    Almost 22% of respondents to last week’s online pollHow much does positive thinking influence your outcomes? – selected “Completely – exactly like the law of attraction, my thoughts attract what I want”. 

    Fascinating. 

    To gain more of an expert insight into the “positive psychology” movement and philosophy, I approached our Organisational Psychologist, Narelle Hess, for some guidance. The articles she directed me to all cautioned that “positive psychology is much more than ‘positive thinking’, and offers a vast array of insight and direction for how people can function more optimally. Positive psychology offers us added insight into how we can embrace change, feel positive about who we are, and enjoy healthy, responsible and fulfilled lives. But, like anything else the application of this knowledge and information is very important. Particularly when it comes to how we apply positive emotions.” [Source

    This reflects the feelings of 75% of our poll respondents, who agreed that positive thinking helps them “Moderately – a positive outlook helps me to approach situations, but thoughts won’t work without actions too”. One commented: “You can think as positively as you like, however, it is your actions that will determine whether your positive thoughts come to fruition”, whilst another said “the power of positive thinking is incredible and certainly helps me, but in certain situations action is required. All the positive thinking doesn’t get the job done but it certainly helps and stops procrastination.”     

    Last week, I read Peter Bregman’s book 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done 

    I was particularly struck by a section in which he discussed how managers can motivate staff members by giving them tasks above their current abilities and outside their comfort zone. The important thing for the manager to do was to assure their staff member that it was okay to take some time, make some mistakes, and even to fail initially. The combination of setting realistic expectations within a framework of unleashing unrealised potential created an ideal environment for growth, achievement and a new level of productivity for the staff member, and therefore the company. 

    The interplay between a positive environment and attitude, combined with a realistic set of expectations and actions, created the optimum zone. There can be no result without action, but a positive yet realistic attitude certainly helps things along. 

    As a final, neat illustration of this, the person who responded to the poll with the comment “this week’s poll is the best ever and will win me tickets” was not the winner. However, if they, and you, continue to enter the poll, they might be a future winner. 

    As my dad always says when he buys his Lotto tickets, “You’ve got to be in it to win it”.   

    Our new poll is live! Tell us: Are we relying too much on email, rather than actual conversation, to communicate? Results published in next week’s ChallengeBlog …

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