Category Archives for "Career development"

Woman with cluttered brain
Nov 30

Clear mental clutter to gain career clarity

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Career development , Creativity , Motivation

Many of us tackle some clutter clearing from time to time, and often this is about getting rid of unwanted physical “stuff”.

But what about mental clutter? This could include outdated assumptions or ideas that could that be getting in the way of making beneficial changes or stepping up a level in our career or business.

I’ve just been inspired to do a late autumn clutter clear in my office. Getting rid of redundant papers, sorting out my files and disposing of some old boxes (including baby slings last used in 2009!).

Clearing outdated physical clutter set me thinking about the internal clutter we also hang onto for too long. Are any of these things clogging up your mental shelf space?

Redundant qualifications

It can be hard to let go of hard-won qualifications. If you took a law degree for example, does that mean you always need to work in the legal field? Of course not, but sometimes it’s hard to let go of a past achievement in order to follow a career path that is right for us now.

Self-judgements

It’s so tempting to judge ourselves against our peers or even some external imagined standards. We may metaphorically beat ourselves up for not reaching a certain level in our career by a certain age. Or compare ourselves against other people. But everyone’s life path is different, and some of the most interesting and accomplished people didn’t find their vocation until quite late. The bestselling writer Mary Wesley published her first adult novel at the age of 71.

Too many ideas

Ideas flowing Making a clear decision about a career, or a business niche, can be scary, because it means letting go of all the other ideas of things we “could” do. It means closing down possibilities, at least for now. In career or business planning, there is a time for generating lots of ideas and possibilities, and this can be valuable. But to make things happen you have to take action. And to take action means making a decision. And making a positive decision to follow one path means letting go of another direction, at least for a while.

I say for a while, because it is perfectly possible to build a successful portfolio career with different strands and income streams. But there is a danger in trying to do everything all at once, and power in making a decision and staying focused on one thing for a while, to give it a chance.

Perfectionism

Perfectionism can hold you back. Trying something new involves risk, whether that’s going for a promotion or starting a business. You will make mistakes, and that can be painful. If perfectionism is one of your traits, take some time to work out what it’s costing you. Wanting to do a great job, and putting in the graft is well worth it. But expecting perfect results when you do something for the fist time can set yourself up for disappointment and a sense of failure.

In his book The Chimp Paradox, Dr Steve Peters suggests that if you set your bar for success as “doing your best”, then this is always achievable. You may not do something brilliantly first time, but you can always gain satisfaction if you know that you gave it your best shot and did the best you could at the time.

Outdated dreams and visions

Creating a vision of where you want to go to in business or life is valuable and important. It can give you a sense of direction, a compass to navigate the choices and opportunities that come your way. But we change and what matters to us can change. If you made a decision some time ago to follow a certain direction, it may be time to check in and make some adjustments. And be mindful of differentiating between a setback along the way, and a true change of heart.

Find a listening ear

If your mind feels cluttered with ideas, concerns or judgements, then it can be invaluable to speak to someone. A chat with a friend can help clear the mental cobwebs. And do think seriously about working with a coach too. A few sessions with a good coach can help to shift outdated thinking, and clear space for fresh new ideas to come in.

And if you would like some help, email me to request a free telephone consultation.

Woman at a job interview
Apr 29

How to dress for an interview

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Career development

I’m delighted to welcome guest blogger Nicola Davis. Nicola is a multi-award winning colour and style consultant. Her professional background includes interviewing, and she knows what impresses employers. Read on for some terrific advice from Nicola on how to dress for an interview, and for a promotion!

Nicola Davis - Style Consultant

Nicola Davis

Like it or not, people form instant opinions about us based on how we look. Given my background in human resources and sales management, I know first-hand how true this is when it comes to interviewing candidates for jobs.

A survey conducted by The Ladders management careers company found for senior executives conducting interviews, 37% had decided against hiring a candidate due to the way they were dressed. Therefore to maximise your chances of getting the job you need to make sure you dress appropriately for the role and the company.

Research the company

When deciding what to wear for your interview, research the company to gain an understanding of its dress code. If possible, get along to their premises when you can see employees coming and going and take a look at what they’re wearing. At the very least, check out the images on their website. Are staff conservatively dressed in suits? Or, does the dress code appear to be more relaxed? If in doubt, always err on the side of caution and go for a formal, tailored look.

In any event, an interview is not the time for high-fashion or quirky statement dressing – unless of course you’re looking to work within the fashion or creative industries. You want the interviewer to be focused on you, not distracted by what you’re wearing.

Go for smart colour and style choices

A classic dark suit (navy or charcoal are good options for most people) teamed with understated accessories suggests authority and professionalism whilst a touch of red (perhaps in a tie or blouse) gives an impression of confidence and dynamism. Less structured clothes in softer colours tend to look less professional but could be appropriate for those seeking work in areas where they need to look approachable and empathetic. On the whole though, it’s safest to avoid pastels and florals for interview, unless teamed with something dark and tailored to add some gravitas.

Whatever the role you’re applying for, your clothes should be clean, current, well-fitting and appropriate. Good grooming is also essential. Surveys consistently show that women who wear make-up are perceived as being more professional and in control of their lives than those who don’t, so even if you don’t normally wear make-up, applying a little mascara, blusher and lipstick for the interview is worth considering. Do make sure you practice applying and wearing it well ahead of the interview day though to avoid last minute panic and disaster!

Dress for a pay rise with personal touches

Once you’ve got the job and demonstrated your competence in the role, you can afford to express more of your personality in the way you dress, whilst still adhering to any company dress code. Indeed, as Fortune Magazine noted “Personal style has always played, and still plays, a crucial role in the career trajectories of leaders’’(March 2015) Similarly, injecting some colour into your working wardrobe could enhance your career prospects according to an article in The Telegraph (November 2015) – “Colourful clothes lead to pay rises and promotion.”

The key to dressing for business is to convey the right sartorial messages whilst remaining true to your innate personal style. This can be done by adding personal touches to your professional “uniform”. For women this might be wearing your signature red lipstick or statement earrings or carrying a brightly coloured bag, whilst for men it might mean wearing a natty waistcoat or bow tie or perhaps using a messenger bag instead of a formal briefcase.

Seek advice on career and personal style

Finally, if you (or your boss!) really feel that your personal style is at odds with the company dress code and culture, you may well find that this is not the right organisation for you. In which case, I would thoroughly recommend that you get advice from Felicity regarding the type of work and style of company which will suit you best and enable you to fulfil your true potential.

If you would like to find out more about how to dress in a way that is flattering and appropriate and also reflects your style personality, I would be delighted to help. Please email Nicola@mypersonalstyle.co.uk or visit my website www.mypersonalstyle.co.uk

Nicola Davis, 2016

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

 

 

Jan 31

Are you an imposter?

By Felicity Dwyer | Career development

Do you ever feel that you’re not as competent as other people seem to think you are? That you’re going to be “found out”?  This feeling is quite common and is sometimes referred to as Imposter Syndrome.

Last year I attended a conference about inspiring women in business. As you would expect from this type of event, it included talks by business women who were undoubtedly successful. This included a talk by a massively impressive 29 year old CEO. Yet two of the speakers expressly talked about this “imposter” feeling, and they had clearly chosen to do so in the hope that it would help other women in the room.

And it’s not just women. I remember working with a man on this issue, quite early on in my coaching career. And in my own field of training and coaching I know the feeling of coming home from a training course that has received excellent feedback, yet focusing on the one slightly less positive comment.

If this resonates with you on some level, then what can you do about it? Here are some ideas that can help you build up your inner confidence, so it matches the outer.

Keep a record of strengths and achievements

Build up a foundation of belief in your own skills and strengths.  If you receive some positive feedback – write it down.  To kickstart the process of recording positive feedback, take a paper or online notebook, or open up a document, and write down everything that you are good at.  Think back to all the comments you have received in recent months. Go back over positive emails or messages and gather them in one place.

And record your achievements too, big or small, whether or not anyone else acknowledged them. If you know you did a good job, recognise and note it. As you do this you might feel some “yes buts” creeping in…  “Yes, it was a successful meeting but that’s because everyone else was so involved …”  (forgetting that it might have been because you planned and chaired the meeting so well).

We sometimes overlook our strengths because they may feel easy or effortless.  I now find it easy to facilitate a meeting, because it’s a strength. It’s something that I’ve learned to do, and it’s only when I notice that not everyone can do it so smoothly, that I realise it’s a strength and not a given.

This exercise of writing down strengths and achievement is well worth doing.  And then when imposter syndrome strikes and your confidence wobbles, go back and read what has been said.

See mistakes as part of learning

If you do make a mess of something, that doesn’t mean that you are incompetent as a person. It means that you have something to learn, and by recognising that, you can talk steps to change it.

Stanford University psychologist Carole Dweck has researched the differences between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. If we have a fixed mindset, we assume that our intelligence and personality are hard to change.  If we have a growth mindset, we believe that we can change significantly throughout our lives.

If we tend towards a growth mindset, we are more likely to enjoys challenges that stretch and develop us, and view mistakes as an opportunity to learn, rather than confirmation that we are lacking. So a step towards greater confidence is developing the ability to genuinely see our mistakes as a part of learning and growing, and believe that we can change as a result.

Notice and let go of thoughts

I love the quote: “don’t compare your insides with someone else’s outsides”.  Other people see how you speak and behave, but they don’t know about the doubts that might be going through your head. And we all have doubts at some point in our careers. There is a time and space where it is appropriate to share these thoughts and feelings, with a friend, a coach or a supportive line manager. But in professional situations, we do need to learn how to manage them and not let them get in the way.

A thought that you are “not good enough” is just that, a thought. It’s not true unless you are trying to perform a job that is clearly outside your capability or skillset, which is something different. I’ve written before about meditation, and a daily mediatation practice can help you recognise that during the course of the day many thoughts pass through your mind, and you can learn to get better at noticing them, and letting them go.

Measure success by doing your best

In The Chimp Paradox, consultant psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters has some interesting things to say about confidence and success. “If you measure success in life by effort and doing your best, then it is always in your hands to succeed and be proud of yourself.”   So if you prepare well for a meeting and give it your full attention, that can count as a success, even if the outcome isn’t quite as you would have wished.  And if you identify one thing you can do better next time, then this is useful learning.

Need a boost of confidence?

Confidence is an area I can help with through my coaching service. If you feel a lack of confidence is holding you back in your career or business, then why not book in a free consultation call and find out more.

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

LinkedIn on a mobile phone
Nov 30

Is your LinkedIn Profile up to scratch?

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Career development , Networking , Small Business

If your career or aspirations can in any way be described as “professional”, then you need to be on LinkedIn. And if you are on LinkedIn, your profile needs to represent you effectively.

LinkedIn is THE professional social network

Unlike other social media networks, LinkedIn is purely professional. And it’s huge, over 20 million people in the UK alone are on LinkedIn. You can use it to share what you do, and to build up credibility with endorsements and recommendations for your work.Continue reading

Felicity Dwyer
Oct 31

Find out what your dream job is REALLY like

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Career development , Networking

Starting a new career or business can feel like a shot in the dark. But there is a technique which can greatly increase your chance of success.

As part of a magazine feature, I met with professional photographer Sean Malyon to have my picture taken. Sean is very easy to talk to, and the hour spent being snapped among autumn leaves flew past.

We talked about career paths and Sean told me he is sometimes contacted for advice by aspiring portrait photographers. Many of them focus on the technical side of photography such as lighting. They want tips to help grow their expertise in this area.

But in reality, the portrait photography business is all about people. If you are not comfortable relating to different types of people and putting them at their ease quickly, then you are unlikely to be commercially successful.

Do your research

This example demonstrates the importance of doing your research when choosing or changing careers. It’s easy to build up an idea in your mind about a particular line of work, but you may find the reality is far removed from what you imagine. And the best way to get a true picture of a line of work is to talk to people already doing the job.

The process of deliberately speaking with an existing professional about their career path and working life is known as “informational interviewing”,

Dos and Don’ts of an informational interview

Do some initial research before seeking out people to interview. Do you believe a career within a specific profession or sector could be a real possibility for you? And have you discovered enough background information to prepare well for the conversation? You will get the best value from someone’s precious time by hearing about their personal experience. How did they get to be where they are? What are the most important skills and qualities needed for success? What challenges and drawbacks have they experienced? What are the downsides to the job? What advice can they give you?

Don’t try and use an informational interview to pitch for a job. The purpose is to discover more about a line of work and if it might suit you. It can help you figure out career paths, and to identify ways into an industry or section. Sometimes a conversation may result in job leads or opportunities, but don’t expect this and certainly don’t push for it. At the end of the conversation, ask your interviewee if they can suggest anyone else you could speak to. Getting different viewpoints is invaluable.

Find people to interview

Felicity Dwyer in AutumnThe first port of call is your existing network. Work out the type of people you need to speak to and reach out through friends, former colleagues and contacts for a friendly introduction. Don’t do this too soon, you don’t want to waste your best contacts by rushing in before you’ve done your research. But nor should you be shy about approaching contacts. Explain briefly what are looking to do, and ask if they know anyone who might be able to help. They can always say ‘no”, and that’s fine – not every request will get a positive response.

You can also approach people “cold” by writing a friendly email, explaining your situation, or by picking up the phone. Twitter and Linked In are good places to find relevant people. You might ask for a specified amount of time, perhaps 20 minutes. If you don’t hear back, you could consider sending a polite follow up email (but not more than one!)

If you are receiving a warm introduction via someone you know then you might ask for a face to face interview. My tip from being on the receiving end of requests for a interview is that if you’re approaching someone cold, ask for a telephone conversation. In all honesty, I’m unlikely to want to take time for a face to face meeting with a stranger. But I have been happy in the past to spend a few minutes speaking on the phone.

Follow up

Do follow up with a thank you message. Don’t send your CV unless you’ve been asked for it – nobody wants to receive an unsolicited CV.

Know when to act

Investing time in research will make it far more likely that you make the right career choice, based on reality not fantasy. And when you go in with your eyes open you are much more likely to be successful. There comes a time however when you need to take action. You can only know for sure that a job is right for you once you start doing it.

Photo credits: Sean Malyon

find a niche advice
Jul 30

How to find your perfect niche

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Career development , Small Business

Do you earn your living as an expert in your field? You may offer professional services or advice. Perhaps you’re a consultant, trainer or coach. If so, one of the most valuable thing that you can do to grow your career or business, is to commit to a niche.

People often resist choosing a niche because they think it might be limiting. But you can’t be everything to everybody. If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you may have heard this message before from a marketing perspective. And it’s also true when it comes to finding satisfying work.

Your niche is where your expertise and your purpose come together. It’s where your unique set of knowledge, skills and interests interacts with the needs of others. Here are a few questions to help you identify this sweet spot.

What difference do you want to make?

Ultimately the value of your work is in the difference you make to others. The beneficiaries of your work may be other people, it may be animals, it may be the environment. Finding something you care about will give you satisfaction at the end of your working day, and your working life.

Who are you best placed to help?

Your starting point is where you are now. What does your background and experience bring to the table? What networks and contacts do you already have? And if you want to make a break with the past, then you can look ahead to find the answer to this question. What areas interest you? Where are you prepared to put in the work needed to learn new things and make new contacts?

Who do you most enjoy working with?

Do you enjoy being with young people, older people, animals, creative people, entrepreneurial people… the list goes on. What values and ideals does your perfect client or customer hold? Who have you most enjoyed working with in the past? The people we work with are often the single biggest contributors to our happiness at work

And when you do find your niche it just feels right. It’s often something that ties together your unique mix of interests, skills and experience from various stages in your working life.

And yes, you can have more than one niche. In my coaching business,  I use my experience and skills to help mid-life career changers to work out what they want to do. I have always been fascinated by career paths, and why people do what they do. When I discovered this coaching niche, it immediately felt right. It doesn’t feel restrictive at all.

I also run a training business with a colleague. Our main niche is helping people who manage volunteers to gain skills and qualifications. I came into this field partly through my own experience of volunteering and managing volunteers in a community theatre. And it also draws on my professional background working in the voluntary sector.

Niches can be quite different. For example a part time accountant who helps sole traders with their book-keeping, and also sells quirky jewellery at craft fairs. Or niches can relate to each other. My niches are both around helping people develop their careers – but in different ways. And in last month’s blog, artist Rhian John describes how her painting and graphic design are complementary. A good niche is neither so narrow that you become blinkered, or so wide that any meaningful level of expertise is impossible.

Need some help with finding your niche? This is the type of enquiry I can help with, so please have a look my free consultation offer.

mentor
May 29

Why you need a mentor

By Felicity Dwyer | Career development , Networking

Do you have access to someone who has experience in your field of work, and who is happy to give you some help to develop yourself and your career? In other words, do you have a mentor?

A mentor can support your career progression. A good mentor will see potential in you that you may not be able to recognise, and help you to make your ambitions a reality.

Research from the CIPD (1) demonstrated that mentoring can be very effective in helping us gain knowledge, increase skills and act more effectively. It can lead to better management of career goals, and helps with developing a wider network of influence. And being mentored can increase confidence and self-awareness which leads to better performance at work.

A mentor would normally be someone in the same line of work as you, so they can offer you guidance based on experience. They can also help you to access networks and opportunities. A good mentor may also coach you where needed, helping you to clarify your own ideas for a way forward.

How can you find a mentor?

There are various ways to find a mentor or mentors. Some employers can help set up formal mentoring arrangements, so it’s worth asking about opportunities. Sometimes a manager can also act as a mentor. By which I mean they can help us to grow professionally and often personally, beyond the demands of our current job. I experienced this from one of my managers. Janet was an expert at developing her staff. She was willing to delegate and trusted me to take on extra responsibilities and to represent her sometimes at events. She also encouraged me to work towards a qualification which proved invaluable in my later career.

Mentoring BenefitsSometimes a mentor is someone outside the management structure. Someone we meet and connect with in the workplace, who teaches or inspires us. When I first met Maggie, she was a wonderful role model and helped me discover a career direction that finally felt right. Maggie was hugely encouraging, she could see potential in me and helped me develop it. And a few years down the line, we ended up working closely together.

Sometimes you might look for a mentor externally to your organisation, particularly if you want to change direction. You may be able to find a mentor by asking within your professional and social networks. There are also individuals who offer paid mentoring services.

We all need mentors, even if they are only informal ones. And we need different people at different times or in different areas of our lives. Sometimes a simple conversation over coffee can prompt a change, and that is all the support we need at the time. Sometimes we might need a lot more in the way of handholding and be willing to invest in a professional mentor or coach.

The value of being a mentor

When you have established some success in your career or business, it might be time to look at giving something back and offering some of your own time as a mentor. This can be very rewarding. The CIPD research shows mentors also benefit from the satisfaction of developing their colleagues and from passing on their knowledge, skills and expertise. And it can help develop your skills too. Sometimes it’s only by sharing what we know that we can hold a mirror up to ourselves and recognise the depth of our own knowledge and skill. And mentors can also learn from mentees, from their questions and perspectives.

Have you been inspired by a mentor? Or are you a mentor? Please share your experiences in the comments box.

(1) CIPD Learning and development survey 2008.

 

Personal brand, woman in pink jacket
Apr 30

What does your personal brand say about you?

By Felicity Dwyer | Career development , Motivation

When you buy a professionally marketed product or service, you are interacting with a brand identity. Someone has taken time and trouble to work out whom they want to appeal to, and how to get their message across.

You can draw on similar ideas in presenting yourself professionally. This is sometimes referred to as personal branding. It is about taking a considered look at who you are, how you want to be seen, and how you can communicate this.  If you get this right, your external appearance and manner represents who you are on the inside – and who you are at your best. Looking good will not only help you feel confident, but will inspire confidence in you.

Your “brand values”

When marketers develop a company brand, they take into account the brand values, and you can do the same for yourself. What personal values and qualities do you wish to communicate? What effect will this have on your customers or clients? For example, a solicitor will always want to look smart and professional to inspire confidence, but this can be expressed in different ways. A family lawyer may choose a more relaxed way of dressing than a corporate lawyer, for example a smart dress rather than a formal business suit.

In my business, I would like to be seen as approachable, yet professional and a smart casual way of dressing takes me happily through most working situations.

You may prefer a tailored look, or a quirky look. Whatever feels like the real “you”. Even if your workplace is quite conventional, you may still be able to inject a bit of personality into your outfit with a tie, scarf or piece of jewellery.

Presenting yourself successfully

If you don’t feel 100% confident in the way you dress, it can be worth investing in a colour and style consultation. A good colour and style consultant will offer advice based around your lifestyle, and not try to impose a look on you. You may also find you save money by only buying clothes that really suit you.

It’s not just the visual element that makes up your personal brand. The way you walk, speak and present yourself is part of this. Simple tips to help inspire confidence include: taking a breath before you speak, paying attention to your posture, and being careful not to put yourself down when you speak.

Nurse in uniformYou may be presenting a different aspect of your personality at work to the one you share with friends and family, and therefore you may choose to dress differently. Wearing a uniform is an extreme example of this. A uniform is ultimately about stepping into a role and appropriate in some jobs. And your company culture may be reflected in an unofficial “uniform” worn by most people.

Dressing to suit your workplace culture is normal, but if your workplace image feels really alien or “not you”, then it may be that you would be happier in a different environment. So if you don’t feel comfortable in formal attire or a uniform, that in itself might say something about the kind of place where you want to work.

Ultimately, you can’t NOT send out messages about yourself from the way you dress, and from your posture and voice. A personal branding approach helps you to be more confident that the image you present is the right one for you.

 

Career gold
Mar 31

Can you enjoy the process of career transition?

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Career development , Motivation

In his book “A Life at Work”,  Thomas Moore uses the metaphor of alchemy as a way of describing our search for our life’s work. He talks about the value inherent in the process of finding and deepening our sense of what we are here to do. As the alchemists strove to transform base metal into gold, our search for a life’s work transforms our personal history and experiences into something unique and meaningful.

Sometimes it seems as though what is happening in our working lives is “base metal”: day-to-day frustrations, lack of progress, lack of focus. And yet if we are willing to trust that things will work out, and able to find value in the stuff of our lives, then we will find glimmers of gold emerging.

And finding a way to enjoy the process will in itself bring a sense of meaning. In every career, there will be successes and setbacks along the way. But there is almost never an end-point at which we can say “yes I’ve made it!”; life is always unfolding.

We are now into a General Election campaign in the UK. Standing for parliament is a situation where there seems to be a very clear end point and winner. But the process of standing for election can be valuable in itself. Whether or not you win, you have the opportunity to stand up for something and to state your case. If you win, a new learning path will begin as soon as the celebration is over, and if you lose you will undoubtedly learn from the experience. I stood some years ago for a local council election and although not a winner, I learned a huge amount about myself, including the realisation that this wasn’t the right path for me at that point in my life.

Whatever our career ambitions, there are aspects that are beyond our control. If we only focus on end results, we lose what is more important: the value of the journey through this, our one life.

If your career feels wrong for you, then change it, but don’t put your life on hold while you do it. The more you can focus on what you do enjoy right now, in your current life and work, the more positive energy that will release to help you make changes. And when you are willing to make changes on the inside, that’s when transformation can happen on the outside too.

What valuable lessons have your learned along your career path? Please share in the comments below.

Is this you?

Serious about making a change? Interested in some in-depth, expert support with career transition?

Find out how I can help HERE.

 

 

 

Overwhelmed at Work
Feb 04

6 ways to use your time more effectively at work

By Felicity Dwyer | Career development , Motivation , Productivity

It is common to feel overstretched or even overwhelmed at work. Our culture often seems to value busyness and expects us to be always switched on. If this affects you, there are steps that you can take to regain control of your time.

It is vital to keep your values and priorities in mind, and either find space for them in your life as it is, or find a way to change jobs or careers so that you can do more of what you love everyday.

Here are six strategies that I have used successfully to overcome overwhelm and be more effective at work.

One main focus

Try to keep to one main focus or objective each day – decide on the most important thing to get done, and fit other tasks around that. If this seems unrealistic, choose a focus for the morning and one for the afternoon. This doesn’t mean you throw away your to-do list. But if you give absolute priority to one objective each day, you’ll go home with a sense of achievement, and probably find you get a lot of other things done too.

Group similar tasks together

I try to allow a solid hour or two at a time for more complex tasks such as writing blogs or proposals, because it takes less energy doing it that way that picking up on odd bits here and there. This works well for phone calls too. Experiment with different patterns. If you have a blog or report to write, does it work better for you to spend a solid two hours on it. Or does it suit you better to start with a rough draft and then come back to it later in the day or week or work on it in small bursts.

Follow your energy as much as you can

If your energy levels are low, then it can make sense to switch to basic admin tasks, if you are feeling energised and creative then tap into that as much as you can. But don’t let low energy be an excuse for delaying an important piece of work. If you are struggling to get started then…

Chunk it down

If you have a big and possibly daunting task, then break it down into a series of small ones. Keep breaking down a task until you have an action that you can do now. Even if it’s the first action is just looking up a phone number, or a quick piece of internet research, or sending an email, or even just scheduling the next step into your diary – DO something to make a start.

Sorting your emailsHave a system for emails

Keep on top of emails. Once I’ve opened an email I either delete it, move it to a suitable folder for future reference, action it now, or flag it for future action.

If you get a lot of email newsletters you can use software like unroll.me to collate and organise them for you. If you find yourself regularly deleting the same newsletters before opening them, it’s time to unsubscribe.

Tidy up to get unstuck

When I feel stuck or unmotivated at work, I tidy my office. I find it easier to think with a tidy space, and it provides a sense of satisfaction that can then motivate me to tackle my other tasks. Nigel Risner has said that space management is even more important than time management. This makes sense as working in a mess slows you down and brings your energy levels down. But one person’s idea of tidy is another person’s clutter – you will know what works for you. For me, it’s about having a clear desk, and organising my project work in tidy piles or magazine folders.

I’d love to hear your tips, please share in the comments box below.