Category Archives for "Motivation"

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 This could include outdated assumptions or ideas that could that be getting in the way of making beneficial changes or stepping up a level in our career or business.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Clearing outdated physical clutter set me thinking about the internal clutter we also hang onto for too long.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.

Book
Oct 19

How to turn your career vision into reality

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Motivation , Small Business

A first step in making a career change is to work out where you want to get to.  This is true whether you want to land your dream job, or want to start or grow your own business. But this may not be enough, on it’s own.

Create a vision of your future

Creating a vision is an important step towards your ideal future. It’s worth taking time to work out what you really really want. Sometimes that clarity can be enough to set you on the path to success.

But sometimes, identifying an ambitious goal can spark a sense of overwhelm. The gap between where you want to be and where you are now seems huge. How will you bridge the chasm?

Assess your current reality

The answer is to start with an objective assessment of where you are now. A vision of a desired future is an important element to achieving goals and can provide the pull to get you going. But it’s not enough on its own. You have to find the motivation to take action.

In her book “Rethinking Positive Thinking”, psychologist Garbriele Oettingen shares her research that indicates positive visualisation on it’s own can actually reduce your chances of success. You may feel so psychologically buoyed up by your happy thoughts that you lack the sense of urgency or internal motivation needed to actually do the work needed.

She suggests that once you have identified your end goal, you then actually face up to and imagine the reality of the obstacles or the internal stuggle that you will face along the way. Research shows that “mental contrasting” between your goal and the current situations will make it more likely that you will achieve what you want.

Creative tension leads to action

In “The Path of Least Resistance”, Robert Fritz differentiates between people who just dream about or imagine their desired future, and the creators who take action to turn their vision into reality. The gap between the vision of your dream job and the reality of what you have now provides the structural tension needed to take action.

Writing a bookSo you need to be clear about where you are now, and what are the steps you need to take right now to move towards your goal. It doesn’t matter how small your first step is – the important thing is that you take it. And you need to be aware of what might get in the way, for example fear of rejection or the distractions of social media. Then make a plan for how you will move past this obstacle if it comes up. And then you take action. And then you take a next step. Build in some time for reflection, learning and planning after each step.

For example, if you want to write a book, it’s one thing to imagine your successful book launch, and all the wonderful ideas that you will be sharing. But you also need to consider what might get in the way of you sitting down day after day to get your words on paper. And then identify some specific strategies to help you overcome the resistance, moments of self-doubt and procrastination that hit almost every successful author along the way

Small steps up a mountain

Climbing a mountainAnother example, if you’re considering self-employment after 30 years in corporate life, there may seem as though there’s a mountain to climb in terms of learning. But there are plenty of people who were in this position a few years ago. So a small step could just be to have a conversation with one or two of them.

You could book into a small business networking meeting, chat to a few people and find out what they do. Or if you feel nervous at the thought, overcome this by taking an even smaller step. You could contact the leader of a local networking group leader for a chat. They will soon let you know if pre-start ups are welcome at their events, and how to make the most of your visit.

Look back and celebrate

A final thought. It can be helpful to look back on goals you have achieved, and celebrate the steps you took that led you to where you are now. Remind yourself that goals are great, but action is awesome. You can do this!

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.

What's Important to you?
Jan 04

Setting goals? Try this first…

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Motivation

At this time of year it’s common to set goals for the year ahead.

But what if you start by thinking about your values. How you can make 2017 a year when you live your values more deeply?

I’m not suggesting that you don’t set goals. Goals are important to help you get things done. They can also help you to stay motivated. But if you start by identifying your values, this will help you set goals that really matter to you.

And committing to living your values more profoundly will have an impact on HOW you go about achieving your goals, and on your quality of life and relationships. And it can help bring a greater sense of meaning and purpose into your life.

What are values?

ValuesThey are what’s important to you at a deep level. A value is a quality, or way of being. Whereas a goal is something you do or achieve. For example, a goal may be finding a life partner, whereas the underpinning value may be for love or connection or security.

Identifying your values can help you set goals that are worthwhile for you. They help you focus on what is important to you, not what others may think important. They can help give your life meaning and purpose

For example. you might set a goal to find a higher paying job. But if you start with values, then you might realise that you value time with your family more than anything else. You want to earn more so you can provide a better standard of living and more holidays for your family. This doesn’t preclude earning more, but not if it is going to mean less time at home. This understanding can then influence the goals you set for your job search.

How to identify your values?

Here are three ideas:

  1. Ask yourself what is really matters to you, and then look for the underlying values. For example you may feel at your most happy and fulfilled when you are stretching yourself and learning something new. It may be that the underlying value here is love of learning, or personal growth. If so, how can you bring more of this into your everyday life, and future plans?
  2. Conversely, if there is something in your life that makes you unhappy or angry, this could point to a violation of a value. If you feel angry that you are not being paid or treated fairly at work, this could point to an underlying value of justice, equity or fairness. Identifying this can help you in finding work that is more in line with what matters to you. And right now you can make sure you are fair in your dealings with others.
  3. A third approach can be to use a list of values as a prompt. Try this 3 part exercise to help you to identify and prioritise your values, and set relevant actions and goals as a result.

Ideally, your job or career will be a good fit for your values. The culture of your organisation or company will feel right. And your work pattern and remuneration allows you to fulfil what’s important outside of work.

If you feel that your current job is significantly out of sync with your values, it may be time to make a change.

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.

 

Comfort zone
Aug 18

How to expand your confidence (this one comes with a guarantee!)

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Motivation

How often does a lack of confidence hold you back?

You may be familiar with the concept of a comfort zone. It’s that place where you already feel confident.  You know exactly what you’re doing. You’re good at stuff. You don’t need to worry about messing up.

But if you only ever live from that place, you will find yourself stuck quite quickly. The world around us moves on and changes regardless of how confident we feel about adapting to it. But if you can step out of your current comfort zone, it will expand and so will your confidence.

The Stretch Zone

So a very useful concept is that of the Stretch Zone. This is the area around the outside our comfort zone, where we do something that we haven’t done before. We stretch ourselves by trying out a new skill or technique, going to a new place, applying for a new job, meeting new people, putting ourselves out there in the world in many different ways.

And it can be a bit scary – understandably so. When we try something new we are not guaranteed to make a success of it. We may try something new and love it. We may try something new and find it uncomfortable.

However, one thing we are guaranteed in the stretch zone is learning. It may be learning a new skill. It may be learning something about ourselves – what we like or don’t like. It may be learning something about other people and how we relate to them.

And if you look at taking a stretch in that way, then you really cannot fail!

Action is the key

An important thing to remember about moving into the stretch zone is just that – it’s a stretch, it involves movement. The only reliable way to build our confidence is to take action. There are plenty of useful techniques and exercises that can help us feel more confident. But at the end of the day you won’t grow your comfort zone until you get out and DO something.

Confidence comes from action – and the right level of action. Beyond the stretch zone lies the panic zone – this is where you have gone too far out of your zone of competence and confidence and your “fight or flight” mechanism kicks in. So if you are facing a big challenge, break it down to small steps, including a step you can do this week – or better still, today!

I took a step out of my comfort zone this week and started recording and sharing videos on Facebook. Here is a quick video that I’ve made for you about how I did it.

What do you want to change image
Dec 28

The small secret to making a big change

By Felicity Dwyer | Motivation , Productivity

Have you ever set a goal or resolved to make positive change in your life, and then found it hard to keep up. Here is a simple idea which can help.

Take small consistent action

Don’t underestimate the value of small actions, repeated daily. In his book, The Slight Edge, author Jeff Olson makes this point very clearly. Just as compound interest can turn modest savings into a sizeable pot over time, the compounding principle works in all aspects of our lives.

An easy way to get fitter

An easy to understand example is in the area of keeping fit. It’s common to go into a new year with ambitious plans to exercise. Gyms make a fortune out of memberships taken out in a flurry of good intentions.

But an easier way to get fit is just to add in a brisk 20 minute walk to your daily routine. After a day, or a week, this won’t make a huge difference. But if we do it every day over the course of a year, that will add up to over 120 hours of exercise and will have a noticeable impact on your fitness level.

So why don’t we all do it? As Olson points out, these small changes are easy to do, but just as easy not to do. We need to make an effort to start with, but as we go along it becomes easier as we build new habits. The secret is to keep it going, day after day.

Start your working day with a planning habit

And of course this applies to work as well. Can you make a habit of taking five minutes every morning to plan your day, and then focus on getting your most important task done first. You will achieve more this way than if you start the day by looking at emails or social media. Making the choice to plan and prioritise can also become a habit.

There is a saying from the Buddhist tradition which shows this approach has ancient roots: “Sow a thought; reap an action. Sow an action; reap a habit. Sow a habit; reap a character. Sow a character; reap a destiny.”

Woman meditating at her desk

Cultivate a mind altering habit

The habit that made the biggest different to my life last year was starting a regular morning meditation. I made a commitment to do ten minutes a day, just before starting work. Again, one day’s meditation doesn’t change you significantly, but over time a short regular practice trains your mind so that you find it easier to focus and stay calm in the midst of challenges.

Practicing a simple meditation develops the part of the mind that is able to step back and observe, and then make choices. A good meditation practice is one that simply focuses on the breath. You can do this both as a formal and informal meditation practice.

A daily meditation

For a formal meditation, find a time where you will be undisturbed (even a seat on your commuter train is better than nothing), and sit with your spine straight, and your feet on the floor. Close your eyes and allow your mind to focus on your breath. Don’t try to change it, just notice your breathing. Notice how it feels as the air comes in and out. Notice the rise and fall of your belly and chest. When your attention wanders (as it will), then as soon as you notice, gently bring your focus back to your breath.

It is helpful to set a timer so that you know when your time is up. Ten minutes (or even five minutes) a day is enough to be helpful, and 20 minutes is ideal. To keep a formal practice going, commit to making it a priority, and do it at the same time each day so it starts to become a habit.

Stop and pause

Informal meditation is something that you can practice throughout the day. Just take a moment now and again to pause, and notice your breathing. This can help you to remain calm and mindful throughout the day.

What small new habit could make a big difference over time in your life? Please share in the comments below…

Butterfly symbolising change
Sep 30

Manage transitions in your work and life

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Motivation

Making a big career or life change can be tough. And we all have to face changes in our lives. You may want to move to a new job or start a business. You may face redundancy or retirement. You may need to move home, start a family, or return to work after a break.

An approach which can help you manage change comes from the work of William Bridges. Bridges describes the difference between the external change, and the internal process of transition.

“Change is not the same as transition. Change is situational: the new site, the new boss, the new team roles, the new policy. Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation. Change is external, transition is internal.”
William Bridges “Managing Transitions”

Of course, the two don’t always dovetail neatly. Often the external change happens before you’ve had time to make the internal transition. That’s when you can feel stressed, overwhelmed, confused or fearful. In this state, it can be hard to make important decisions about your future.

Understanding the three stages of transition can help you through this process.

Phases of Transition (Bridges)

Ending

An aspect of change is that something is being left behind. It is important to acknowledge what is being lost. Even when you want the change to happen, it is valuable to recognise that something is finishing. It allows completion.

Imagine you’re returning to work after time at home with your children. You may be keen to start using your professional skills again, but also need to acknowledge the loss of time with family.

Or you may have been promoted to a management role. This is a positive change. But you may miss being part of your former team, with plenty of camaraderie and fewer responsibilities.

It can be particularly hard when the change is not of your making. If you’re made redundant from a job you enjoy, there is a clearly a loss. It is important to be able to “mourn” that in a sense, before you’re ready to move on. The moving on process can take some time, or it can happen quite quickly. Sometimes the recognition of the ending is all that is needed to free up energy to move forward.

Neutral Zone

This is an in-between stage. You’ve accepted that something is ending, but are not sure about or committed to what comes next. When you recognize that feelings of confusion, uncertainty and even fear are part of this, you can see that they will not last forever.  And there are positive aspects to this phase if you allow them in.

You have choices; choices over how to react to the change, and choices about what to do next. You may find it helpful to re-frame your feelings of uncertainty. You can choose to see them as part of a process of research and ideas generation for creating your next steps. This can be a creative time.

Again, we may pass through the neutral zone quickly. Or it we may have to live in this stage for a while. This is particularly so with a big life change such as moving to a new town.

Mark was struggling with imposed retirement. He needed to go through the process of acknowledging his feelings about the loss of status and routine. In the neutral zone, he started to think about positive ways to spend retirement. He became involved in an active voluntary group fundraising for his community, and also volunteered to mentor younger people in his former line of work.

Beginning

There is a difference between the start of something new, and the beginning. In Bridges model, the beginning is where we have come through the neutral zone and are psychologically ready to commit to the new reality. And it is important to acknowledge and celebrate the new.

If we have gone consciously through the previous two stages, then we may start to feel the excitement and promise of the beginning.

So for example, we can start a new job with our focus on enjoying and making the most of it, whether or not we would rather have stayed in our previous one.

Isabel had to make some difficult decisions about returning to work after having her daughter.  She didn’t want to go back to the long hours and demands of her corporate job. So she researched her options. Her company didn’t want her to return part-time, and she found that local part-time jobs weren’t a good match for her skills.  So she set up as an independent consultant in her field. She acknowledged the loss of income and job security through her decision. This allowed her to move on and focus on the increased freedom in managing her time and workload, and the excitement of being her own boss.

Like all models, this one is a simplification, and in real life there is an overlap between the three phases. The value comes in recognising where you are in the process. Trying to rush through a stage is counter-productive, and so is dwelling longer than you need in any one phase. You can assess your journey through the transition by noticing the shift in your thoughts and feelings as one stage moves into the next.

Help with managing change – an invitation

Would you like some expert support to help you work through a change or decision in your life? Coaching can be really helpful at times of change, and my style is warm and supportive. Please email me if you would like to book a complimentary consultation.

 

 

Rhian and her work
Jun 24

I’ve always wanted to paint, but…

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Creativity , Motivation

Is there an interest, calling or career that you’ve always wanted to explore or rediscover? Maybe a path not taken or a childhood interest neglected? Rhian John’s experience is one of an early passion for painting, revived in mid-life, and which has become a successful business.

Taking the sensible career option

Rhian loved art at school, but like many people, she took what seemed a “sensible” route into the world of work. She took a graphic design degree, and spent 25 years as a graphic designer before picking up a paintbrush again.

That was in 2014 and since then Rhian has attracted a growing interest in her paintings, with almost 8,000 Facebook followers and a recent exhibition at the Theatre Royal in Winchester.

Meeting Rhian at her lovely light and art-filled home near Winchester, she told me that she and her sister were both artistic as children.

After school she took an Art Foundation course, but didn’t think pursuing her love of Fine Art was a sensible career move. So she took a design degree and worked in graphic design for 25 years. “I wouldn’t have known then where to even start to market myself as a painter.”

The love of art never left her, “ I can’t walk past a gallery without going in to see what people do.” But it was only when her son did his A Level art, that Rhian reached a turning point.

Heeding a call

Watching her son, Rhian felt she couldn’t hold back any more, she felt an incredibly strong urge to get the paints out: “It truly just happened. I literally saw my son paint and said “I can’t stand it any more, I’ve got to paint”.

“March 2014 was the first time I picked up my paintbrush. I didn’t know if my paintings were any good, but I put a couple up on Facebook and people bought them. I think if you can do something, you sort of assume everyone is able to do it.”

She started off by digging out a photograph that she’d taken at Hillier Gardens, near Romsey, and painting from that. Initially she worked with acrylics on paper and then moved on as her confidence grew:  “I remember the first time I bought a canvas. I felt very grown up.”

Overcoming fear of failure

The reason why it took Rhian so long to start painting again is one that many of us will relate to. As she explains: “The fear of “what if I can’t do it any more” is part of why I didn’t do it properly. There’s always that fear – if you don’t give it a go, then you haven’t failed. And it’s such a silly reason. As with anything, you improve as you go along.”

Different forms of creativity

Rhian still runs her graphic design company. As she works from home, this offers the flexibility to run the two businesses side by side. And one effect of starting to paint is that she is now enjoying her design work more.

Juggling two business may sound daunting, but Rhian has found that she actually manages her time better now, so she can fit it all in. At the end of the day at her computer, she feels that if she can complete the job then that will free her up to paint the next day. “If I’m nearly at the end of a design job it spurs me on.”

Both design and painting are creative, but in a different way. Design is computer based and there are logical reasons why you would choose certain colours for certain brand values, whereas painting is a very personal thing: “from the heart”

Rhian’s uplifting paintings of nature, flowers and animals are bursting with vibrant shades. “I do just love colour. I take a lot of photographs. I love being outside, love the beach, flowers, colour. I paint what I like. I didn’t do it to make money, but I’ve been incredibly fortunate.”

“Just do it”

paint and brushesRhian receives many messages from people saying “I’d love to start painting again, but…” And her response: ” I would say “I was you. You don’t have to do it as a career.  But just do it!”

“It doesn’t matter what you produce. Art and craft is a great outlet for creativity, and relieves stress. Because you’re concentrating, other things go out of your head.”

So what next? “I don’t want to put massive pressure on myself.  What has happened in the last year has been absolutely fantastic. I will go with the flow, see where it takes me.”

Rhian is participating in Hampshire Open Studios at the end of August. And you can view and buy her paintings and prints online at www.rhianjohn.com

Have you rediscovered a passion in mid-life? If so please share your story in the comments box below, I’d love to hear from you.

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.