Time & stress management for executives, professionals and growing self leadership
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Advice I Gave to my Teenage Daughter (or anyone else looking to get ahead).

Posted by vivhudson on June 5, 2017 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (1)

As my oldest daughter is about to embark on her first opportunity at work experience (and possibly employment), I thought it prudent to share some sage advice with her.


Thinking back to my days at school, I recall going to do work experience at a veterinarian office for two weeks at the tender age of 15. At the end of each day, I came home smelling like a delight of fur, antiseptics, as well as feline and canine bodily fluids. At the end of my two weeks, I was offered a part time job! I was ecstatic - a dream job .. cleaning pet excrement from cages starting at 6am on Sunday mornings (I'm sure my parents were thrilled at the hour) for the sovereignly pay rate of $2 per hour. I could not have been happier - seriously!

Fast forwarding to 2017, there I was in the kitchen talking to my eldest and offering the advice that came naturally to me when I was her age.

'Use your initiative'.

The best advice I could give to anyone looking to get ahead in life: 'Use your initiative'. The very reason that I have managed to find success quickly in any number of areas in my life and the very reason I landed my first job.

Initiative it seems is not natural to all people. Something that has made me scratch my head on a number of occasions! There is always something to do or that can be found to be done. My advice to my daughter for her first days at work - ask yourself 'How can I help in this picture?' If nothing is apparently obvious, there is always cleaning to be done (she is off to intern at a boutique local restaurant). Failing there is no obvious things to do then ask 'What can I do to help?'

When I owned my own business I had to have the initiative for many things from computer and printer repairs, to the vacuum cleaner, logistics of various sorts and more, none of which were in my job description. When you have no one above you to ask, you just take ownership!

'What is the rate limiting step'.

Was my next piece of advice. I love this terminology because of my joy for chemistry and determining chemical reaction efficiency. I still think of things in terms of what is slowing this down ... then fill in the gap. I used this thinking a lot in the process driven world of being a pharmacist filling prescriptions, the financial gymnastics of running a business and I still use it to this day when thinking business strategy, sales and cooking!


The 'rate limiting step' is all about efficiency and maximizing output. For a business it means putting customers first and at a personal level it can be about facing fears. To really take the next big step - what vital step (or fear) do you need to face? Perhaps your rate limiting step is a lack of knowhow which brings me to my third piece of advice.

'Ask questions'.

For years I did not ask too many questions as I felt I 'should' know the answers. After all as a professional, a manager and later a business owner didn't my title say I should know???



 

Well it turns out, when you ask questions you also learn a lot and it can shorten your learning curve! This also means fewer mistakes because you get to learn from others that have been there before. When I moved to the US, asking questions became even more important as I moved into new areas of learning. It also meant not to rely on my assumptions that I may have created in my homeland culture of Australia. Asking questions will get you known and help you find many new opportunities.

So to summarise my advice to get ahead in the workforce:

Be willing to do what you can by using initiative, think things through (and determine the rate limiting step), ask questions and share your learning with others. When you combine this formula, you share your value. As you grow your value in this way you can quickly find yourself as leadership material, and hopefully in my daughters case: employed.

Vivien Hudson is an avid virtual worker and leadership developer. She founded Brain, Body and Business, the business of integrating the science of the brain and body to better engage, change, be human and lead ... in life, business and virtually



What Did You Learn?

Posted by vivhudson on May 29, 2017 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Every week people leave conferences, training sessions, read books and attend webinars with some substance of ideation that what they have learned could help them in some way. Become more productive, a better leader, adapt a new skill set or learn about a new product.

This past week, thousands of people left the Association of Talent Development (ATD) conference with these thoughts, myself included. Sometimes the thoughts include content that was learned that could be applied or developed, sometimes it is the connections we make to follow up on and sometimes we simply benefit from the break in pace that causes us to come up for air.

Chances are, that by the time many of us land back at our desks a day or three later, ideas were already evaporating. With each email, message and voicemail that was left to catch up on, our ideas and the motivation behind them begin to fade.

Immediately following attending ATD, I hosted a webinar on Emotional Intelligence with Illumeo. One of the concepts I speak of in this learning is that we must acknowledge that when change and learning occurs, we need to 'slow down to speed up'. Too often in the maelstrom that change can create, we forget to allow time for change.


 

Think of any new skill you have learnt, even back to imagining yourself learning to walk or simply turning a corner in your car. To move from a crawl to attempting to walk means slowing down how quickly we get there. When we turn a corner with our car, we need to apply the brakes, make the turn, then accelerate.

How many of us attend learning sessions then create permission to use time to plan, apply and adapt? Chances are most of us don't. We apply the same pace and personal expectation that any new learning should just 'plug in' to what we already do. If it doesn't 'plug in' then chances are that it becomes some notes or ideas that get filed into 'the I will get around to it one day' pile.

If we know this, then we need to question why attend the learning at all? Is it a requirement? Is the break in pace worth the value or perhaps we might meet that one person who makes the journey worthwhile?

If we don't take the time at the end of a learning event to set new intentions and to plan, when do we do this?

One of the things I relearned at ATD, was the power of connection and conversation. For me as a virtual worker, the power of human connection in a room is real; the sharing of energy and ideas. My intrigue is how to bring as much of that into my virtual world as I can. So now to plan!

Next time you attend a learning event - whether it is a one hour webinar, a book you took the time to read or a four day conference bonanza, what will you do to slow down so you can speed up?

 

The Conflicting Powers of Silence

Posted by vivhudson on July 25, 2016 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (0)

When is silence good and when is silence bad? Silence holds the key to many things. It can help us connect with our self, calm our ego, make someone feel heard and therefore build a relationship. It can also result in rules being broken, a loss of accountability and dangerous situations.


 

With these thought in mind we can quickly see that the art of the appropriate use of silence is golden.

 

Let's talk about the good first.

 

Connecting with oneself

Spending time alone in reflection, mindfulness or meditation is good for our personal health and wellbeing (and therefore also good for those around us). The results are in that spending time reflecting on our day and taking time to be grateful, acknowledging ourselves for what we did well and what we could do better all help us grow as a person.


 

Spending time in silence allows you to deepen your presence in the moment and with that reduces stress. Spending time alone with deep breathing practice has also been shown to grow new grey matter developing new neural pathways. Spending time in silence also gives you time to tune into your body and really notice what you are feeling. The flow on from this is it allows you to tap into more of your intuitive self by growing your self awareness and emotional intelligence.

 

Make sure you take time to silence from your phone too (especially while driving!).

 

Calm the ego

Spending time alone in a positive way can help calm the ego. The ego is what ultimately stops us from fostering better relationships, what lands us in deep water, causes road rage and is the crux of all arguments. Our ego is a way that we seek to validate ourselves and where we can let our emotions take control, leading to poorer decision making and scathing comments or actions.


 

If you are in a conversation that turns heated or you notice your jaw clenching, your fists or shoulders tightening, a change in the way you breathe, perhaps silence is the answer. Often the things we say to feed our ego in a moment of anger can leave wounds that are difficult to repair and not just for the other person involved.

 

Next time you find yourself in a situation where you feel your pulse rise, pause instead, say nothing, breathe and simply observe or listen.

 

Silence to hear

The moments of silence that we partake when we listen to someone speak build valuable connections. We often listen with the intent to reply or to wait for a long enough pause in conversation to add what we want to say. Rarely do we listen to truly listen.


 

We can get in the habit of formulating our reply before the other person has finished speaking and then perhaps blurt it out before we forget what pearls of wisdom we were about to say. When we hold ourselves still and silent we will learn we can trust ourselves more and be confident that we will have a worthy response when the time comes for us to speak. In doing so you will build your presence, you will foster deeper relationships and become more confident as a thinker and person.

 

Now for the bad..

 

Broken rules

As we grow up from a child to an adult we see rules being broken. They could be unspoken rules, family rules or the law itself. Perhaps we are the ones breaking the rules, knowing full well no one will say anything. It is these times that silence causes problems, pain and powerlessness.

 

What are we saying when we don't say anything? Is it the person cutting in the line, is it the person who we catch shoplifting or abusing another. What is it that we fear? Why do we not speak up? Is it social or peer pressure, the fear of conflict, pure apathy or something else?


 

One of the Homeland Security's slogans is 'If you see something, say something'. Why do we need reminding to speak up? We all have a conscience but there are times we choose not to listen to it. Instances where garbage is left behind, not admitting you got paid back too much change or perhaps worse. These can be situations that we could have done something but chose not too.


 

The reasons we stay silent can be because we fear our own safety or perhaps are only concerned about our own patch. We increasingly rely on law enforcement or leave things as someone else's problem. Maybe it's not in our job description, who is going to know or we think we can't make a difference anyway. Look at how many do not recycle, or use someone else's bad behavior as an excuse for our own.

 

Our conscience is at the heart of this and raising kids with a good and healthy conscience as well as giving them a voice to be heard is one step forward. For those of us who already have grown up maybe it is time for some reflection. When we see things that aren't right and don't act it does create mental garbage in our heads due to a thing called cognitive dissonance.

 

Cognitive dissonance is mental stress that is caused by two or more differing beliefs or values. When we litter we may know it is not right but are too lazy to put it in the garbage (somehow my kids I think are still immune to a conscience around this!).

 

Dangerous Situations

Dangerous situations can occur when we succumb to peer group pressure. I am certain many people have ended up in prison (or could have) or worse because they stayed silent when their friends drank too much, used drugs, texted and drove or failed to stop a fight or rape.


 

You may have heard of experiments that have been done where someone has been put in a place of need in a crowded situation and no one stops to help - BUT - when one person DOES, it becomes permission for others to do so too. This is what is known as the 'bystander effect'. The bystander effect is where the more crowded a situation is, the less personally responsible an individual feels. However when one person does help then it becomes almost permission for others to help.

 

Are you comfortable being a bystander and if so what keeps you there?

 

Lack of acccountability

Another place where silence is an entrapment is when we fail to make others accountable. At work it could be allowing someone to move beyond a deadline, show up late or taking a shortcut that could create a dangerous situation. The flow on effect is that what is allowed then endures and becomes a new standard for others to be guided by. The problem is then when a problem occurs who really is to blame?


 

As parents we can fail to make our kids accountable by picking up after them long after they are able to themselves, letting them off doing their jobs or not reprimanding them appropriately. This is just setting our children up to become bystanders in life who feel entitled and are quick to blame.

 

The power of silence is golden when used in the right way but finding your voice is equally important. What will you do today to manifest how you use silence?

 

If you are looking for more guidance when it comes to this then join the https://ijustsayit.com" target="_blank">'I Just Say It' community and learn when and how to say it.

 

Vivien Hudson is an avid virtual worker. She founded Brain, Body and Business, the business of integrating the science of the brain and body to better engage, change, be human and lead ... in life, business and virtually. http://www.brainbodyandbusiness.com/

 

How To Pay Time And Give Attention

Posted by vivhudson on January 3, 2016 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

The greatest gift that we can give I used to think was time. Time is an expendable resource - once spent - you can't get it back. It is easy to take time for granted - as tomorrow is another day, I can do it later... Not right now .... Then before you know it your assignment is due in, that report is due tomorrow, your fitness is nonexistent and your kids have left home.

 

You may have heard the question - if you had $1440 each day and you had to spend it all and couldn't keep any of it... what would you spend it on? Well each of those $ is the equivalent to 1 minute. Each minute of the day that is spent, is a minute that will never return. So ... spend it wisely.

 

In my thirst for the understanding of life, the universe and everything, I have come to think that perhaps time is not our most important resource but ATTENTION. For we can give time freely, and yet ... not be fully present or contributing. It is really this intangible thing, that science is still determining what it really is, and where it comes from that is our most important resource.

 

Also ... why do we say 'pay' attention. The definition of 'pay' is to give (money) for work done, goods received or debt incurred. When we 'pay' for things, it insinuates that there is less free will attached. Alternately if we look at 'give' being defined as the free transfer of (something) to (someone). Giving insinuates that there is voluntary attachment and more like a gift. 

For some of you this subject may seem superfluous and what does it matter anyway?? 

Well attention it turns out, can be the gateway to our life satisfaction. The holy grail of life could be seen as happiness, however, we feel most fulfilled when we have made a contribution in the sense of focused attention and being truly present. This is worth saying again. If we really stop and self reflect to think about time we spend giving our attention and being present that is when we are MOST FULFILLED. And fulfillment brings more goodness in our life than happiness on its' own.


So how do we better use our attention? 


Today's world is largely filled with distractions that we omit to filter out. They constantly stop us from giving our complete attention to people, our surrounds or the task at hand. Our mobile devices and wandering minds can be at the root of this. The end feeling is a lack luster life, lacking purpose or fulfillment.

When you begin to invest your attention more into the important things, your life can change. The important things are our families, especially those that share our household, our self care, career choice, personal growth, our spirituality, hobbies, friends or relationships and contribution. 

To bring more attention to the important aspects of your life the words YES and NO become very important. You define yourself more by what you will say NO to. Add to this boundaries and permissions around being present and attentive and you begin to build a recipe for life fulfillment. Being truly engaged in what you do, whether at work or at home, on yourself or your relationships, will leave you feeling satisfied and purposeful. 

If giving attention is so fulfilling then why do we not do it? It turns out that giving our full attention can take more energy, self discipline and even make us fearful.

Essentially our brain is lazy and will easily be distracted by anything that captures our interest. Our brains are wired for reward which allows our gadgets to be so distracting. The small rewards that our mobile devices provide on a regular basis through status updates, messages and even games is feeding the mindlessness so many are experiencing.

 

So where do we start?

 

Training our brain to be more attentive is required. Our attention gives our brain muscle and with practice makes it easier. 

First become more self aware of your thoughts and actions. Taking time for daily reflection - what did I do well and what could I have done differently? Keep a daily reflection journal or make it part of your To Do list.

Practice Mindfulness or as I prefer to call it - Attention training.. So many people find mindfulness through meditation difficult as our brain is so easily wired to wander. Sitting thinking of nothing but your breath is not at the top of too many to do lists. Train yourself to notice what your mind is doing and then simply notice when it wanders and bring it back is a good start to flexing your muscle. Start with 2 minutes - make it achievable and convenient. Practice it throughout your work day.


 

A natural way to increase attention is to be curious. With curiosity, many things become interesting. Being inquisitive, causes our mind to question more - the How, What, Why, Where, Who and When of things can open new neural networks for learning and creativity. When the mind is truly curious, engagement and attention become easy. 

If you are in conversation with someone, instead of thinking about what you want to say next; think why or what would cause them to think this way and ask questions. You will build better connections with who you are talking to and gain a better understanding of them and who they truly are as a person. I always think if you talk to someone long enough you can always find something intriguing about them.

 What would your day look like if you slowed down your multitasking, when people talked to you, you stopped, made eye contact and truly listened or the task you were working on received your full attention? You see the uncanny thing is when we do things with focused attention, you feel a higher level of satisfaction.

Focussed attention, also helps us contribute at a higher level through engagement of the task at hand, through improved listening and through the greater sense of self it gives us. Contributing at this level also enables us to remove ourselves from our self centered thinking and instead, actively seek how we can do more and be more for others. The capacity for learning is improved, distractions reduced and the impact that stress is having on you is reduced. 

So as we go with new beginnings in mind, think more about how YOU can give the gift of your attention, pay with your time and perhaps you will find the life rewards to match.

What STRESS Is Really Doing To You

Posted by vivhudson on September 23, 2015 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Stress, sadly has become a daily part of our lives. Stress largely revolves around our belief that we need to perform - in our work, at home or with our friends. Our constant of being switched 'on' is compounding this as we don't take the time to restore or rejuvenate ourselves.


Stress is a real feeling and is also becoming part of our 'norm'. Perhaps you no longer know what it feels like to not be switched 'on' or to feel relaxed. Stress can be brought about through noisy or untidy environments, time pressures, annoying people, constant gadget checking , distractions or perceived threat.

Stress can be largely self inflicted. Unrealistic personal expectations, unclear boundaries, lack of decisiveness, poor work practices, not dealing with fears and constant gadget checking all contribute.

Couple stress with being positioned in a single posture for hours on end, our bodies are being wired to hold muscle tension. Unless we make a conscious effort to break this patterning we can expect poorer health and attitudes.

Stress, irrespective of its source, creates neurochemicals that slow down our ability for ideas and thoughts and overall brain functioning. Stress reduces activity in our higher level thinking areas and directs it to our basic brain where we seek basic survival. It also limits our capacity to learn as the constant of our stress or worry demands our attention. Also long term cortisol release damages the part of our brain required for long term memory making it harder to learn or remember.


Prolonged tension in the muscles can come from sitting or even standing at a computer for hours on end with little movement. When muscles are held in a similar position for periods of time, tension builds up. This in turn creates a feeling of stress within the body. Essentially our bodies are being posed for the fight or flight response, producing adrenaline and cortisol.

Short bursts of adrenaline can enhance our functioning, however cortisol creates havoc when it is continually produced through stress or muscle tension. Effects of cortisol are elevated blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, weight gain, suppression of the immune system, elevated blood pressure and poor digestion to name a few. It also damages our hippocampus which is central to learning and memory.

So what can we do to counter the systemic effects of our work life??

Tips to counter stress include:

Set realistic and achievable expectations for your day. Better to be a high achiever than an overachiever. Creating lengthy to do lists do not help you however setting smaller achievable goals in your day do. When you achieve a goal, take a moment to recognize yourself and build your wiring for positivity.

Have a to do list with both long and short term goals. Keeping a list of things that you want to do helps remove them from short term memory to free it up for other thoughts.


Reduce noise where possible in your environment or generate some white noise that you can use to blanket out background noise. There are apps such as Brainwave available that help you generate relaxed, creative or concentration boosting brain waves helping you focus on your work and drowning out the background disruptions. Also playing baroque music helps generate beneficial alpha brain waves which assist with brain function.

Be clear and realistic about what you are able and willing to do within a given time frame. Deadlines can certainly put the pressure on you to perform and complete a task but unachievable deadlines don't help anyone.

Be clear around what is important to you and what you are good at so you know what you can easily say YES to and what to say NO to. Women are often in a constant dilemma of work/life/family balancing. If you are asked to do something that is not in line in with your values then it's OK to say no or at least counter with a more favorable option.

Sharpen up your work practices. Time leakages can occur when we dwell on non producing activities too long and not prioritizing. This can leave you time poor for your more important tasks. Always start your day with your most important activities and with a clear focus. Save email checking as a task to do before or after lunch when your energies levels may be lower.


Fears can keep us stressed. Fears such as presenting at meetings, conflict, fear of being wrong (note if you have a high need to be right all the time) or losing control (aka control freaks) can present in our day. We can expect our fears to disappear on their own one day but the best way is to break them down by challenging them.

Managing distractions helps reduce stress levels. Each time the brain is distracted, attention needs to be refocused on the previous task whether taken off task for a second or for an hour. Build into your work day scheduled times to check on the things that take you off task such as email, social media and phone calls.

Make time to relax. Hobbies that you enjoy are great for increasing your creativity and finding your flow. Go for a walk, take a bath and just take some time to sit and be. Make time for planning to ensure you don't spend your relaxation time thinking what you 'should' or 'need' to be doing. It really is OK to spend some time to rejuvenate by taking in your surrounds and feeling grateful, the small things really are the big things.

The ability to switch off with our 24 7 connectivity is a challenge that can increase our stress. Virtual workers don't have to deal with the stress of commuting however the ability to truly 'switch off' can be a challenge. Our connectivity is an area that needs to be managed and boundaries created to avoid distractions to family and leisure time. If necessary, log yourself out of accounts or have separate devices for work and leisure.

Make time to move regularly in your day to ensure that your muscles don't stay 'frozen' in position for extended time periods. Gentle stretches, use of a fit ball and getting up out of your chair to walk all help break up your posture. Make time for a warm bath, massage or yoga regularly enough to make a difference.


If you are feeling tension, stiffness or even pain from extended periods of sitting, start listening to your body. Core body strength is important. Planking for 30 or 60 second intervals during your day (great for home office workers) is great for this. Stretch regularly to break up your muscle tension and move to circulate blood to your brain and your body. Incorporate cross lateral movements that involve your right hand touching the opposite side of your body and the left hand touching the right side. These exercises are good for stimulating right and left brain functioning as well.

Exercise helps break up cortisol. Incorporating regular exercise helps reduce cortisol levels back to normal and uses up excess blood sugars that build up from stress and inactivity. Exercise is one of the best methods to fight depression, improve your immune system, confidence and thinking. Blood flow to the brain is markedly increased and helps us look and feel younger. Remember whatever you don't use - you lose! You don't need to run a marathon to get started. Increase your awareness first by using a movement tracker. Smart phones or a wearable can track your activity and then you can challenge yourself to increase gradually. Don't forget apps like Move that can give you a gentle reminder to get up from your desk at regular intervals.

Stress is largely manifested through our own thoughts and perceptions and you have the power to change them. If many of these things are ringing true for you - just start somewhere as Everest was not climbed in a day, but instead one step at a time. Act now for the benefit of your own health and wellbeing.

Where will you start?

 

Is This Your Lucky Day?

Posted by vivhudson on September 9, 2015 at 5:55 PM Comments comments (1)

Often in life, we wish people luck. What does it really mean? How much is luck about superstition and what really is to chance?


My daughter seems to know what she wants, very clearly, and strangely things seem to happen for her. Is this just luck? We can look at things as having a lucky break but luck really is a lot about knowing what you want and what to go for.

If I look back on my life thus far, the luck I have had I put down to being in the right place at the right time. My luck has come from valuable connections I have made, paired with knowing what I want and asking for it - even when asking was scary.

When you clearly know what you want, luck can find you.

What really is the recipe of luck?

Luck is a mix of opportunity and preparation and little to do with superstition. Luck is knowing what you want and having the courage and confidence to go for it. Luck means not being afraid to talk about what you want and being willing to persevere.


Luck is a rich blend of keeping a curious and open mind, of working hard, learning and seeing opportunities that are right for you. Luck is a willingness to take a risk at times, to make mistakes and to see the silver lining in each cloud. Luck means knowing you have the ability to control your own destiny.

Luck comes from deciding what you want which is in itself a difficult question. So many people drift through life, letting life happen to them and feeling like they have no control over where they are going.

How do we even know what we want? Sometimes it is easier to know what you don't want. I like to think about my future self and what I would like to look back on. What would I regret if I didn't do it? What stories would I like to tell from my future self, perhaps to my grandchildren who are still far from existing on this planet.

Whatever it is - decide on something to create a path and find your luck.

Once you know what you want the next step is to take action! This is often where we get stuck. We allow our habits, our old ways of thinking, the stories we tell ourselves and our fears hold us back.

If you find it hard to take action - it is time to look at yourself.

Do you feel you aren't good enough, maybe someone else could do it better. Know that once you decide and add your passion and purpose, you can do it too. When we make our why big enough, the how will take care of itself. When our passion and purpose align - luck can appear because we know what opportunities are right for us - even when they scare you.

This formula takes daily practice to unfold and you need to work with your subconscious mind to make it happen. If you don't feed your subconscious, your built in road blocks will stop your progress. You will self sabotage and limit the actions you take.


Your subconscious is largely responsible for 90% of what goes on in your head. I am sure you have had the occasion when you can't remember a name or a place and you cannot bring the answer to your mind. Sometime later - possibly hours or days, the answer pops into your head, long after you are no longer consciously thinking about it. Your subconscious is at work, connecting the dots, looking for answers.

You need to tune it into what you want by creating the thoughts to have right before you go to sleep at night, until they become the first thought you wake up with in the morning. Constant reminders can be created during the day by using a lucky charm that you associate with your desire, perhaps a vision board or a mantra that you say. Apply active learning and reading around what you seek. This will alert your subconscious and put it to work.

The important thing to believe about luck is, you can be lucky. You are worthy just as much as anyone else. If you don't believe your worthiness then your subconscious will work against you. Keep your thoughts positive and on those down days, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward.

Keep a positive vibe and know that when you send out negative thoughts, luck will escape you. You will be left wondering why everyone else seems lucky, except you.

When we know what we want and we start to take action, put it out there. Let others know. When they see your passion and purpose, they will help you. They can only help you, if you let them know! Don't be afraid to ask for things that align with what you seek, even when it scares you a little.

Once your ball is in motion the biggest thing to build momentum is to stick with it. If you stay true to your path, you will find your success (whatever your success is!). Keep believing in yourself, recognise your small wins , support others to do the same and help them get lucky too.

A way to compound your luck is to simply add gratitude. Gratitude can make you feel lucky each day, for the many small blessings around you and the curiosity of tomorrow.

So next time someone wishes you good luck - stop for a moment and think - do you feel lucky?

 

Get Out Of The Office Before It Is Too Late

Posted by vivhudson on August 25, 2015 at 8:35 AM Comments comments (0)

The benefits to virtual working are many for both the organization and worker alike. Many businesses are slow to adapt. As Gen Yers and beyond enter the workforce, the demand for virtual working will increase. Many of these people have already used the virtual space to obtain their college degrees and learnt some skills and discipline in how to manage themselves in this environment.


If your business has not yet switched to providing the option of remote working what is standing in the way?? Is it lack of trust, team dissension around remote and office bound workers, old school thinking, lack of understanding around the benefits or uncertainty around how to manage people remotely? Also, how well is the role suited to remote working?

If organizations are slow to adapt to remote working, they may end up losing. Workers are increasingly demanding more flexible work conditions including the ability to work remotely. If remote working is not an option, businesses may find their best workers leaving as often the demand on workers lifestyle can mean more than their pay packet. Some workers accept a lower pay scale with the opportunity to work remotely due to the flexibility and convenience it affords them.

Benefits of remote working are multi layered. These include lower demands on office space, less greenhouse emissions, more opportunity for quality family time, greater flexibility, potential market reach, a greater pool of potential candidates for jobs and higher profitability. The benefits affect individuals, organizations and communities.

Productivity has been shown to be higher in remote workers. With clear and measurable outcomes, the output of remote workers can be measured and for many, it won't matter what time of the day or night it is occurring. Workers can tap into their most productive times by structuring their work day in tune with this as well as enabling flexibility of work hours to cover more time zones if required.

Productivity is reported as being as much as 13% greater in remote workers as well as taking fewer sick days and eliminating snow days. Virtual working has huge benefits in giving back individuals time, our most precious and expendable resource. When we add the commute time plus the time to get ready it can add up to significant quality hours of time each week.

Given all the potential benefits on both sides of the fence, not everyone is suited to remote working.

The first consideration is if the job role is suited to remote working. Many jobs are well suited to remote working such as marketing and design, some sales roles, writing and accounting. Many managerial roles can also be performed remotely.

The personal characteristics required to effectively work remotely include a good work ethic and ability to be autonomous. Past performance is a predictor for future performance. Workers need to be able to set and share their goals for measured outcomes and are often self motivated to do so. Having a creative mindset with a willingness to share ideas and projects is important as well as being available and staying connected. Being easily accessible remotely will garner trust and collaboration within the team and help everyone stay in the same cloud, despite the distance. Having an accessible office is a benefit to enable workers to come into the office from time to time which supports a trusting and collaborative environment. In instances where this is not possible, using virtual technology to still have face to face conversations and meetings can help.

To effectively manage and lead remote workers requires clear and measurable outcomes, a trusting relationship, an ability for the remote worker to be autonomous, and for them to be connected and accessible. Creating remote face to face meetings fosters a higher level of engagement and enable teams to better get to know each other, strengthening manager and team relationships. Many organizations feel they lack the trust level in their teams to allow them to work remotely.

Bosses may be suspect about workers goofing off if they are not being directly supervised. The reality is that workers are just as likely to be goofing off in the office. A report from J.C. Penny showed that out of 4,800 workers, 30% of them were watching YouTube videos on the company bandwidth, in the company office.


Software such as skype, gotomeeting, zoom, webex and netmeeting all make virtual face to face meetings possible as well as regular one on ones. Regular conversations, ideally in a virtual face to face format are also better than just working via email or messages, building team cohesion and team trust.

Overseeing projects with remote teams with clear goals and outcomes makes it easier for managers to ensure their remote workers are producing. Many remote workers are keen to produce outcomes as they want apparent evidence for their managers and teams to know they are actively working.

Whilst not all roles and workers are suited to the remote workspace, the benefits are worth considering for those that are. If you or your business has not yet adapted, what is really stopping you? With the right person and tools, remote working can add productive years to a person's life as well as bottom line profits to business.

 

How Much Time Do You Have?

Posted by vivhudson on August 10, 2015 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Time pressure is now our biggest challenge, leading many of us to feel a sense of overwhelm. Time is our most precious resource yet we often use it poorly.


With the digital age, we can cram even more into our time than ever before and .... not switch off. We can also lose a huge amount of time to time robbers in the form of distractions.

External distractions can help relieve our minds of some of the burdens that we experience each day such as impending deadlines, our to do list or even trying to remember what is on our to do list. External distractions are things such as your phone, social media, chats and the refrigerator. They allow us a mini vacation from the whirlwind of things we 'need' to do and perhaps create a substitute for the 'smoking break' that was so popular in years past. Online surfing can also leave you feeling like you have just overindulged on that block of chocolate .. 'a little piece was nice but now I have eaten the whole thing ...'

Unfortunately most of these distractions are not constructive and only serve to slow us down and potentially increase our feeling of overwhelm as the mini-break has done nothing for refuelling your mind or making you feel more accomplished.

What would it take for you to feel you have had a productive day? What would you want to achieve??

To me a good day is where I have made some inroads on a project I am working on, crossing a few things off my to do list, making some good connections with people of importance whether it be family, clients or work colleagues. A good day is where I have utilized some of my talents and gotten in my 'flow' and worked on the most important things. A good day means working with a level of challenge and learning something new. A good day means including some time to exercise and care for my self and health, connect with my family and knowing when to switch off.

Taking back control of your time includes creating boundaries. Boundaries are useful in all aspects of your life. You can apply them to your personal habits as well as work habits. Boundaries can support how you control your day and give you back your time.

In the work context, boundaries can be made to determine what you will and won't respond to and when. This includes emails, phone calls and messages. Boundaries are best created to be directed toward attaining your goals. Boundaries allow your brain to focus more as it is not on constant alert for incoming messages. With a higher level of focus you become instantly more productive.

There are times when you may get stuck despite reducing your distractions. This may call for a change of scene, do something for your body - move, eat something nourishing or a quick mindfulness break. Anything that helps reenergize your brain will likely improve those creative juices. If you must internet surf, an article I read recently suggested that it was better to look at things that had no immediate relevance to you. Avoid connecting to Facebook or anything that would cause you to reply to a personal message or email as this has been shown to reduce productivity.

When it is hard to get started on a project another tip I found was commit to spending an allocation of time such as half an hour. In that time, the only thing you can do is work on that particular task. For example you have an article to write. You sit at your computer and set the timer. You may only write in that time and if you are stuck you cannot do anything else, no net surfing, no making calls or checking messages. Typically when you focus for that half an hour you will find your flow and avoid distraction.

Know your vices. If you know internet surfing is a problem or incessant email checking create a NEW strategy. It is easier to create a new brain map than change a long established superhighway. Add something different to how you internet surf such as use your non dominant hand, stand up or do some squats first. If food is a distraction, take a longer trip to the refrigerator by adding a flight or 2 of stairs.

Taking back your time means directing your focus and energy to what IS important. Know what your vices are and create some boundaries about how you tackle them as well as where you spend your time. Remember time is our biggest resource, one that we can't earn back. Whatever your age is, you can look at your years ahead and think in 12 months or 5 years, what would I like to look back on? The time to take control is today because time is the one thing that you won't be getting back.

 

Are You Smoking In The Office?

Posted by vivhudson on July 23, 2015 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Sitting has been classified as the new smoking. The average office worker sits for 10 hours per day between work and home life.

Prolonged sitting for 6 hours or more per day has been likened to smoking the equivalent of 1 and 1/4 packets of cigarettes. Don't think that if you are a healthy weight that this is not true for you! Also don't think that if you spent an hour at the gym before or after work that this isn't true for you either.

The workplace can easily be a sedentary lifestyle, particularly if you are bound to a desk or computer the majority of the day - whether in the office or at home. With sitting defined as the new smoking, we are busy tapping away on our key boards and slowly killing ourselves.

The likelihood of diabetes, heart disease and even depression are all increased in populations that spend large amounts of time sitting for extended periods of time.

Mindful now of spending many hours behind a desk myself and knowing the impact of poor health on prescription consumption (from my life as a pharmacist) I certainly know what I don't want. Whilst in the past I may have been a mild gym junkie, since having kids my priorities changed. I kidded myself for many years that whilst I still sporadically exercised, that one day I would get back to that person I used to be.

One of the best gifts I have ever received was my Fitbit (probably just after an iPhone). Having my Fitbit gave me AWARENESS. Whilst I knew that I was nowhere near getting the recommended 10 000 or more steps per day, I didn't realize how few I was doing. Since getting my Fitbit, I can't say I have ever found out. Since Christmas 2014, I consistently strive for my 10 000 plus steps per day. My Fitbit is my conscience!

I have also started to integrate other daily activities into my work day to ensure I mind my health. I have a couple of apps that remind me at set intervals to stand up or to move. The Move app tells you a random activity to do each time which mixes things up and can help with your strength - it may be planking, crunches or going up stairs. The other app called Stand Up simply reminds you to stand up.

Activating the major muscle groups in the legs is imperative to countering the effects of sitting. Extended sitting encourages plaque deposits to lay down in the lining of your blood vessels which ultimately causes hardening and narrowing leading to blood pressure, heart problems and even clots.

It is recommended that the major muscles be activated every 30 minutes - even a quick stand and include 3 or 4 squats to keep the blood circulating. This will help keep your metabolism going which tends to go to sleep after 30 minutes of sitting. It is easy to fit in as you can do this even while you are on a call.

I have a treadmill in my office that I can get on at anytime. Some days I will attend my teleconference calls whilst I am on it, perhaps do a 'walking' meeting or use that time to watch a training webinar or read.

The benefit of working from home means I can do my random Move activities at anytime and can often spend the day in my sneakers.

Tricks in the office setting may mean taking an opportunity to go on a walking meeting - either around the office or outside. Walking meetings often help with clearer thinking due to the improved blood flow to the head and the change of scenery.

No matter where your desk is you can substitute a fit ball for your chair for part of the day. This is also great for activating those major muscle groups.


I even keep a hand weight on my desk that I lift from time to time to work on my upper body strength and helps with the shoulder tension that gathers from working behind a computer for extended periods.

Check the back of your neck for a protruding vertebrae. If you notice one then it is time to realign your posture before you end up looking like the better cousin of the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

I love the quote 'Good Health is a crown that is worn on the healthy that only the ill can see'. Remember this and reconsider those stationery desk hours. A simple few minutes spent throughout the day to stretch your legs will certainly help you keep your health. Many of the conditions associated with a sedentary lifestyle can be hard if not impossible to reverse.

Your small daily habits over time make the big differences. Take the time now to create some new ones that your future self will thank you for.

 

 

 

Is Virtual Working Virtually Working?

Posted by vivhudson on July 16, 2015 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (1)

It is estimated that by the year 2020, half of the total workforce will be virtual workers. Already those that work at a face to face level still spend time working virtually due to the accessibility that comes with mobile devices.


The good news is that many workers are more productive when they work virtually. There is more productive time available as the commute is no longer part of the daily grind. You also lose the stress of the drive if you let traffic irritate you.

Many jobs are suited to virtual working, including professional roles such as accountants and designers. Any instance where phone, email and computer work can be performed entails a role where virtual working can be performed on a part time to full time basis.

Successful virtual working means being a motivated team member that can work well independently.

Vitally important is creating a work space in the home environment that is distraction free and conducive to working remotely. Some levels of self discipline are required to switch off from the usual home distractions which could be kids or partners at home, especially during the summer. Other distractions such as maintenance workers, the home phone, television, messaging, games and the lure of wifi based activities need to be controlled.

The benefit of remote working can also mean that you can set your own hours. This could be taking advantage of the kids being home during the summer, doing daytime activities with them and then spend time working in the evenings or early morning.

Mix up your work space by using different parts of the house or even going to the local library or coffee shop. This can help with creativity and bolster memory. A change of environment can stimulate you in different ways so if you find yourself stuck on a problem, take a short break and move location.

Virtual working can also afford you better health. I utilize apps that remind me to get up and move every 45 minutes. Knowing that sitting is the new smoking, I am vitally aware that working behind a desk all day is not what my body was built for. One app I use called Move, reminds me to do an activity that may take 1 to 5 minutes. This means I can get up from my desk and do some crunches or a plank without misguided stares from office colleagues.

I also have a treadmill handy in my office that allows me to take a short or long break. I typically use this time to listen to a recorded webinar, do a 'walking meeting', read or take a break. The importance of circulating our blood in this way means my brain gets a boost and so does my health and well being.

Becoming aware of your more productive time and use it to your advantage. If you work best early in the morning you can do two or three hours work before your phone starts ringing or the emails start to arrive. If you work better in the evening you can take some time during the day for other activities.

Be sure to set some boundaries to make your virtual work life work in order to thrive in this environment.

Be aware of..

Feeling like you are on an island. Working virtually can be very freeing in many ways but it can leave you at times being isolated. It is important to not just rely on messaging and email, don't forget to pick up the phone.

As social creatures you may enjoy spending time in the office with co workers once a week. When this is not available readily, utilizing tools such as skype or face time as well as using cameras during a virtual meeting can help boost the social connection.

From personal experience, it is also beneficial to connect with others through local meet up groups, chambers of commerce or other such groups. Connecting with like minded individuals at a social and professional level, allows you to share ideas, experiences and potentially find new opportunities for your business. There are often a wide variety of groups that meet at different times to work in with your schedule.

Don't allow virtual working to take over your life. Because you can be accessible 24 7, doesn't mean you have to be. Set boundaries for yourself around when you respond to emails, calls and messages so that you don't find yourself disconnecting from those around you.

As a virtual worker, tune into what you enjoy about the experience and make sure you keep connected in more ways than just virtually! Ensure you make your work life work for you, your family and your business.

 


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