Surviving the Christmas period is no easy task – that’s why they call it the ‘silly season’! And it seems to start earlier every year, with trees and lights going up in November. While we are frantic with work deadlines, we’re also trying to squeeze in a huge number of personal activities and commitments.
So we’re here to help! Take a deep breath and read through our handy tips for not just surviving but thriving this holiday season.
- Have a plan: Planning and preparation is essential at this time of year. Make separate lists of priorities for work and home, and complete your non-negotiables first. Look at your two to-do lists and think about where they complement each other. For example, if you have to buy gifts for work colleagues, shop for family gifts at the same time.
- Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’: Throughout the year we have been fine-tuning our time management skills – and now is the time to put them into action! Have a plan each day and stick to it. Don’t over-commit and only say yes to events and invitations that are important to you.
- Set realistic goals: Without setting goals, it’s hard to know what you should be achieving and where your energy should be going. To minimise stress at this busy time of year, keep your goals realistic and achievable.
- Be kind to yourself: With all the extra food, socialising and general frivolity, it can be easy to push self-care to the side. But this is the time of year when we really need to look after ourselves. Try not to overindulge, drink lots of water, eat well, maintain good sleep habits and remember that summer is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors with some physical activity.
- Work as a team: Get others involved to help you get things done at work and home. Look for opportunities to delegate or involve colleagues in your projects. Ask family members or friends to pitch in or accompany you on errands, and enjoy spending time together.
- Set clear boundaries: Not everyone has the luxury of stepping away from work at the end of the year, so setting boundaries is important to maintain balance. Nobody can be available (technologically or mentally) all the time. In the lead-up to Christmas, dedicate time away from emails and phone calls, so you can enjoy time with family and friends without distractions. This will help you feel more refreshed for any intense periods of work.
- Stay active: Maintaining some level of activity is a great way to sustain a healthy body and mind and get you motivated each day! Whether it’s walking to or from work, going for a swim, joining an exercise class or going to the gym, you’ll usually notice increased energy levels after doing something active. This means more energy to handle the demands of this time of year.
- Have fun! Enjoy what you’re doing and maintain a balance. When you are balancing a busy workday with spending time with family, socialising and seeing friends, you know your energy is being well distributed and balance is being maintained.
This time of year can be chaotic and maintaining a healthy work–life balance can be challenging. Remember: it’s the season of giving, so try to give yourself a break and enjoy some downtime. If you’re lucky enough to take time off work, use it to recharge so you’re fresh for the new year.
This is also the time of year when many of us question our career choices and priorities, and what work might look like in the new year. If you’re considering a change in job or career, our Career Counselling or Resume Writing services may be just what you need.
Katie Roberts gift vouchers are also available and make an inspiring gift for friends or family.
Technology is at the centre of many workplaces these days, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with everything going on around us. Is it even possible to balance our personal and professional lives, while staying on top of our inboxes and being attached to our smartphones?
In the digital age, it’s more important than ever to learn how to focus only on the things that matter. This way, you can make technology work for you – not against you. Here are six simple tips to help you limit the distractions of technology and get more done.
- Schedule time to respond to emails: Dealing with email is a constant struggle. A full inbox can be overwhelming and diverts our time away from more important work. One strategy is to allocate specific times of the day to check your email, and keep your inbox minimised on your screen outside of these times. Another strategy is to deal with any emails immediately that can you can respond to within three minutes. If it’s going to take longer, leave it for dedicated email time. You will find yourself quickly identifying whether an email is just a distraction or something that needs attention, and you’ll be amazed by the difference this approach can make. To get on top of your emails, sort them into sub-folders according to urgency. For example, create a ‘today’ folder for items that need to be dealt with that day, a ‘this week’ folder for less urgent emails and a ‘this month’ folder for emails that can wait longer.
- Turn off notifications: This is a very helpful way to stay productive at work and avoid distractions from technology. Having your phone, computer or smart phone notifying you every time you receive an email, message or social media update constantly interrupts your thoughts and it then takes time to re-focus. This can greatly affect your overall productivity across the day.
- Put your phone away: One of the greatest threats to your productivity is your phone. Smartphones have revolutionised how we do many things – including time wasting! If you’re always glued to social media, try physically putting your phone away for short periods of time. Switching it to airplane or do not disturb mode or turning it off can also help, but sometimes just having your phone out of sight means it’s also out of mind. The world won’t end if you don’t have your phone with you, and you might actually get more done.
- Close your email and messaging apps: It’s important to stay in close contact with your colleagues, especially in teams working across different locations, or when working on complex projects. However, sometimes it helps to close your email and instant messaging applications for a while, so you can get some uninterrupted time to focus on the task at hand. Just be sure your manager or colleagues are aware of your plan, and they know how to reach you if something urgent comes up.
- Know when to chat face-to-face: Discussing things with colleagues over email can involve a lot of waiting and is often counterproductive, especially for quick questions. Instead, don’t be afraid to catch up with the person face-to-face. You can often accomplish more during a short conversation than a lengthy email chain. Some workplaces are even making this a policy.
- Take regular technology breaks: Taking regular breaks away from your computer and other devices can boost your concentration and productivity. Get up from your desk regularly and move around. A walk outside at lunchtime is a great way to re-energise and give your brain and eyes a break from the demands of technology. Once you feel more refreshed, you’re sure to be more productive.
While it can be challenging to stay focused and productive amid the constant distractions of technology, there are simple steps you can take. Despite how many of us feel, there are usually times when it’s okay not to be contactable, so take advantage of these windows and minimise your technology use. You’ll probably amazed at what you can achieve!
If you’ve been struggling to find time to get your career on track, you might like some support from a Career Coach to help you work out your next steps. Or perhaps you’re ready to take the next step and need help developing a tailored Job Search Strategy? To find out more, read about our services.
Have you had an extended break from the workforce? Are you looking to return to full- or part-time work, but unsure where to start? The process can seem daunting after a long break – but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how you can you achieve a smooth and successful transition back into work.
Many people take a break from their career at some point, whether it’s to study, travel or start a family, or for health or other personal reasons. Whatever your reason for taking time out, returning to the workplace can feel daunting. In this article, we look at some first steps you can take to help make the transition back to work a positive experience.
- Consider the type of work you’d like to do: Make a list of what you’re looking for when you go back to work. What type of position would you like? Do you want to return to what you were doing before or are you looking for a change? Do you want to work for a company with promotion opportunities, or would you prefer a job where you can go in, do your work and head home without having to worry about your team? The clearer you are about what you want, the easier it will be to find something suitable.
- Update your skills: Before you start working on your resume and applying for roles, a great first step is to update your skill set. This will help boost your confidence while giving you a stronger resume. Look for opportunities that help fill gaps in your experience, such as taking an online course, completing an internship or doing some volunteer work.
- Refresh your resume: When you’re returning to work after a significant break, creating a functional resume, rather than a standard chronological resume, can work best. This involves focusing on your skills and successes rather than the precise dates of your employment. You can showcase your experience under headings such as ‘marketing experience’, ‘project management’ or ‘leadership’ and then list your achievements accordingly. To find out whether a functional resume is right for you, and how to create one that helps you shine, read our recent article here.
- Don’t underestimate yourself: Focus on the great skills and experience you have, and think about any new skills you may have acquired during your break. Recruiters and employers value these skills, especially when they’re relevant to the role you’re applying for, so include them in your resume. For example, you might have developed new skills through activities such as: managing a large house renovation; contributing to local sporting clubs, committees and coaching teams; volunteering for your local community or charity organisations; assisting with local fundraising activities; and creating or managing side projects, such as events or a small business. All these activities require skills such as relationship building, communication, organisation and prioritisation, and often the ability to create something with little or no budget. These are all valuable skills in a workplace.
- Update your social media profiles: With more than 645 million members around the world, LinkedIn is a great tool for promoting yourself and seeking out potential employers. It’s also a widely used tool among recruiters and employers. As well as checking out applicants’ LinkedIn profiles, recruiters will often Google applicants’ names, so it’s a good idea to see what comes up when you search your name. In addition to creating a professional, SEO-optimised LinkedIn profile, make sure your personal digital footprint helps rather than hinders your application. You can read our previous article for tips on how to clean up your social media.
- Tap into your networks: You can often find opportunities to re-enter the workforce through your existing networks. One way to do this is to send an email to family, friends and former co-workers/managers and attach your resume. Let them know the type of position you are seeking and ask them if they’d mind forwarding on your details if they hear of any relevant positions. This may feel daunting, but most people like to help when they can. To grow your networks and open up more opportunities, you could also research and join local networking events and online groups.
- Consider part-time or temp work: If your job search is taking longer than expected, consider part-time work or find an agency that offers temporary or contract positions. Do an online search for agencies in your area and contact them to request an interview. If you get your foot in the door with the right company and prove yourself, you have a good chance of receiving a full-time offer down the track. Plus going part-time initially can be a good way to transition, giving you time to adjust.
- Consult a career coach: If you’re considering changing careers on your return to work, a career coach can help. Experienced career coaches have extensive knowledge of a wide range of occupations and offer professional, independent advice on your options. They can help you build your confidence and give you the support you need to make the transition.
Re-entering the workforce after an extended break can be tough, but there are things you can do to make this change feel less daunting and more positive. Follow our tips above to take your first steps, and things will flow on from there.
Are you feeling daunted by the prospect of returning to work after taking time out? Do you need help assessing your skills and experience, and presenting yourself in the best possible light to secure the job you want? Our Resume Writing Services and Job Search Coaching Services might be just what you need.
Was ‘be more productive’ one of your New Year’s resolutions? With a finite number of hours in the day, there’s a limit to how many tasks you can complete – so ticking off priorities and achieving your goals takes focus and a proactive approach. These simple ways to set up your day and manage your tasks will help you smash your to-do list – and make this year your most productive yet.
Do you spend hours ‘busy’ in multi-tasking mode with little to show for it at the end of the day? The key to getting through your to-do list is having one in the first place. While some people rely on their memory, motivation and focus to get things done, research consistently shows that to-do lists drive productivity. How that list is structured varies from person to person. Some of us are borderline obsessive, organising and scheduling every aspect of our lives, while others prefer a more relaxed approach.
Regardless of your style, most experts agree that even the most basic to-do list will help you achieve your important goals. Richard Branson, entrepreneur and founder of the Virgin Group, once wrote that he has always lived his life by making lists. Branson believes that getting things done relies on writing things down, and his lists include ‘to-dos’, ideas, insights, calls he needs to make and plans he’d like to implement.
Here are our top tips on how to smash your to-do lists this year:
- Prioritise: Writing a to-do list of absolutely everything you’d like to achieve is not productive or helpful. It’s usually just overwhelming. Categorising tasks helps. For example, you might have a home list and a work list, both of which are split into two sub-lists: urgent and non-urgent. The non-urgent list is an ongoing one with stuff that needs to be done but it’s not pressing. The other is tasks that need to be done in the next couple of days. It’s best to start with any items that absolutely must get done today – these are your MITs (most important tasks). Even if you get nothing else done, the MITs will be completed and you can start fresh tomorrow.
- Be realistic: Don’t set yourself up for failure. Instead of brain-dumping a list of everything you need to do and not factoring in how long it actually takes, work out your timeframes. You could block out daily commitments in your diary so you can see at a glance what your day looks like and how much time you’ve got to work with. If that much detail doesn’t appeal, simply look at your to-do list and be sensible about how long each task will take you.
- Schedule the scheduling: Check emails and write your to-do list first thing (or last thing) every day. It’s important to highlight urgent tasks and then plan your day before you start work. Making time for this means you’re working from a place of intention rather than just reacting to whatever comes up.
- Leverage your strengths: Know when you’re at your best and take advantage of it. For example, if your energy levels peak in the morning, schedule your complex tasks for then. Some people like to do their ‘hard’ tasks first and save the mundane tasks for low-energy times. Others prefer to clear all the little things first before focusing on the MITs without any mental distractions.
- Focus: This is one of the most important tips for smashing your to-do list. Instead of multi-tasking your way through the day, focus on one task at a time until it’s complete. Turn your phone off and don’t check emails so you can work uninterrupted. Try this for a day and watch your productivity improve.
- Systemise what you can: Routines, systems and rules are big productivity boosters. If you have regular tasks, try to complete them consistently. Establish work systems so you don’t have to recreate them every time. Implement rules and document naming conventions so you don’t waste time searching for documents. To pinpoint your biggest time-wasters, track your time for a day or a week to record what you actually do – then eliminate anything that isn’t productive, systemise what you can, delegate appropriate tasks or consolidate tasks that overlap.
- Deal with distractions: The best way to deal with all those things you suddenly remember while you’re trying to be productive is to write them down on a brain-dump list straight away and then return to the task at hand. Then set aside time to deal with your brain-dump list each day.
- Switch off: It might feel counter-intuitive these days, but most people don’t need to be contactable 24/7. Turn off your phone and only respond to emails at certain times, so you can work uninterrupted.
- Learn to say no: This can be difficult in a work situation, but setting realistic deadlines, not over promising and managing expectations is an important part of good time management.
- Get up earlier: If all else fails and you really don’t have enough time, set your alarm and get up an hour earlier – you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve with no one else around!
No matter how busy you are, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed. Rethinking your approach to your to-do list is key to achieving your goals. Try implementing some (or all) of these tips and see if they help you smash that to-do list. Make this year your most productive yet!
Do you feel like you spend too much time working through your never-ending to-do list and not enough on building your career? If you’ve been struggling to find time to get your career on track, an expert Career Coach can help. Or maybe you know your next step but you need help developing a tailored Job Search Strategy to secure your future? To find out more, read about our services.
Podcasts can provide great inspiration across a range of areas. These convenient, bite-sized chunks of content are also a good way to up-skill or improve your knowledge about various topics, since they’re usually delivered by people with a passion for, and deep understanding of, what they’re talking about.
Whether you’re looking for your first career, searching for major change, struggling with your current role, interested in starting a business or just need inspiration and motivation, there is something for everyone! Here’s a few of our favourites.
Career Tools: A weekly podcast focused on specific actions you can take to grow and enhance your career – no matter what industry or position you’re in. With topics ranging from communication to meeting performance, productivity, workload, asking for feedback, relationships, changing jobs and everything in between, there is sure to be something of interest.
How did you get into that?: Host Grant Baldwin interviews people from all walks of life who are doing interesting or amazing things to make a living. Each episode includes a story about someone who wanted something more from life and made it happen. You’ll find interviews with entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, speakers, writers, filmmakers, photographers, athletes, venture capitalists, Etsy sellers, comedians, nutritionists and more, across all different industries.
Beyond the To Do list: Struggling to juggle life and work? This award-nominated podcast features actionable tips from highly successful people that can help you choose the right projects, tasks and goals in work and life. Host Erik Fisher talks with real people who implement productivity strategies in their professional and personal lives.
Miss Independent: Focused on a female audience, Natalie Hughes founded Miss Independent in 2017 and launched a podcast that features conversations with women in leadership and business. Natalie talks with a broad range of interesting, diverse and inspiring women in leadership and business. She discusses their successes and setbacks, as well as secrets and tips to inspire you to make your own career decision with confidence.
Flying Solo: This is a podcast for anyone starting or growing a small business. Host Robert Gerrish talks with inspiring soloists and expert guests on all things solo, micro and small business.
The Signal: Sometimes the news can feel overwhelming. This ABC Radio podcast helps to sort the news from the noise. It’s a quick (10-15 minute) dive into current news stories that matter, delivered every morning.
Business Women Australia Podcast: Another one focused on a female audience, this podcast is for ambitious women who are serious about business success and leadership development. It provides tips and ideas for those interested in building their knowledge and skills.
Happen to your career: Created for people who aren’t happy in their job, or need some guidance to find work they really love, this podcast helps people to match their strengths to work they will find interesting and meaningful.
Productivityist: Hosted by productivity expert Mike Vardy, this weekly podcast gives listeners tips, tricks, tactics and tools to improve productivity and time management in order to get things done.
The Good Work Revolution: This podcast looks at how you can feel fulfilled and make a positive impact through your work. Each episode includes reflections from different guests, or the host, Kate McCready, on how we can create ‘good work’. It explores people’s relationships with their work – how it influences fulfilment, wellbeing, engagement and a sense of contribution and connection. It’s also about lifting people up and helping them elevate their personal ability to have an impact – whether small and local or big and world changing.
The Tim Ferris Show: Author and entrepreneur, Tim Ferris – best known for The 4-Hour Workweek (which has been translated into 40+ languages), hosts this podcast. In it, he interviews highly successful people and discovers the keys to their success. Guests provide some great tips and tricks that anyone can use to accelerate their work style.
The Jack Delosa Podcast: Founder of Australia’s largest and most disruptive education institution for entrepreneurs, The Entourage, Jack Delosa also co-founded MBE Education, which helped SMEs raise money from investors. He’s been on the BRW Young Rich List since 2014 and is a two-time bestselling author. In The Jack Delosa Podcast, Jack answers questions about business, start-ups, entrepreneurship and the importance of mindset, and shares exclusive interviews with industry leaders and innovators.
Inspire Nation: A top self-help and spirituality show across 185 countries, this podcast features an inspiring new guest every day. Host Michael Sandler felt a calling to start his life-changing show after surviving two near-death accidents. The broad-ranging topics include how to find more energy, strength, happiness, peace, purpose, confidence, and heart to live your greatest life.
Behind the Media: The Australian’s media diarist Stephen Brook hosts this weekly podcast where he interviews journalists, writers, editors, presenters and other media careerists. This podcast is sometimes casual, sometimes serious but presents a diverse range of guests discussing the state of the media industry and their own careers.
Thought Capital: This is a relatively new podcast created by Monash Business School. Host Michael Pascoe delves into topics you probably won’t read about in the business pages. What’s the link between Big Data and election rigging? How can you identify the true ‘key players’ in an economic meltdown? Is there a ‘tax paradise’ and can you live there?
The Leadership Dojo: Hosted by Alex Barker, this podcast features interviews with some of the greatest and most inspirational leaders, from business CEOs to famous Olympic athletes to best-selling authors. Alex aims to help listeners learn success principles from leaders and how to apply them to daily life.
48 days to the work you love: This is a 48-minute weekly podcast hosted by US-based career expert and author Dan Miller, which helps listeners discover their true calling, find work they love, and explore business ideas and opportunities. Dan helps people overcome procrastination with a mission to foster the process of imagining, dreaming and introspection, so they can find purposeful and profitable daily work.
Podcasts are a great distraction during long commutes and there are plenty to choose from across every area of interest. Simply search on a topic and select from a list of top-ranked podcasts. For Australian-specific podcasts, check out the Australian Podcast Awards, an event that brings together podcasters to celebrate the medium’s ability to entertain, inspire and engage audiences worldwide. The site includes a list of annual winners and nominees across different categories to give you some listening inspiration.
Are you happy at work? Career counselling can be an invaluable tool for helping you explore your options and decide on a new career path or course. To find out how we can help, read about our career coaching services.
Getting out the door for work is hard enough without adding one or more little people into the mix. Anyone who has children can relate to how stressful this can be. Even older children often need constant supervision to make sure they get up, get dressed, brush teeth, and collect their belongings. With the right routine in place though, it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you don’t want to feel like you’ve run a marathon by the time you get to work, or spend your morning being the world’s most painful nagger, try incorporating these tips into your day:
- Have a routine: First and foremost, design a routine that works for your family and stick to it. Make sure your children are also aware of the routine and know what’s expected of them. If they’re older – say 8 to 10 plus (depending on their maturity), let them contribute their own ideas on how the morning routine might work better.
- Prepare the night before: Anything that can be done the night before should be. Get clothes out (including yours), pack bags, make lunches, locate homework or projects that might be due, complete permission notes, prepare breakfast items, and set the alarm.
- Put things away as you go: Allocate a dedicated space for kids’ stuff. Use a spot near the door or kitchen that’s handy for everyone. It could be a washing basket, shelf or spot in a corner where everything can be placed – shoes, lunchboxes, backpacks, library books, permission notes, and anything else related to school or daycare. Teach your child to put anything they want to take with them in this spot – things like a news item or a ball for lunchtime games. That way there’s no last minute frantic search, or worse, tears when you arrive at the school gate and they’ve forgotten their special something.
- Create charts: Children, especially little ones, are visual and reward driven. Creating charts to prompt them on what to do (and in what order) is a great idea to help ensure your morning runs smoothly. Your chart should include everything they need to do such as getting dressed, making their bed, tidying their room, eating breakfast, brushing their teeth, doing their hair, putting on their shoes, taking their lunch, and packing/grabbing their bag. You can make your own chart with great ideas available from places like Pinterest, or even purchase one from somewhere like The Organised Housewife. Include a little tick box and trust them to tick it themselves, with the promise of some kind of reward at the end of the week. Consider using a kitchen timer for any areas where your kids dawdle. Most children love to beat the clock and it’s better than your voice urging them to hurry up!
- Make breakfast simple: Instead of offering a variety of options for different tastebuds, make breakfast easy by letting kids help themselves to cereal or offering just one or two options. Save the cooked breakfasts for the weekend, and use faster options for weekdays – cereals, yoghurt, bread, boiled eggs (done the night before), smoothies (again with ingredients prepped the night before), or toast. Get all the items out the night before and have them ready on the kitchen bench – bowls, cutlery, cereal, spreads etc.
- Use rewards: Most kids want to do anything other than getting ready in the morning. Use that to your advantage – whether it’s playing on their device or watching TV – offer that as a reward when everything else has been done.
- Model your desired behaviour: If you want your children to do it – you better be prepared to do it yourself. So that means getting your clothes and bag ready the night before, keeping breakfast simple, and getting ready in the same order you expect your kids to.
- Get up earlier: If you’re really struggling to get out the door on time, consider setting your alarm a little earlier. Even 15 minutes can make all the difference – especially if that time is spent on your own before the children wake up. Use it to get yourself ready and maybe even have a cup of coffee or tea in peace.
- Build in a buffer: If you can, build in some buffer time for when things don’t go according to plan. Allowing extra time in your schedule – even just 5 or 10 minutes – will help you to better handle a toddler’s meltdown, a nappy blow out, or a lost item that must be located to take to school.
Consistency really is the key to success in this area. Working out the best routine for your own family and following through with it every day will help you get out the door for work on time every time!
Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field and can provide comprehensive career counselling. We also have experienced writers who provide professional resume and LinkedIn profile writing services designed for people who want to make employers sit up and take notice.