Tag Archives: happiness at work

How to survive the first month in a new role

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to survive the first month in a new roleYour first few weeks in a new role are usually exciting, but they can also be overwhelming. You’re meeting new people, learning how the company operates and trying to align with your new workplace culture. Setting yourself up for success really does begin from day one.

Accepting the offer is just the beginning. Starting a new job usually means a big learning curve – and that can apply to a new role within the same company as well as in a new organisation. It’s often fast paced and full of new things. Success in your new role will rely on you making a great impression, but you also need to learn about your new workplace, the people within it and how you fit in. Here’s some survival tips.

  • Introduce yourself to everyone: As a newbie, you’ll need to build your reputation and credibility by developing good relationships with different people. Take some time to get to know people, and if you’re not confident introducing yourself, come up with a standard description of who you are and what you do. Ask your manager for a list of colleagues you should be acquainted with and set up quick one-on-ones to run through your role and learn about what they do. Approach people in the kitchen, lunch room or before or after group meetings to introduce yourself, but try not to hold them up if they appear hurried or distracted.
  • Be a listener: Research indicates that new employees who ask lots of questions perform better. By asking specific questions and really listening to the answers, you’ll improve your chances of becoming competent quickly. Prioritise what you need to know and work out the best person to help you. If you’re not 100% clear on your question, flag it to come back to later.
  • Find a friend: It’s important to have someone who helps you understand the lay of the land. This doesn’t mean you have to find your new best friend during the first week. But seeking out someone you can relate to in the short term will provide some stability and help you feel more comfortable as you’re getting to know your new workplace. This isn’t so much about company rules and regulations, but more about the culture, general office politics and etiquette, which can often take time to learn. Your new friend can help you work out where to eat lunch and have breaks, and how to take advantage of any amenities or perks offered. It’s great to find someone helpful whose advice you can seek from time to time but be careful not to overwhelm them with requests or take up too much of their time.
  • Understand what’s expected: Be cautious about being overly keen to offer help. Not only could you offend someone by ‘doing their job’ but you could also be diverting your energy away from the areas you’re expected to focus on. By all means offer assistance to others where appropriate, but don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it, and don’t be overly critical of the way things are done – yet. You were hired for a reason, so learn exactly where you fit and the value you’re expected to add. This will be essential for your success.
  • Clarify communications: Organisations and individuals have varying expectations regarding communications and it’s important you adapt to existing behaviours quickly. Work out what people do to communicate on different issues. Do people mostly connect face to face, on conference calls or via email? What’s the culture with walking up to people’s desks and nutting out a problem then and there? Does your supervisor expect constant updates on every detail or just a heads-up on major projects or issues?
  • Try to remember names: Repeat people’s names back to them, then write a quick note about your interaction after parting. If you do forget someone’s name, be honest – it’s fine to admit that you’ve been overwhelmed with information in your early days. Simply say, “I’m sorry, can you please remind me of your name?” and all is likely to be forgiven.
  • Remain open: Being able to embrace change is important. Wanting to do things the way you’ve always done them may not serve you well in these early days. In your new workplace, things will be done in ways that you may not be comfortable with. Be flexible enough to embrace new approaches and be prepared to change your mind about initial impressions or decisions.

Nobody expects you to master your new domain within a month, but making a positive impression, working hard and remaining focused is important. Be proactive about getting involved in new projects, asking for more work and presenting new ideas. Request feedback so you know what to improve on and talk to your boss about any interests or worries you may have – they are heavily invested in your success as well!

Do you need some help with the next step in your career? Our career advisors are experts in their field and provide comprehensive career counselling. We also have experienced writers who can help you create a professional resume and LinkedIn profile designed to make employers sit up and take notice.

17 podcasts to inspire career success

Article by Belinda Fuller

17 podcasts to inspire career success

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.

Achieve better work-life balance without changing jobs

Article by Belinda Fuller

Achieve better work-life balance without changing jobsIf you’re unhappy in your job, like truly, truly unhappy bordering on depressed, then sometimes the best (or only) option is to quit, but often that’s just not an option. ’Work-life balance’ is an often used term with a large proportion of our clients citing it as the reason they are searching for a new role. But what exactly is it and can it be realistically achieved?

Many people admit to working more and more hours each week, which can take a toll on health, wellbeing, and overall happiness. Added to this, technology allows us to be connected 24/7, which makes it even more difficult to find that elusive work-life balance. The perfect work-life balance is different for everyone, however, for many people, a better balanced life can be achieved by making some fairly simple changes. Try these general tips to get you started:

TIP # 1 – Decide what’s important. Working less doesn’t mean better work-life balance for everyone. If you are happy with the amount of time you dedicate to each part of your life, you’ve probably achieved your best version of work-life balance. Decide on your priorities and communicate those to superiors, colleagues and family members. Think about what you’d like to do more (or less) of. Work out what you need to focus on and try to eliminate anything that doesn’t contribute to that.

TIP # 2 – Establish working hours. Set boundaries for yourself and others. If you work from home, try to walk away from your office space at a set time every day. If you work outside of the home – try not to take work home unnecessarily. Of course, unplanned events will inevitably occur but trying to finish at the same time each day is a great idea. Likewise, make sure friends and family know not to interrupt you at work unless it’s an emergency. For most people, it would take a huge personal emergency to reschedule something important for work. Give your personal time the same respect and try not to ‘reschedule’ it for a work emergency unless it’s absolutely necessary.

TIP # 3 – Switch off technology. Don’t stay connected to work 24/7. If you’re spending time with your family or partner this is especially important. We need time to focus on personal relationships. Turning off technology for even just short periods of time allows us to give people our undivided attention which goes a long way towards improving work-life balance.

TIP # 4 – Track your time. Not all the time, but try it for a few days (try the Pomodoro technique). Tracking how much time you spend doing certain tasks will help you work out where you can save time. Rethink your approach if you believe that hours worked equates to productivity – just because you work 60-hour weeks doesn’t mean you are productive. Eliminate or delegate some tasks and you will be amazed at how much extra time you gain.

TIP # 5 – Try to schedule ‘time off’. This includes holidays and weekends. At a minimum you should try to schedule two weeks off annually and try not to work consistently on weekends. This doesn’t mean you need to book an expensive holiday. Some of the best holidays I’ve had have been ‘staycations’. Stay at home and enjoy what your local area has to offer. Or try a couple of ‘long weekends’ away throughout the year. We often get so caught up in day-to-day work that we miss all the fun stuff right under our noses. Time off helps you feel refreshed and recharged and will contribute to you achieving your best levels of productivity.

TIP # 6 – Schedule something enjoyable every day. For me that’s exercise most days. If that’s not for you, schedule something else you enjoy doing. It could be a quick walk with the dog or coffee catch up with a friend or colleague, some gardening, cooking, pottering in your workshop, meditation, or reading a book. It could simply be some quiet time to yourself doing nothing – it certainly doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming.

TIP # 7 – Look after yourself. Eating well, getting enough sleep, keeping hydrated and making sure you get enough exercise are all factors that will have a positive impact on your ability to achieve work-life balance. Getting good nutrition and exercise will help you feel happier and achieve higher levels of productivity in the long term.

TIP # 8 – Don’t sit still. Aim to get up from your desk at least every two hours. Try to do it before your concentration wanes and your attention flags. Get up, have a stretch, grab a glass of water, take a quick walk around the block for some fresh air – just do something that gives you a break from working and clears your head for the next task.

TIP # 9 – Create processes and systems. Things that you do repetitively – both at work and at home can be simplified through process. Think about all the tasks you do on a daily basis – do you approach them in an ‘automatic’ way? Think about these repetitive tasks and then work out how you can automate or speed them up (or even just outsource them).

TIP # 10 – Say no! Over-committing is a common issue but completely avoidable. You don’t need to be ‘available’ for work all the time and you don’t have to say YES to every social invitation. Use a calendar to manage commitments (work and social) including scheduling time to work on projects. I like to plan my week on a Sunday evening, making sure I have time to fit in the work I’ve committed to and factoring in some time for me and my family as well as dealing with the day-to-day mundane activities that need attending to. Planning your week but allowing for some free time in your calendar will set you up for success – and enable you to effectively deal with any emergencies. Learning to say NO more often can help you feel more in control.

In today’s ‘always on’ culture, it can be difficult to achieve the perfect work-life balance. Since the ideal mix is different for everyone, working out what you need personally and understanding that you have some control is an important first step. But achieving and maintaining it is not a one off process – it’s a lifelong pursuit. Aspire to what you need right now then work to achieve it, but be sure to review it from time to time to make any necessary changes.

Are you struggling to achieve the balance you desire in your life right now? Would you like help working out if your career goals and aspirations are in alignment with your work-life balance goals? If so see, please see our Career Counselling Services.

The future of work – will robots replace us all?

Article by Belinda Fuller

The future of work - will robots replace us all?

Digital technology has already reinvented the way people work but there’s more to come amidst a constantly changing technology landscape. As individual tasks increasingly become automated, jobs are being redefined and re-categorised but will robots eventually replace us? Or will we reach a point where people and machines work alongside each other?

With the concept of work changing at this ever-increasing pace and more individual tasks becoming automated through machines, artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies, jobs are being redefined. Some experts predict we are on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution with changes marked by mind boggling advances in digital, physical and biological technologies set to revolutionise our future.

As our workplaces continue to rapidly evolve, it’s clear we need to develop new skills to keep pace with the change. Much of the research conducted on this topic suggests that robots won’t (and can’t) replace us altogether (at least not in our lifetimes). With many jobs lost to automation replaced by new ones, jobs aren’t being replaced at the rate some predicted several years ago. In fact, research commissioned by technology company Infosys and presented at the World Economic Forum last year revealed that 72% of workers whose jobs are effected by AI will be redeployed within the same area of their organisation (34%) or retrained for another area (38%).

What the research shows is that robotics and/or AI are being used to automate routine and mundane tasks, resulting in large scale reclassification of work. However, the resulting value of that automation means people are freed up to focus on higher value work that can only be done (at the moment) with human imagination. While new jobs are being created by AI, particularly in the field of robotics, it’s impossible to predict exactly where jobs will emerge and what skills will be needed.

Digital technology has already completely reinvented the way we work, however while many industries have activities with potential for complete automation, many do not. In addition, other factors will influence whether tasks will be automated completely or partially. These include the technical feasibility, costs involved, scarcity or abundance of existing skills to do the work, the costs of workers who would otherwise do the work, benefits beyond labour cost savings (such as improved performance), and regulatory and/or social acceptance considerations. We do know that workers involved in areas requiring more creative and imaginative skills will remain in demand. Examples include jobs where you need to: manage others and/or interact with stakeholders; apply expertise to make decisions or plan, create or innovate; complete physical work and operation of machinery in unpredictable environments; and many areas of healthcare and social assistance.

Skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, empathy, innovation and creativity, collaboration, leadership and a service focus are becoming more important. The ability for workers to be adaptable in developing new skills, and be willing and able to work along-side automation or machines will become more important. The flexibility to move to other areas will drive future success and this will largely fall to the individual to acquire these new skills or retrain in new areas.

If you are looking to advance your career, you may have already identified the areas you need to gain more experience; or the knowledge you need to develop in order to progress. With the future set to bring such staggering change and advancements – think about what areas you could develop more relevant skills in.

Would you like assistance from a Career Coach to identify areas where you might be able to improve your career? If so, please see our Career Counselling Services.

Want to combat decision fatigue?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Want to combat decision fatigueDo you ever feel like having to make one more decision is simply not possible? Decision fatigue is a real thing and according to some experts, it’s the reason why people make silly decisions that aren’t well thought-through. The inability to make a rational decision occurs after several decisions have been made in a row. Some simple lifestyle changes can be made to help combat this fatigue and ensure better decision making.

I often think my ‘brain is tired’ and after recently reading an article on this very topic was amazed that it’s an actual scientific principle. Roy F. Baumeister, a social psychologist known for a wide range of work on the self, coined the term ‘decision fatigue’ in reference to the idea that our willpower or ability to make good decisions declines when our mental resources are limited. This can be compared to how our muscles suffer from fatigue and feel ready to give up after a strong physical workout.

Countless studies have been conducted to help understand the concept with various results and theories emerging. The constant amongst them all is the idea that our brain has a finite capacity to make decisions – once that’s been depleted, we may start to look for shortcuts in decision making or we may even decide to give up and do nothing when faced with a decision. Understanding decision fatigue can help you make positive changes to your lifestyle so you can save your mental energy and willpower for making important decisions.

Here are our top six tips to help you make better decisions on a more consistent basis:

  1. Stick to routine: Routine helps because the decision has already been made and the number of decisions you have to make each day is reduced. This increases your odds of doing the right thing more consistently. Having the same (or similar) breakfast every day, organising lunches in advance, menu planning for weekly dinners, and having a ‘work uniform’ are all simple ways to limit your daily decisions. Many successful and/or high profile people wear the same or similar outfit to work every day – and for good reason. Former US President Obama always wore the same thing, which he claimed was part of his secret to getting so much done. He once told Vanity Fair “You’ll see I wear only grey or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”
  2. Make important decisions in the morning: This is when your brain is clearest because it is not yet fatigued from the day’s activities. You haven’t been faced with too many decisions, so you can stop and think about the specific situation. Experts believe that scheduling important decisions for the morning can set you up for success. I have personally observed my own behaviour in this area and now try to make important decisions about tasks early – I believe these decisions are made faster and more accurately than if I leave it until later in the day where I am more likely to procrastinate because the decision seems more complex.
  3. Limit daily decisions: This applies to those decisions that need to be made every day – it goes back to number one with limiting decisions about what to wear and eat, but it works equally well for more complex decisions about work. Setting up standard processes or ways to complete tasks that need to be done regularly means you’re not constantly ‘deciding’ on the next course of action.
  4. Get rid of perfectionism: Sometimes, if we try to make sure everything is ‘perfect’, we procrastinate. Try completing a task until it is just good enough, and come back to it later to refine. You’ll often be amazed at how good your first attempt actually is, and how little ‘refining’ it really needs.
  5. Schedule down time: Try not to schedule back-to-back meetings or fill your day with tasks you know will be difficult to achieve. Allowing time in between meetings or tasks to de-compress, write notes, think about your next tasks etc. will help your brain to better cope with your workload. It also means fewer decisions that often make you feel guilty about what to cut out when you end up going over time on tasks or meetings.
  6. Set up regular ‘appointments’ for non-negotiable activities: This applies to exercise, time with family, or any tasks that can get sidelined when you’re busy. Rather than hoping to make the ‘right’ decision about doing things, you’ll probably be more successful by simply scheduling the things that are important and making them ‘non-negotiable’.

Your capacity to make decisions can decline as your brain becomes fatigued. Every time you make a decision, it’s like doing another set at the gym. When your brain is tired, this means it becomes more likely you’ll make a bad decision, or no decision at all. Implement some or all of our tips to improve your decision-making capacity.

Do you have trouble making decisions about your career or day-to-day work? Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field. If you would like some direction, please see our Career Counselling Services.

 

When are you happiest at work?

Article by Belinda Fuller

When are you happiest at workFollowing on from last month’s article which suggested some resources to help mature age workers succeed in our ever changing working environment, recent research from recruitment firm, Robert Half, provides some insight into the impact our age can have on our happiness at work.

According to a recent survey conducted of 2000 workers, employees aged over 55 are happiest and those aged in their 20s and 30s are among the least happy in the Australian workforce today. Statistics aren’t everything, however anecdotally many of our consultants working with clients on a day-to-day basis would agree.

While people in their 20s and 30s can be just starting out in their careers, they’re often looking for excitement, challenge and fulfilment that is hard to find. On the other hand, older workers are more likely to have found what they’re looking for, or managed to achieve the work-life balance they desire.

Here are some interesting statistics from the Robert Half survey:

What age group is happiest at work?

  • Workers over the age of 55 are the happiest employees with a score of 70 on a scale from 0 to 100
  • Employees aged 35-54 are the least happy in the Australian workplace with a score of 67
  • This was closely followed by employees aged 18-34 with a score of 68

What age group has the highest professional fulfilment levels?

  • 82% of employees over the age of 55 found their work worthwhile
  • That percentage dropped significantly to around 66% for workers aged 18 to 34
  • 70% of workers aged 35-54 found their work fulfilling

What age group has the highest stress levels?

  • One in three employees aged 18-34 said they found their job stressful
  • 29% of those aged 35-54 reported stress
  • For employees aged 55 and over, 26% reported that their job was stressful

Who is satisfied with their work-life balance?

  • 67% of Australian employees aged over 55
  • 59% of employees aged 35-54
  • 57% of employees aged 18-34

Who finds their work interesting?

  • 75% of employees aged over 55
  • 66% of employees aged 35 to 54
  • 62% of employees aged 18-34

In recent years, it has become huge business to try to discover the secret to employee satisfaction, as companies recognise the benefits of achieving a positive workplace with happy employees. If you are not happy at work, make some plans to change things. Here are some articles to help you on your way.

Are you happy at work? Would you be interested in obtaining some career counselling to help you decide on a new career path or course to improve your happiness at work? If so, please see our Career Coaching services.

How to use your work commute time more effectively

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to use your work commute time more effectivelyIf you rely on public transport to get to and from work, you might be a little over it. Likewise sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for an hour or more isn’t much fun either. But using this time to help you gain back a little time later in the day, or help improve your productivity, or even your mood is achievable.

In this month’s article, we look at some simple strategies you could easily incorporate into your daily commute to help improve your productivity and/or mood.

  1. Write your to-do list: If you like being organised and you work well with lists, getting organised before you arrive at work is a great start to your day. If you’re catching public transport this is simple. If you’re driving, you can use one of the many voice recording apps out there to get your notes onto your phone. Evernote has a voice recording function, as do many other ‘organising’ apps. Use whatever method works best for you.
  2. Clear your inbox: Again if you’re on the bus or train, this is easy – getting rid of all the junk emails and dealing with any ‘easy responses’ during your commute means when you arrive at the office you can get stuck into the more complex work. If you’re driving, there are apps that can help. For example, Speaking Email provides a simple interface designed to let you safely listen to your emails while driving. It reads them out loud to you and provides voice command functionality that lets you archive, flag or instantly reply while you’re on the go.
  3. Listen up: Check out the latest podcast or audiobook. I’m very late to the party here, but I’ve recently discovered podcasts and think it’s a great way to spend my commute. It’s better than spending more time staring at my screen, and for drivers it’s a great way to pass time in traffic. You can choose podcasts that entertain, inform or teach. Ask around for suggestions on what other like-minded people are into, research the many podcast review lists on the web, or check out the ‘featured’ and ‘top charts’ within the podcast app for currently trending podcasts.
  4. Draft emails or reports: I’m not a huge fan of emailing from my phone – I just need a bigger screen, but I don’t mind sending those quick one or two liners from my phone (See tip 2). What I do love using my commute for is drafting those longer, more difficult responses that need some level of thought. I’ll often draft these emails during my commute then review and send once I’ve arrived at the office. Doing this often significantly improves your content since you’ve had time to think about it. That final review before you hit send usually brings out the best and most articulate content!
  5. Keep up to date: These days there is so much content to stay on top of – whether it’s news about your company, your industry, your clients or competitors, or simply staying on top of local current affairs – there’s lots of it. Add to that all the personal interest content you’d like to read or videos you’d like to watch and you can easily feel overwhelmed. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a list as long as your arm of articles you’d like to read and content you’d like to watch. Use your commute time to make a dent.
  6. Take note of successes: This is a great tip for staying on top of your career. When it comes time to look for a new role, or ask for a pay rise or promotion – you’ll need more than just a list of skills and experience. You need specialist expertise and you need to know your value. Use your commute time to keep track of your accomplishments and especially all those little wins (because you will forget them over time). Take note of accolades, positive feedback, outstanding results, and training completed. Use driving time to think about this and jot them down as soon as you get to work.
  7. Get your social media fix: It’s a time waster for sure, so resist the urge for mindless scrolling through your feeds and notifications while you’re at work by doing it during your commute (especially on the way home from work when your energy levels are probably at their lowest).
  8. Increase your activity: Depending on how far away your work is, consider walking, riding or even running to work – or at least part of the way. If you catch public transport, you could try getting off a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way, and if you drive, simply park a little further away.
  9. Read a book: Using your commute time for ‘work stuff’ to ensure you’re more productive later is great, but simply picking up a book (or e-book) that you’ve been wanting to read is also a good idea. If you’ve lost interest in fiction as a result of all the online noise, make an effort to re-discover a book for pleasure during your commute (try an audio book if you’re driving).
  10. Chill out: In our increasingly busy lives, who said that being productive is the most effective use of time? Most of us need to spend more time relaxing. Use your commute as a time to just be present and clear your mind. If you find that hard, you could try one of the many meditation and mindfulness apps available, which can help you combat anxiety, sleep better, hone your focus, and more. Some of the most popular include: Headspace, InsightTimer, and Calm.

Unless you want to move closer to your workplace or can somehow work from home – commuting to work is the reality for most people. But it doesn’t have to be that bad – use the time wisely and your mood and productivity will likely improve.

Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field and can provide comprehensive Career Guidance 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.

12 ways to amp up your activity levels at work

Article by Belinda Fuller

12 ways to amp up your activity levels at work

The National Heart Foundation of Australia, the World Health Organisation (WHO), and many other leading global health organisations recommend we take 10,000 steps a day to ensure good health. Research certainly indicates the importance of incorporating movement into our day – even small amounts of activity helps us to counteract long periods of sitting, which is linked to all sorts of increased health risks. 

While this is all great in theory – if you’re in a job that’s primarily sedentary or desk based – incorporating movement into your day can be challenging. But with long periods of sitting now proven to increase our risk of all sorts of nasties like heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer – we need to make every effort to move our butts throughout the day!

Here are some simple ways to get more active at work:

  1. Walk or ride to work – or part of the way if this isn’t a realistic option. Walking, riding, or even running to work is a great way to get your activity done as part of your regular day. If you catch public transport, you could try getting off a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way, and if you drive, simply park a little further away. It might mean setting your alarm a little earlier, but the small amount of lost sleep will be worth it.
  2. Get up regularly throughout the day – take a small water bottle to work or use a glass and aim to consume a certain amount every day. Getting up to fill your bottle every time it’s empty is a great way to incorporate a little incidental exercise. It also gives your eyes a rest if you’re sitting at a computer and is a great mental boost. Pick the water cooler that’s farthest away from your desk too – not the one that’s closest.
  3. Have standing or walking meetings – we all have to sit through any number of meetings in any given day or week which sometimes stretch on longer than really necessary. Try organising a walking or standing meeting which research has proven can be a great way to increase your efficiency, making sure they don’t drag on unnecessarily, as well as getting you out of your chair. For smaller groups or one-on-ones, a walking meeting can be a great way to get things done while achieving some physical activity. The change of scenery can also encourage increased creativity.
  4. Track your activity – activity trackers are the latest craze in the fitness world – and with good reason. They can be a great incentive to get moving. Wear one and you’ll see how few steps you actually take each day unless you make the effort. Wearing a tracker and then incorporating even just small amounts of walking – around the building or the block a few times a day can do wonders in helping you meet your daily goals. Simply aim to increase your steps or distance a little bit each week.
  5. Dress comfortably – so that you’ll be more likely to be active. Walking to work in heels isn’t an option so put on your walking shoes, and take your dress shoes in a backpack or bag. Better still, leave them at your desk if you can. Likewise, if you have some flats or comfy shoes you quickly change into while at work, you might be keener to take the stairs instead of the lift.
  6. Try a standing desk – many workplaces are offering these desks as an option now and they can be great for improving back pain and posture problems. Research indicates that you use many more muscles and burn more calories standing up than sitting down – so it’s a great option if you can manage it. Don’t think you have to do it all day either – incorporating some periods of working while standing is going to be beneficial.
  7. Stretch – try standing up every 30 minutes or so and stretching your chest and extending your spine to reverse the effects of siting hunched over a desk. I have a stretch band by my desk which I can hook around the door handle and do simple exercises to reverse the issues that hunching over a desk day in and day out causes. But even just interlacing your fingers behind your back and stretching out your chest is helpful.
  8. Visit colleagues instead of emailing – how many times do you email someone with a question or request then wait for their response? If they are in the same office as you, consider walking to their desk and resolving the issue there and then. Not only is the movement good but the social interaction is great for mental well-being.
  9. Take a lunch break and use it to move – it’s important just to have a break with many studies now showing that Australians are not good at taking a break for lunch. It’s beneficial for your creativity and gives you a boost in productivity for the afternoon. However, it’s also a good opportunity to get moving. Instead of eating at your desk or sitting in a common area chatting, take a walk outside for at least part of the time. Even better, grab some co-workers and join a gym, go for a run, or climb some nearby stairs.
  10. Schedule in mini-breaks – a few times a day, put 10-15 minutes into your calendar to take a break. It’s great to do this mid-morning and mid-afternoon, in addition to your lunch break. During these times, try to get away from your desk – if possible take the stairs and get outside – even just for five minutes. Again, the physical benefits are obvious, but the mental and clarity of mind benefits are also there.
  11. Don’t wait idly – turn it into an opportunity to move. If you’re waiting for a meeting to start, the coffee machine, photocopier, or even the bathroom – use it to do some exercises like lunges, squats or calf raises – or simply take a quick walk.
  12. Involve others – getting co-workers involved is also a great motivation. Either formally or informally – organising a small office challenge is a great way, or training for an upcoming fun run or walk event. You could do something as simple as tracking your steps and monitoring who does the most in a day, organising walking groups at lunchtime, or setting an alarm and getting up each hour to have a stretch and a walk. Get an office team together – it’s easier to be more active if you’re doing it as a group. The support will make it more fun and social, while motivating you to actually get up and do it.

Whether you choose to incorporate one, a few or all of our tips – you will see the benefits – and that includes both physical and mental health improvements.

Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field and can provide comprehensive Career Coaching. We also have experienced writers who provide professional Resume Writing Services and LinkedIn Profile Writing Services designed for people who want to make employers sit up and take notice.

Choosing to be happy at work

Article by Belinda Fuller

Choosing to be happy at work

What makes people happy at work varies significantly from person to person. Since we spend the majority of our waking hours at work, being unhappy doesn’t just affect our work – it usually affects all aspects of our life. Whilst it’s well-known that recognition, reward, and positivity go a long way to ensuring employees are happy, there are many other influencing factors.

Countless studies are conducted to try to discover the secret to happy employees. Most companies recognise the benefits that come from achieving a positive workplace with happy employees. Apparently almost every business metric that can be measured (e.g. productivity, profitability, customer satisfaction, absenteeism, safety etc.) can be directly impacted by employee happiness. While many companies are great at ensuring this, there are factors you can control yourself. Here are some tips to help you choose to be happy at work:

  1. Limit stress: Easier said than done in many cases, but stress is not conducive to happiness. Many jobs have stressful elements, which is fine in the short-term but can be damaging to both physical and emotional health if it becomes long-term. To limit stress, you need to be open – talk to your supervisor about what’s causing it; take time out by switching off from work and recharging; learn some relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises and mindfulness; and develop healthy responses to combat the stress such as exercise, hobbies, reading, time with family, and getting enough sleep.
  2. Exercise: Including any kind of physical activity in your day can improve your mood and productivity. While regular bouts of longer physical activity are essential for health, studies have shown that including even just a small amount of physical activity in your day can help. If you are feeling overwhelmed, often just a short stroll outside in the fresh air can help lift your focus, productivity and mood.
  3. Do more of what you love: You want to be happy in your work so avoiding what you don’t like doing will help to a point, BUT you need to be doing more of what you love! Identify aspects of your job you love, and skills and interests that inspire you. Think about how you can be even better at what you do. Approach your manager with suggestions on how you might be able to incorporate more of these aspects into your day to day work.
  4. Be organised: Arrive a little early so the start of your day is relaxed. Plan your day and only make commitments you can meet. A common cause of unhappiness at work is missed deadlines, causing unnecessary stress. By planning your workload, checking your diary, and making daily ‘to do’ lists, you’ll be less likely to miss deadlines. And try to factor in some time for breaks – they’ll re-energise and invigorate you and help you feel more positive. For some great time saving tips, see our article on Time saving tips for busy people.
  5. Ask for feedback: Happy employees know what their contribution means. If you don’t receive feedback, ask for it. You can’t change what you don’t know and chances are you know how you’re performing – you just need some acknowledgement – it’s proven as a strong driver of happiness.
  6. Continue to learn: Take responsibility for continuing personal and professional development. If your company supports you by paying for courses and allowing study time, take advantage of it. If they don’t – do it anyway – you are the one with the most to gain from continuing to develop professionally so make investing in training a priority.
  7. Know what’s going on: Seek the information you need to do your job well. Some companies are great at communicating company information, while others aren’t so good. If your company is one of the latter then develop your own networks and use them to find out what you need to know.
  8. Make plans: If all else fails, it may be time to start planning a career move. There’s nothing like planning your exit to make you smile. But don’t compromise your future by slacking off. If you come across as happy and committed, you’ll be more likely to receive a positive reference when the time comes.

Remember, you are responsible for your own destiny. Our number one tip is to avoid any negativity. Choose to be happy rather than down and instead of dwelling on the things you can’t change, focus on what you can change. Find colleagues you like spending time with and don’t get involved in negative conversations. Greet everyone with a smile and you’ll be surprised at how many will be returned.

Are you feeling unhappy at work? Would you like career advice and assistance with planning your next move? If so, please see our Career Counselling Services.

7 ways you know you’re doing a great job

Article by Belinda Fuller

7 ways you know you're doing a great job

Job satisfaction is often linked to how appreciated you feel at work. Sometimes you might not receive the praise you crave and if you’re unhappy at work, it can be difficult to perform. Not every manager is great with praise and some just don’t have the time or inclination to understand how important occasional compliments are. But there are other, subtler ways to tell you’re doing a great job.

There are many times throughout your career when you need to assess your performance. For example, when you’re due for a performance review, when you’re feeling unmotivated, or when you’ve received some unfavourable feedback. If you’re faced with any of these situations, try to assess your performance honestly. If you can, go back to your job description, performance plan, or KPIs to formally assess how you’re going against those goals. Some ways to prove you’re doing a great job, even though you might not actually hear it, include thinking about the following areas:

  1. The value you add: Ask yourself where you might have added value and assess how this helped your manager, department, or the overall company. Try to keep track of any accolades received from colleagues, clients and others; and remember all the things you’ve done to improve processes or ways to get things done.
  2. Your measurable success: Many roles can be easily tracked in terms of performance – sales made against budget or marketing metrics such as responses, likes or clicks. But for other roles that aren’t metrics driven and easy to measure, think about your actions and how they meet or exceed expectations. Did you follow instructions, procedures or rules? Did you deliver an outcome when you said you would? Did you receive some positive feedback from a client or colleague?
  3. Being the go-to person: If you are constantly being asked questions about a variety of areas of the business, there’s a good chance you have become the company ‘go-to person’. Learning about the company and how things work and sharing that knowledge with your colleagues is an excellent trait for any employee and a good indication that you’re doing a great job.
  4. You’re reliable: If you get asked to help out on projects, or assist with last minute tasks, you can be relied upon to get the job done. An employee who turns up on time, listens, does what’s expected of them, is trustworthy, and shows respect is a productive and valuable employee.
  5. You’re asked for your opinion: Being given the opportunity to attend meetings to listen and offer your view on different areas is another indicator that you’re doing a great job and your efforts are appreciated.
  6. You’re proactive: Some people wait to be told what to do, and others take their own initiative to get things done. Managers notice self-motivated, proactive team members so if you offer to help out on tasks that you notice need to be done, but might not be in your direct area of responsibility – you’re probably doing a great job!
  7. You solve problems: Being a problem solver is important, so if you’re faced with a challenge and you tell your boss about the issue while also offering suggestions on how you think it should be fixed, they’ll appreciate your efforts. It makes their life easier and proves to them that you’re invested in the company’s success just as much as they are.

It is important to understand that some managers aren’t great at giving feedback. If you find yourself in this situation, often simply asking for feedback is a good approach. Otherwise, you could find a mentor – either within the company or outside. Mentors can offer advice and they’ve usually faced some of the same challenges you might be experiencing. They’ll help you strategise ways to deal with issues and support you on your path to success.

If you would like help with any aspect of your career, please see our range of Career Counselling Services.