Thursday, 28 July 2016

Getting the balance right – returning to work after the holidays

No-one looks forward to their first day back at work after the holidays – however much we enjoy our work. Rather than take this as a negative, see it as a positive; a reflection of the fabulous time you spent with friends and family.

We’ve developed three top tips to help your first few weeks back seem less daunting and to ease you – painlessly – back into work after the summer.

Recreate your holiday behaviour at work

We are all creatures of habit and, whether intentional or not, chances are we will have developed certain habits during our holidays. Reading the paper in a morning over breakfast; taking a stroll after dinner; enjoying a drink on a balcony before bed – these little moments are often what we remember about our holidays. Think about it, what is stopping you recreating these behaviours – or at least something similar - at work too? Build time into your day to change your work habits: take a short stroll or read something new; eat your lunch in a different place, go out of your way to get to know colleagues you haven’t connected with yet. These simple things will make your work day more interesting and, perhaps, give you something to look forward to. Before too long the holiday blues will have passed and it’s up to you if the new habits continue or you revert back to old working practices!

Give yourself something to look forward to

Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated after the holidays. We can feel like we have nothing to look forward to now – and next summer is just too far away to be meaningful. Taking time out from work often makes us realise that there is more to life – however much we enjoy our jobs – many of us often make a resolution when we return from the holidays, to redress the work/life balance. So, now’s the time to plan some small treats to help motivate you at work and make you feel as if you’re working towards a goal. It could be a meal out with your family or friends; a day trip to the seaside to recreate that holiday feeling; or a back-to-basics overnight stay in a tent. Whatever it takes to make focus on a positive outcome, rather than dwell on the holidays that have passed.

Create a to-do list that leaves you feeling productive and fulfilled

A return from holidays often means a backlog of emails, telephone calls and work priorities to juggle. So much so that, a large percentage of workers are reportedly put off going on holiday due to the mountain of work that will be waiting for them on their return! Take time on your return to work to set out an achievable schedule and a realistic to-do list. Don’t try and do so much that you become overwhelmed. That means prioritising and accepting that you can’t do everything at once. A to-do list that you can deliver, will help you leave work feeling fulfilled, rather than stressed and overworked. No one wants to wonder if taking a holiday was worth it!

When you do return to work, recall your holidays with a smile. Post photos of your exploits (but remember your privacy controls!) and use these happy memories to refocus your mind if the work starts to get on top of you. Remember what your holidays taught you – we work to live, not the other way around.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Motivation matters: how to give your best at work during the summer

Summertime – the season of light nights and sunshine (sometimes, at least). A time when there are a million and one places we could be and a myriad of activities we could be engaged in. And yet, for the majority of the summer, we still have to work.

It’s easy to become unmotivated during the summer season. In fact a survey conducted in the USA suggested that 25% of office workers feel their productivity drops during the summer months – they call it the ‘Summer Slump’ [].

When there’s somewhere else we’d rather be, even the most committed of employees can become apathetic and indifferent to their workload. However, with a bit of preparation and a plan, it is possible to be as productive at work during the summer months, as we are throughout the rest of the year.

Let the holidays work for you, not against you 

The great thing about the extended daylight hours is that there is more time to do things outside of work. If flexible working hours are an option at work, then summer is a great time to do this so you don’t feel as though you’re missing out on other stuff.

Reward your productivity

Summer is definitely the season to reward your own productivity. Make a deal with yourself – if you can do what you need to accomplish in the morning you’ll take a lunchtime walk in the sunshine; if you get through the afternoon’s workload you’ll meet a friend for a drink and a natter after work.

Remain focused

Procrastination can be rife during the summer months – all we have to do is glance out of the window and see others enjoying themselves for our own mind to wander and listlessness set in. The way to avoid this is by setting an achievable to do list. This will keep you focused and moving forward. It will also make you appreciate any down time you do have because you’ll feel like you’ve earned it.

Change your perception

Sometimes all it takes is a simple change in perception to motivate us. Yes, our colleagues might be away and we may have more to do, but won’t they be doing the same for us shortly? Yes, the weather outside may make sitting at a desk less appealing, but it also gives us an excuse to take a proper lunch-break, rather than eat at our desk. Instead of looking at work as stopping us from doing things, look at the summer as a reason to reassess our work/life balance and make the effort to do more outside of working hours.

And if all else fails and you find yourself feeling lackluster at work, take the opportunity to clear the decks. If you are already feeling unmotivated to work, your table is likely messy or a little more disorganised than usual. Clear your desk and see how well it can clear your mind - at least in the short term. It's amazing how a clear desk can make you want to do a little more.