Monthly Archives: February 2014

Life/Work Balance 101

Is Your Job Taking Over Your Life?

24 Ways To Tell You Don't Understand Work-Life Balance

20th Century Fox / Via wifflegif.com

Many of us are now working from home, telecommuting or working remotely. The advantages of these new, flexible modes of working are numerous. However, for some, working from home does pose a risk to wellbeing, in that it can be difficult for those new to flexible hours to effectively separate work from homelife.

In a recent Daily Mail article, psychologist Emma Kenny claimed that in order to achieve a perfect work/life balance people should work a maximum of 2.5 hours a day. Follow these tips to ensure that your job doesn’t take over your life!

1. Only work in a particular designated zone– By separating your office area from the rest of your home, you will prevent your work from invading your private life. Declutter this area regularly in order to prevent an unneccessary build-up of papers.

2. Spend time outdoors- Make sure that working from home doesn’t prevent you from having regular contact with the outside world! Take time to go for a walk every day. Even if it’s just for ten or fifteen minutes, enjoying fresh air will boost your concentration levels and prevent your energy levels from flagging in the afternoons.

3. In the evenings… Switch Off- The ‘Flexible Revolution’ has enabled an increasing amount of workers to enjoy the benefits of a less concrete 9 to 5 routine. However, this means that it can be easy to work too hard. Tackle this issue by aiming to avoid working throughout the night. Of course, this may not always be possible, but aiming to spend evenings socialising instead of working may be key to achieving a strong work/life balance resulting in overall life satisfaction

4. Go mobile- Technology  has provided us with a plethora of apps which claim to offer us the tools to navigate modern life. Take advantage of these by using your smartphone to aid your flexible routine. Apps such as Expensfy, or the Self-Control app (for Macs only) for those who are keen to stick to their routine. Shoeboxed.com have a great list of apps which aim to help improve work/life balance.

5. Get an enjoyable hobby- Cultivate richness and variety in your life by gaining a new pastime which excites you and which you feel passionate about. Preferably, choose something creative, which you can do with others or alone as a way of winding down after a hard day’s work.

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Working From Home- The Definitive Guide

How can you avoid distractions when telecommuting or working from home? 

It’s a valid question, as more and more of us are choosing to working flexibly from home or work remotely out of necessity. There are many advantages to working from home, but many report that they have difficulty adapting to the arrangement, and find it easy to succumb to distractions around the home

Guardian Professional Matthew Jenkin recently came up with a list of key things which the remote worker should bear in mind in order to kiss procrastination goodbye and boost creativity and productivity!

0 Procrastination We All Suffer Source

Find a designated workspace

Emma Busk moved with her partner to the countryside so they would have more space to run their public relations company Extra Cover Media from home. With horses and dogs vying for her attention, she understands the need to time manage efficiently. Dedicating an area in the house solely for business has removed many of the most common distractions, such as television, and improved their work-life balance. “When you have your own business and you work at home, it can be very hard to switch off at the end of the day,” Busk explains. “Before we had our own office space, we could be working until late at night and on Saturday mornings.” She adds: “It’s very important to say, ‘That corner of the room is work and that’s where we sit. If you’re not working, you don’t sit in that corner’. You need to delineate your time between work and home life.”

Make sure friends and family know your business schedule

While an impromptu visit from your sibling or well-meaning neighbour can be a welcome distraction sometimes, learning when to invite them in and when to wave them goodbye is vital if you want to remain productive. For Busk, living in a small village means she has her fair share of surprise guests to contend with. It’s hard when you’re working at home on your own, she admits, because sometimes you don’t have that interaction with other colleagues. She says: “If you’re on a deadline or have a lot of work to complete, you have to turn around and tell them to come back another time. I think most people will understand.” Rebekah Harriman runs her own social media consultancy, Rebekah-Harriman.com. With dogs, chickens and children to look after, she admits she has become very good at getting distracted. She says you need to be clear with family members that you won’t answer the phone during working hours. She says: “That’s why a lot of people I know have separate business numbers, so when that rings and I am not working, I won’t answer it. I refuse to give my mum my work number, otherwise she’d just call me on that if I didn’t answer the phone.”

Establish a routine

As a busy entrepreneur, Harriman says managing her day carefully around her work and family commitments is essential to remain productive. “It’s about managing my own time, but also my workload,” she says. “I am also quite strict and don’t do domestic chores between 9am and 3pm when the kids are at school. As soon as you start thinking, oh I’ll just empty the dishwasher or put the washing out, then you’re not working.” Jaye Cowie, the founder of Major Marketing, says sticking to a strict routine is the best way to juggle family and business. She says: “Working from home, you never know when to stop. With an office, you have a time that you leave work. Even if it is 11pm, you are leaving a physical building. Whereas at home, I always feel like I could do slightly more.” With the creation of smartphones with emails on them, you also have to be really careful not to overdo it. Cowie adds: “If you are in your non-work time and you get one of those emails which you know needs an immediate response and puts you in a terrible mood, it affects the rest of the family.”

Limit time for chores

Working from home and seeing housework which still needs to be done piling up can leave small business owners with pangs of domestic guilt. Cowie bemoans: “I have found it really hard to move past the fully loaded dishwasher and not do something about it. Another thing is food. You constantly want to eat because it’s a distraction from what you’re doing, especially if it’s a task you want to avoid.” Keeping track of the time you spend doing household chores or non-work activities means you are less likely to waste precious minutes and hours of the day on just one task, Harriman finds. “Everybody has their own way of working, but I like to work in short intensive bursts,” she says. “So, I have a timer which I set for 20 minutes per task. I also do the same for those which are non-work related chores such as doing the washing up. As soon as my time is up, I stop and go back to work.”

Content commissioned by Guardian Professional on behalf of Direct Line for Business.

How Employers Can Aim to Build a Loyal Team

Earning the Respect of Your Employees Now Will Pay Off in the Future!

When leading a team of individuals, it is important to remember make each member of your team feel useful, valuable and necessary to the functioning of the group as a cohesive unit. Here are some points all employers should bear in mind when dealing with when negotiating with their staff.

We’re all familiar with the cliched ‘boss from Hell’ trope, take action now to make sure that you’re not comparable with this stereotype!

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devil wears prada

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This guy is my hero.

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A Little Bit of Freedom Goes a Long Way

Giving your employees leeway to do their own thing allows them to showcase creative freedom which will prevent your staff from feeling like robots or indentured servants. Your employees will appreciate the faith and confidence that you have in them, and this is sure to pay off in the long-term future of your business

See Your Employees as Individuals

This is crucial. Make sure that you greet your staff by name when you see them first thing in the morning. Aim to raise a smile, even if you’re rushed off your feet. Thank them for their contributions and listen and pay heed to their needs and requests, including requests for greater flexibility at work! Sounds simple, but treating your employees as respected and valued individuals is one of the easiest ways to foster loyalty within your company and earn the respect of your workers.

Share your Vision

When you have a busy team of staff working underneath you, it is difficult to effectively convey your long-term hopes and ambitions. Set targets with your employees and aim to work towards this vision. This is key to creating loyal bonds and creating meaning for your workers. As a strong, unit, you will quickly stride towards your ambitions and beyond.

Keep this point in mind and prepare for major ‘cool boss’ kudos!

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Why Every Company Should Want To Hire Working Mums

multitasking Animated Gif on Giphy

                      Everyone knows that mums make the world go round…

–  Excellent time management skills.  

Getting the kids up, fed and dressed before school every morning can feel like something of a military operation at times. However, most mums we know have this down to a fine art. Working mums = punctual staff

-Bags of creativity.

Mums are used to helping with (or maybe just doing) craft projects for their kids’ homework or school projects. Give a mum some PVA glue and some old cereal boxes and she will make magic. Of course, this creativity can easily be applied to world of business, in order to find unique solutions and get consistently excellent results.

-Multi-Tasking Abilities to Rival the Skills of any Renaissance Man.

 It’s no secret that mums are the original masters of the portfolio career. They often find themselves working five jobs simultaneously, functioning as cooks, counsellors, nurses, chauffeurs and while at the same time fulfilling a multitude of other roles.

-Mums Make Good Team Leaders.

Anyone with kids will know how essential it is to work as an effective team leader within the family. Motivating teenagers to get out of bed and be productive is no mean feat, and the managerial tactics displayed by mums lend themselves well to directing teams in a working environment 

-Great Communication Skills.

Think about it, mums are used to patiently dealing with children deviating from their best behaviour in public. Put simply, mums are direct and effective communicators. Forthright yet tactful, mums also make great mediators.

 Company directors, never to underestimate the power of mums!