05 Jan

Hi, my name is …, and I’m a workaholic

Imagine this scenario, after years of job-hopping, dabbling in various industries and clock-watching until the end of the work day, you have finally found your calling in life! You have discovered what you were put on this earth to do. Every morning you jump out of bed with great energy and gusto, full of creativity, ideas and solutions, ready to get stuck into work for the day.

The euphoric feeling of loving your work, feeling valued and having the right “fit”  is incredible. You feel like you could go on working forever with no sleep as if you were permanently on cloud nine. Herein however lies a problem, if you jump in boots and all, continuing at the same pace and intensity with no boundaries, you may find yourself waking up one day realising that your life is all about your work and nothing else.

If you don’t want to be classified as a workaholic or a “work martyr” and you want to maintain the love for what you do in your work and still maintain some sort of balance, then think about implementing the following guidelines into your day. This way you can have your cake and eat it too.

1. Have beginnings and ends

Have set times every day to start and end your work day.  By keeping these time boundaries in place it prevents you from encroaching into your personal time. Sticking to this every day allows you to start building a positive routine into your life.

You may believe that by extending your working hours it will be beneficial to your business, more hours means getting more work done? Actually working more hours does not make us more productive. According to a study completed at Ohio University the human brain needs a 15 minute break after every hour of work. Unfortunately not many people carry out this practise, which results in a decrease in productivity. Interestingly, another study published in 2014 by John Pencavel of Stanford University showed that an employee’s output falls sharply after a 50-hour work-week, and falls off a cliff after 55 hours—so much so that someone who puts in 70 hours produces nothing more with those extra 15 hours. All that is achieved is a waste of time and an increase in your frustration levels.

2. Have daily micro-goals

To-do lists have their place, but one component that is most often missing from this list is a deadline. This can be dangerous especially for someone who is prone to shifting into workaholic mode. To-do lists can go on forever and we tend to keep adding to the list without including deadlines.

So here is a challenge for you. Every day pick 3 micro-goals, tasks which you can achieve in one day. This helps to re-enforce the “beginning and end” concept. Ending the day at a set time, knowing that you have completed the set tasks for that day provides a sense of closure.

3. Have a hobby

It’s not about rushing out and joining a book club or scrapbooking group for the sake of having an interest. It’s about acknowledging the fact that work is not everything. Finding something that inspires you, motivates you, challenges and excites you besides work is key to creating that work-life balance we hear about so often, but don’t always achieve.

Something I learned growing up was “too much of a good thing is not good for you.”  A simple principle that has kept me in check over the years. Everything in moderation, that includes work.

You may find the workaholics anonymous assessment helpful if you believe you may be a workaholic.

17 Mar

6 tips on how to make meetings work for you

A day doesn’t go by where I don’t have to attend a meeting. On paper, a meeting is a simple, but brilliant concept. You meet with one or more individuals to discuss a specific topic of interest, everyone provides input on their area of expertise and an outcome is derived from this meeting of minds. Simple? Well, not quite.
There have been many times and I am sure you can relate to this scenario, where I have walked out of a meeting more confused and baffled on the way forward with a specific project, than when I initially went into the meeting. I am sure I’m not the first confused and frustrated individual and I know I will most definitely not be the last.
Here are a few things I have learnt along the way that may help prevent some of that “meeting frustration” you could experience in the future.
  1. Make sure everyone is in the room – virtually and physically. This means no access to electronic devises, which WILL distract people in the meeting. Oddly enough, it seems acceptable these days to be holding a separate meeting on your cellphone or tablet, whilst physically being in a meeting. What is that? I believe that if everyone present in a meeting is “present” on the discussion topics at hand there would be way less confusion and time wastage.
  2. Limit the meeting time – There is always a starting time to a meeting, why not have a pre-confirmed end time? It’s bizarre, but when we are not given a time frame we tend to waft and lose focus, we go off-topic and become distracted and waste precious time. If we are aware of a deadline we tend to treat the meeting like an secret undercover government operation. We know we need to get in, secure the mission objective and get out with no casualties, within a specific time limit. So at your next meet up, hand out the camouflage paint and remind everyone of the meeting time frame and watch how people snap into focus-mode. 
  3. Use meeting agendas and stick to them! – If you are the meeting organiser don’t  just provide a meeting subject line, but attach a simple bullet point agenda of discussion points to your meeting invitations. By providing this additional information people are given time to prepare their notes as well as their mindsets. Most importantly the meeting will begin with a purpose. When facilitating a meeting stick to the agenda points and get to the point. This way people will get to know your meeting facilitation style and will appreciate your focused attention. If you have been invited to attend a meeting and they haven’t provided an agenda, ask for one. 
  4. Make people accountable – One of the biggest pet-peeves about meetings is the lack of action and/or accountability after a meeting. What’s the point of having a meeting if nothing gets actioned afterwards? As the facilitator take notes and assign people and deadline dates to tasks. Placing a name and a deadline to an action, personalises the task and makes people accountable. Generally people don’t like to be in the spotlight for non-performance, this could be quite awkward for them.
  5. Take action – After a full day of meetings the biggest ask for some people is to actually action issues that arose within the meet up. If this is an issue for your team, block off 10 to 15mins in the meeting for people to action or start actioning their tasks. Here you are giving them time and also forcing them to action something. They don’t leave the meeting feeling overwhelmed, but they leave feeling as though they have accomplished something.
  6. Give yourself time – We think we are being productive if we schedule meetings and activities back to back. We run from one agenda to another, never giving ourselves time to reflect and process the information discussed. The next time you schedule a meeting, make sure there is enough time afterwards to process the outcome. Hang up your roller-skates, grab a cup of tea and reflect.