Don't Forget To Go Home On Time

AS NATIONAL WORK LIFE WEEK BEGINS IT'S #TIMETOREBALANCE AND GO HOME ON TIME

National work life week begins again today in the UK and if you've recently been feeling the pressure, no matter where you are in the world, then this is a great week to sit back and take a fresh look at your working life and where it is that you may wish to redress the balance. This Wednesday 5th October also marks the annual Go Home On Time Day as part of the week long campaign so if you're someone who always finds themselves stuck in the office long after you should have headed home then why not make a pledge this Wednesday to pack up and head home on time. Go and do something good for yourself to help you feel more balanced.

Image Source: Pexels

Image Source: Pexels

National work life week is a campaign run by Working Families UK who are at the forefront of helping UK workers find a more family friendly and flexible working life. But whatever our circumstances I'm sure we can all do with taking time now and again to check in with the balance or lack thereof in our lives. 

This week why not take a moment to ask yourself a few questions about your work and life.

  1. Which fulfilling activities do I enjoy doing that have no association with my working life?
  2. Do I build enough time into my week to make time for these activities?
  3. If not, how can I make more time to fit these in?

There are always some tasks that can ultimately wait, that maybe sap more time than they should, or that maybe you need to be willing to give up in order to make more time for something else. You have to make certain times in the week sacred whether that be after work or perhaps at the weekends. Times when you don't spend hours scrolling through social media, when you leave that last email that could actually be answered in the morning and you take the time to do something different. Even if that just means relaxing with your partner and watching the latest must see on Netflix! There has to be time each week that you let your mind off from thinking about the pressures of work.

Over the last couple of years interviewing different people for this blog I've come to pick up some useful tips about finding work-life balance from various people with all sorts of different commitments, deadlines and hectic schedules. Today I've gathered together some of the wisdom that they've imparted that I think is well worth re-thinking about during this week in particular.

 

HOW DO OTHERS DEFINE AND IMPLEMENT THEIR OWN WORK-LIFE BALANCE?

1. Erica Buist, Guardian Journalist and author of the blog 'How To Be Jobless' wisely says:

"Weekends are sacred. They are set aside for my fiancé and I to be together. If I absolutely have to work, we plan for him to be doing something at the same time, plan a mutual finish time and often go on a date to make up for it."

"Talking about work is allowed, but dwelling and repeating ourselves isn't. Once we've talked through a worry, we stop each other from getting stuck on it."

Read my full interview with Erica here: The Guardian's Erica Buist Talks Surviving Joblessness.

2. Louise Padmore, Co-Founder of Work Wellbeing talks about how she makes sure she finds a weekly balance:

"At the beginning of my week I always make sure to schedule into my diary the times of yoga classes that I will attend that week, times for catching up with friends or calling family, and time for my own free choice of doing whatever takes my fancy, be that reading, shopping or doing absolutely nothing! I treat these appointments as I would an important meeting with a client, and try my very best to never cancel or reschedule."

Read more about Louise's thoughts on wellbeing in the workplace (and beyond) here: Discussing Work Wellbeing With Louise Padmore.

3. Film Director Matthew Harman discusses how he gets his balance back after a particularly full on period of work:

"There are times when work takes over my life, like when I’m away on a multiple day shoot, but then it’s important to take some time out when it’s all over. Step back and reconnect with your life, whether it’s catching up with friends, your hobbies, or just getting some exercise. It’s not just for your own health - it’s easy to burn out and make yourself ill - but it’s also because it gives you better perspective on your work."

Read more about Matthew in his full interview here: Loving Life In Film With Director Matthew Harmer.

 

So how is your work-life balance looking to you? What will you do this Wednesday? Go home on time and spend time for you? Or stick at your desk way beyond the close of the day? 

Not just this Wednesday but maybe at least once every week, why not make sure you definitely get away on time and fit in one of those life activities that you keep on meaning to do. Not work related, not chore related, purely life related that makes you feel much brighter and gives you time to unwind and reflect. Let me know what it is that you plan to do and get more involved in the conversation and share ideas with others using the hashtag #TimeToRebalance on social media.

Enjoy your week everyone.

Louise

 


Move, Explore And Enjoy Your Working Week

EMBRACE THE POTENTIAL FOR A HAPPIER, HEALTHIER WORKING WEEK 

Yesterday evening I had an idea for a new regular feature here on the blog and although in future I think it might be best placed on a Friday or at the weekend to give you inspiration and planning time ahead of the new week, I thought I'd start today because there are some really great ideas and events happening over the next few days that I wanted to draw your attention to.

Image Source: Pexels

Image Source: Pexels

I've talked before about ensuring that you take regular breaks during your working day, and especially making sure that you embrace your lunch break, get away from that desk and get moving for your long term balance and wellbeing both mentally and physically. In the past I, like so many of us, have been guilty of working through lunch and being stuck in my seat for the bulk of the working day. Sometimes through sheer workload and a feeling that I can't take a break. Other times through a lack of inspiration or motivation to go and do something useful with that precious hour that we all have and can all take if we want to do so. 

On idly browsing Twitter whilst sat on the train yesterday evening I noticed that Stylist Magazine have been running a campaign for a while now encouraging people to reclaim their lunch break and I strongly agree with the message that they are trying to get across. I've written before about how to take a more mindful lunch break and today I wanted to share some unique ideas for how to spend that precious time away from your desk. Some events that I've stumbled on that seem like such a great idea, not necessarily just exercise based, but cultural, social - anything that gets you out and gives you a moments break from the regular working day.

Now as I'm London based some of these have a predominant London swing, so make sure you leave your own suggestions and links to any similar events in your own area below. Whether they be social get togethers before work, during lunch, or after the 9 to 5 has ended. Let's share events, ideas and social gatherings that can help us all to have a happier and healthier working week.

 

THREE SMART WAYS TO BALANCE YOUR REAL SELF ALONGSIDE YOUR WORKING WEEK

1. Look Out For Creative Street Art As You Take A Lunchtime Breather:

As Part of their #70Things series to celebrate their 70th year the Arts Council England has been encouraging people to do different creative things each day for 70 days. One of their recent suggestions was to go out and find something artistic and pretty on your nearby street corner. Now depending on where you work or live this may or may not be possible but the streets of London are full of a plethora of really awe inspiring, colourful street art. So why not take a stroll, explore and unleash your inner iPhone photographer as you get some creative snaps of the urban beauty that lives and breathes on the walls of your city. Got some top suggestions for where best to explore? Leave them in the comments below.

Looking for more inspiration? Why not view the full list of the 70 creative suggestions in this series. Some really quirky and fun ideas from creating a sculpture using your own lunch to writing the plot of your favourite film using only emojis!

2. Get Moving And Try Something New:

There are always fun things going on in the city and they don't always have to cost a fortune. Look out for free events near you that you can get involved in before, during or after work that will get you moving and trying out something new. Staying active doesn't always have to involve hammering out the same old routine in the gym. Inspire body and mind with a new activity now and again. For example this week Merchant Square in Paddington, London is hosting a full programme of free activities to encourage people to reclaim their lunch break. From ping pong to paddle board yoga you can check out the details here. So if you're in that particular area get yourself out and get involved. Or take inspiration and search out similar activities near you. 

To find out what else is going on event apps such as Y Plan and Eventbrite can be really useful and give you quick and easy access to interesting goings-on in your area as well as an easy way to book your space so that you don't miss out. Have another great way to find out about events or an app you love to use? Share in the comments below - all inspiration always very welcome!

3. Give Your Mind A Break From All Things Work:

As you take that much needed lunchtime stroll maybe you want something to keep you company, inspire you and take your mind off of the working day for a moment or two? Or perhaps a dull and rainy day means you just need a break for the mind and want to find a quiet and dry space in which to do so. Why not download an audio book from somewhere such as Audible to free your mind as you walk. Or get started with that new language you've always wanted to learn - try Babbel or Rosetta Stone for online tuition.

Alternatively catch up on your favourite podcast. There are so many great options out there for all sorts of tastes and interests. To give you inspiration and get you started check out these 22 Podcasts That You Should Be Subscribing To In 2016 via Buzzfeed. A comprehensive collection of some of the best podcasts out there, you'll be sure to find something to entertain you during your well deserved lunch time break.

 

So I hope some of these suggestions have helped to fire up the creative or more active person within you. Work doesn't have to be all routine and no fun. Grab back those moments of 'you' time and fill them with something worthwhile.

What do you do to balance your working day with the real you? Perhaps something before work gets you fired up and ready for the day, or how do you spend your lunch break and make use of that valuable hour? Let me know and as always thanks for reading everyone and see you again soon.

Louise

 


Finding Happiness At Work With Samantha Clarke

WHY IS HAPPINESS AT WORK IMPORTANT AND HOW CAN WE BUILD BETTER RELATIONSHIPS AT WORK AND IN LIFE?

Earlier in the year I attended a Guardian Masterclass that saw a day full of inspiring speakers take to the stage and share with us thoughts on how to live a healthier and happier life. It was a day full of thoughtful ideas and wisdom that left many of us in the room motivated to go forth and put some of the positive tips and advice into action both at work and in our daily lives. One of the speakers was Samantha Clarke who spoke on the subject of building better relationships in work and life. Her ethos for finding happiness at work through aligning with your values, communicating better with those around you and working out what motivates and challenges you rang some definite bells with me so when she agreed to an interview for this blog I was really excited to have her pass on some of her ideas and work wise wisdom. 

Photograph: Chiron Cole  www.chironcole.com

Photograph: Chiron Cole www.chironcole.com

Samantha runs her own company Samantha & where she works as a 'Happiness Consultant' guiding companies and individuals toward happier working lives. Today she shares a little about herself as well as some tips for happier work and healthier relationships ...

Hi Samantha. Please could you tell us a little about your own career to date as well as what your current role involves?

In my lifetime I've worked as a brand and strategy consultant, trend and innovation researcher, emerging markets connector, style and personal brand educator and lecturer on personal and work development. My journey has finally led me to a happy place and I want to help others be the founder of their own lives, dreams and work happiness. Samantha & was born as a result of my fascinations with travel, people, culture, relationships, the joys of flexible and remote working, crafting your own path and what it means to be ‘happy @ work’.

Through my quirky coaching, workshops and retreats I help to:

  • join the dots

  • be a catalyst for great ideas

  • support and inspire change

I can also be found delivering talks and workshops for The Guardian and Soho House as well as being a faculty lecturer at The School of Life. There I inspire changes in diverse areas like; authentic leadership, realising your potential, enhancing communication at work, building a portfolio career, presentation psychology, happiness, increasing emotional intelligence and confidence building.

Photograph: Samantha &

Photograph: Samantha &

What led you to this kind of work and why is what you do so important to you?

I’ve always found peace and felt in flow when I can see transformations take place. My natural default is to want to help people, to spread information and to springboard people into new areas or ideas.

I also know exactly what it’s like to be:

  • pulled in different directions in work

  • be held to external expectations of what my life and work should be, look and feel like

  • be plagued by self-doubt, analysis paralysis, lack of confidence, imposter syndrome

  • multi-passionate with multiple potentials and no real guidance on how to embrace it all

  • constantly trying to fit in before a time when it was cool to embrace difference and less rigid work lifestyles

  • to be disillusioned with what ‘work success’ means…. is it innovating a new product, finding that ‘one’ idea, getting millions of pounds of funding for a business and cashing out at 40, climbing the corporate ladder....

So for me it was important to meet companies and people where they are, with a level of understanding and help them sculpt the bridge that is needed to take them to where they want to go.

Photographs: Samantha & and Chiron Cole

Photographs: Samantha & and Chiron Cole

What is it that you love most about the work you do and what motivates you on a daily basis?

Helping navigate the tricky minefield that is either creating an environment that people want to work in and that company owners feel capable of delivering, to helping an individual identify what’s really right for them and making sure they feel authentic in their work.

Are there any key points that people reading this right now can consider to help them find more happiness in their own working environment?

To find more happiness in your working environment: 

  • Identify what’s authentic - take time to distil what really matters, what you need. Educate yourself or your team on your core values to make sure you are consistently embodying and aligning yourself accordingly. When things feel out of sync pay attention to it, interrogate it and hold yourself accountable to the changes that you need to make to put things right.

  • Build the right support framework around you - once you have clarity on your goals, there is no shame in reaching out and connecting to get help to take you closer to where you want to be. Either by getting a consultant into your business or investing in your creative learning or growth, perhaps on a retreat or workshop. Also look to see how you can help others, it’s a two way street.

  • Don’t be scared to challenge the status quo - without innovation your work life will become stagnant and not a true representation of the evolving individual or your company. Embrace change head on and any challenges to seek new opportunities.

  • Know your goals - map out the vision you have for your work/life. Is this path you are on taking you closer to, or away from these goals? How much progress are you making? Focus on noting down your wins and successes towards this goal as well as identifying where you might need to pivot, readdress, get creative and move through the friction and resistance that comes with change and action.
Photographs: Samantha &

Photographs: Samantha &

I suppose it might seem like an obvious question but in your opinion why is happiness at work so important for us?

We spend so much of our lives at work and it’s a shame that for many of us, it’s not a happy experience. So I feel it’s my duty to change this to help companies make sure their staff are nurtured, productive and happy and to help individuals navigate their own version of work happiness that's right for them and their lives even when it seems like an insurmountable task.

You are also an advocate of better relationship building within the work environment, and in everyday life too, can you offer any simple advice for dealing with conflict with others and how to build the foundations for a better relationship in that kind of situation?

It’s important to remember you are the constant in all your relationships. Do the work within yourself first to identify your blind spots, weaknesses and where you might be negatively affecting a relationship if you want the relationships around you to change.            

We are all trying to connect with each other for attention, affection, help in some form or another. It’s important to be mindful and notice an individual’s call for help and respond to them in the right way. Conflict and disagreements arise when we choose to reject or ignore a call for connection. It makes people feel unwanted, hurt, offended and less likely to look to you for support in the future. It’s important to see the whole person, be consistently present in the moment and appreciate each other even when we are rushed for time, caught up on our phones or deadlines. It’s also important to build emotional currency in your work and personal relationships to provide you with insights on how to respond better to others. Consciously look for opportunities to connect, actively seek the adventure of building a relationship - when we get lazy with this we don’t build great foundations for strong relationships.

Educate yourself on your own emotional health and make-up to identify how to better regulate conflict with others. Behind every complaint, disagreement or conflict is a disappointed idealised dream, vision or hope. We need to be authentic with our needs and wants and communicate this with others so that we can compromise, meet each other halfway and be respectful of other people's needs and wants too.

Finally if readers are keen to learn more about the work that you do how can they get involved?

Whether you are a business owner, an entrepreneur or an individual seeking a career transition head over to my website www.samanthaand.co for information about all things ‘happiness @ work’ related. Plus you can find out details on my latest Founder In You creative workshop to be held on October 22-23rd for 12 lucky professional or entrepreneurial individuals.

 

Thank you so much to Samantha for sharing her wisdom when it comes to uncovering more happiness at work, better relationship building and ways to really improve work and life wellbeing more effectively. If you would like to catch Samantha in action make sure you check out her speaking page which is updated regularly with upcoming talks and events or check out what she's up to over on Twitter or Instagram.

Thanks for tuning in everyone, have a great end to your week and hope to see you here again very soon!

Louise

 


How To Make Work-Life Balance Work: TED Talk

Ah the inimitable premise of work-life balance! A topic I've talked about a lot here on this blog and something I've given insurmountable thought to over the past few years as I've watched so many people around me struggle with the hefty pressures of the workplace time and time again.

Image Source: Pexels

Image Source: Pexels

Work-life balance is a term that implies we should always be treading some sort of invisible perfect line between our work and our life and that if we aren't getting it consistently right then we're kind of missing out or doing something wrong. Yet we all know that's just completely impossible in the grand scheme and reality of the modern day workplace.

There are other terms for such a subject being debated out there in the big wide world right now that might I suppose be more suitable, the most recent of which being work-life blend which I guess is slightly better - although it's not really a term that I particularly feel all that excited to embrace!

I'm understanding more and more that the idea of balance is deceptive. We are constantly out of kilter in life. There are so many pulls in so many different directions. What's important is how we continue to assess and realise when something is starting to pull us too hard in one direction leaving little time for anything else. If we realise that a certain pull is consequently making us unwell or unhappy then how do we redress the state of things and come back to a place that allows us a little more peace?

It's also important to find a way of working out what really matters. I came across this talk by Nigel Marsh a few weeks ago: How To Make Work-Life Balance Work (embedded below for ease of playing!) and it kind of nicely sums up the realities of the pressures many of us face.

It's not a new talk, it was given back in 2010 and chances are you may have already seen it if this type of subject interests you. But if you haven't then I'm sharing it today because I think it's a particularly concise and interesting listen on the heady topic of work-life balance, especially if you're also trying to juggle the pressures of a young family as well, the added difficulties of which I can't even begin to imagine!

Nigel Marsh is a former CEO of global advertising company Leo Burnett as well as turning his hand to many other creative pursuits. As author of the book 'Fat, Forty and Fired' he has had very definitive first hand experience of trying to figure out what work-life balance actually means! I certainly think it's an interesting listen and I hope you'll also find it worthwhile.

PLUS: I'm intrigued to know what work-life balance means for you? Is it something that you struggle with? Perhaps you enjoy the work-hard, play-hard lifestyle and finding better balance is an idea that holds no real importance for you? Let me know what you think and how you approach your working lifestyle?

I'd love to gather some of your thoughts, especially if you've personally written anything on the subject, for sharing in some upcoming posts on a similar topic. Leave any links in the comments below or Tweet me with your ideas!

Louise