Giving ourselves time to think is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. Most of us rarely spend much time in self-reflection. While we know it might be beneficial, we don’t believe we have time. In fact, what we tend to do is we often blame others for not giving us time to think.
Playing victim does not win you time to self-reflect. It just makes you crazy.
Do Self-reflection intentionally
The random reflection is important. To take reflection to the next notch though, you may want to intentionally set aside time for focused self-reflection. This might be time to think about a specific event, a conversation or a challenging situation you are currently trying to sort out. In being more intentional during self-reflection, you can give your mind time to work its way around whatever you need to sort out.
How to do Self-reflection
Here’s an example of how I used self-reflection to sort out my dilemma
I was at a meeting the other day and someone said something offensive to another member of the team. The comment was meant as a joke, however, it was grossly inappropriate. As one of the leaders in this group, I felt it was my responsibility to address it.
I want to have something to say that will not only stop the negative behavior but also inspire the individual making the inappropriate comment to consider their impact and become more conscious in how they say things. It is through my self-reflection that I can get my desired outcome.
Let self-reflection grow your leadership
Self-reflection allows us to be aligned with our purpose and values. It can have us become more intentional in getting the impact we desire and going in the direction we want to go. We have to, however, make the time to do it. Add self-reflection to the top of your To Do list today!
Let me help you out with some regular reminders about slowing down.
Join me for Coffee Break with Kathy
Scheduling our days is often done in the way of scheduling around things - meeting, appointments and conference calls. You take whatever time is left and put in the "real" things you need to get done in between those other "important" things. I suspect that process is not very effective for you. I know it doesn't work for me.
Try a new way
What if you put your schedule into your day-timer first? Not everyone else's things.
For example, if you need an hour to focus on a project or perhaps you have someone's performance appraisal to write. Maybe you are working on a funding submission. What if you scheduled them in first, when you had the most energy and were most focused? I am suggesting at 8:30 or 9:00 am.
When are you most energized and focused?
Studies show us, and I know it personally, that I have the most energy and focus first thing in my day. There is a strong possibility that if something doesn't get done before 11:00 am that it won't get done that day. What about you? Do you have more energy in the morning and find that by the time you have a window of time to do the other tasks, you are running on empty?
Take time to consider when you are most energetic. Some of us get another boost later in the afternoon. That is another time to utilize more effectively.
We tend to put "important" things in the morning
I'm suggesting you rock the boat a bit. I am suggesting you set 9:00 am as your time to get work done. You can then schedule 11:00 am as the time for the staff meeting or conference call. And remember, just because it's always been done that way, doesn't mean you can't change things up.
Be the catalyst for positive change for more efficiency on your team
If you want to change things, you will need to voice your thoughts. Change starts somewhere - why not with you deciding it's time to be more productive your way.
Watch here for more ideas about using your time more efficiently
Jam packed schedules are normal right? Everyone is running from place to place; from meeting to meeting, and from conference call to conference call. It's just the way it is. B.S!
For those of you that don't read short hand, that's Bull Shit.
That is the way we have made it. And we will continue to make it that way if we (and by we, I mean you and I) don't do something about it.
Put a stop to your crazy schedule and in doing so, help each other out by adding these three things to your schedule now.
Once a month: Set your priorities for the month. What projects are you working on? When are the due dates? Back things up to make it manageable and not last minute. Reflect on what you need to get done to meet your personal goals.
Annually: What do you want to accomplish this year? Personally I mean. Finish a course? Get a promotion? Read a book? Take time to look at what you want in addition to all that is expected of you in your Leadership role. Block off time to do this. Plan it in. If you don't you will hit the end of August wondering why over half the year feels like it's gone and you've still got so much to do.
Schedule 15 - 30 minutes a day to reflect. Our best learning and growth happens when we look back over what happened, what we did and how we responded. Taking time to look back at your day will give you guidance and direction moving forward as well as the opportunity to acknowledge yourself for successes you may instead have simply overlooked while running to the next appointment on your calendar.
TAKE YOUR BREAKS! Yes, I am yelling. If I could, I would stand on top of a tree and yell it for everyone to hear. This is vital to Leadership success. We were not meant to run at full adrenaline all day. You know this, but I will repeat it again. It is not healthy, at all to not take breaks.
Welcome to my first of a 4-part series on cleaning your office.
August is, I hope, a slower time for you. There tend to be a few less meetings. Those people that send you work maybe are on holidays. Usually there are fewer deadlines.
Is seems like a fabulous time to spend a bit of time cleaning your office allowing you to re-group before the September craziness starts.
Lets start with your desk.
Three steps to cleaning your desk
DO NOT start with sorting.
But what if I forget something?
You might have a fear that putting the other “stuff” away that doesn’t currently belong on your desk will have you forget it. In my experience, that doesn’t usually happen. If it is something important, put something on your to do list, on your calendar or my favorite, send yourself an email. Then put the file/pile/book/form away until your really do need it. The rest, the stuff you actually do forget about, probably wasn’t really important in the first place ;-)
Clearing your desk will clear you mind. A calmer you will emerge.
Today I am going to point you back to the last four weeks of blog posts and videos about saying “No”.
Maybe you missed all of them or didn’t have time to read or watch each one. Here they are again for you to review. There are four key messages in the posts that I want to make sure you get.
Key Messages about saying "No"
Check back in August for my four part series on cleansing. No, it won’t be about drinking lots of weird fruit juice. It will be about cleaning your office, your calendar, your email and your briefcase. August is typically a slower time for most people. It might be time for you to do a bit of “spring cleaning” of your workspaces.
Guest blogging for me today is Zara Lyttle MSW RSW.
Zara just completed her Master's in Social Work. I remember a time long ago (or so it seems) when I was working on my degree, working full time and raising my family. It was extremely difficult.
Many women want to make this journey. They don't want to decide between career, education and raising their family. They want to do it simultaneously and actually find the experience rewarding.
How do you do that though? in the face of overwhelm and the bombardment of doubts, how do you stick to the path?
Zara found a way and shares her story here. You will find some great lessons for anyone trying to live life to the fullest!
Starting the journey
As a mother of two young children working part-time as a professional in the social work field I encountered a unique opportunity when my son was a year old. It was the chance to take my Masters in Social Work near my home community in Northern Alberta. This was something I always wanted to do and my husband encouraged me to apply. I knew I would be embarking on something that would change my daily life and future direction. I also know myself and if I was accepted into the program, I would commit myself to completing it. Here I am 3 years later and I am proud to say I did it, I have my Masters in Social Work! I want to describe to the reader the process of how I was able to manage multiple roles which still ensuring I cared for myself and was “Present” as a mother, wife, friend, professional, and student.
Supportive employers help
When I started my program I knew I would have to continue work part-time. Luckily I had a flexible employer that let me do a great deal of my reporting work from home. This eased the pressure on my time for attending block week classes and doing my practicum three days per week. The support from my employer was just a piece of the puzzle that was my support system while I completed the two year masters program.
Build a large support network
The biggest support I had was my husband. He provided the encouragement when I doubted being able to juggle everything. He took time off work to care for our children while I was away and generally was just there, telling me how proud he was of me. It wasn’t easy as we didn’t always have a lot of time together, but we soon fell into a routine of “scheduling” time together as almost a reward for me completing schoolwork. It was a motivator for getting my work done.
Another huge support was my mother, who helped me get through a move partway through the program, also provided child care, and allowed me to complain about my workload while still reminding me that I “could always quit if I wanted to”. It was funny, that reminder that I was making a choice to do the coursework was a motivator for me. She kept me sane through the process.
Surround yourself with positive people
Altogether, I took support from friends and family when I needed it and was encouraged all along the way. One friend let me stay with her during my block classes and listened as I excitedly told her what I was learning. I encourage anyone wanting to go back to school for higher education to surround themselves with positive people who love you and will give you the support you need. You also have to be willing to accept that support, as that isn’t always easy either!
Be present each moment along the journey
Lastly, the most important piece of advice that I believe can help anyone attempting to juggle the multiple roles we all have in life is being “present” in the moment. My focus was that for each task, each role I was mentally and emotionally “present” for them. It wasn’t always easy when I had papers due, family commitments, and work reports upcoming. I had to commit myself to being present at all times. When I was with my children and husband I focused on them. When I was writing a paper I focused on that. When I was at practicum I focused on that. Well…you get the idea. Being present was a constant exercise in focus that I believe allowed me to accomplish what I needed to while still being a mother to my children (which was the most important thing to me in the whole process).
This was my visual cue I carried around with me during the two year program. Good luck to all those that embark on the journey of balancing roles and being “present”. It can be done, but not without support …
A key element to leadership growth is having someone to lean on. Someone to take the heat off on those incredibly stressful days.
Yes, there are stressful days as a leader!
I remember frustrating teleconferences that I had to endure in the past. Or a conversation with a team that went all wrong. And I certainly remember days that I just wanted to cry because it felt like I would never get it all done.
It was those days that I would text a friend, call a co-worker or reach out to a peer leader. Not because they could fix it, but because they could understand where I was at and encourage me to go on.
There were other times as well. Times that I made it through everything and wanted to celebrate. Or if I had just received some good news; a contract, a good score on an accreditation process or got a good resume come across my desk. Those times I had someone there to reach out to as well and get a virtual high five!
Now, I have friends that I call, email, Skype or hangout with on Google hangouts. It's the same for us. We cheer each other on in our business development. We suggest supports and resources. And we laugh at ourselves together making YouTube videos!
Here is my latest video - Building your support network. Watch it now! And then phone a friend. Text a colleague. Email someone who might need cheering up. Or ask for cheering up yourself.
Leadership doesn't need to be lonely!
I am super excited to present you with another blog from a guest blogger. This time it is Robert Manolson BA, CCDP, Creator & Facilitator Powerful Play Experiences.
A few years ago I attended one of Robert's sessions. I love his energy and the fun he created in the room.
I don't think we have enough fun at work. We get bogged down in the "stuff" that shows up every day. The clients I work with want to enjoy life more. That can happen at work too!
Robert presents a powerful message about the value of adding fun into your day.
FUN AT WORK is permission for a time out from an all too busy world of work to feel engaged, manage stressors, open lines of communication, and strengthen employee relationships.
FUN AT WORK achieves the goal of simply bringing people together in a most unique experience. Through the sheer magic of playing together, we create a feeling of community in which team members at work are truly connected, operating more effectively with each other and generating more excitement and energy at the workplace.
A lighthearted introduction to a serious topic that prompts the obvious first question:
Does your Employee Health & Wellness Policy include FUN AT WORK? And more importantly, in your capacity of leadership and influence, are you spearheading a healthy Work-Fun Balance at your workplace? And if not, what's stopping you?
It's really all about big picture thinking and a big picture approach to creating a healthy workplace culture and a healthy workplace environment. In fact, take a look around and check out the number of companies and organizations committed to this whole new attitude towards FUN AT WORK as part of their refreshing approach to Employee/Team Health & Wellness.
Raising Fun Levels
What if your team members had permission for FUN AT WORK, permission to play at work, to interact, to laugh, and to engage in play experiences that totally generates a buzz of excitement in the workplace? Isn't it really all about happy staff? 100% of people surveyed agree that they all can use more FUN AT WORK, generate more excitement and energy, and create a dynamic team of individuals working together as partners in their department's success. That's a pretty bold statement. Agreed? But if asked, wouldn't your employees also clearly state that they too could use more FUN AT WORK? After all, the atmosphere at work is much more appealing and people even report an increased feeling of “community and connectedness” in the workplace.
1. When planning for the upcoming year the first step to best address incorporating FUN AT WORK is to organize a set of standards in your best practices model around the driving belief that we need to have more fun. Your ability to focus on enhancing the value of your department's services by totally integrating this attitude into your best practices model results in organizational learning opportunities, AGMs, meetings, staff appreciation events, etc., that are more appealing, invigorating and leading edge for staff and management.
2. Over the past couple of years, it's quite encouraging to see more and more companies wanting to increase fun levels at their workplace. They believe in the value of fun and play as solutions to workplace challenges. While there may be different reasons or objectives as to why they want to harness the power of FUN AT WORK, there are common threads. And although we can streamline these common threads to nicely fit into one or more of the following intentions, it is vital to be clear as to your FUN AT WORK intentions that best fit your particular workplace.
3. Ultimately it does starts with you when including FUN AT WORK in your Employee Health & Wellness Policy. Because FUN AT WORK is a whole new attitude and a vehicle for positive change, you need to embrace a refreshing, personal philosophy towards FUN AT WORK and play.
Because decision makers are motivated to get their employees happy to be where they are and all pulling in the same direction, the range of service providers as well as the techniques they apply continues to grow in popularity. There's been a noticeable increase in adventure activities, extreme sports and creative variations on the deluge of reality shows we see on television. How complex does this have to be? The only limits are your imagination. My general rule of thumb is to involve a broad range of staff and management in the planning process, yet keep the process simple and filled with lightheartedness. Most significantly, the value of FUN AT WORK means giving attention to people's concerns for their own physical and emotional safety. A safe experience is played with a responsibility that nobody is hurt. After all, at the end of the day it's really all about a smile on everyones' faces.
Now, go ahead. Make it happen!
Robert Manolson is the Creator & Facilitator of Powerful Play Experiences and is in the business of FUN AT WORK. He leads organizations in Workplace Fun & Wellness Workshops and believes that each day and every day we must re-energize and ignite our spirit within through the power of play and the value of FUN AT WORK. Contact Robert at www.powerfulplayexperiences.ca
Do you run away when you are afraid?
If you have ever experienced fear; the drop in your gut, sweaty palms, shortness of breath or inability to speak, you probably pulled back. “Yikes” you said! “This is not a safe place for me.” You then probably retreated to your safety zone.
We've all experienced fear
Think of a time when you were put on the spot. A time when you had to speak in a new situation and maybe noticed your voice quaver a bit? Perhaps you were asked to address an issue with someone and you were scared of how they would respond. Maybe you were asked to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new.
Fear is a reaction to a thought
All of these things have a tendency to make your insides do the flip-flop. That is fear. Fear is a reaction to a thought. Fear is an emotion. The feeling, sweaty palms, shortness of breath or your stomach churning are body sensations that send messages to you.
What this video for more about moving through your fear, then keep reading.
We make up stories in our head about what is going on
When you get that physical sensation, red cheeks for example, you make up a story about what that physical sensation means. “My stomach is tight, that means something is wrong. I'm in a bad situation.” And so you run away. If your face burns red, you tell yourself what you just said was “silly” and so “I am embarrassed.”
You tell yourself you are afraid
Your face turning red is a physical experience. You then have a thought about your face turning red. You might think that what you just said was foolish. You might tell yourself that it was an inappropriate comment for the situation. You might tell yourself you shared too much information! It is then, only after you make up a story, after you think something about the event that you experience the feeling of being embarrassed.
Why aren't we all afraid about the same things?
Not everyone is afraid of heights, not everyone is scared of mice and not everyone fears public speaking. Those that do tell themselves it is a scary experience. Then they feel the fear.
Fear is an emotion, after a thought, that you had about something that happened.
Question your thoughts
If you want to really develop yourself and your skills and you want to grow, you will need to question the truth behind your thoughts.
Widen the gap between what happens and what you do
First you need to slow down enough and realize there was a thought that created the fear in the first place! You need to practice mindfulness. You will then widen the gap between what happens and your response to it!
There is nothing worse than not knowing whom you are talking to. When I call someplace and I ask for someone and they are actually the person that answered the phone, there is always this second of awkwardness. If they’d just indicated their name when they answered the phone I’d know so I didn’t ask for them. It also allows me to be more personable. When someone answers “Hi, Agency XYZ, Jane speaking”, I can be say “Hey Jane, you were just the person I was looking for,” or “Hi Jane, is Cindy around?” It is kind of like noticing the nametag of the teller at the grocery store and saying “Thank you Dave for helping me out.”
I now want to be friendly and inviting, not stiff and professional
Recently it was bugging me again and with a little contemplation, I began to answer incoming calls simply with “Hi, it’s Kathy.” And I smile a little bit when I say it. It feels more me.
The other day the receptionist called to sort out some details regarding our upcoming bathroom renovations and to schedule the plumber. I chipperly answered “Hi, it’s Kathy” and caught her off guard!
Her comment to me was “You sounded so upbeat, I thought it was an answering machine!” Well now, doesn’t that just say something about the state of the world? The only time we sound like we are in a good mood is when we “fake” it to record our message on our voice mail!
We aren't present when we answer the phone
What it says to me is that we probably aren’t very present when we answer the phone. We are probably in the middle of something and the phone is a distraction, an inconvenience and possibly a signal of more work coming down the pipe. I envision people actually sighing before they say hello or tensing up prior to answering the phone. As a result, their voice is anything less than chipper.
Consider two things
If you are in the middle of something, you could finish what you are doing or get to a more reasonable pause point before returning a call. There is this fancy thing on most phones that allow you to shut the ringer off! Use it once in a while. In most cases, it won’t be the end of the world if you don’t answer the phone. I promise!
Transition points happen when we shift from one thing to another. I remember getting the kids ready for bed at night when they were little. We’d always give them a bit of a warning that bedtime was coming soon. It allowed them to finish physically and emotionally what they were doing before shifting into bedtime.
We don’t often give ourselves those transition points any more. Simply pausing and taking a breath before answering the phone is often enough time to shift from what you were doing to the person on the other end of the line.
And don’t forget to smile! Even thought they can’t see it, they can feel it and so can you!
I lead a full life full of love, adventure and growth. Check out my latest thoughts here.
And if you want to know more about me check out my personal blog at www.kathyarchersblog.com
Sign up for my newsletter here!
Want to follow my blog?
Overwhelm / Overload / Burnout
Work Life Balance