Tag Archives: projects

Making the most of time after work…

This is more of a ‘life as it happens to be’ learning as I go type of post, rather than an article of helpful advice (although I’ll try to include helpful tips where I can), quite simply because this is an area of on-going learning and development for me.

The different spheres in which we move, and live:

Some of you out there may have particularly unique or fascinating jobs that don’t quite fit a predictable ‘pattern’ of set hours or locations. Maybe your work involves traveling across the world, through different time zones and maybe some of you could get called to work at any time of the day or the night. However, I imagine that most of us who are working adults tend to have a set number of hours for which we are paid to work each week, and in set locations. Even if you work from home and / or run your own business/s, you tend to wake up on a Monday morning (if Monday is a working day for you) knowing where you are meant to be and what you are supposed to do              (although, first thing on a Monday morning thoughts about the latter might be a little foggy! : – ) ).

It’s important to have that delineation between work and leisure time, and this may be a particular challenge for people who work for themselves and / or work from home for the most part because the physical and psychological space between home and work will tend to be less defined.

Why is it important to have this distinction? Obviously our lives involve elements of ‘cross-over’ in many respects, however, we need a basic degree of separation in order to protect our own mental and emotional well-being, in order to know when to stop, when to rest, and when to work.

‘After work’ time:

Once we have ‘downed tools’ for the day, we move from one sphere of living into another. For me this involves completing work tasks, ‘powering down’, physically leaving one building to make a short commute to get home. That is quite a clear demarcation for me, as it will be for many of you, with the travel time in between allowing us to mentally process the sphere from one part of our day and life into the next.

Making the most of my time is an on-going lesson for me, and perhaps for many of you. I have quite clear ideas of what my life priorities are, and how I would like to spend my time. I set goals not only at the start of the year, but also try to do this for each new month throughout the year, and on the whole I manage to spend valuable time on each of the areas of life that are most important to me, and that are within my grasp to be able to do so.

However, isn’t it often the case that we can feel ‘rushed’ in our lives and unable to fully give as much time and attention to what we want to do? Do you ‘wait for the weekend’, for your next holiday, or even for retirement? I personally don’t think that’s a way that I want to be living my life, when each day is packed full of opportunity. It’s just that sometimes we aren’t able to make the most of each of our days. Why?

What considerations to we need to take into account that might be hindrances to fully living the life we want to lead?

At work, I’m getting more opportunities to use my project management skills, and to work with others as part of a team to be involved in the implementation and progress of new initiatives. I do like a good plan, and when it comes to successful planning and project implementation at work this can be particularly satisfying. Often projects can fall by the wayside because of poor planning and a lack of comprehensive discussion and brainstorming between the right people. At the moment it seems that I am involved with a good team on a particular project, who have introduced a new project planning tool which is particularly good for assessing progress and making people aware of tasks and relevant deadlines.

When it comes to work, and my work has been quite varied over the years, I am always either ahead of time or on schedule with work tasks and projects.

However, when it comes to all the things I want to do, enjoy and achieve before or after work, I tend to be far more lenient on myself. Does this also ring true for you?

For starters, we are but human, and our bodies and minds need rest and refreshing. We also need to eat and sleep, and preparing a meal takes time, and the window of time between getting home, doing what is needed to sustain us, and then going to bed is relatively small.

Learning through different approaches:

I used to have an idea in mind of the different things I would want to do after work. I realised that I couldn’t possibly do them all, so at one point I would try to set aside specific days for different things such as exercise, playing my violin, going to my prayer and study group, writing, art and creative pursuits, photography, reading, devotional time and so on.

I then tried the approach of ‘going with the flow’, since I already have a very clear idea of the different things I want to spend my time on, and ideas of new things I want to learn and do and people to spend time with.

Yet, the reality of things meant that ‘going with the flow’ of how I felt often resulted in me whiling away an evening eating dinner and watching TV or getting distracted by the online world of YouTube, etc. Not that there’s anything wrong with spending time doing this to wind down, it’s just that I would feel a little disappointed when I knew that I wanted to be more productive and spend at least a little time doing other things.

I also tried the idea of doing things for a small amount of time and then doing something else. This tends to work quite well for me especially at the weekends, but not always so much on a week night.

Sometimes I think that I’ll do certain things in a week without having any set time or day, and at times this works out for me.

I’ve been working on writing a novel for 12 years, and I’ve been making good progress, however, even with writing being so important to me and a real passion of mine, I sometimes get a bit ‘lazy’ about it, feeling that I need to have longer stretches of ‘set aside’ time to really get going. If you are interested in this aspect of my life, take a look through my posts from last year and the year before when I had my own personal writing retreats, taking time off to just work on my novel and my writing, which was hugely satisfying but also took me out of the ‘real world’ for a time.

One year I marked in my diary set aside writing time every evening – even if it was just a few minutes a day. Suffice to say, this didn’t work for me, and perhaps I didn’t like the self imposed constraints. It is nice to do things spontaneously, but at the same time, we don’t approach work goals that way, so similarly personal goals and dreams need to be worked towards, and time and effort needs to be put in. I don’t want to reach the end of a day, a month or a year, or my lifetime and feel that I ‘frittered’ away my time being distracted by what’s on the TV or the internet, when I have so many dreams to fulfil.

Yet in order to do all these wonderful things, to live the lives we want to, we also need to factor in those practicalities I mentioned earlier of eating well, getting the right amount of sleep, exercising to stay healthy and having time to wind down, relax and do nothing, or just enjoy a good TV programme!

Being present:

Lately I’ve been aware of the beauty in life of being present in the moment, and enjoying the process of my life, of ‘being’. Enjoying the colours, and aromas of cooking, enjoying staring into space and daydreaming, of not getting stressed if everything I want to do isn’t done, and trying to do some of the important things to me each week.

It can be hard for all of us to keep on top of things at times. We need to do all the practical things from day to day, to maintain our homes, and possibly for many to look after other people as well. I’m all too aware of not letting myself get ‘burnt out’ precisely because I have been in the past, which might be partly why I realise the importance of also spending time doing things that are important to me and life enriching rather than only doing things for other people, while also knowing that helping others thrive is an important part of life too.

A learning curve….and I’m still learning….

As I said at the start, I’m still learning. Being mindful of what is important to me, however, and giving myself the opportunity to take time for these things (even if it is just five minutes at a time) has helped me to make far better use of my time than if I hadn’t spent time reflecting and thinking about things.

I find blogging very satisfying, and life enhancing, and I am glad that I have managed to sustain a regular writing ‘habit’ if you could call it that (although I personally don’t see it at all as a habit, so much so as simply pursuing something that I enjoy doing and hopefully encourages other people). If I didn’t put in the time to do this, maybe I’d just have whiled away my time mindlessly on things that don’t really come up in my priorities in life, such as watching TV, although that’s ok as long as it isn’t the only thing we do with our non-working time.

I’ve found that it has also benefited other people who have told me that my words have brought encouragement to me, which means so much to me. Do you realise that your own gifts and talents have an impact not only in your own life but the lives of others too. You are making a difference in the world.

When we know what is important to us that is perhaps the first step towards making the most of our time. We will find a way and we will keep learning along the way.

Over to you:

Can you relate to any of the thoughts I’ve expressed in terms of your own life and learning? Do you have any ‘pearls of wisdom’ to share with me, and other readers? What are you blessed to be able to spend your time doing, and how would you like to make better use of your time? Do you have any ideas of how you can do things better?

Thank you so much for taking your time to read this and hopefully it has also been time well spent for you. Be blessed. x

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“Wrapping up” for Christmas ~ a checklist for your last day of work before the holidays.

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It’s your last day of work before the holidays – but before you rush out the door, there are a few things you can do to make your working life that bit more pleasant when you return after your break.

1. Emails!

After some time off work, especially if it’s an enjoyable or longer period away from the office (as it’s my realm of work, this is mostly geared towards office workers), it is quite common to feel a little bit disoriented on your first day back. It’s good to prepare in advance for this.

For example, you might forget your password to log into your computer, and you might find that you have a deluge of emails clogging up your inbox.

Here are some handy tips to alleviate these problems:

  • Before you ‘clock out’ for the holidays, respond to any outstanding emails or correspondence that you have, and make a note of anything you need to follow up on for when you return.
  • Delete any unnecessary emails and clear out your recycle bin and junk mail folders.
  • Unsubscribe from any ‘alerts’ (such as Google alerts) or correspondence, newsletters, etc. that aren’t too important – you can always make a note of what you’ve unsubscribed from and re-subscribe when you come back to work. That way you won’t be inundated with unnecessary emails to sift through after your holiday.
  • For the remaining emails that you need to keep in your inbox, create sub-folders and categorise these according to task / work-stream, etc. and ‘flag’ any items that are priority items for you to look at when you get back.

2. Password

You’ll be likely to forget your password to get into your system, so keep a reminder with you (not at your computer) with some hints as to what it is (don’t write down your actual password). You can also keep the number of your work IT support service handy so that if all else fails you can call for help on your first day (but bear in mind you probably won’t be the only one!).

3. Clear your desk

As keen and eager as you may be to rush out the door as soon as you possibly can on your last day, don’t leave your workspace in a mess, because it won’t be the most pleasant of things to come back to after a relaxing break. Instead, tidy up any clutter, bin any rubbish and keep things clean, neat and tidy. File away any paperwork, and make sure confidential information is securely locked away or safeguarded. Maybe even write a ‘welcome back’ note for yourself to come back to! 😉

4. Tie up loose ends and update your colleagues

Try to complete any outstanding assignments well ahead of your last day so that you won’t have to be stressing to get things done at the last minute and you can relax and enjoy ‘winding down’ before the holidays. Create a ‘task list’ for yourself for when you come back to work and if you are leaving earlier than other colleagues who may have to pick up work for you when you’re on holiday, then make sure you have a chance to chat with them beforehand, email any updates and make sure that everyone is informed with what to do and that a plan is in place so that things keep running smoothly in your absence.

5. Create a plan for yourself for your first day back at work after your holiday

This will make the transition back into work more seamless and you won’t be sitting around feeling confused as you try to remember “what’s my job again?!” 🙂

6. The gift of giving

If you are leaving a few days or more before your other colleagues, try to be sensitive to this even if you are ‘super excited’ that your own holidays will start soon. You could do something nice for them, even a simple kind gesture, such as bringing in some chocolates or festive treats for your colleagues and leave a note or a card wishing them well and thanking people for any things they have done through the year that have been particularly helpful to you. Say goodbye in some way, and leave on good terms with everyone.

7. Out of office.

This may well be your favourite ‘task’ of the day – putting on your ‘out of office’! That sweet sensation of knowing you will be ‘free’ for the next so many days, or weeks, to relax and do just what you like. As well as feeling good, putting your ‘out of office’ on is important in keeping other people updated as to when you will be away and when you will come back, and it will also be helpful for others if you can provide them with alternative contact details for someone who can assist them when you are away.

So, that’s that! Or perhaps I should say, “That’s a wrap!”. Enjoy ‘winding down’ for the holidays, and have a peaceful, stress-free and wonderful rest when the time comes for you. x

A Christmas (Blog) Story (2)

The story so far (Work):

It’s nearing the end of the first full week of December, and I don’t know about you but I’m beginning to feel quite ‘Christmassy’ now. Christmas lights and trees and markets have been going up around the city since mid-November, but it’s only now that I’m beginning to catch the holiday feeling. This probably has to do with the fact that having not had time off work for summer this year, I have annual leave days to use, which means…..tomorrow is my last working day of 2019! (“Yay!” 🙂 ).

Last working week of 2019:

This week has been surprisingly interesting for my last work week before the holidays. I attended a training session in a beautiful office building that I hadn’t been in before in the city centre. Added to the fact that I was really engaged in the training and will have some new pieces of work to take forward, and the ideas I’ve generated so far have impressed my boss, I also had a great view of the central square and the ‘big wheel’ and Christmas markets from the window of the training room!

I’ve been tying up loose ends, and am well ahead of the game. It’s given me the chance to do some preparatory work that will help my boss so I’m pleased to be rounding off the year with some more quality work contributions. I have another external meeting tomorrow, and then probably some notes to write up, and then it will be time to wrap things up (just to be Christmassy about it 😉 ) and down tools for the winter.

Being ahead of schedule with my work has given me the chance to also go over my work logs that I keep for myself from this past year, and take a look back and assess the work I’ve done this year, and it is a good feeling to see that I’ve actually done some great pieces of work and have broadened my skills base as well as having helped out and contributed to other teams. Ok, so there may not be any pay rise, but there is a personal satisfaction in knowing that I have done my best and have gone above and beyond and have brought in some great results for my team and for wider strategies and can start 2020 on a positive note and with some new projects to get stuck into.

Health-wise this last week has been a bit of a challenge at times – other than the standard coughs and colds, I’ve had some other physical pain, and had to push through some of the c-PTSD challenges I have, so I am looking forward to the chance to give my body and mind a rest, to ‘reboot’ and spend some time in reflection and enjoying this Christmas season so as to be ready and prepared for a brand new year. It is a significant step forward for me to be writing in this way as a few Christmases ago I was in a very bad place emotionally and mentally – the depression and undiagnosed (at the time) trauma, made me feel that there wasn’t even a future to look forward to at all. So, this year is a bright change to be looking forward hopefully, and I am blessed to share a glimpse of it with you 🙂

The Christmas tree has gone up at work today as well, and it is beautiful. I’m so glad I get the chance to see it before I finish up tomorrow.

Over to you:

As you near the end of the calendar year, do you have any plans for looking back to review how your year has gone from a work perspective?

Whether you work from home, blog full time, have your own business, work for a charity, do voluntary work, work for a large or small company, or do something entirely different, it is a good time of year as you conclude projects and prepare for the new year to look over how far you have come and what you have achieved.

Even if it has been a difficult year for you work-wise, the challenges also present an opportunity for you to reassess how you do things, whether you are in the right place, whether you need to make a change and how, if there are any developmental opportunities for you and what lessons you can take forward into 2020 to help you learn, grow and thrive.

So, what have you learned from your working life this year, and what lessons will you take forward into 2020?

dwarf gnome on snow
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Happy First of the Month – what is your perspective?

Well, it’s the 1st of August already, friends. At this time of the year, having well and truly crossed the half-way point, someone is bound to say “I can’t believe it’s August already! Where has the time gone?” Can anyone relate? Maybe you’ve been the one to say it to others.

I often find that as the year draws on, as summer reaches its height and then begin to fade, and we face the inevitability of the approach of autumn and winter and the end of the year, that a subtle negativity can creep up on some people (or perhaps not so subtle!), and with it an underlying current of anxiety, stress and maybe a little fear.

The passing of the seasons reminds us of the passing of time, and inevitably life.  And even if we are in the bloom of youth, and have much ahead of us to look forward to, there can be a tendency having reached the mid-point of the year to lament the things we haven’t done that we wanted to do, to feel directionless or that we have wasted time or drifted along, or to have a fear of the future, the passing of time and the need to ‘wake up’ a bit in our lives especially with regards to how we spend our time.

It can be easy to overlook our accomplishments, the fact that we have got up and shown up everyday (or most days), and have made it this far. Some people are naturally positive and don’t feel this way so much. However, if you are someone who struggles with having passed the mid-year point and need some encouragement, then read on my friend.

A simple shift in perspective can really help our outlooks for the better. Instead of seeing half the year as ‘gone’, look at this as the brand new start to a new month and new opportunities, and the chance to put your all into your life this month. We all approach life differently. I was chatting with a friend the other day who doesn’t like to plan things too much, but prefers spontaneity. We were talking in particular about using our time after work. I like to be ‘free’ within the structure of a plan. It helps me not to fritter away my time, and to focus and having spent time reflecting upon what is important to me in life, and aligns to my core values, then it’s a helpful way for me to ensure I do the things that are of most value to me. Eventually, this becomes part and parcel of the fabric of my life (such as the things I do in morning or evening ‘routines’), but for the things I find harder to ‘fit in’, I find that being intentional about them, even with a loosely structured plan, helps me. But perhaps you are more like my friend, and would find that constraining. However you approach things, use the 1st day of this brand new month to reflect on all the potentials and possibilities ahead of you, and strive to live deeply and more fully without dwelling anxiously on what you haven’t yet done.

Look out to the horizon, and dream big, then set sail and let your dreams take you there. Be blessed and stay hopeful. x

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