Tag Archives: work life balance

Lunch bites – bite sized inspiration on your lunch break…

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If you work, whether full time, part time or freelance, life can get busy. Whether you travel the world with you work, or are in an office or a depot or work from home, you might find yourself from time to time dreaming of the things you’d like to do when you retire. If you work from home, you probably have more flexibility, but still I’m sure you also have times when you daydream of doing something when you have more ‘free time’.

My challenge to you today, for this ‘lunch bite’ is to do something during your lunchtime that you dream about doing when you retire. Obviously, you’ll need to work within the parameters of your situation here, and keep it fairly reasonable. If you dream of skydiving in your retirement, or traveling around the world, or lying on a beach, well, you’re going to probably have to just leave that for another day. But if you see yourself also doing more simple yet enjoyable things such as reading more, exercising, taking a walk, writing poetry, going to coffee shops, writing a book, making model planes, drawing, learning a language, or whatever it may be, then use your lunchtimes as an opportunity to invest in yourself and your enjoyment of life now, rather than waiting until you retire.

‘But I don’t have the time!’ I hear you say. Are you sure about that? What if you were to keep a book you’ve wanted to read for a long time, on your desk at work. Pick it up during your lunch breaks and soon you will find the rewards of giving yourself that little bit more time to enjoy reading if that’s something you like to do but feel too rushed for. Or why not keep a sketch pad to practice a bit of drawing when you have ten minutes spare, build it up over time. Or you could have a notepad with you where you can scribble down thoughts, ideas, stories, characters, insights from your day to day life, for that novel you want to write…..”someday”.

Or if you dream of relaxing days sipping coffee and reading the newspaper, I’m sure this is something you can factor in at least once a month into your working life – can you take a longer lunch break once in a while? Go out for a walk, listen to podcasts, listen to immersive language teaching and learn what you’ve always wanted to.

Or if you’re sporty, why not go for a run during your lunch break? It’s become quite a trend among my colleagues, and many people bring in their kit to work to go jogging or running during their break. Others might take a stroll down to the park. If you don’t have those options, but still want to keep fit, why not climb up and down the stairs or do some simple stretches.

There are so many things you can do now, that you dream of doing later, “when you have the time”. But the thing is, the time is now. You don’t know whether you’ll be able to do the things you enjoy later, so why not invest in yourself even for ten minutes every lunchtime, and add that little bit extra to your life today. If you keep waiting for ‘tomorrow’ or the ‘golden years’ of your retirement, you may just miss your chance. So carpe diem, friends….seize the day! 🙂

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When you can’t get away, you can still rest and refresh…

It’s summer time, and while many people are going on adventures near and far, you may find that you aren’t in a position to get away somewhere for whatever reason. But sometimes what we really need is just some time out of the normal busy routine of working life to take a break and recharge. I haven’t had the chance to travel abroad this year so far, and although I love to travel, I also see time spent closer to home as valuable. I have the next week off work, and am enjoying the chance to ‘destress’, live at a slower pace, reconnect with God, and invest in those relationships that are important with people I no longer see as regularly as I once did. And this in itself is its own form of rejuvenation. I find that mid-year, and we’ve now passed the mid point of 2019, is a good time to stop and reflect on not only our achievements, or areas for improvement, but also how closely we are living to our priorities and what is most meaningful to us. Too often, we feel we need to ‘tick the biggest boxes’ whereas perhaps the slow and steady changes and investments of our time, energy, heart and mind are what matter most in the long run. 

So if you do find yourself at home this summer, make the most of it. Maybe you have time off, or maybe you could take a day here or there to extend a weekend, and take some time to rest and reflect and envision where you want to go from here. 

I have enjoyed the time to catch up on my sleep, to pray and spend time with God and in His Word, to see a close friend and meet her first baby for the first time, to simply sit in the sun, to exercise, to eat healthily, to play my violin and take photographs, to fellowship at church, and I hope in the next few days to visit family, and then some good friends so I guess those aren’t quite ‘vacations’ as such, but mini trips to visit loved ones. I know that all too soon I’ll be back at work, which is why it’s important to make the most of looking after myself and doing things that are meaningful in the interim, but without the stress and pressure that regular life lived ‘according to the clock’ often entails. 

Another thing you could do if you can’t get away is to plan a ‘staycation’…maybe rent out a place for a change of scene for a day/night and have a mini retreat. Take time to listen to understand your thoughts and know that the time you have right here and now is precious. xx

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Lunch bites – bite sized inspiration on your lunch break…

Cultivate an attitude of gratitude:

Everyday, take a few moments to think of 5 things that you are grateful for about your work / work place. You might be surprised both at how much negativity you may have absorbed from those around you, or that you yourself have contributed to, and also just how much you have to be thankful for regarding your working life.

It can be all too easy to get caught up in the cycle of negativity, but you can change things and increase your happiness and satisfaction at work as well as contributing to a more positive environment and working life for your colleagues. This is so simple, you can think of the 5 things, or if you wish you can write them down every day.

When thinking about this today, I realised that one of my ‘5 a day’ was that I have developed some long standing friendships with people from work, who I didn’t even work in the same team with, and some of whom have now left the company, but our friendships continue, and I still have a couple of good friends at work. It may be rare, but it is something to be treasured and very thankful for.

What about you? Do you have something you can think of to be thankful for about your work today? Do you enjoy your tasks, work in a clean building, have a canteen, a park or shops nearby, friendly colleagues? Try to think of more positive things than negative, and see how your wellbeing at work improves over time!

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Lunch Bites – bite sized inspiration on your lunch break…

Don’t wait for the weekend!

Do you find yourself trudging through your working week – whether you work for an employer, work from home, or are your own boss – wishing that the weekend would hurry up and arrive already? If so, you may not be doing yourself many favours. Think about how much of your time is portioned up with work, whatever type of labour that may be. If you work a standard 7 day, 9 – 5 work week, then that is a huge chunk of your time. It is wonderful if you love and enjoy your work and find meaning and purpose from it, but I personally think that even if you aren’t doing exactly what you always wanted to, a lot of the value you find in work will come down to your attitude – do you view the challenges and opportunities in work negatively? Or can you view them with a positive attitude? You will have come across people, perhaps the majority of people who always have something to moan or complain about with regards to their workplace, even if they have relatively good conditions. Are you one of those people? Do you tend to comment that you can’t wait for the weekend to arrive? If so, try to look at things differently and if you already do, then find ways to inspire other people…inspire them not to wish their lives away and find the positive in their work day  – and if you can’t find something positive – then be the change you wish to see and create it! Enjoy your day 🙂

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‘Lunch Bites’ (c)

A snippet of inspiration on your lunch break.

Don’t wait for your next time to ‘get away from it all’, especially if you work full time.

Take a walk at lunchtime, listen to the birds, listen to some relaxing music, and go on a ‘mini-break’ even if that’s only for 15 minutes – you’ll feel more refreshed to take on the rest of your day 🙂

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Work – Life Balance…

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This post is particularly aimed at the singles and those without children among us, as in general society tends to silently marginalise us and there are not enough articles aimed at this group, in comparison to material on married and family life, but really the principals can apply to people of any stage with a bit of adjustment. 

As humans, we have a tendency to think of the ‘someday’ in the future when things will all fall into place and we can be content and happy and fulfilled. This mindset may be tacitly agreed upon by society and promoted through advertising. However, is this really a healthy way to live? To think, I’ll be happy ‘when’ ….I meet the love of my life, I’m married, have children, have enough money in the bank to go on that holiday, have free time to do what I love, when I retire…..The list goes on and on. 

And yet, we mentally store up time that we don’t even know we have, and deposit our hopes and dreams in an unknown future. 

So many people live their lives ‘on hold’ waiting for retirement, waiting to settle down, to find that ‘someone’, to travel, to have that longed for child, to start that business, to fulfil that extraordinary goal. And some people do manage to live lives that just seem on the surface to blossom. But what about those among us waiting for that ‘someday’. 

I’d like to encourage you to think of today as that someday. Why not? What about now? 

If you love your job, and it is a passion you are pursuing, that is wonderful. Hopefully you are able to find balance to also factor in other things you enjoy and are meaningful to you. 

But if you are like many people I have observed, you might at first have started out with starry eyed dreams, but have become jaded, and seem to live for that ‘someday’, or even live each week for the weekend, hurrying along the life that you should be living and enjoying.

Maybe your job isn’t perfect, but is your attitude? Maybe you can’t change your boss, your co-workers or conditions but can you change your outlook to choose to enjoy what is good about your job, look for the growth lessons in what you struggle with, and speak up and make a difference for yourself and others where there may be scope to make a change? Can you *choose* the perhaps radical mindset of not conforming to the culture of grumbling, to instead actually choose to enjoy the job you have, or take steps to pursue other opportunities?

Perhaps your commitments vary. Maybe you have people to look after, elderly relatives, or a variety of responsibilities or maybe you feel relatively ‘care free’ or at a loose end, and managing your day to day and the stresses of your everyday life feel more than you can manage right now.

When it comes to work – life balance, are you committed to playing your part to make it happen? This doesn’t necessarily mean working fewer hours, having work from home days, or taking more time off. It does mean being responsible and accountable for the time you do have, so that you can make the most of your days, right here and right now. Whether you work for someone else, in an office, from your own home, or travel as part of your job, you will have ‘down time’ when you’re at home and need to draw some demarcations and boundaries to have ‘set aside’ time for other things, over and above taking care of yourself physically and mentally.

When you wait for the weekend, once it arrives do you actually savour and use that time well? Or do you just plod on wearily into a new week? Do you spend even 5 minutes each day doing something you enjoy, however simple, whether that be some reading, art, a crossword, enjoying nature, investing in your friendships and relationships with family and taking time to consider how you can live more deeply and fully?

We can’t save up all our dreams for an unknown time in the future. People often say, when I retire, when I have the time to do such and such, then I will……read more books, travel more, spend time with family, be relaxed, write a book, play an instrument, read the newspaper in the sunshine, listen to the birds, give something back….

One day a while back, I had a little ‘brainstorm’ and wrote down a list of the things I’d possibly say to the question ‘What would you like to do when you retire?’ Maybe you have a mental list of what you think you’d like to do. But you will most likely be more energetic now than later, even if you are counting on having more time for such pursuits in this unknown future. I hear these kind of things a lot from older colleagues…they seem to store up their dreams in the future, when they could be doing something about them right now. 

That doesn’t mean taking a year or a few years off to travel the world….it could be factoring in your passions into your every day life. After work, maybe you can’t travel far, but you could go for a walk, watch a travel documentary, or plan a weekend trip somewhere. 

That book you think you want to write….why not start scribbling down a few ideas today? Or why not establish a more regular blogging routine where you can and will write, and enjoy being a writer now? 

All those books you plan on reading. Do you have five minutes in the day to start? The endless time and relaxation you foresee….why not take half an hour to yourself and enjoy the simple rest?

The time you want to pursue your creative side….you can do something creative everyday…even for a little bit of a time….you just need to be aware of the things you enjoy and factor them in. What are they for you? Dancing, photography, sport, reading, leisure, going for long walks, pottering about in the garden, meeting new people, joining a club, speaking to family on the phone, drawing, painting, exploring museums, learning a language, helping others, volunteering, doing something meaningful in your community, writing about your life experiences, trying a new cuisine, mentoring a younger person, taking time to stop and ‘smell the roses’? It doesn’t need to be grand or worthy of announcement in the eyes of the world, it just needs to be meaningful to you and sometimes the most simple things are those that touch us the most. 

So when you think about a healthier work life balance, as well as thinking about the bigger more structural changes you might want to make, such as patterns of working, hours, location, the actual job you do, etc, think also of the gradual, daily and consistent things you can bring into your life to do the things you love. You might say ‘but when will I find the time?’ The answer is precisely in the question…you need to *find* it….and in order to find, you must *seek*, look for opportunities, pray for them, carve out time, be aware of the time you have right now, and the power you have to choose to be responsible for it and to take a step back to consider what actually is meaningful and worthwhile to be spending your time on. You don’t have time to read books? What about while waiting for your train or on your lunchbreak? Everyone is so busy, it’s hard to invest in relationships…so are you willing to leave them to chance, or ask someone if you can set aside time just to catch up with them whether face to face or over the phone? You might have time later on, but will you still have that person in your life? 

You might be waiting and hoping for certain special things to happen in your life, but you don’t know what will transpire, and you don’t know whether they might themselves bring additional challenges with them. I know of friends who were discontented in their single years only to find that things actually became more difficult when they got married. I know of people who really wanted children and were bitter or sad when their friends had babies, but in the end years later they did too. And some friends who had the happy relationships early on, and are still together and happy and had great experiences having kids and growing their family, later down the track are facing challenges of coping with the stresses of a child with disorders and health problems. Others who wanted to travel, got their chance, and then kept desiring the next thing. Be content now. Choose to be. It’s perfectly natural to hope and dream, and there are certain things that are beyond our control and part of a much bigger, more incredible picture that we will never fully understand. But there are things that are within our sphere of influence, choice, control and decision right now. So yes, hope, dream, plan….but also invest….your time, talents and heart in the things you love and that add something to this world that will bring you joy and maybe even help someone else too. x

 

 

Where your feet may tread…and the fine art of ‘Staycationing’

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Good Morning lovely people,

At least it is the morning on my side of the world! 🙂  It is a beautiful bank holiday Monday, which means I can have a relaxed start to the day, a welcome novelty from the usual ‘Manic Monday morning rush’!

Recently I decided to try something that I hadn’t done before. I realised that if I wanted to really pursue my dreams, then I would have to make a thoughtful and concerted effort to make time to do so.

Like many people, I work full time, and although I enjoy my job and make time in the evenings to relax and be creative, over time stress and the issues of other people can build up and creativity becomes a leisure activity that we indulge in ‘when we have the time’, and therefore that deep focussed immersion of ourselves into a creative ‘headspace’ as it were doesn’t truly happen amid the interruptions and myriad voices and commitments vying and calling for our attention.

So, I did it. I took a few days off work and rather than go on holiday (or ‘vacation’), I decided to create my very own ‘Staycation’ and creative retreat at home.

I can write more about the process of this and what it looked like and how it took shape and what I did, if there is interest. However, initially I had set aside the time for the purpose of a creative ‘Writing Retreat’.

Writing is a passion of mine, and I am working on a couple of novels – my first. One of which I have been working on for a good few  years now, and is dear to my heart, and is an expression of my life and faith journey in an allegorical form – if you like adventure, interesting characters, deep thinking, and profound expression of life’s deepest experiences, then this is a tale that I am perhaps telling for you, as well as for myself 🙂

My second work is more lighthearted, but I’ll save that for another post.

What I found happening, for this particular time set aside at least, was that the scope of the purpose of my creative retreat both broadened and deepened.

It became a time for me to be still, to commune with God, my Creator (I am a person of faith), and to hear my own thoughts.

The solitude and freedom from the usual demands of a ‘9-5’ routine gave me a beautiful opportunity to slow down, to take time, to walk at nature’s own pace, and to dwell deeply in a creative space.

The focus was not so much on ‘producing’, but on being. Even if the creative endeavour was the feeling or thought itself and the expression of the heart in just one line, that in itself was profound – a deepening connection, and a being present and unhurried.

I found a joy in the simplicity of taking time to be, to pray, to find droplets of healing and understanding through this time. I enjoyed unhurried walks by the riverside, knowing that I did not have to ‘clock watch’ or fit myself into the boxes of the world’s schedules – at least, not for this set aside time.

I wrote, I cooked, I sang, I took photographs, I drew and coloured, and enjoyed the time, in a childlike way, simply to be. I also limited my time and engagement with technology, and I found that this was a balm and a barrier against the modern syndrome that is ‘FOMO’ (the Fear Of Missing Out), and at last I could hear myself think, and that was enough in itself.

I feel that it is an important thing to take time to listen and to be, if and when we get the chance. We live in such a fast paced and hurried world that we are often drained of the vitality to be our best selves and to truly enjoy the gift of the life we’ve been given.

Going back to work I did feel refreshed, but just as soon as I got back, I was immersed in the noise of other people’s ‘stuff’, for want of a better word. And yet, I believe that taking time to take care of ourselves helps us ultimately to be more patient and kind and compassionate to other people.

I wandered through and out of my retreat with the thread of thought that on ‘re-entry’ into the world 😉 I would continue to make small and consistent life changes to ensure that although I generally do not have vast amounts of time to take to ‘retreat’ from the daily busy-ness of the world, I can make my daily life calmer, more peaceful, more creative and meaningful.

It is definitely a step worth taking.