Archive for the ‘balance’ Category

T’is the Season of Rush….again!

December 11, 2008

It’s December….. already. Actually, almost into half-time of December. How did that happen so fast?! Ah yes, t’is the season of Rushhhhh….when everthing seems to whirl by so much faster. We’re busy shopping,  finishing things, getting ready for festivities, getting here, there…..go, go, go!

rushing-crowds

 (photo courtesy of SophiMuc on Flickr)

I wrote an article last year for the Globe and Mail career section for the Mentor Minute column, offering tips on how to cope with the seasonal rush. The strategies , actually, apply to any time of the year. For instance: learn to  triage (as in prioritize with gusto!); learn to say no; stay organized by writing things down; self-nurture; procrastinate positively — and more.

I thought it would be worth re-posting it  if you are interested in reading the full article.

In the meantime, as we rush through the season, let’s not forget to pause long enough to notice and enjoy what’s meant to be noticed and what’s meant to be enjoyed.

May you have an abundance of what’s meaningful this holiday season.

As always, to a TGIM Work-Life!

Eileen

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Labour Day: Back so soon?!

September 1, 2008

It’s Labour Day. How’d that happen so fast? Wasn’t it just here yesterday??? Hmmm….somehow I don’t really feel like labouring today. How about you?

Actually, I’ve got some conflicting feelings. Part of me wants to get going, get focused and roar into the new season with gusto. At the same time, a substantial part of me is still resisting. I’m not ready to let go of the summer just yet. Too many ‘summer-like’ things I still want to enjoy. And, I’ve geared down a bit this summer and not 100% sure I’m ready to gear back up.

Or maybe I am.

I just took a few minutes to do a “Labour Day” reflection in my journal. The idea was to rev up my “work-life mojo”. I asked myself three questions:

1) What do I want to celebrate and remember about Summer ’08 (work, personal, other)?

2) What am I looking forward to in the coming season (work, personal, other)?

3) What do I need to do to keep my work mojo alive and energized as I say goodbye to summer and hello to the fall?

A lot came up for me with that reflection. I realized that I had a fantabulous summer — it’s energizing in itself to remember the good times rather than dwell on the fact that it’s coming to an end. I also remembered that I have fantastic opportunities ahead — and lots to look forward to both in my work life and personally. I’m still reflecting on that third question. For me it’s going to be something about structures to maintain the balance — so that I don’t get too carried away in the rush of the season and forget to build in those ‘gear-down’ times that I so enjoyed this summer.

Focusing my attention this way has already helped shift my mindset and how I feel about completing summer and heading into the next season. By intentionally paying attention and celebrating the joys I’ve had and remembering the meaningful opportunities ahead of me, I’ve given my work-life mojo a  boost. Not complicated stuff. Sometimes it’s just about how we choose to focus — what we choose to pay attention to. It’s very ‘EQ’ish wouldn’t you say?

In the spirit of Labour Day, here are a few past posts that you might enjoy as you get ready for the new season:

1) Beat the “Back to Work September Blues”

2) Hello September: Random thoughts from others in answer to: How do you feel about September coming

3) Is Your Work a Job, Career or Calling? Food for thought if you are in the mood to reflect on what work means to you.

How about you? I’d love to hear from you — about your thoughts, strategies and ideas as you head into this new season and get ready to bid summer ’08 adieu!

Happy Labour Day and to a TGIM Work-life!

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It’s All About the People….

July 20, 2008

A client of mine (on the communications/PR side of my biz) recently retired from her role as VP Communications of the organization she’s worked with for the past 10 years.  I’ve had the privilege of working with her these past 6 years (I provide communications counsel) and have come to know her quite well.  In the days leading up to her farewell party – and at the party itself — I’d heard her reminisce about her career and repeatedly say: “It’s all about the people.” In her parting words, she counseled her younger staff to remember how important and valuable relationships are in one’s work-life – in many cases, even more important than the actual work!

“It’s all about the people”.  I couldn’t agree more. To read more -><> (more…)

Now Where Was I Again…..?

July 7, 2008

Hello again! Remember me? I know, it’s been a while since I’ve last posted. I confess, I’ve been MIA (missing in action). I haven’t been much in the blog writing mode these days because I’ve been in the major “DOING” mode. Busy, busy…..espousing/talking/working….TGIM work-life in a variety of workshops/retreats/webinars.  It’s all been great fun — with a lot of work — but lots at once, so a little less time to blog (sorry folks!).

In any case, I thought I’d share a quick snapshot of where I’ve been recently wrt to workshops, presentations, etc. :

Ministry of the Environment: I delivered a 1/2 day workshop: “Strategies for a TGIM Work-life” — Tips and strategies for engagement. See here for testimonials.

Centennial College: Lead a two and a half day retreat for the college’s most senior leaders: “Reflective Leadership Forum” — exploring strategies to build reflective practice in one’s daily work and life. See here to read what they had to say.

Project World / Business Analyst Conference: Lead a two day workshop for project managers and business analysts: Coaching Skills for Leaders.  See here to read what they had to say.

Upper Canada Law Society: Participated in a panel discussion on Work-life balance at their 3rd annual Solo and Small Firm Conference. Great feedback – soon to upload.

Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA): Presented a Webinar :“Assertiveness at Work” (which I’ve written about in previous posts – and am in process of planning a follow-up teleclass – details to be announced but likely in the fall).  If you’d like to listen to the archive – click here. And to read some of the great feedack – see here.

Financial Planners Standards Council (FPSC): Presented a Webinar: “Asking the Right Questions for Career Success”. Testimonial.

AND ALONG THE WAY…and in between I had all my other work — I’m not complaining, actually I’m quite grateful for all my clients and the terrific work opportunities I’ve had. But (yeah, there’s a ‘but’)….it has been BUSY so I’ve been time-challenged these days,

Now that summer’s here….I hope to slow down just a bit for a little while. Time to reflect on all that ‘doing’ and the learning along the way. I’ll be back….will write about the experiences, learnings, insights, etc.

But for now….I’m honouring my TGIM work-life needs and catching my breath.

To a TGIM Work-life!

Eileen

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The Best Laid Plans – How Passion Can Fuel Success

March 30, 2008

It’s easier to work hard at something when there is an underlying purpose or passion behind the effort. Sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it (“easier to work hard“) but that’s how it goes.

Well, nobody knows this better than Terry Fallis. Terry became a first time novelist this past year — and his book, The Best Laid Plans, has just been named one of five shortlisted contenders for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour.

Wow! How’s that for playing it big on your first try!? This is a huge accomplishment for Terry. Not only is this his first novel — but he did it while working full time. By day, Terry is president at Thornley Fallis – a very busy and successful PR and communications company in Toronto and Ottawa.  By night, he’s doing hockey duty, family time and what not (husband, two kids, volunteer life, etc.).

How the heck did he have time to write a top-notch book worthy of such a high profile award?

Well, guess it was important enough because Terry made the time.

At his book launch he explained how he wrote The Best Laid Plans before and after ‘after hours’ . Huh?

Terry would wake up at the crack of dawn and get a few hours of writing in before work. Then at night, after work; after the hockey games; after the family stuff……Terry would settle into some writing time at 10/11pm…..I’m tired just thinking about it!

What drives someone to do that and to pull off such amazing work at that?

Passion. And a dream.

Terry said he always had a dream to write a book. And guess what?! He had no expectations about the outcome…he just simply wanted to write it. And he wrote and wrote…..from his heart and his passions. He drew the inspiration for the book plot and characters from his personal story and life experiences.  

A Few Lessons Here:

LESSON #1: Great things can happen when one comes from the place of heart and passion.

LESSON #2: Funny how one can “find” the time when they are clear and focused on a dream.

LESSON #3: It’s easier to work hard when you are doing something you love.

LESSON #4:  Your life outside of your work is just as important to provide that ‘mojo’ factor in your life (TGIM….is for work AND life).

LESSON #5: The joy of fulfilling a life-long dream is in itself a reward. But you never know what else may come of it (like a nomination to a prestigious award!!!!)

LESSON #6: You don’t necessarily have to quit your job to do something you’ve always wanted to do. When you are committed – you might just find a way. 

LESSON #7: Our life stories and personal experiences are often the best place to start for inspiration (and I’m not just talking about writing books!).

LESSON #8: I suspect there are more lessons here…..so am leaving this one open for comment….

By way of disclosure, I know Terry professionally and have read his fantastic book (I loved it!!!). I met Terry years ago when working at Hill and Knowlton and more recently have the pleasure of being in touch as I am blessed to be working with many of the great folks at Thornley Fallis in my current work-life.

SO CONGRATS TERRY!

And to everyone – here’s to living your dream and to a TGIM work-life (before, during and after ‘hours’:)

Eileen

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What Do You Think About Email Free Days?

February 29, 2008

I’ve been reading a lot lately about organizations that have implemented email free days. It’s got me thinking about my fairly recent but avid attachment to my Blackberry (see earlier post) and about another post a while back about humanizing the workplace. In the latter, I had referenced a talk by Tod Maffin who spoke about the impact of technology on people and organizations from a social and ‘human’ perspective.

cat-at-computer.jpg 

(Photo courtesy of Sage on Flickr)

As I wrote in an earlier post work isn’t going to get any less busy – rather, we’re going to have to learn new habits to cope. Malcolm Gladwell has been quoted as saying (Globe and Mail article): “I’m quite prepared for the possibility that the next revolution is not going to come from a machine…..it’s going to come from creating a more thoughtful work force and giving people the opportunity to be thoughtful.”  

Given that, I think the idea of an email-free day is an interesting possibility to help develop those habits of reflection and working a little differently now and again. What about you? What do you think?

Would an email free day…

-Offer an opportunity for more meaningful reflection?

-Encourage people to communicate differently and better  (i.e. like actually pick up the phone and talk now and again!)?

-Bring more ‘humanity’ to workplaces and/or specifically to your personal work experience?

– Lessen the distraction factor and reduce that frazzle factor?….recognizing that while there’s a whole lot of meaningful and important use of email there’s also a whole lot that we can live with out.

I suspect that for me it would take some time to self-manage my own email habits and mindset to get a real benefit out of an email free day. I have my own long list of “yeah buts”. For one, I work independently vs with one particular organization; Another ‘yeah but’ is that part of my biz is within realm of communications, I can’t imagine turning off for a whole work day. I also have clients who work in PR and well…..I suspect they’d say a whole day each week seems real unreasonable for their biz. 

Still….something there to consider, don’t you think? If a whole day each week isn’t feasible, what about an email-free hour or two or three or four……? Or what other possibilities can there be to pause….?

In any case, whether this idea is the right thing to do or not….and/or whatever it looks like (full day, just hours or something different all together) I do applaud those companies who are trying to find ways to help humanize their culture.

To a TGIM worklife…..with or without email!

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Survey says: Balanced Workers Are More Engaged

January 22, 2008

The research is in. It’s been proven (yet again). Work-life balance is good for business…

 (Photo courtesy of rexanders on Flickr)

According to a survey released last month by Sirota Survey Intelligence, employees who experience reasonable balance between their personal and professional lives have positive views about their work, are more engaged and are more apt to feel pride in the companies they work at. They are also more likely to recommend thier employers to others.

The press release issued by the company highlighted the following:

* Of the 73% of employees that said they felt overall positive about their work-life balance, 89% rated a favorable satisfaction with their companies. This compares to only 58% satisfaction levels (with their companies) among those who had negative views about their work-life balance

* 88% of that same group (positive about work-life balance) would recommend their employers as a place to work vs. only 64% of those negative about work-life balance.

Interestingly, the survey also pointed out that not having enough work can be more of an issue than too much work.

* Only 44% of those who say they have too little work are satisfied with their jobs compared with 69% who said they have too much.

Douglas Klein, President of Sirota Survey Intelligence, says “Work-life balance is almost an afterthought to people who feel their employers are meeting their end of the deal by being fair, providing interesting and meaningful work, and recognition or rewards for a job well done.”

Well said….I say. The balance issue is definitely something that must be achieved with efforts and commitment from both employer and employee. Companies that take work-life balance seriously will be rewarded with more engaged people, a reputation that attracts talent and better retention.

Not a bad deal, eh? Attact the keepers and keep the keepers.

But ‘taking it seriously’ means walking the talk….so ensuring there are policies, programs and a supportive culture aligned with work-life balance and other related values.

 Do I hear flex time anyone? Opportunities for progressive career paths? Opportunities for career and work-life coaching (for high potentials/high performers)?

No doubt there are complexities on both sides of the ‘work-life balance bargain’ (employers/employees). But the most important thing is to set the intention – authentically.

Soooo, how are you navigating and keeping up your end of the ‘work-life balance bargain’? Would love to hear from you whether you are on the employee or employer side.

And if interested, I wrote an article on similar topic…you can find it here: “Keeping the Keepers“.

Till next time….and to a TGIM work-life:)

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There goes my TGIM worklife – I just got a Blackberry

January 16, 2008

Okay so I succumbed. I said I wouldn’t but I did. It’s only been a few days and I’m wondering how I ever lived without it.

Am I addicted already? Blackberry, crackberry…so they call it.

I have to say I really like the freedom of being in touch where ever I am without having to be near my computer (or beg/borrow another one while out). No more worries about the gazillions of emails piling up while I’m at meetings ….I can either handle as I go…or at least know what I need to handle when I’m back. 

Email overload….definitely an issue these days for folks (myself included) who are inundated with too much email. And when you’re out and about, it piles up. This in itself is a huge contributor to the stress and overwhelm of work-life. So in the spirit of the TGIM philosophy, I say anything one can do to manage that piece….well is worth a look, right?

But freedom is a funny thing. It can be fleeting. Especially if I become a slave to my Blackberry. What if it stops serving me? What if I become a servant to it? I’ve heard the horror stories. It’s ugly. Last night I saw someone check their Blackberry in a movie theatre…right in the middle of the movie. Worse, I started thinking about mine and missed an important part (it was just a second….but still!)

So I’ve been thinking…..before I get too deep into this obsessive attachment, maybe I should come up with some ‘rules’…..you know, like set some Blackberry boundaries.

So here’s my starting list….. “Eileen’s Blackberry Boundaries”:

1) I shall not check my Blackberry (BB) while driving (oops….already did…but it was at a light…Does that count?).

2) I shall not check my BB while at meetings or at lunch with clients (oops….already did….but they did too! Does that count?)

3) I shall not take my BB to bed (oops….already did…but it was on the first day that I got it and  was learning the system and needed to ‘study’ the new gadget! Does that count?)

4) I shall not exhibit Pavlovian behaviour when I see the flashindicating email (oops….well, I guess I’m a lost cause on that one…..Does that one have to count?)

5) I shall not……………..s’cuse me for second….I’ll be right back….

…….uhhhh……sorry ’bout that…my BB just vibrated so it must’ve been a really, really important message and so I’m sure you understand I just had to get it……..now where was I?

5) TAKE-TWO…. I will not check my BB while in the middle of writing a blog post (oops….just did that…but I hadn’t yet written the rule so does that count?)

 I can see this is going to be MUCH harder than I thought.

Well, here’s a call to recovering Blackberry-aholics out there….if you have any tips and lessons learned from your own experience, send them along! You can post them here….or better yet, also email me……It’ll be quicker cuz I now have a Blackberry!!!!

Sigh. Maybe I should take up smoking — and then quit. It would be so much simpler 🙂

To a TGIM worklife!

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Ahhh…white space. Getting any?

January 13, 2008

One of the things I love about weekends and holidays (especially the seasonal break just past) is that I get to carve out some “white space” for myself….some time that is unscheduled and simply there for me to chill, reflect, relax….or whatever else comes up that I choose.  In Dec/early January I had two weeks of it! And while I don’t always get to have those large chunks of time off, I do I try to carve bits of white space throughout my week  (albeit not always easy to do) …i.e. my morning coffee ritual is a ‘white space moment’ for me…I simply sit and enjoy my coffee and let my mind unfold….wake up….slowly. No papers, work, nada. Just me and my coffee.  To some extent, my morning runs also provide some ‘white space’…just me, the road and my mind.

It’s these moments that I often get my most creative, ‘out of the blue’, ideas….and often my best solutions to challenges that I’ve been dealing with. It’s when I’m not ‘working’ in a traditional sense that the ‘gems’ of insight come to me. It’s also these moments that I get to reflect and remember who I am and what it’s (the work) all about. Those bits of time ground me which is essential given the hectic pace of my worklife.

Most of us find ourselves on a treadmill of work that keeps us in busy mode…doing, doing with very little little time for reflection. I often hear people complain that they have no time to think. Even their work suffers because they don’t have the luxury of time to truly reflect and be as creative and innovative as they can. They are expected to generate breakthrough ideas/solutions/etc….but with no time to really think…..sigh.

Sound familiar??? Rush, rush….do, do….race from one meeting/task/assignment…to the next. White space? Nice idea…but too busy?  And for some of us…some feelings of guilt associated with ‘chilling out’. 

White space.

It’s good for you.

And it’s good for your work (and your employers, and  your clients…and any one else you interact with).

In an earlier post, I referenced a quote from Malcolm Gladwell who said in a Globe and Mail article that the mental demands of the workplace are steadily growing — and we’re all going to have to smarten up if we want to succeed: “I’m quite prepared for the possibility that the next revolution is not going to come from a machine…..it’s going to come from creating a more thoughtful work force and giving people the opportunity to be thoughtful.”

Opportunity to be thoughtful….hmmm…..white space gives that opportunity to be more thoughtful.

Ya think? Well, others do as well….

Debbie Weil wrote on her blog (called “Blogwrite for CEOs“) a post “Where is your white space for getting real work done” (real work as in creative thinking, reflecting, etc.)?

She points to an interesting article in the New York Times titled: You Won’t Find Me in My Office, I’m Working

So….

What does white space look like to you?

How much of it are you getting these days?

What can you do to carve out some for yourself…not just ‘now’ but on a regular basis?

If big chunks of time aren’t feasible right now, what can you do with small bits (white space can be powerful even in small doses)?

If you manage others or employ others – how are you doing in terms of supporting their need for white space — in service of inspiring their creativity?

What assumptions are you holding that you might want to challenge about being ‘busy’?

Now….I’d write some more but it’s Sunday and I feel a white space moment beckoning me.

Till next time,

Eileen

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Questions for Your New Year’s Reflection

December 30, 2007

Hello! Another year past– and a fresh new year ahead! It’s just a day and a half till the new year. A perfect opportunity to take some time to reflect. Before jumping ahead to next year’s goals, dreams and resolutions (if you’re so inclined), perhaps you’d like to take some time to complete the year past with some acknowledgements and reflection?

Each year-end I use some of these and other questions to guide my reflection. Perhaps you’ll find them of value to yourself? Take whatever time you like to wonder/ponder/reflect on any or all of these. Consider both your professional and personal life.

THE YEAR PAST:

1) What accomplishments from the past year are you most proud of?

2) What successes have you forgotten or perhaps overlooked — that you might want to acknowledge yourself for now (e.g. a task well done; new learning; a courageous act; other?)

3) What did you learn about yourself last year?

4) In what way(s) have you grown? Who have you ‘become’ in the evolution of “you”? (e.g. wiser, more courageous, more open….etc.?)

5) What are you choosing to let go of this year so you can begin fresh in the New Year?

6) What were the high points of the past year?

7) What inspiration (a moment, thought/idea; experience) will you carry forward in the year ahead?

8 ) How would you complete the following sentence: “This was the year of ___” (fill in the blank with a word or phrase that captures a theme most meaningful for you)

 THE YEAR AHEAD:

1) What are you most looking forward to in the year ahead?

2) What do you want more of in the year ahead?

3) What do you want less of?

4) What new learning goals do you have for yourself for the year ahead?

5) What other goals are important to you right now?

6) How will you actualize these goals?

7) What structures/plans/supports will you put in place to make them happen and keep you “on your game”?

8 ) How will you have fun this year?

9) What will ‘balance’ look like to you this year? And how will you honour that?

10) What relationships will you invest more of yourself in this year?

11) In what way would you like to see yourself grow (i.e. via experience, personal development, other)

12) How would you complete the following sentence: “This will be the year of ___” (identify a phrase that conveys a theme most meaningful to you).

These are just a few ‘thought-starter’ questions….but hopefully they’ll inspire your own meaningful year-end/New Year reflection.

Parting word…

The one who asks questions doesn’t lose his way” (Akan proverb)

To celebrating the year past and beginning a fresh new TGIM year!

Best,

Eileen 

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