Unplugged: How to switch off from work

Work is an important part of our lives; after all we do spend 40+ hours a week doing this very thing.

There’s no doubt that the nature of our work environment is changing too – it’s becoming increasingly high pressure, deadline-driven and demanding.

This is compounded by the fact that pretty much everyone has a smart phone and can access their work emails anywhere, anytime.

As a consequence, we’re mentally chained to our desks 24/7, in a competitive marketplace where we feel compelled to respond right.this.minute for fear of not working hard enough.

While Nazi Germany might have wanted us to believe “work sets you free”, a growing body of research shows our inability to find a balance between work and play is having a serious impact on our physical, mental and emotional state of being. Overwork has been linked to a whole swag of health problems including heart disease, fatigue, depression and insomnia.

Next time you’re feeling frazzled after work, take these steps to get you into a state of Zenned-out bliss:

Habitual ritual

By creating a ritual of relaxation when you arrive home from work, you’ll train your mind to slow down and switch off from work mode. Having a shower and putting on your trackies when you get home signals to the brain that you’ve finished for the day, and now it’s time to chillax. Light candles, avoid loud sounds and if meditation’s your thing, do it!

Save the screen

While a lot of people use TV as a way to unwind, if you stare at a computer screen all day you’re actually not doing yourself any favours by watching tellie. A better way to forget the chaos of the working day is to take Fido for a quick spin in the fresh air, or better yet, hit the gym!

Use it and lose it

If you confiscate your kids phones at the dinner table, extend the “use it and lose it” policy to all members of the family (yes, that includes you!). Unless you’re on-call, get into the habit of switching off your work phone after work, or at least your emails, and never take your phone to bed. If you find yourself waking in the middle of the night worrying about the next day’s duties, experts recommend getting up and doing something else until you feel sleepy again.

All about the breath

As Bikram would say, focus on the breath. Deep breathing is one of the most successful tools for switching off because it naturally calms the body. Whenever your mind wanders back to the office, focus on the sensation of the breath as air enters and leaves your lungs.

Go green

Highly processed, fatty foods can agitate the body, as can a big meal right before bed. Snack on nuts, which are packed with cortisol-busting magnesium. For dinner, pack your plate with green leafy vegetables. Dark leafy greens such as spinach are rich in folate, which helps your body produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine. Drinking black or green tea instead of coffee is thought to reduce stress hormones too.

Social media, friend or foe?

Just as social media sites can help you get a job, they can also be your catalyst to life in the slow-lane – unemployment!

If you don’t have tight privacy controls on your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat accounts, do us a favour and think twice before posting photos of your boozy weekend shenanigans.

Without visibility restrictions on your pages, all it takes is a quick Internet search and wham – your boss knows why you rocked up to work bleary-eyed and pale-faced on Monday morning.

The same goes for trash talking your boss in 140 characters or less – #justdon’tdoit.

But it’s not just about what content you post online that can be your foe in the job game, it’s about abiding by your company’s social media policies. This could include logging on to you Instagram or Facebook account during work hours. Guilty much?

At work you get paid an hourly rate to do just that, work! So don’t abuse your organisation’s super-fast Internet speeds by spending your time scrolling your flatmate’s news feed.

As always, there are two sides to every story. Just as social media can be your undoing, a strong and positive social media presence can be the element that gets you over the line in a job interview.

Consider, for example, a candidate who is presenting for a role at an animal shelter. A well-constructed and presented profile, with images of said candidate canoodling cute and fluffy animals – and importantly – following the shelter’s social media accounts, will go a long way to helping them secure the job.

Snoopy employers also like to see pictures of family dinners, travel, inspirational quotes, recipes and suitable page “likes” when they look up their employees and potential employees.

LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, is a great way to find jobs and connect with like-minded professionals.

It is NOT a platform to engage in idle chit chat or share the types of photos we talked about earlier. LinkedIn is in a league of its own, so we have created this cheat sheet to get you sorted.

Overall, it’s important to ensure you’re always reflecting the best version of yourself – online and offline. Tidy up photos, don’t bag your boss and adjust your privacy settings if need be.

And if you’ve already forgot the above, here are three top tips to set yourself up for success on social media.

Tip 1: Have a look at your account from your employer’s point of view – if you were hiring for a role, would you hire yourself?

Tip 2: Now that you know potential employers are going to look at your profile, make it the best you can. Think about what will make you stand out from the crowd. If you have any interests or volunteer work that relates to the sector you’re aspiring to work in, list it.

Tip 3: Use social media for company insights, giving you an edge at your next interview. It’s easy to browse a website and reel off a few stats in the interview, but if you start following a company you will be up-to-date with recent news, changes and other relevant information.

 

Category: 
Interview, Job Search, Resume

Own it! Tips to be an awesome boss without losing your authority

There’s a fine line between being a leader and a dictator. While you definitely don’t want to be channelling Hitler, being a buddy-boss won’t do you any favours either.

As a great leader, your employees should enjoy working under you, but that doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to laziness and throwing office parties every other day to gain their respect and loyalty.

Employees don’t want a buddy-boss; they have enough amigos! So the second you’re seen as an equal, you relinquish your rights to leadership.

As the commanding officer of your ship, your job is to lead your company and your employees to reach their highest potential. As part of this, you need to recognise and reward great work, and hold your employees accountable for their professional expectations and obligations.

If you find yourself at the helm of your company, follow these tips to be a cool boss (while avoiding the buddy-boss persona):

Be human:

You don’t have to search far to hear horror stories of bosses who make their employees use paid leave for a doctor’s appointment, even when they have time owning. Bad bosses tend to be inflexible clock-watchers with no sympathy for legitimate tardiness or illness. As long as the employee isn’t taking advantage, awesome bosses have open door policies and an understanding of life’s dilemmas.

Be encouraging:

Everyone likes to be told how awesome they are every once in a while. You know how it goes, pay credit where credit’s due. But in the interest of being liked, it’s tempting to shower you minions with praise and, as a consequence, gloss over the negatives. If you do this, you’re at-risk of becoming a buddy-boss. Being a good manager is about coaching your employees on areas of improvement, as much as it is for praising what they already do well.

Be an advocate:

As the chief problem-solver, it’s your job to stand up for your people and advocate for what they need, whether it’s more resources, professional development, or raises. Helping your team get the tools and support they need is part of your job description – even if it means standing up to your boss!

Be a kick-ass recruiter:

You can’t run a kick-ass team without having the best of the best behind you. When it comes to building your team, you have to hire people who have both the ability and the willingness to do the job well. Likewise, if you have a lazy, unmotivated employee, it’s your job to work with them to see if they can improve. If not, be prepared to give them the boot. The rest of the team will admire you for your tenacity and commitment to the team as a whole.

Be an expert:

You need to tune in to trends and shifts in your field. Network with thought leaders, attend key conferences and read industry news. By keeping abreast of what’s happening and who’s who in the zoo, you’ll be able to share the latest knowledge with your team to plan for the future.

Believe in yourself:

There’s no doubt about it, being a boss is a hard gig. But if you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect your employees to? People often think being the boss is about having the corner office, the Porsche, the big house and the perks. In reality, real leadership is about creating a vision that others can see and believe in too. It’s not about how far you’ve gone and how many people you have under you – it’s about showing creativity, innovation, and integrity in what you do.

Flip the script on your next performance review

By definition, a performance review is about getting feedback on your work throughout the year.

But as an employee, it’s important to think about the process as a two-way street – an opportunity for both parties to, well, come to the party and talk about their future aspirations, both for themselves and the future of the organisation they represent.

Talking about what’s working and what’s not working will help you become a better professional and your boss a stronger leader. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to show how committed and enthusiastic you are about the part you play in the wider success of the organisation.

Here’s some food for thought when gearing up for your next performance review:

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Sure, you’ll talk about your performance, your progress and opportunities to improve, but during the review you should also discuss what makes you happy in your job. Are there any tasks you absolutely dread, while others you are only too willing to do? Use your performance review as an opportunity to voice these opinions – it might lead to doing more of what you love and less of what you loathe.

How can you grow and develop?

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; the workforce is a competitive gig. Employers love employees who are constantly striving for professional growth. After all, a more skilled team leads to a better company. Use your performance review to talk about the ways in which you can grow and progress, whether in your current role or moving into a new area.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

A favourite at job interviews, this question is also relevant during performance reviews. Ambitious people are always asking themselves where they want to be in the future, and taking strategic steps to get there. A performance review presents an ideal opportunity to talk about your goals, your future and the state of the company itself. If you consider your boss a mentor as well as a leader, they may be able to give you good advice on how to reach your future ambitions.

How can your team improve?

As previously mentioned, a performance review should be viewed as a two-way, full and frank discussion between employee and manager. For the most part, your review will largely be about receiving feedback, but you shouldn’t be afraid to dish out some of your own! If there are any improvements you think could improve the performance of your team or company, raise them now.

After your review: Take-home messages

Once your performance review is over, first things first – breathe a sigh of relief! Regardless of the results of your performance review, think of it as a learning opportunity. You should be able to take away key information, whether about yourself, the reviewer or your organisation. If you received negative feedback, take it as constructive criticism and figure out how to make improvements over the next year.

 

Bad habits bosses hate

Whether you’re new to the role or a seasoned employee, the last thing you want is a reputation around the office as a habitual hassle. Bosses are human too, so chances are they have pet peeves that you could be committing without even realising it.

To stay on your boss’s good side, read on to find the six things that drive bosses and colleagues crazy. If you’re guilty of one or all of these crimes, stop being a repeat offender and break your bad habits immediately!

Number 1: Tardiness

Just as no one likes a clock-watching manager, no one likes employees who habitually roll in to work late. Sure, we’ve all been caught in a traffic jam before, but recurrent bouts of tardiness show your boss you’re just not that into your job.

Number 2: Whingeing

Too hot, too cold. Work sucks, you hate your team, you’re tired and stressed. If you find yourself complaining about everything and everyone, it’s time to suck it up and stop whining quick smart. Even if you don’t radiate positivity by nature, no one wants a Negative Nancy in their office. Workplaces with a positive atmosphere are the most conducive to productivity, so unless you want your negativity to spread like wildfire, save it for later.

Number 3: Zoning out

While some meetings may be a complete yawn fest, it’s important to maintain a professional demeanour no matter how long the meeting drags on. Suffice to say, your boss will notice if you aren’t taking notes, if you’re constantly checking emails (or worse – swiping left on Tinder), or if you’re not contributing when you should. Pay attention for the duration of the meeting so you’re not caught off guard if you’re called to answer a question or provide input.

Number 4: Under-dressing

The dress code in most modern workplaces doesn’t require suits, ties and high heels anymore, but tracky-dacks and backwards caps is taking things a little too far, even for causal Friday. While some offices don’t mind jeans, it’s always better to dress at least one level above what’s required. You will feel more professional and people will admire you for your corporate fashion sense.

Number 5: Texting too much

These days, everyone usually keeps their phones on their desks, sneaking in the odd text or checking their Facebook feed throughout the day. But don’t make a habit of it. Your boss will notice if you’re constantly preoccupied with your phone when you’re supposed to be working. Keep your phone use to a minimum, and turn off that Rocky ringtone!

Number 6: Eating too loudly

While the waft of canned tuna is acceptable in today’s health-conscious office, scoffing your food loudly is a no-no – especially if you sit within close proximity to the boss. The same goes for chewing gum, don’t do it! And while we’re at it, no one, we repeat, no one, likes 

How to say no (without sounding lazy)

We've all been in the awkies position when asked to do extra work, help on a project or take on more responsibly -  even when these tasks are not part of our job description. There is a fine line between wanting to seem helpful and hardworking, and not having enough time or energy to take on these extra commitments.

But pushing back and saying no is often easier said than done. You don’t want to offend your boss. You don’t want to sound harsh or uninterested and, somehow, you want to seem apologetic and sincere - even if you aren’t!

Here are some phrases to help you with letting down that dreaded ‘favour’ of extra work…

Sorry, I can’t, but thank you for asking!

I can’t now, but maybe next time.

I don’t think I will be able to help for all of it, but let me help with a part of it.

Thank you for thinking of me, but I’m just too busy at the moment.

I’m not taking on any more jobs at the moment, sorry!

I wish I could help, but at the moment I just can’t commit to anything at the moment.

Let me try and work out a few things first, but it’s probably best to work without me.

Thank you, but I’m not the right person for the task, at the moment. Have you asked Maria*?

I’m sorry I just have a bit too much on my plate at the moment.

I’m really sorry; I just don’t think I will be able to make it work at this point.

These phrases will help the person asking for the extra work to understand why you can’t/won’t help on the project. It will also prevent them from believing you just don’t want to help them, or don’t like doing extra jobs. Try practising these phrases by saying them politely and kindly - but also firmly.