Enjoy Your Vacation (Really Enjoy It!)

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The first day of vacation is here! You’ve already prepared your colleagues and boss with how to fulfill your role while you’re gone, but have you taken the time to prepare yourself for days of fun, relaxation, and adventure?

You’ve developed a routine of staying on top of tasks in the office, but we want you to hone your skills related to personal time.

This guide, in short, will show you how to decompress without all the stress of worrying about work while on vacation.

Timing is everything

Peak season is commonplace in most organizations, so you’ll want to make certain your vacation coincides with the offseason, if possible, to maximize your efforts to unwind. By selecting vacation time outside of when you’ll be in high demand, you are better able to make plans around known information rather than a hazarded guess.

If you’re unsure when the busiest times of the year occur, speak with your boss or forecasting department, whose job includes maintaining appropriate staffing at all times, for guidance. Planning your vacation during a lull will ensure the likelihood that you’ll remain undisturbed with work and fully engrossed in enjoying yourself.

Unplugging from Technology

In today’s world, leaving your cell phone at home induces anxiety of the worst kind. Doh! How will you respond to emails, voicemails, and text messages if you don’t have your trusty device? Easy. You don’t. You’ve become so accustomed to always being “plugged in” that you are no longer in-tune with the most important contact – yourself.

It’s perfectly fine if you elect to bring your cellphone, laptop, or tablet on vacation, but be sure to utilize the “Do Not Disturb” feature when you really do not want to be disturbed. Pinging email notifications can put a real damper on a deep tissue massage. Disabling this feature will allow you to “loosen up” and enjoy the moment while remaining undisturbed.

If completely unplugging makes you uncomfortable, carve out a certain time of the day to devote no more than one hour to checking emails and responding to any urgent requests.

Putting yourself first

These days are devoted to no one else but you, so act like it! In order to be your best self at work, you’ll need to take the time to do all of the things you didn’t have time to do because of daily career demands.

When was the last time you were able to read a book, see the sights, or have meaningful conversations with loved ones? If this question takes you longer than a few seconds to answer, you need to make it a priority to do at least one of these things while on vacation.

You’ll also want to take this “make-time-for-me” mantra with you during your return to work. Pace yourself by using your first day back to catch up on emails and reacquainting yourself with your role. Block some time on your calendar to catch up so your coworkers will know that you’d prefer not to be disturbed while you’re getting back to business.

Now that you’re all rested up and refreshed, you’re able to seize the days ahead at the office!

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Staying Engaged in your Work

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In wrapping up our tips for working from home we’ve got our team member, Audra Brown, on how to stay engaged while working at home. Take it away, Audra!

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 11.08.19 AMThere are days when I can honestly say I miss my life in a cubicle, when getting my job done required little more than the subtle motivations of the workplace: my boss sitting in the glass office across from me, my co-workers entrenched on similar projects, and the constant team meetings, lunch, and water cooler breaks.

Working from home with two small children means that getting my “office” work done with excellence is a whole lot more exciting to accomplish! My role as a work-from-home mom requires me to operate in an environment of constant demands and a timetable that is variable at best.

Although organization (what’s that again?) and time management (wait, you can manage time?!) are key pieces to meeting my deadlines and ensuring I am focused and engaged, I have also found that motivating myself properly is a significant piece in achieving success in an otherwise, as I like to call it, hostile work environment.

It has been said that the best jobs are the ones you love and happen to get paid for. Who doesn’t want to have the best job? I try to make mine just that by finding ways to love what I do, even if that connection isn’t naturally there in the beginning.

Here are some ways I try to engage myself with my work:

  1. Find the areas of each project/task that play to my strengths. How can I exercise my strengths to not only do a good job but possibly take it to the next level?
  2. Define why I care about the outcome and/or the people that will be on the receiving end of it
  3. Discover pieces of my work in which I can incorporate slices of fun, interest, color, or insight
  4. Figure out if I can grow myself as a person through this task and come out more skilled or learned on the other end
  5. Reinforce my vision of the end goal and how I want to feel at the end of it. Recognize what it is going to take to get me there

Lastly, I would add that remembering that I control this project and my attitude towards it (and not the other way around) always takes a bit of the pressure off, allowing me the freedom to truly enjoy my work and take it where it needs to go no matter what hour of the day, night, or weekend I’m working on it!

Pace Yourself

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Working from home can come with many challenges—it’s part of the territory! However, there are just as many benefits, and as the world continues to convert to a predominantly digital space, working from home is a new challenge that many people are facing every year.

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 11.52.43 AMOur Team member, Jeff, has some helpful tips:

I used to work from home 1-2 days a week until recently, when I converted to working from home full-time! It has certainly come with it’s challenges, but the benefits outweigh these ten-fold. Here are a couple of ideas and strategies that I’ve used to help this process go smoothly.

Thought #1: Use your Time Smartly

Is there a particular time of the day where your creative juices are really flowing? Maybe there are certain times of the day that you find yourself more self-motivated than other times. Find that time, exploit it to your benefit, and plan your day’s work around those times. Is it in the morning? Do the draining tasks then! Save the motivating work, the work that gives you energy, for the time of day that you’re struggling to stay on-task.

For myself, I’m WAY more motivated in the morning. So this is the time that I save for time-consuming tasks that don’t inspire me, they don’t give me energy, but they simply have to be done. Once the clock hits 2:00PM, my morning coffee is wearing off, and my eyes start to wander to the book on my table, or my mind towards the many pleasure of the Netflix app. This is when I do the tasks that inspire me, that give me energy, and feed my brain and soul. I have meetings in the afternoon, and am re-inspired by these tasks and these people to finish the day strong.

Thought #2 – Pace Yourself

Throughout each day I always remind myself this: pace yourself. Know that every day will not be the productive, butt-kicking day that you want it to be. You’re not a task-churning robot, and that’s okay!

Be okay with failing at productivity some days. Don’t beat yourself up. Push through it, and know that tomorrow can be better! Some days I’m extremely motivated; and other days I’m not. Some days, I get 10 hours worth of work done in 5 hours. Other days I get 2 hours worth of work done in 7 hours. And often, these results are no different when working in a traditional office environment.

Thought #3 – Don’t Do it Alone

Lastly, if I’m really struggling to finish a report that has to be done that day, but my Motivation Meter is reading 0, I’ll video-conference a co-worker (or friend!) and ask them if I can “sit” with them while I finish this up. Just being able to have some banter back and forth can help “humanize” the work and get me through that home-stretch.

So let’s recap:

  1. Use Time Smartly – Do the right tasks at the right time of day
  2. Pace Yourself – Don’t expect perfection, it’s okay to fail some days
  3. Don’t Do it Alone – Develop a work from home group of friends, and support each other through motivation and virtual relationships

Thanks so much for listening, and I hope that these ideas help you on your adventure in the growing group of people who work from home!

Leading People First

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has really taken off in the past few weeks raising awareness about ALS but also giving people a feeling of unity for a common purpose.

When we lead from knowing where we are going and what we are doing it brings unity (and also encourages peoples to do some pretty crazy things… like pouring ice water on their heads!)

But, sometimes it’s easy to get distracted by all the tasks that need to be accomplished that we lose sight of the people we are leading.

With deadlines looming, new goals being added, and the lingering feeling that your boss is going to want to have that conversation with you- it’s no wonder your team can get overlooked.

So, what is something we can do to manage the things to allow you time to look at the bigger picture?

Entrepreneur has 10 helpful suggestions for managing your time in ways that work. What’s one place to start?

Try starting every morning by taking some time (15-30 minutes) to plan out your day. Identify a couple of items that have to get done, incorporate time for interruptions, and schedule in a little time to plan for your team and their development. We recommend even blocking that time on your calendar, so it doesn’t get lost or taken up by other things.

Having a better handle on what to expect for your day will give you the ability to manage each task.

From there, it is easier to balance the tasks that need to get done and spending time with the people you are leading.