Time for some colouring in?

http://www.whats-your-sign.com/free-mandala-coloring-pages.html
http://www.whats-your-sign.com/free-mandala-coloring-pages.html

I often read different articles about motivation in the workplace,  how Managers and Leaders in organisations  need to inspire and motivate employees.  It’s a tough task because there are so many facets to what motivates you to do a good job each day.

But the thing is,  even when you have a great job, you know exactly the contribution you are making with a really juicy project and you know you could possibly change the world…don’t you just simply come into work sometimes,  and motivation alludes you?   You want to put your head on the desk and sleep,  you’d rather go for really long coffee break than dig your teeth into that inspiring project.   We all have these days, sometimes it is triggered by something that has happened in work environment (politics or gossip), sometimes something in our personal life throws us off (kids who are sick and wake you up 10 times in the night) and sometimes it happens for no apparant reason at all.

As one of my previous managers would say…time for a “Colouring In Day”…what? huh?

She explained that given her motivation was so low, all she felt capable of doing was sitting and colouring in a picture, like you used to do at school.  No real brain power required.   So, on her “colouring in” days, she just accepted that she wasn’t feeling on top of the world.  It was not the time to tackle the big projects.  She would review all her to do’s,  break off all the “easy/simple” tasks and choose this day to get them done…perhaps even something like cleaning off her office desk.   She would also let us all know she was having a “colouring in” day, so we knew not to bother her with complicated issues (plus we would all have a bit of a laugh about it).

Now…not everyone is in a position to do this,  nor can you take this approach for more than one day in a row.  But sometimes, I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to always be “on”, to be the fabulous person we know we are every single day we are working.  Giving yourself permission, to just take a slow day,  get some easy things done…usually results in a few productive things being done, and whole new you when you wake up tomorrow, refreshed and in a much better position to tackle the big projects.

So, do you need a colouring in day today?

(I’ve even attached a picture for you to colour in,  which apparantly will help you with some creative meditation…BONUS!)

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Finding clarity in social chaos

I read a quote earlier this week that has really stuck in my head…

“Employees are drowning in information but thirsting for clarity and purpose”

Paul Barton Communications

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http://www.freephotosbank.com

I believe this is one of the fundamental challenges workplaces have today.   The social world has opened the door to a myriad of information and contact points from across the globe.  But it so easy to get overwhelmed and literally feel like you are drowning in all this information.  I certainly do.  First thing I do when I hit the office (or hit the home study as the case may be) is check all my social media channels and our internal Connections community… next thing I know, I’m following links, reading articles, jumping from one place to another.  On one hand, it is inspiring and exciting, I keep finding new bits of information to add to my program or someone elses ideas will spark ideas with me.  But on the other hand, it is so hard to keep focused, to keep coming back to the realities of my little world and what I need to achieve.

So,  leaders in organisations have SUCH a critical role now in driving the clarity and purpose that employees need to keep heading in the right direction.  Provide the freedom required to let them network and be inspired by those around them but then keep bringing them back to your organisation, your purpose.    This isn’t a new concept,  I remember in Manager training many many years ago,  we talked about the importance of employees having clarity in their roles. Infact, if you fail to provide clarity as a leader, everything else becomes irrelevant.

It helps when a leader embraces social and uses it to help regain that clarity…I’ve seen great leaders posting weekly blogs to their teams telling them what they are working and providing structure for the week.  Others using micro-blogging techniques to share relevant information in real time, short sharp and easy for teams to digest.   Then, of course, connecting more personally to ensure that each individual employee is on their track, that they have found personal motivation in what they are doing but can all clearly see how their work fits into the overall organisations vision.

I personally have to keep bringing myself back to my purpose.  I have stuck my job description onto the whiteboard (yes people, in all the passion and excitement I literally forget what I’m supposed to be doing sometimes!) and each morning after my usual dig around in the social world (sometimes I need to put a timer on to bring myself back),  I write down anything I’ve learnt or things I want to remember, then I pull out my trusty “to do” list which helps to re-focus my mind back to things I need to achieve my work goals for the day and ultimately for the organisation.

Do you get the clarity you need to get the job done?

 

Lessons for my younger self…

Knowing I’m turning 40 this year has forced me to do quite a bit of self reflection…have I achieved what I hoped to by this stage?  am I on the right track?  do I wish I had done things differently?  Whilst there is a part of me that really wishes I had become a professional dancer and I really really have to let go of that dream now (no, I was not going to let lack of talent, drive or capability in this area rain on my dream)…overall, I’m really happy with the choices I’ve made that have led me to the place I am today…

So then I was thinking about little old innocent me, coming out of Uni with shiny big dreams about what the workforce would be like….boy did I have a LOT to learn.  So if I had the opportunity to mentor younger me,  what would older, wiser, smarter Claire say?

40 picture 11.   Focus on getting your strengths to shine

Claire, you are an amazing and talented person just waiting to soak up information like a sponge.  Don’t try to make yourself something that you are not…trust me, you could waste YEARS trying to fix all your “weaknesses”.  Do this VIA Strengths survey,  find work which lets your top strengths shine, and be confident that your contribution is  more than worthy.

2. See every challenge as an opportunity

You will be confronted with ALL sorts of challenges in your work life,  they come in every form and don’t stop coming.   Every challenge is an opportunity to learn, to grow, to evolve…if you didn’t have these challenges, you wouldn’t learn so much…so learn not to be afraid of obstacles in your path (constantly).   You really rock PRAGMATIC OPTIMISM…always come back to it.

3.  Don’t work so many hours

working longer does NOT, I repeat, does NOT = more productivity. Don’t wait until you have children to figure this one out.   Making the time for things that fuel your fire and get you excited are so important.  Don’t work so hard on the things that other people want.  Work on the things that you want, and take regular breaks…you’re brain and body will thank you for it.

4.  Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”

You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room,  it doesn’t make you dumb or stupid.

5.  Don’t be intimidated and compare yourself to others

Kinda feeds off the last point,   just because someone barges into a room like the own the world and know everything, doesn’t mean they do.   Even if they talk down and demean you,  remember that everyone has their strengths and moment to shine.    Help each other,  if one person is shining, stand in their light until you light up too.   If they are not shining, stand further away.

6.  Make time for work relationships,  laugh and HAVE FUN

Work isn’t always fun, infact, it is easy to take it WAY too seriously.  But it is possible to have fun and be highly productive,  infact, your favourite and most inspiring roles have been exactly that.   Don’t try to stop laughing in the office, even if everyone looks at you funny.

7. RELAX

Oh my goodness,  you need to watch this one.   You have a tendency to stress to the max if you are not careful,  so learn to take it way more slow.    All of the above tips will help you to stay calm and in control.  Walk slowly,  think before you speak (OK, you might never be able to get control on that one) and don’t overthink things.

Remember,  where ever you are, it’s exactly where you need to be right now…I guarantee it..you got this!

 

Email…a necessary evil of the modern workplace…or is it?

Back to work today and quite frankly, it’s not a great first impression. My inbox is overwhelmed with emails, but the scary part is how many of them are irrelevant or wasteful. Started off feeling frustrated this morning but as I plough through all the emails getting more annoyed at each one, I cheer myself up by remembering, that in the future workplace,  emails may not even exist.

Getting out of the inbox …

when someone first suggested a world without email to me, I couldn’t visualise it.  Email is such an integral part of the modern workplace that it is hard to imagine not starting working and opening up email as the first action of the day. But as I’ve become more and more immersed in the social world, now I can see it. i can see a world of collaboration and integration that happens in the public sphere and in small online groups. The need for individual emailing will be come less and less, till eventually it is no longer required.   Hard to imagine, right?  but it will happen…

In the meantime (sigh)…we’re going to be drowning in our emails for some time yet….  so I have to put on my super organisation hat, and start ploughing away at this email. I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to my email and I love to have my inbox empty, which is a nearly impossible task.  I’ve had to train myself to get out of the inbox, as I could easily spend my whole day doing nothing but emails.  Now I try to have more scheduled email checks.  First thing in the morning (bit of multi-tasking over brekky to make sure the sky didn’t fall down while I was sleeping),  30min when I first start work,  then 10min checks between meetings.  I literally set the timer on some days to ensure I don’t get sucked into the email vortex.   Since I’ve been on a break, today I’ve set aside an hour… and this is is the plan…

Delete delete delete

I remember someone telling me that after a 3 week holiday once.  They decided not to go through all their email.  They just deleted it all.  ALL OF IT.  They figured,  if it was urgent or important, at some point someone would come back to them.  Sure, they had one or two people who were a little annoyed at having to repeat requests, but overall,  mostly no one noticed.

Whilst I would love to just press delete,  I can’t bring myself to do it.  So the first thing I do, is run through all the email subjects and delete anything that doesn’t look urgent or important.   After holidays is a great time to do a bit of a purge on newsletters subscriptions.  I can’t believe how many I get,  you don’t really notice until you leave them to sporn and grow over a week.  Ekk…time for some “unsubscribing” action.   Ah, that feels better.

Action or File

If I open an email,  I try to either action it immediately,  or if I can’t action straight away…I file it into a folder and write down the action or next step required before I can go back to it.   That way, my inbox can stay clean, it is easier to see what is new and what still needs my action.

Complete actions NOT using email

Wherever possible, I also try to respond to requests using other mechanisms other than email.   Go to someone’s profile and post something on their wall,  send an instant message,  post something in a forum,   pick up the phone,  write it down as an action for next time I’m in a meeting with the person.    That way, I’m not contributing to someone elses email bog, as I try to clean up my email bog.

OK time is up…I’ve done what I can.  It’s a boring but necessary evil of the modern workplace, but I can see a future which looks different, and that is exciting.