This week I’m obsessed with …podcasts…

IMG_0304

Ok…so this story all starts with my desire to get better at multi-tasking.   There are so many things that I am trying to squeeze into my days, I’m always looking for ways that I can kill two birds with one stone by mastering effective multi-tasking.

Now, I realise in a world where most of us are trying to slow down…to focus…to be mindful…trying to master multi-tasking is probably not my best bet.  But sometimes I feel like I am forced into this corner in order to get everything done that I need to.   But I’m pretty crap at it.  Infact, probably most of us are.   The amount of times I have been caught out on a teleconference, because I was trying to type an email and thus stopped listening.  Or when my husband is talking to me and I’m trying to watch TV at the same time, then realise I haven’t heard a word that he said.

However, I have found little sneaky ways of multi-tasking, that works really well for me.   I think the formula is to combine two tasks,  one that requires your brain,  and one that requires no brain contribution.   For example,  if I paint my nails while I am listening to a teleconference,  I actually find that I focus more intently on what people are saying because focusing on the mind numbing task of nail painting is helping me to focus.  Or even better,  unpacking the dishwasher and wiping down the kitchen while I listen (this doesn’t work if you need to actually talk on the teleconference).

In the mornings before school,  I used to like watching the morning shows to keep a finger on the pulse of what was going on.   But I realised it was taking my attention away from getting all the other morning tasks done…plus the children have a tendency to be drawn to the TV in some kind of weird trance and thus, they are also not getting ready.   So I switched over to turning the radio on.  Bang, i can keep updated with what is going on, and keep my hands (and eyes!) free for packing lunches, eating breakfasts and rounding up children.

And so through this little exploration of multi-tasking,  I uncovered Podcasts.   I know I am pretty late to this party.   We use podcasts quite a bit at work but I have never really “got it”.  I had a tendency to try to listen to podcasts and do work at the same time (two brain tasks in conjunction…fail).   So I was playing with my iPhone and realised I have a podcast app and randomly decided to download something to listen to while i took the dog for a walk.   I started with MamaMia outloud,  I realised how much more enjoyable my usual trip around the block was,  whilst listening to people chat about the latest current affairs and gossip.   They then recommended a podcast they were obsessed with called “StartUp“…which I also downloaded, and this is where I started to get obsessed.  I don’t work in a start up and I have no plans to open a start up,  but the story is so fascinating, I’m hooked.    He recommends another podcast called “Serial”…also amazing.  How I have not discovered this before. I download more podcasts that are about the work I do in Social Media.  I start listening while I do my exercise.  I listen on my walks.  I listen while I cook.  And it is made all the more satisfying because I feel like I am ticking boxes (and I LOVE ticking boxes).

I guess a lot of people uncover this medium because they have long commutes to work, so being able to listen to something while you drive or are on the bus, helps pass the time.  Since I a do not usually have a daily commute, I have not had that challenge.  Although I did drive into the office the other day and found myself hoping for a traffic jam , so I had time to finish the rest of the story!!

Now I’ve uncovered this world, I have realised there are also lots of books for work that I have been meaning to read but haven’t gotten around to.  And I realise that I could download audio versions and listen while I do other mundane tasks.  Awesome.

I understand and know that I need to work on finding space in my day for simply doing one task with focus,  or doing nothing at all.   But I also love it when I find ways to multi-task, squeezing more satisfying moments into one of my jam packed days.

Go on…download a podcast…I know you want to…

claire2

Enjoy this post?  I would love you to join my online tribe!  You can subscribe using the button in the left hand navigation, to get my weekly blog updates via email. You can also now join my newly created community on Facebook.  Hope to see you hanging around there soon.

Advertisements

Social Communication – I’ve finally found my thing!

 

© Iqoncept | Dreamstime.com – Social Thumb\’s Up Network Communication Photo

As I’ve mentioned before,  being digitally savvy has never actually been my thing.  I’m not a socially born millennial and for years I watched in confusion as my sister designed her first My Space page and then kept telling me I should get onto Facebook while I shrugged and said “nah..don’t really get that stuff”.    Over time,  I slowly made my way into the online world and through my marketing and comms roles at work was forced to get my head around all this whole social malarkey.

So then, when I finally looked under the covers, when I started to understand…I had an epiphany…this…this is what I have been destined to do the whole time…and I never even knew it!!

Yesterday, I was trying to dig out tips and tricks about writing effectively for social media, and I was once again reminded that there were so many things I felt like I had been doing “wrong” all my life,  which turn out to be doing it “right”, when it comes to being effective in online communications, proving once and for all that this is where I am meant to be.

For example:

Write like you speak – BAH! totally!  is there any other way? I mean seriously…I’ve always written exactly like I speak. If you meet me…this is is what I sound like!  (yep, all those exclamation marks are required, my voice gets very excited).  I spent the first years of my working life, trying to restrict my writing to a much more formal corporate voice.  Going back over emails and taking out exclamation marks (sad but true) and keeping the tone more serious.

Keep it simple and short – woohoo… gosh I wish someone told my Uni Lecturers this.  Back a long long time ago when I was at Uni,  there was no such thing as social media (I know…now I feel really old).  Words like “simple” and “concise’ were thrown back at me like they were a bad thing. But why keep droning on when you made your point in the first paragraph or the first sentence?  I loved editing others people’s essays, cutting down all the extra information that wasn’t necessary to make their point.  And now,  short and snappy communications are king.

The style should be casual over formal – and guess what,  grammar isn’t so important.  Mum…I’m so so sorry, I know you will be shaking your head at this one.  But I was always a failure when it came to correct grammar and spelling.   And now, in the social world, it doesn’t matter so much.  Sure,  you don’t want to look like you never actually went to school, so a little bit of structure is probably a good idea.  But the days of strict and formal grammatically correct sentences are fading before our eyes.  Woop woop.

Write human to human – Instead of a long formal written piece, a monologue or like someone lecturing at you.. Social is a CONVERSATION,  you write like you are talking to your best friend (tick) and guess what…people can write back!   It completely changes the style of our communications.

And this might sound like a complete contradiction on everything I just said,  but there is one awesome feature about social communications which I love the most-

Be yourself – Can I be anything else??   if you were reading this blog and thinking “but I love formal communications, I don’t like writing like I talk, I don’t think social media is for me”.  You’d be wrong!  because the wonderful thing about the online world, is that you can always find like minded people.  Your Tribe.  So if your style is a little…well…old school… don’t try to be someone your not, just be yourself and someone out there will understand and appreciate it.

So, what are you waiting for?  Dive in and see what you find under the covers today…

From cynic to superstar

creative-lightbulb-abstract-circuit-technology-inf-infographic-vector-37963424
http://www.freephotosbank.com

I love those moments when the light suddenly comes on, when the epiphany happens on something key.

I get to see this quite a lot with my work around social. People who suddenly realise the cyber world that lurks beneath the surface, like an explosion of connectivity and community…there are people all over the world, having conversations, giving their opinions, sharing work and ideas.   It wasn’t that long ago I was one of those people who didn’t understand. Sure, I had a Facebook account which I tinkered with but using social for work seemed like a waste of time, something I couldn’t possibly squeeze into my already bulging days.

So I understand. Then piece by piece my world started to get more social, it didn’t happen overnight in fact it happened little by little …but suddenly, here I am, connecting with amazing experts across the world, working on great new projects and helping others to navigate this new world.

This week someone that I coach, who was a relatively social novice but keen to learn, has suddenly discovered LinkedIn.   Sure, they had a profile before, it lacked a photo, any detail or quite frankly anything human but it was there….wasn’t that enough? But when they started to dig deeper, to add in more, to give more of themselves, the social world return in spades. From 18 connections to over 400 in a matter of weeks. They were BLOWN AWAY. How had they not realised there was this whole new world they could engage in?!?  And now they are telling everyone!

Because those who have come from the cynic to becoming an active user are usually also the best advocates. Telling everyone who will listen that they should get onto this.

It works that way in customer service to. Give someone good service in the first place, great. But take someone who has complained and fix it for them and then take it up a notch…well, that’ll be a customer for life.

Like when I bought my Dyson. Never lose suction, my butt, five years (yes five years) after we bought it, it started losing suction. I was pretty harsh,  telling everyone about the crappy vacuum and don’t believe their “never loses suction” story. When I finally decided to ring Dyson, expecting a lame response, they blew me away with their concern. They asked me all sorts of questions, never asked me for a receipt, sent me a new airfilter for free…and guess what, it worked (it appears perhaps we should have been washing the filter every few months, woops).   Now here I am telling everyone how great Dyson are.

So the cynics are always my favourite to work with. The ones who don’t believe social will help them, who are comfortable in their current ways of working and don’t want to try something new. Because if I can challenge them, push them over the edge, they will become my greatest advocates…and it reminds me too, to always be open minded and be willing to try something new, because you never know when the next lightbulb moment is going to be.

Social Serendipity

In case you hadn’t noticed,  I’m kinda a control freak.  I like to know exactly what is happening and have a plan of action in place.  I don’t go into meetings (or the weekend) without having already thought through multiple scenario’s and made a plan for each.   I organise what we are eating for dinner each night and where we are going on our next holiday.  I have project plans and to do lists for all my work.  I’ve always thought that controlling everything would help me to relax, because I had things sorted.

But recently I’ve come to acknowledge that perhaps things are far more out of my control than I have realised.  That I have arrived at this place on my journey, not because everything went exactly according to plan ..because as a matter of fact it totally hasn’t…but despite my planning.   All the things that I have done in my life have led me to this moment.  All the jobs, all the experiences, good and bad, have led me to be here today.  And actually,  there is real comfort in that, something very calming, assuring, to know that perhaps I can let go a little bit and things will find a way of working out.

serendipity

I was working on a presentation last week and someone had mentioned how they loved the serendipity of social media.   And this is so true.  The social world is not controlled.  To work more socially you have to be willing to work more publically without really knowing why,  to be willing to collaborate but be open to with whom,  to follow links and hope they take you somewhere useful.    To those of us with controlling tendencies (what, me?!) , this is a really challenging road to cross.   But when you cross over, when you put it out there,  it is amazing what comes swinging back around.   A reassuring comment from a stranger,  the opportunity from a new buyer,  the new idea you hadn’t thought of until you read that article.

Serendipity.  I wonder what discovery will be next?  I don’t know…but I’m willing to let go and see…

The power of positivity…

Over the weekend I was feeling a bit flat (OK…a lot flat),  I wanted to get out of the house, but I didn’t know where I wanted to go.  I wanted to be on my own, but I wanted company.   I wanted to eat a tonne of chocolate but I knew I should be eating lots of healthy food (guess which one won out there).    I decided to bake.  I love baking.   It is my go to thing to lift the spirits.  The process was fun but in the aftermath of eating half a pecan pie and half a dozen white chocolate and cranberry cookies…I’m starting to think this was a bad idea.

Finally, I ended up at my computer,  wrote a grumpy journal entry then wandered onto my facebook page.   Found a few links,  clicked around…and then landed on this blog “Adventuring Home”.   I have never seen this blog before, might never go there again…but right then, at that moment…the words were exactly what I needed.  She talked about living big, laughing hard, embracing life.   It wasn’t so much that her exact words but the positivity that was jumping off the pages which jolted me out of my little rut.  It reminded me to stop looking at the glass half empty, and be excited and inspired and curious.   It reminded me of another favourite quote of mine…

“Your happiness increases the happiness of everyone around you”

www.freephotosbank.com
http://www.freephotosbank.com

It is amazing how other people’s positivity rubs off on you.   Being around other people who are working full of optimism and hope, makes you feel more excited and interested.   And what I love about social media, both in work and outside work, is that it makes it easier to find this people, to stumble on an inspiring quote or someones else’s journey from across the globe.

So today, at work,  I’ve been seeking out these people.  Who is really inspired at the moment, who is driving things they feel passionate about…I want to stand in their sunshine, hope some of it rubs off on me.

Then I’m going to take that sunshine and make some of my own.  Help the people around me to be inspired and engaged and interested…because despite having a few flat days every now and again,  I want to always come back to positivity and pragmatic optimism as my driving force at work and at home.

Left over cookies anyone?

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

www.freephotosbank.com
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?

 

Inspired to change but struggling to take action?

www.freephotosbank.com
http://www.freephotosbank.com

I’ve been running Executive coaching session recently, trying to help our leaders to build their social skills.   Communication in the modern workplace has changed significantly,  and the expectation on our leaders (on all of us) has grown.   But “being social” is not just about learning how to use LinkedIn or IBM Connections,  it’s a pretty significant behaviour change.   Using social networks to communicate rather than trusty email,  writing short authentic stories rather than cascading formal corporate messages and working visibly, posting your work where others can see it when your used to keeping working privately.  These things might come naturally to those born into Gen Y, because this is how they have learnt to communicate with their friends and networks outside of work.   But for the rest of us,  it’s learning a new skill AND changing our habits.

And changing your habits is REALLY hard.  I mean,  I know that meditating for 10min and exercising every  day is good for me…and I start of most of my days with the best intentions.   Then somehow I find myself at the end of the day and woops, forgot that meditation and oh, that exercise didn’t happen either…but I’m too tired now…tomorrow..tomorrow.

So by the same token,  people are having the same challenges changing their work habits.  Not because they don’t recognise the need to change, but because the old ways of working just happen more naturally.

I read a post recently from one of my favourites,  ZenHabits,  where he spelt out some of the steps he takes when trying to implement change…and I think these are just as relevant to making changes at work.

  1. Tell someone you’re going to do it. Make the commitment.  Tell your colleagues or your team at work that you are committed to make the change, say you will dance on the boardroom table if you fail.   Make your self accountable.  (this is part of how I can help my Executives, I get to stalk them and remind them they committed to change!!).
  2. Carve out time. You have to make the time.  Carve out the time every day.  And even better, if you can tie it into an existing routine.  Like when you arrive at work and the first thing you do is open your email…make that a trigger to check your social feeds as well.   When are these triggers for you? put it in your calender now!
  3. Start as small as you can. Some people make the mistake of over-committing, because they’re so inspired.  But you’re less likely to succeed if you say that you’re going to work out an hour a day, or learn a new skill for 2 hours a day. Even 30 minutes a day is too much. Start with 10. Or 5. Or 2, if you’re really busy. You have time for 2 minutes a day.
  4. Have reminders. It’s easy to forget when you start out.  Use post it notes, stuck to your computer. Set up reminders in your diary or on your phone
  5. At the moment when you want to avoid it, pause. There will be a moment (or a bunch of moments) when you think, “Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow.” That’s the moment you have to not let pass idly by. Stop yourself, and just sit there for a moment, not going on your computer, just turning inward. What are you afraid of? What’s stopping you? There is a discomfort you’re trying to avoid. Instead, smile, and start. Do it and enjoy it in the moment. You’ll love it.

Ok..so with these wise words in mind,  what are you trying to change?  lets start today….  (or maybe I’ll start tomorrow,  got a lot on today…ha aha haha)

Will commuting to work become a thing of the past?

Last week I decided to drive for nearly 4 hours so that I could meet some of my team members in person. Now…I am a massive advocate of virtual working and I am really fortunate to work for a company that has amazing technology and the right culture to support virtual working. But I was still craving that connection that comes with meeting someone in person .

By chance, nearly all my current team members were going to be in the one location at the same time and it was too good an opportunity to miss out on a real team lunch. So I got up at the crack of dawn, jumped in the car and started driving.

I have to confess I kinda enjoyed this alontraffice time in the car. Since I normally work at home, I don’t commute, I go straight from my role as mum to my role at work without a moments breath between them. My days are filled with to do lists and actions, I pretty much NEVER just sit listening to the radio.  So this time went by quickly and smoothly.  Ahhh… Unfortunately,  I then hit the city and pretty much ground to a halt. Suddenly my blissful time in the car became frustrating and annoying, reminding me that virtual working has made it possible to avoid this on a daily basis.

When I finally arrived at the office, it was like a weird reunion. Here are the people that I work with every day, speak to every day and know their faces (from photos in the system and dodgy Google + “hangout” meetings and Skype)…yet at the same time, it is weird seeing them in the flesh, being able to lean over the desk and ask them something.   It was lovely going out for lunch and having conversation about the weather and the clothes we were wearing, that idle chit chat that remote workers miss out on.   I was quickly brought up to speed with the latest gossip (some good, some bad) and I had the opportunity to have a career 1:1 discussion with my boss…in a meeting room!

It was an exhausting day but as I climbed back into the car to make the long commute home, I felt both energised and excited.  However,  I reflected on it all on the way home (I had plenty of time, due to a breakdown causing an extra hour on my already long trek)

Whilst I was really glad that I was able to take this opportunity to connect on a different level, I also realised how strong our connection already was.   Working remotely has allowed me to become uber productive, to avoid wasting time in the commute and also to be able to focus when I need to. And when I need to connect, when I need to feel like a team, the others are there…on the end of the line.

Of course, we have to work harder than others to create this, we have to make time in meetings to talk about the “mundane” stuff, like what we did at the weekend. We have “virtual coffee” meetings to catch up on gossip and we use all the online collaboration tools to make our projects run like clockwork.  But ultimately,  the modern workplace has really evolved,  and it is possible to have human connections…remotely.    It feels like just another reminder not to get too caught up with what has worked in the past and embrace a future which might mean doing things differently…not better, not worse, just different.

Well…I’m here!

P1020664Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I am finally here.   I’ll be honest and say I’ve spent the last few days (OK weeks),  playing around with my themes, updating my “about me” page and basically doing an amazing job at procrastinating around the real job at hand…writing my very first public post!

I think the reason I’ve been avoiding writing the post, is the same reason why I want to start posting…. it’s all about the power of amazing communications.  A few well chosen words can inspire a nation, and some badly chosen words can impact someone’s life forever.   So knowing the power that words can sometimes have,  I’m really nervous about sharing some of my own.   However, I’m here, because the words are just about busting out of my head,  they swim around while I’m the shower, while I’m trying to sleep and while I’m cooking the dinner…and I have to get them OUT!     I am so excited and inspired by some of the transformations happening in the workplace around communications and social engagement,  and all the ideas and inspiration I have needs to be channeled back out…or my brain is going to explode!

I’ve always been accused of talking too much, and spent most of my life trying to suppress this “very annoying” trait in my personality.   I had an “aha” moment not too long ago, when I realised that writing down all my thoughts and ideas,  has the same cathartic effect as talking them over with a colleague or a friend.  So here I am,  ready to download some of the thoughts swimming around in my crazy mind.   My passion is communication and I’m particularly interested in how that skill translates in the workplace,  why amazing leaders are always fantastic communicators and why it is a critical factor in whether you do or don’t enjoy your work .   I can’t wait to share some of the stories from my career so far,  there have been some really funny moments and some challenging times…although now I realise that those moments were a fantastic learning platform for where I am today.

I’m not entirely sure what the future of my blog holds and where I am going…but I know it’s a journey I really need to take.  If a small tribe of followers want to watch the journey unfold,  that would be awesome because I love the idea that maybe the little pieces of information from me,  might start a spark in someone else and help them a little way along their journey too.

Hope to see you around here again soon xoxoxo

P.S That’s me with my favourite picture  “She climbs mountains”, it’s up in my office and reminds me every day that everyone is capable of climbing mountains (even blog mountains!).