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Category Archives: Thrive at Work

If you’re like many people I know, you’re probably incredibly busy ALL the time. If you’re a parent, you’re running around, making sure your kids are fed, educated, keeping active, and staying safe. If you work, your days are likely filled with emails and deadlines, meetings and reports. If you’re a caretaker for someone who is ill or disabled, you have the added obligation of taking care of another life, in addition to your own.

If you find yourself thinking at the end of the day, “Where did the time go?”, chances are, you need to slow down. Or, at the very least, you need to pause and take a moment to celebrate YOU.

While that might sound selfish, in reality, it’s not. It’s healthy to feel good about ourselves and our accomplishments. This is what gives us strength to keep going—to keep doing what we’re doing.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to jot down your recent accomplishments. What big things have you achieved this year? This month? What smaller things did you accomplish this week or even this morning? Include items like milestones reached, interpersonal successes, personal growth/lessons, altruism or volunteerism, etc. The items could be work-related (I turned in my quarterly report on time; I learned how to use Zoom) or personal (I made sourdough bread for the first time; I helped my daughter with XYZ).

Now, take a look at your list. I bet you’ve done a lot this year! And I bet you’ll think of more items to add to your list as the day goes on.

Everything you’ve achieved this year is worth celebrating. These are signs that you’re making a difference, whether in your own life, the lives of others, or in the workplace. You matter. Don’t lose sight of that.

Don’t forget to acknowledge your actions in some way—a nice dinner, a new book, a popcorn-and-movie night. These small rewards will help motivate and rejuvenate you for tomorrow.

And whenever you’re wondering, “Where is the time going?”, pull out your list and add to it.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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depressed man on couch

We all have an inner narrative. It’s the little voice that lives insides us, cheering us on…or telling us we’re not good enough. It’s the voice that says, “Your opinion matters. Speak up!” Or the voice that says, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. Keep quiet.”

For many of us, it’s easy to tune into the negative messages—to believe that we’re not smart enough, talented enough, thin enough, strong enough, or capable enough. I call this negative voice your “saboteur.” It’s that weight that hangs around your shoulders, dragging you down and preventing you from rising to your potential. I have found that women, especially, have a constant self-saboteur—a persistent negative narrator that causes us to shrink into the shadows, rather than taking a risk, stepping forward, and speaking out.

Michael Singer, author of The Untethered Soul, talks about this tendency to talk down to ourselves. He describes the voice as your “negative roommate,” the naysayer that is constantly spouting pessimism. Singer advises us to “monitor the roommate” by externalizing it. Give your inner voice a body and start talking back to it!

For me, the idea of giving your inner voice “a body” is another way of saying, “be mindful of your thoughts.” Monitor them. Start keeping tabs on the narrative you’re telling yourself. This mindfulness is the first step in flipping your negativity around and freeing yourself from your saboteur.

When you catch yourself thinking pessimistically, pause. Refocus. Think of positive outcomes and possibilities instead of focusing on the negative. If your little voice is telling you, “You can’t do it. You will fail during your presentation at today’s meeting.” Tell it, “No, I won’t. I will succeed. I will speak eloquently and clearly; I will keep people engaged.”

Then, repeat. Continue to redirect your inner voice so you’re focusing on positive results. After a while, you’ll find that this redirection will become second-nature. You’ll begin to think of yourself and your abilities in a more positive light.

Grab a hold of your life’s narrative and tell it how to behave! That’s the surest way to boost your confidence, reduce stress, and reject toxic negativity. Start back-talking to the nagging saboteur in your head and discover what a difference it can make in your life and happiness.

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Stressed woman at laptop

Prompted by the COVID pandemic, more and more people have realized they can do much of their work away from an office setting. Working from home (WFH) is becoming the new norm, and companies are beginning to realize that employees can be about as productive at home as in the office. With WFH sticking around for the long haul, it’s crucial to establish some personal ground rules.

Why set ground rules?

Because it’s easy to get trampled by unreasonable expectations if you’re not seeing your bosses and co-workers face-to-face. People may expect you to return emails at all hours of the day, jump into a last-minute Zoom meeting, or take on a mountain of new assignments.

Just as it’s important to set personal boundaries in an office setting, so too is it important to set firm WFH boundaries. Here are 3 ways to do so:

1. Take Charge of Emails

If you’re answering emails at 8:00 or 9:00 at night (or later!), you set the expectation that you are willing to work at all hours of the day. That should not be the case. Even if your work laptop is with you 24/7, it is important to separate your work time from your personal time. That means establishing a timeframe for answering emails and sticking to it.

If your co-workers and supervisor know you’ll generally respond to emails between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., that expectation will be set. If they know you’ll respond to emails at 11:00 at night, that expectation will be set. If, for some reason, it’s easier for you to respond to emails at night (maybe you have small children that need care during the day), schedule your emails to send the next morning. That way, you’re still holding firm to your email parameters.

2. Say No

Many of us get in the habit of saying yes to assignments, even when we are A) short on time or B) the assignment does NOT suit our talents. When their team is working from home, supervisors may not have a good sense of how busy people are and whether or not they are free to take on more work. Because of that, they might assign tasks to those who are already up to their ears in work.

If you find yourself panicking about a new assignment, pause and ask yourself, “Does this fit into my area of expertise? Do I, realistically, have time to take this on?” If you answer no to either question, push back (as respectfully as possible!). You might even reach out to others who are better suited for the assignment and see if they have the time and capacity to take it on (if you do this, remember to return the favor at a later date. Also, let your supervisor know you’re looking for someone else to take on the assignment!).

For more, read this post for tips on saying no.

3. Limit Zoom Meetings

Zoom meetings are tiring. It can be difficult to read social cues through a screen, you’re forced to sit up and stare at the same spot for an extended period of time, and it’s sometimes difficult to get everyone engaged. If you’re involved in back-to-back-to-back Zoom meetings, you might find yourself completely wiped out at the end of the day.

To prevent video chat burnout, make an effort to limit your online meetings in a given day. If someone wants to schedule a meeting, ask yourself, “Do we really need to meet about this? Would a simple email suffice?” AND ask yourself, “Have I already reached my Zoom meeting limit for the day? Will scheduling another be productive or relatively useless?” Take charge of your schedule and limit your online video chats.

 

Just like working in an office, WFH should come with firm personal boundaries. If you do not take charge of your time and set healthy parameters, you’ll find that you’re in danger of burnout. Start saying no, setting email boundaries, and limiting video chats today!


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
NOW LIVE: CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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