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Tag Archives: Margaret Smith Twin Cities

Work relationships are important, and yet, how often do we truly offer others our thanks and appreciation? Oftentimes, we take for granted the little things people do to make our lives a bit easier. And then there are the big things–the time a co-worker stepped up and covered your work when you had an emergency, the co-worker who took on extra work so the team would succeed.

How can you show your super star co-workers your gratitude? It’s not always as easy as showing appreciation to a friend, a significant other, or your child. Relationships with co-workers are (usually) different, even if you consider them friends. Even so, there are several ways to recognize a co-worker’s good deeds.

Here are 10 ideas:

1. Send a hand-written thank you card

A thank you card is a simple, classic gesture that I’ve used many times. Be sure to make note of something specific your co-worker did and don’t just give a generic “thank you.”

2. Give a car wash punch card

This is a practical gift that almost anyone could use. Especially appropriate for the co-worker who does a lot of driving.

3. Recognize them during a team meeting

Unless your co-worker doesn’t like being singled out, it can be fun and uplifting to be recognized in a team meeting. Keep your statements brief and, if you’re not running the meeting, make sure to get permission for your shout-out.

4. Treat them to lunch

Express your thanks by taking your co-worker to their favorite lunch spot. Be sure to let them know why you’re treating them and make it clear that the tab is on you!

5. Recommend them for a reward

If your workplace gives annual rewards, consider nominating one of your co-workers. Unless the co-worker asks, there’s no need to let them know you were the one who nominated them. After all, this is about them, not you!

6. Fill in your boss

Send you boss an email to let them know about the stellar work your co-worker is doing. Be sure to mention specific instances when your colleague truly shined or went the extra mile.

7. Offer to help

A simple offer to help a co-worker can convey your appreciation for them. Don’t make a big deal about helping. Just help.

8. Say thank you

Really. It’s as easy as it sounds and it doesn’t happen often enough. Simply giving someone a sincere ‘thank you” can be powerful, especially if the “thank you” is followed up with a specific reason for showing your appreciation. For example, “Thank you, Sam, for working late yesterday and making sure our sales figures matched the spreadsheets. I appreciate it.”

No matter how you choose to show your gratitude, it’s important to DO IT. Your appreciation can make a big difference in someone’s day.


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With so many distractions in today’s world, it is sometimes VERY difficult to concentrate. Add in the reality of working from home (something that has many of us blurring the lines between work time and personal time) and juggling multiple responsibilities, and it’s easy to see why so many of us are having difficulties focusing.

I won’t say I have THE solution for bringing focus to your life (people operate differently, of course, and there is no “one size fits all” solution), but I do have several ideas that could work. Try out a few, see what resonates with you, and keep at it. And if you start to lose focus down the road? Switch things up and try a new strategy!

1. Get Into Airplane Mode

If you have to do something that doesn’t require you to be online (writing a report, filling out an Excel spreadsheet, etc.), try putting your laptop and phone into airplane mode. Many of our distractions come from emails, social media, or mindless internet searches, and with the click of a button, you can make them all go away! It may seem odd at first to be disconnected, but it is also empowering and refreshing. Try spending an hour or so in airplane mode before popping back online.

2. Take Control of Emails

I’ve talked about emails in past blog posts (like this ONE) and how they tend to control our days. Instead of letting your inbox manage you, start taking charge of your inbox! Set a limit on the number of times you check and respond to emails (three times per day is a good place to start) and do your best to not get derailed by “urgent” requests. It’s not up to you to stomp out every little fire that crops up, AND it’s healthy to set clear email boundaries (like not responding after work hours).

3. Step Away

If you need to boost your motivation and focus, sometimes it’s a good idea to simply step away. Get up, leave your laptop, and go on a walk or read a book. Do something completely different for a while–something that will refresh and rejuvenate you. Even enjoying a cup of coffee or tea AWAY from your desk can be helpful. It’s all about the change of scenery and doing something non-work-related for a while.

4. Listen to Instrumental Music

Certain music can help boost your concentration and give you a burst of energy. Instrumental music can be especially good for focusing, because you won’t accidentally tune in to the lyrics! Try searching for epic movie soundtracks, ambient music, studying music, or binaural beats.

5. Exercise

Exercise is both a mood-booster and an energy-booster. If you’ve been feeling lethargic lately, try adding a few workouts into your weekly routine. Even if you’re not an “athletic type,” you can still find something that works for you. Start small. Go for brisk walks, practice some gentle yoga, or try zumba. There’s something out there that is right for you!

6. Set a Timer

One great way to increase productivity is to set a timer and JUST WORK. Try half an hour or forty-five minutes at first–something to get you going. Once the timer is running, commit to doing work, and only work. No checking your email, no surfing the web. Pick a task and do it! If your timer sounds and you feel like continuing your work, set another timer and keep going.

We all could use a little help with concentration these days. Pick a few of these methods and give them a try! And if you have any other approaches you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about them. Thank you!


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If you’re like many people I know, you’re feeling a bit worn out and beat down. Maybe you’re feeling isolated or overwhelmed by work or life commitments. Maybe you’re sick and tired of cold weather. Or maybe you’re simply weary from the long pandemic and the unusual route our lives have taken over the past year. Whatever the case, now is the time to turn inward for a time and work on building up your resilience.

Building resilience takes time and effort. It’s an ongoing process–something you’ll have to chip away at throughout your life. But the effort is worth it. Your resilience will help you weather life’s storms and prepare you to overcome the everyday annoyances (flat tires, illnesses, burnt dinners, missed deadlines) that we often encounter.

How can you build your resilience and strengthen your mental fortitude? Try one or a few of these four methods:

1. Imagine yourself on the other side

If you’re staring down a particularly troubling problem OR even if you’re feeling less than your best, try thinking about the future. Take a few minutes to sit quietly and imagine life AFTER you’ve overcome your problems. How do you feel? What does life look like? What are you doing?

Thinking about a bright future does two things:

1) It opens you to the possibility that things CAN and WILL get better. This puts you in a better place, mentally and emotionally.

2) It gets you into problem-solving mode. Instead of dwelling on your current woes, you’ll be thinking ahead, which can help you begin to brainstorm how to get to your desired state.

2. Pay attention to your thoughts

You are what you think. If you’re constantly down on yourself, pessimistic, and hopeless, those thoughts will become reality. Thoughts are powerful. They frame our entire existence and carry us from day to day. If you are constantly thinking you can’t do something, you probably won’t do it. It’s really that simple.

Start paying attention to what goes through your mind. If you catch yourself thinking negatively about something, pause and take a step back. How can you reframe that thought? What narrative can you tell yourself instead? What silver lining or bit of hope can you focus on instead of negative aspects? Tuning in and challenging your pessimistic thoughts can set you up to be more resilient and able to roll with the punches.

For more advice on overcoming negative self-talk, please CLICK to read my past blog post on the subject.

3. Practice good self-care

When you’re feeling downtrodden, it could be that you simply need to take some meaningful time for yourself to rejuvenate and reinvigorate. Taking a break (even a short one) can renew your confidence, energize you, and prepare you to face the challenges that lie ahead. If you’d like a few self-care ideas, click HERE.

4. Reach out to others

You don’t have to build resilience on your own. In fact, it’s healthy to reach out to others when you’re feeling low and lean on them for a little support. Seek out those who are caring and compassionate, good listeners, and empathetic. At times, all you really need is a listening ear–someone to help you process difficult moments. Of course, it’s not fair to take, take, take and never give back. Be there for others when they need you, too. The best relationships are reciprocal, and chances are, you’ll find satisfaction in helping others on their journeys as well.

It’s best to reach out to multiple people (or even support groups or a counselor), so you’re not fully reliant on one person. This can be your web–a network of individuals who can catch you when you fall and help you bounce back.

You ARE a resilient person and you CAN make it through difficult times. Make a concerted effort to practice self-reflection, take good care of yourself, and reach out to others when you need a little extra support. You’ve got this.


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