Flexible Working in Practice

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When 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris 4 hour work week book  came out I wrongly concluded from the title that it was going to be about working in such a smart way you only had to ever work for four hours a week. I must admit before reading it I did think even for a mega organised person like myself getting my work week down to four hours and still being able to find my lifestyle as I chose did seem to be a big stretch goal.

When I eventually read the book however it wasn’t exactly how I had interpreted it from the title and Tim was suggesting a more creative approach to flexible working that had instant appeal. It was more about designing your work life so that you were able to take extended periods of time away from work so that in a whole year it averaged out at a four hour work week.

 So I read Tim’s book a few years ago now however the concept he suggested must have resonated in the background. I also listened to a few podcasts and read about other people who had decided to take time away from their work and travel in order to re energise themselves especially if they had been in the work place for many years and had never had more than the annual leave off for holidays.

 It suddenly dawned on me that I had never taken more than 2 weeks away from the workplace and indeed the last two week break I took was over twenty years ago. In recent years especially when initially starting the business the most holiday time I had taken was 10 days, opting normally for 3 breaks a year of about a week plus a couple of long weekends. It wasn’t until I sat back and reflected on this that I realised the short breaks that had become my norm. On the surface this wasn’t causing me a problem I enjoyed the pattern however starting with Tim’s book the seed of an idea began to sprout about taking a period of extended time away from the normal working week pattern.

 As many of my friends began to embark on early retirement patterns and travel or take the gap years they didn’t do back in the day I began to consider a less extreme option and some what of a halfway house solution to test some of the concepts in Tim’s book. This idea formulated into a plan to work based abroad for 4-8 weeks a year initially. In my work as a coach I have helped many entrepreneurs create businesses working remotely from many countries it was about time I actually role modelled this myself and at the time of writing I am halfway through the first month totally based in Palma Mallorca and guess what it is working fine thanks largely to technology.

  

Sandra works as a coach for business and private clients. She is also the author of Own It regain control and live life on your terms available here  Own It book link Amazon 

 

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Personal Wellbeing – Two Critical Lists

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In the last post I mentioned meeting a lot of people recently who were running on empty, in danger of becoming ill and being stopped in their tracks.

I am much more aware of recognising key signs in both others and myself now than I was in my earlier years ; this is as a result of both personal experience and watching when others have been stopped in their tracks, forced to take corrective action and start looking after themselves better.

Sometimes it is at exactly this point that potential clients pick up the phone and come and see me for the initial coaching conversation when they realise they need to do things differently and make some changes in their lives either professionally, personally or sometimes both.

There are two books that I have read that I totally recommend on this subject when it comes to either recovering from burn out  or ideally preventing from happening in the first place

  • Adrenal Fatigue – James L Wilson
  • The Body doesn’t Lie – Vicky Vlachanis

Both of these take a completely holistic view and encourage us to take care of ourselves mentally and physically on an on going basis along with recognising when we are going off course as early as possible.

A practical exercise I get clients to do and I also practice myself is to generate two simple lists that we can regularly look at to ensure we are following the right one

  1. List one – things that make me feel good
  2. List two – things that make me feel bad

These are obviously going to be very unique to the individual and could contain things like activities that make you feel good or bad, places that make you feel good or bad, food that makes you feel fantastic or rubbish, people that make you feel downbeat and negative or make your laugh and bring your energy up.

You can start making these lists immediately however what happens is that when you get used to using them you find yourself adding things to both lists on an on going basis as you discover new people, new ways of eating,  new activities, new places and to reflect changes you make in your life.

How you use these lists practically is in partnership with the signs and signals you identified in the last post so for example if you find yourself going down the low energy, no patience with anything, not thriving route you look at the “things that make me feel good list” and schedule time for these things. Also take a look at the “things that make me feel bad list” and make a note of anything that you have been doing too much of on this list and stop doing it to reverse the trend.

If you feel you are heading down the “burnt out” route then check out the books above and start creating your lists based on the holistic approach , add to both lists at least monthly for the first couple of months. Keep them to hand in case you need then.

If you are feeling good at the moment create the lists anyway as a preventative measure and out of interest it should reflect the reason you are feeling good is that you are doing stuff list number one – keep doing what you are doing.

 

Sandra provides coaching for both Businesses and Private Clients. More information about coaching can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com

 

 

 

 

The Pie Chart Model of Happiness

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If you are like me a book worm with an interest in self-development and personal growth you will have a mountain of books many of which touch on the subject of happiness, how to achieve living life full out. I even wrote one of my own! see link at tend of the article in bio if you are interested in this one.

It wasn’t until I embarked on my current positive psychology coach CPD that I had ever seen the subject of happiness broken down into a model that really resonated with me and I am sure it will be a framework worth discussing with both existing and future clients. I came across the model while reading one of books on the required reading list, The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky  https://amzn.to/2q7DWql in this book the model in question suggests that 50% is genetic ie. we are genetically predisposed to either look on life with either a positive or negative view and she calls this our ‘set point’ 10% is dependent on circumstances that surround us or that we find our self in and 40% is down to actions we can choose to take which in the book she refers to as “intentional activity and habits”

I loved this model straight away as I am often challenged from mainly friends and family who ask the question ‘isn’t it easier for some people to be “Rays of Sunshine”, those positive energetic uplifting people that we like to be around. Some of these people suggest they could never be like these Rays of Sunshine because of their situation or circumstances. What this model suggests is  that although they may have a point to a certain extent that action can definitely be taken by everyone to improve their overall happiness by 40% at least. The only segment we have got no control about according to this particular book is our genetic disposition.

I have always known that people who live life with a glass half full attitude the majority of the time have often done a lot of work in identifying the actions they need to take on a regular basis to maintain this outlook on life. It doesn’t come without taking action to develop good habits and choosing to do this is optional. When you see that taking time to learn how to do this and discover which are the actions that have the most positive impact on you personally then its easier to invest the time to build these into routine; habits that can contribute to the 40% intentional action segment of Sonias model.

I found this book quite encouraging to see how much is in our control if we choose to accept this. So even if genetically you are born with a glass half empty bias and your life circumstances aren’t great at the moment there is still stuff you can do to make the situation better.

 

Sandra works as a coach for both Businesses and Private Clients largely based in Bristol/London or Palma Majorca find out more at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com or her book can be found on amazon  Own It – regain control and live life on your terms  http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl

 

The First 90 Days Concept and Practice

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Recently I have been working with a couple of people that have taken on new roles either from internal promotion or moving to a different company. We have been talking about how important it is to have a plan for the initial few months of the role. For many reasons adopting this methodology is helpful: to create a powerful professional first impression, it helps prioritise your time so that you learn as much as you can as quick as you can and you start building relationships with all the key stakeholders.

So what might this 90 day plan look like ? Take a look at a book entitled The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins for some more detailed material.

It should be a very personally created plan that is tailored to suit both you individually and the needs that success in the role require both short and long term.

As Steven Covey states in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People “ begin with the end in mind” even when planning for the first 90 day transition period. A few questions that might help you here are :

  1. If you imagine the new role in two years time what do you want to have achieved?
  2. What legacy do you want to leave?
  3. How can you add value to the role?
  4. What type of person do you want to be described as by your team/colleagues?
  5. Describe you short/medium/long term vision for role
  6. What do your stakeholders want from you
  7. How can you take the role to the next level

The next element of the plan is to assess the current resources that are available to you both people and otherwise? How well do you understand the different personalities and motivations of the individuals that are critical to your success? If the answers are difficult in this section the first 90 days might include an action to build this knowledge and assess the resources available.

The final element is what actions are required to close the gap and what are the quick wins that can be accomplished in the first 90 day’s. In addition for the longer term action items, when they are broken down into chunks which are the chunks that can be realistically set down as goals to achieve in this 90 day period and which what chunks need to be assigned to the 180 day plus part of the strategic plan

The final step is to pull all the elements of the 90 day plan above into an easy to update one page top level summary that you can carry around with you as a working reminder and communication tool for the next 90 day’s,

 

Sandra works as a coach with both business and private clients. More information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com 

My Love of Reading

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When we were creating the “what are we thankful for in 2017 list” last month and I was asked for “an activity that I can become absorbed/lost in the answer came very quickly. I have always loved reading from about the age of 10 and now having recently been introduced to podcasts this is becoming an equally absorbing and enjoyable activity.

 I remember always having a book on the go initially Enid Blyton with the famous five and Secret Severn series and then from my early teenage years I graduated to detective novels when my grandmother introduced me to Agatha Christie which I proceeded to devour. Reading is a way of spending time by myself and I find it incredibly therapeutic and time does disappear when caught in a book that grabs me. I now love nothing more than a recommendation from a friend or colleague for a good book and I am straight onto Amazon to order. I must admit to still preferring a proper paperback book although for ease of travel the kindle versions are useful it’s just the added screen time that I try to limit at the end of the day, that is a dilemma for me on this.

 My reading challenge in 2017 was to add a bit more variety into my reading, as for the past few years most of my books have been related to either business or self-development. It took a conversation with another lady in the office who always relaxes by reading fiction that made me realise that I had neglected this area and wanted to add it back in. Having made that decision, I am pleased to have read around 6 novels in 2017 from very different authors and have thoroughly enjoyed them so I think in 2018 I will continue to alternate my pile of books in waiting between fiction and non-fiction.

 Podcasts are also becoming important and my initial introduction to these was via my Ashtanga Yoga Practice when some of the teachers started sharing stories via this method. I must admit I now listen to a variety of podcasts but mainly these are work related maybe there is another challenge for me to expand the subject matter wider here next year?

 My additional challenge is to encourage our little grandchildren to read, I always try and buy them books whenever possible in the hope that they might get the same pleasure I have from this pastime.

 

Sandra is a coach to Business and Private Clients and also the author of Own It available from Amazon http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl

 

Getting Rid of Stuff

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Linked to my last blog post I will ask you a question. Did you know there is a strong link between clutter and energy levels?

 One of the activities I have recently become absorbed with is Minimalism. To be honest this time last year I wasn’t aware of the concept or the growing movement that is building, largely in the US now, around the concept of living a minimal life. I love it when people recommend good books or documentaries, and this is how I discovered this growing approach to life through a recommendation from a friend regarding The Minimalists. A google search later and I discovered the website, the documentary on Netflix and the two guys behind promoting this approach to life using their own experiences to illustrate the benefits.

 I have never been a massive collector of stuff but when I began to read around the subject it shed a whole new light on the benefits of decluttering our lives and only surrounding ourselves with things we love or add value to our life. It takes having a bit of a clear out to a whole new level.

 In 2016 I had begun to dabble in this concept via noticing another book advertised in a magazine at the hairdressers called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. Again, as I read this book the concepts made sense and I now see are aligned to the Minimalist approach in it suggests that category by category we sort through our belongings only keeping things that “spark joy”. As a result of this earlier read my wardrobes and cupboards are now organised in the suggested “Marie Kondo” way which makes life so much easier to see what you have, choose what you wear and prevent you buying more of the same type of items. When I first did this, I was astonished how many pairs of blue jeans I have, probably not many by other people’s standards but when they are all staked on top of each other on a shelf it would confirm that I would need to think carefully before buying another pair as I really don’t need any more unless I get rid of or wear out the ones I have already. If I am honest I probably default to wearing only a couple of favorite pairs anyway. When I had sorted my stuff, and stored it in categories if looked so good and this is where the energy impact kicks in. Every time I look in my nicely, colour and category organised clothes collection it makes me feel good, it makes choosing what to wear a lot quicker and generally generates the feeling of me being in control of my stuff rather than the other way around.

 Minimalism takes things to another level asking us to question everything we own as to do we love it? and does it add value to your life.? With my jeans example my next project is to sort through the pile and donate or bin any pair that doesn’t pass those two tests! As I type this from our business office a lot of work needs to be done here as we have over 18years worth of stuff maybe that is a 2018 project in the making.

 

Sandra is a professional coach who works with both Business and Private Clients. More information can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com or www.thekudosgroup.com

 

 

Managing Your Own Energy Levels

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Having always been a naturally high energy person, it wasn’t until I found myself feeling low energy on a daily basis that I gave this subject any consideration. The only times when I had previously felt lethargic were when I was ill or in the early years of having young children when I just assumed it was a given in both situations.

It took the condition of an un diagnosed bout of glandular fever about 5 years ago for me to take a good look at how I managed my energy daily. The virus eventually did get diagnosed but not until I had suffered with extreme tiredness for many months getting highly frustrated not knowing the reason. In some of the Chinese medicine literature it states we all get the illnesses we need to give us signs that the body needs help or that we need to make certain changes to our lifestyle and I now believe catching glandular fever in my fifties did me a massive favor. It forced me to do a complete audit of my lifestyle, read around the subject of adrenal fatigue and make some positive adjustments in both how I manage my work and personal life.

Any person with a driven personality type tries to muscle on through when they get ill and this often not helpful. In the end I realised that I had to give in a bit, reserve the little energy I had to focus on  the most important tasks and take rest a lot more than I had ever taken in my life before. Being self-employed I decided that I needed to focus my energy on keeping my work commitments and let go of my social life, my then intensive exercise routine and pare down my diary time to two simple elements going to work and coming home and resting. If felt very unusual at first sitting down and doing nothing but in the end, I was left with little choice as the current way of operating wasn’t working. Within a few weeks the energy levels started to return, and this is dangerous as feeling better it is tempting to return to old habits and burn the candle at both ends again. Luckily during my rest periods I had been reading and a brilliant book called Adrenal Fatigue by Jim Wilson and it helped immensely; some of the key messages had filtered through and I made two lists of “things that make me feel good and energise me” and “things that make me feel bad and drain me” This exercise was a breakthrough for me as it forced me to list out activities, situations and things that aided my energy levels and also the opposite, any person, activity, food or situation that drained or stressed me and therefore depleted my energy.

Five years later I still add too and refer to these lists – I encourage you to create your own to manage and optimise your own energy levels.

 

Sandra is a High Performance coach who works with both businesses and private clients; more information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com