Sunday, November 29, 2020

Tips for finishing 2020 strong: #1 FOCUS

The finish line is in sight, but it feels like many of us just need that extra little push (or a fruit mince pie or two) to get us over the line. Over the next couple of weeks I'll be sharing some of the tips and things I'll be doing to stay on track so I can finish this challenging year on a high. I'd love to hear how you're travelling over this last month of 2020, so I encourage you to share your tips and experiences in the comments as we go:-) Here's to the end of this year! 

TIP#1: Focus

I saw this quote today and it really resonated, because I feel like much of 2020 has been spent chasing lots of bunnies - uncertain times seem to draw the bunnies out! 

"If you run after two hares you'll catch neither." - Proverb

Don't get me wrong, most of these bunnies have lead to awesome opportunities, but I can't help wonder if I would have arrived where I was headed sooner if I'd have focused more. This is what I'll be doing in December. I'm working on two main work projects and THAT'S IT! Here's how I'm going to stay focused this month:

1. Remove things from my To Do List

A wise mentor recently challenged me to "remove" some things from my To Do List, rather than adding anything to it, or trying to complete it. It's a genius idea, because it really challenges our thought patterns. We are so focused on trying to get through the list, rather than challenge the necessity of everything on the list in the first place. Removing items from your list could simply mean renegotiating deadlines to next year, or delegating so the job still gets done, and you maintain your sanity. What can you remove from your To Do List?

2. Schedule

To ensure the things I need to do don't get pushed aside, I'm going to schedule them in my diary. This includes self-care activities, such as exercising, sleeping, meditating, eating well, etc. I've planned out the days I plan on running and going to the gym, and will make sure I attend my chiro appointment, etc. When we get busy, self-care activities are often the first to fall by the wayside (especially sleep!), which is why we often fall ill. The work will happen - that's a given. It's the other things keeping the wheels on the wagon we need to focus on.  

3. Less is more

For me, the joy of the Christmas lies in connecting with people face-to-face (which has been challenging this year) by catching up over a drink or a meal. Because a number of the annual events I usually go to at this time of year have been cancelled, the events that remain have become even more precious. I am planning on attending these events with gusto and energy (rather than hoping from one event to another as in previous years), and won't feel guilty for doing so.  

These are the three ways I'm going to focus over the next few weeks, I'd love to hear about your plan of attack for the rest of the year - please share in the comments below...

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Working from home tips: Abbey Robb,

Those chats in the office kitchen can have more benefit than we initially realised, says Abbey Robb. Here are Abbey's top working from home tips to keep us relaxed and performing at our peak:

1. Make a designated space your office space

You don’t need to have a large house to make this work.  It’s ideal if you can set up a room as an office, or allocate one end of the dining table as your work area, but even if you can’t it’s enough to make sure that you sit in a different part of the lounge room than you tend to gravitate towards when you’re relaxing. Give yourself that visual cue that this area is for work, and other parts of your home are for relaxing and you’ll find it much easier to switch off of an evening.

2. Build a routine into the end of your workday

Spend some time to mentally divest yourself of the work you’ve been doing and leave things neatly organised for when you return in the morning. This is especially important when working from home because again, those cues that signal to us that it's time to mentally switch focus aren't there anymore.

Dr. Adam Fraser, a peak performance researcher, recommends a specific 3-step routine to shift focus and be more present. The three stages are:

Reflectspend a little time finishing up your day, making a list of things that need to be done in the future and emptying all those tasks out of your mind. It can also be useful to ask yourself a couple of questions like 'what did I do well today?' 'How did I get better?' This helps people start to change their thinking away from worrying about the future to having a sense of satisfaction for their efforts.

Rest - take a little time to do something that helps you rest. That might be going for a walk, doing a crossword puzzle or making yourself a snack. Find something that works for you to give yourself a bit of mental space and relaxation.

Reset - take a few moments to orient your thoughts towards your home life, your goals and values and how you want to show up there. Allow yourself time to shift priorities and focus on what your intentions are. Maybe you want to really connect with your partner, spend quality time with your kids or celebrate something with a friend.

3. Manage your stress levels

If you don't already have practices in your life that support stress management, find something that works for you - exercise, a hobby, meditation, or journaling. Often we unconsciously divest ourselves from stress through interacting with the social connections that we have at work without even thinking about it. Those chats in the office kitchen are more important than most people realise!

Abbey is an award-winning Integrative Therapist and Clinical Hypnotherapist. She specialises in helping people effect fast and lasting change in their lives. Learn more at

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Working from home tips: Natasha, Snacks With Bite

For many of us, working from home means we have acquired additional time that was previously allocated to commuting to and from work. We love Natasha's tip of using this time for exercise, which becomes an excellent transition period between work and home time. Natasha shares more of her helpful tips below: 

1. Stick to your normal work routine as much as possible! 

Get up at the same time as you would a normal workday, put on some make up, get dressed into smart casual clothes. This is all about mindset and ensuring you have cues that tell your brain you are at work.

2. Have a workstation set up

This is important to me, as the WFH line between work and home is blurred. My office/desk area symbolises work and when I am way from my desk I am at home. At the beginning of working from home I never really got the time to shut off, my computer was in my lounge room and I found myself jumping on to check email late into the evening. It's about quality not quantity, and a clean, relaxing and inspiring work space has really helped me remain productive. It also helps that I have a Snacks With Bite snack box at my desk, so I don’t go wandering into the kitchen and get distracted.

3. Use your commute time wisely

A good portion of my day used to be commuting to work. Now working from home, I have started using my commute time to exercise. The commute home was where I would decentralise from the workday and switch into my personal time. I have really benefited from exercising; it really helps with stress and boost my mood.

Natasha is the CEO of Snacks With Bite, an Australian based healthy snack delivery subscription service for home and offices. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Working from home tips: Alison Roberts-Tse, Dance Dispatches

I'm an early riser, and a big advocate of allocating some time for myself in the morning, rather than jumping straight into emails, which is also one of Alison Roberts-Tse's working from home tips. "As a freelancer, as well as an employee who has been working from home during the pandemic, my top three tips when working from home include":

1. Wake up a little earlier for a bit of ‘you’ time before logging in

Although you may be tempted to roll out of bed just before you need to sign in and begin your work, it’s healthier to allow yourself a bit of personal time before you dive into your business inbox. Normally, you’d mull over personal issues during your commute to and from work; but without one, you should schedule some time to decompress.

2. Leave your snacks in the kitchen

The benefits are two-fold. It will prevent absent-minded over-eating; and it will encourage you to get up throughout the day. Otherwise, it’s all too easy to stay glued to your seat. Even short breaks away from the screen allow you to stretch your muscles and give your eyes a chance to rest.

3. Keep your desk clean

There’s a good chance that your home desk is covered with personal items, as well as your necessary work from home kit. A cluttered desk makes focusing difficult, so when you ‘transition’ to work every day, remove items that are potentially distracting.

Alison Roberts-Tse is the founder and editor of Dance Dispatches, a digital publication that celebrates dance around the world.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Working from home tips: Dr Melissa Keogh

I am a huge fan of setting alarms in my phone - not just for appointments, but as a trigger for other beneficial activities throughout the day. This might be a motivational mantra, or a reminder for a self-care activity, such as meditation or exercise. I love Melissa's use of alarms to structure her day, as well as her other working from home tips below:

1. Have a daily routine for work days and set multiple alarms to help you stick to it

For example, set four alarms a day to remind you of a) your shower at 8am, b) to log on at 9am c) have lunch at 12.30pm and d) log off at 5pm.

You may be more likely to keep to your routine if you’ve already made a personal promise to yourself, in this case, by way of setting a number of alarms.

2. Get fresh air and twenty minutes of sunshine every day where possible

The D- Minder App can help you determine how much sun is good for you without burning.

3. Have at least 2 hours of wind down time before sleep

No computers, no emails, no phones. Get someone else in the home to change your passwords until the morning of you have to.

Dr Melissa Keogh is a Sydney based clinical psychologist in private practice, writer/columnist and media commentator. Learn more at

Working from home tips: Nikki Thomas, Winning in Work

Turning on the TV for a bit of background noise might seem like a good idea when working from home, but it can be one of the biggest distractions. Nikki Thomas suggests listening to music instead. Here are some of Nikki's other tips when working from home:

1. Write a to-do list and stick to it

When working from home we can get distracted by the things around us, but in order to stay productive write a to-do list for the day with your urgent business items and stick to it.

2. Turn the TV off 

So many of us put the TV on in order to have some background noise when working. Choose to listen to music or a podcast instead to stay more productive.

3. Set a reminder to move from your desk 

Without distractions from colleagues we can work for hours without a break. So set a reminder every 45 mins to stretch, grab some water and move away from the screen. It will benefit your well-being in the long run and help reduce burn out.

Nikki Thomas is Founder of Winning in Work, a coaching, training and workplace collaboration consultancy helping people love the work they do and do the work they love. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

How to make decisions: Flip it

While waiting for my coffee one morning, the conversation with my barista turned to the topic of decision making. 

What do you do when you have two or three choices, but can only have one? 

Our conversation was in relation to our kids having a certain amount of pocket money to spend, but they can only buy one thing. “Flip a coin”, my wise barista announced confidently. “Heads = this, tails = that. If you’re disappointed with the outcome, then pick the other thing.” 

The penny quite literally dropped. Very true, I thought - either way you’ve made a decision by forcing your gut to make the call. Deep down we all have a preference, but are often influenced by other factors: what others will think, price, the “sensible” choice, etc. 

This strategy can be used for anything from kid’s toys to what to do on the weekend, what outfit to wear, or where to go on holiday. 

Try it! The Next time you’re stuck between two options, grab a coin and flip might be surprised what happens. 

How do you work through decisions?