Sunsets and reflection

I am one of those people who is enjoying this time in isolation, particularly with regards to working from home. I get to spend more time with my husband and my dog and as soon as I log off each weekday, I am free to go for a run or do whatever I need to do. I don’t have a 40 minute commute ahead of me, crammed in with a bunch of strangers in the same situation, followed by an hour at the gym, again with sweaty individuals who don’t understand the meaning of personal space, only to get home by 7:30pm, walk the dog and then sit down to enjoy dinner by 8:30 or 9pm.

In saying that, I didn’t used to mind the morning commute. I would often get a seat on the train so had time to sit somewhat comfortably and read the day’s news. I did not mind overhearing conversations that weren’t relevant to me or smiling awkwardly at whoever squeezed aside to let me off the train. We were all in the same situation, on our way to the office, where we would spend the day trapped in a same space with many others who we may or may not be able to tolerate, sometimes able to get outside for a walk around the block at lunchtime, depending on our schedules or the weather.

I thought my day to day was pretty good and I had a routine figured out that worked for me most of the time. I never had any trouble getting out of bed in the morning and was able to challenge myself with new projects at work.

But now, having worked from home for close to three months straight, I am loving my new routine. It is a difficult situation that the world is in, but if we begin to consider the positive impact this could have on workplace flexibility and adaptability (as well as the environmental benefits) when we come out of it, we realise that for many of us working from home on a full time basis is not a bad idea at all. If we can thrive in a familiar environment, why take that away? Why force us into a potentially unhealthy routine, where we are much more likely to suffer fatigue, exhaustion or contract a highly contagious virus?

On an evening run last week, I took the time to appreciate where I was and what I noticed around me. The sky was a deep pink colour; it was a gorgeous sunset and I couldn’t help but think ‘red sky at night, sailors delight,’ thinking of the fisher people who may be out on the water the next day and that if the riddle were true, a clear morning would follow. I stopped to take photos which is not something I often do while on a run, but the way that the glow of the sky was soaking into everything that lay beneath it, I couldn’t resist. I had been using a tracker app and surely stopping would not do me any favours in getting a good time, but I was caught up in the moment ‒ something which has not happened at least since the start of lockdown.

It was a good feeling, being so involved in what is going on around me, to not be thinking about anything else, other than how I felt at that time.

This is a dividing time for workforce flexibility, where these new opportunities and emotions are making many of us reconsider our ‘old lives’. Rather than contemplating an eventual return to the office, what organisations should be getting their heads around is the idea of working from home as a continued future practice. If we have adapted well in the current situation, and are better off this way, why should that be taken away?

If you have any thoughts on this topic, please leave a comment below.

Consumed

Most of you will agree that feeling underprepared is not a great feeling.

Unprepared, underprepared, unawares, however you choose to say it; it essentially means the same thing – not quite prepared and maybe even caught by surprise.

Whether it’s an occasion, an event, a sporting game or a meeting – being underprepared is not ideal for anyone.

Staying on top of things

It happened to me recently. Of course, it happens often in day to day life, but I usually try to stay on top of things as best I can. I was finishing up a meeting with a co-worker when he began asking about my next meeting, that I had been called to attend at last minute notice.

I answered his questions as best I could, he was curious and wanted to know what the meeting was about. He smirked and joked that I hadn’t done my homework. I smiled and looked down because I knew that that wasn’t entirely true – I knew the focus of the meeting, but I hadn’t completely readied myself for the discussion that would follow.

I had done all the pre-reading earlier in the week, but it was a lot of new information and some of it was still sinking in.

I should have almost expected to be called in to the meeting, then I would have been more prepared.

But I wasn’t.

Realisations

And did I stuff up in the meeting? I don’t think so, no. I may not have had much to say but I took a lot of notes as this is how I tend to absorb information.

Lately, I have been thinking that this is something I need to stop doing.

There is so much advice out there about being present and living in the moment. I need to learn to trust myself, trust that I know what is going on and be comfortable in knowing that I don’t always need to take a mountain of seemingly unnecessary notes.

If I am asked a question after a meeting, I most often go from what I remember anyway, I rarely refer to my notes.

So, I’m going to stop taking as many notes in the meetings I attend.

Once I am clear that I do understand what is going on – because I understand people and relationships to some extent, I will just sit back and listen. I think when I allow myself to do this, and to be fully immersed in discussion, I will add more value.

I mean, I don’t take notes when discussing what my friend is up to on the weekend or when I ask how her work is going. I just remember what she says and offer expressions and/or advice. Sometimes I forget, and that is okay.

We don’t always need to remember everything.

I almost makes me nervous – not to take notes. It has become the way I work – it’s just what I do.

But I need to let go of my fear of missing something. Because realistically, I am missing what’s happening right in front of me. I am missing the passion, the fight, the belief in what people are saying and really this is not what I ever wanted to do.

I never thought the day would come when I would say this, but I think my notes are consuming me, and I really need to stop and allow myself to live in the moment.

The black and white of feedback

Feedback is an important aspect to life. It contributes to our personal and emotional development and allows us to see things from a different perspective.

The other night my mum suggested that sometimes I rely too heavily on people’s feedback, which I thought was a bit harsh and not entirely true.

Sure, it’s great to hear when you are doing well or how you could improve, but it is also likely that you will already have some kind of an idea of what the response will be. You’re either doing well, or you’re not. It seems pretty black and white.

Receiving feedback can be tricky. And you can show your true strength with your reaction.

If the answer is positive, you might nod your head and ask about other areas you can develop. If the answer is not so good, it is the perfect time to ask why.

Use the answer to develop your attitude, your skill set, your humour, whatever it is that has been constructively criticised.

Whatever you do, don’t overthink it. You are as strong as you allow yourself to be and if you let feedback get to you, it may be harmful, if not only to your self-worth, which is actually a pretty important thing.

Imagine going to work every day, sitting opposite your boss and not talking because she suggested you work on your sentence structure when writing reports and you disagreed. Or maybe she suggested that you introduce yourself to external clients in a different way.

How is not asking for more information benefiting you?

Make an effort to understand where these concerns are coming from. You can even give her some feedback of your own if that’s what you need to do!

But maybe you didn’t even ask for the feedback you received. Maybe your friend told you that you were terrible at keeping in touch and that she wasn’t going to even bother anymore. Hopefully you get better at contacting each other and in the meantime, your emotional intelligence is under some pretty extreme development.

The hardest part about receiving feedback can be accepting it. But this is where you can prove people wrong and demonstrate exactly why you aren’t what whoever thinks.

Who really cares though?

We all have it in our human nature to care about what other people think to a certain degree but if you know you are doing the best you can, just keep on doing that and others will learn that you are not going to react.

They will realise that this is who you are and that you’re not going to change because of something that someone else says.

Feedback should be used constructively but there is no need to depend on it, even if you are trying to improve.

As soon as you feel comfortable and proud of what you are doing, you shouldn’t let other people get in the way to tell you otherwise. And if they do; it will be quite obvious to you and everyone around you that they are wrong.

There is no point giving up

Last week I read two completely different opinions, from the same publication which sort of threw me.

The first article I read was this one, discouraging people from spending too much time on a side project that might not work out.

I was only slightly discouraged, but the words stayed in my mind until I was on the train home from work. I thought about what would happen if I gave up? What would be the point giving up? Writing, editing and content marketing is what I love doing so if I’m spending time outside of my ‘proper’, more stable job trying to make a living out of it, what harm could this be causing?

Sure, I may be a tiny bit obsessed with my computer and my husband may not see me much after dinner but at least I have something to keep me occupied. Not only occupied but intellectually stimulated. How’s that compared to sitting in front of the TV each night?

The second article was much more uplifting and focused on the reason that everyone needs a side project, even if they are not in a place to fully let go of their full time job. It sat much better with me as my mind turned to the blog post I would be writing that night.

I get that there is a need to be realistic in a world where every Jane, Beth and Sam want to begin a living on their own terms, to be their own boss. But there is a fine line between being honest and being discouraging.

I, or anyone working on a side project at home should never feel like it will ultimately be a waste of time.

I found the second article inspiring, encouraging and even helpful. It explained that having a project to work on in your own time allows for a high level of personal development that would not always occur in a ‘normal’ workplace, when working for someone else.

I am not saying that a side project or ‘side hustle’ is for everyone. There is absolutely no need to begin a side hustle if you are content with your current situation.

But if there is something other than your current job that piques your interest, why not give it a go?

And don’t forget to let me know about your progress!