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Work-life balance reduces stress

Are you rushing from commitment to commitment? Are you searching for more hours in the day? Well, you are not alone.  Health Direct suggest that Australia is behind the rest of the developed world in creating work-life balance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lack of work-life balance will lead to stress because there is an imbalance between your daily demands, responsibilities and commitments and the time, capabilities and energy you have to complete the workload and obligations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What can you do to manage the stress and create a more balanced life? I concur with D J Lee’s article, 6 Tips For Better Work-Life Balance, and have found my success in being aware of the suggested areas for many years. The six tips are:

  1. Let go of perfectionism – strive for excellence instead. Ask yourself, “have I done my best today with the resources I have available to me right now.”
  2. Unplug – Work screen free time into your day, every day.
  3. Exercise and meditate – There are so many recorded benefits to these activities. Move your body and practise deep breathing exercises every day, your muscles and mind will thank you for it.
  4. Limit time-wasting activities and people – Practise the 3 D’s: Do, Delegate, Dump. Stress will reduce, and results will increase.
  5. Change the structure of your life – Revisit your weekly timetable or planner and change a few things around and delegate some tasks to others. You may find that doing things the way you have always done it isn’t working anymore.
  6. Start small. Build from there – Change something every day, not everything all at once.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What work-life balance means and looks like is different for each person and family. Sit down and define it for you first. Once you know that, decide what you want to stop, minimise, keep doing and do more of, then consistently implement new ways of doing and being in your day.

Please share your work-life balance suggestions.

Images: Pixabay

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Performance Affects Productivity

The health epidemic of the 21st century, according to the World Health Organisation, is stress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Professor Patrick McGorry, Australian of the Year in 2010 and expert on mental health said we need to transform our workplaces into 21st Century Workplaces where leaders at all levels: promote mental health and prevent harm, recognise when people are struggling, are empowered to turn towards strugglers, rescue those who have already been swept away.

Employers and leaders are realising it is time to become more active in providing healthy workplaces and seeking out tools to develop resilient teams.

Why it matters?

Resilient teams are more creative, productive, resourceful and high performing teams.

Studies support that developing practical strategies will decrease the damage done to the individual and the business; reducing costs, increasing staff loyalty, improving morale, and avoiding fines, claims and disputes.

It is reported that:

  • 1 in 5 people will experience a mental health condition.
  • The typical age of onset for mental ill health is late teens to early 20s.
  • There are a large number of workers who are carers for friends or family with mental ill health. 

What does a resilient workplace look like?

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a resilient workplace all team members, from the top down, are actively involved in developing, supporting and actioning programs. The team members understand that their physical health affects their mental health and support each other to reach health goals.

Management is considerate of the mental wellbeing of staff and provides a safe environment for staff to be heard, acknowledged and recognised. Comprehensive training and support are offered during times of change and flexibility and autonomy are encouraged.

Team members are given access to resources that promote skills they can use as individuals to take care of themselves and manage stress. Skills such as goal setting, meditation, mindfulness, taking regular ‘me’ breaks, eating well and being kind to self.

Most importantly, communication in the workplace is effective and open, and social interaction with other employees is enjoyed. These positive relationships promote good mental health and problem-solving solutions among the team.

Working Together: Promoting mental health and wellbeing at work offers good practice and practical information to this complex area of resilient workplaces and teams. This online resource acknowledges that resilient individuals are flexible, adaptive and optimistic, and a resilient team is one of support based on mutual trust and participation.

 Your plan 

Whether you are a solo-preneur, not for profit organisation or a large company, building a resilient workplace will have benefits for you, your workers and your business.

To begin to build your healthy, happy and productive workspace practical strategies can include:

  • Identify areas of concern and areas of improvement.
  • Gain involvement, acceptance, and commitment from all.
  • Provide clear expectations and goals, tools and support that promote resilience, individually and professionally.
  • Take an active role.
  • Have clear role descriptions, outlining all responsibilities and opportunities.
  • Have effective and regular communication methods in place.
  • Encourage social interaction and self-care check-ins.
  • Promote a fair, inclusive workplace.
  • Set up peer support and mentoring opportunities.

Now that you have considered how performance affects productivity, and how building a resilient workplace can benefit each one of your workers in a positive way, what would you consider the most important change or improvement you could make now?

Please share your strategies here.

Images: Pixabay

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Easy-Peasy Blog Post Template

My whole career has been a combination of corporate and small business hands on experience, and during the last decade I have watched on with interest, and attempted to participate, as the way businesses communicate their message to their customers has multiplied, technology driven mediums have increased, and consumer expectations of professional goods and services have soared.

After publishing my book, Separated by Work, I realised that to compete in today’s business world I had to immerse myself in learning the most up to date information available. Where was the best place to do that? University of course, where I am currently completing a Bachelor of Communication, majoring in PR and Social Media.

As I learn, I come across tools that make me recognise I have been mostly winging it for the last 10 years. Just hanging in there with passion and enthusiasm for my work, but ad-libbing my communication strategies it all the same. A couple of valuable templates I came across today are, what I believe to be, a business ‘must have’ and a ‘wish I could have had a long time ago’.

Content rules: how to create killer blogs, podcasts, videos, eBooks, webinars (and more) that engage customers and ignite your business is one of my social media subject’s texts. In the book, which I highly recommend you get a copy of, Handley and Chapman share a blog template and a content rules checklist. To get the links to their ‘secret insiders page’ you must buy the book, but I was so impressed with the book and the tools they share throughout and on their website I wanted to let all my business friends know.

I like to shout it out whenever I come across a wonderful piece of advice, a great product or upon receiving excellent service. So, to finish off I will borrow the final bit of advice from the end of the above recommended blog template:

Shout it! Spread the word! Tell your family! Your friends! Facebook! LinkedIn! Let your network know your post is live; generate excitement for the post and earn some well-deserved kudos.”

Have you read this book and used the tools? Do you have other tools that you find valuable in creating great content and getting your message to your customers? If so, please share them here, or your thoughts on the book.

Until next time, Kirsty 🙂

 

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A Year of Possibilities

Happy New Year!

Preparing for a new year can often feel daunting, and will be overlooked by many if it seems to hard, only to find regret around Easter that this time wasn’t taken.

So, to help you prepare, I have put together a list of ten points to consider when entering into anything new, especially a new year of possibilities, to support you getting the most out of this year.

The following list will give you the beginnings of creating a strong foundation to leap off. This reminds me of one of my favourite sayings, “prior preparation prevents piss poor performance!” Take time to mull over each one.

  1. What is your carrot? What is the thing, your why, that will keep you moving forward and keep your focus?
  2. Get real about the pitfalls, and the worst-case scenario that can occur. It is likely you will be struggle free this year, yet there is also a chance that stuff will happen, you will be blindsided, and bowled over. When stuff happens, what is the plan? What is the best way to address it? What is going to work to keep everyone on the same team, solution and goal focused?
  3. Create a dialogue around what you say to other friends, family members, your children, and those you talk to about your goals, career and lifestyle. Be supportive and positive in your language and prepare the standard responses. This will help when people begin to share their well–intended, yet negative opinion of your choices.
  4. How are you going to manage your finances this year? Create a realistic and flexible budget, then stick to it.
  5. Identify the possible stressors within your family, the routines that are required, also how the responsibilities will be shared to meet the demands of how you would like this year to look.
  6. Listen to how the other people in your circle of influence are feeling, the hopes, positive feelings, concerns, worries, and motivations. Open the conversation to what ifs, those things that may never happen—what if someone becomes ill, what if you are losing sight of the carrot, what if stress gets the better of you, what if one of you is just over it? There are lots of what ifs, discussing them lightly with no expectation of them ever happening, is a good thing because this can alert you to possible stress triggers later on and you will be more open and prepared to deal with the issues together.
  7. Start now to find all the resources you can that have information on what you would like to achieve. Start by Googling, and the more you read, learn, feel supported, and develop an understanding of the jargon, the easier you will find it is to keep on track.
  8. Set up a plan of communication and connection to others. What will work for you, your friends and your family? It doesn’t have to be every day, but by having a sense of belonging and a supportive network around you will triple your chances of success. Don’t get too busy to check in with your mates and family.
  9. What is going to be your time management system, or flexible plan, or list process that keeps you on track with all you want to do, need to do, and includes rest and relaxation?  Have a rough idea prepared so you will enjoy more fun and relaxation, keep working towards your ‘why’, and reduce overwhelm and stress.
  10. How will you improve, grow and develop this year? Just working and watching TV isn’t going to hit the right note. Could you be studying, reading, personally or professionally developing, starting a side home business, learning a new type of dance, getting fit, getting involved in a sport or volunteer position, or making new friends? You may be limited by hours in the day or home responsibilities, however embarking on something new that fits in with your life will energise you and support new possibilities.

I hope these tips spark a brighter vision for you this year. I wish you a wonderful 2018, and if you would like any support – either questions, or would like a quick phone chat please email me.
Kirsty 🙂

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Doing the ‘right thing’ in business

In our faced paced, profit and productivity driven business world I would like you to stop and take a breather. I would like you to consider what is good business etiquette. I would like you to appreciate that in the long run your reputation is everything, and will outlast a quick sale or fleeting acclaim. I would like you to reconnect with the value of integrity in an ever-changing economic landscape.

As I see each experience as a lesson or reminder, I am prompted to share my reflections and thoughts on good business practise with you, as many are forging fortunes in the small to medium business market.

This year I was asked to contribute to another’s new venture as the area of information matched my expertise. After 10 months of the proposed plan rolling out, my content shared as requested, inadequate communication, and then finally an agreement received that did not match with previous discussions; I decided to withdraw my interests and cut my losses. This has happened to many of us, I know.

After over two decades of owning my own businesses and a decade of supporting other business owners to become successful, here are my top 8 tips for doing the right thing in business:

  1. Always answer emails and return phone calls within 24 hours – even if it is to say when you will action.
  2. Always honour your verbal agreements.
  3. Never copy, emulate or plagiarise without written permission (an example of duplication for those that are unsure).
  4. Be transparent and always work towards the common good within your industry.
  5. When action is required, just do it.
  6. Do not denigrate colleagues, acquaintances or anyone you do business with – you never really know who knows who, and what they really think about you.
  7. You won’t always make good business decisions, but you can always be a good and honest person in business.
  8. Lastly, when a deal doesn’t feel right, show your gratitude for the opportunity, and then walk away with your head held high and don’t second guess yourself.

If you can pave the foundations of your business ventures with integrity and honour, in years to come you will be favourably thought of and top of mind for continued opportunities. I have people contact me often who remember my consulting and speaking services from when I first began my business in the late 1990’s, which is always a thrill.

So, moving forward, yes, I am concerned that I could have said no when first approached, and not shared my content. Yet, today, I don’t second guess myself, and I am reminded that my reputation is intact, I have many years of good standing in my community to back me.

I will get back to my practise of good business and supporting others get the results they want. My hope is that by reading this you also head into the new year remembering that building a business and profit line ALWAYS goes hand in hand with building a reputation.

C.S. Lewis said it best – “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching

Kirsty 🙂

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Thats a wrap – what I learnt being a Uni student

Cheers (sounds of glasses clinking), why?

I have survived my first year of University as a mature aged student, I have survived my first year of my husband’s roster taking him away for three months at a time, and I have survived the first year of my daughter moving in to her own home and my eldest son moving back!

What a year it has been.

The impact didn’t hit me until this afternoon as I was driving home from campus after my final exam. I began to shallow breath, my nerves began to twitch, and I thought, “how the hell did I pull that off!” This year, I realised, I had faced every fear I had, I worked harder than I think I ever had, I swallowed my pride on more than one occasion, and I had weeks where I was learning so many new theories I thought my brain might break.

My home suffered, however, thankfully my children didn’t as I vowed, and followed through on, to be there for them whenever they needed me. My wellbeing was pushed to its limits and I had equal moments of feeling like super woman and a puddle!

So, you are getting the picture.

During this year, my husband was absent for ¾’s of it, and a handful of my closest friends had life throw them their own curve balls so they weren’t on call for me at times I thought I needed them most. Even so, I was never alone, I had people step up for me, check in on me and remind me that I was on the right track during the uphill stints – special thanks to Tracey, Anna and Cinty – you know why!

Fears that were faced: am I clever enough, judgement of others, making huge mistakes, can I do it all on my own, being too old, letting my family down, letting me down, saying no to some work opportunities, and have I got what it takes to be extraordinary?

What I now know: I am clever enough, I am a leader, I am strong, I may get it wrong sometimes, I can take critique, I’m okay with not knowing it all, my family is awesome, I am exactly where I need to be, I have grit and determination that even amazes me, I may be ageing but I am doing it with grace and style!

Already, from the expansion and development I am undergoing opportunities are flowing abundantly.  I am on committees, being paid for work at the Uni, I am meeting amazing people, business is booming and I am just beginning work with an organisation called Porn Harms Kids to make change and give our wonderful young people the best start possible. I am also so honoured to be credited with guiding others to study, grow and push themselves out of their comfort zone. That is probably my greatest honour.

Next year, I am sure, will bring more adventures, ups and downs, yet I will be even more prepared, even more inspired and, as always, supported.

Thank you, to those who have cheered me on; thank you, to those who were inspired; and thank you to me – bloody massive effort Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Business, Mindfulness, Parenting, Resilience, Separated by Work

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Your Business, Your Target Market.

To be profitable in business it is imperative that your message reaches those that are most likely to want and need your service or product. Too often business owners make the mistake of not understanding what their potential buyers are thinking and who the major purchasers are. Kirsty O’Callaghan provides insight to reaching the right audience with the right message.

Firstly, research your target market and find out: what motivates them, what age bracket they are in, where do they live, what is their lifestyle, what specific problems can you solve for them and what benefits are you offering? You must decide who specifically you are trying to reach and who is the most profitable audience.  It has not been found to be effective or worthwhile to attempt to create a message and brand that will appeal to the masses.  It is better to narrow your market and niche your services for more success.

From your research, you will find it easier to identify what makes your service or brand unique and what is the single-minded thought or selling idea that will be bought to life by a persuasive headline. This will build a compelling reason for your potential customers to find out more about the service or product being offered to them. Your client must see your message as achievable, positive, and promising.

Then, to support the selling idea, design specific communication and marketing strategies to match the audience’s needs, wants and interests.  Consider: who are the buyers and users of your product (sometimes they can be different), where do they shop, where do they go for help or information, how many times do they need to see or hear your message or brand to decide to buy, and how can you appeal to your audience and engage with them?  To get the most response from your target audience you must get their attention, create interest and a desire for your service, then motivate them to action. Deciding if that action is purchase, enquiry, sample or brand awareness will make a difference to the message you are sending.

Finally make sure the way you communicate and market your product and business is harmonious across online and offline channels. Be specific, simple, on point and strategic.  Be creative yet stick to your marketing goals and budget, and keep evaluating your results and making changes where necessary.

Building relationships and your business to the level of success you are aiming for requires: a curiosity of how people think and act, accepting nothing at face value, looking at problems from different angles, putting yourself in your client’s shoes, constant research and learning, and an ability to plan and execute that plan.

Find the sweet spot where your potential clients are most likely to connect with you.  When a positive, memorable and meaningful connection is established between your brand and the consumer, then the business client relationship will be strong and sustainable.

Until next time, K 🙂

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The Confidence Rollercoaster!

I was talking to a friend and she said, “How can you be so confident all the time?  You are such a ‘go getter’. I wish I had more confidence and self-belief like you.”

This dialogue got me thinking, and this was my response:

My definition of self-belief, or self-esteem, and confidence are: liking and feeling good about me enough to know that I am doing the best I can; and if I am determined enough, and work hard enough, and I trust my abilities, then the right results in the right order will follow. 

My sense of confidence and esteem does change constantly depending on various factors, including my day to day mood, appearance, ability, others opinions or the situation. So, as you can see, it is not something that you begin to act like and then ‘voilà’ all is well!

I have found that regularly checking in on how I am feeling about myself leads to a direct reflection of how I perform and present myself to the world. If I need to adjust my thinking, eating, or doing, I am on it. I make sure that I am consciously making choices on how I want to be, rather than letting the ups and downs of emotions, events and energy levels take control of my decisions, moods and actions.

The main mistake I witness a lot of people make is relying on others expectations and opinions and daily performance statistics to dictate who they are and how good they are.

All things change, you live and learn, you make mistakes and you have wins. We all have ups and downs, good and bad days. This is no reflection on your worth, rather a testimony to you living life.

The best way to overcome the rollercoaster of self-doubt, highs and lows, and judgement of your abilities is to have a strong sense of self-value and self-respect. Take a pause and when you are feeling less confident and a bit shaky, check in with you, adjust and get back to doing the best you can do.

You will then move into a space of making productive choices rather than staying longer than you need to in less than comfortable situation, entertaining draining emotional turmoil, giving too much time to listening to your inner critical voice, or worse, heeding another person’s views, and entertaining self-sabotage behaviours.

Trust yourself, respect yourself, do the best you can in any given moment, and you will find the confidence and self-belief rollercoaster can become fun rather than terrifying.

Until next time, K 🙂

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How heavy is this glass of water?

I have been on an upward trajectory of achievements and success in the last couple of years.  All my dreams coming true –  going back to study at University, a published book, online membership site, successful business, financial ease, awesome friends and a close family. One would imagine that with all this success all my burdens, stress and worries would get less, or even be non-existant. A huge misperception!

People even often say to me I don’t know how you do it all with Uni, business, family and a husband that works away. They say, you are so strong, and so lucky to have it all! Then they ask me to share with them my secret, or want to know how can I do it all and find peace with some of the horrible things that have happened in my past. They want the magic solution that will change their life in an instant.  I can tell you, that there isn’t a magic solution; unless you call hard work, determination and never giving up in the face of numerous challenges a magic solution.

I usually explain by first assuring them I am neither lucky or completely calm all the time.  I let them know that it is a constant conscious choice to get up, step up, choose the emotional state I want to be in and smile.  And I then share with them one of my favourite parables to illustrate how to honour, recognise, acknowledge, let go of the ‘stuff’ and keep achieving; even in the face of adversity.

Imagine I am holding a glass of water and I ask you – “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”

From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass doesn’t matter.  It all depends on how long I hold it.  If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light.  If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache a little.  If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor.  In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.

Your stresses and worries in life are very much like this glass of water.  Think about them for a while and nothing happens.  Think about them a bit longer and you begin to ache a little.  Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralysed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.

My message to you today:  It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses and worries.  No matter what happens during the day. As early in the evening as you can put all your burdens down.  Don’t carry them through the night and into the next day with you.  If you still feel the weight of yesterday’s stress, it’s a strong sign that it’s time to put the glass down.

And that is exactly the way I live my live and teach others to do the same. Work hard, be clear and focused on what you want, don’t get caught up in others dramas, don’t get caught up in your own regrets or what if’s, and always remember that the longer you hold on to the glass the heavier it gets until you are paralysed. Just for today – put it down and let it go – or ask someone to help you ease the burden.

Kirsty 🙂

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A strong support network is vital

Research suggests a strong peer network in the workplace, and having close and supportive relationships personally and intimately, helps individuals live longer and can increase happiness and health by 80%.

Researchers from Flinders University, found that people with the highest number of close friends outlived those with the least friends by 22 % – on average, living to the age of 79, compared to 65. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data on death rates shows people living in intimate relationships (including those in married and de facto relationships); – both men and women – have lower death rates than single people in almost all age groups. A 2009 study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends’ women had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to lead joyful lives.

In a world that seems to be more isolating than ever, and with each emerging online social networking tool introduced, people are growing further estranged – so the above points and statistics are more important than ever to take in and take action on. If you don’t feel inspired by those figures, then include the recent studies that are showing there is a link between the increase in depression, social isolation, stress and hostility, and the lack of supportive relationships people have.

When some of my clients first come to me and report feeling isolated, and have a limited professional and social support network, I find they can also be suffering from stress, emotional issues, and possibly even physical illness. Most of them are finding difficulty creating healthy relationships with others. They admit to having a lack of confidence and self esteem, because they have been let down or rejected in the past, and therefore bounce around the wrong people and relationships – and the cycle continues. This is having a dramatic impact on their health, happiness and success.

A fantastic resource is Blue Zones by writer and explorer Dan Buettner. He spent his life traveling the world in search of answers to longevity and living a fulfilling life. Buettner argues that relationships are really the key to lifelong happiness, saying, “the happiest people socialize about seven hours a day,” and that “you’re three times more likely to be happy if you are married … and each new friend will boost your happiness about 10 percent.” He also explains that good relationships in the workplace are so important; adding that, “the biggest determinant of whether or not you’ll like your job is if you have a best friend there, more so than how much you’re paid.”

Having a hand to hold as you go through life makes the difficulties and challenging times easier to deal with. When things don’t turn out as expected, knowing that your friends, partner, family members and co-workers have your back allows you to go through the storms and come out the other side, feeling okay instead of broken.

I think we are in a social and relationship crisis period. I decided that I want to do my bit to end the isolation, stress and loneliness for as many people as I could, so I spend many of my days helping people to be able to create excellent relationships, friendships and networks that support them to excel personally and professionally.

Look around you now, think about your last week, think about the plans you have for the coming week. Are you surrounding yourself with people who uplift you and inspire you? If not, search for those people, connect in person, make plans for catch ups, have conversations where you are really interested in what others are saying, and get out there and support your community. If you know someone who is experiencing loneliness or doesn’t quite know how to build networks and friendships, help them and reach out to them. Your health and happiness is determined by these connections, so make it a priority.

Kirsty 🙂

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