September is a time to reflect
There is something unique about September. As the summer draws to a close and the new term begins, September often feels like the start of a new year, offering many possibilities.
Most of us come back rested and refreshed after a summer break and are ready to get back into a routine. There is a sense of enthusiasm, seeking opportunities and being ready to embrace new challenges.
So it makes sense to set aside some time to review, set goals and make a plan. In fact, spending time in early September is the ideal time before the busyness of the end of the year takes over. This will still leave you with plenty of time to achieve your goals. Here are some steps you can take.
Take time to review, plan and set goals
Review your goals – Start by reviewing progress made towards achieving any goals you’ve already set yourself. Consider what has worked well for you; list the skills you have developed, challenges met and any key areas of learning. You can then identify any gaps, note what has got in the way of progress and establish what you would like to achieve.
Re-establish and set new goals – Following a review, you will be aware of any goals which still need completing and identify any new ones. Make sure that you set SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time measurable. This will help you to keep focused and achieve what you set out accomplish.
Get organised – Being organized is the key to success. Map out the rest of the year ahead and plan what you need to do. Use planning tools to help you get organised such as year planners, digital calendars or bullet journal. Remember to list the resources and support you need to keep you on track.
Set effective work patterns – Think through how you can best structure your time to improve productivity. For example, by setting aside time for specific projects and making time for regular breaks.
Invest in your professional development – The start of an academic year brings new opportunities to engage in study or learn a new skill. Identify any areas you would like to develop and invest in yourself. This could be engaging with training, an online course or setting aside regular time to read professional journals.
Look after health, well-being and self-care – It is important to look after yourself, so make sure you include health, well-being and self-care in your review. Think about what you need to be healthy, and plan goals around fitness, well-being and self-care. For example, including time to exercise in your week, booking time for social activities and planning healthy meals.
September provides the ideal time to review, set goals and make a plan. By embracing the renewed energy and enthusiasm that September brings, you will be more organised and have a clear plan for the rest of the year. Why don’t you take some time to reflect and ensure that you end the year where you want to be.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog
My name is Diane Benson and I support busy professionals to be more effective, reduce stress and achieve a healthy balance in life. Providing clarity and focus for a more fulfilling personal and professional life.
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The impact of stress
We all experience stress to varying degrees in our life, and not all stress is bad for us. In fact many people find some pressure to be helpful motivation for getting things done, rising to challenges and meeting deadlines.
However, when the pressure becomes too much and you experience constant stress, this can knock your confidence and leave you feeling that you are not on top of things and unable to cope. Too much stress will have a detrimental impact on your health and wellbeing. Continue reading How to reduce stress in your busy life
What is self-care?
When you think about self-care what springs to mind? Is it leisurely lunches, special treats and spa days? Perhaps it feels a little self-indulgent or something which will take up too much time? Whilst it is good to plan occasional indulgent treats, self-care is much more than this. It is about creating space in our daily life to do that which we need to provide energy and to sustain us. Continue reading 7 Reasons why self-care is essential for busy professionals
Manage your time more effectively
We all experience days which are far too busy and perhaps where we have tried to pack too much in. There are also days when we have simply wasted a lot of time or let ourselves get distracted.
The importance of looking after your wellbeing
For busy people, a typical day has a packed agenda with little personal time for yourself. There will often be missed lunch breaks, working long hours and not spending enough time with family and friends. It is no wonder that the outcome is often feeling stressed and missing out on doing the things which you find fulfilling.
Why reflection matters
For busy professionals taking time for reflection can often be a low priority. It's easy to get caught up in the busyness of your day and neglect to pause for thought. In fact, when you have lots to do, the very act of stopping may not seem possible, and certainly not the best use of your time! However, taking time to reflect really does matter.
Planning for success
The well known phrase 'if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail', attributed to Benjamin Franklin, shows great insight. What's great about this is that we know that by making a good, well-thought-out plan, we are more likely to succeed. We all want to be the best that we can be and planning is key.
It can be hard to get the important stuff done
Do you ever get to the end of a busy day having done a great deal, but feeling frustrated that you haven't got the important stuff done? When the same things are on your to-do-list for several weeks, it's a good sign that you are not getting done all that you would like! So why is this?
Take time to reflect
There is something exciting about the start of a new year. A time for new opportunities, good intentions and a feeling of enthusiasm. It can be tempting to get on with the year without taking time to acknowledge the year which has been. In fact, taking time to stop and reflect is important in order for you to acknowledge achievements, recognise your learning, and be in a good position to plan for a new year.
The importance of self-care
When you're busy, self-care is often something which is neglected and low down on the list of priorities! However, taking time to consider your needs is important in order to be more productive, deal with stress and prevent burnout. Whilst it is important to meet the demands of your job and be there for others, it is also vital to look after ourselves.
We all experience days when it is hard to get focused and there are just too many distractions. But constantly breaking off and losing your focus will result in taking longer to complete tasks or them simply not getting done! The outcome will be frustration, ineffectiveness and feeling overwhelmed. Continue reading 7 Effective ways to deal with distractions and stay focused
Do you find it easy to say no?
For many of us saying no can be difficult and we have all experienced saying yes when we really wanted to say no!
For example, your diary is already full, but you have been asked to squeeze in another meeting and you don't know how to say no. You are working on an important task which has to get done that day, but a colleague has asked for your help and you genuinely want to be helpful. Or you have been asked to take on an activity which you would rather not do, but feel flattered to be asked.
Understanding personal values
Personal values are those things which are most important to you. They include what you believe, what motivates you and those things which makes you happy. Your values will influence your behaviour and guide you in your decisions. While we will hold many beliefs and be motivated by a range of values, there will be a small number which are core and more significant for us. When our lives are aligned to what we believe, we are more likely to live a happy and fulfilled life.
Are you just too busy?
There are times when there is just too much going on. When you're busy with competing demands on your time, it's hard to be as effective as you could be. This leaves you feeling overwhelmed, struggling to get stuff done, and frustrated about the lack of time for yourself.
Do you ever find yourself doing anything except the task you are supposed to be doing? Suddenly you are highly motivated to have a major clear out, offer to run errands for your colleagues or feel inspired to file all of your books alphabetically, by genre! If so, then it is fair to say that you will be experiencing classic procrastination.
Procrastination is when we put off or delay doing something which we should be doing. The outcome is that we waste time doing other stuff, are easily distracted and fail to get the important things done.
We live in an incredible world with advanced technology and the opportunity to seek information on anything we choose. Our horizons are expanding as we learn and develop our knowledge. Most of us can access information on our smart phones whenever we choose and wherever we are.
But there is a flip side to this. With opportunities to consume more and constant internet access, we can soon find ourselves in information overload!
There are times when we just feel stuck in our personal or professional life.
It could be with an important decision you are struggling to make. There may be a particular challenge or complex situation which just leaves you confused. You may feel unfulfilled with your life in general or ready for a change and just don't have the confidence to move forward.
Most of us are busy. We are constantly navigating multiple demands in our personal and professional lives, which can leave us tired and overwhelmed.
We have a lot to do and it can be tempting to keep going in the hope that we will get everything done. Our personal needs can also be neglected whilst we resist taking time out to deal with our busy lives.
How do you generally feel at the start of your day?
Do you usually feel focused with total clarity about what you are going to achieve that day?
Do you jump straight into dealing with tasks, appointments and emails with a feeling of panic because you have too much to do?
I suspect that for many it is the latter!
Make your goals real
I have had some really positive feedback this week from people who have completed the 'Review your year workbook'. It is great to hear that this resource has helped with the process of review, and with setting goals for 2017.
So, you have spent time reviewing last year and have come up with some amazing goals for 2017. You are full of good intentions and you really do want to reach your goals.
But what happens next?
Do you ever feel stuck? Do you find it hard to focus on what you really need to do? Perhaps you feel like you are on a treadmill going through the day's activities without real clarity and purpose?
This has been my experience recently. I struggled to complete a task which I usually enjoy doing and I didn't know why. Instead I got distracted doing other tasks and felt frustrated that I hadn't achieved what I had set out to do.
After some soul searching and reflection, I discovered what was going on for me and how to move forward. The solution was quite clear!
As we approach the end of the year many of us will be looking forward to the New Year with all of the opportunities this brings. It can be tempting to look ahead, perhaps set some New Years resolutions, and move forward without taking time to acknowledge the year which has been.
We rarely take time to stop and make sense of what has been going on for us when we are constantly busy with our personal and professional lives. It is easy to forget what has been achieved, all that has been learnt and challenges which have been overcome, when we do not take time out to reflect.
Here are 7 reasons why reviewing your year is good for your personal and professional development.
I was talking with a headteacher friend this week, about how she deals with her busy life. We concluded it was all about keeping things in perspective.
For her being busy is a sign that she has a job to do, people who need her and plenty going on in her life and she is thankful for this. She knows that a difficult work situation will not last, and this perspective helps her deal with challenges more positively.
This got me thinking about how important it is to keep things in perspective, especially during this busy period.
Are you good at multitasking?
Have you ever walked into a room to do one task, then find yourself starting a completely different one, only to discover a little while later, that you have forgotten about the original task?
Do you regularly check your emails or read notifications whilst writing a report then wonder why you have lost your flow?
If this is familiar to you then you, like me, are a multitasker!
Many of us regularly multitask and the reality is that we live in a world which facilitates this. With constant notifications for our email and social media, and the notion that we should be contactable at all times!
The results are that we are easily distracted and can find multitasking as the norm.
What happens when we multitask?
For most of us life is busy with constant juggling of our work, life and family commitments. There are times when there is just too much going on. Perhaps work is particularly busy, family activities build up or there are unforeseen events which need our attention.
It is during these times, when there is too much going and we do not feel in control, that we begin to feel overwhelmed, and this causes stress.
When we lay awake at night thinking about what needs to be done, or can't focus on what needs our attention, we are not functioning at our best.
The good news is that there are things which you can do to help you take control of overwhelm and get back on track.
Here are 7 steps you can take to deal with overwhelm and to regain clarity and control.
For many of us the summer will have provided an opportunity to slow down, take a break and spend time doing the things which we enjoy. As we approach autumn and the run up to Christmas, life will begin to get busy again and the relaxed pace of the summer will soon be forgotten.
When we have deadlines looming with lots to do, making time for ourselves will be low down on the agenda. The consequence of neglecting time for ourselves is increased stress and ineffectiveness. Because we do not achieve more by working more, we are most effective when we are rested and happy alongside our work.
Here are my 10 essential work and life balance tips for busy professionals.
When you are busy with the many demands of your job, do you always remember why you do what you do?
It is easy to get caught up with the countless tasks and activities of our jobs, and lose sight of what motivates us. We are often asked the question 'what do you do?', but how often are we asked 'why?'.
I was thinking about this recently. The sun was shining and I was having a productive day. Feeling happy and fulfilled in my work, I was really focused. I am passionate about my job and have the opportunity to work with some incredible people, but it has not always been easy.