A-Head for Success

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Working From Home

Several people have spoken to me about the challenge they have in working from home.  There are those for whom this is a real boon and boosts their productivity.  But there are those for whom it is something close to a living nightmare.  Starving for connection and distraction, the thought of hunkering down, isolated, can feel very difficult indeed.

I do hope these tips help you, whatever your situation.  It’s a fairly long post because I wanted to cover off as much of the common working-from-home problems as possible.  You may want to skip to sections relevant to you, or read through the whole thing.  It should only take a few minutes.

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7 Strategies for Dealing with Overwhelm (time to read 3m)

Overwhelm StrategiesWhether overwhelm is a constant feature of your life or something which you experience from time to time, the following can help you overcome it.

These strategies came from working with a client of mine who was so overwhelmed that he was in danger of imploding.  He was managing a team of people in the service industry and just felt bombarded by demands on his time from employees, customers, his bosses, suppliers, his email and he was a slave to his smartphone.  He had become ineffective and irritable and, not only was he suffering from insomnia but he was also eating and drinking too much.

These are the strategies which bought his life back into balance which I hope will help you too:

1. Prioritise

Not everything is important or urgent. I taught him to distinguish between the ‘noise’ of demands so that he was able to deal with the urgent and important first, and leave the non-urgent, not-important last.  For more information on this technique, see the time management section of An A-Z of Business.

2. Leave it 

Some things are so not urgent or important that not doing anything about them will not have a negative impact. I taught him to ask himself “What are the consequences of leaving this, today, tomorrow, next week?”  He learned that he could safely ignore some things which came as a huge relief.  A ringing phone is an example of something which can be left.  If it is really important, the person will leave a message.  But he had, like Pavlov’s dogs, simply reacted to every ring of the phone, which meant he was often multi-tasking like the proverbial plate spinner but with much less aplomb.

3. Delegate

Because he had become very reactive he had allowed his staff to delegate upwards to him which meant that the buck stopped very much with him. I taught him how to delegate:  what to delegate, to whom and when.  This meant that he freed up a lot of time, his staff were able to take more responsibility, took more initiative (they learned that he wasn’t always going to take up the slack), and their skills were improving.  Most of them liked the fact that they were trusted in this way.

4. Reschedule

His desire to fulfil on commitments (to be admired most of the time) meant that if priorities shifted, he was under enormous pressure. He learned to reschedule tasks or meetings where other priorities came up which were more pressing.  He also learned to build contingencies into his day so he wasn’t so engulfed with commitments.

5. Saying No

He learned that saying ‘no’ did not make him a bad boss, a bad employee or a bad person. He was not the do-er of all things.  It was OK to say ‘no’ sometimes and it was not a rejection of the other person.  I taught him how to say ‘no’ without saying ‘no’ too.  For example “I would be happy to help you with that.  My time is committed at the moment and I will be free next Wednesday for an hour.”  This was saying ‘no’ to now, not the favour.

6. Setting realistic expectations

When you are racing from one emergency to another, it is easy to fall in with other people’s emergencies when they are not your own. It is also easy to provide timelines based on hope, a fair wind, and no mind to the realities of life.  This creates unnecessary pressure and is a setup for disappointment.  I taught him how to always build in contingencies to any commitments which meant that when curve balls came his way, he could navigate them with greater ease.

7. Smartphone management

It is all too easy to become a slave to your smartphone and for my client, the strategy which worked was to have times during the day where he was switched off. This enabled him to focus on what was going on and not have to react to every ping, ding and ring.  The relief was immense.  He also stopped using it as his alarm clock and left the phone downstairs when at home.

These are the main strategies which worked with this particular client.  The result?  Less stress, greater productivity, a more empowered workforce and bosses who didn’t take him for granted.  He started enjoying work again too.  I hope they work just as effectively for you.

If you would like help in your specific circumstances to manage time, stress and people, do give me a call on 0845 130 0854.  Everyone’s situation is different and sometimes working through challenges with an impartial expert can be the difference which makes the difference.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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Which Stress Personality Are You?

Stress is a very personal thing.  What might be stressful to one person, can be motivational and energising to another and comforting to yet someone else.

Yes, stress is very subjective.  However, most people would agree that stress concerns how we perceive the demands which we face in life.  If we don’t feel up to the challenges, or aren’t motivated by them, they will be stressful and draining.  In the short-term this can affect performance and teamwork.  In the long-term it can affect health and profit.

An opposite of stress is flow – when you are energised, work seems easy, you are able to give fully of yourself and time goes quickly.  You are in your flow when you do something you like and which comes naturally to you.  How you can enjoy more flow will depend on your profile – a subject which we will be addressing in this article.  Another opposite of stress is boredom.  And in many ways, this is simply another form of stress.  So the first thing to do to overcome stress and enjoy more flow is to understand yourself better so that there is less boredom, less tension and more playing to your strengths.

I use a variety of psychometric tools and one of them is called Talent Dynamics.  This is a simple tool which helps you to understand yourself more fully so that you experience less stress and more flow.

It suggests four main profiles.  I will share the main characteristics of each, as well as how each will experience stress and, at the same time, how each causes stress to others.  I will finish with a few pointers on how to deal with that particular profile. It is a longer article than usual, so get yourself a coffee and enjoy.  Even if you don’t identify with a particular profile, it provides insights into people who might be causing you stress, so it’s worth the 10 minutes it takes to read it.

Which stress personality are youTHE DYNAMO

Let’s start with the Dynamo.  The Dynamo is someone who is interested in the ‘what’ of life.  Task focused, they tend to be creative, competitive, bold and target driven.  They tend to be great at creative problem-solving and are usually intuitive.

What stresses the Dynamo?

As the Dynamo doesn’t like detail, anyone giving them chapter and verse on a project will likely notice a significant drop in their interest fairly quickly.  Because they are target-driven, they will feel stressed by people who have a more relaxed attitude to commitments, or who spend a lot of time chatting when they ‘should be working’.  Because they are task-focused they don’t always appreciate that, sometimes, focusing on the relationship ahead of the task might actually get the task done more efficiently.  They will also get stressed by monotony and need variety to keep their levels of motivation optimal.

How does the Dynamo cause stress to others?

Dynamos tend to think fast, talk fast and act fast.  They can be impatient with people who can’t keep up or take too long to express themselves.  For a detail-oriented person the Dynamo is a challenge because they will only want to deal with the big picture.  The detail person doesn’t really understand the big picture until the stepping stones and context are given, something that the Dynamo has little patience for.  Easily distracted, they can create confusion or frustration for those who are more structured and reflective.

Another way that the Dynamo causes stress is to have lots of ideas that people struggle to keep up with.  The more projects people work on the less productive they are but the Dynamo just loves coming up with new ideas so they can be oblivious to the strain these projects place on everyone else.

Finally, another way that the Dynamo can cause stress is in their communication style.  They tend to be to the point which others may find blunt and could cause them to see the Dynamo as unapproachable.  So colleagues of the Dynamo may prefer to keep their thoughts and concerns to themselves rather than highlight problems early on, especially if they tend to be the kind of person who uses wordy descriptions and focuses on the problem instead of the solution.

How to deal with the Dynamo?

Never give too much detail or you will lose the Dynamo.  Keep to the point.  Let them know what is new and exciting about your idea.  They respect straight talking, so if you think that their ambitions are not achievable it is important to speak in positive terms, offering solutions or options instead of blocks.  The Dynamo needs a roadmap to achieve their results to help make sure that their creations bear fruit.  To keep from being distracted on too many projects, keep them focused on the big picture.

Which stress personality are you?THE BLAZE

The Blaze is very people-focussed in contrast to the Dynamo who is more task-focused.  They are interested in the ‘who’. They are very sociable, extrovert and relationships really matter to them.  However, they can appear disorganised to the other profiles.  They, like the Dynamo, enjoy variety.

What stresses the Blaze?

Trying to get the Blaze to focus on tasks at the expense of people will be very stressful because relationships are so important to them.  They will interpret a smile as a sign of rapport so talking to them without smiling will put them on edge and cause them to assume that you don’t like them or are unhappy with their work.  Like the Dynamo, they will not be good with too much detail.    They will dislike being rushed because they see nurturing a relationship as the most important factor.  They love telling stories and interrupting them mid-story is only likely to have them start the story again.

How does the Blaze cause stress to others?

Because the Blaze is so sociable, they will not be very good at keeping to time and can be easily distracted.  Targets may be missed because they will be focused on relationships rather than getting things done.  They will also tend to be expansive in their communication which can be frustrating to others.  They easily feel rejected so keeping rapport with them will be very important for ongoing results and relationship management.

How to deal with the Blaze?

Always respect your relationship with the Blaze – short-circuiting this to get the job done will actually work against you.  However, if you nurture the relationship with just a little small-talk and smile while telling them that you need a deadline met, you are more likely to keep them onside.  This will be even more effective if you emphasise the impact to other people of any delay.  They will need short term goals and friendly meetings to make sure they are on track.  Remember that the Blaze wants to please and less haste will deliver better results.  Keep them focused with regular meetings and smaller goals.

Which stress personlality are you?THE TEMPO

The Tempo is very much about the here and now and are team-oriented individuals.  They are interested in the ‘when’ and ‘where’.  They tend to be grounded, calm and caring and are good at implementing.  In this way they make a great foil for the Dynamo who are better at creating ideas than implementing them.

What stresses the Tempo?

The Tempo likes to know what’s what so change can be stressful to them, especially if they don’t know why or how it will take place.  They like to take their time with things so being rushed will not bring out the best in them.  If the team is stressed, the Tempo will be stressed too because they like to ensure that everyone is happy.  To implement well they need to have a system or clear instructions to follow - they are not good at winging it.  They are very concerned about getting things right so may take longer to make sure that they are doing the right thing and doing it well.

How does the Tempo cause stress to others?

Tempos are less good with the big picture and often require direction so they know they are doing the right thing.  Because of this, a boss who leaves people to it will be frustrated at the lack of progress a Tempo is likely to achieve in that kind of environment.  Their calmness can be seen as lack of drive and their tendency to caution can be seen as a block when really it’s about making sure no mistakes are made and that problems are avoided.

How to deal with the Tempo?

Good communication and teamwork are key for the Tempo.  They will be motivated to do things which benefit the team and to be able to do things at their own pace.  If necessary, break things down so they do not appear overwhelming.  Give them clear timelines and repeatable processes as well as background information so they understand the context of what they are doing.

Which stress personality are you?THE STEEL

Steel really enjoy facts and figures and the feeling of getting everything to balance.  The Steel is interested in the ‘how’.  They are good with detail and can spot errors very easily.  They like systems, are well organised and disciplined and tend to be quite introverted and, as such, tend to be less comfortable in social situations than other profiles.

What stresses the Steel?

Steel will not enjoy an unstructured environment where change happens without apparent planning.   They will tend to be frustrated in an environment which is very social at the expense of getting things done and may be uncomfortable in social situations.   They tend to be risk-averse so playing things by ear will be very stressful to them.

How does the Steel cause stress to others?

Other people may find the Steel too concerned with detail and structure.  Their tendency to see things as black and white can be challenging to others who notice the grey in between.  Steel are less comfortable around uncertainty and change which can be frustrating for fast-moving change programs.  They may be seen as blocking to the more target-focused Dynamo and there are often conflicts between these opposing styles unless they learn to accommodate each other.

How to deal with the Steel?

Give the Steel as much structure as possible.  Communicate effectively but succinctly, making sure there are no surprises and that you give them the detail they need to feel confident about doing a good job.  High level strategy will go over their heads unless it is backed up with a structured plan of how to achieve it.

This is a simple outline of four of the main characters (and there are numerous subtypes) but, of course, people are more complex than this.  Really understanding yourself and others, playing to your strengths, working out how to work to others’ strengths can make a huge difference in achieving productivity, positive relationships and in keeping your stress levels as low as possible in a chaotic world.

A balanced business needs a range of skills to create, implement, problem-solve and maintain.  So each profile needs to learn to work with the others, appreciate their positive qualities and contributions and to ensure that they work with other styles in a productive way.

If you want to learn how to become more stress resilient, give me a call on 0845 130 0854.  You'll be glad you did.

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How much is stress costing you?

Overwhelm StrategiesStress and Wellness - Priceless?

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development have published research which shows that if you are not actively managing employee wellbeing, it is likely to cost you £554 per employee per year in sickness absence alone.  But what is the cost of stressed out employees who do turn up day in and day out?  And what is the cost if you run your own business?

Pressure on performance

With most people working longer hours than they ever have before, chasing tougher targets and meeting tighter deadlines, the continued stress levels affect not only the wellbeing of the individual, but can significantly impact teamwork, performance, productivity, customer service levels and, of course, the bottom line.  It also means that managers are spending much more time managing performance than they are managing the business.

Is ignorance bliss?

Ignoring the problem does not make it go away.  If anything, it makes it worse.  One way or another, your business will pay the price.  And stress does not isolate neatly around the individual - it can put pressure on others who have to pick up the pieces.

Prevention or cure?

Although 97% of employers believe in the link between wellbeing and organisational performance, only 8% have a wellbeing strategy.  That may be because it isn't a priority until it results in your star performer in hospital following a heart-attack as happened with one of my clients.  Or it may be because you just don't know where to start.   Or perhaps you are the one who's stressed and you are in denial? Either way, the earlier you start to deal with it, the easier it will be.  Prevention is a more cost effective option, although its never too late to start.  Good employees are hard to come by and, when you consider the cost of hiring and training, as well as the downtime while you get someone new up to speed, it makes sense to take good care of those you have.  You will be rewarded with high performance and employee loyalty - something you can't buy.  And if you are managing your own business, you will enjoy more clarity, more energy, the ability to solve problems more effectively and greater flow in both productivity and finances.

What are the culprits?

Factors such as leadership style, effectiveness of communications, the degree to which employees feel empowered and motivated, and the always-connected impact of technology are the biggest culprits.   People need clarity, skillset, mindset, and energy to become stress-resilient.   For those who are self-employed, it is becoming more and more difficult to operate in a market which is still challenged and where competition is fierce.  It is important to remember too that stress may be impacted by factors unrelated to work such as health, financial worries or relationship/family problems.  But that doesn't mean that the business doesn't bear the consequences.  It is almost impossible to compartmentalise to the degree that one does not affect the other.  In the same vein, too much stress at work can impact home life and health.

And the answer?

Whether you want to help an individual in crisis or take a more systemic approach, a health and wellness assessment is a huge step in restoring wellness, stress-resilience, performance and engagement.

Call 0845 130 0854 to find out how this could work for you and your business or email me, Tricia Woolfrey on tricia@pw-consulting.co.uk.

 

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Enjoying More Flow – The Steel

Which stress personality are you?This is the last in the series of articles which explore your personality profile to help you understand how you can enjoy more flow and less stress in your day to day life.  As this is the last article, I will also use it to serve as a summary.

What is flow?

First of all flow can be considered as that feeling where you are at your best, highly motivated, focused and productive.  Work feels like fun.  Like a top athlete, you are ‘in the zone’.

The biggest secret to having more flow

There are many ways you can be more productive.  But to have more flow, the best approach is to play to your strengths.

We can pretty much put our minds to anything we want to, but, if we are doing something which is not a natural strength to us, it takes a lot of thought and effort.  It is more stressful and you are likely to be prone to more mistakes.  Not only that, it is less likely you will enjoy it.

The Steel

In previous articles we have explored the profile of the Dynamo, The Blaze and The Tempo.  Today it is the turn of The Steel.  A Steel is very comfortable with analysis and will be great with detail.  They tend to see things in absolutes – there is a right and a wrong answer.  In this way they are likely to make great accountants or book-keepers.  They are also likely to think in terms of consequences  more than opportunities so, while this can be frustrating to those who like to rush ahead with a new idea, they are an important balance, making sure the I’s are dotted and the T’s crossed.  They tend not to indulge in small-talk but prefer getting on with the task, great with detail but not always seeing the big picture.  They enjoy predictability and so a fast-changing, ambiguous environment can be a challenge for them.  Does this sound like you?  Or anyone you know?

The profiles in summary

Each profile has its strengths and corresponding weaknesses.  Remember that just because something is not a strength for you, doesn’t mean you can’t do it.  You just need to work harder at it.  By understanding your strengths and playing to them as much as possible in your day to day life, you can enjoy more flow.

Profile Strengths Challenges Tips
 

Dynamo

Strategy

Creativity

Goal achievement

Impatience

Can be blunt

Detail

Keep focused on main priorities and avoid too many projects at once
Recognise that not everyone can work at your speed
Work with detail people to implement your plans
Learn how to use the language of influence to communicate with the other profiles 
 

Blaze

Great with people

Communication

Variety

 

Time management

Can be disorganised

Can take a while to get to the point

 

Balance people-focus with the task you need to achieve

Set clear timelines and stick to them

 

 

Tempo

Working with systems

Analysis and detail

Implementation

Team needs

Conceptual ideas

Don’t like to be rushed

 

Work as a great support to an ideas person

Understand how your role fits into the big picture

 

 

Steel

Detailed work

Analysis

Spotting problems

 

Uncertainty

Ambiguity

Can appear negative

 

Learn to see the positives of a situation

Learn how to speak the language of the Blaze and Dynamo so you have stronger influence*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obviously this is a simplistic view and there are many variables of these profiles.  We are all different.  However, hopefully you have found something to help you identify your own strengths and challenges and how to work with them better.  If you would like a more personalised insight into your profile, do feel free to call me.  I can be reached on 0845 130 0854.

To your continued success.

*For more information call me as this could make a huge difference in your work and your flow

© Tricia Woolfrey 2015

 

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Enjoying More Flow – The Tempo

Which stress personlality are you?Welcome to the third in the series of how to enjoy more flow in your day to day life.  What does this mean?  When you are in your flow, you are motivated, energised, you are productive and everything seems easy to you.  The key to enjoying this is to play to your strengths as much as you possibly can.

One way of understanding your strengths is to have a profile done.  Talent Dynamics is one of several that I use and it has four main types.  Today we will look at the third type – what is called The Tempo.  But it isn’t the name that’s important, it’s the characteristics.

Of course at work it is rarely possible to have a job which only plays to your strengths.  In reality, most people find that there are parts of their job that fits you so perfectly.  It is far more likely that there are elements of your job that you dread, that may take a lot of mental energy and that take you longer to do than you think it should.  But by doing a job which plays mostly to your strengths, and managing your time so your day is not affected too much by the other tasks, you will notice your productivity increases.

So, let’s look at these strengths for the Tempo:  you are likely to be great with systems that are proven to work well.  Also good with analysis and detail you are likely to prefer working at a steady pace than being rushed into something which is not clear.  Implementation is probably something you are good at which means you would be a great support to the ideas person.  You love to have a sense of connection so working with people is likely to be important to you, as is a sense of harmony in teams.  You will probably be good at knowing how people are in the team and will want to make sure everyone is happy.  A negative environment might affect you more than the other profiles.

Because you are good with detail and dealing with the here and now, it is likely that you will not be so comfortable working conceptually.

It is worth reinforcing that just because something isn’t a strength, doesn’t mean you can’t do it.  What it does mean is that it will take a lot more focus and energy for you.  A useful tip is to set a time of day for those things when you have extra energy and focus.  It won’t seem so difficult.  It is also useful to limit the amount of time you spend on them and sandwich them in between jobs you find more enjoyable.  This keeps your energy levels high.

There is just one more profile to go in this series.  If you would like to understand your strengths better, why not call for an assessment?  I can be reached on 0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2015

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Enjoying More Flow – The Blaze

Which stress personality are you?So far in this series, we have looked at what flow means and we have looked at the profile of the Dynamo.  Today we are going to focus on The Blaze and what they need to do to enjoy more flow in their work life.

One of the main factors in enjoying more flow is to really understand your strengths and how to play to them.  So, as you read this article, do consider whether this profile describes you and what you need to do to create more flow.  There is no ‘best’ profile as each brings its own strengths and challenges.  By becoming more aware of what you bring to each activity and how to leverage these, you can enjoy more flow, less stress and more productivity.

It does not mean that if something is not a strength for you then you are doomed to fail in that category.  It does mean you need to be uber-conscious of what you are doing, why and how, to make sure you are being as effective as possible.  It will not flow in the same way as a natural strength, but you can become competent.  So, if you don’t identify with this profile, you might want to consider how the lack of the strengths of this profile could benefit you in your working life and how you might be able to develop some of that.

So, what is a Blaze?  The strongest characteristic of the Blaze is their sociability.  They love people and so relationships are extremely important to them.  They will be less task-focused than the Dynamo we discussed last time so may be perceived as being disorganised.  They are big communicators but this can mean that they may take a long time to get to the point which can be frustrating for those on a deadline.  They are warm people, very outgoing and enjoy excitement and variety.

However, because they will be focused on people more than tasks, it will be a challenge for them to keep to timelines.  They are at their best in a role where relationship building is important.

If you are a Blaze, in order to make those relationships work for you, do be clear about the outcome you want to achieve and keep that in your mind’s eye.  Relationships are enjoyable but at work they also need to be productive.  Never let them get in the way of you achieving business results too.  Hone your skills so that you become a strong influencer and negotiator.  Winning the hearts and minds of people is a key skill in the context of business, as long as you remember what you want to achieve.

In the next of this series of blogs I will be writing about The Tempo.  If you would like to have a profile so you can really understand yours better sooner, do contact me on 0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2015

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Enjoying More Flow – The Dynamo

Which stress personality are youIn my last article I shared with you the general principles of flow and how to get more of it.  A big part of enjoying more flow is understanding your strengths and how to play to them.   In this article, I am going to share with you the characteristics of one particular personality type – the Dynamo - and would invite you to determine whether or not this is you.   Each type has its strengths and its challenges.  The key to flow, stress resilience and productivity is learning how to be more conscious about what you bring into each activity.  Just because something is not a particular strength, doesn’t mean you can’t do it – it just takes more thought and effort.

So, what is a Dynamo?  They are people who are highly creative, competitive, visionary and goal-driven.  They tend to be more task-focused than people-focused and are great at getting things done.  They tend to be impatient though and dislike being constrained by rules.  If you think you are a Dynamo, you are probably a great starter but need to make sure that you finish things off or have a team that will do that for you.  Otherwise you will have a lot of projects that do not have sufficient ongoing attention to have continuing benefit. 

You are likely to have great intuition and should encourage that while at the same time making sure that your ideas have a strong potential to come to fruition - there is the possibility that your ideas may mean that you start off too many things so be clear about what you want to do and why and what your priorities are.   Then set yourself a timescale and robust implementation plan with the appropriate resources to make things happen.

If you are a Dynamo your fast pace of working is likely to translate into the way you communicate.  You may be to the point, or direct.   To you, this is just an efficient way of communicating.  But to others, it may seem a little too blunt – especially if they are sensitive or more have a more social (rather than task) orientation.   It may also mean that you go too fast for some people to keep up.  This is something to be aware of as it can really hamper your results – few people can go as fast as you do.

It is useful to understand the best way to communicate and delegate to each individual you rely on so that you can get the best from them and so that they stay motivated and are clear about what is expected of them and this will vary depending on their level of skill and motivation.

Because you will tend to see the big picture, it is likely that you will not be so good with detail.  It is hard to avoid detail altogether.  If you have someone reliable to delegate the detail to, so much the better.  Otherwise, it will be a matter of finding the time in the day when you are at your most focused and do the detail then.  Missing out the detail altogether can really affect your results.

In the next of this series of blogs I will be writing about being more productive with less stress by working with your strengths.  If you would like to have a profile so you can really understand yours better sooner, do contact me on  0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2015

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How to Enjoy More Flow and Less Stress

What is flow?  It is that sense of being in the zone, where everything seems easy.  You feel empowered and in control.  You have more flow when you are playing to your strengths, because your strengths tend to be what you enjoy.

Having more flow is to experience more motivation, more energy and more fun in your work.  You are able to navigate challenging situations more easily because you have a foundation of inner resourcefulness to support you.

You make fewer mistakes too because your concentration improves.

This all means you are less stressed and more productive.

Like a top athlete in the zone, you are super-focused, super-motivated and you perform at your best.

So, what can you do to experience more flow?  Here are my tips to help you:

  1. Be clear about what you are doing and why – clarity is a prime component.
  2. Understand your priorities and avoid the trap of allowing those unimportant tasks to derail you.
  3. Make sure you are working in an environment which is free from clutter.
  4. Rid yourself of distractions – if necessary, when working on an important project, take yourself off to somewhere quiet where you won’t be interrupted.
  5. Keep your inbox clean – clear out old emails and create a filing system for ones you need to keep.  Only do emails at specific points in the day – that constant ‘ping’ is a distractor.
  6. Only say ‘yes’ to things you want to do and that you can commit to.
  7. Know your strengths and do work which requires them 75% of the time.
  8. Be aware of your weaknesses and either delegate work accordingly, or do those tasks first thing in the morning so you get them out of the way and can focus on what you really enjoy.  Alternatively, if the tasks seem too large, break them down into manageable pieces.

This is the first in a series of blogs I will be writing about being more productive and working to your strengths.  If you would like to have a profile so you can really understand yours better sooner, do contact me on 0345 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2015

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What’s the Difference Between a Coach, a Mentor and a Consultant?

Denial or TruthThey say that all the best people get support to get them to the top and to keep them there.  It is a sign of vision, strength, and drive to want to take your performance and productivity seriously enough to invest in yourself and your business in this way.  But how do you know what kind of support you need? 

I am often asked the difference between a coach, a mentor and a consultant.  As I use a blend of these techniques when I work with my clients, I thought I would share them with you.  Whereas there is a lot of overlap, the following is my interpretation of the differences:

What is a Coach?

Coaching assumes that you have all of the answers within you and a good coach will ask questions to elicit from you the answers you seek.  They may challenge you, uncover blind-spots and develop perspective.  You can expect to learn more about yourself and develop insights you would struggle to achieve on your own. 

A coach does not need to have more experience than you in your field of expertise as they will not provide advice.  What they will do is help you make decisions and move forwards towards a specific goal in a way which empowers you.  You may be encouraged to evaluate the options available to you prior to making a decision yourself.

Coaching tends to revolve around a particular task, goal or skill to be achieved.  Examples would be leadership skills, presentation skills, productivity.

The coach will hold you accountable and the focus is on skills development and productivity.

What is a Mentor?

A mentor, by comparison, is someone who has more experience than you in a field of expertise you wish to become more skilled at.  They will be someone to whom you will ask advice on a particular subject.

A mentor will offer more guidance and will be a sounding board for any problems.  They are a person you will turn to when things go wrong for encouragement and a listening ear.

Essentially, they will be someone you feel safe with and be able to confide in.

Mentoring is much more relationship-driven without a specific goal in mind and so tends to be long-term.  The mentor will tend to consider you in the context of your work and your personal life.

The focus is on personal development.

What is a Consultant?

A consultant has specialist expertise and will look at a problem, usually on a more systemic level.  They will do research and analysis and provide recommendations for its resolution.

The focus is on solving a specific business problem which may involve several people or departments within your organisation.

The consultant may be asked to manage the implementation of the solution for you.

The focus is on problem-solving.

In Summary

If you want to achieve a specific goal and to develop your skills, coaching is for you.  If you need support and a sounding-board and personal development, then mentoring is for you.  If you want to find the solution to a problem with an expert, then consulting is for you.  My clients like the fact that I can offer support in a way which is right for them in that moment.  Sometimes it is to offload, sometimes it is to provide an answer to a complicated problem and sometimes it is to discover skills you didn’t know you had.

If you would like to find out what would be appropriate for you, why not call me on 0845 130 08540845 130 0854 for a free telephone consultation?

© Tricia Woolfrey 2014

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