I am about to hit the road with one of my oldest friends for a weekend away from the rest of the world.
We do this every year…with varied results. Sometimes we have an amazing time relaxing. Other times, we push each other to the brink as only lifelong friends can. Mostly, it’s a combination of the two. And I need it.
For these couple days each year, I am no one’s wife or mother or employee. I am just me, rewinding to when I was 18 and wanted to be a writer, just as I was when my friend and I first met.
Life becomes simple, and when the weekend ends, I feel recharged, refreshed and re-inspired.
Do you take planned breaks in the action like this? Research says not as much you should. In America, 54% of all workers did not use all of their allotted vacation days, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Please don’t do that. The scientifically-backed mental and physical benefits of time off can not be underestimated.
You don’t have to go far or spend a lot of money to experience those benefits. Here are some simple ways to create your own little retreat and get your groove back.
1Read something for fun
You must escape your world and enter another one to really get outside yourself. I am mainly a fan of business books and biographies, so this time of year I need to read fiction. Reading just for fun is, well, fun, but it also gives your brain power a boost.
Researchers at Stanford examined people’s brain activity while reading Jane Austen and found increased blood flow to the regions of the subjects’ brains associated with focusing on tasks. We can all use a little workout to strengthen our ability to pay attention to details and get things done, right?
2Walk it out
Vigorous work outs will strengthen your body, and leisurely strolls will strengthen your ability to chill. It is hard to be distracted by problems plaguing you back in the office when you’re distracted by natural beauty right in front of you.
Walks force you to clear your thoughts, and I’ve often found that I come out the other side feeling a little more fit and a lot more calm.
3Cook a meal
Sure, we eat out a bunch when I’m on these weekends away, but some of the best meals my friend and I have had involved chopping simple ingredients and pouring wine right there in our kitchen.
I am no chef, so I’m talking about spaghetti, jarred sauce and pre-made garlic bread. But still, there is a nice simplicity to making something myself with no rush and good music playing in the back ground. And bonus, cooking and eating meals at home can improve your health overall, according to the CDC.
This will be a new one this year. No email or social media for three days. I will have my phone so people can text in an emergency, but that’s it. Instead of trying to capture memories on Instagram, I want to be present to take some pictures in my head.
The National Health Service in the UK found that people who take a week off of Facebook showed more overall satisfaction with their lives. And who couldn’t use a little more of that?
5Don’t do anything
I would tell you to try meditation like me, but I can’t calm down enough to do it myself. This is a helpful guide – maybe you’ll have better luck. (I’m trying, really!) And trying really is the point. Taking a quiet moment or two to just breathe forces you to stop thinking about the bills or all the work coming in the months ahead. It’s brief, but those two minutes of mental vacation can make all the difference for me.
So as the summer winds down, you don’t have to head off to the South of France, but you do need to get out of your own head. I’m going away with one of my best friends in the world – what will you do? Make sure you take some time to reset and refresh, and when Monday comes, you’ll be ready to restart.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Boundaries, You And Success: Why They All Are Connected (And Why You Need To Choose Wisely)
Have you ever calculated how many of your 24hrs you are in “work-mode” – whether thinking, doing, commuting to meetings or responding to a quick mail at a family braai?
I have noticed that many people, at one point or another, struggle to find time to cope with the demands of modern day life, especially as we are surrounded by technology. We are all ‘expected’ to strike a reasonable balance between the needs of our personal lives and professional careers. But in reality, it is a very tough task.
In a study done by OECD, reveals that:
1 in every 8 employees works 50 hours or more per week.
Turkey is by far the country with the highest proportion of people working very long hours, with 34%, followed by Mexico with nearly 30%. In South Africa, almost 19% of employees work very long hours, more than the OECD average of 13. This is quite alarming!
The work-life challenge: A key focus area for all managers
In a previous article, I have given some pointers how you, in your role as a manager and leader, can support your team striking the sweet-spot between a healthy work-life balance.
The reality is that leaders also need to fill their own cup. Many of my clients say they feel overwhelmed by what we need to do and achieve in a day. They also say, “there is just not enough time in one day” (sounds familiar?) and sometimes they even feel run-down, frustrated or anxious.
This all boils down to BOUNDARIES.
If you are a go-getter and crave to feel less overwhelmed, consider one of these 5 suggestions:
1. Important vs urgent – make time to reflect:
Daily reflection can be a way of creating mind space as it allows one the opportunity to gain perspective on situations we find challenging. Many successful people make it a daily habit of taking time to reflect.
By reflecting, we can consider what didn’t work, acknowledge what went wrong and choose a different way to prevent it from happening again.
An easy way to start reflecting is to do a one-sentence journal every day; also list and incorporate something that you are grateful for. If you need some inspiration, Ulysses.org provides a few good sentence starters.
2. If you take on new things, consider what you’re going to park?
All we have is time. The way you spend your time determines the quality of your life. I’m a strong believer in having a growth mindset and being a life-long learner; we all should find time to pursue goals and interest outside our family and work life.
Having said that, I’m mindful that we sometimes take on too much and set ourselves up for failure. If you take on a new hobby, venture or enroll for a course, consider choosing something that you are currently doing that you can “park” for a season.
3. Learn to say no without feeling guilty
‘No’ is also an answer. The truth is: if you say no, you are in fact just taking control of your life and prioritizing what is more important to you at that current time. Warren Buffet says, “the difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”
Related: How To Achieve Work-Life Balance
We can’t all be “yes-people” – imagine what the world would look like? When saying no, don’t beat around the bush or offer a weak excuse; just say it. In a study done by Prof Hagtveld he suggests one uses the words “I don’t” rather than “I can’t”. The latter might sound like an excuse whilst “I don’t” implies you have established certain boundaries for yourself.
4. Choose a support system you can trust
Most working women feel trapped. They feel they need to take control of every single aspect in their lives – personal and professional… and that is exhausting! We need to remember that we don’t have to do everything ourselves.
As we successfully delegate certain tasks at work; similarly, we need to delegate duties in our personal lives as well.
Yes, the #TheJuggleIsReal, I have been there…trying to do everything myself. Being a supermom at home and being an ambitious colleague at work. I felt drained most of the time.
Related: Building Real Work Life Balance
How do you get out of this rut?
- Get a support system in place that you can rely on. It could be arranging a lift-club at school, assigning a tutor or Au pair helping the kids with homework or choosing to do your grocery shopping online.
- Discuss sharing chores with your partner; many modern partners are more open to taking on non-traditional tasks e.g. cooking dinner, doing the washing or putting the kids to bed.
- The best advice that I have received as a working mother was: “be present in the moment”. This simply means choosing to focus on what you’re doing and not allowing your mind to wander to other urgent matters. I often find that when I’m busy helping the kids with homework my mind is already busy with the presentation for the next morning. I then need to refocus and choose to concentrate on the important and not the urgent.
5. Are you clear on your vision or purpose?
Do you know why you are you getting up in the morning? If not, this can significantly impact your journey as you have nothing to align your priorities with.
In his research, Richard Leider, found that many 65-year old people said they wish they have understood their purpose earlier in life. Make time to clarify your vision as this will guide your choices.
7 Ways To Be ‘On’ Even When You’re Totally Exhausted
Trade shows can test the limits of human endurance. Here’s how to survive and thrive on your next trip.
I spent the past week representing my company at two different trade shows. I am exhausted.
The entire time I was out there, I had to be “on” while enduring the basic conference schedule: Up early for a breakfast, catch a seminar, talk to potential partners/customers at our booth instead of eating lunch, chat at coffee break “networking” sessions, circulate through cocktail parties and make lively conversation with twenty strangers packed around a dinner table. Rinse and repeat. The big question became, “How can I keep this up?”
Here’s what I learned about thriving and not collapsing at your next conference.
1. Know your pitch
When I used to work for The Metropolitan Museum of Art or Disney Theatrical, people understood who I was and what I did right away. But now I work for a start-up called Show-Score, which I need to explain. And so I learned to do in the simplest way possible.
Depending on who my audience is, Show-Score is “Rotten Tomatoes for theater” or “Trip Advisor for theater”. This saved my life. You don’t have the time or energy to give a ten-minute spiel everytime you meet someone new at a conference, so learn how to explain your business or product in one simple and intriguing phrase.
2. Don’t talk business non-stop
I’m in sales, and sometimes I worry that I sound like an endless commercial. I am passionate about my company, but no one wants to hang out with a packaged pitch.
A quick sales moment is fine on the trade floor, but when you sit down to dine or grab drinks with colleagues at the bar, what’s your go-to conversation?
I like finding out where people are from, what sports teams they like and what movies they’ve seen recently. And if you are a conference where interests are shared, lean on that. At the ticketing conference I went to, I learned so much, like how the same venue will take a completely different approach to selling tickets to a college basketball game versus selling tickets to a concert. (Okay, that may only be interesting to a ticketing nerd like me, but you get the idea).
3. Take ten minutes of Zen
I must attribute this advice to a former colleague. We may not have time to grab a power nap, but we can all grab ten minutes of alone time at some point in the day.
If you are on a conference floor, walk away from the booth, find a quiet spot and zone out for a full ten minutes. Don’t scroll through your Twitter feed, don’t check email. Just chill and rebuild your headspace.
4. Talk less, smile more
For you musical fans, you’ll get the Hamilton reference of this line. (I can’t help it, I work in theater!) But the point here is that when you’re dealing with tons of people, realise that you don’t always need to be the one talking.
Spend time listening. And smile, damn it. I have made more connections with people at conferences just by smiling at them than by talking. It usually happens during a shared experience like being stuck on an endless line trying to get Starbucks before a string of meetings starts. Or I’ll just smile at someone who looks as exhausted as I am at the end of the day. Try it and your whole mood lightens, too.
5. Wear comfortable shoes, dress your best
For women, high heels without backup flats is a rookie mistake. And for men, don’t buy new shoes right before hours on a trade floor and expect to break them in. Make sure you wear something you can easily walk around in for an entire day that makes you look professional and feel confident. Same goes for your outfit. I have a few dresses that make me feel on top of the world. A friend of mine loves to change out his pocket squares to give both his look and his confidence a boost.
6. Go easy on the booze
Yes, a conference can mean lots of cocktails but I always follow each drink with two glasses of water. Or sometimes I just fake it completely and order seltzer with lime and sip slowly.
There is always that temptation to have an all-night rager when we are on the road, but don’t forget you are there for work. Tomorrow you will need to be back “on” and a hangover is not going to help.
7. Sleep when you can
Five AM flights and time zone changes can seriously throw off your sleep schedule. So when you do finally get a chance to catch some Zs, sleep like you mean it. Plug your phone in away from your bed (the temptation of work email can wait till the morning), turn off the lights, pull the curtains closed and rest up. I almost never turn on the TV when I get back to my hotel room. The pull of late night talk shows means I get what is called “junk sleep,” which is when light and noise mess up sleep cycles and sleep-related hormone levels. You wake up exhausted and grouchy. Not exactly how you want to start an important day of networking.
And the eighth bonus tip: Remember to have fun! I have learned so much at these trade shows, made great business connections and even a few new friends. Enjoy! And smile!
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How Travelit Makes Travelling Affordable For Small Businesses
Business travel made easier, more cost-effective and tailored to your needs with Travelit.
DID YOU KNOW?
Travelit can save you 30% on your complete travel bill. We provide a complete end- to-end travel management solution in partnership with Tourvest Travel Services.
Travelit, in partnership with Tourvest Travel Services focuses on the SME, public sector and the corporate market, which means it has specific niche solutions suitable for each one of these sectors. To deliver a complete end-to-end travel solution to these sectors, it’s essential to provide services to procurement, HR, finance, IT, travel arrangers, authorisers and the executive management team.
“Our technology enables us to configure and implement the solution based on the client’s exact requirements, to deliver on travel policy compliance, finance and authorisation controls, and process efficiencies every business is looking for within the African market,” says Travelit’s Chief Sales Officer Wayne Muirhead. He delves into the ultimate online travel solution’s simple yet powerful implementation for businesses of all sizes.
The travel challenge for SMEs
The South African and African marketplace consists of a number of challenges, the largest concern being cost savings. With Travelit, the traveller can select their requirements based on a large range of options across multiple suppliers, whilst adhering to the company’s travel policy.
When faced with issues such as where to stay, the best airline to choose, choosing a car to rent, and transfer decisions, the Travelit client is provided with every available supplier to choose from, on one single platform.
Another challenge within the industry is information and communication to the traveller on the move. Travelit’s mobile app is designed to provide instant communication to the traveller and support the company’s duty of care programme. In addition to supporting the company’s travel programme, Travelit provides an expense management solution, as part of its offering.
Related: Tourvest: Martin Weist
Authorisation, pricing, transparency and finance are also priority on the list of concerns for many business owners, says Wayne. “It is extremely challenging to book your trip directly on a website, which has many limitations,” he notes. “The travel arranger is required to jump from website to website, prices are constantly changing and they’re further frustrated by getting the go ahead from the manager/traveller.”
Mobility is about convenience, accessibility and real-time information for the traveller. The Travelit solution provides a fully backed up 24/7 call centre to support travellers.
The simple, yet powerful solution
Travelit is the leading online travel solution within the African market place, with over 900 corporate travel clients, and over 30 Government Departments. What makes the solution truly outstanding is that there is no onsite implementation required.
Users gain access to the Travelit solution, which uses the latest cloud technology. This significantly reduces costs and implementation timelines. Large clients can be set up within a matter of weeks, and smaller clients can be trading within a day.
“Payment within travel has traditionally been cumbersome and costly. Travelit has worked closely with leading players in the financial services sector to deliver modern virtual credit card technology to our customers and our suppliers.”
In a nutshell, the virtual credit card solution eliminates credit card fraud, dramatically improves credit card reconciliation and provides immediate payment to the supplier for their services.
Travelit’s 375 000 users are supported nationwide by over ten leading travel management companies. These users experience all the efficiencies and benefits of the technology, along with personalised service from a qualified travel consultant. They travel in the comfort of knowing they can always talk to a person who will have access to all their online bookings.
Travelit simplifies the entire process, across flights, cars, accommodation, transfers and parking. Access to the solution is quick and easy, online or via the Travelit mobile app. All this technology has been developed in partnership with global travel technology giants. “Travellers also receive discounted prices based on our aggregated buying power, including individually negotiated corporate deals and web rates,” says Wayne.
“Travelit is a full end-to-end travel and expense management solution, who can provide a tailored and unique travel solution to meet your exact business requirements.”
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