Ian's blog

  • Back to work: 4 steps to give your work life a shot in the arm

    Although I’d been working during August, it had been sprinkled with a couple of weeks off, estuary swims and early evening barbeques. So yesterday when the kids went back to school, I definitely had that ‘back to work’ feeling about it. And I admit - like my children - I found it hard to get back into the zone. So I sat in my local coffee shop, ordered a long black, reflected on what I’d learned in the last few months and cranked out this list.

    From my experiences running team workshops to leading individual mentoring sessions here are some of the actions that have helped reinvigorate people’s work lives:

    1. Get out of the office. This is my number one plea to you. If you do nothing else, do this. I’ve worked with a number of organisations where employees don’t tend to leave the building during the working day. I know we’re all busy, but please take a breather and step out the front door. When I run workshops with teams I always have an exercise where attendees go outside for an hour, and I see the difference that makes. It’s an eye opener. Everyone comes back refreshed and full of ideas.
    2. Make sure you bring ‘You’ to your work. In my coaching and mentoring work I’ve witnessed the positive change when people have the confidence to be themselves at work. They’re happier, more fulfilled and more productive. We often feel we have to conform at work, and hide who we really are. But those who allow their personality to guide what they do -  and also how they do it - are more satisfied at work. Recently I met a lawyer with a creative streak who creates a storyboard, a visualisation of each transaction or deal she works on. It helps her and the client understand where they are in the process at any given time. What a great idea. The client finds it valuable and she’s more fulfilled, being able to bring her artistic side to work.
    3. Pick the best space for the task. Isn’t it crazy to think that a desk and a chair are meant to give us the best environment to do our work? I was recently working with a business leader who spends her working day moving around the building, finding the best space for whatever she’s working on. She’s rarely at her desk. Sometimes of course, getting our head down is exactly what we need. But for most, a mix of spaces makes you most productive: a sofa, a park bench, the roof terrace, the canteen or a cafe around the corner. Move around. Recognise that different parts of your work will need different environments.
    4. Count the things that count. If you’ve fallen out of love with your job, rethink how you measure success. Job titles and salary might be the right currency for some people, but there are many other ways of creating a successful life: freedom, responsibility, flexible working, the opportunity to make a dent in the universe. Take some time to work out what really matters to you.

    I hope you have a productive few months ahead! And if you need any help putting this into action, give me a shout hello@iansanders.com