Thursday, 26 March 2015

Hannah Fox's Diary 10 - What are my work issues?

Phoned Jo to make the arrangements for next week’s night out, and she asked me how things were going. The diary has turned out to be a great idea….. it’s given me the chance to focus not only on the problems at work but the good stuff with Darren and the kids as well. When I said work was “fine” Jo said that probably means I still had some things to sort out so suggested I just quickly wrote down where I saw myself at the moment. 

Sigh …..more writing.

I’ve made a list of my issues at work which are-

  • I’ve negotiated these reduced hours but from my point of view it’s not really working, because I’m still trying to do a full time job in fewer hours. I don’t think Clive understands the difference between P/T and compressed hours!
  • Clipboard Clive keeps saying that Louise is there to help, but if I’m being honest I would prefer to do things myself then there is less risk that I will have to do it all over again when she makes a mistake.  Besides Louise’s title is Business Analyst and I would have thought that she would have more than enough to do without constantly being asked to help me.
  • I’ve spent years building up relationships with the clients and I’m not happy about some-one else edging in on that relationship. In fact I feel that’s my USP- when a client rings up they get to talk instantly with someone who they have worked with before, that used to mean a lot when I first started working here but doesn’t seem important now.

Think I’m beginning to sound insecure.

My plan is to keep this to myself until I have the right opportunity to present my thoughts in a ‘positive’ way. I will start after Easter……...or is that procrastination?

Right -stick to my guns and be more assertive.

Amelia and Marcus are planning more family outings –hope it’s a bit less challenging. Off to visit Mum at Easter.

Looking forward to going out with Jo and friends.

Stopped aching and still drinking the green tea-feeling quite virtuous.

Hannah Fox is a character.  She is based on our years of experience working for a national mental health charity supporting people facing stress in the workplace.  
The names and characters are not based on any one person and all similarities are purely incidental.
However, hopefully we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Hannah.

Pause for thought:
As a Part Time worker are you ever valued as much as a Full Time worker no matter what you do?

Monday, 23 March 2015

International Day of Happiness

Now those of you in the know may well be thinking, hold on a minute, wasn't the International Day of Happiness last Friday 20th March 2015?  And you've be very right, in fact, Friday was the 3rd UN International Day of Happiness.

In 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which recognised happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and called for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples”.

In 2012 the first ever UN conference on Happiness took place and the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which decreed that the International Day of Happiness would be observed every year on 20 March. It was celebrated for the first time in 2013.

So please excuse us at Work Smart Work Savvy HQ but we decided on Friday to publish our normally scheduled Friday Coffee Date Interview feature and a solar eclipse themed wellbeing article Seeing Sunshine Through Cloudy Skies meaning that we could start this fresh week with our focus on happiness.  I did however bake these happy cakes on Friday to share with friends and they did have the desired affect of making us all smile.  I've just noticed that if you look very closely to the cake in the top right of the photo, you can see a very tiny little finger print!!  Obviously some little cheeky monkey (who shall remain nameless) could barely wait for the photo taking to be finished!!

The International Day of Happiness is co-ordinated by Action for Happiness which is "a movement of people taking action to create a happier society" and there's a lot more information on their website and facebook page but the bit of information I wanted to share with you today is their Big Dream of 10 keys to happier living.

There are lots of tips on the website about how to implement each of these keys.  So may be you could think of picking two or three to try and focus on this week?  We have touched on some of these topics at Work Smart Work Savvy, so why not refresh yourself with some of these articles; Its Ok To Talk10 Top Relaxation TipsWhy We Should Only Work a Four Day WeekC is for Resilience.

Let's do whatever we can to create a little more happiness, starting with spreading a smile!

Friday, 20 March 2015

Coffee Date Interview 7 - Hadi Brooks

Name: Hadi Brooks

Job Title: Owner at My Business Buddy and Rays Ice Cream

1. What drives you crazy at work?
Mess/ untidiness/ disorganisation

2. What’s the first thing you do on arriving at work?
If I'm in the shop I'll get everything set up for the day and then make a cup of tea. For My Business Buddy I'm usually working from home so I'll make a cup of tea, switch off the TV and fire up the laptop.

3. When the going gets tough......?
I get my head down and get on with things. There are good days and awful days when you're self-employed, but you're in charge of your own destiny so you need to work through the tough times.

4. How do you relax / wind down after a hard day at work?
Watch Corrie!

5. When you were little, what did you want to be?
I wanted to be a doctor when I was growing up. I chose my A Levels on that basis. I changed my mind at the last minute and went to do a Chemistry degree instead.

6. What eats up most of your time at work?
In Rays it is chatting to customers, which I love. With My Business Buddy being so new most of my time at the moment is taken responding to messages and researching potential new clients, but I'm hoping I'll get out a bit more with it soon.

7. What’s the best advice given to you?
Spend as little as you can when opening your business - you can upgrade to the shiny things later.

8. What are the 3 “always” in your life?
Tell my husband and daughter that I love them daily.
Do what I say I will when I say I will.
Be open and honest.

9. Night in or Night out?
Night in

10. Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey?
Gordon Ramsey

11. Del Boy or Rodney?

12. Countryside or Seaside?
That's a really tough one - I love both but probably seaside

Seeing the sunshine through cloudy skies

Watching the amazing images of the eclipse this morning live on the BBC and using my own viewing devices; a homemade pinhole camera and a kitchen colander to see it first hand, got me thinking...

These photos are not going to win any awards for capturing the eclipse but it was rather fascinating and surprising that holding up a colander to the sun, did actually reflect the shape of the eclipse onto my living room wall pretty well.
With the solar eclipse today, it was expected that the clouds would get in the way of some of the spectacle in certain parts and therefore the BBC had ensured they had cameras at the ready in an aeroplane filming above the grey clouds in order to bring us some truly amazing images.

Some days it can feel like "blue sky days" when we're feeling happy and positive, content with what we have and what we're doing, when everything seems to be working and falling into place easily and smoothly.  We might stumble upon the odd white cloud during the day but we can deal with it and it won't spoil our sunny disposition and ruin our "blue sky day".

Some days it can feel like "grey cloud days" where there's a pretty thick layer of grey cloud hanging over us and we feel tired, tasks feel harder or even impossible to complete, we might feel angry and beaten up by the world, grumpy and tetchy, or we have a never ending list of things that need doing and as soon as one thing gets ticked off, two more things crop up!

However, we know that from our own trips in aeroplanes when we've climbed through the cloud layer or from seeing on TV like the solar eclipse covering this morning, that the blue skies are always there.

No matter how thick the cloud layer is, the blue skies are still always there up above, where the sun is shiny and it's bright.

Sometimes we just have to be patient and give the cloud time to go away.  A "grey cloud day" may not feel quite so bad the day after particularly if we've managed to get some rest or some time away from the problems.  Those grey clouds might not feel quite so thick.

At other times we might need to do something ourselves to take steps towards trying to clear those clouds enough for us to be able to see some chinks of blue sky through the cloud gaps.  This could be taking a step back and trying to see things from a different perspective as mentioned in this post from a few days ago, or talking to someone you trust, taking time out to something completely different like getting away from your desk at work and going for a walk outside during lunch, it could even be a 10 minute power walk to blast out any frustrations whilst raising your heart beat and taking in from fresh air.

There are lots more ideas to try in our 10 Top Relaxation Tips series.

The blue skies are always there, but some days, they just take a bit more searching for than other days.

Although I liked my kitchen colander reflected image, the BBC have a whole host of much better ones  here!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Hannah Fox's Diary 9 - Is it possible for every muscle in your body to ache at the same time?


Found out what Daren and the kids were up to.  On Sunday they gave me their Mother’s Day cards then said I had to get in the car for my surprise; Amelia had even chosen the clothes I was to wear. I was feeling a bit nervous and the l chocs and flowers I normally get were starting to be quite appealing. 

They had even got up early to make a packed lunch for us- although I complain about having to do everything I actually started to feel quite uncomfortable about not being in control.  

Am I a control Freak? 

Turned out my treat was a Tree Top Challenge with zip wires, it was a real giggle and good to do something different as a family, I was very proud of the kids organising it (oh and Darren as he obviously had a hand in it as well). I know I’ve been moaning about him but this showed he’s thinking about the family.

Louise said I was looking bright and asked about the weekend, she is thinking of mentioning it to Clive as a team building activity. She said that the Comedy Club evening was a bit of a disaster and wished she had thought of an excuse not to go. As if I had the choice!

I am blessed!

Great- heard back from Jo and going to get together soon..

I’m sure I will be able to walk again soon.

Hannah Fox is a character.  She is based on our years of experience working for a national mental health charity supporting people facing stress in the workplace.  
The names and characters are not based on any one person and all similarities are purely incidental.
However, hopefully we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Hannah.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Taking a Step Back

Reading an article on Mindfulness the other day by Suryacitta Malcolm Smith, author of Happiness and How it Happens made me think that some of us, and I'm really thinking about fellow mums here, might have been lucky enough to receive flowers this weekend as part of Mother's Day.

We may have received a hand tied bouquet which required us to do very little as the florist had already worked their magic on creating a pleasing, harmonious, stunning display of complimenting well arranged blooms.

We may have received stunning seasonal flowers such as cheery, sunny daffodils or tall elegant colourful tulips which needed us to do the arranging in our chosen vase.  

In the article Surycitta writes about watching his wife arranging flowers in preparation for a Mindfulness Retreat he was leading recently in Leicestershire.

"What she did was fiddle with the flowers, then stand back. She would again fiddle with the flowers and again stand back. She did this four or five times." 
Suryacitta Malcolm Smith
Surycitta writes about how his wife "fiddled" (his word not mine) with the detail of the flowers, closely looking at how the flowers fell and how they worked next to each other.  He goes on to draw the comparison about how his wife fiddled with the detail of the flowers and the how we live our lives.  Obviously we have to be involved in the detail of our lives; sending emails at work, producing reports in the expected format to the required deadline, picking up the children from school, delivering them to their after school clubs with the right equipment, ensuring the fridge is stocked, the washing is done and the car is booked in for it's MOT...the list goes on and on....  All are the details of our lives and the things we do in the moment.
So whats this got to do with mindfulness?
Suryacitta went on to explain that as well as concentrating on the detail of the flowers, his wife repeatedly stopped fiddling and stepped back to look at the flowers as a whole arrangement. The stepping back gave her a different view point and was just as important as the fiddling with the individual blooms; the detail. 
"I think as a culture we value the doing, the fiddling and engaging with the detail, more than the standing back, and just being.
This standing back is what mindfulness allows us to do. It allows us to see our lives and the way we are living from a different perspective. If we don't develop this ability to stand back we can easily get lost in the detail of living and not really get to see what is going on."
Suryacitta Malcolm Smith

The difficulty with the standing back is that it can feel like we're doing nothing and when we know we have a 101 things to get done, doing nothing feels like a very uncomfortable option.  Right?  But sometimes we can get too bogged down in the detail and fall into the trap of doing things just because without taking that step back and and just looking at what we're doing from a different angle, a different perspective.  It might just give us some clarity, ideas, a better way forward which we might have other wise missed.

Surycitta's full article which is well worth a read can be found here. Here at Work Smart Work Savvy HQ, we plan to visit Mindfulness in more detail soon.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Coffee Date Interview 6 - Tiffany Weighell

Name: Tiffany Weighell

Job title: Languages Teacher

1. Anything is possible,what would you want to do?
Own a party shop with homemade party planning ideas or a posh wine bar

2. What’s the first thing you do on arriving at work?
Have a cup of coffee and plan for the day

3. When you were little, what did you want to be?
A teacher.

4. When the going gets tough......?
The tough gets going. Think it through, talk it through and then try to get it done. If you don't try, you won't know if you could succeed.

5. What song will guarantee to make you feel better?
Black eyed peas 'I got a feeling'

6. What are the 3 “always” in your life?
My family, my friends, my faith

7. When is your most productive time of the day?
First thing in the morning. Always better after food

8. What eats up most of your time at work?
Reading emails. Following protocols.

9. Countryside or Seaside?

10. Roller Coaster or Ferris Wheel?
Ferris wheel

11. Night in or Night out?
Night in

12. Mary Berry or Delia Smith?
Mary berry

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Hannah Fox's Diary 8 - Spring Has Sprung

Just noticed what a difference the lighter mornings are making, the sky as I drove into work was beautiful and for once Amelia and Marcus managed to get ready for school without an argument! Result!

It’s feeling warmer, daffs are popping up everywhere and the trees are in bud.

I seem to have got over that awful chesty cold and have decided to give my diet a bit of an overhaul.  I caught up with Mum and she suggested just do some healthy eating and cut down on sugary stuff. She sent some green tea over and I have been drinking it at work instead of coffee. …….it tasted pretty revolting at first but 5 days in and I am starting to quite like it- well as long as I can still have my skinny latte from the cafĂ© which, I have just heard is closing. Clipboard Clive has come up with the idea of putting a microwave in the coffee break area so we can heat up soup for lunch ……

I don’t feel as headachy and I seem to be sleeping a bit better, at least I don’t remember lying awake at night as much thinking about things.

OMG I may have to admit my Mum was right ………..better not encourage her too much or she will be on the case with all her other “alternative remedies”.

MEMO: bake cakes for the Comic Relief cake sale at school.

It’s ages since I made cakes with Amelia – that used to be something we really liked doing together, that’s another thing that’s dropped by the wayside that we can start doing again.

Well now I’m feeling better I can see a light at the end of the tunnel as far as all that extra stuff Clive gave me to do. But I can’t carry on absorbing extra work all the time.

Darren and the kids are being very secretive and can’t help thinking they are up to something.

Texted Jo and suggested a catch up soon.

Not bad at all!

Hannah Fox is a character.  She is based on our years of experience working for a national mental health charity supporting people facing stress in the workplace.  
The names and characters are not based on any one person and all similarities are purely incidental.
However, hopefully we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Hannah.

Pause for thought:
Have you stopped doing something you used to really enjoy doing because you're just too busy?  Could you make time to start doing it again?

Monday, 9 March 2015

Hannah Fox's Diary 7 - Wedding Anniversary

I know I normally write on Thursdays but I just had to write this down because I had such a lovely weekend.

That restaurant is fabulous and it was really nice to get dressed up and spend time together.  The food was amazing and our delicious raspberry mille feuille dessert got us reminiscing about how we met as that was what we had on our first date together all those years ago in France.

We met when Darren was on a skiing holiday in the resort where I was working. I'd just been promoted to Resort Manager and he became my first real emergency. He had an incident getting off the drag lift which resulted in two broken skis, one twisted knee (Darren's) and a concussed Italian ski instructor!  I met him back in the resort looking really sorry for himself and arranged his medical treatment.  It was a real surprise when I received a stunning bouquet of flowers with a very sweet thank you card. 

It felt so good to have quality time together and really talk and listen to each and for once I never even thought about work.

Darren gave me this lovely anniversary card and we've decided to try and have regular date nights where we take it in turns choosing what we do.

What's that?

You're my first, my last, my everything!


Feeling really happy and loved.

Hannah Fox is a character.  She is based on our years of experience working for a national mental health charity supporting people facing stress in the workplace.  
The names and characters are not based on any one person and all similarities are purely incidental.
However, hopefully we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Hannah.

Pause for thought:
When was the last time you sat down and really listened to each other?

Friday, 6 March 2015

Coffee Date Interview 5 - Andy Lawrenson

Name: Andy Lawrenson

Job title: Java Platform Developer

1. Best light bulb moment?
Not sure of a best moment, but my best breakthrough ideas tend to come when I just have an idea running over in the back of my mind, rather than trying to force something.

2. When the going gets tough......?
... the tough get on with it.

3. What’s the biggest compliment you’ve had a work?
A colleague I used to work with said I was the only manager in his career that he'd ever respected.

4. What’s the last thing you do at work before leaving?
Say goodbye to co-workers.

5. What made you laugh this week?
On a TV show about animals, seeing a vole run head first into a wall while trying to get away from a cat (it was funnier than it sounds)

6.Did you have a career plan or just meandered your way into your present job?
No plan, just chance

7. What’s you top tip for staying on top of things and getting stuff done?
Get on with what you can, rather than panic over what you can't

8. What drives you crazy at work?
People who change their mind about what they want, after you've already done what they originally asked for.

9.Del Boy or Rodney?

10. Mary Berry or Delia Smith?
Delia Smith

11. Night in or Night out?
Night In

12. Ketchup or Brown Sauce?

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Hannah Fox's Diary 6 - Making it through the week

Dragged myself into work and feeling completely rubbish and even Clipboard Clive noticed.  He suggested that Louise could take over the client calls as my voice is going and I sound like Barry White! I've practically finished them anyway as I stayed on so late yesterday and finished a fair bit. 

On a positive……Darren has actually taken the initiative and arranged for his parents to babysit on Saturday evening as he’s taking me to the new restaurant that’s just opened in town.  It's our wedding anniversary and I haven't even had to drop lots of subtle hints this year!

Hope I’m feeling better by then.

Feeling rubbish but quite pleased with myself for getting through.

Amelia was really sweet and made me a get well card.

I am actually going to get a social time with Darren.

I've got that package of multi vitamins that Katy swears by. She seems to have plenty of vitality!

Hannah Fox is a character.  She is based on our years of experience working for a national mental health charity supporting people facing stress in the workplace.  
The names and characters are not based on any one person and all similarities are purely incidental.
However, hopefully we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Hannah.
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