Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Lawyers - are you having to work late again?

How many times have you had to cancel a social arrangement because you had to work late?  How often do you wish you had more time to devote to keeping fit?   How often do you leave doing the things you enjoy out of work to another day when you have more time?

By the way, how is your work-life balance?

Managing time can be one of the most difficult tasks for a lawyer during their career.  There are days when everything is urgent and there are times when the phone does not stop ringing.  What do you do in these situations?  Do you find your stress levels increase as you realise it will be yet another late night for you at the office? 

Working late is the only way you will get everything finished.......isn’t it?

Not always.  Yes there are times when working late will be necessary but there will also be times when it is not necessary and it may be a simple matter of reviewing how you manage your time.

Here are 5 simple time management techniques to assist: 

1.     Every morning make a list of the tasks you must complete that day and a separate list of tasks that you would like to complete if you had time.

2.     Do the thing you least want to do first.  You will be so pleased when you have achieved it and feel motivated for the rest of the day.  As Mark Twain said, ‘If you eat a frog first thing in the morning, the rest of the day will be wonderful’. 

3.     Eliminate all distractions when working on a large piece of work.  For instance, divert your phone to voicemail (or to your secretary if you are lucky enough to have assistance) and close your emails. 

4.     Focus on one thing at a time.  For example, allocate part of the day to making telephone calls and another part to responding to emails and clearing your inbox.

6.     Do you need to work late every day? Ensuring you leave work on time at least once or twice a week will free up time for your personal life.

Often the smallest and simplest alteration to a lawyer’s working day can make the biggest difference in enabling them to work more quickly and efficiently.  It can ease feelings of stress and enable the discovery of a work-life balance too!

For more tips see my article on overcoming the biggest challenges lawyers face at work here.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Returning to work: Making a smooth transition

Do you absolutely love returning to work after a break?

I am assuming not!

The holiday season is almost over and many of us are now returning to work after a well deserved break in the sun.  However, there are very few people who would choose their desk, chair and computer over the sun, sea and sand and so returning to work after a holiday is rarely an enjoyable experience and it inevitably takes a little time to readjust. 

How would you feel about returning to work after an even longer period of time away?

This can be much more challenging.     

Perhaps you have been on maternity leave, taking a career break or have been unwell.  Whatever the reason, returning to work after a long period of time can be difficult and it is certainly not uncommon to feel overwhelmed when making the transition from home life to the workplace.  It can be daunting and trigger feelings of guilt, nervousness or anxiety.

How to make the transition from home life to the work place

There are things you can do to make the transition as smooth as possible and so if are about to return to work after a long break, spend some time now to work out what you can do.  Here are some tips to assist:

·         Give yourself time to prepare for your return.  Don’t leave everything to the last minute.

·         If you are feeling anxious, focus on the positives and remind yourself of what you are good at.

·         Set yourself realistic goals and seek help where necessary.  Remember, you don’t have to do it alone.

For some more guidance, do have a read of my fact sheet ‘6 tips on how to make a smooth transition when returning to work after time away’.

Make returning to work an enjoyable experience!

www.tessaarmstrong.co.uk

Monday, 15 August 2011

Did you know that most jobs are obtained through networking?

What would you think if I told you that approximately 7 out of 10 jobs are obtained through networking? 

For some of you, the word ‘networking’ sends shivers up your spine.  Just thinking about making small talk, the feelings of intimidation and the dreaded sales pitch is simply too much.  Networking can be considered a chore and I am sure many of you are thinking that you have better things to do with your time than to put yourselves through this ordeal.   

However, it's true.  Approximately 7 out of 10 jobs are obtained through networking and you are more likely to find career opportunities and roles through networking than any other job search approach.  Think about it for a minute – who would you choose if you were recruiting for an additional member of your team?  Would you choose the individual who had developed a trustworthy relationship with you through networking or the complete stranger who applied for the position through a job advertisement?  I know which option I would choose and I am sure you do too!

What should you do now?

If you are looking for a new job or a career change, make networking a key part of your job search.  This does not mean you have to approach all your contacts and beg for a job!  It is about meeting people who may be able to provide you with useful information to progress your job search as well as further contacts.    

If you are considering a career change, use networking to broaden your awareness of your marketability for alternative employment by asking for other people's opinions.  If you are looking for a new job, networking may uncover a suitable vacancy that hadn’t even been advertised.  Just remember, avoid feeling frustrated if you do not get any immediate results.  The results of networking can take time to appear but it will be worth it in the end! 

(My networking factsheet on how to succeed at networking events may also assist.) 

www.tessaarmstrong.co.uk

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

How to handle a difficult boss

Have you seen the new film out at the moment called ‘Horrible Bosses’?  The main plot follows three friends who devise a plan to get rid of their respective overbearing, abusive bosses who they believe are standing in the way of their happiness. 

Having a horrible boss is something almost everyone has experienced during their career path.  Your experience may not be as dramatic as those in the film but it is likely to have affected your career development in some way.  Your morale at work may have dropped significantly, your performance may have decreased or it may have even resulted in your resignation.   It can ultimately lead you to feeling very stressed at work.

If your boss is making you feel stressed, consider your options and try to find a strategy to help relieve this stress before you become extremely frustrated and it has an impact on both your work and life.

When working out your strategy, it can be easy to jump to the conclusion that you only have two options: to put up with it or resign.  However, there are other options....

You may be able to resolve the problem using alternative methods of working.  If you are stuck for ideas, consider if there is anyone else you trust at work who may be experiencing the same issue and ask how they are dealing with it.  You could even seek the help of a career coach who would help you to come up with solutions.   Career and performance coaching has the benefits of being objective and confidential.

Also consider talking to your boss about it.  Plan the conversation beforehand so that you are able to speak confidently and professionally.  During the meeting ensure you find out what their expectations are of you and how they think you are doing in terms of meeting those expectations.  You may discover that your boss does not even realise there is a problem.  See if you can come up with a solution which will benefit both you and your boss.

Finally, remember not to burn any bridges.  You never know who knows who!