My mantra …the 2 Ps

I’ve had an amazing summer with my daughter – the 1st one ever that I haven’t been working.  But now as she settles into her new school and autumn is most definitely upon us I turn my thoughts to work…

It hasn’t exactly been the most productive year for me so over the next few months I’m muttering my daily mantra “PERSEVERANCE & POSITIVITY” as I knuckle down and reconnect with old work colleagues, attend networking events and apply for roles which have my name written all over it – (apparently not judging by the number of rejections I have had this year).  But as the-font-of-all-knowledge (i.e. my hubby) puts it; it’s a numbers game.  When he said this to me the other day it was like a slap round the face as I was licking my wounds about a rejection.  It pulled me up short but he’s true.  There’s work out there just for me but I’ve got to hunt (stalk?!) it down.

However I take heart form the article I read this morning on The Pool about a 48 year old mother being given an internship at The Spectator.  How awesome is that?  What’s even better they did not request a CV, name, age or qualifications but they recruited purely on a set of tasks the applicant had to execute.

So where does that leave me as I turn 48 this week too?  A friend of mine who used to be in recruitment suggested that I should dumb down my CV if I want to go for less senior, more hands-on roles but I’m not sure how I’m meant to pare back over 25 years experience. Or if I really want to…I don’t mind taking a step back but it’s finding the companies who are forward thinking about recruiting the right person with the best cultural fit irrespective of age, sex and background.

It’s going to be a tough gig but I’ll get there by by-passing the traditional recruitment agency route and and approaching growing brands and agencies where I see myself fitting in and who, in return, will hopefully see the benefit of my experience.

Wish me luck!

Perseverance, positivity, perseverance, positivity, perseverance, positivity, mutter, mutter mutter….

P.S If a recruiter thinks they can help me then I’m all ears

 

Owning a puppy and work – who knew they were so similar?!

Our daughter, Juno, had been pestering us for ages about getting a puppy and we thought it would be a great idea, taking the pressure off her as a only child and give her something to look after.  We all agreed that we would start looking once we were back from our Easter hols.  And within a few weeks the gorgeous Rudi landed on our laps and we were all delighted.  But bearing in mind that this was a joint family decision this is what I’ve learnt – and so much of it applies to work too that it’s uncanny!

  1.  Yes it was a joint decision but guess who has had to take ownership of the “project”?  Me!  No matter if a decision is made by committee somebody has to take control
  2. And of course when the proverbial and actual “sh*t hits the fan, I’m the one picking it up. One day I’ll get Juno to do it but it’s going to take a while…
  3. I had hoped that having a puppy would get us all out for lovely family walks – err no. You can take a horse to water but my horses ain’t drinking.  It’s all about finding a way to encourage people to change their habits and adopt new ideas.  However much I want to shout at them “will you bloody well take the dog for a walk” I need to take a more coercive approach – no doubt involving chocolate and a pint and a packet of crisps or perhaps some subliminal messaging might help!
  4. In terms of my daily work output I seem to lose at least an hour a day to dog walking, playing, feeding but it has made me more efficient.  If I wake early I walk Rudi before breakfast, I group similar tasks together to get through them quicker and I plan and ponder as I walk. And I’m sure once he’s older and trained I’ll be able to make a few calls too
  5. A walk, or an excuse to get up from my desk is definitely good for the soul and the body.  It clears my head, allows me to stretch and move and ruminate
  6. You talk to complete strangers but it’s amazing what you learn – never be afraid to start a conversation and find a common link with that person and you never know where it may lead.
  7. Giving Rudi short bursts of attention for puppy training has meant he’s come on leaps and bounds in a very short space of time.  Apply this to your team at any stage of their development and they will know you are there to support them and give them the confidence to take the initiative and be creative
  8. I’m now part of tribe (for the 1st time EVER) and I fit in as us dog walkers come in all shapes and sizes and judging by Rudi, dogs do look like their owners – small, round with curly hair but very loyal! Embrace being different and be proud of who you are.  We can’t all conform to a certain ideal but learn how to play to your strengths to develop yourself and your role
  9. I talk gobbledygook to my pooch and apparently when I worked in at Seven I had my own vernacular so no change there then
  10. Bumbags are cool, bumbags are cool, bumbags are cool. If I say this often enough they will be.  Thank heavens my friend Torri, a stylist, wears one when she’s on a shoot.  Hers is full of pins, safety pins, cotton, needles and scissors.  Mine is full of poo bags, dog treats, some change, tissues, house keys and my phone.  I know, not much similarity but a start!

And after 5 weeks of owning a puppy I now can’t imagine life without him; he’s well and truely part of the family

What do you do when you’re having a “I can’t focus” sort of a day?

We’ve all been there haven’t we?  You go to work one day and the focus isn’t there and no matter what, you can’t seem to get it back again.  And we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it…surely we can’t work at 100% capacity the whole time? For me it’s usually for the same old reasons:

  • Too much whizzing round my head
  • I have too much to do and I don’t know where to start
  • Not enough time pressure to get a job done
  • I’ve had a really busy few days, riding on adrenaline and afterwards I hit a downer
  • Hungover
  • Tired
  • Or to be honest…I just can’t be bummed

However, even on a good day our attention span is pretty poor.  A 2015 study by Microsoft Canada found that our average attention span – “the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted” ­– was 12 seconds in 2008. Five years later it was only eight seconds – one second less than a goldfish’s and according to Caroline Beaton’s article in Forbes as we have evolved as humans it has been instinctively hard to recognize and prioritize. Our attention problem is due to both lack of focus and focus on the wrong things.

I am fortunate as I work from home but I find it even more distracting at times than working in an office environment. However I have mastered some techniques to help me tune in. These are my tips and I do hope some of them work for you.

  1. Exercise is always key for me – whether a good workout at the gym, a walk with the dog or even pavement pounding the streets of London. It gives me some headspace and allows me to ruminate and help rationalise thoughts. Interestingly some research by the University of Michigan showed that walking in “nature” helped refocus and for me they have a point.
  2. I put the big stuff to one side and work through a list of quick wins which don’t necessarily need the brain power but at least I’m achieving something e.g. filing, invoicing, expenses etc.  This then often leads me on to the bigger stuff.
  3. Eat healthily and drink plenty of water – if I do this I feel so much more alert and my concentration increases.  Eating sugary or carb-laden food makes me sluggish and I lose the will to do anything.
  4. I listen to a focus playlist on Spotify.  This really works for me and resets my mind and concentration.  I don’t have to listen to it for that long but gets me into the right frame of mind. Apparently ambient noise is the creative sweetspot according to Helpscout.net. Although weirdly I can’t bear having music on in the background when I’m trying to read a book.
  5. And as per Life Hacks tips I try and avoid looking at my emails the whole time and the same goes for social media too.  This is sooo difficult as they both have become entrenched into our very being.  I now limit myself to Facebook to once a day and save browsing through LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram for 1st thing in the morning and in the evening.  (I could be telling myself a little white lie here…but honestly I’m trying!).
  6. Do something I love e.g. researching for my next blog posts for relevant articles and photography, think about new business opportunities.
  7. Work in a different area rather than my desk or even work remotely

So what do you do?

With age comes acceptance, knowledge and a certain mellowness

…..so don’t leave me sitting on the sidelines!

I had my 30 year school reunion last week. My arm was twisted by a friend – the only one I regularly keep in touch with and, as she was coming down from Cumbria and she needed a bed for the night, I couldn’t really refuse. However it was with trepidation that I entered the wine bar partly because the last one I went to well over 10 years ago was so hideous.

And you know what it was actually quite a pleasant experience. I’m sure fueled by too much rose, adrenaline and nerves. I looked around the room and everyone looked the same although weirdly a lot taller than I remembered (I was always a titch). As I stood back and observed, people mingled and then resumed the cliques we had had back at school. We were and are a right mixture of personalities and professions (& I include full time mums in this) but those 7 formative years of boarding school have given us an underlying lifetime bond. If I think back to the previous one we were all in our early 30s paving out careers, families and a place in society and had something to prove which made the event, for me, wholly uncomfortable. This time round there was a much greater acceptance of who we are giving a far more relaxed a day enjoyable evening.

I think the same thing applies to our careers…

In our 20s and 30s we want to get noticed and we strive and stick our elbows out to get there. We may not have all the experience but we strut and talk the talk to get what we want perhaps to the detriment of others and putting those solid work foundations in place. Fast forward to women and men in their late 40s who have had the ups and downs of a career but can offer knowledge, transferable skills, insight and maturity in making business decisions.  We might not be the trendy bright things of today (although we were!) but we shouldn’t be overlooked at work. We are the voice of reason.  We still want to learn and progress and be excited in the jobs that we do, it’s just that we may not look particularly hip and trendy.  The young can learn from our experiences whilst we can learn from theirs and discover their world of what’s hot and what’s not, emerging trends and technologies whilst we can help shape a great future for them and the businesses we work for.

Go on, give us 40 somethings a go.

I’m switching my focus….

I’m having a week off job-hunting this week.  I need to draw breath and focus on other stuff. It can be soul destroying as you send off your application full of hope and then it seems to get lost in the ether never to be found again. I wish that companies would send out a standard response saying if you don’t here back from them in a certain period of time then it’s a thanks but no thanks. Just to manage my expectations; that’s all.

In an ideal world l’m trying to find a part-time or flexible role so I can focus on other parts of my life but again these seem so few and far between, especially at my level. There seems to be plenty in the press about the rise of flexible working and job sharing but I ain’t seeing much in my sector even though I’ve signed up to Capability Jane, Timewise and Ten2Two! You never know, something might be around just around the corner. However on a positive note this leads me on to this week’s topic of volunteering…

I’ve started volunteering for a local charity for the elderly, CHEER and have the greatest pleasure in visiting Valerie once a week.  A very bright, articulate lady who lives in Claygate.  I so enjoy my visits as she tells me about the history of the area –  I had no idea that the America Air Force was stationed in Bushey Park during the war – and we seem to cover every topic under the sun so there’s always a good debate to be had.  Valerie has also had an idea on my social enterprise project which I’m developing (more about that when it’s further down the line) and I’m sure I will be picking her brains further! We chat alot about how she is getting old and the fear and anxiety which sits alongside ageing.  As Valerie so succinctly puts it you spend your whole life working towards something; university, work, marriage, children, retirement and then what…death?  It must be the strangest feeling not having a focus in life and the loneliness that comes with it too.

From the elderly to the young; I’m also hoping to do a few hours a week of PR & marketing for The Flying Seagull Project which I mentioned in a previous post. They are a troupe of clowns, magicians, circus performers and musicians taking smiles to those in need giving children some precious time to be children. They’ve got some great fundraising events lined up and no doubt I will be thrown into the deep end but it’s for a great cause. BTW they also organise the most amazing kids parties so if you are thinking of entertainment, do get in touch as all the profit goes straight to the charity.

So you see where’s the time for work?  I’m sure I’ll be able to fit it in somehow although I am relishing the shift of focus in my life!