Back to work week


This week is often the hardest for everyone going back to work after the holidays.  There are however ways to make your time at work better and to reach the end of the week feeling happy and content and not like the office has drained all the energy that you built up over the festive period.


Here are some tips for surviving the back to work blues:

Create “fist pump moments”:


Don’t leave the “pat on the back” in other people’s hands alone. For example:

Pack a fantastic lunch – if you’re the sandwich type, go the extra mile and pack a lunch as if you were doing it for new friend you want to impress.  Include mini treats (like mini-muffins) or cut cheese and fruit into pretty shapes. 

Make a new playlist for the trip home – music’s a great way to relax and wipe away some of the day’s stress.

Pre-prepare your dinner – You get home and don’t need to worry about cooking, how fantastic!  All you can do is set the table and enjoy.  Find some slow-cooker recipes at


Start with system and ritual

Walking into your workspace feeling overwhelmed from the start is setting yourself up for failure.  Having a morning ritual (that doesn’t start with four cups of coffee and a muffin) is helpful in setting the tone for your day.

Here’s how:

Water – Set up a jug and pretty glass to ensure you get your daily recommended intake.  Add some lemon juice or mint leaves to spruce it up.

Space – Clear up and clean up. Organise work in piles.  Keep something you love or that inspires in your line of sight.  Ensure you sit comfortably, that your screen is at the right angle and that your keyboard and mouse are well positioned.

Equipment – Have all you need at arm’s length. Ensure everything is charged, sharpened and refilled.

Goals – Have a task list.  Add things as you go and tick off as tasks are completed, so you don’t forget anything.  You will love the satisfaction of an item with a big red line through it.  Try the following app,(works on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Android and Web and syncs to all devices) –


Personal goal setting

Keep in mind why you are doing what you do and how it helps you reach your personal goals.  You’ve probably just been through the mental process of at least one New Year’s goal, so now it’s time to put something in place to start working on that goal. 

Download apps to help you track exercise or weight loss, or to remind you to keep track of your health in general.  Sign up for a Zumba or Pilates class (and GO).  Buy craft supplies to start that silkscreening or candlemaking you’ve always wanted to try.  Sign up for a language class, or a photography class.  Start a dinner club and get together once a month for a fancy dinner with friends.

Whatever it is, it will help you relieve work stress when you have something relaxing to look forward to.

End the day well

It’s impossible to leave your work day at the office if it’s overlapping into your personal time in your mind.  Don’t just run out the door at the end of the workday, keep in mind that what you leave today is what you start with tomorrow morning.

Check your to-do lists and prioritise things that you didn’t finish today. Tidy up loose ends and old coffee cups, close browser windows and bookmark for later.  Look over what you have accomplished and how it brings you closer to your goals.

Big achievements are the sum total of their parts, and each thing you do today adds up to a bigger picture tomorrow.  Remind yourself of a job well done.

Here’s to a fantastic 2014!


Think like your boss


You want to advance your career, but you’re not sure how to go about it.

Your boss is always thinking of the bottom line, and his main focus is the future of the business.  Here’s how you can think and act like a business owner and get ahead.

Be passionate and enthusiastic about your job.

Your customers and your employer need to see this shine through in everything you do. This energy will fuel your drive for success in your job. Others will be drawn to you and inspired but this needs to be a sincere action.

Be very good to your customers.

They are the blood in the veins of your business. Customer satisfaction will drive the success of your job and your business. Treating them like gold is your number one priority.

Care for your people.

The number one asset in a business, is the staff. The team and its members.  Lead them, serve them, inspire them, acknowledge and inspire them, nurture them. Show them that you care about them – every day. Treat them like your family. Your success depends on the success of your colleagues.

Deliver more than expected

Under-promise and over-deliver. Take the extra step, walk the extra mile. Give first to get more back.

Roll up your sleeves.

Be willing to do whatever it takes to make the business successful (anything legal, of course).   If something must be done and there’s no-one else around, step up to the plate. Lead by example.

Improve your own abilities all the time.

Stay ahead of the competition. Help improve processes where you see it necessary. Cut costs. Read and learn new things to keep up with the times.


Much of business involves repetitive actions.  Look for development tools to streamline processes and to improve the efficiency and quality of your job. Help to up the standard of your company’s way of doing business.

Be cash wise.

Look for ways to save the company money. Spend the company’s cash like you would your own. Look for good deals and bargain with providers. Ensure you evaluate relevancy of expeditures. Do you really NEED it to do your job well?

Think ahead. Make the big picture a priority.

Step outside of your role and try to see the impact of your job on the business. Evaluate how to act and think to make your impact the best one possible on the business. Have a personal vision and mission and use these positively to benefit the company.

Get your confidence back


Something may happen, you may do something so bad you think it will cost you your job. This has happened to me.  I once made a huge mistake, and I thought “this is the end”. My boss was furious.  And I mean, I could see he was really fuming. He stuttered a bit, and then slammed his fists on one of the desks near mine and stomped off.

I was really, really worried. I avoided my boss.  I worked extra hard at everything else, paying close attention to every detail.  I was so afraid to make another mistake, I literally found it hard to breathe at the office.

Then my boss called me in…he wanted to talk about it. We obviously had to do damage control. I was terrified!  My tears were already in my eyes when I walked into his office. When he said his first words, the tears flowed.  He said: I’m not angry with you, I’m angry about the situation.” 

He proceeded to tell me that there were other factors that contributed to the problem, and that even he himself was partly to blame. The stress of the last few days made a dam burst and when I managed to compose myself, we talked through it rationally and calmly, and worked out the plan of action.

I still know that most of what happened was my fault, but because he was a good manager (and a very fair person), and I didn’t proceed to blame others, I had a chance to remedy my faults and both myself and as a result, the company’s well-being, got a boost.  

The following is what I learned from this experience:

1.  Be vigilant of your actions.

Always be in the moment when you tackle a task.  People often talk of multitasking. And one of the managers I work for has said on more than one occasion that he’s never seen anyone who can multitask like me. But let me tell you, multitasking does not exist. You need to make a very clear mind shift when moving from one task to another. Deliberately let go of one thing and move on to the other – if you need to, you can come back to a previous issue later and be there ALL the way.

2.  Don’t take criticism as a final judgment

Let’s say your boss tells you that you have permanently damaged a business relationship with a difficult client.  You can feel this is damning, even possibly cost you your job.   But these are also just people. They have their own needs and agendas and issues and dysfunctions. It is not a judgment about your worth.  

Remind yourself that this will not write your future in stone. It’s a current issue and is not forever.

3.  Don’t rely on others for a boost

Friends and family will often remind us of how attractive and smart we are. We rely heavily on the opinions of others and this just means we borrow their ego’s, rather than relying on our own.  We don’t learn to calm ourselves down and how to handle ourselves. This can be detrimental for your confidence.

Count on yourself to get yourself through the day. Remind yourself of what went well during the day. Plan some downtime with friends later to help ease the stress of what happened, and try to keep yourself busy with a project to distract you from the problem until you’ve managed to find a solution.

Be aware that not all days can be fixed, and sometimes you just have to tolerate or cope with it. Teach yourself about mindfulness.

3.  Don’t focus on other people’s shortcomings

If you spend a lot of time on negative things and getting involved in office gossip, this drags you down as well, limiting your growth.  I know this, because the moment I start discussing my frustrations at work with my husband, I get negative, angry, and bitter and, for me, it often leads to headaches and lack of sleep.  Don’t!

Focus rather on what you should do next. It’s often scary to think about,  Use coping tools:

– Stay calm and think before acting.

– Find perspective. Watch the news or open a newspaper. Your problem may not be as big as you think.

– Chill out. Difficult to imagine, but do something to distract you. The answer may come to you while you are knitting a sweater or having dinner with friends.

– Focus on things that are going well to give you motivation to deal with the crisis.

– Get ready for the next crisis. Try to anticipate other problems before they happen, so you will be prepared and can deal with them without being emotional.

4.  Most of all, be a little kinder to yourself.  Believe that success is earned and not granted. It takes hard work and we learn stamina to hang in there with this mindset. Remember that you can change and prove to yourself that you’ve got what it takes.

Trust in yourself.

How a bad boss can make you a better person

How a bad boss can make you a better person


We’ve all encountered bosses that made us feel incapable, unworthy and even stupid.  Learn how you can take this kind of situation and make it work to your advantage and help you treat others in a way you would want to be treated.

55 Gentle ways to take care of yourself when you’re busy, busy, busy

55 Gentle ways to take care of yourself when you’re busy, busy, busy


We cannot function if we’re not feeling tip-top. To be the best you can be, you need to take care of yourself. We don’t all have time for spa days, so here are some tips to help you treat yourself well in order to perform your best.

Managing yourself – Working with a to-do list

Working with a to-do list


Possibly the most challenging part of any administrator, personal assistant or secretary’s job is how to get through all those tasks and not let anything slip through the cracks.  A to-do list helps you organise these to help you remember what is expected of you, so you don’t miss anything.

Tip:  Make a quick note on a notepad when someone makes a request and then add this item to your main to-do list later. Your list can be in handwritten format, or on a spreadsheet or in a Word document. Whichever works better for you.