7 Strategies to Keep you Calm at Work

1. 5 deep breaths

If I’ve learnt anything from mindfulness training, it’s that you don’t have to find huge blocks of time to refocus. If you can find just one minute between meetings, after a difficult email or phone call or when your to-do list is freaking you out, that’s all you need. Take 5 deep breaths, bringing your focus inward and consciously slowing down. It’s like your own personal restart button.

2. Get fresh air

Yeah, yeah. I know you know about this one. It’s not the same as just stretching your legs by walking to the fridge either. You need to get outside and breathe in nature, even if your office is in a concrete jungle. The oxygen to your brain will refresh you, meaning once you’re back at your desk, you’ll be more productive and positive than before.

3. Try Pomodoro

This is the time management method developed in the late 1980s by which you work hard for a 25-minute burst followed by a 5-minute break. This strategy really helps me to focus. I select only one particular task to work on in each finite time frame. The breaks refresh me and I use them however I need - to make a quick snack, throw on a load of washing or scroll my Instagram. Cumulative productivity earns you rewards with 4 pomodoros giving you a 15-30 minute break. The goal is to enhance focus and flow.

4. 3 for today

Anyone else feel sick looking at their to-do list? While there is certainly a purpose for making lists - they help me to feel in control of the many facets of my life - they are too overwhelming in their naked form. A former colleague of mine took them to the extreme, covering her desk with more than 20 fluorescent post-its at any one time! Choose three things only as your top priorities for the day. It is manageable and you’ll feel great when you achieve them. Once you’ve ticked them off, add three more!

5. Aesthetics are everything

You may not be able to do much about the physical parameters of your workspace, but you can pretty it up. Add colour, a mood board, tear-outs from magazines, drape fabric or pin photos. Make your space somewhere you are happy to sit and you will begin to look forward to spending time there. I love to be able to see flowers or candles from where I sit, as well as photos of my family as they inspire me and keep me motivated.

6. Break for lunch

Not only that but, when you do, eat mindfully. We’ve all been guilty of eating while working, paying no attention to the flavours and textures of our food. When you take a break from your work, and step away from your desk to eat, it makes a difference to how much you enjoy your food, while giving you a brain break too.

7. Create work/life division however you can

After my toddler goes down for a nap, I light a candle and put on some relaxing music before firing up my computer. The bonus is that the scent from the candle relaxes me and the music slows my mind down, allowing me to transition more smoothly into work time.

Add Contact Emma McMillan to the top of your priority list for tomorrow!

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A Day in the Life of a Copywriter/Mama

Sharing a day of my life with you is a little tricky. Some days, I put on my educator hat and spend the day wrangling secondary school students (read: inspiring the young minds of tomorrow) while my mini is socialising at the local childcare. Other days are more of a juggle as I put on both my freelance copywriter and mum hats and try my hardest to fulfil both roles authentically. It may go a little something like this:

6.30-7ish

Hear the mini chatting to himself in his bedroom next door. Try and grab a few extra bedtime minutes by bringing him in for his bottle and his collection of toys.

7.30

Downstairs for playtime where all the carefully categorised and tidied toys are strewn around the living room in 0.46 seconds. All. Of. Them.

7.45

Saucepan cupboard exploration.

7.50

Tupperware drawer exploration. The house now looks like 25 children live here.

8.00

Brekky then we hit the pavement in the pram for coffee and an activity (swimming, the library, a playdate, Grandma and Grandpa time). While walking I might pop my headphones in and do a quick 10 minute meditation. While at coffee, I’ll jump on Trello and make a plan for the day - 3 items to action while bub naps later in the day.

11.30

Home in time for lunch, which may be eagerly devoured or dropped on to the floor, depending on the day.

12noon

Nap time. Not for me, although some days I’d dearly love to. However, this is biz time so I need to hop to it. I light a candle, pop on some music and fire up my laptop. I like to use the Pomodoro Technique, working in 25-minute blocks, as I find it really promotes productivity. During the 5-minute breaks, I’ll fix a quick snack or throw on a load of washing.

2.30ish

The mini wakes up and it’s time for his afternoon bottle then playtime. We will read a stack of books too, several times over if requested. I love that my little one is so keen for story time.

3.30

Afternoon tea then we’ll pop to the park if it’s a nice day.

4.00

An afternoon walk, perhaps with a girlfriend and her bub, followed by a pop in to the supermarket for a few dinner essentials.

5.30

Dinner, again a battleground depending on the day. This toddler is certainly revealing his strong will at times!

6.10

My husband walks through the door - happy days! Playtime with Daddy and then bath time for bub. I start on dinner prep and let the boys have some time together.

7.00

Bub to bed and we cook then sit down to dinner. Some nights I’ll head out to an exercise session, others we will pop on an episode of a series we’re watching and have a glass of red. I might send a few cheeky emails or pop up an Instagram post during the show. I try not to multi-task but sometimes it can’t be helped.

10.00

I’m an early-to-bed person these days so I try to be in bed by 10. I will read a few pages of a book - currently 57 Ways to Change Your Mind before I fall asleep and drop the book on my husband’s face. Unfortunately I’m wildly predictable that way.

Perhaps you're also a juggling mama? Let me help save you time and provide you with some dazzling content too! Be in touch.

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