We are delighted to welcome onboard our new Associate Ruth Cooper-Dickson. Ruth brings with her an extensive industry pedigree in developing the wellbeing of leaders and the organisations and cultures they create. Here in a series of blogs, Ruth shares her top tips for the return to work after summer vacation.
The start of September signals to me the start of a new year, so much more than the beginning of January. It takes me back to my school days. The promise of a great new school term after a long summer vacation. New exercise books to write in, new teachers to get to know and a fresh timetable of lessons to get my head around.
This got me thinking. As leaders, we return from the summer recharged and our heads full of good intentions. We promise to leave the office early, to spend more time with the family after a wonderful two weeks together. We will read a new book every month having spent a few weeks with our heads buried in our holiday reading list. We will join the local leisure centre, to keep up the morning swimming routine we had started on vacation which made us feel so much better.
Unfortunately, the good intentions usually disappear as the deadlines and emails descend. Before we know it, it’s snowing and we are approving Christmas annual leave requests!
By applying small changes to your behaviour, you can maintain a balance of stress-free living. It comes down to time management and scheduling in time for you. My challenge, is to commit to those good intentions early on and find a way to maintain the balance you created over the summer break.
Here are my top three tips on how you can do this straightaway
Dedicate one day a week when you will leave the office early. Get into the habit of blocking it out in your diary. Whether you use it for spending time with the kids after school, getting active or spending some time on yourself. Allow the time for you and be protective about it.
Have a lunch break
If you don’t do this already, take a proper lunch break at least once or twice a week away from your desk. This sets an excellence precedent for your employees. Go for a walk and get some fresh air. Be mindful. Sit and enjoy lunch with colleagues, talk, connect and engage. How well do you know the people in your team? You could even make this an informal weekly team lunch get together.
Unplug once a month
Book an activity in your diary once a month which is fun. Whether this is going to the zoo, a trip to cinema, a walk in the park or reading a book which energies and inspires you. Ban emails for the day and unplug. Enjoy a day dedicated to enjoying time with family or friends. Connection is a key pillar of our own wellbeing. We often get to Friday afternoons exhausted, with the week’s racing past us as we charge to complete deadlines. Often our way of coping with the stress at the end of the week is to overindulge at weekends with alcohol, which leads on to a poor diet. Take the time to book in advance something which will be fun, engaging and better yet active.
These small changes in behaviour won’t go unnoticed by your own employees. As a leader, you are a visible role model. For example, you may encourage your employees to take a proper lunch break, but they will feel reluctant to do this if you’re not seen to be doing the same. These changes will also maintain your own stress-free living. At the same time, they will also contribute to setting a standard of positive wellbeing for those who work for you - which can only be a good thing, to have a happier, healthier and more productive team!