I recently wrote about feeling burned out, the need to keep going, and looking forward to taking a vacation. Fortunately, my vacation is about a month away. I came to the realization that unlike many previous vacations, I would actually like to have some free time rather than spending my days catching up on projects. The thought of just relaxing during my vacation and giving myself much needed recovery time has actually pushed me toward a new series of goals. I want to complete said goals during the days leading up to my time off.

Present projects I want to take care of include completing the personal branding, website building, and blogging projects that I have been putting off. I want to contribute to social media beyond my Twitter account, update my LinkedIn profile (because it is overdue), and maintain a larger presence on Facebook and Twitter via my blog. While the website project will take longer to complete because I don’t want to work on it during my time off, I can at least begin building a work timeline. As for the blog, I’ve listed all the changes I want to make for 2018 via Discord and Trello—I just need to implement those changes.

When I finish these projects before my vacation starts I will be in a good place productivity-wise. I’m the type of person who needs a goal deadline to stay motivated with projects. Sometimes it is necessary to create the deadlines yourself and a reasonable reward when there are no external forces pushing you.

 

How do you set up goals and rewards surrounding the free time from your job?

Night Work by Thomas Heylen of Flickr

Night Work by Thomas Heylen of Flickr

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Recently, my company decided to let us work from home one day per week. Before, we had 12 work from home days to use for the year, but that didn’t feel like quite enough (especially in the winter with all the bad weather!). When the email was sent out, everybody was audibly excited. I can’t describe how much easier this makes my life and how grateful I am to my company for taking its employees concerns and requests seriously.

I’m not at all thinking about looking for a new job, but this new policy cements my desire to stay at this company even more. I know I’ve talked before about the importance of feeling appreciated at work, and my company truly makes me feel that way. I think it’s so important for office morale to not only ask for your employees’ opinions, but to really listen to them. For example, at the start of my first two performance review discussions with my manager, I remember him asking how I was doing and if I was happy at this company and in my job. That meant so much to me and I’m so thankful that I have a manager like that.

I know it’s easy for me to say because I’m happy in my current role, but if you feel unhappy, dissatisfied, or underappreciated in your career or are just itching for something new–don’t hesitate! I’m glad I didn’t hesitate almost 3 years ago when I took this job. A successful career is all about taking risks (or at least, that’s what I hear from those who actually have an established career!) and I’m inclined to follow that advice because I know more people who are happy in their careers than who aren’t.

What about all our readers out there? Do you have any stories about a risk you took in your career and how it worked out for you?

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It has been a busy few weeks. In terms of personally productivity, I’ve hit both peaks and valleys. On the positive side, I had a lot of tasks to complete and I finally knocked a few important items off my list. That includes filing and paying the city taxes I previously wrote about, getting my car’s maintenance work done, and making important phone calls that I had been putting off for months. I even managed to tweak the settings on my Facebook account, making the site more enjoyable to read. I also reached out to a few friends I hadn’t spoken to in months and set a reasonable time to catch up on private messages with friends. Needless to say, I was on a roll.

As quickly as it came, my productivity left me. I couldn’t get around to being mindful of my activation energy unless it was a task that really needed to be completed. It is a sense of feeling listless and uninterested. In the past I just rolled with the listless days, but now I recognized them as the first signs of burnout. I need time away from work in order to give my mind a chance to refresh itself so I can regain my focus. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to officially take vacations from work again until next month. Until then, I’ve been trying a few things to help myself regain the focus I lost.

  • Celebrating small strides: If I scratch an item off my to-do list, allow myself to feel a sense of accomplishment instead of wishing I could have done more.
  • Taking a day off or two from everything: During the free time between my working hours there are days where I’m completely unproductive. This is okay.
  • Not sticking to a rigid schedule: It’s okay to move things around in the schedule and to shift time– in fact, this is a life requirement. Flexibility is the key.
  • Being mindful of activation energy when it hits: This energy helps prevent a key task from being lost to procrastination.

What are some of the ways that you regain your focus when it is lost?

Tired by Andreas Wulff of Flickr

Tired by Andreas Wulff of Flickr

Recently, there has been a lot of talk at my company about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that was passed in the EU and goes into effect on May 25th of this year. It affects any business that has customers in the EU and our company definitely qualifies. Basically, what this means for me is that I have to be a lot more thoughtful about the information that I send and receive every day, whether I keep it or not, and for how long. When I first heard about GDPR I freaked out a little bit because a company can be fined a lot of money if they are not in compliance, and there is even talk of “random auditing,” to be sure employees are in compliance. After reading into it, attending departmental meetings, and reevaluating my own business practices, I realized that it’s really not that big of a deal at all.

I deal with personal information every day because I’m an editor: I receive PDF proofs from authors and I have their contact information. No, this information doesn’t include their credit card or financial information, but I do have access to their names, email addresses, work institutions, etc. I’ve never really thought about all of that as “personal information” before because, technically, it’s publicly available once it’s published (or at least available to those who subscribe to this particular publication). I’ve started thinking in a new way about how I communicate and with whom, and how I organize and store the information I receive from authors.

On one hand, this has made me much more organized: I have set up “retention policies” in my Outlook that will hold on to certain emails for a specific length of time, then will automatically delete them. I’ve also adopted a policy similar to the one I use when I clean out my closet: “Have I looked at this in the past 6 months? A year?” If the answer is no–it’s out. On the other, it’s made me more aware of people’s information and how I use it on a day to day basis. Is the way I’m using it secure (ie, should I email this as an attachment or can I send it via a secure ftp or something like Hightail?) or am I compromising this data?

The specifics can be downright complicated, but I think the spirit of the law is a good one! Is anyone else dealing with something like this in their workplace?

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