Updated: Jan 18
Today (Dec 23rd) is our last day working before break. And work is a loose term. Clearing our desks, shredding papers, and cleaning the fridge is the task list. Writing this blog is probably the most intensive thing.
Here's where we're at: 2020 and 2021 have not been the years any of us could have predicted. But we've adapted, responded and come out stronger as a team and as a business.
The pandemic did affect much of our work from March - August 2020. And we had some hard conversations as a team.
But Covid reminded our clients (and ourselves) that learning can happen from anywhere, not just in a room in Wellington. And now we work with people all over the world in their environment.
We recognise the Covid experience hasn't been the same for everyone. Different industries, different locations, different life stages have all been hit by Covid differently.
In some ways we've been lucky:
Our work can be done online
Clients already had or were forced to purchase the tools needed to engage with us from home (laptop, microphone, camera, internet access).
None of us have small children living at home with us. Covid was a whole different ballgame for parents of young kids in particular. And one I was glad not to be playing!
We live in Wellington, NZ - where we've been protected and isolated from Covid.
But that's not to say it hasn't been a tiring year. And we've heard from a ton of people this year that their batteries are running on empty as well.
Before we charge into 2022's work (gosh that feels weird to type), here are some things that I'm doing to help recharge after another unpredictable year.
Turn off - for real
Like last year, TTP is shutdown until mid-January. But we're not taking a fake break ('on leave' but mentally at work) - we're fully shutting down and turning off for the year.
When we take breaks from our work it reduces our stress, increases our sleep quality, brings clearer thinking and increases our job productivity. Sometimes we need to slow down (or stop) to go faster in the future.
But we carry about something that constantly nudges us back into work mode. Our cell phones can keep us mentally tethered to work. The biggest culprit? Pop-up notifications.
I'm going to disconnect from my emails, and sign out of my account so nothing comes through. I've been setting the expectation with people that I'm not going to read or answer emails until I'm back on-board mid-January. I've reiterated this on my out of office email notification as well.
Now, I just need to stop myself from going in and checking things!
If you are someone who likes to type out a quick email when the inspiration hits, ask yourself "Is this really a now message or do I just want to send it now because it's on my brain?" If it's the latter either keep it in drafts or schedule it to send in the new year (after 10 January preferrably).
Take time to reflect
Yesterday the team and Alan (Hilary's husband) came over for an end of the year hangout.
We did quizzes, BBQed, exchanged op-shop gifts, shared photographs, reflected on the year and completed our 2022 predictions.
We had a lot of laughs and a lot of fun. To share our 2021 reflections we used these four prompts:
What made you laugh?
What made you proud?
What made you hopeful?
What made you curious?
Each person responded to the prompts and had a chance to reflect on their year (You'll see the work related reflections in January's Practice Notes).
It's easy to get caught up in what's next and to keep moving. It requires purpose and deliberation to stop, and to think about what you've done or how far you've come.
Medium wrote a great article on how celebrating success improves our health and well-being. They note when we celebrate successes it:
gives us a shot of enthusiasm
grows your belief in yourself and those around you
brings happiness and joy
enhances peace of mind.
I wrote a blog about celebrating success and being grateful on Thanksgiving. But it's not just a once a year thing - it's an everyday thing.
Recognising contributions / strengths and celebrating achievements is like giving a gift 🎁- it feels good for both the giver and receiver. But unlike Christmas gift giving, celebrating success at work isn't a nice to have - it's a need.
People who take time to reflect on — and celebrate — their successes are generally more optimistic, take better care of themselves and tend to be less stressed. Celebrations increase people's sense of well-being, regardless of socioeconomic factors, education, age or gender. -Family & Children's Center Online Blog: Celebrating Success Brings Health Benefits
So, a quick TTP teammate celebration from me:
Hilary for always bringing the energy and passion to move the team forward, for her humour and for being the epitomy of a people-before-process type boss.
Dinah for her quick wit, for being my best proofreader / sense checker, and for always being open with her perspective and wisdom.
James for his amazing knack to just get on with the work, solve problems, and keep us on track all while keeping an infectious sense of positivity and calm.
Kiera for her amazing attitude and the amazing graphics she's created for us this year. All of the beautiful, colourful cartoon animations you've seen in our work (and throughout this blog) is Kiera made!
Look back on the work you've done, the people you've worked with and celebrate all the successes along the way - no matter how 'small.' Every step towards the goal deserves to be celebrated. Oh, and staying on track when the unexpected is being thrown at you (like a global pandemic) is also worth celebrating.
Focus on flourishing
Earlier this year Dinah wrote a great blog, Move from languishing to flourishing. She reviewed three suggestions from Adam Grant:
Get immersed in something at gives you a sense of flow.
Give yourself uninterrupted time for activities.
Focus on a small goal.
These can be used anytime but a great reminder when we have downtime from work. This break, James and I are spending almost three weeks out of Wellington. For my break this means I'm going to:
Practice yoga and jiu jitsu - when I'm doing these things I really enjoy it and get into the flow. But I make lots of excuses not to do them!
Put my phone away for long periods of time and just be in the moment
start my Cleveland Cavaliers Team case study that I've been thinking about since the NBA season began this year.
Try something new
When I asked Hilary, "What's something people should do over this break?"
She immediately responded with, "try something new!!"
Whether it's a new shop, food, vacation spot, TV show or hobby - learning is an amazing things you can do for your brain and your sense of wellbeing.
When you try new things it improves your brain function, brings a sense of excitement, can introduce us to a new community/network. Learning and exploring makes life a lot more fun.
James and I got one of our nieces a Christmas book from Wonderbly this year. In the book the girl gets four Christmas wishes - one for wonder.
"I wish you wonder, [name].
Open your ears and eyes.
And let the beauty of the world,
fill you with surprise.
And at the moment overhead,
there sailed a shooting star.
The world is full of wonders -
embrace them for all they are."
Children's books really do have some beautiful messages. We wish you wonder and curiousity this break!
Lolly Daskal wrote an article for Medium about 52 different ways you can take a break. I've called out five ideas from her list that I'm taking with me into my New Years 2022 vacation with James:
Quiet the monkey: stop jumping from thing to thing to thing and just chill. Practice a few of the mindfulness techniques we learned this year.
Take a break from the news: Sorry doom and gloom news sites - only going on Stuff for the quizzes, keeping positive vibes only for this trip! I'm also going to uninstall Reddit, which is my biggest rabbit-hole app and LinkedIn, which keeps me thinking about work.
Journal time: I've always said I want to journal, and then never do it. This is the year I start!
Take a nap: Don't have to tell me twice - I love a good nap! I'll try not to do it during all the car rides though!
Have a dance party: Easy - done. We love a good dance party. ✅💃🕺🎶 On that note, my Spotify Top 5 songs of 2021 were: Ooh La La (Faces), Shambala (Three Dog Night), End Of The Line (Traveling Wilburys), This Must Be the Place (Talking Heads) and Spirit In The Sky (Norman Greenbaum).
Anyways - however you do it and whatever it looks like for you - make time for yourself to refuel and recharge.
See you in 2022! 🥳🎉🎊🎉🎊