Hybrid & Remote Work Trends That Will Alter The Future Of B2B Marketing

Dozens of black and white photos of business professionals.

Dozens of black and white photos of business professionals.

How is the shift to remote and hybrid work affecting B2B marketers?

Which trends will endure in the post-pandemic marketing landscape?

The dramatic shift to hybrid and remote work that has been brought about by the pandemic is set to forever alter the way B2B marketers and the organizations they work for and with do business.

Let’s take a look at some of these changes, and the trends that are likely to permanently affect B2B marketers, and I’ll offer my own perspective coming from a long-term background in remote work.

Flexibility: Remote & Hybrid Options May Come Permanent

On Monday, March 23, 2007 I started my life of working remotely — a process I wrote about last year as the pandemic first began forcing much of the workforce into unfamiliar remote work situations. In “Day 4,777: Remote Work Tips From 13+ Years As A Distance Marketer,” I looked at how B2B marketers can thrive in the new era of remote work, and offered a variety of tips I’ve picked up during my time as a remote worker.

Since then a great deal has changed in the world. I’m up to 5,106 days of working remotely, and what was once a tiny segment of the workforce has over the past year grown to encompass a massive swath of workers worldwide, including those working in the B2B marketing industry.

Leaders at organizations worldwide have shifted from what had been seen as a temporary emergency move to remote work, to implementing permanent and fundamental changes involving remote and hybrid work variations.

[bctt tweet=”“It’s a very interesting time for the history of work, not even just the history of remote work. I think fundamentally work is going to change, and it’s never going back to the way it was before.” — Liam McIvor Martin @vtamethodman” username=”toprank”]

A Convergence of Forces is Driving Remote Worker Relocation Options

This hybrid and remote work sea change has also had far-reaching and sometimes unforeseen implications. Workers in major metropolitan centers have come to realize that they’re no longer necessarily required to be tethered to a particular work location, and not just within their city, as growing numbers of professionals are leaving cities such as San Francisco and New York for locations that are a world away — and not only in size and cost-of-living.

This week CNN’s John D. Sutter explored the phenomenon from a climate change perspective, in “As people flee climate change on the coasts, this Midwest city is trying to become a safe haven,” another factor that has coincided with the pandemic to fuel a new era of remote and hybrid work options.

The safe haven city Sutter’s piece focuses on is Duluth, Minnesota — which happens to be my home of the past 26 years. The city of 86,000, a few hours north of Minneapolis, is where I’ve worked remotely for some 14 years now. My wife Julie and I live next door to Duluth mayor Emily Larson, who shared with Sutter that, “We are known as the San Francisco of the North. I’ll let you decide if you think that’s true.”

Most who visit Duluth do indeed see more than physical similarities with San Francisco — the hills of Duluth line the vast waters of Lake Superior — and I have technology industry friends who have moved here from both San Francisco and New York, thanks to burgeoning remote work opportunities.

The convergence of the pandemic and ongoing climate change create a scenario where more B2B workers than ever now have opportunities to consider living wherever they wish, and as we learn more about the ramifications of widespread remote and hybrid work, many are seeing more positive elements to the shift than negative ones.

B2B marketers and the organizations they work for and with will increasingly need to address these urgent hybrid and remote work changes, whether it’s in attracting and keeping talent, how we communicate with one another, or in the very stories brands are telling in their marketing efforts.

The Ensuing Hybrid Work Disruption

A recent study by one of the world’s biggest employers, Microsoft, has tackled many of these issues, with the March release of “The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work – Are We Ready?

Some of the fascinating take-aways from the Microsoft report, gathered from data in 31 counties and more than 30,000 people, along with more than a trillion anonymous signals from its Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn* products, include the following:

  • 40 percent of the workforce has considered leaving their employer over the past year
  • 73 percent of workers want to continue having flexible remote work options
  • 65 percent crave spending additional in-person time with their teams
  • 66 percent of business decision makers are considering redesigned physical work-spaces to better suit hybrid work
  • 46 percent have said their employer doesn’t provide help with remote work expenses
  • 67 percent want more in-person work or collaboration after the pandemic
  • Time spent in meetings has more than doubled
  • Team chat messaging has increased by 45 percent
  • 1 in 5 have met their colleagues’ pets or family members virtually over the past year
  • 39 percent say they’re now more likely to be their full and authentic selves at work
  • Remote job postings on LinkedIn have climbed by more than five times
  • 46 percent of remote workers plan to move to a new location this year

On this last point, Karin Kimbrough, chief economist at LinkedIn, noted in the Microsoft report that, “This shift is likely to stick, and it’s good for democratizing access to opportunity,” Kimbrough said. “Companies in major cities can hire talent from underrepresented groups that may not have the means or desire to move to a big city. And in smaller cities, companies will now have access to talent that may have a different set of skills than they had before,” she added.

Microsoft Report Hybrid Image

B2B Marketers Rethink Hybrid & Remote Work

The shift to hybrid, flexible, and remote work options is an active and ongoing process to be certain, however significant movement has already been made. The genie of rethinking work fundamentals has been set in motion, and can’t ever be put back in its bottle.

New studies highlighting shifting perspectives on remote and hybrid work are publishing frequently, such as a recent WeWork and Workplace Intelligence report which found that 64 percent of employees said they were willing to pay for access to office space to support hybrid work, and that 75 percent would forgo at least one job benefit or perk in order to have the freedom to choose their work environment.

A Gartner survey showed that some 80 percent of business leaders plan to allow remote work once the pandemic has ended.

How B2B marketers react to these changes is likely to be crucial to thriving among increased post-pandemic competition.

We hope that this brief glimpse into a few of the remote and hybrid work changes that are already taking place, and others likely to be implemented in the years to come, will help inform your own marketing efforts.

To dig even deeper into remote work issues, be sure to watch our Break Free B2B Marketing video interview episode featuring Liam McIvor Martin, co-founder of Time Doctor and Staff.com: Break Free B2B Marketing: Liam McIvor Martin of Time Doctor on The Revolutionary Power of Remote Work.

Contact us today to find out why brands from SAP, LinkedIn, and Adobe to IBM, Dell, Cherwell Software, monday.com and more have chosen TopRank Marketing, and also check out our careers page including remote and hybrid positions.

*LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Hybrid & Remote Work Trends That Will Alter The Future Of B2B Marketing appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

How to spot signs of burnout as an entrepreneur

stress migraine
Stress headaches and constant tiredness are some physical signs of burnout.

  • Many entrepreneurs near a point of burnout eventually, so it’s important to recognize symptoms early.
  • Burnout occurs gradually and can manifest in changes in mood and personality or even physical symptoms like stress headaches.
  • Consistent tiredness, irritability, and reduced passion for work are also signs of oncoming burnout.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Entrepreneurship is challenging. Some days, it’s downright exhausting. For many entrepreneurs, there comes a “last straw” breaking point where the conditions are too stressful or too overwhelming to continue.

But for most others, the eventual loss of passion for entrepreneurship – better known as burnout – is something slower and more gradual. It’s a creeping feeling that grows from day to day and eventually begins to affect your work performance.

You won’t go from happy-go-lucky to ready to quit overnight. One day, you might be a little extra irritable. The next, you might wake up and dread the idea of going to work. Not long after, you might make worse decisions, rushing through projects, or you might seriously contemplate leaving.

It’s not a position any entrepreneur wants to find themselves in. The good news is, it’s mostly preventable.

Why it’s important to stop burnout

There’s nothing wrong with changing jobs, selling your business, or retiring. But burnout itself can be devastating. Not only will it force you to leave your business prematurely, it can also leave you feeling despair and exhaustion. Even more importantly, it can negatively affect you on a physical level; burnout is associated with higher stress, higher susceptibility to illness, and even a higher risk of heart disease.

These effects compound with time, so acknowledging and stopping burnout early can put you in a much more favorable position long-term.

The trouble is, burnout is difficult to catch, especially early on.

How to identify entrepreneurial burnout

We all feel stress. We all get nervous. We all experience anxiety or dread sometimes. So how do you know when this is just part of the job and when it’s an early sign of burnout?

  • You dread going to work consistently. One of the hallmark signs is dreading going to work. Everyone dreads going to work some of the time; there might be an awful client to deal with or negative consequences from a bad decision to manage. But if you dread going to work on a consistent basis, it’s a sign of developing burnout.
  • Your mood and personality have changed (according to others). It’s hard to notice the changes in your own personality since they often unfold gradually and beneath our notice. However, burnout often leads people to experience mood and personality changes. Talk to the people around you; do they notice that you’re more irritable, angrier, or less pleasant than you used to be? Chances are, something external is responsible for this.
  • You’re experiencing physical symptoms. As burnout develops, it tends to be associated with more and more physical symptoms. For example, you might feel more stress headaches. You might have trouble getting to sleep (or getting enough sleep). And you might even be more susceptible to contagious illnesses. Keep an eye out for these developments.
  • You always feel tired. No matter how much sleep you get, burnout will leave you feeling tired. You’ll be physically and mentally exhausted most of the time, even after a good night of sleep or a break away from work. It’s almost impossible to feel full of energy.

Solving the burnout problem

It’s tough to make a one-size-fits-all recommendation for how to get rid of burnout because there are many different types of professionals and many different types of burnout.

For example, your burnout might stem from your own over-investment, in which case, delegating more and reducing your workload could help. You might also be worn out from a specific type of stress, which might require you to change up your daily responsibilities. You might even feel under challenged due to excessive predictability and routine, in which case the solution is finding new ways to be stimulated, like learning a new skill.

In any case, one of the best steps to take to address your burnout is to take some time away. Use up a few vacation days or take an extended hiatus from your work; it’s a great opportunity to de-stress and get away from the burden of work. It’s also a chance to get some perspective. Once you’re away from the office, you’ll have a much keener sense of what’s actually stressing you out (and what you might be able to do about it).

You can also talk to the people around you for advice. They may have a better perspective on your work style than you do. Once you have a better understanding of your current position, you can invest time and energy into making an action plan. How can you change your environment and your approach to work in a way that relieves your stress?

The action plan will look different for everyone. But as long as you’re consistent and proactive, you’ll have a good chance of reversing the effects of entrepreneurial burnout in your career.

Read the original article on Business Insider

4 practices to help you separate work from home while working remotely, according to a psychotherapist

woman freelance wfh
Having an established work area can help you leave work behind at the end of the day.

Working from home blurs the line between “work time” and “free time.” On the plus side, you can throw some laundry in during the middle of a busy work day. On the flipside, you might struggle to watch TV at night without feeling a twinge of guilt that you don’t at least have your laptop in front of you.

The pandemic has definitely made the division between work and home even more complicated. For many families, home has become the gym, the office, and school. 

And while you don’t need to have a clear delineation between home and work all the time, a little separation between the two can help you feel more present when you’re working and allow you to fully enjoy your leisure time.

1. Establish a work area

Most people don’t have the luxury of having a dedicated home office. If you do, commit to working while you’re in the office and when you’re done, exit the room and leave work behind. 

If you don’t have a separate office, create a work area. This doesn’t have to be the place you physically work from all day (like the dining room table or the couch). Instead, it might be the place where you store your work-related items when you aren’t working.

If you can, put the laptop, piles of papers, and other work-related materials completely out of sight when you’re not working. Tuck them in a drawer or put them in a closet. 

Just tucking those items away can grant you some psychological relief during your off-time by signaling to your brain that you have permission to relax.

2. Change your clothes

While some people say they feel better wearing nice clothes while working from home, dressing up isn’t mandatory.

After all, when you’re at home, you might find wearing nice clothes adds more stress to your day because you have to worry about getting dog hair on your shirt and spilling your soup on your lap.

If you’re into more casual wear in the confines of your home, you can still use your attire to your psychological advantage. Simply change your clothes when you’re done working – even if that means replacing your green joggers with the black ones. 

There’s something about putting on different clothes that can help your brain see that it’s time for something new – even if it’s a lateral switch in outfits (as opposed to the downgrade from the business suit to the sweatpants).

You might even find you dress up more in your off time. If you’ve been trying to pass off your pajamas as business casual on a blurry Zoom call, you might find a trip the grocery store actually warrants a wardrobe upgrade.  Either way, a change of clothes can go a long way to helping you create a distinction between “work time” and “free time.”

3. Create a fake commute

Under normal circumstances, commutes are often the one thing that helps people prepare for the transition between work and home. Whether that commute involves listening to a podcast on a train or it’s a daily call to mom while driving on a country road, physical distance can help us create some psychological distance too.

So you might find it’s helpful to create a fake commute for yourself. Even if it’s just a walk around the block before you start working, a daily activity like this can signal your brain that you’re going from “home” to “work.”

I know one man who walks out his back door as if he’s going to work and then just re-enters through the front. He swears this helps him feel like he’s “going to work” again. So while his “commute” only lasts a minute or two, he finds the strategy helps him feel more effective.

4. Use a different page for work/home apps

If you have a lot of apps for work – like your work email or Slack channel – put them on a different screen on your smartphone. 

Separating your “fun” apps from your “work” apps can help you resist the temptation to check your work email at all hours of the day.

This can also help you enjoy your fun apps a little more. And signal to your brain that you have permission to have fun right now. 

Distinguishing work time from free time can go a long way toward helping you feel your best when you’re working from home. This can be key to preventing burnout and helping you perform at your best.

Read the original article on Business Insider

10 ways to manage stress and stay calm under pressure as a business leader

stress migraine
Overloading your mind with too many to-dos can lead to burnout and emotional outbursts.

  • Business leaders can use certain techniques to minimize stress and burnout at work.
  • Managing your daily workload, practicing delegation, and scheduling downtime can help reduce anxiety.
  • Building supportive professional relationships can also help leaders avoid being short-tempered and prone to outbursts.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

One of the most valuable attributes of a good business professional and leader is to be able to control emotional outbursts, to maximize your credibility and respect, and to maintain your own health.

The best of you train yourselves to show emotions sparingly and strategically, while the rest are convinced that emotions cannot be controlled, and are a function of culture and genetics.

Based on my own many years as a business executive and advisor, I have seen many professionals “mature” from hotheads to people who are cool and calm under pressure, becoming better leaders and decision makers in the process. 

With some coaching and mentoring from other leaders, I was able to do it myself. So I know you can do it too, by committing to the following strategies:

1. Train yourself to always look for positives, not negatives

Optimistic business leaders see value in every new business challenge, rather than stress and risk. You must recognize that change is the norm in business, so problems represent opportunities to learn something new, and improve your productivity and the competitiveness of the business.

2. Write down your top five core values and review them often

Pressure and emotion in business is often an indication of core value conflicts. Once you see and understand the conflict, it’s easier to make a decision, respond rationally, or simply remove yourself from the role. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t, or be everything to everyone.

3. Create a short to-do list at the beginning of each day

A mind overloaded with a large and growing list of critical items is not efficient, and will always be prone to burnout and emotional outbursts. I recommend a three-item high-priority list for focus. Then limit the external interruptions, so you can comfortably and effectively address each one, and more.

4. Practice delegation and decline unreasonable requests

Learn how to courteously turn back requests outside your realm of responsibility, and recommend others who may be more qualified. The most respected business leaders know their limitations, and are not afraid to admit them. Do the same for any commitments to the community and family.

5. Never schedule more than 80% of your time

Pressure and emotion become dominant when your schedule is overloaded, or too many predictable interruptions occur. Of course, most professionals are optimistic, so they tend to over-commit and underestimate work requirements. We all need a buffer to handle those special cases.

6. Put more focus on building the right relationships

Since business is generally not rocket science, relationships with peers, partners, and customers are often more important than skills. Find time in your work schedule for networking, working lunches, and business conferences, where you can test your ideas, learn, and generate support.

7. Define a clear break between work and private activities

Practice a ritual, such as a cup of coffee with a peer, to define your workday beginning, and maybe tea with your spouse to reset to family time. Then diligently don’t let these worlds intrude on each other, except in emergencies. Use the transition to reset stress pressures and emotions.

8. Never use emotion as a substitute for preparation

Effective business professionals always prepare for tough issues and key meetings by doing their own research and getting early counsel from experts and coaches. Not only do they do the homework, but they prepare mentally and physically to be at their best, rather than on the edge.

9. Take satisfaction from wins to balance against setbacks

No one in business wins every battle, so frustration on any issue needs to be offset by other wins and achieving incremental thresholds along the way. For most of us, this requires setting aside some contemplative time on a daily basis to measure key item progress and enjoy small wins.

10. Maintain at least one non-work passion for energy balance

Everyone needs a focus outside of work, such as a hobby, exercise regimen, or sports, to grant relief from work pressures and reset emotions. Emotional outbursts and losing one’s cool are often indicative of burnouts and pending meltdowns. Spread your energy to family as well as work.
 
Don’t let anyone tell you that what you can accomplish is limited by your culture or old habits. Everyone has the ability to control their own actions and emotions, which I find to be the keys to success in most business roles.

I encourage you to learn and practice the strategies outlined here, to minimize stress, and enjoy the journey as well as the destination.

Read the original article on Business Insider

5 therapist-recommended tips to stay mentally strong when you’re working from home

Woman doing a craft
Scheduling fun activities can help you stay mentally strong during isolation.

It’s hard to feel like the epitome of mental toughness when you’re sitting on the couch in your pajamas for the 250th day in a row armed with nothing but a laptop and a coffee-stained pile of papers.

amy morin psychotherapist
Amy Morin.

Working from home can feel a bit liberating while also a bit mundane. And over time, every day might blend together when your only coworker is your cat. 

For individuals who live alone, remote work can be quite isolating. No matter how many Zoom meetings you might have, staring at people through a screen might make you feel more disconnected than ever. 

On the other hand, some remote workers would give anything to get a few minutes of silence. Dealing with kids who are trying their hand at remote learning, a partner who speaks loudly on conference calls, and a neighbor’s dog who won’t stop barking can make your work day feel more like a circus than a serene office.

Fortunately, no matter what situation you find yourself in right in, there are a few things you can do to stay mentally strong while you’re working from home.

1. Create opportunities to get away from work

When you’re working from home, you might find that you sit on the couch with the TV on and your laptop in front of you almost all the time. Day blends into night and the line between “work” and “non-work” time gets fuzzy. This can cause you to feel as though you’re working all the time, which isn’t good for your psychological well-being.

Carve time into your schedule that allows you to get away from work. Close your laptop and watch TV or put your work-related items away at a certain time every evening. Create boundaries that allow you to relax without feeling like you have to respond to emails in an instant.

2. Schedule something fun

One of the best ways to feel good is by scheduling something fun. It sounds simplistic on the surface, but it really works.

Pleasant activity scheduling, as it’s often referred to in the therapy world, is a skill that combats depression. Researchers have found it’s a great way to help people feel better.

Scheduling a fun activity a few days into the future boosts your mood because you have something to look forward to. Then, when you actually do that activity, you get another boost in your mood. Your mood will stay elevated after the activity is over because you’ve created a positive memory. 

Of course, during the pandemic a “fun” activity might look a little different than you’re used to. But you might benefit from something as simple as deciding that you’re going to watch a movie on Friday night. Putting that in your schedule might not only increase the likelihood that you’ll actually do it, but it could also improve your psychological well-being.

3. Take care of your body

Your mind won’t stay strong if you’re neglecting your body. So beware of the tendency to stay up watching the late shows or the temptation to snack too much when you’re bored (and working seven steps away from the refrigerator).

Eating too much junk food, indulging in alcohol, skimping on sleep, and forgoing your workouts won’t just take a toll on your physical health – those unhealthy habits will also take a toll on your mental health.

So make sure you’re not neglecting yourself when you’re working from home. It’s easy to do – especially during the pandemic. But creating time to move your body and care for your basic needs is essential to functioning at your best. 

4. Balance social time and alone time

Whether you feel like you can’t get away from your family for five minutes, or the only human being you’ve seen in months is the delivery driver, social distancing has created some bizarre circumstances. 

Everyone needs both social time and solitude but the amount of time in which you need each one is unique to you. It’s important to know how much alone time you need to feel your best and how much time you need with people to thrive.

During the pandemic, you’ll likely need to get a little more creative with getting your needs met. From Zoom dinners with friends to setting aside time to read in a book in your room without the kids interrupting, get proactive about getting your needs met. 

5. Incorporate some mental strength exercises into your day

Just like it’s important to set aside time to work on building a strong, healthy body, it’s also important to work on building a strong mind.

Incorporating a few mental strength exercises into your day can go a long way toward helping you think, feel, and do your best.

There are many different exercises that can help you grow mentally stronger. Practicing gratitude, meditating, and naming your feelings are just a few simple strategies that can help you build mental muscle. 

Set aside time to do them and commit to daily practice. Your mental muscles need ongoing exercise to stay in shape the same way your physical muscles do.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I was a type-A mom trying to ‘have it all,’ and I suffered a breakdown. Here are my 5 tips to help any working mom prioritize self-care on a daily basis.

working mom
Prioritizing alone time is key for working moms to de-stress.

  • Jessica Milicevic is the owner of Maven Media, a strategic branding and marketing agency in North Carolina.
  • She wrote a list of ways working moms can practice self-care without sacrificing too much time or money.
  • Disconnecting, enjoying quiet time, and practicing self-compassion are easy ways moms can prioritize their wellness.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The term self-care has become one of those buzzwords so overused by bloggers, marketers, and influencers that it almost has no authentic meaning left. Everyone from major brands to the mommy bloggers encourage us to use self-care, usually by partaking in one of their products that promises to bring us calm, peace, and mindfulness. Rarely do we get true serenity from a candle or a cookie, but the idea that we need to practice self-care still pushes us to do whatever we can to attain it. 

Self-care in its most basic form are things you do to take care of yourself. As working moms, we’ve become conditioned to do everything for others, so the idea that we should do something for ourselves can seem entirely selfish and foreign. But the practice of self-care for working moms is easier said than done. Besides, what is self-care anyway, if not a way to escape? 

Time and finances are often factors in any working mom’s decision to take time for herself

When we think of recharging using the self-care method, we often talk ourselves out of it because we don’t have the time or the money to take a spa day, or any other luxury image that’s become synonymous with self-care. And because the meaning of the term has become so trite, we often dismiss the practice entirely. 

In an effort to redefine self-care for the working mom, I’ve created a list of ways that we can all practice true love for ourselves, without sacrificing major amounts of time or money. These practices can be incorporated into your everyday life so you can easily take the time to reset your mind, body, and soul, and refill that empty cup.

1. Breathe 

I know I’m not inspiring a ton of confidence by starting with something so simple, but stay with me. 

There was a time in my life when a maternal mental breakdown sent me to the hospital for a week. In the midst of the chaotic moment, I began to have a panic attack as I contemplated what was really happening to me. 

The thing that saved me from completely melting down was breathing. In yoga, I’d learned to block out the rest of the world and simply count my breaths as I inhaled and exhaled, and when it mattered the most, I was able to use that practice to calm my entire body. 

In the middle of an intense day at work, when your coworkers are being difficult and the boss is being stubborn, or when your kids are all yelling and your partner is wanting your attention, simply take a moment to stop. 

Choose a place where you can be alone (when I’m home, that often means hiding in my closet) and sit down. Put a timer on your phone for five minutes. Close your eyes and breathe in to the count of six, and out to the count of six. Count out loud if you need to, to give yourself a noise to focus on. 

Give yourself permission to push all other thoughts away (after all, it’s just for five minutes) and just listen to your breathing. Notice the rise and fall of your chest and focus on keeping your breath consistent. If you practice this often enough, the breathing will automatically kick in when you feel tense and stressed, like it did for me. 

Read more: I’m a mom influencer who earns up to $12,000 a month through paid sponsorships. Here’s how I grew my income and following while caring for my son.

2. Connect

This may be specific to extroverts like myself, but I’ve found that having a conversation helps me take a break from my stress and indulge in some informal talk therapy. 

Some of the best connections I’ve made have started online in a Facebook group for working moms. Instead of just using the platform to just vent (which is totally OK to do!) try using it to connect with other moms. I’ve asked for advice, or shared an interesting article, or even shared a photo of my kids and invited others to share as well. 

The great thing about being a member of a group for working moms is that they get what you’re going through. Everything you’re struggling with or take joy in, they likely do too. Connecting with other women in this way can help us make friends, which is definitely a part of taking care of ourselves.

3. Disconnect

Most days after taking care of my four kids and running my own business, I need time to disconnect. Instead of watching TV or scrolling through social media, I’ve established a form of self-care that truly helps me reset: silence. I sit on my couch and I don’t talk to anyone, and ask that my husband not talk to me, for one hour. 

Every working mom deserves time to reset your mind and rest your brain before bed. Make an arrangement with your partner and kids to take one hour to not talk to anyone and then choose an activity that brings you joy. 

Try to pick an activity that doesn’t overstimulate your brain, like listening to a podcast or reading a book, and give yourself permission to push everything else aside and enjoy it. If you can, hop in the bath and allow yourself to just melt away for an hour.

4. Sleep

I can see many of you rolling your eyes at this suggestion. How is sleep self-care if it’s also a part of simple human existence? But ask yourself: What quality of sleep are you getting? 

After eight hours at the office and four hours of homework, dinner, and bedtime routines, working moms often find themselves sprawled out on the couch, mindlessly watching TV or scrolling through social media before we drag ourselves into bed. We get to bed only to run through the mental load we carry, keeping us even later and often leaving us to fall asleep in an anxious manner. 

Try instead to give yourself the gift of true rest. Research shows that getting adequate sleep can help you have the energy to manage anxiety, and can increase the positive consolidation of thoughts and memories while we sleep that allows us to be in a sharper, better mood when we’re awake. 

Make a commitment to yourself that you will be in bed, sans screen, by 10 or 11 p.m. each night. If true self-care comes from taking care of ourselves, getting adequate sleep should be high on the priority list.

Read more: A CEO swears by carving out 2 ‘focus days’ a week where he doesn’t attend meetings. Here’s how he works them into his routine.

5. Permission and forgiveness 

As working moms, we carry so much on our minds and hearts. From our colleagues to our kids, we want everyone in our lives to feel taken care of and happy. Along with the need to make everyone else happy, is ultimately the feeling of guilt when we are unable to achieve this impossible task. 

Mommy guilt is a burden we all carry, but how it manifests in our lives is different for everyone. For me, I allowed the guilt to dictate my happiness. I never gave myself permission to be imperfect, or to allow others in my life to feel unsatisfied or disappointed, and my mental health began to deteriorate. 

In order to tackle any of the self-care items listed above, you need to allow yourself the time and space to do so. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself and be happy and healthy.

When you’re planning your day, you have the option to choose to do something for yourself. While doing things for your friends and family is generous and kind, you must also be kind and generous with yourself. 

This can be as simple as choosing to take a shower instead of cooking an extra time-consuming meal for your kids or partner. Give yourself permission to take 30 minutes to be alone, do something you need to do, and just be.

This often requires us to also forgive ourselves for whatever we feel like we’re failing at (which we are often not doing, but again, mommy guilt) and know that we’re doing the best we can. Forgive yourself for whatever negative thoughts you have and give yourself permission to be a human being with needs and the ability to be imperfect. 

Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated or intricate. It can be as simple as doing things to maintain your emotional and mental health so you feel balanced in your everyday life. While treating yourself is definitely needed, true self-care is something we must do regularly to be able to give 100% to our family, friends, and coworkers. It’s a cliche but it’s also true: You can’t give from an empty cup. So fill yours up, and know it’s in the service of not just others, but also in the service of yourself. 

 

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Job stress drove me to congestive heart failure at age 34. As I got better, here are 3 things I did to revive my small business while protecting my health.

Shannon Hennig.
Shannon Hennig.

  • Shannon Hennig is a small business owner and health and wellness marketing expert.
  • In September 2020, she was suddenly hospitalized with a diagnosis of congenital heart failure and had to take time off from running her business.
  • As she eased back into work, began health treatment, and continued homeschooling her young son, Hennig learned to set boundaries to safeguard her physical and mental health.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In September 2020, I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure caused primarily by high blood pressure that was left untreated for too long. Despite leading a healthy lifestyle, exercising regularly, and having a diet of minimally processed food, unchecked stress and anxiety coupled with my high blood pressure to result in my diagnosis at age 34. 

Many of us are experiencing uncommonly high levels of stress right now related to COVID-19, politics, and the unknown future. Everyone is struggling to keep up with work and life in the midst of increasing chaos and uncertainty.

After my hospitalization, I had to make a plan for jumping back into work and family. I needed to take into account my physical limitations, while running my writing and consulting business, “co-homeschooling” my 6-year-old son with my husband, and making time for the onslaught of medical appointments that were about to come my way.

Here’s what I did to adjust to life after my diagnosis how it’s changed my business for the better.

1. I began making proactive instead of reactive decisions

Instead of leaving business decisions up to chance or waiting for external circumstances to dictate my next move, I sat down and asked myself what my intentions were with my work. 

I asked myself, what were my intentions with the business that I’m pouring my time and energy into? Was I creating a job for myself to simply pay the bills, or building a company that served a larger purpose? What kind of clients did I want to attract and what kind of work truly brought me joy?

As I reevaluated my business and looked at my intentions, I integrated this practice into the work I do with my clients. By posing these same questions to my clients,  we’re able to build a business model that brings them fulfillment and is sustainable because it’s coming from a place of authenticity.

As I work with health, wellness, and helping professionals to brand and market themselves, building my own unique program to “help the helpers” meant more time for me to do what I love.

Read more: After a difficult pregnancy with twins, I negotiated a flexible work schedule with my boss – here’s the script I used to frame it as a win-win

2. I set firm boundaries between work and personal hours

As a small business owner working from home, it can become nearly impossible to separate work and family as they blur into one fluid span of time. Each day you multitask from the time you wake up until you collapse into bed.

At the urging of my business coach, I reevaluated how and where I use my time. I then ruthlessly went after my schedule and set aside time blocks for specific tasks and project work. 

Another strategy is to evaluate the amount of time you think a project will need, and then double or in some cases triple it. By giving myself the time I actually need and building in buffers, I can do a better job and deliver ahead of time.

I also gave myself dedicated time for medical appointments with my cardiologist, trips to the lab for blood work, time to meet with my psychologist, and time to rest with my feet up (literally) each day. 

Now, I organize my calendar to include two hour lunch breaks where I can properly eat and take a short nap. I log off my computer at 5 p.m. and don’t respond to client emails during evenings and weekends. As my business coach wisely told me, “Think of boundaries as a way to keep you in, so you only have time to do your best work.” When I organize my schedule each week I keep this advice in the back of my mind.

Read more: The pandemic has proven that mothers can work from home and still be excellent at their jobs. Here’s what workplaces must do next.

3. I choose to do less in order to do more 

While it seems counterintuitive to do less in order to actually get more done, I applied this concept to my work and have been amazed by the results.

Despite having a virtual assistant before my diagnosis, I was terrible at delegation. There was always a feeling of guilt hanging over me when I’d ask her to do something I knew I could do myself. 

One of the first things I did after my diagnosis was to start creating standard operating procedures and handing over busy work. I then naturally progressed to shifting more tasks to my assistant, freeing up my own time for high value activities.

I hired another writer to support me, outsourced all my bookkeeping and accounting, and looked for places I could remove myself from the process. It meant a lot of letting go of old models of thinking about myself as a superhero who could do it all without breaking a sweat. 

Now I have the time to focus on single projects each day, rather than frantically multitasking from morning to night. The result is a better product and service, improved relationships with my clients and the ability to raise my prices.

Doing less means identifying where you can create the most value and leveraging it as one of your business’ most important assets. It also requires building a team around me to support business functions and look for opportunities to continuously improve my services.

While heart failure turned my life and business upside down, the changes it forced on me were all needed. I’d rather go through this deep level of transformation in my 30s and put to use all I’ve learned now, so that I can be deliberate and intentional about what I’m building for the future.

Properly caring for my health has been like taking on a new part-time job in terms of time commitment and prioritization. I strongly guard my boundaries and stick to them because my future really does depend on them.

Shannon Hennig is a freelance writer and health and wellness marketing professional. She is the president of OpenInk Solutions, of company that helps health and wellness professionals to build their personal brands and become thought thought leaders in industries. Follow her on Twitter.

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How to stop checking work emails when you’re on vacation

woman working from home using laptop computer garden
If you’re still checking work emails or taking calls during the holidays, you might want to try these tips.

  • Though closely associating yourself with your work can improve motivation and job performance, it can also prevent you from fully switching off on holidays or vacations. 
  • Environmental cues like email alerts, phone calls, and our laptops can activate our work identities, making it difficult to mentally relax during time off. 
  • When the office and home are no longer separate entities, we have to protect our time off more than ever by replacing old cues with new ones, experimenting with new identities, and undergoing a digital detox. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Finally, the holidays are here – the break you’ve been waiting for. You want to leave work behind, kick back, and enjoy time with family and friends.

But you’re still checking work emails and taking work calls. Even if you are at a remote location that screams holiday, you’re still thinking about work, or even doing work, although you promised yourself this time would be different.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not the only one struggling to switch off on holidays.

One reason is you, like many others, might derive a strong sense of self from your work.

Read more: Inside the daily routine of BarkBox cofounder Henrik Werdelin, who starts his day with the ‘8 plus 1 method’ and doesn’t check email until lunchtime

Work helps shape your identity

Humans crave answers to the question “who am I?”. One place we find these answers is in the activities we do – including our work. Whether we work by choice, necessity, or a bit of both, many of us find work inevitably becomes a source of our identity.

We develop professional identities (“I’m a lawyer”), organizational identities (“I’m a Google employee”), or as we discovered in our research, performance-based identities (“I’m a top performer”).

Such identification can be beneficial. It has been linked with increased motivation and work performance, and even better health. But it can also prevent us from switching off.

Your work identity can make it harder to switch off

We all know people who are mentally “on holidays” even before the holidays have started. But for others, switching off from work is not so easy. Why?

One factor is our identity mix. We all have multiple identities, but the range and relative importance of our identities vary from person to person.

If work-related identities occupy a central place in how we see ourselves, they’re likely to shape our thinking and behavior beyond work hours – including during holidays. In other words, we stay mentally connected to work not because the boss or the job necessarily requires it, but because it’s hard to imagine other ways of “being ourselves”.

Equally important to why some of us struggle to switch off on holidays are environmental cues. That relaxing chair by the pool or the company of family tell us we’re off work. But email alerts or phone calls, or even the simple sight of our laptop, can activate work identities and associated mindsets and behaviors. No wonder our plans for switching off are doomed.

Read more: Working moms are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Here are 3 ways leaders can foster a supportive culture for working parents, according to a LinkedIn VP

Yes, but what can I do about it?

It’s worth considering all that obvious advice you’ve heard on the benefits of digital detox.

This is even more important in the new normal of working from home in 2020 and beyond. For many of us, the office and home are now one and the same, meaning we have to work even harder to protect non-work time from work-related incursions.

From an identity perspective, though, there’s a lot more we can do.

First, we can scan the environment and remove any cues that might activate our work identity (beyond switching off email alerts). This might be something as simple as hiding your laptop in a drawer.

At the same time, introduce cues to activate other identities. For instance, if you’re a tennis player or an aspiring artist, keep your gear visible so your brain is primed to focus on those aspects of your self.

Second, research suggests we can engage in “identity work” and “identity play“. That’s deliberately managing and revising our identities, and even experimenting with potential new ones. Imagining and trying new and more complex versions of ourselves takes time, but it can be an effective antidote to an overpowering work identity.

But simply trying to not think about work over the holidays is likely to do more harm than good. Much research shows trying to suppress certain thoughts tends to have the opposite effect, making us not only have the thought more, but also feeling worse afterwards.

A better approach may be to accept the thought for what it is (a simple mental event), and naturally let your mind move to the next carriage in your train of thought.

In the long term, it’s worth reflecting on whether you might be over-identifying with work.

Read more: How to climb the remote corporate ladder and set yourself up for a promotion when you’re not working in an office

One way to test this is by assessing how you feel about doing the unthinkable of completely unplugging for a while. Does that make you anxious?

What about the idea of retirement – that final “holiday” we’ve worked towards our entire life? This too can be challenging for identity reasons: giving up work can feel like giving up a part of ourselves. We can prevent that, and ensure we enjoy retirement and all other holidays, by considering what else we could use as equally valid sources of identity.

Ultimately, the aim is to see ourselves as the complex creatures we indeed are, defined by more than just our work, so we can make the most of our precious time away from it.

Disclaimer: We wrote part of this article on holidays. Academics are perhaps the best (or worst?) example of over-identifying with work. Time for us to really practice what we preach.

Dan Caprar, associate professor, University of Sydney and Ben Walker, lecturer (management), Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation
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