Currently, on an exploration tour of Ireland, Aoife is coming to you live from Co. Sligo. However, in this week’s solo episode, Aoife is turning the temperature nozzle right up as she revisits her 10-week summertime experience in the largest Canary Island, Tenerife. Aoife discusses career flexibility and working abroad, adapting to a slower pace of life yet still prioritising tasks, things to consider before moving to work overseas and reveals how a re-infection of Covid-19 impacted her mental health. Key points throughout include:
– How to set priorities at work and achieve flexibility in your career
– How estimating our time can prove tricky
– Looking to save time? Start task batching!
– The importance of business reflection when planning for the future
– The key to improving your accountability
– The challenges of cultural diversity in the workplace
– How temperature can affect your work performance
– Be mindful: The rise of living costs at home and abroad
– The impact of Covid-19 on mental health
– Disconnecting from the 9-5 working culture
“Most people overestimate what they can do in a year, and they underestimate what they can do in two or three decades.’’ – Tony Robbins.
LEAD WITH EASE: HOW TO BE A HAPPIER MORE EFFECTIVE LEADER
Join Aoife O’Brien from Happier at Work and Niamh Brady from Better Workday for Lead with Ease, an online workshop specifically designed for people managers. This exclusive online event takes place on 25th and 26th of October. By the end of the two sessions, you will have strategies and tools to lead well and support your well-being. Secure your seat TODAY!
THE LISTENERS SAY:
Do you have any feedback or thoughts on this discussion? If so, please connect with Aoife via the links below and let her know. Aoife would love to hear from you!
Listen back: Travelling and working remotely with Aoife O’Brien
Listen back: Our right to unplug and disconnect with Chris Flack
Connect with Happier at Work host Aoife O’Brien:
Aoife O’Brien 00:00
Are you looking to improve employee engagement and retention? Do you struggle with decisions on who to hire or who to promote? I have an amazing opportunity for forward thinking purpose-led people first organisations to work with me on the first pilot Happier at Work program for corporates. The program is entirely science backed and you will have tangible outcomes in relation to employee engagement, retention, performance and productivity. The program is aimed at people leaders with responsibility for hiring and promotion decisions. If this sounds like you, please get in touch at Aoife@happieratwork.ie. That’s A O I F E at happieratwork.ie. You’re listening to the Happier at Work podcast. I’m your host Aoife O’Brien. This is the podcast for leaders who put people first, the podcast covers four broad themes, engagement and belonging, performance and productivity, leadership equity, and the future of work. Everything to do with the Happier at Work podcast relates to employee retention, you can find out more at happieratwork.ie.
Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of Happier at Work podcast, another solo episode for you and while I previously batch recorded multiple solo episodes as well as interview based recordings while I was working remotely in Tenerife, this is my first opportunity to be able to do it since I’ve returned from Tenerife. I’m actually taking some time off at the moment traveling around Ireland, getting to know the country a little bit. And so I’m coming to you from a town in Sligo this morning. After I came back from my trip to Tenerife in January, I recorded an episode all about my learnings at that time. And interestingly, the learnings I have this time around are slightly different. If you haven’t listened to that episode, I would definitely recommend that you check that out. It’s episode, I think it’s number 93, which I would have recorded back in February of this year 2022.
Now for the purposes of today’s episode, I want to share a few of the experiences that I had while I was working in Tenerife, as I mentioned; a slightly different to my experience the last time around, this time around being summertime. And I think I took for granted that in the Canary Islands, the heat, the temperature tends to be quite similar all year round. So that’s actually not the case, I soon realised when I got off the plane, it’s much much warmer in the summer. And when I was there in January, it was heating maybe around 24-25 degrees on a good day. And in the summertime, it actually reaches more like 29-30 degrees. And the weather is slightly different. It’s a bit more humid and things like that. But the first thing I wanted to share today is this idea by priorities and flexibility. Now, when I went to Tenerife in January, I spent four weeks there in total this time around I had 10 weeks in Tenerife. So a little bit longer this time. And both times I wrote down a list of everything I wanted to achieve within the time that I was away, and I must admit that both times or neither time did I reach the end of that list. So I made a quite an ambitious list. And I think part of that reason is it’s a much slower way of life, it’s a much slower pace of life over there. And maybe it’s harder to get things done. Maybe I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I like to get a lot more done that I think I’m able to do in a certain amount of time. Which actually reminds me of this Tony Robbins quote where he says you can achieve more in five years than you think he can but you can achieve less probably in a, I think he says in a day or in a year like he has all of these descriptions for that. That means to say that if you aim for longer term goals, you can actually achieve much more than you think you can. But when you’re looking at kind of shorter timelines, we often overestimate what we can do. But we underestimate what we can do in the longer term, So five or ten years time. So on this idea of priorities and flexibility, it actually brought a different meaning for me this time around. So when I talk about that, I had a list of priorities that had a list of things that I wanted to achieve while I was there. But at the same time, I also wanted to prioritise work life balance, and oftentimes that ended up winning out I wanted to explore, and I had the opportunity to, to explore, you know, to explore the islands a little bit more to spend time doing things that I enjoy. So I did tend to prioritise those kinds of things. And this idea of flexibility sort of comes into that as well. So running my own business means that I have that opportunity to be a bit more flexible, that if there’s something that is not required on a deadline, that it’s not an urgent client request or something like that, it meant that I was able to to prioritise whatever I wanted to do on a given day. Now as I mentioned at the start of this podcast episode, I batch recorded quite a number of episodes before I went to Tenerife as well. So that gave me the opportunity and freed up a bit of my time in the week. I thought I would normally dedicate to podcasting. So if there’s something that you can batch before you go, or you can accomplish in batches when you’re there. So putting a whole load of things that take a similar type of headspace, or similar type of activity and doing them all at the same time, it saves you time in the longer term. One thing that I often talk about that I’m not very good at doing myself, is this idea of reflection. So actually taking time out to see what’s working well, what’s not working so well. And what you can do to improve just simple questions to ask yourself at the end of the day, at the end of a week, you know, at the end of a month, at the end of the year, to check in and see well, how am I doing? And what can I do to improve to help me to reach my goals. So that is something that admittedly, quite early on, I decided I needed, desperately needed to buy a journal so that I will be able to record my reflections. And once I bought the journal, I still wasn’t taking that time out to do the reflection. So I realised it wasn’t that wasn’t the reason after all. And you know, it again, reminds me of this idea of during the pandemic, when I saw this meme, and it was saying that the reason that people don’t tidy their houses is because they don’t have enough time. But actually, with the pandemic, we got a lot more time and still people’s people weren’t spending time cleaning their houses. So that wasn’t the reason. So the reason that I wasn’t doing it wasn’t because I didn’t have a journal, because I bought the journal and I still wasn’t doing it. So had I been doing it, I would have realised sooner in the process. Or had I started reflecting a bit more strategically, earlier on in my time there would have realised what I really needed was to have a check in or an accountability buddy, you can use websites that you can pay, and they will pair you with someone. So for an hour for two hours, you can check in with someone else, if you want to work on something particularly important, then you can spend that time working exclusively on that I know that there are mastermind groups that there are other groups that you can join, where you can spend that time working on whatever is important to you. But I think for me having a check in and having an accountability, even a check in with myself, which I didn’t really have a regular check in, of what I wanted to achieve, and kind of reflecting back on on how that went. But having that sense of accountability, I think for other people, an external person to check in and check what it is that you’re doing. Whether or not you’re on track as well, is really, really important. And I think in a corporate context, you will probably have something like that already, whether that’s with your manager, but just remember that if you’re not having that, maybe that’s something that you need to build into your week as well. Now, something else I found to be a little bit of a struggle, I was living with a Spanish person, this time and a bit of a cultural difference there were, for me, it’s 29 degrees, 30 degrees outside, I’m gonna have, you know, lunchtime, and lunchtime for me is about one o’clock, I’m going to have a salad or something quite light, something, something cold, whereas the person I was living with was having a full meal cooked in the oven, or you know, something hot, requires a lot of effort in the middle of the day. And for me that just put me to sleep. So that was kind of a little bit of a challenge as well, those cultural differences. And then again, eating quite late at night and staying up late at night. Sometimes having a siesta during the day, but not always having the opportunity to be able to do that. I mentioned at the start of the podcast about the heat. Now this is not something I really had thought about or really factored in. Because, you know, a lot of people are saying, wow, the weather is amazing. And you know, enjoy the heat. I’m really jealous. But at the same time, I’m realising now how easy it is to get work done when you live somewhere like Ireland where the climate normally summertime around 17 or 18 degrees. If you’re really lucky. And we were lucky earlier in the summer while I was still there one day, it got up to 29 degrees, you know, it was breaking records from about 150 years ago or might have even been more and what the heat actually I was having a conversation with a friend of mine, Chris Flack, who was on the podcast previously as well talking about digital empowerment and being able to manage our, our digital selves and kind of disconnecting from from social media, disconnecting from relying on our phones all the time. He told me that actually, it’s proven that the heat has an impact on your brain. So it’s not just in your head it makes you not able to think as clearly not able to think as well either. So something else that had an impact that I wasn’t really thinking about so if you are thinking about moving somewhere that’s quite harsh. Have a think about whether or not you’ll have access to aircon and how often you be able to use that obviously with the cost of living increases everywhere in the world. And that’s something that was spoken about quite regularly over there as well. Although it is a lower cost of living in general, forcing increases to the cost of living there as well. So something to bear in mind. Another thing as well, that had an impact on me is that I got COVID again. So I got COVID for the second time, while I was over there now, it wasn’t as severe as when I had had it previously. But it still took me out of action for about a week, I was still dipping in and out of, you know, bits and pieces of work that had to be done. But at the same time, it definitely had an impact. And one thing I noticed. And noticed this the last time I had COVID, as well, but maybe haven’t mentioned it before, but it definitely had an impact on my mental health. So, you know, I get into a spiral of something negative happening. And then my my mind takes it to all sorts of places. And suddenly, you know, like, it’s not worth being in business. And it’s not like, why am I doing the podcast, all of these kinds of thoughts going on in my head? And I suppose one learning from that is to have a contingency plan as well. So if you are out of action for a week, is there something that you can do, is there do you have contingency sort of built into the plan that you have for everything you want to achieve during the time that you’re there and also bearing in mind, knowing that if you get sick that is going to have an impact on your mental health. And I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I did read something from someone the other day for for World Mental Health Day that they said it had an impact like when they’re when they’re physically ill, it has an impact on their mental health and well being as well. So definitely something to bear in mind, especially if you’re shifting to a new culture if you’re trying to fit in, in a culture that that you’re not really used to that your body is acclimatised to, to. In you know, a new climate, all of those kinds of things are going to have an impact on your ability to be able to get stuff done to be able to work and to be able to think properly, and to have sound mental health as well. So that’s it from me for this week’s podcast episode. I hope you enjoyed my sharing of my experience of Tenerife really, the key thing for me was slowing down and learning to enjoy a better work life balance, learning to enjoy a greater degree of flexibility. One thing I did notice was the ingrained nature of this nine to five mentality where I was working over there, unusual hours, but I still had ingrained in me that it’s nine o’clock I should start working or it’s five o’clock, it’s okay to finish up. Whereas I think the future of work is very different. But you know, I’m more than 20 years doing that nine to five, and it’s really hard to shake that whole mentality. And but I do strongly believe that the future of work is a bit more flexible, that we’d be focusing more on our well being as opposed to trying to climb any sort of career ladder. And we’d be focusing more on our our own happiness, flexibility and our priorities have changed at work as well. So something to maybe consider something to think about. If you are thinking about moving somewhere, or trying to work remotely from somewhere foreign somewhere that’s hot somewhere there, you’re not used to do feel free to reach out to me for any specific questions that you have in relation to that. And do feel free to get involved in the conversation across on social media, the two main places that I would be Instagram happieratwork.ie and also on LinkedIn, Aoife O’Brien, do feel free to comment on the post. So feel free to reach out to me directly. And I would love to hear your thoughts, and I look forward to continuing the conversation with you.
One last thing to mention before I leave is that I’m running a session with Niamh Brady who was on the podcast previously, as well. We are running a session called Lead with Ease. It’s for people managers who are finding themselves really overwhelmed. They’re not necessarily getting the results that they want for themselves or for the team, but they still feel like they’re working all the hours but not necessarily achieving what it is that they want to achieve. Niamh and I are working together on this workshop. It’s happening on the 25th and 26th of October. It’s run over two days and two hours on each day. Do feel free to reach out directly to me if you want to learn more or search for Lead with Ease on Eventbrite.
That was another episode of the Happier at Work podcast. I am so glad you tuned in today. If you enjoyed today’s podcast, I would love to get your thoughts – head on over to social media to get involved in the conversation. If you enjoy the podcast, I would love if you could rate review it or share it with a friend. If you want to know more about what I do or how I could help your business head on over to happieratwork.ie