How to switch gear when you clock off

How to switch gear when you clock off

Many of us bring stress from work home – frustration at a projects not going to plan, difficult clients, mountainous workloads or clashes with co-workers. Here are a few strategies that will help you leave all that behind.

With greater workplace flexibility, a shift towards remote working arrangements and increasing expectations to always be ‘on’, the distinction between work and home has become increasingly blurred, allowing our workplace stresses to impact our home lives.

As common as this is, taking your workplace stress out on your family and friends has a detrimental effect on your relationships, which then impacts your health and wellbeing. Fortunately there are things you can do to keep work issues at work, rather than creeping ‘home’.

Transitioning from work to ‘home’

It can be challenging to go straight from a tense meeting or hectic workday to suddenly being at home where you’re expected to be present with other family members. This can be especially tricky if you have young children, who won’t understand that you are grumpy from work, rather than angry at them.

Have a ritual that will transition you from work to home mode. Perhaps this is riding your bike to and from work so you can decompress, or lining up an upbeat music playlist for your journey. Would a quick stop-off at the gym help you blow off steam, or if you have a dog, can you take them for a walk as soon as you finish up to get some fresh air? Even a change of clothes can help you switch gears.

You may need to explain this to those you live with, such as a partner or kids – they might not immediately understand that you need some time out in order to be more present, so be open with them about how it will help.

Compartmentalise your work

You may be expected to check your emails and be reachable at all hours of the day, but as much as possible, set boundaries with work. It’s hard to unwind when you’re always working, so develop healthy habits when it comes to checking your email and phone.

Depending on your work situation, try to establish what time you can be reached up until so that you can be present with your loved ones and enjoy your extracurricular activities.

Making time for leisure

Pursuing your hobbies and interests aren’t just important for your own mental and physical health; they can also have a ripple effect at reducing stress within your household, as you will be more relaxed and happier. Making time for your own enjoyment can fall to the end of your to-do list, so prioritise this time to take care of yourself.

That boxing or HIIT class can use up some of your adrenaline, or walking with a friend can give you the opportunity to socialise and exercise. Cooking, painting or DIY can provide a creative outlet that keeps your hands busy, while getting out into nature can help you decompress and put your worries into perspective.

Developing a support network

According to Safe Work Australia, 92% of serious work-related mental health condition claims were attributed to mental stress, with 21% due to work pressure.i

While we can’t eradicate stress entirely, we can improve how we respond to it. As well as developing your own healthy habits, it’s worth cultivating a support network. This may come in the form of selected friends and family you can openly talk to about work pressures, or a more formal arrangement with a mentor, life coach or counsellor.

Being able to express what you’re going through can help remove the weight of the situation from your shoulders. We all deal with work stress from time to time, but if you are feeling overwhelmed or finding it hard to balance your job with your home life, reach out to get a helping hand.

i https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/infographic-workplace-mental-health

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


5 Essential Activities For A Long and Happy Life

5 Essential Activities For A Long and Happy Life

Though many of us don’t want to reflect much on our mortality, we all want to live happier, healthier and longer lives. In fact, it’s a very human trait to be fascinated by the potential of extending our lifespans.  Chances are none of this is new to you, but it doesn't hurt to remind yourself from time to time.

Living long

Over the past 100 years, life expectancy in Australia has increased from around 50 years to well over 80 years, with a boy born today expected to live around 80.9 years and a girl 85.0 years.ii Most researchers looking at trends in mortality believe life expectancy will continue to increase in coming decades.

That’s not enough for a small cohort of people termed ‘Biohackers’ who ‘hack’ their bodies to make them function better and in many cases, live significantly longer.

One high profile biohacker, Dave Asprey, is vocal in his aim to reach the grand old age of 180. Dedicating millions of dollars to the cause, Dave gets regular stem cell injections, bathes in infrared light, uses a hyperbaric chamber and takes over 100 supplements a day.iii

How to live longer and better

We’re not all Silicone Valley millionaires, able to access expensive biohacking treatments, nor do we all want to. But there are some common-sense ways to not only live longer, but live better.

1: Eat well

While the ‘perfect’ diet is often contested, what the experts generally agree on is that we should incorporate plenty of plant foods, limit red meat, avoid processed foods and eat healthy fats and complex carbs.iv Often the Okinawa Diet is referenced when it comes to living longer, as the residents of this Japanese island can live to 100 – Okinawa has the most centenarians per 100,000 population. The Okinawans eat a lot of plant foods, with some seafood and meat.

2: Move it

Being physically active is also important. Again, this can look different for different people, but regular exercise has been proven to improve heart health, control blood sugar levels, maintain or provide weight loss, and also possibly decrease our risk of developing cancer.v

3: Stay sharp

Staying mentally active can also improve our lifespans. As we age, our mental abilities decline, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do about it. And it’s not all bad news either, in fact, an older brain can create new connections between neurones. As some neurones die, their roles are taken up by others to help you adapt.vi Prioritising your social life, being open to new experiences and taking up new hobbies will keep you mentally active, as will that puzzle book or game of Trivial Pursuits. And if you've ever regretted not learning a new language - it's never too late. In learning new languages, has been shown to be one of the best ways to maintain mental flexibility and a young, agile mind.

4: Connection

Maintaining a healthy social life won’t just help your brain, research has also shown there are many physical benefits to staying connected. Lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system and possibly reduced inflammation can be the result of being happy around other people.vii

5: Find Purpose

It’s also important to be happy within yourself. Feeling fulfilled has been linked to longevity. A research scientist call Robert Butler found that those who could express their sense of purpose or life meaning lived about 8 years longer than those who were rudderless.viii

Ultimately, it’s not just the years in your life, but the life in your years that’s important. What’s the point of living to 100, or 180, if you don’t feel content and well? Living a full and satisfying life is the main goal we should strive for, and by taking care of ourselves, we hopefully will have years in our life and life in our years.

 

ii https://www.abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/life-expectancy-continues-increase-australia

iii https://www.menshealth.com.au/how-to-live-to-180-years-old-bulletproof-founder-dave-asprey

iv https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/what-science-says-about-best-way-eat-what-we-re-ncna1104911

v https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/5-ways-exercise-helps-men-live-longer-and-better

vi https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/healthy-ageing-stay-mentally-active

vii https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/Strong-relationships-strong-health

viii https://www.bluezones.com/2019/05/news-huge-study-confirms-purpose-and-meaning-add-years-to-life/

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Taking a break - good for you and the Australian economy

Taking a break - good for you and the Australian economy

2021 is shaping up to be a much more positive year than 2020 in so many ways. For people who put holiday plans on hold or those with itchy feet because they haven’t had much of a break for a while, this year is the year to get out and about.

While overseas jaunts are off the table for some time to come, Australia’s management of the pandemic means we are able to head off and explore the local sights, while helping local communities and industries hit hard by 2020.

Recently the Australian Government announced their latest stimulus package for these industries, with $1.2 billion allocated to help our domestic tourism and aviation sectors.i

From 1 April 2021, there will be 800,000 half-priced flights available to 13 key regions which includes the Gold Coast, Cairns, the Whitsundays and Mackay region, the Sunshine Coast, Lasseter and Alice Springs, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie, Broome, Avalon, Merimbula and Kangaroo Island.

It’s also worth keeping your eye out for state run initiatives in the form of travel voucher schemes. While the amounts offered and conditions vary from state to state, they generally enable you to wine, dine or stay the night in a location with part of your bill subsidised.

The importance of R&R

There’s nothing like a holiday to help us feel more relaxed and give us a break from our everyday lives, something we very much need after the year that was.

We know that having a break, whether it be from work or just our regular routines, tends to improve our wellbeing. It can offer a circuit breaker from some of your stressors, give you a new perspective as you take in new surroundings, lighten your mood as you do things you enjoy, give you a chance to spend some quality time with loved ones and simply recharge your batteries by sleeping in and taking it easy.

Supporting local

Perhaps you had to cancel that trip to Paris or have to let go the idea of relaxing on a beach in Bali. Fortunately, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to travelling in Australia, whether it’s a beach holiday you are after, a hike in the mountains, a trip to the snow, a tour of the outback or a foray into a rainforest. We are blessed with a myriad of natural wonders as well as vibrant cities with world class restaurants, attractions and nightlife. Not only will you have a wonderful time, you can also feel good about supporting businesses who need a hand getting back on their feet.

While it can seem like a distant memory due to the COVID-19 outbreak, 2020 was also a hard time for many Australians due to the bushfires that ravaged many parts of the country. As a result, the locations affected are needing to rebuild and welcome tourists back, so why not give them a visit.

Planning your trip

Whether you take advantage of the flight specials or instead travel by bus, train or car, seeing another part of the country will give you something to look forward to.

While we may have become nervous about forward planning due to the uncertainty of 2020, being organised will enable you to make the most of travel deals and plan your itinerary so you can fit in everything you want to do.

If you’re concerned about travelling at the present time, why not take the road less travelled and head to a private spot (perhaps an Airbnb rather than a busy hotel) in a destination that isn’t as well-known. By avoiding popular travel periods such as the school holidays, you will also avoid the crowds.

Wherever you travel in Australia, whether it’s to the other side of the country or just down the road, we hope you enjoy your well-deserved break and are able to recharge your batteries for what is shaping up to be an exciting year ahead.

i https://www.nestegg.com.au/invest-money/economy/government-launches-half-price-flights-to-kickstart-tourism

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Tame your inbox for greater productivity

Tame your inbox for greater productivity

While the way we work and communicate with each other for business is constantly evolving, one element has remained pretty constant for many years now: email. Our dependence on email and similar messaging apps to run our businesses and carry out our jobs is pretty entrenched. This is even more true of late as working remotely and more flexible working arrangements have become a lot more common.

However, although email remains a critical business tool, it has the potential to be a big drain on our productivity and a source of anxiety if not carefully managed. Just think about how often your train of thought gets interrupted by incoming notifications and the dread in the pit of your stomach when you log back in to see an intimidating number of unread emails sitting in your inbox.

Email and messaging apps are not going away anytime soon, particularly as we move to more flexible working arrangements, so here are a few tips to tame the beast.

Understanding the impact of your inbox

Our inboxes are heaving – it was estimated that in 2019 the average office worker would be dealing with 126 emails every day, a number you’d expect to be even bigger given more of us are working remotely and are expected to be connected beyond the usual 9 – 5.i

And it’s not just the volume of emails that is the issue, 42% of survey respondents admitted to checking emails in the bathroom, with 50% doing so from their beds. It’s clear that our inboxes are on our minds even away from the office, as they infiltrate other parts of our lives.ii

Setting up a system

Searching for and following up emails is one of the most common inefficiencies associated with email. To make things easier, create labels and rules to direct certain emails into folders – for instance, emails relating to a certain project so they won’t be lost amongst spam or general messages.

You can also send out auto replies so that senders get an instant response acknowledging the receipt of the email, which puts less pressure on you to reply immediately. Templates can also save you time; these are especially handy if you get many of the same type of enquiries.

Create email-free zones

If you’re one of the bedroom email checkers, put boundaries in place as to when and where you view your inbox. Attending to emails during a set period, such as when you start work, after lunch and an hour before you clock off, for example, doesn’t just make you more productive. A study in the Computers in Human Behaviour journal found that checking email less frequently reduced stress.iii

Reconsider what is essential

Not all emails need a response – how often do you reply just with a ‘thanks’ or ‘okay’ when it’d be fine to not reply? Recognise that not every response is urgently needed. Give yourself a realistic timeframe, such as replying within 48 hours to business enquiries, so that you don’t feel pressured to reply straight away.

Call rather than email where possible

While this can be a generational preference (millennials are not the biggest fans of phone calls), it’s fair to say many different generations have got into the habit of emailing rather than speaking with someone directly.iv Yet a quick phone call can address many points in real time so you’re not left waiting for a response. This will improve your productivity as well as not add to the clutter of your inbox.

Rather than being ruled by your inbox, make email work better for you with a few tweaks to the way you use it. So take back control and revel in your new found sense of accomplishment, while enjoying the additional time you now have for the tasks that really matter.

i https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/knowledge-base/how-many-emails-does-the-average-person-receive-per-day/

ii https://www.lifewire.com/how-many-emails-are-sent-every-day-1171210

iii https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0747563214005810

iv https://www.bankmycell.com/blog/why-millennials-ignore-calls

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Unleashing your creativity

Unleashing your creativity

When you think of creativity, does an easel and pot of paints spring to mind, or perhaps a musical composition or dance choreography? You don’t need to be artistic to be creative. Creativity can benefit all of us, in all aspects of our lives.

In fact some of the biggest success stories come from people who have managed to think outside the box and find a new way of doing things – people who innovate and revolutionise, such as Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Marie Curie and Alexander Graham Bell.

How did they manage to see the world differently? For many entrepreneurs and innovators, it’s their ability to think creatively. Creative thinking not only spurs innovation, but can assist you to create efficiencies, improve problem solving and work through uncertainty. While creativity isn’t a trait that comes naturally to all of us, fortunately this trait can be developed and fostered with some simple habits.

Expand your horizons

To be able to come up with fresh ideas and consider new perspectives, often we have to remove ourselves from what is familiar. This can be as easy as holding a meeting in a new location (such as having a walking meeting in a park, instead of sitting down in the same meeting room), or perhaps a trip is on the cards – the reason work conferences are often held in different locations to the office is that this change in scenery can stir up new ideas.

If you can’t physically go anywhere different, you can still expand your inner world. Make time for reading so that you’ll be exposed to diverse perspectives. The act of reading in itself can have a relaxing effect, which can then leave you more receptive to ideas, a topic which is explored in the book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less.i

A space for creativity

You don’t necessarily need a room of one’s own to be creative. What is needed however is the space to let your thoughts be. Of course this is easier said than done in the busy world we live in, but there are still pockets of time you can utilise. Rather than reaching for your phone while waiting in a queue, let your mind wander. Try to take regular breaks away from your desk, and opt for a change of scenery when you’re taking a phone call.

It might also be possible to change your working hours to best make use of your time and energy. If you have the flexibility to do so, structure your day so that you fit in enough time to go for a walk or exercise. We don’t often equate going to the gym or participating in sport as a creative activity, yet research shows that being active can enhance creativity.ii

Follow your passions

Our hobbies bring about creativity, often without us even realising it. If you’ve spent hours building a model, tending to your garden, watching the ripples on the water while fishing or listening to bird noises during a bushwalk, you’ve likely entered a state of ‘flow’, when time passes by without your awareness.

Again this allows space for new ideas to come into your mind, which may or may not be related to what you are doing – as goes the legend of the apple falling on Isaac Newton’s head, which led to his discovery of the law of gravity.

By following your passions, you’re not only giving yourself the space to relax and focus on something other than work, but you may find it results in inspiration. If you’re struggling to come up with a solution to a problem or are finding it difficult to string a sentence together, take a break to do something you enjoy – you might find the answer will come to you this way.

Whether you already think of yourself as being creative or not, creativity is an important tool we can utilise in all aspects of our lives. By simply having fun and changing up your routine, your creativity will grow and you can harness its power.

i https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/q-a-why-a-rested-brain-is-more-creative/

ii https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1332529/

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Preserving that holiday feeling when you get back to work

Preserving that holiday feeling when you get back to work

Does the Christmas / New Year break already feel like a distant, fuzzy memory? If your chilled out holiday glow faded all too fast and you're already wishing for more, you’re not the only one.

Fortunately, there are ways to cultivate a more healthy, laid back state of mind, long after your vacation comes to an end.

New research indicates that the mental health benefits of a holiday unfortunately fade quicker than a tan. The study found that it takes us just three days to get back into our normal level of stress.i

Incorporate holiday habits

Morning sleep-ins, days spent outdoors in the sun, having long chats with family and friends, enjoying delicious food and drink, not being tethered to your phone – no wonder we feel more relaxed on holiday than we do in our day-to-day lives!

While most of us don’t have the luxury of sleeping in and turning up to work when we feel like it, you can incorporate some of your holiday habits into your regular working week. This can be as simple as taking regular breaks and scheduling in some outdoors time, whether it’s finding a park near the office, or going on a bush walk on the weekend. You might also like to opt for a screen-free day and instead pick up a book or have a board game night.

Take smaller breaks

Your leave allowance and financial situation may only permit you to take a small time away from work, but rather than just focusing on long holidays, try to also take regular breaks.

This could be weekends away or even just a day spent in a different town close to where you live, acting as a tourist and exploring the area. Just a day of adventuring will add some novelty into your schedule and allow you to unwind without needing to take an extensive period of leave or to travel far.

Rethink your workday

Rethinking your workday can improve your productivity. If you have the flexibility to do so, you may find changing your hours can have a positive effect on your productivity and motivation. For example, if you’re someone who struggles to get going before mid-morning, starting work later can have you feeling fresher and more alert.

It can also help to split your day into 90-minute windows to allow you to focus on a set number of tasks.ii Doing so can improve your efficiency and give you more free time as a result.

Reduce stress

We all know that excess stress is bad for us, but it can be near impossible to remain relaxed and care-free. Being on holiday and away from our regular lives can provide insight into what we are stressed about.

If the constant beep of notifications on your phone grates on you, having phone-free time can help. Maybe you feel under pressure at work or have an unmanageable workload – can you discuss these concerns with a colleague, boss or HR? A cause of stress can even be not having enough to do and being unsure of your purpose, in which case it could be helpful to reach out to a mentor or life coach for guidance. Whatever it may be, identifying your stressors will help you work towards reducing them.

Develop a positive mindset

Hand-in-hand with being more relaxed is having a positive mindset. Our holidays give us much to feel grateful for, such as the freedom of movement and access to beautiful locations, which we may have taken for granted pre-COVID-19.

In our everyday lives, rather than pining for that next holiday, think about what you are grateful for. This focus on gratitude and positivity makes it much easier to enjoy the day-to-day, and may lead you to adjust your priorities to reduce stress and improve your overall happiness.

We hope you all have a happy, prosperous and fulfilled year and we’re here to help if you need a hand. Enjoy your present, with a positive mindset.

i https://www.businessthink.unsw.edu.au/Pages/Rest-and-rejuvenate-why-your-summer-holiday-may-not-have-done-the-trick.aspx

ii https://lifehacker.com/why-we-should-rethink-the-eight-hour-workday-515742249

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Holidays at home, in our very own backyard

Holidays at home, in our very own backyard

For many Aussies with the travel itch, the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to flying to far-off destinations or even venturing beyond your own city or state. While we may be grounded for some time, fortunately you can still enjoy novel and fun adventures closer to home. You might be surprised to find out what is within reach. And at the very least, start planning trips for the coming months ahead.

History buffs

If you can’t make it all the way to England to see Stonehenge, Esperence offers a full size replica in Western Australia. Esperance Stonehenge has been designed to look just like the original. The stones have a local touch though, made from Esperance Pink Granite, and the layout cleverly takes into account the Summer and Winter Solstices in the Southern Hemisphere. Once you’ve marvelled at the rock formation, be sure to check out other Esperance sights such as the Pink Lake and array of pristine beaches.

For wine lovers and foodies

So France has Bordeaux and Spain has Priorat, but we have the Barossa Valley. The world-famous wine producing region in South Australia should be on every wine lover and foodie’s travel list. Less than an hour outside of Adelaide, the Barossa is home to over 150 wineries and 80 cellar doors – think Penfolds, Wolf Blass, Jacob’s Creek and plenty more. Clearly you’ll want to pace yourself and there is plenty to explore in the three main towns: Tanunda, Nuriootpa and Angaston. The restaurant scene is thriving in the Barossa so book in advance to ensure you get a seat at the table.

Adrenaline junkies

Be like a bird among the trees at Victoria’s Otway Fly Treetop Adventures. The 25m high and 600m long walkway gives incredible views over the Otways rainforest. For those wanting something more daring, the 47m tall Spiral Tower sways in the breeze so you can feel one with nature. Ziplining will find you suspended 30m from the forest floor – while it’s not as daring as Zip 2000 in South Africa’s Sun City, it’s an exhilarating experience not to be missed.

Fitness fanatics

Thousands of hikers from across the world descend on Tasmania’s Overland Track every year. It’s easy to see why this bushwalking track is so popular, with Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park being part of the incredible Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. It’s not suitable for the novice walker, being a six day hike which is 65km one way, with rocky and steep sections. But you’ll be rewarded by breathtaking views and alpine flora and fauna. If plans to do the Appalachian Trail in the US or the Tour du Mont Blanc across Europe were shelved, head to Tassie instead.

Beach goers

Australia has some of the best beaches in the world, so instead of Hawaii, head to the Gold Coast. Currumbin Beach is regularly voted Queensland’s cleanest beach and makes for a picture perfect holiday spot – just think of all those amazing Instagram pics you can share! Known as The Alley, the entrance to the ocean is patrolled by lifeguards and is a great place for beginner surfers and swimmers. Whether you’re up for a surf, swim or just want to lay on the sand, Currumbin Beach is the place to be during the summer.

Waterfall chasers

Dreaming of Niagara Falls? Why not head to Fitzroy Falls instead? Located within Morton National Park in the Southern Highlands, it’s only two hours out of Sydney. The waterfall descends 81m into picturesque Kangaroo Valley. As well as the beautiful waterfall, there are a range of hiking trails you can embark such as the East Rim and West Rim walking tracks. There are great picnic spots making for a perfect day trip, as well as a nearby campground if you want to stay put to soak up the ambience.

Travel will look different for some time to come. Holidays at home can provide an opportunity to experience the wonderful, diverse country we call home. As you head home with great memories, stories to share and spectacular photos you’ll also be leaving a lasting impact on the local tourism industry, who need the support on their road to recovery.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.