Thursday, 23 July 2015

Hannah Fox's Diary - What a week

I can’t believe it, it’s only been a week since I had that really big meeting with the Kitchen Appliance Company and they've already delayed the dates we’d agreed. Aaaaargh! I felt so positive after the meeting yet already they’re back to their old ways.

What’s more, I'm worried it’s going to impact on the Kitchen Yard who are being very patient but I'm sure they’ll start thinking I'm incapable and not on top of things. Not that they've said anything to hint at this....yet...I fear it’s only a matter of time!

So much for getting everything sorted before my holiday. I have a plan to have everything tied up and sorted ready for a really neat handover to Louise. Now what is she going to think of me? This week is just not going to plan.

The new assistant Clipboard Clip had promised is on hold as well now. Clive announced that no new staff will be taken on in our department until “contracts are on a more solid footing”. I swear he looked over my way as he made the announcement. If only I could tie the Kitchen Appliance Company down to stick to the dates we agreed. I'm really going to have to up my game here but I just don’t know what more I can do.

We ate later this evening after the kids had gone to bed and I spoke to Darren about the recruitment ban. He said they were in the same situation at his work across all departments. He was really good listening to me, asking questions and helping me see that this is a business decision not a personal attack on me. He pointed out that I’d been working really hard building up relationships with all my accounts, had received some great feedback and never shied away from tricky conversations with the Kitchen Appliance Company. I was really touched as it proved that Darren had been listening to me over the last few weeks and really does care about what’s happening to me. He asked me “what would you say to me if I came home from work with this story?”. I had to admit that I would have said a similar thing to him.

I think I really need a break from work and this holiday can't come round fast enough.  Although 

Really looking forwards to lots of family time over the holidays.

It's been another work focused week so this has gone on a real back burner.

I'm still working at writing down at least one good thing that happened in the day.  I can't confess to doing it everyday but I've done more days than I haven't done.  They are lovely to read back through.  

Hannah Fox is a character.  She is based on our years of experience working for a national mental health charity supporting people facing stress in the workplace.  The names and characters are not based on any one person and all similarities are purely incidental.  However, hopefully we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Hannah.

Point to Ponder

Often we can be more hard on ourselves than we would be of others. When you’re in a tricky situation, try to take a step back and ask yourself the question, “What advice would I give to a friend if they were in this situation?”.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Coffee Date Interview 20 - Viv Heydon

Name: Viv Heydon

Job Title: Information Executive

1. What drives you crazy at work?
People who try to impress with management speak and b&!!sh#t, and defensive people. And people with teflon shoulders....

2. What are the 3 “nevers” in your life?
I try never to run any significant distance, 
I have said in the past I'll never be persuaded to go skiing, and 
I could never be a vegetarian through choice!

3. What eats up most of your time at work?
Talking, and it's usually not work related!

4. What’s the biggest compliment you’ve had a work?
I was nominated by colleagues for our work values recognition programme for some work I'd done for them. It was a really lovely feeling.

5. What was the worst job you ever had and what did it teach you?
I'm really lucky in that I've not really had a terrible job that I really hated. However, just after starting one job, the rest of the team left and I was left floundering and it was a bit miserable for a while. I suppose it taught me that nobody else looks out for you and bad times are usually only (hopefully) transient.

6. What do you do to try and create worklife balance?
I'm lucky as I can leave my work in the office and usually don't have to give it another thought until the next working day!

c. LisaMonis2015

7. What are the 3 “always” in your life? 
I need 4! 
Always make time for my family, 
eat good food, 
listen to the music I like even though others might see it as cheesy or boring, and 
read some of my book every day.

8. What’s your top tip for staying on top of things and getting stuff done?
Make lists and write stuff on the calendar! I would be an utter mess without lists.

9. Early Bird or Night Owl?
Neither really, but I'm slightly better at staying up late than I am at getting up early.

10. Tom or Jerry?
Tom — he's just endearingly daft and treated appallingly!

11. Pudding or Cheese and Biscuits?
Totally and utterly impossible question. I can never choose one or the other, so usually both!

12. Coffee or Tea?
Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Hannah Fox's Diary 23 - Good Advice

Caught up with Jo the other day and filled her in on how I felt before the Kitchen Appliance Company meeting.  She said it sounds like a panic attack.

My initial reaction was OMG I've never had a panic attack before!  What if I always get them now before big meetings?  I won't be able to cope with going anywhere new now.  Clive will have to take on all my meetings or worse still get Louise to step in for me.  What will happen then if I can't do my job properly anymore?

It took Jo a while to calm me down.  Although I've calmed down now I'm still pretty worried.

I've decided to write down here a few notes on what Jo said so I've got it to refer to...she's such a help at putting things into perspective.

To summarise, Jo mentioned 3 things that she says it sounds like I'm doing; 

1. Filtering out the positive and focusing on the negative
2. Catastrophising
3. Over generalising

Now I think I recognise all these from a book I partially read ages ago and that's still sitting on the bookcase in the hallway but I can't really remember what they mean.  Might have to pull it out again.

Filtering out the positive focusing on the negative
Jo said it sounds like I've forgotten or I'm ignoring all the plus points from the meeting; such as the way I recovered from how I was feeling in the lift in time for the meeting, how successful the meeting actually was and how I managed to tie down the delivery schedules for what on all accounts it a very tricky client.

I think Jo could tell I wasn't really convinced so we ran through a very quick list of "positive vs negatives".  Splitting it out so obviously like this did make it clearer to see that although some parts of the day and meeting weren't ideal, overall it was a good job done.

Jo gently pointed out that I might be blowing things out of proportion and letting my imagination run a bit wild by thinking about the very worst case scenario.  When pushed, I did have to confess that it's highly unlikely that Clive will strip me of all my clients and give them to Louise as he seems quite happy with the work I'm doing to the moment.  Jo highlighted that thinking about the future and trying to second guess what might go wrong is likely to lead me to looking for the disasters linking me straight back to filtering out the positive and focusing on the negative.

Over generalising
Jo pointed out that just because I've had what sounds like a panic attack at this meeting, doesn't mean that's going to be the pattern for every future meeting.  Jo suggested that this could just as well be a one off incident brought on by untimely shampooed guinea pigs!  I had to chuckle!  She wisely warned me of the danger of my labeling myself as "someone who has panic attacks before big meetings" as one, this has only ever happened once and I've attended more meetings that I wish to remember and two, it's not going to help my mood and confidence next time I have an important meeting. 

So there I have it, wise words for me to look back on when and if I need to.

I find when it's happening to me it's all encumbering but I guess Jo is that bit more distanced from the problem that she can look at it in a more neutral way.  Jo pointed out that I'd done the same for her in the past when she was having a period of self doubt following a job change.  I'd completely forgotten....or it that me filtering out the positives?!

Feeling up and down but trying to focus on the positive things I'm getting done

We had the school open evening last night and it was so great to see the kids proudly showing us their work.

Fab to catch up with Jo though I feel bad for unburdening all my stuff onto her.

I've decided to try and write down at least one good thing that has happened each day.  I had started to think about this a few weeks ago but if I'm honest, I'd only been doing it halfheartedly.  Writing it down will make it more real.

Hannah Fox is a character.  She is based on our years of experience working for a national mental health charity supporting people facing stress in the workplace.  The names and characters are not based on any one person and all similarities are purely incidental.  However, hopefully we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Hannah.

Point to Ponder

Have you ever found yourself falling into any of the above unhelpful thinking patterns?

Friday, 10 July 2015

Hannah Fox's Diary 22 - Big Meeting


What a day!

Had a meeting today with the Kitchen Appliance Company at their premises.  The invite had come through to Clive and I but Clipboard said I should attend and that I was more than capable of handling this one on my own.  Fair enough, I guess I did say I wanted the autonomy.  

Half of me thinks that after the conversation Clive had with them last week, he's more than happy to have as little to do with this client as possible! He was very keen to pass on all the details of the meeting to me.  

Maybe this meeting sounded too work focused for Clipboard Clive as we know social jollies are more his thing!  I know, I know, we've put that one to rest now and have moved on...

I prepped everything last night; latest version of the schedules I was determined to tie them down to, email with the directions, tissues (although hay fever has calmed down this week, thankfully), fully charged phone and laptop...all ready for a quick get away.

Feeling pleased I had time for a calm cuppa before setting off.... until Marcus announced he needed his green t.shirt for school that day which was in the laundry basket and Amelia wanted to know if she should use shampoo and conditioner on Rita! What??!!

As much as I'm really proud of how Amelia has taken on responsibility of looking after her guinea pig...why on earth has she chosen now to start Rita's piggie pampering!! 

Should you even bath a guinea pig? 

Well according to Amelia, who, she informed me has been googling these such questions,  yes you can, only not too often or you'll be in danger of causing dry skin and stripping their coat of their natural oils!!

So tumble drying the t.shirt and hair drying the guinea pig...thank goodness I didn't get those two actions the wrong way round...really was not on my plan this morning!  

Traffic was a nightmare and although I arrived at the Kitchen Appliance Company offices just in the nick of time, I wasn't as calm and collected as I'd planned to be.  Quick lippy check and into their reception I went hoping a big smile would hide how I was really feeling.

Apparently the meeting had been moved to their other site "oh didn't they tell you?"  Well no obviously not as I wouldn't be standing here if they had!  

Dashed over to the other site feeling panicky as now I knew I would be late.  The lovely receptionist directed me to the lift.  Maybe she could hear how fast my heart was now beating and probably thought I wouldn't make it up the stairs!  Used the lift ride to try and compose myself but my heart continued to race, my mouth was dry, I felt sick and I could feel my cheeks burning.  I fanatically wiped my hands down my skirt not wanting my first impression to be a clammy handshake.

Thankfully, some how I managed to get through the meeting and wait for it....actually tied them down to definite delivery dates!  So pleased the day ended on a high and I can book everything in when I'm back in the office tomorrow.

Phew!  Completely exhausted.

Feeling I'm making good progress with this client at last!

Picked up a cheesecake on the way home (a family favourite).  Darren is working really hard at the mo, the kids have that end of term tiredness and I've tied the Kitchen Appliance Company down to definite dates so thought we could all do with a family treat.

Again nothing to report this week, will catch up with Jo next week though.

Tried really hard to keep an eye on what I'm eating...we'll gloss over the cheesecake!  

Hannah Fox is a character.  She is based on our years of experience working for a national mental health charity supporting people facing stress in the workplace.  The names and characters are not based on any one person and all similarities are purely incidental.  However, hopefully we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Hannah.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Coffee Date Interview 19 - Cara Watson

Name: Cara Watson

Job Title: Adviser at Richmond Fellowship Wiltshire Employment Service

1. When you were little, what did you want to be? 
Ballerina, Fashion Designer or Artist. I was much more artistic back then.

2. When is your most productive time of the day? 
From about 10am to midday after I realised the amount of work I need to get done for the rest of the day and week. Which involves me reprioritising my “MUST DO” list & making a start on that e.g. getting phone calls done before lunch time breaks.

3. What’s your top tip for staying on top of things and getting stuff done? 
As above; my To do list, well I call it my MUST DO list otherwise the To Do’s never get done! I now (after many years) find it helpful to let others know what I hope to get done during the day as it raises the stakes of getting it done and to ask for help from others.

Editor's Note: There are lots if tips on list writing and getting through to do lists in the articles below.  Just follow the links...

4. What made you laugh this week? 
During my week off, I’d organised a photo shoot for my dog Loki at Lydiard, and after trying to get him to come out of the lake and shake on cue he decided to run straight up to the photographer and shake all the water off onto him!!!

5. What one thing would you change about your job or place of work? 
Wish I had more of a remit & time to work with local employers in Wiltshire to help reduce stigma of mental health in the work place, to increase recruitment and retention of adults with mental health difficulties.

6. What are the 3 “always” in your life? 
1) Visualise events in my minds eye to help calm my nerves or help plan better 
2) try to do the best I can in the time allowed 
3) Let It Go as the song says – not to burden myself with past negative events and allowing what will be will be, Que Sera, Sera.

7. What song will guarantee to make you feel better? 
Don’t worry be happy by Bob Marley

8. How do you relax / wind down after a hard day at work? 
Chinwag with my husband always helps to put things into perspective, playing & having walks with the dog, and I hope to start a bit of yoga soon.

9. Wine or Beer? 
Ooh I love both! If had to choose it would be Beer.

10. Roller Coaster or Ferris Wheel? 
Roller coaster always, much more thrilling, like life there will always be ups and downs to ride through.

11. Tom or Jerry? 
Jerry – the smarter quicker one

12. Seaside or Countryside? 
Seaside as I am used to the countryside and both my husband and I would love to do more surfing, swimming, plus my dog enjoys being in the water.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Hannah Fox's Diary 21 - Going round in circles


Still feel I'm running round in circles with the Kitchen Appliance Company.  Nothing stays definite for more than two minutes making planning and scheduling nigh on impossible!  

Clipboard Clive took a call from them earlier while I was in a meeting.  I won't quote what he said afterwards but at least he's had a taste of how tricky they can be now.

I'm really worried I'm neglecting my other accounts.  I know I'm not really but that's only because I'm working through lunch and taking bits home to finish.  I know throwing more hours at it isn't a great solution but it's the only one I can come up with at the moment.  I keep saying it will be better next week when I've just tied the Kitchen Appliance Company down to a schedule but I don't think I even believe that one.

I haven't dared re-opened the discussion with Darren about me increasing my hours after the last time.  I know burying my head in the sand isn't a great solution but I just can't face risking an argument this week.  I'm too tired.

Well-being survey results have been relayed.  I could be very cynical here!

Feeling very guilty as I know I've been snappy at the kids this week.  Tiredness is the reason but it's no excuse.

Not a chance this week.

Healthy eating has taken a nose dive this week as I've just been grabbing snacks at work on the run.

Hannah Fox is a character.  She is based on our years of experience working for a national mental health charity supporting people facing stress in the workplace.  The names and characters are not based on any one person and all similarities are purely incidental.  However, hopefully we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Hannah.
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