Three tips to be happier at work in 2023

The recent Women in the workplace 2022 report by Lean In x McKinsey showed that “women leaders are about 1.5 times as likely as men leaders to have switched jobs because their workload was unmanageable”. Unfortunately, just like me, you are probably not surprised by this statistic.
Though we all know that the problem is rooted in systemic inequities, we also know that small behavioural shifts can create a lasting impact. After a handful of roles, hundreds of conversations with successful leaders and a few coaching lessons, I have realised that our capacity to manage our workload effectively is intrinsically linked to the quality of our boundaries. The healthier the boundaries, the easier it is to manage our workload and the happier we become.
With this blog, I hope to share quick wins with practical examples to improve your work happiness.

My 4 rules to make diary management easy

Did you know that 43% of women leaders are burned out versus 31% of men at their level (Women in the workplace 2022 report)? In a constant quest to improve my productivity in my twenties, I read hundreds of books with mixed outcomes.

Whilst most focused on finding new daily efficiencies, they should have highlighted ways to improve well-being. Excellent diary management can significantly enhance workload enjoyability and agility in the face of the unexpected. Here is how I manage my diary to always feel in control and have fun along the way

  1. My diary is organised two weeks in advance, and projects/ meetings are colour coded.
  2. My first Monday morning slot is dedicated to reviewing my week’s organisation.
  3. Three days a week are dedicated to my focus time.
  • Mondays and Fridays tend to be my project days:
  • On Mondays, I work on my two biggest projects of the week. Starting the week with my biggest challenges reduces my middle-of-the-week stress level.
  • On Fridays, I wrap up the week and focus on last-minute deadlines. I work on my personal development and have a casual catch-up with a person from my networker.
  • My third focus day is split into small slots for admin and unplanned things.

4. As I have returned to the office two days a week, I needed to keep those days flexible to attend impromptu meetings and support colleagues.

Reclaim time back with these four questions

An early 2022 Dialpad survey showed that a person spends, on average, 30% of their week in meetings. If, like some of my friends or colleagues, you are in the 50% or over and suffering from meeting fatigues, here are some considerations

  • In 2023, challenging every meeting invite- see below.
  • If you struggle to identify which meetings to prioritise, ask your line manager for help.

When a meeting invite hits your inbox, remember that by accepting or declining it, your show your worth. The more you value your skills, point of view, and expertise, the more particular you will be with how you spend your time.

  • The ‘why’: Upon receiving the invite, consider if you need to be an active part of this meeting or if you could be debriefed afterwards through minutes.
  • The ‘what’: Is there a clear and timed agenda? Do you understand what your role is in this meeting? Do I need to attend the entire or parts of the meeting?
  • The ‘how’: What is the right set-up: Do I need to face to face, or can I dial in? What will be the best set-up to vehiculate my message? If online: is the camera on necessary? Length: Challenge the meeting’s length if you need to attend all of it. The shorter the meeting, the sharper and more action driven the conversation.
  • The ‘when’: The meeting time should match its importance. E.g., if you are doing a big presentation and aren’t the organiser, try to move the meeting to a morning.

This choice of approach to the meeting has improved my quality of engagement in meeting. I have more time to prepare and can fully engage in conversations to create an impact. This mindful behaviour has given me time back; indeed, 90% of the time, I can do my job during standard office hours.

Redefining the role of the ‘to-do list’

Raise your hand if your ‘to-do list’ looks like a laundry list lost in the middle of your notepad. Raise your hand if you keep re-writing weekly without feeling any sense of achievement. I want to share the methodology; I started crafting for myself in my L’Oréal days.

I look at my work through the lens of projects with staggered deliverables. Each one is bucketed under a topic or under a company project. Each deliverable is a milestone that gets me closer to my end goal, often the one I am KPIed against. This goal-orientated mindset boosts my mood each time I cross off a deliverable. Here is a sneak peek in my ‘project list’ methodology:

  • Every Monday, I capture my projects’ deliverables for the next two weeks.
  • I write deliverables side by side for a quick read and reshuffle if needed.
  • My project list has two columns:
  • Column one: urgent and important tasks to be delivered on the current week.
  • Column two: tasks for the following week or nice to haves.
  • On Wednesday and Friday mornings, I spend 15 min reviewing my progress.
  • My development is on my project list and broken down into deliverables. E.g., do a module, read an article, listen to a podcast…

Thank you for supporting my column in 2022. I have loved hearing your updates. Let’s continue the conversation on LinkedIn, where I would love to hear which topics you would like me to cover in 2023.

This blog contribution was made by Gaelle Couberes.

Gaëlle COUBERES is a French but Londoner at heart; she has been living in the UK for over twelve years.

She believes in the power of sisterhood, championing both diversity & inclusion and mental health.

Gaëlle works for Unilever as Sr Global Innovation Manager, taking pride in being a content creator, a mental health champion, and a mentor. She truly believes in the power of community and solidarity, the magic dust that makes a difference in life’s wild ride.

Besides crafting content for the Like-Minded Female Network as a Blogger, she leads Lean In London. Beyond that role, she is also a Mental Health First Aider and volunteer for the incredible #IamRemarkable initiative.

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