Category: Career Advice

 

Christmas, Business, Life Balance – Aarrgh!

Christmas + Business + Life Balance =

  1. “Bah humbug”
  2. “Life’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get”.
  3. “There are no winners in life, Only survivors”
  4. No problems – I got it sorted!
  5. Love Christmas, this is my favorite time of year.

 

Now, I don’t know your response. But I can tell you over the 34 years of Christmas, my response has changed.

Businesses are generally in one of two categories.

Category 1. This is our busiest or most stressful time of year.

Category 2. We close down for business.

I am sure you can see your business in one of these categories.

So why does Christmas create such stress for so many of us?

  • Personal memories or anniversaries
  • Paying of monies without income
  • Extra costs and delayed income
  • Super Busy
  • Trying to fit so much in with limited time available
  • Un realistic expectations
  • Business anniversaries – End of Year, budgets, reviews, planning etc.
  • External commitment increases, e.g. where you volunteer or assist, end of year functions etc.
  • Balancing staff with holidays, religious and cultural anniversaries

Just to name a few

So how can you achieve all this and have a good Christmas?

There is no magic answer, as it is different for everyone.  However I do have some suggestions that have made my Christmas’s much more enjoyable.

  1. Pre Plan – Lists, Budgets, Basically treat this as a project and plan, plan, plan.
  2. Set a budget and stick to it. – Easier said than done, but include in your budget a bit of a buff zone.
  3. Plan time out for yourself. Without this you will most likely not enjoy christmas
  4. Allow yourself a bit of selfishness. Get yourself a small treat e.g. a massage, or hair appointment, or good book.
  5. Be at peace with saying – No. Everyone will want something from you, feel OK about refusing every single request.  In short, you really will only increase your own burden if you are not OK with saying No.
  6. Look after your health, your spiritual, your mental wellbeing. This is important.

Now, for 33 of my 34 business years, I have improved on Christmas each year. However each year I strive to get better at this.  However, Last year, I finally found my magic formula.  So I am going to let you into my secret.

I have a Category 2 business.  So we close down, have no income, have expenses, increased demand just prior to Christmas, and know we are coming back to a full load in the New Year.   Each year I have planned, budgeted, and even given myself some time off e.g. a holiday.  But each year I have felt stressed – until last year.  I tried something totally new, and for me – wow, what a difference.  So much so, that now I won’t do Christmas again by choice without this new step.

Here is what I do.

  1. Plan, budget and organize.
  2. Watch my health, mental, and spiritual wellbeing.
  3. Express in advance all the steps with my key staff, so we are all on the same page.

Here is the magic for me.

I disappear and float down the Murray River for the 5 days to a week leading up to Christmas, only returning home on Christmas Eve.  So I no longer deal with the stress on the road, with last minute shopping, Christmas wrapping, extra drinks and dinners.  I am either ready a week before, or too bad.

This really works for me.  I had everything ready either around the tree, or in the freezer ready to pull out.  The fresh food I need, I pick up on the late afternoon of Christmas Eve.

So in simple terms, I found my “opt out” option that suited me.  I took it, to escape the worst time.  Why has this been the worst time?

  • I used to get extra requests to meet, catchup, do something. – Even if asked, I just can’t do anything.
  • Last minute shopping and dealing with all the stress that involves. Being away in a river with no shops – this is not an option.
  • I forgot something – too bad. We will have to live with this fact.  It is surprising how little of this matters, or can be easily solved, when you have to.
  • People start realizing you are not there and they stop asking you to help. Now, that is nice for a week.
  • You are planned and organized and you are prepared to leave. So you just let go on the mental pressure.

My suggestion, is for you to find you’re off switch, and use it at the best time for you.  So if you are a category 1 business, this may be before the Christmas build up.  You may also need another one after Christmas.  If you are a category 2 – like me, consider your own opt out.  It may be a simple as demanding a day or two to sit in the back yard and read a book – without phones or family demands, so this may take a bit of pre thought – but you can do it.

For those of you who face a bad anniversary Christmas, such as a family loss anniversary.  Sharing your pain can often help.  I know of a few people in this boat, and friends to these people we keep in our prayers, in our Christmas plans – so that life is easier for them during this period, and we are open to allow them to share or talk when they need during the difficult times.  So if you wish to share, please comment on this blog, and share.  Sharing this information often reduces the pain dramatically.

I know this will sound selfish, but I have found my solution, and I plan to have a really blessed and peaceful Christmas.  I hope that if you read this, you will “like” this, and have the Christmas you desire.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Women: Best choice for IT Industry

Women: Best Choice for IT Industry

Women: Best Choice for IT Industry

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and even though my son forgot, and frankly I did not have a very good day I spent time considering what it is like being a mother and being employed in IT.

I have raised a son, for the majority of his school and high school as a single mother, working, employed and employing people in IT. I found that this industry was brilliant for a mum. In fact I cannot sing the praises enough of IT and specifically business programming for mums.

You may ask why, but the answer is simple.

If you are at all creative, intelligent, want a good income, and of course you need flexible time and hours then programming may just be the ticket. Good programmers are hard to find.

I would even be as bold as to say, that women make better programmers in my opinion than men. I will clarify this by stating, that in general Women are plodders they make a plan of attack and plod towards it. Men on the other hand are naturally hunters and they go full pelt and then stop. This is why most men only last 8 years as programmers. Those that last longer, you will find that in general they have a strong feminine side to their personality they are generally plodders. Those that leave programmer generally go into management, project management, consulting, teaching etc. However, women programmers get more experience, paid more and still choose their own times and work pressures.

As a woman I have been programming for 34 years. Admittedly I also manage other people. But it is programming I love. I feel great fulfillment when my code works and works well. I find that I get annoyed at my male colleagues when they do not do due diligence, or just pound through work, without seeing the end result.

The other type of better programmer is person that has not only excellence in empathy, but also in knowing what items are important / show stoppers and what are not. I have found some people just don’t understand this. Only today, I faced this miss understanding of the level of a problem. I think some programmers just do not connect to the real world.

So if you love computers, think programming is all about game creation, and you really just want money, but not feel like you are working. Studying to be a business programmer is wasting your time just stop.

I was interviewing for a job opening here in the last 3 weeks, and I was astounded by the quality and level of applicants. However for most applicants they will be looking for a long time. Either that or they will be offered help desk work, get annoyed at the pay and opportunities offered to them by IT and leave.

I did however find it interesting, how many people retrained into IT from other jobs, quite often when they found their other job too stressful. I consider IT stressful, especially when your code is supporting hundreds of lives and jobs. But this is a woman’s view point, and from what I have interpreted from my colleges (all males), they do not always consider the end use of the code.

So if you are seeking a career choice, and plan to have a family and home which you can give yourself time to be with your children when they are sick, or on sports days etc. Consider programming. It could be well worth your consideration.

 

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

How a Business Cope with Staff Loss

image from saveup.com

image from saveup.com

2 weeks ago, one of my Key staff  in fact a person I have been training for 3 years to replace myself was head hunted and decided to go with the offer given to him. This was a shock and a blow not only to myself, but to clients and fellow employees. So how does a business recover from this?

In the IT trade, moving jobs is a common occurrence. This is not something I am proud to express, but it is a fact. So many people are working on contract today, and the demand for quality programmers is so high, that contracts constantly overlap each other, that a person can really choose not only where they wish to work, but the type of IT work that they wish to do. So at all times I prepare for staff to leave and make sure that all people duplicate each other and that all information is recorded.

We have systems that cover for staff turnover. So the core work is always being achieved, and clients are not being disadvantaged by changes of staff in a technical sense. However the human sense is affected.

This occurrence can cause impact on current staff, as they have to learn to work with a new staff member.

CRM in word tag cloudSo one part of the solution to this problem, is that for core work, you need to have good systems, in fact a good database. What can you expect from such a system? A CRM or customer relationship management systems can control not only your customer, but generally link the data you need to retain about your customer, your contacts, your quotes, your invoices can link to this as well if it is a good system.

At Accede we have recently been interfacing off the shelf CRM’s to Accounting products, estimation packages and other products. By creating this interface for the client, it is a seamless way to see the whole of the customer’s information.

Other places I have created solutions for include knowledge based systems. These systems in fact hold expertise, experience etc. from key people. Knowledge bases for a user is like talking to the expert about a problem. The knowledge base take a person through a potential issue, what questions they should ask, what possible answers they may get, and what to do next. It is a like having the expert right beside you without having them there. I have noticed, however, that this is generally the main reason that the loss of Key staff is hugely impacting.

The other part of the equation, being the human affect, is solved only by communication. This communication is essential if you wish to retain clients, build new clients and retain existing staff members.

Losing staff and clients is a fact and generally not in your control (unless you need to review your management). However retaining clients and staff is something you need to constantly work on. The key to this retention is communication. Take the time. Discuss. Share. Find ways to openly communicate in a respectful manner. Praise where praise is due. Discuss problems without being personal or denigrating. Work as a team.

Insurance of key staff, often helps with the financial aspect, but good systems will help with the core work and management. Plus make sure your staff’s work is overlapped, so that people can take holidays and the loss of a staff member can quickly be covered.

 

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

How to deal with Office Setbacks?

setbacks 1Last night I was watching 3 Idiots for the first time and a line from the Bollywood movie got my attention. One character said, “Life is a race. If you don’t run fast, you’ll get trampled”. That line hit a nerve on me since at work we all feel like we are in a race. Most of us feel exhausted that sets us back to where our career should be. We must think of our career like a marathon instead of a sprint. For us to get going, we need to follow our passion, push ourselves to improve, and to have a clear mindset to anticipate upcoming setbacks at work.

Sometimes setbacks or curveballs are there to test your capabilities and maximize your full potential as an individual. You can never control what’s going to happen but you can always control how you will react to it. It’s either you see it as a difficulty or an opportunity to improve. Jeff Keller author of Attitude is Everything jot down the ways on how to deal with your setbacks at work:

  • setbacks 2This too shall pass – Setbacks are hurricanes in our life that is not meant to stay. They are just passing by so you don’t need to fret. Think of it as chance to improve just like champions do.
  • Don’t give up – Do whatever it takes to accomplish your goals and be successful. Accomplish it in ethical and legal bounds. Start saying getting there instead of are we there yet.
  • Surround yourself with positive people – Positivity is contagious so try to weed out people that you think drains your positive energy. Get close with positive people and never hesitate to give positive credits when it’s due.
  • Rewire your timetable – Baby steps is essential in achieving your goals. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with facts and tasks. Try to prioritize the goals from short term to long term so that you won’t get disappointed.
  • Act Fast – Pursuing your goals is just like striding a horse; if you fell you need to get up quickly. Remember that time is ticking out to dwell on your setback rather than doing whatever is necessary to succeed.

Let me add a few things that you might also consider in handling setbacks:

 

  • Reflect – Take a minute or day to get a perspective on what happened at work. Did you address the issues at work effectively? Have you done enough to help your team? What did you learn at today’s work? This will help you redefine your goals or even solutions in dealing your setbacks.
  • S.O.S. – Put your pride out of the door and asks help from others if you think you can’t do it. You can ask your close friends or colleagues for their advice, support, and perspective about your situation or goals.

Success is not all prestige but its more about hardwork and getting humbled by your experiences. What matters is not the bumpy road you take but how you surpass it to get in wherever you are right now. Setbacks, humiliations, embarrassments, and unfair treatment are always there to remind us that we are a working progress nevertheless a diamond in a rough.

 

This article is brought to you by Accede Holdings PTY LTD, the premiere database development solutions company in Australia.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail