Category: Ballueder Partners

Now is the time to reduce stress and increase employee engagement

The clocks have gone back, it’s dark earlier, and the weather is so miserable. On top of these predictable things, there is a lot of uncertainty in the air regarding a possible second lockdown and will it be deal or no deal with the EU? Many of us are worried about the future, and some are getting anxious about what it’ll mean for jobs and careers. Given October is Mental Health Awareness month, now is a good time for these matters to be on the forefront of ALL our minds.

Many people who have been working from home for months experience ‘isolation’, leading to some stress and sense of anxiety. This is a good time to act as a really good employer and to refocus on employee engagement. Afterall when engagement goes down, commitment wanes, innovation drops and inevitably profits stall. Downward spirals are dangerous for business health just as it is for mental health.

In June I posted an article about Mindfulness and Stress reduction, and I have found the article acts as a conversation starter when speaking with business people about mindfulness.

If I hadn’t had a daily practise of mindfulness for over 15 years, I could write these articles with integrity. I feel blessed in that I have learned to overcome anxiety and stress. I have never been gripped by depression, despite being made redundant many times, even though of course these events caused a lot of insecurity, anxiety and stress! For many people, even if they are still employed, what’s happening out there in society and the economy at the moment is probably worse than a normal redundancy (if there is such a thing) because of the heightened sense of uncertainty.

All this means is that now is a good time for employers to show true leadership and refocus on keeping their people engaged, working to take away any unfounded fears they have and helping them to cope with stress more effectively. My life’s motto is ‘if I fall down 7 times, I get up 8’, based on a Japanese proverb. But it isn’t necessarily for everyone as most people need a helping hand to get through difficult times.

I enjoy teaching meditation in companies. It nurtures self-awareness, which is a vital step towards being a more effective employee and a better leader. I help transform organisational cultures by embracing mindfulness in the workplace and looking after each other. I coach leaders to be more emotionally intelligent, and communicate better with their staff.

The Mindful Leader published an article about how stressful work can be. Of course there can be many unexpected and unpleasant things at work as well as what goes on at home and outside work. In these Covid plagued times these two domains are less and less separated. The transition from work to home has become more fluid for some or non-existent for others.

Viktor Frankl, the well-known holocaust survivor and psychiatrist, highlighted that there is a gap between stimulus and how we respond and as a result we have choices and so we can learn to decide how we respond to unpleasant stimuli. The greater our awareness if this, achievable through the practise of mindfulness, the more we can ‘manage’ your way out of stressful situations. This ‘gap’ is what George Mumford, author of The Mindful Athlete, calls being ‘in the zone’ and what others might call the eye of the hurricane or the quiet place in the storm.

I recently finished a 6 months programme with a company where confidence improved with the employees that attended my mindfulness at work course. Stress and anxiety were reduced, and we worked on loads of things that helped the team get through the crisis. Please check out the case study on my website.

As a mindfulness trainer for organisations and coach for individuals I can teach techniques that combat mental health issues. I work with individuals to change mindsets and see the world from a more helpful point of view, enabling them to get unstuck or lead better.

Contact me today for a free consultation on how I can help you to balance your employees’ wellbeing and teach your leaders the right skills to navigate these uncertain times. Or feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

Take massive Actions! – Productivity Tip 6

The only moment you can influence is NOW!!!

Something that sounds so simple, yet is so true.

Buddha famously said, do not dwell n the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. It’s what I teach in mindfulness too.

It sounds simple on first read, but just what does it mean?

Take actions! Take massive actions as Tony Robbins would suggest.

Yes, go and live in the now, live every moment to the fullest and make decisions that allow you to achieve more in life, making you more successful in the process.
And what does success mean? Define it for yourself, or listen to my podcast where I asked all my guests how they define success.

If you align those decisions to your values and work towards your purpose, you are already ahead of your competition.
Whether that’s to find the right career, or next step to propel you forward.

This is what you learn in my course. That’s what I can help you with as a coach!

If you are interested in more tips around productivity, head over to my playlist on YouTube to discover them.

If you like what you see, you can also check out my personal development course which helps you to align your inner values to your goals and purpose in life.

This in return leads to more success and productivity.

Take actions today!

Habits and Routines – Productivity Tip 5

How to you de-stress? How do you keep fit?

Not only during the lockdown, just generally, you have to ask yourself if having that glass of wine or beer at night to destress is the right thing? What about a healthy routine of exercise of body and mind to make sure you stay sane and healthy?

Make sure to build a routine into your day that allows for plenty of exercise, down time and mindfulness. Whether that’s a solid morning routine or small breaks spread throughout the day. Whatever works for you and your circumstances. I love my 5 am routine, and a nap if schedule allows throughout the day. Regular breaks are important, and don’t forget the earlier tip of not scheduling more than 70% of your available time.

Develop your routines and habits to have a more balanced and productive life.

If you are interested in more tips around productivity, head over to my playlist on YouTube to discover them all.

If you like what you see, you can also check out my personal development course which helps you to align your inner values to your goals and purpose in life. This in return will lead to more success and productivity.

Get a note taking app that works for you. A trusted system! My Productivity Tip 4

You might be saving articles for review, research or later reading; saving important emails or even finding a way of monitoring self-development. Note taking in the modern age has become ever so important. For all different reasons.

Whatever you need to take notes for, make sure you have a trusted system. In my personal development course, I speak a lot about this trusted system. You need to define your own, one that works for you!

Personally, I love Evernote, but there are other systems, and I started testing Google Keep recently. It’s good to always try new things. Quip isn’t bad, so is OneNote. Although I am not the biggest Microsoft fan, but never mind.

Start finding tools that work for you.
Become better at remembering things and storing things for when you need them. Know where to search for them, and build your own library.

And the same is true for task management apps too. My favourite is 2do. It got recommended to me 6 years ago and is engrained into my life!

If you are interested in more tips around productivity, head over to my playlist on YouTube to discover them all, and more!

I hope this week’s tip was useful. Please share if you liked it!

If you like what you see, you can also check out my personal development course which helps you to align your inner values to your goals and purpose in life. This in return leads you to more success and productivity.

Inbox Zero – Manage your emails Now – Productivity Tip 3

Whoever invented emails should have thought of how to manage them. We are inundated with them, daily, hourly, every second. And, if you didn’t follow my tip number 1, where I suggest to turn off your notifications, you end up with lots of them if you don’t manage your emails correctly.

Let’s be honest, are you finding the time to read all the emails coming in?

I love inbox zero, which is my productivity tip.

Schedule emails to return to your inbox for when they are relevant and transfer important tasks out of your inbox into a trusted system, like a task management app. That’s the key. Don’t let your emails mount up in your inbox to become your todo list that you never finish. Before you know it, you have 1000s of emails in your inbox and it takes days to clear.

If there is a task in the email, put it in your task list.
If it takes 2 minutes to reply, do it now.
If it isn’t important, delete it.
If it to be done later, schedule the email to return when you need it, or as a reminder.

If you are interested in more tips around productivity, head over to my playlist on YouTube to discover them all.

If you like what you see, you can also check out my personal development course which helps you to align your inner values to your goals and purpose in life. This in return leads to more success and productivity. Check it out today on http://www.ballueder.com/bebetter.

Enjoy.

Stop Listening To Your Notifications! Productivity Tip 1

How do you manage your time?
Are you living by the reminders on your phone?

Stop this now! Stop Listening to your notifications.

As a series that I published a while back on Linkedin, I wanted to repeat this on my blog to make you aware of the top productivity tips I find fit for our day and age.

One of my key productivity tips is to turn off any notifications and alerts on your desktop, phone or tablet.

Start being in charge of your time and be in control of who you answer to. And when. You must be in control of what’s happening with your most valuable asset: your time. It’s not necessarily about how you manage your time, but how you preserve your time for what’s important in the now.

Watch my productivity tip number 1.

If you are interested in more tips around productivity, head over to my playlist on YouTube.

You can also check out my personal development course which helps you to align your inner values to your goals and purpose in life.

This is return leads to more success and productivity.


Mobile: +44 (0) 7814 467 965

Mindfulness: Reducing Stress in the Workplace

When I introduce myself as a mindfulness trainer, most people assume that I meditate. That’s correct of course, but for some people meditation is still a bit ‘fluffy’ and the ’stuff that the monks in the orange robes’ do. Mindfulness goes beyond that, and the focus on the workplace is key for my programmes.

I set out to meditate almost 15 years ago. I learned from many mentors that through meditation you would be more balanced, more focused and it helps you become successful. That was my reason really. 15 years later, and I have a 20 minute daily meditation routine. I then add some mindfulness exercises throughout the day, to destress during the day and refocus on the task at hand. Sometimes it is a short mindfulness break, sometimes a deeper going breathing exercise, or the three step breathing space I talk about below.

How do you define mindfulness? It’s about being in the moment and being self aware. Similar to Emotional Intelligence (EQ), it is about self-awareness and awareness of others. Being mindful. For mindfulness, the NHS uses the example of consciously feeling the banister when you are walking up or down the stairs. Being able to take yours surroundings in, non judgementally, just being very mindful. It is to observe your commute or taking a different way to work to change your perspective, that is of course if you are commuting to work at the moment.

In 2019 I did a training to become a Mindfulness at Work trainer through a spin off from the Mindfulness Centre at Oxford University. It was important to me that I get a good scientific based training plus a training that focuses on the workplace. It followed two other mindfulness educations earlier in the year.

One of my recent clients in the legal space achieved great results by feeling less stressed and overwhelmed by the end of the course; their happiness and wellbeing improved by 60%. See the case study of Jameson Legal here. On my website you find another case study too!

As a result we ended up doing more ongoing work, where we looked at productivity improvement and how to incorporate a three step breathing space exercise into a daily routine. A quick reset that takes not longer than 30 seconds or up to 3 minutes.

Download the guided meditation here and try it for yourself.

The improvements we are seeing through our 6 week long courses , and of course we can tailor for shorter or longer or bespoke ones, are the following:

  • Improved employee engagement
  • Less stress
  • Reduction of healthcare costs
  • Less costs for sickness
  • Improved productivity
  • Improved leadership skills

Particularly the latter can have a hugely positive impact on an organisation. Compassionate leadership for instance and being able to communicate with employees better are just one of many positive impacts.

No matter how small or big you are as a company, we find the right programme for you to reduce stress, improve focus, and make your company a better place to work.

To find out more, contact me – I teach mindfulness, but also do individual and group coaching sessions with focus on productivity improvement and mindfulness of course.

My 2020 plans – what are yours?

I have been debating what 2020 has in stock for me. Of course we don’t know, and we will never be able to live anywhere else than the here and now. But if I had a wish for 2020, I’d like it to continue the way 2019 ended.

As people know, I left what we call a ‘permanent’ job in order to pursue my passion: working on projects I enjoy and where I am in charge, where I can make a positive difference. I found a few of them. One in the data space working with very talented data enthusiasts on exciting projects. This actually is the most enjoyable job in adtech I ever had.

My mindfulness journey lead me to work with another company called Moment Pebble. Their aim is to revolutionise the way we are being more mindful at work and life, reducing stress and becoming more skilful around mindfulness. This goes in line with my latest course I took. I am super excited to scale that business and bring more of the skills around our pebble to the masses, and I will deliver my first Workplace Mindfulness course from early January.

Lastly, I work on a few other projects, such as D:PULSE, a new conference concept for 2020/21 and supporting other companies on their business development efforts. I am happy to be able to split my time between so many talented businesses and people and work in areas I enjoy. This includes new areas too, being a trusted advisor and board member.

I was born to be a consultant, so if someone now asks me, I am a business consultant and trusted advisor. Within the trusted advisory ‘box’ you find executive coaching, my book on productivity principles which sold over 7,000 copies so far, principles for success, my podcast on success and mindfulness practise. It is all coming together, and it becomes an ever bigger toolbox with one aim: to support and help businesses and people to achieve more. Simple. And the real satisfaction I get, is to see people and business thrive on the back of my input.

In the meantime I am blessed for having a healthy and fun family. Anyone with kids around the age of 10 knows that those little people growing up very fast, forming their own character and challenge you. Every single day. It is fun though, isn’t it? I have been able to spend more time with them, more connected time.

So for me personally, for 2020, I want to learn more about health, and go deeper into that topic. Whilst in 2019, thanks for some external influences and people, I had to learn a lot about mental health; 2020 is about my physical health, maybe shedding a few more pounds. It has been over a year since my last marathon, so maybe….just maybe, but then there is food and drink. I have a healthy relationship with alcohol and that won’t change, but drinking less alcohol and eating less meat, becoming a more sustainable ‘element’ of humankind, that’s a goal worth pursuing. And if I learn how to cook some healthy meals, then this is a bonus. It’s an area I still want to be better in. I just love learning new skills.

That’s it for me. 2019 is almost over. 2 weeks of hibernation, editing podcast, preparing some work, good food and wine over Christmas, celebrations and gifting. And dwelling on what’s happening with this country moving forward. A topic we can cover some other time.

If you need help formulating your 2020 goals, need a shift in your direction or just want to have a sounding board, schedule a call on calendly.

Let’s have a chat and see how we can work together in 2020.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Volker

Mental Health, Mindfulness and the Workplace

Since finishing my Mindfulness Trainer course and preparing my first deliveries for January, I often get asked if I can solve Mental Health issues. The answer is ‘no’, as I am not a therapist.

When you get asked what mental health is, I bet you say something like ‘it’s a disease or illness of the mind’. But is it?

For me that sounds really bad. An illness, a disease. Wow. But, you aren’t wrong, and often we put it down to stress, or someone not being able to cope. But mental health, and I need to stress again that I am not a health professional, can be anything from a mood disorder like depression and bipolar disorder, anxiety, personality and psychotic disorder. It can result in eating disorders, trauma related disorders and lead to substance abuse.

I looked that up, admittedly, as I didn’t want to miss out on anything. This is huge. Let’s just take a moment and reflect on the extend of those disorders, and what it means to you and people around you.

I openly admit having had anxiety. Yes, that is very common, but up until a few years ago, people didn’t talk about it. Most of my anxiety came into play when I took redundancies, or when restructures happened in companies where I was involved in. Restructures, in my mind, lead to redundancies. But be reassures, they don’t always do.

But I don’t want to talk about my journey here, as I grew more resilient to anxiety, as I started doing my own thing; I started managing my thoughts through a daily mindfulness practise I established over five years ago or longer even. I started my first meditation course in 2006, and if I hadn’t been involved in mindfulness practise throughout my career, I am not sure I would be sitting where I am today.

What started with an interest in Buddhist philosophy and personal development, turned into a life saver on a few occasions over the years. For that, I want to be thankful.

Hence, as I announced this week, I am joining Moment Pebble to support the start-up idea of bringing micro-moments to the workplace or your personal life for that matter. The idea is to carry a pebble in your pocket, disconnected from your phone or other electronic devices, which reminds you to be mindful.

The concept of carrying a pebble isn’t new. The concept of having one that lights up, that guides you, is. This product is the start of a long term ambition to eradicate stress and associated disorders as mentioned above, from anybody’s life. Studies show that a regular mindfulness practise reduce stress.

So this is a job, but it is also a mission. A vision to help others to cope better with mind challenges they might have, and combat those through mindful moments.

Any support on the journey is appreciated.

A no brainer, why health is so important for all of us

When I interviewed Payal Mehta on my podcast, the owner of Nirmana Life, I became very thoughtful. Years ago, I quit chain smoking and started looking after my health. I understood how and what to eat, and how to lose weight. As a matter of fact, I lost almost 10 kg at one point, a great achievement.

Yet, when it comes to the ‘doctor’ kind of things, it is a bit different. I am not a doctor, I don’t understand all the ins and outs, but I understood what Payal tried to tell us in the podcast, Stories of Success.

We are all living a lot longer, however we all have more chronic illnesses. So whilst our quantity of life goes up, the quality of life might go down. And the challenge we have is that our Western medicine isn’t geared up to treat chronic illnesses, but it is more geared towards dealing with acute illnesses. Chronic illnesses are better treated with traditional medicine and on a preventative basis, as well as holistically looking at your physical, mental and spiritual health.

Whilst of course there are several factors influencing this, and some of those conclusions might be wrong for some people as everyone is different (please note, I am not a doctor or in the medical profession), the overall trend is quite clear. We are damaging our bodies, our minds by overworking, under exercising, not sleeping enough or have enough quality sleep; and we are trying to fix problems with our bodies through quick fixes, or by ignoring our body signals. That is true for physical but also very much so for mental health.

In my opinion, we cannot continue the way we are working and living throughout the 21st century without ruining our bodies, mental health and of course our productivity. Again, this is where the work I do on mindfulness and productivity comes in. An area I am committed to with my latest courses and assignments, projects and ideas. More about that soon, as I just got qualified as a WorkplaceMT Mindfulness at Work Trainer.

How do we stay healthy?

Payal suggests that 90% is down to lifestyle and environmental factors. That is huge. Personally, I exercise enough, but do I eat the right food?

To have a healthy lifestyle, we need to look at the following 5 areas, she suggests:

  • Food: How and what we eat.
  • Movement: How much we move, and what we do to exercise.
  • Sleep: How we sleep and what we do before sleep.
  • Stress: How we manage stress and mental health.
  • Love: Purpose of life and social interaction.

Balancing all this and looking after yourself will result in a successful life.

Are you doing the maths?
Are you on track?

The other principle she explains is Psycho Neuroendo Immunology. It looks at the influence of psychology on your health, e.g. how your thoughts influence your brain and chemistry; this then starts to influences your hormone production and changes in your cellular level; from there are influences on your physical health. Most of the thoughts are on a subconscious level, and research is in its infancy; however, we agree the concept isn’t new, ‘we are who we think’, which is what Buddha said many years ago.

In conclusion, I learned a lot which I already apply to my clients: There is a holistic goal, and that is true for your work, and life, and health is just one small but super important part of it.

Maybe we start focusing more on our health as this will have a positive impact on everything else you do, including your productivity.

Feel free to reach out and discuss a way to look at it holistically.

Stay well,
Volker