Finding some inspiration (rather than irritation) in your inbox

Back to work blues? Greeted by a mass of emails and retreating to the kitchen/toilet/cafe at every opportunity?

Emails can be a poke in the face at work – yet another thing to do, someone complaining or a ‘who stole my yoghurt?!’ call-out.

But there is a way to keep some cheer in your inbox.

Quite a few years ago, I started keeping a ‘thanks’ folder.

I put all emails with any compliments (about work, not my hair – but whatever works for you!) into a folder in my inbox.

Then whenever I was having a stressful time, I’d take a look in there and get an instant uplift.

Ok, you’re still going to have to deal with those troubling emails but it keeps things in perspective.

I was telling a friend about this recently and she suggested taking screengrabs of positive feedback on social media – great idea! (Thanks Sarah Blinco of Travel Live Learn!)

Oh, and these emails will come in useful come appraisal time.

Now I ‘appraise’ myself as a freelancer (ha!) but I still have a thanks folder.

This gem dropped in this week from someone who featured in an article about health conditions in medics: ‘Thanks very much, this is excellent. So many of my colleagues have said good things about your piece. They really liked your article!’

A great start to the first week of the year – and an addition to the thanks folder, of course!

Loving the ‘loneliness’ of the long-distance writer

park-pic

Once upon a time I won a prize from my local running club.

A winner’s medal for a time-trial? An award for a personal best in a half-marathon? No – a copy of Little Miss Chatterbox for, erm, conversing.

I like to chat, and don’t people know it.

So, pursuing a career as a freelance health journalist (and yoga teacher) – with no workmates – has presented a number of challenges.

Here are my tips for staying sane while going it solo (and loving it, especially random kitchen dancing!) –

1) Get out of here – Always, always go out during the day. However, busy you are, even a short jaunt to Sainsbury’s will brighten your day (the medical tips I get from checkout staff are always cheering!). Fortunately, teaching enforces going out but it can be easy to stay in all day beforehand.

2) Social media is no substitute for real fleshy friends – These days we’re so connected online, yet often so disconnected. As supportive as 6music is, arrange at least one mid-week meet-up with a friend in the flesh. It’s not really the done thing to moan to your meditation group, when you’re teaching it.

3) Talk, don’t type – It’s so easy to do almost everything on email these days. Pick up the phone instead. Like face-to-face, it does forge better connections. I’m fortunate that interviews tend to be done over the phone (sometimes even in person). I also call clients when I could have typed.

4) Wear proper clothes – I’m proud to say I’ve yet to work in my pyjamas and I always sit at a proper desk. It just puts you in the right frame of mind: ‘Now, I’m working, not watching Netflix’. Similarly, make sure you’ve got plenty of healthy food in. Lunch is often grabbed (last night’s leftovers), especially when juggling commitments, rather than living the freelance coffee shop dream. But I do pride myself on knowing the best baristas in north-east London (for sunny days and take-outs, of course).

5) Connect/network with other homeworkers/start-ups – There are loads of groups on Facebook aimed at supporting people running their own business or working freelance. They tend to encourage meet-ups IRL (in real life) too, and not just for the extroverts. Also, network at every opportunity as it brings in more work but also eases isolation. There is also the possibility of cake, prosecco or even a celeb endorser – and sometimes all three, for free!

foot-in-park

So, as tempting as it is to stay indoors as winter arrives, get out as much as possible.

You might just meet someone running around the park and strike up a conversation.

No prizes for guessing it has happened to Little Miss Chatterbox.