So, 2019 went quickly! Here’s a little round up of some of the key things I’ve learnt this year.
🏡 Working from home
Underrated in so many ways. This year was the first time I’d worked from home regularly in a role, and it’s something I’d really encourage everyone to do more where they can. I had to learn how to balance my time right, and make sure that I managed to find a good separation between working at home and being at home.
I have a good balance now of time spent in the office (usually around 2 days a week), and the other 3 from home. I’ve actually learnt that I perform better by being able to fully remove myself from the distractions that come with an open office environment, and really focus in on something when I need to.
I’ve learnt to make the most out of my commuting time this year. It takes me around 3 hours each way to commute in to the office, of which I can get about 1.5 hours of actual working time in (when I’m not waiting for connecting trains or the tube). I’ve become really disciplined with how I use this time to focus on things that I’d usually deprioritise if I was stretched for time – things like reading, tidying up and organising my diary and to-do lists, and watching those talks that I never get round to 😛. Using the time here to do those things relieves the pressure on my time elsewhere.
🤸♂️ Flexibility is important
I don’t think I’d take another role where I couldn’t (mostly) set my own schedule and work to it. I’ve learnt how important this flexibility is to me this year, and I consciously try to always make sure my team know that they’re free to work in a way that works best for them and for the company. If I’m up early one day and feel like I want to start work at 7:30 (knowing that I’ll be at my most productive if I do), then it’s great to know I can do that – likewise if I’m not feeling at my best one day and want to juggle my working hours around.
🎤 Public speaking
It’s not so bad(!). I did my first public speaking gigs this year and on the whole, I really enjoyed them. I learnt that being well prepared is really important, and I’m looking forward to taking up more opportunities to speak some more next year. If you’ve not read it yet, check out my post on the learning from incidents talk I did this year 😄
🧠Mental health and wellbeing
I’ve learnt so much this year about mental health, and it’s largely due to Monzo’s commitment to making talking about it a part of everyday life. I’ve learnt that our physical and mental health are linked, and I’ve also learnt that everyone is affected by it in some way. Reducing the stigma about talking about mental health is something I’m committed to keep working on in the future, and I’m really interested to keep on learning next year.
I’ve always been interested in the power of language, but this year I’ve had my eyes opened even more to the impact the words you use can have on people. Something I’ve become much more aware of are microaggresions. I’ve learnt that because microaggressions are often so subtle, it’s hard to know sometimes that you’re even using them. I used to refer to groups of people as ‘guys’ all of the time until I learnt that, actually, that term can make some people feel excluded. There are a few other terms that I’ve tuned in to recently that I’m trying to be more considerate of using – like ‘crazy’ or ‘mad’, and using ‘distributed working’ instead of ‘remote working’. All of these subtle changes in language can go a long way to making people feel included, which until this year, I’d been unaware of in the past.
Writing is easier and more enjoyable than I thought it would be! I started my blog up in August with a goal of writing one post per month for the rest of the year, which I’m really happy that I’ve achieved. I’ve found that once I get going with a rough idea of what I’d like to write about, these posts pull themselves together pretty quickly. I’m not short of ideas of things to write about, so I’m hoping to keep this up next year too 🖊️
Here’s to another year of learning in 2020! 🙌