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Oly’s Work Hacks: How to Make Work Less Work (Blog 2 of 4)

continued from Blog Part 1… I get asked a lot, “How do you do it?!?!” And by a lot, I mean multiple times a day. Sometimes this is in reference to my energy level in a meeting, other times in response to a deliverable we have produced for a client, and other times in response to an idea or insight that I blurt out in the moment during a client conversation. This is my first ever attempt to categorize my answers for any of you who might wonder in a blog series called “Oly’s Work Hacks.” In this series, I focus on how I purposely pursue choices that make work less work, and how you can do this, too. I have always found excitement and joy in my work but have never been so satisfied with my job until I started my company. In fact, the move to go on my own was a result of wise decisions I made in response to self-directed inquiries about who? where? when? what? why? and how? I work. I took time to ask myself, “What makes my work less work?” I encourage you to think about these same questions for yourself.

I revealed the “who” hacks in my first blog here (SPOILER ALERT: The Who Starts with YOU!”). So today, I’ll tell you about my “where” and “when” hacks.

OLY’S WORK HACK: Where Do You Do Your Best Work?

It’s no coincidence that I drafted this blog from two unlikely places: an airplane to Chicago and a Chicago restaurant. Who knew? I did.

Where Can Be Any Where

During business school, I figured out that I could mentally review my homework assignments, plan how I would complete them, and think through any items or resources I needed to get my work done while on my 30-minute commute home. I opted for this instead of listening to music or calling a friend. Since then, I gleefully find spare moments in waiting rooms, in my parked car waiting for my kids to get out of school, and during cool-down rides on my Peloton to tackle some of the thinking that needs to be done alone and without a screen. All of us spend time waiting, traveling, driving, or exercising, and this time belongs to each of us. So on an airplane to Chicago, I tallied up my hacks for this blog so I could write it out while waiting for my hotel room to be ready at a nearby restaurant. Waiting time is not wasted time if you consider it to be precious instead.

I’ve also used the “where” hack by finding clients in locations where I want to visit. I have now spent lots of my work time in places where I would normally pay to visit. An added benefit is seeing what it’s like to be there when you aren’t a tourist. My two favorite examples are in California: Healdsburg and Ojai. For four years straight, I have had a client in one or both of those places. And that’s not a coincidence. Does it feel like work when packing for those trips? NOPE! Does it still feel like a vacation even when I’m there working on a big project? YEP!

Fill Your Where with You

It’s been important to me to have a sense of place when working, especially in my home office. So I have carefully curated items in my “where” (the tiny sunroom off of our kitchen) that remind me of my “who.” I have so many of these items, and I can’t look up for even a second without seeing one of them. One is my Whataburger Yeti, gifted to me by my Texas client, Oak Hill Academy. This Yeti is on at least one Zoom call a day and is a nod to the decade I spent living in Houston. For those who recognize the logo, it’s an instant connection. For others, they just know I’m always thirsty and love tea. And everyone gets a little sip of who I am. Me included.

Other great examples from my space include the following curiosities that I will debut on Insta with their backstories: a queen bee, a Holy Oly tumbler, custom stained glass to match my firm’s colors, air plants in macrame hammocks that continue to make babies, a mug warmer, my funny planter and its international contents, a special bracelet, a tangible reminder of my superpower, two fuzzy friends, a tiny desk zen garden, and seven different buddhas. I can’t wait to share my where with you because I know you’ll suddenly be contemplating your own.

Bottom Line: You can work anywhere. And when you do, invoke your who.

OLY’S WORK HACKS: When Do You Do Your Best Work? When is Whenever

Consulting has also allowed me to find clients in time zones that work best with my schedule. I am a HUGE morning person. So I consistently seek out clients that are in Eastern or Central time, or that are in Europe. Then I can work when they are working and when I am most alert. And guess what? It also allows me the afternoon time I need to be with my family, exercise, and do other activities that don’t require as much mental acuity. Given today’s virtual working environment, I often suggest to those who are job seeking to use this same strategy. Knowing when you like to work and finding employers or clients that need you most during that time is a GAME CHANGER.

Know When to Say When

When is also about when to say when or when to leave. This is true in all aspects of life (and also the entire point of my a all-time favorite Kenny Rogers song, “The Gambler”). Our minds or hearts often aren’t 100% sure when it’s time to bow out. It is then we need to listen to our bodies. Pay attention to the who within you.

At my last job, I would have a hard time getting out of my car to go to my office. My body didn’t want to cooperate. It was literally begging me to stop working there. And when a recent extended family situation rattled our household, my body and my schedule knew it was time to let go of a large client in order to prioritize family (SIDE NOTE: I am tempted to offer private sessions for other consultants interested in how to gracefully and safely leave a client. It’s REALLY HARD to find good counsel on this. If you agree, send me a text at 713.410.4906).

It’s also good to not jump the gun early or listen to unsolicited advice about your when. I didn’t name The Olympia Collective or brand it until I was working on my own for two years. Many well-meaning observers and colleagues thought I should have had a website and business cards way before then. Thank goodness I didn’t listen to them, or I would have never had the funds, perspective, or self-employed experience under my belt which fed the creation of The Olympia Collective in its current state. A few of you reading this may actually remember the HYSTERICAL attempts I made to create my own logo; even $1,000 wouldn’t bribe me to show you the terrifying gigantic multicolored hummingbird that was almost our mascot. EXTRA BONUS LIFE HACK: This also works too when nosy folks tell you that you should get married or other incredibly personal suggestions. I’ve been happily partnered for 22 years and have three love children with him, yet even today, neither of us would propose (pun intended) that we tie the knot.

Bottom Line: Make sure your whens are yours, and not others. Your when will be whenever you want, when you listen to yourself.

Want More of our Food for Thought Blog? 🍭

This blog is part two of a four-part series titled Oly’s Work Hacks. Our blog is called Food for Thought and can be found on our webpage at https://www.theolympiacollective.com/blog.

The next Oly’s Work Hacks blog is due in mid-September and will focus on the “what” hacks. Click here to have our next blog delivered directly to your inbox.

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Founded and led by nonprofit fundraiser Olympia Ammon, The Olympia Collective specializes in nonprofit revenue generation, board & staff support, and data & insights. We empower our clients to deliver maximum impact to the communities they serve. We are women-owned and value-driven, headquartered in Los Angeles, but serve the world.

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