Tired, stressed and sick of your own house? These 7 actionable work from home tips come from the responses shared with us as part of our recent LH Agenda x Naked Wines competition. They were so great, we wanted to share them with everyone else!

1. Create a great work from home space

Designating a place for work at home helps set a work and life balance for many people. Having a place to go where you (and your partners, kids and pets) understand that your focus is on work when you are there is really important. When you are not in your work from home place, everyone knows you are on a break and open to play, relax or otherwise be distracted.

Homes are not designed for working! Taking some time to really think about what will make you comfortable, productive and happy in your work from home place is paying dividends to those who have invested in it.

The good news is…it really is all about you! If you like music, play the tunes! If you like quiet to focus, set yourself up in a way that blocks out noise as much as you can. You don’t have to clear this one with your co-workers.

2. Set a work from home routine

Routine is really working for people right now. Two types of routine came up in the shared responses. The first was maintaining elements of the regular “going to work” routine, even though the location of work had changed. Getting up, exercising (or not!), having a shower and getting “dressed for work” helps some people to get their day off to a good, productive start.

Others find that embracing a new routine enables them to adopt and adapt to their new lifestyle. They are claiming back their former commute time and using it to exercise, meditate or even start dinner prep early so that evenings are free and fun. Whichever type of routine you choose, having some self-imposed structure is proving to help people keep their work day on track.

3. Keep up the To Do lists

There was a lot of list lovers in our respondents!  Who doesn’t love crossing things off? Whether it is in Asana, or in your LH Agenda Make Your Mark notebook, a list can help you feel directed and less overwhelmed. Plus, it’s a great feeling to know you have achieved something. Which brings us to the next tip.

4. Plan rewards, large and small

Set a reward to look forward to when approaching the end of a particularly chunky piece of work, the end of the day, or the end of the week. Having something to anchor on is a powerful driver for many people. Top incentives for smaller goals include chocolate, coffee, playtime with kids, dogs and kittens and of course… wine! For larger milestones, schedule zoom parties with friends or family and plan to book the ultimate getaway when we finally can. (The day is coming, trust us.)

5. Take work from home breaks

It’s easy to get absorbed in what you are doing and forget to move when there are no visual clues around like others going for breaks or stopping by for a chat. But we’re here to tell you – scheduling regular breaks is important.  Our respondents have been maximising the effect of their breaks to reset and refresh by playing with their kids, cuddling their dog, going for short walks, or sitting outside in the sunshine. We also loved this idea for shorter breaks – having a dance party whilst waiting for the kettle to boil!

6. Practise gratitude

Shifting our thoughts consciously from things that are bothering us to what we are grateful for has a powerful impact on how we feel. Our respondents were motivated and inspired by gratitude toward their partners, their friends and family, their colleagues and work teams. This is helping them to cope with the many challenges with, and circumstances surrounding, working from home.

7. Give back

Several people shared with us that taking their mind off their own problems to help out others at work and home actually helped themselves to adjust, stay motivated feel connected and safe. Adopting an attitude of service, can inspire you to do what you need to do.

Working from home is not easy. We’re so glad to see you learning effective strategies to make the process not only more bareable, but in many cases, more enjoyable. Thank you for sharing your fantastic perspectives and great tips for others going through the same.

Note: Our Work from Home (like a boss) competition in partnership with Naked Wines has now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Nicole F from NSW.

Hustle. Grind. Work hard. These are all ways of saying “bust your tush to prove your worth and reach your goals”. Even if it sucks all the fun out of life.

While these may be well-intentioned words to motivate and inspire people like us, more often it triggers our over-achieving (and unrealistic) perfectionism and pushes us onto the path of burnout.

According to the Mayo Clinic, when you “try to be everything to everyone” and spend your energy on work to the point of not having energy left over for friends and family, then you’re at risk of burning out quickly.

If you’re like Past Me and working in corporate America, burnout can cause you to lose passion for your work, affect your health, and even disrupt your personal relationships. And if you’re like Current Me and you’re running a business, then burnout can be additionally scary because there’s no paid time off, no sick leave to take, and you may or may not have health insurance.

So how do you show up fully without working yourself into the ground? The trick to beating burnout is ensuring you can actually enjoy your time off and recharge. This is easier said than done. Here’s how to get there.

Step one: Protect your time off from work worries

When speaking with a new client, I ask her a series of questions, including how productive she feels at home and at work, as well as how much she enjoys her downtime. Even the people who rank themselves high on productivity rank themselves low on enjoying downtime. The culprit: we never know when we can turn that “productivity mode” off, which prevents us from enjoying downtime because we think we need to always be working.

But the solution isn’t as simple as blocking off downtime in your calendar. When you try to force yourself to take time off, be present, and focus on anything other than work, those pesky, nagging thoughts about the work tasks you “should” be focusing on derail any ability you have to relax. And if you can’t wrangle those thoughts, then your turn-off time just turns into the anxious jitters until you can get back to work. That leaves you with no space to actually recharge and enjoy your life.

Luckily, there’s a way to get all of those annoying thoughts to quiet so you can actually enjoy a date night with your partner, a game night with your kids, or reading that fun romantic comedy book on your own.

Step two: Conquer your calendar

To get those background thoughts to simmer down, we have to address the underlying cause of them – the stress-ridden belief that you won’t actually get it all done (especially if you take a break tonight). The best way to combat this is by giving yourself a visual that helps you understand that you can get it all done without working right now.

Your calendar is the key. Here’s how you can leverage your calendar to give you this peace of mind.

Sit down and corral all of your action items in one place. Then, using your calendar, plot out when you’ll do each task, how long it’ll take, and whether it fits with everything else you need to do that day. This will give you a clear, visual game plan for how you’ll get everything done over time.

Most of us don’t have a system like that.

Instead, we have a scattered understanding of where our time needs to go. We keep events in our calendars and place our tasks on to-do lists, post-it notes, email inboxes, phone note apps, task management apps, and a lot in our heads.

These practices prevent us from having one simple, clear view of everything on our plate. Without that, we definitely don’t have one clear view that tells us how we’ll get it all done over time – or even if we can get it all done over time. That uncertainty prevents us from truly relaxing, especially during downtime, and keeps our stress levels high.

Once all your tasks are laid out in your calendar, you’ll see how they can all get done over time, even if you take a break tonight. Better yet, use your calendar to protect time for the fun stuff so Future You doesn’t give it away to other work tasks.

Step three: Clear off your plate

Have you ever over-committed yourself and then had to figure out how in the world you were going to get it all done? Usually, it comes in the form of getting help or pulling an all-nighter. Since none of us are as young as we used to be, banking on all-nighters as a strategy doesn’t play out well.

If you find that you have too many tasks to take time off, that’s when delegation really becomes a necessity to avoid burnout.

The good news is that by using your calendar to plot out your tasks, you’ll get a better, more objective sense of when your workload is outstripping your capacity so you can see where you need help.

For example, seeing how much time all the bite-size steps of a project will take shows you where you need to delegate certain tasks to a work teammate – and with plenty of time to do so.

On the home front, calendaring your meal prep may show you that you spend five or more hours per week cooking. Would a meal prep service make more sense for you to get that time back?

So often, we go through our lives thinking that we have to face our to-dos alone. That if we’re not Super Woman, then we’re somehow failing (according to whom, I have no idea).

The truth is, no one can do it alone, which is why your calendar and support system are so vital to your success in actually reclaiming control of your time and enjoying your time off.


For the sake of clarity (which I’m a huge fan of), here’s what I recommend you do sometime this week (and block time in your calendar of when you’ll do it now!):

  1. Get all of your to-dos mapped out in your calendar according to how long they will take to complete so you can see how they can all get done over time – meaning you can actually see that they all don’t need to get done right now;
  2. Schedule your off time so that it’s protected from work obligations;
  3. Once you have a sense of how full your plate is, see if there are any tasks that you can delegate to someone else to free up more of your time; and
  4. Rest easy during your time off, knowing that everything can still get done over time, even with you taking that glorious break tonight.

Rest easy during your time off, knowing that everything can still get done over time, even with you taking that glorious break tonight.


Kelly Nolan is an attorney-turned-time management strategist and mum. Using realistic time management strategies, she helps modern working women manage everything on their plate with less stress and more calm clarity. To get Kelly’s free guide on how to ditch your overwhelm, click here.

At Leaders in Heels, we are passionate about celebrating women’s stories, and when we heard Div Pillay’s story, we knew we had to share it with you. Grab yourself a cuppa and settle in to enjoy this article, written by Div herself.

In light of everything going on in the world today, I #ChooseToChallenge you. I challenge you to think about how you are advocating for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) women.

Continue reading →

During your career as a manager, you may encounter sensitive situations with colleagues and employees. Often these problems don’t resolve themselves on their own and employees may be upset, confused and the list of potential situations you may face is endless.

When difficult situations arise it often falls to the manager to have the hard conversation with their direct report. No one told me this when I became a manager and I have had to teach myself this skill, apply knowledge gleaned from others, and consolidate what I have learnt on the job. It’s my hope that with this post I’ll leave you with tips you can use the next time you find yourself in a “what the heck do I do with this?” type of dilemma.

My top five strategies for having tough work conversations:

  1. Ask someone you trust for their suggestions and approach.

Ask them what they would say given the scenario. You can ask your HR department, your supervisor, a mentor or a colleague in another department. Sometimes, though, your workplace resources aren’t enough. After consulting my colleagues, my go-to person for management advice is my mother who held a high-ranking position at a chemical company for decades before she retired last year. Over the years she managed several unique personalities and encountered every situation under the sun. Whenever I have an issue with a direct report, I change the details and don’t reveal any personal information, but I ask her how she would handle the situation. Usually, the advice from people around you is spot-on, but needs to be tweaked for the specific matter at hand.

  1. Consult free literature that exists on the topic.

Harvard Business Review has a lot of articles that cover this very subject. HBR has a great Management Tip of the Day newsletter that covers a myriad of sticky issues that can be reviewed when needed. I also love Alison Green’s Ask a Manager web site which is my personal favourite. She has tons of archived content about every personnel issue you can think of; it’s easy to search by topic. Forbes and LinkedIn are also good resources.

  1. Schedule a time to chat with your employee and write up your talking points a few days in advance.

This isn’t a conversation you want to wing. You need to have a plan and make sure you hit on your key points. Are they showing up to work late and not completing their assignments? You better decide which is the larger issue you need to tackle. Are they being offensive to colleagues or harassing their own direct reports? Again, you want to come armed with specific examples and provide strategies or suggestions for them on how to handle themselves according to your standards and/or company guidelines. You want to be perfectly clear about what the problem is, why it’s a problem, and provide your employee with ideas on how to fix the problem. You can also ask them how they would address the issue.

  1. Practice the conversation out loud.

It can be to the wall or to your dog, but saying the words as if you are having the conversation will help you identify what parts of your script need work and what should be eliminated or added. Are you focusing on the wrong things? Wasting time with small talk? Stumbling over clunky wording? Is your message getting lost? Make sure to do a run-through a couple of times to find weak spots and smooth them out.

  1. Have your notes handy, but don’t recite them word-for-word.

Employees want to know that you’re being sincere and not just giving them the party line during these types of discussions. If they think you’re phoning it in they won’t understand the magnitude of the situation and what performance issues need to be corrected. Remember, no matter how difficult this conversation is for you, it’s undoubtedly hard on your employee, too. Let your employee ask questions and if needed, promise to schedule a follow-up meeting in two weeks to revisit the discussion and review what steps the employee has taken (or not) to address the issue you discussed.

In the end, if you take adequate time to prepare yourself for difficult conversations it will make them that much smoother and hopefully create an environment that fosters open communication. Do you have your own tips for tackling difficult conversations at work? If so, I’d love to hear from you.

About the Author
Deanna Cabinian is the director of consumer marketing for a global media company. She has six years of management experience and twelve years of experience working in the corporate world. When she isn’t working, she loves to write. She’s the author of a series of novels for young adult readers and is represented by Aevitas Creative Management. Find her online at https://deannacabinian.com/


Do you love flexing your conversation muscle? Or do you run a mile when a big or difficult conversation presents itself? Whether you’re meeting with someone new, speaking with colleagues or connecting with your partner, there’s more to conversation than just a verbal exchange.

The conversations we have, and the way in which we have them, hugely impact our work and the quality of our relationships. But sometimes it can be tempting to avoid difficult conversations, or go into a conversation only really half listening. So, how can we have productive conversations and get the best outcomes for everyone involved – including ourselves?

Being present, preparing correctly and removing preconceived ideas are all ways we can improve our conversations, but often we’re too distracted or worried to really make the conversations we have a truly meaningful exchange.

Here are some key tips on how to make the most of your conversations.

The power of perspective

Understanding someone else’s perspective and truly considering things from their point of view has huge power. It leads the path to connection, communication and conflict resolution. As children we’re encouraged to ‘put ourselves in someone else’s shoes’, but as adults we often forget to consider other people’s perspectives. The result? We take part in conversations in a way which is only half there.

By understanding someone else, a whole other world opens up. It becomes difficult to blame and shame people when you understand that they, just like you, just want to be content in their own way.

Tip: next time you’re having a conversation, try to truly be open and present to the other person and their point of view. Practice mindfulness rather than mindlessness.

Add curiosity to your toolbox

Curiosity is a powerful thing for our conversations. Being curious and open means asking questions rather than just making statements. Think about why your clients, customers or colleagues will be impacted by your decisions, and think about what it means for them, not just how it benefits you.

Ask, rather than assume to improve your understanding. Try questions such as:

  • Can you tell me more about that?
  • And what else?
  • It sounds like you’re saying… Is this correct?
  • Can you help me understand better?

Try this: if you struggle to listen in a truly present way, try a physical cue to stop yourself from interrupting other people or making assumptions. For example sit on your hands, cross your legs or hold your pen. This can be a cue to you to respond with a question, rather than a statement.

Listen more deeply

Listening deeply to someone with complete focus helps you to understand more about them – you start to see the story behind the words, the emotions conveyed by their body language, and what is at the heart of what they’re saying.

You become ‘other people centric’ by listening to understand, rather than just listening to solve. How often have you been frustrated by a friend or partner when they’ve responded to your confession of a problem with an irrelevant solution? So often in our conversations we’re focused on solving someone’s problems, rather than just giving them a safe space to speak.

If you are brutally honest with yourself, how well do you really listen to the important people in your life? And how well do you feel listened to?

Dealing with discomfort

Worrying about an upcoming conversation? We’ve all been there.

Whether it’s giving negative feedback on someone else’s work, negotiating a pay rise, or asking a housemate to do their share of the cleaning, uncomfortable conversations are just part of being human.

Living a life on your own terms takes courage, which means sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone when you’re having conversations. Some of us struggle to say no or worry about whether or not people will like us. Or waste hours thinking about what the outcomes might be, but if we don’t have those difficult conversations, then we aren’t paving the way for real change.

The power of no

Sometimes we feel obligated to say yes – we want to be helpful, but it means we over-commit to tasks which drain our energy. Saying yes to help someone else is all well and good, but not if it’s taking away time from you to do the things that bring you joy and meaning.

Of course saying no can be awkward in the moment, but the more you do it the easier it gets. Say goodbye to resentment and hello to productive, meaningful opportunities.

Focus on what you’ll gain, rather than what you’ll lose.

Preparing for a tough conversation

If you’re more accustomed to being ‘nice and polite’ than having tough conversations, here are some ways to tackle them.

  1. Prepare: Preparation and thought ahead of the conversation mean you’ve got the information you need to answer potential questions and challenges.
  2. Clear the decks: Try to start the conversation with a clear and open mind, rather than holding onto preconceived ideas and expectations.
  3. Perspective: Remember why you’re there, and that feelings of discomfort are temporary. The experience is a path to growth.

Timing: The longer you put off having the conversation, the more it takes on a life of its own as the expectation builds. Jump in and have the conversation now, rather than leaving it for months when it’s become irrelevant to the other party.

Do you fear feedback?

Receiving feedback can be uncomfortable and damage our self-confidence, but try taking yourself out of the process so you can accept feedback as information rather than a personal attack. By using feedback as a catalyst for change, it helps you to grow as a leader, and to continually improve your approach. Taking pride in your success, but also learning from your mistakes, are both hugely valuable.

Ask for what you want and need

If you ask for what you need and want with clarity and purpose, then it provides opportunities for you to work collaboratively with others on a shared purpose. Asking for help and support does not mean you’re needy or a failure. In fact, when you ask someone to help you, quite often they feel needed, wanted and important as a result. So you both win.

It’s important to ask for what you want, rather than assuming other people know or care about what is important to you. Be really clear about what you’re asking for.

Create agreements rather than expectations

When we set expectations which aren’t met, the result is blame and feelings of frustration and disappointment. But when we set agreements, we’re creating mutually agreeable arrangements, where both parties determine what is required and when it will be executive. The focus is on the how, what and when, and clearly outlining what the results need to be and what ‘done’ looks like.

By articulating exactly what ‘done’ looks like to your teammates, partner or family members, you’re providing clarity to a conversation and giving people clear tasks to focus on. Agreements eliminate frustration and anger, as they give you more clarity and focus on how to move things forward.

At the end of the day, we’re all humans and no two conversations will be the same. But when you go into each conversation with an open mind, open ears, and clarity around what is being agreed, you’re much more likely to walk away feeling fulfilled, or excited by the new opportunities which you’ve opened up.

About the Author

Danielle gives practical and informed tips on how to rewrite the gender code which creates pressures and limits our potential as women, and provides tools and strategies to create individual solutions for your unique context. If you would like to dig into this deeper you can purchase Danielle’s book, Breaking the Gender Code – which shows how women can use what they already have, to get what they actually want.