Category Archives: Global Mobility

The weather is chilly and grey if you live in Zurich, Switzerland right now. You might have thought about going to your home country for the holidays and that might not have worked out thanks to the pandemic.

The year was undoubtedly a recipe for disappointment and mental stress in many ways. We can’t meet our families at home due to governmental restrictions but hopefully things will be better next year and we will get through this alive.

This time of the year usually feels very quiet but this year it almost feels as if time came to a halt. We (our team) thought about ways to inspire you and we came up with this compilation of books.

Here is a compilation of our 12 best books to read from our team to all those who are looking for inspiration on how to change their lives for the better.

NOTE: The inclusion of Amazon links for each book should help you make your purchase as easy as possible, though we would recommend you order through a local bookstore to support the local community. I’ve mentioned my bookstore at the end of the list. The books are in no particular order and we would be interested in your opinion on them as well.

1 – Do Over by Jon Acuff

About: When life isn’t how you want it to be, whether you still lust over your dream job or still think about taking that alternate path in life. “Do-Over” as the name suggests aids in this predominant struggle to achieve the most out of life. Jon Acuff highlights the four elements in life, which all successful careers collectively share: Relationships, Skills, Character, and Hustle!

Get that new edge in your life by investing yourself in what truly matters. Hurdles are inevitable so it’s better to hope for the best and be prepared for the worst.

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Do-Over-Today-First-Career-ebook/dp/B00LFYXE5I/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3H0T135ZQ7GR3&dchild=1&keywords=do+over+jon+acuff&qid=1607938210&sprefix=Do+over%2Caps%2C342&sr=8-1

2 – Banishing your Inner Critic by Denise Jacobs

About: You are your harshest critic, right? But how do we know when enough is enough? Banishing your inner critic helps you identify your core self, whilst eradicating the copious amount of self-doubt a person deals with. It’s time to unleash your most productive, creative, and positive self!

Denise Jacobs provides an intuitive read on how one can master certain power practices to uphold your core strength and overcome self-doubt, time to break free!

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Banish-Your-Inner-Critic-Self-Doubt/dp/1633534715/ref=sr1_1?dchild=1&keywords=banishing+the+inner+critic&qid=1607938236&sr=8-1

3 –  The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron 

About: Ignite your passion, reinvent your creativity, elevate your confidence, and burst open like your ideal self! The American author Julia Cameron guides you on the spiritual path to creative bliss. To book itself provides in-depth exercises and trusted methods to rejuvenate your artisanal self.
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Artists-Way-25th-Anniversary/dp/0143129252/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=The+artist+way&qid=1607938262&sr=8-2

4 – Give and Take by Adam Grant

About: Success is always known to be a combination of hard-work, determination, and willpower, amongst many other factors. But the main idea is the same, we as an individual must strive for it. Yet in this modern world, where everyone is interconnected at almost all points in their life, going solo isn’t the right approach. As Adam Grant aptly named the book “Give and Take”, the core message is encompassed by it. As an esteemed professor and an award-winning researcher put it “Being a giver is not good for a 100-yard dash, but it’s valuable in a marathon”.

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Give-Take-Helping-Others-Success/dp/0143124986/ref=sr_1_1?crid=28UZSJNM5AQKU&dchild=1&keywords=give+and+take+adam+grant&qid=1607938327&s=books&sprefix=give+and+take+adam+%2Caps%2C376&sr=1-1

5 – Company of One by Paul Jarvis

About: It’s not all about working big, sometimes you have to work smart! The Company of One by Paul Jarvis truly encapsulates this exact mentality. Working on what situation, timings, and ideology suit you best. At this scale, you’ll build your company around your life, and not the other way around.

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Company-One-Staying-Small-Business/dp/0358213258/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=company+of+one&qid=1607938373&s=books&sr=1-1

6 – The Middle Finger Project by Ash Ambirge

About: Having a breakdown just thinking about your day? Or maybe some tyrant boss has made your way to that promotion a minefield? Well, sometimes you’ve to stick it to the man and flip the finger to the gods above. Ash Ambridge uses her humorous and fresh writing style to hook the reader on her journey of overcoming imposter syndrome. Sometimes you need to be your own hero, through all the tacky, ugly, and nasty process. The only thing stopping you is you, so kick it and live it how you want to!

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Middle-Finger-Project-Imposter-ckwithable/dp/0525540326/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=The+middle+finger+project&qid=1607938405&s=books&sr=1-1

7 –  Feel the Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers

About: No one is perfect or can hustle through life without fear. Much like happiness and anger, it’s still an emotion at the end of the day. The author works around fear and exposes the underlying problems that may cause it. We as humans fear failure or rejection which stops us from achieving and ultimately stunts our growth. Jeffers has therefore mapped out a series of tests, to feel our fears as nothing more than an emotion.

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Feel-Fear-Anyway-Indecision-Confidence/dp/B011T7KWO6/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=Feel+the+fear+and+do+it+anyway&qid=1607938092&sr=8-2

8 – The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

About: The Alchemist truly is a modern classic, its mystical story has inspired generations and sold millions of copies along the way. This tale of wisdom and wonder follows the journey of a boy Santiago. A mere shepherd’s boy, whose belief in his recurring prophetic dream takes him to Egypt in search of treasure.

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Alchemist-Paulo-Coelho/dp/0062315005/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=The+alchemist&qid=1607938434&s=books&sr=1-1

9 – Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

About: Elizabeth Gilbert is a household name by now, empowering much of the youth through her series of captivating books. Big Magic delves into the process of the author’s own creative perspective and her thought process. It truly is a manual on embracing and making the most of your creative side, it’s broken into six segments, each of which contains more food for thought. The six topics are as follows: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity.

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Big-Magic-Creative-Living-Beyond/dp/1594634726/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=big+magic&qid=1607938459&s=books&sr=1-1

10 – Lessons from Life by Steven Darter

About: By questioning his own decisions and reflecting on his placement in life, Steven Darter takes us on an emotional journey to find the purpose of life. Steve truly hooks the reader with his visual storytelling, combining both personal and professional experiences along the way. Lessons from Life pushes you as a person to rethink your choices no matter what age group you lie in.


Link: https://www.amazon.com/Lessons-Life-Meaning-Purpose-Success/dp/1981970916/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=lessons+from+life&qid=1607938484&s=books&sr=1-2

11 –  Searching for God in the Garbage by Bracha Goetze

About: We’ve all been into unhealthy food addictions, at times munching on just sugar and carbs. Thought of switching up your dietary habits right there and then may have popped in your mind before, here’s how Bracha Goetze a Harvard graduate decided to do exactly that. She’s kept her journey transparent from becoming an observant jew, to completely cutting of unhealthy eating, and finally beating anorexia!

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Searching-God-Garbage-Bracha-Goetz/dp/1635540887/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=searching+for+god+in+the+garbage&qid=1607938529&s=books&sr=1-1

12 – The Elegant Out by Elizabeth Bartasius

About: The Elegant Out showcases the story of Elizabeth herself, where she escapes an abusive relationship, a tedious eight-to-five job and delves into her goal of publishing a book. She puts her thought of expanding her family with a new baby aside to focus on her writing, but the announcement of pregnancies from her social circle and her husband’s unwillingness for another baby put her in a dire situation that complicates into frustration and depression. Thus Elizabeth is put in a precarious situation and must make an executive choice between separation or a baby. 

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Elegant-Out-Novel-Elizabeth-Bartasius/dp/1631525638/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=The+Elegant+Out+by+Elizabeth+Bartasius&qid=1607938559&s=books&sr=1-1

I hope these books will inspire you. Please note: We have added AMAZON to ensure you know which book it is. However, I would very much prefer if you ordered through a local bookstore. My neighborhood bookstore BUCHHANDLUNG HIRSLANDEN orders and delivers to your home address in Zurich during the Pandemic.

Email: lesen@buchhandlung-hirslanden.ch.

AND, if you liked this please sign up to our reader’s list here.

Christmas

The holiday season is upon us, I am sure most of us are ready for a well-deserved break from work. We all feel a bit more exhausted this year from working from home and being digital all day.

Do you also need a break from being online all the time?

We face unseen travel restrictions this year. This could lead to you being alone or with your partner and kids only this year on Christmas. While you might want to be with your extended family in (insert home country) you are holidaying in Zurich, Switzerland.

(Not the worst of places to be but it can get a bit lonely if you don’t know what to do.)

While the holidays may be a time of joy and happiness for most people, they can be quite bittersweet for expats.

Maybe you have lost loved ones around the holidays. Maybe you are no longer close with your extended family and your friends are all married with kids.

In Zurich, there is a high likelihood that you haven’t made any close friends yet. It could also be that like one of my friends you are in the middle of your next move and taking time off isn’t an option. You can check our relocation guide for ideas.

So, if you are worried a little about how to handle the holidays here are our ideas for the holidays on your own.

“The 12 Days of Christmas” – Alone in Zurich

Although technically the 12 days of Christmas don’t start until 25 December, we will approach this topic creatively. I also understand that the 12 nights are more important in tradition and mythology and it depends on which sources you read.

Here the first magic night is on 20 December “Thomasnacht”.

This year you have a good chance to have two weeks off with a small amount of vacation days or overtime compensation. Also, many Swiss companies close over this 2-week period now.

Before starting on this topic I would like to invite every reader and client who is not Christian to enjoy the fun around our holiday traditions with us. Full self-disclosure: I come from a catholic background and I live in a relationship with a non-practicing Muslim. I usually only go to mass on Christmas Eve with my grandmother, because I know it makes her happy, but this year I am not even sure I can see my family. I might just stay here with you.

Being a Christian means to me to be a good human and about giving to others and yourself. In my opinion, it doesn’t really matter what your faith is as long as you aspire to do good in the world. And if you only believe in science or the force I like you as well.

Christmas is also a time where we connect with our inner child and give this child all the love it deserves. By honoring special traditions and rituals around the 12 days of Christmas we collect the energy that we need to be supportive of each other.

21 December: Collaboration Day
No office parties this year and no secret Santas. If you are still at work, try to appreciate one of your work colleagues and give them an hour of your time in a virtual coffee session. In our culture we tend to forget to celebrate the success and value collaboration. So try to appreciate this one colleague you worked with this year and send them a hand-written thank you card after your call.

Order your Christmas menu. For example, order meat and bread in advance, so you just have to pick it up on Christmas eve.

22 December: Decoration Day
Buy a Christmas tree at Bahnhof Stadelhofen or in your neighbourhood. Put on a youtube mix or your favorite music and decorate your Christmas tree. Make a special ornament by yourself. Go offline for crafting If you have been in a work frenzy in the build up to the holidays you probably want nothing more than switching off. Tag us when you share photos on Instagram.

Also, this is your chance for last minute shopping. The big shops will probably still be full. Wear masks and support your neighbourhood shops instead of going to Jelmoli.

23 December: Catch up Day
Catch up with old friends via video chat. Being stuck in a foreign country during the holidays is never ideal, more so if you don’t have family or friends there. A luxury not afforded to pre-internet expats, but still in no way a replacement for family and friends, is video chat. While not the ideal replacement for the people you are missing, it can allow you to keep in near-constant touch and keep the holiday spirit fresh in you. In fact, this can also be a perfect time to reconnect with old friends and catch up.

Do all your laundry because you cannot wash between Christmas and New Year. We call this time “zwischen den Jahren” (between the years). I like this expression and did a bit of research.

***
24 December: Giving Day

Read a novel to an elderly citizen on Christmas Eve. I’ve never spent Christmas Eve alone as far as I can remember. You probably know that I come from a big family and I hardly find time to see all my relatives.

If I am in Zurich on Christmas Eve, I will do my grocery shopping for three days and then use the chance to read to someone. In my neighbourhood I often see lonely elderly people.

There is also a shelter for homeless people and you could volunteer there. Or check with your religious community if you can help a child with a present. I’m sure you will find a way to help someone less fortunate.

25 December: Christmas Day

After you opened all your presents you could organize yourself a walking tour of Zurich with a lovely Christmas dinner at a cozy place like Rosaly’s or Wilder Mann. Probably you could meet a few lonely hearts in Bohemia. I would probably check if I could get a ticket for the opera or the Schauspielhaus. Despite the limited numbers they seem to be open.

26 December: Boxing Day

I don’t know why it’s called Boxing Day in English. Maybe it’s time to put a few things in boxes? Or box away the calories? My grandmother calls this day “Stephanstag”. This is a holiday in Zurich and shops are closed so you could plan a spa day or go outside. For example, take the S-Train to Greifensee and walk around the lake for a while.

Later, you should go to one of the nicest hotels in Zurich for afternoon tea and sip a glass of champagne.

27 December: Skiing Day

Why don’t you go to the mountains and check out if there is a chance for a skiing day. One of the lesser known places would be Hoch-Ybrig.

***

28 December: Clean up the (Home) Office Day

If your office is open use the chance to clean up. Update your LinkedIn profile with Nabeha’s tips. It’s time to review your work year. Write down one big accomplishment for every month or check the reporting facility in our RockMeApp. Send me a summary of what you are most proud of this year.

Have lunch with a poor colleague from HR, Accounting or IT who has to work in the office and wants to get home. With a cup of hot cocoa (or Gluehwein, if that’s allowed) start to clean up your desk.

  • Throw out old files,
  • Clean up your computer,
  • Update your task lists,
  • Prepare your performance reviews,
  • Order that new work phone and
  • Pay all your outstanding invoices.

Maybe you still have personal administrative tasks to do. My advice is to use the “Pomodoro” technique to start working on the task for 25 minutes.

29 December: Wish Day

For me this will be the day where I write down everything I’m grateful for in my life and what my wishes are for 2020. Join us for “Star Wars” or pick a movie and go to KOSMOS zurich or another movie theatre you usually don’t go to. Enjoy an “apéro” at YAMAS Zurich, the little Greek restaurant with a flair of the meatpacking district and Greek hospitality.

Don’t forget to stock up on groceries. If you’re like me, you probably have an empty fridge by now.

30 December: Pamper Day

No matter what gender you identify with, we all have a need for a pamper day at least once a year. Book an appointment at your favourite spa and enjoy the treatment. PURE zurich is great for that. If you still feel stressed you might want to get a massage from Pascale at CHINADOC.

These days the Bahnhofstrasse isn’t as crowded as usual, so you could also go to the city and buy a new outfit. Maybe with style advice from Rowena Downing.

31 December: Let Go Day

Take a leisurely stroll on Lake Zurich to Zurichhorn, a boat trip or if it’s raining take the tram 8 to Hardturm and check out the furniture and design stores near Prime Tower. Go up to the bar prime tower and enjoy the view.

It’s time to let go.  With your diary write down everything you wish to leave in the old year and join me for writing and a glass of champagne at the Savoy Bar around 3 PM. If you are into it please text me so I know you will be there.

Even if you can’t party order yourself a special dinner for tonight.

1 January 21: Welcome the New Year Day

Start the New Year with sleeping in as long as you can, watch your favorite movies or bing-watch a series. Be lazy for once.

I hope you enjoyed my tips and I look forward to meeting you in 2021.

Happy Holidays!

Angie and Team

PS: Check out those great blogs for more ideas: newinzurich and girlfriend guide to zurich.


The Digital Nomad – Part 3 – Improve Your Productivity Kanban-Style

Last week, when you could not fall asleep because you felt overwhelmed by the increasing number of items on your to-do list, you had the brilliant idea to buy post-its and start to plan your next four weeks. Then, you also thought about writing down your 25 priorities. 

You already felt a little relieved and fell asleep. However, the question remains “did you actually do what you planned the day after?”

I bet you didn’t do it even if you thought it was a great idea.

 

The good news is that what happened to you last week happens to most of us too. The bad news is that when you do this in your personal life, you are more inclined to do the same in your professional life as well. We accept a mediocre solution or we try to put a plaster on a process instead of analyzing the root cause of the issue.

According to Schwarzt et al (2014), the great majority of companies see this phenomenon as a challenge to productivity and overall performance, but struggles to handle it. According to Deloitte, over half of the respondents to her survey  say that “their organizations are not doing a good job helping workers address information overload and today’s demanding work environment.” 57 percent believe their organizations are “weak” when it comes to helping leaders manage difficult schedules and supporting employees manage information flow.

Have we lost all of our ideals of Total Quality Management (This is a management approach to long-term process through customer satisfaction. In a Total Quality Management effort, all members of an organization participates in improving processes, products, services and the culture in which they work)  from the good old nineties? Do you know about Kanban and visualizing process flows?

We need to learn how to become more productive and we need to learn it now. If, like me, you are always eager to receive tips on how to increase productivity, check this podcast out.

Kanban 

Kanban is a lean method which originated in lean manufacturing, which was inspired by the Toyota Production System. It aims at managing work by balancing demands with available capacity, and by improving the handling of system-level bottlenecks. 

In knowledge work and in software development, the aim is to provide a visual process management system which facilitates decision-making about what, when, and how much to produce. 

Among the most important characteristics is that work items are visualized to provide a view of progress and process, from start to finish, usually through a Kanban board. Indeed, in Japanese, kanban means “signboard” or “billboard.”

Kanban Boards 

A colorful, tidy and good-looking kanban board is one of the most effective tools in project management. It can be used to plan and work through any project, both in your personal and professional life. 

Kanban boards visually display a certain process in its various stages using cards to represent work items and columns to represent each phase of the process. Cards are moved from left to right to show progress and to help coordinate teams performing the work. 

Simple boards have vertical columns for the “to-do”, “doing”, and “done” work.  Alternatively, they may be labelled “waiting”, “in progress” and “completed”. Complex Kanban boards can also be divided into horizontal “swim lanes” representing different types of work or different teams performing the work. Additionally, it can subdivide the “in progress” work into multiple columns to visualise the flow of work across a whole value stream map.

Example of a Kanban board:

 

Seven core practices for Kanban

 

Here I suggest six core practices that will make you optimize the efficiency of the tool and become a master of kanban boards.

  1. Visualize the flow of work. You cannot work on a Kanban board, either physical or electronic, if you cannot visualize the process steps needed to deliver your work. Depending on the complexity of your process and your work-mix, your Kanban board can be very simple or very elaborate. Once you visualize your process, then you can visualize the current work that you and your team are doing. 
  2. Use Colors. Use post-its in different colors for different types of projects. Or, if you decide to use this tool for personal life projects, consider using different colors for different kinds of activities (orange for the projects you wish to complete at home, yellow for your children’s requests, and so on).
  3. Limit WIP (Work in Progress). It’s important to reduce WIP to a minimum to encourage yourself and your team to complete work at hand first before taking up new work. Work currently in progress must be completed and marked done. This creates capacity in the system, so that you can focus on new tasks. Limiting WIP helps you finish what they are doing already before taking up new stuff. This practice is also useful because it communicates to the customer and other stakeholders that there is limited capacity to do work, and they need to plan carefully what work they ask you or your team to do.
  4. Manage Flow.. A Kanban system helps you manage flow by highlighting the various phases of the workflow and the status of work in every single phase. Based on how well you defined the workflow and set the limits to WIP, you will observe either a smooth flow of processes or work piling up as a bottleneck forms and starts to hold up capacity. Kanban helps you analyze the system and adjust their work accordingly to improve flow. In this way, you will manage to reduce the time it takes to complete each task. By improving flow, your delivery of work becomes smoother and more predictable, making it easier to communicate to your customer when you will manage to get any work done. You will also automatically increase your reliability to your customers’ eyes.
  5. Make Process Policies Explicit. Visualize explicitly your policies, process rules or guidelines for how you do your work. In this way, you create common ground for all those involved in the process to understand how to work in the system. The various policies can be at the board level or at a “swim lane” level or for each column. Examples of explicit policies are: what defines a task complete, what describes individual “swim lanes” or columns, who pulls when, etc. 
  6. Implement Feedback Loops. This practice is an essential part of any good system. Kanban encourages and helps you implement different types of feedback loops. If you want to deliver the right work in the shortest possible time, it’s crucial to get feedback early, especially if you ended up on the wrong track.
  7. Improve Collaboratively, Evolve Experimentally (using the scientific method). The Kanban Method helps you implement small changes and improve gradually in a way that is sustainable for you and your team. It encourages you to form a hypothesis, test it and make changes according to the results you obtain. In a few words, it aims at tackling issues through a scientific method. As an individual or team who aims at being agile, it’s fundamental that you evaluate your process continuously and improve as much as needed.

Notable tools

This is a list of tools that implement the Kanban method. You can test some of them for free.

  • Asana, with boards.
  • Azure DevOps Server, an integrated ALM-platform for managing work in and across multiple teams.
  • CA Technologies Rally, provides teams with the option of managing pull-based, lean software development projects.
  • Unicom Focal Point, a portfolio management and product management tool.
  • Jira (software), provides kanban boards.
  • Microsoft Planner, a planning application available on the Microsoft Office 365 platform.
  • Pivotal Tracker provides kanban boards.
  • Projektron BCS, project management tool, provides kanban boards for tickets and tasks.
  • Trello, cards-based project management.
  • Tuleap, an agile open source tool for development teams: customize board columns, set WIP (Work In Progress), connect board with Issue Trackers, Git, Documents.
  • Twproject (formerly Teamwork), project and groupware management tool.
  • Wrike, an Agile Collaborative Work Management Platform.

Reflection

Think of three ways a Kanban board could facilitate your own professional and/or private life. When you come up with ideas, try to be very specific. They have to reflect what you do and how you operate on your daily routine. 

If you haven’t tried Trello yet, try navigating it and setting up your own account.

 

Resources

If you want to learn more about Kanban: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanban_(development)

If you want to learn more about Kanban implementations and Kanban boards:

https://www.digite.com/kanban/what-is-kanban/ 

If you want to know why you should use Kanban in marketing https://business901.com/blog1/why-you-should-use-kanban-in-marketing/

If you think your lack of digital competencies is affecting your productivity: https://globalpeopletransitions.com/lack-of-digital-competence-affecting-your-productivity-heres-how-you-escape-that-rut/

If you’re curious to know more about the benefits of handwriting: https://www.fastcompany.com/90389979/5-times-when-using-paper-and-a-pen-is-better-than-using-an-app

References

Piper, J. (2018). Focus in the age of distraction: 35 tips to focus more and work less. Panoma Press, St. Albans.

Schwartz J. et al. (2018, Aug. 4), ‘The overwhelmed employee: Simplify the work environment.’ Deloitte University Press. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/focus/human-capital-trends/2014/hc-trends-2014-overwhelmed-employee.html#:~:text=The%20overwhelmed%20employee%20Simplify%20the%20work%20environment&text=Too%20much%20access%20to%20information,us%20into%20%E2%80%9Coverwhelmed%E2%80%9D%20employees.&text=Sixty%2Dfive%20percent%20of%20executives,ready%E2%80%9D%20to%20deal%20with%20it

Productivity Makeover with Graham Allcott (Podcast): https://www.sundaebean.com/2019/12/02/152-productivity-makeoverwith-graham-allcott/

If you’re curious to know more about the benefits of handwriting: https://www.fastcompany.com/90389979/5-times-when-using-paper-and-a-pen-is-better-than-using-an-app

References

Piper, J. (2018). Focus in the age of distraction: 35 tips to focus more and work less. Panoma Press, St. Albans.

Schwartz J. et al. (2018, Aug. 4), ‘The overwhelmed employee: Simplify the work environment.’ Deloitte University Press. 

I’m sure you have noticed the arrival of fall by now – the avalanche of brilliant red-golden leaves falling off trees, the shortening of precious daylight hours and the sudden briskness in the breeze.

While the beauty of a European fall is unparalleled, for some people the shorter days and cold weather heralds a period of demotivation and negative feelings. For me it is the “Zurich fog” in November that can get to me. 

Considering the current situation of Covid-19 and the consequent loss of freedom, the thought of November could be overwhelming. So I have thought about ways to make November bearable for all of us.

Dealing with feelings of loneliness is doubly tough when you are an expat who just arrived here. However, even international people who have lived here for years sometimes miss close friends in this city.

Feeling lonely, sad and unproductive can affect not just your work performance, but your everyday life too. So today, I’d like to talk about ways in which we can keep ourselves inspired and motivated through November and the impending winter months, especially if we don’t have a family here.

1 – Plan and stick to an exercise routine and meal plan

A productive routine is key to keeping your mind crisp, and exercise keeps both your mind and body in tip-top shape – combine the two and you have a recipe for staying motivated in the coming seasons! 

Exercise for most people means a trip to the gym. Don’t worry if you are one of those who cringe at the thought of indoor gyms. Instead, you can take advantage of the wonderful sights and sounds that fall affords us and take up cycling or jogging. The double endorphin release of exercise and beautiful scenery is a great way to stay positive and inspired about your daily life.

Note, though, that it is important to strike the right balance with the rest of your routine. Most people enter exercise with a lot of passion and overdo it, which kills motivation very quickly. 

Start slow, perhaps with a 25 minute walk on two or three days a week and try to follow the schedule. That is more important than straining your body too much.

You should also develop a meal plan for every day which includes a lot of fresh vegetables and greens. Make sure you include lemons, apples and other Vitamin-C deliverers.

2 – Improve your Sleep Cycle

Another critical component of improving your health is to fix and improve your sleep regimen. In today’s always-on era, we are all guilty, to a certain extent, or taking actions that poorly affect the quality of our sleep. So here is a short primer on how to get better, more refreshing sleep daily: 

Take your mobile devices to bed. Give them a place in your home outside of your bedroom where you place them by 9 pm. After you’ve put your phone to bed, don’t touch it anymore. Use the “sleep” mode to block incoming messages. Turn off the buzzers.

Stop using all electronic devices two hours before you want to sleep. Studies show that the light emitted by screens can interfere with the body’s natural sleep-wake rhythms. Instead, consider going to bed with a novel or other light reading (again, not on devices). 

Practice relaxation techniques such as PMR. Progressive Muscle Relaxation is especially beneficial for reducing muscle tension caused by psychological stress and has a proven rejuvenating effect if practiced regularly. 

Get up at the same time every morning. This loops back to the discussion on how routine-building is beneficial to physical and mental health. 

3 – Don’t fall into the trap of worry

Worry is a feeling or a state of being anxious and troubled over potential problems. Worry is a type of futuristic thinking about events in a way that leaves you anxious and apprehensive. The back and forth around integrating into and adapting with a new culture as an expat can be inundating. From experiencing culture shock to trying to create a new professional network and then to the thought of being cautious not to catch Coronavirus. The most appealing response to this type of situation is obviously “Worry”. 

Ironically, what we worry about most times often does not happen. Worry is just a mental clutter that incapacitates you from taking any meaningful step and doing anything worthwhile. It blocks your brain from being productive. 

Hence, try not to fall into that trap! You may want to ask how. Let’s see.

Be present. Whilst it is good to be futuristic in one’s approach, do not allow the thought of tomorrow still the joy of today away from you.

Read a book. It is proven that reading helps reduce stress and anxiety. Simply by opening a book, you allow yourself to be invited into a literary world that distracts you from your daily stressors.

Ask for help. As simply as this sounds, it is a proven means of easing tension and offloading burdens. Asking for help from the right person is not a sign of weakness. It is, in fact, a sign of how strong you have been. 

4 – Learn a Creative Skill

An unforeseen consequence of expatriation is just how much every aspect of it takes over your life – from the learning curve of the new job to the transactional tasks of integrating into a new culture (send an email to angela@globalpeopletransitions.com to get the excel version of the checklist) and country. By the end of the day you may find yourself with no time left for your own growth.

In the scenario described above, it can be tough to carve out regular time for developing creative skills that interest you, especially if you don’t have an accountability buddy or coach to keep you motivated.

How does one find inspiration? I find that duplicating, or being a part of what the creative community does every fall is an excellent way to both build new relationships and spend time on yourself. You could participate in National Novel Writing Month (NoNoWriMo) where large swathes of communities online and offline get together to create and explore their artistic sides daily for the duration of that month. We have our very own Zurich writer’s community supporting you with the Woolf.

If such creative endeavours appeal to you, definitely pursue them! Otherwise, you can utilize the same template for whatever skill you are looking to develop. Devote a fixed amount of time daily where, distraction free, you engage in a certain skill-building activity. As with the previous suggestion on exercise, routine and regularity is key! 

This is the reason why I encourage you to write those 25 minutes practices into your RockMeApp and tick them off at the end of the week. A good practice would be: “On 5 days out of 7, I’m writing my long-hand diary 25 minutes a day to develop a writing routine”.

5 – Join a Special Interest Group such as our Theatre Nights

Last year we started a special interest group for going to the theatre since the Schauspielhaus Zurich introduced English-speaking surtitles. This is an example of a group you could join. Search on Meet-Up for anything you are interested in and I am sure you will find it. 

6 – Support and Help as a Volunteer

I recommend that if you are feeling a bit low in November that you find a group where you can help out as a volunteer. Helping others for the sake of being a good human being and without an agenda behind it usually raises your energy level. You can limit it to 3 hours a week so you don’t burn out but try if this works for you. If you have no idea how to volunteer contact us. We have an overview of associations and we also can recommend contacts for you. Also, we have four requests for volunteers that we shared in our Global People Club Facebook Group.

Are you one of those settled professionals who suddenly had to get out of the last job? Did you love to write as a high school senior but figured a career in journalism would take too many years of crafting the art?

Maybe this is the time in your life when you want to get back into the habit. Perhaps this is really the time when you want to consider starting a writing career in Switzerland. 

Seven Reasons to Start a Writing Career in Switzerland

1)   You cannot handle frustrating meetings any longer

2)  You don’t want to conform to the typical 8 AM to 5 PM working day

3)  You’ve decided that you finally want to feed your passion and earn an income out of it

4) You’ve always been good at telling stories and want to do it more consistently

5)   Your values constantly clash with your company’s values

6)   Parenthood completely overwhelmed you

7)   Your partner got a wonderful –it-was-always-my-dream-to-move-to Switzerland-Singapore-Santa Barbara-kind of job offer and you are in a new country without a professional network.

How many of these points can you tick? If you can relate to at least one of them, I encourage you to keep reading what comes next. 

Four Signs You Feel the Urge to Develop Your Creative Side

1)   You neglected writing in order to earn a living but you always journal during your holidays.

2)  You did not know you were more creative than others until a psychologist told you.

3)   You are bored and need to do more than painting your nails, cooking and washing clothes to satisfy your creativity.

4)   You are going through a transition and that triggers the urge to WRITE, PAINT, SING, PLAY AN INSTRUMENT…

Your writing could become a new source of income for you. You will probably not land a bestseller overnight but even publishing a book has become rather easy in the age of kindle desktop publishing.

It is important that you have the skill of language composition and you know your grammar well.  Unless you wish to become a literary fiction writer,I don’t think you need a diploma in writing though.

Three Tips to Start a Writing Career in Switzerland

#1 Guest Blog

You could guest blog for “Hello Switzerland” for starters or submit your articles to www.ezinearticles.com. They also have good writing tips there.

http://blog.ezinearticles.com/

http://www.helloswitzerland.ch/

https://www.contently.com/

https://serp.co/content/what-is-content-marketing/

You can also check the categories on our website to see if you would be a good fit as guest blogger for Global People Transitions. We’d be happy to read your content! Write to angela@globalpeopletransitions.com if you’re interested. 

#2 Join a Community of Writers

As a large and international expat hub, Zurich has a great community of writers and independent authors and there is a lot to learn.

http://www.nuancewords.org/

https://rowinggirl.com/

https://zurichwritersworkshop.com/

http://www.dicconbewes.com/category/writing/

http://triskelebooks.blogspot.ch/2013/11/tis-season.html

#3 Educate Yourself with a Good Mentor

If you need a kick in the b… I recommend you read Jeff Goins’ blog. He is a motivator for aspiring writers and authors.

What’s your experience with blogging and writing?

Please share with your best friend. You can also leave us a comment below if you feel like sharing with our Club Sandwich readers.