How to make your job application stand out | OOO hack | Why busy bragging is so damaging

The easy OOO hack that will help you to actually enjoy your time off
A letter from editorial director Lisa Smosarski.

Last week, I took a couple of days off to spend a long weekend in the Alps. The plan was to be offline and outdoors, a total break from work for some much-needed friend therapy. With a final few things to do before I signed off and put my OOO on, I finished up some emails on our early flight and vowed to stay offline.

We landed and moved into holiday mode, but as we sat down for our first drink in a picture-perfect location I found my thumb automatically moving from my WhatsApp 'We're here' message to my Outlook app. Before I could stop myself, I was reading an email that definitely could have waited until Monday, and as my friends were clinking glasses of chilled rose, I was pushing down stressful thoughts about work that had leaked into my day from that tiny glimpse of email.

App muscle memory is often my downfall. If I'm having a 'social media-free' weekend or trying to cut down my screen time, it's my thumb bouncing through a set routine on my screen that catches me out. It's mind versus thumb, and thumb often wins.

While moaning about this over lunch, my friend came out with one of those gems that is so simple yet so life-changing that you wonder how you functioned in life before you heard it. "Move your work apps when you go on holiday," she said. "You don't need to delete them; just put them all in one folder and move that to another screen so your hand doesn't automatically go to it."

Eureka! Within two minutes of reshuffling Outlook, Teams and Slack to another screen on my phone, my problem was solved.

You might be reading this and thinking "Lisa, this is SO obvious, what's actually wrong with you?" or, like me, you might be thinking "How am I even allowed to have a job when I am so daft that I didn't think of that." Either way, I am now a convert. I moved the apps and remained offline from work for the rest of the weekend.

I really do believe that whatever lies we tell ourselves about 'checking in making us less stressed', we all need true, cognitive and physical breaks from work. Mindlessly opening apps, even for a second, can make stress levels spike immediately. Accidentally opening my weather app, which had repositioned itself into the Teams spot, surprisingly did not.

So as we head into holiday season, take a whole five minutes to reset your phone when you turn on your OOO and give your brain and body the holiday it deserves.

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Work smarter: make time for a mid-year review
Acting digital content director Ellen Scott shares insightful hacks to make work that little bit easier.    

Anyone else feel like this year is flying by? With the start of July, we've officially made it half-way through the year. That seems like a great time to pause, assess and reset. How? With a mid-year review. We're not talking about whatever appraisal your workplace is planning, but an assessment just for you: your career goals, your year so far and what you want to get done in the second half of the year.

Here's how to do your own mid-year review. First off, carve out some proper time for it. Plot at least an hour into your calendar and turn off all notifications during this slot. You don't want any distractions. Then sit down with pen and paper (or a Word doc on your laptop, whichever you prefer) and ask yourself the below questions:

  1. What successes have I had so far in 2024?
  2. What challenges have I faced so far in 2024?
  3. What have I learned this year?
  4. What do I want to achieve in the second half of 2024?
  5. What actions do I need to take to get there?
  6. What am I going to do to look after my mental health along the way?

Write down your answers and try to be specific. Make some real commitments and set some proper goals. Then, by the time New Year's Eve rolls around, you'll have something solid to look at to see how far you've come.  

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