Getting back to work.

Getting back to work.

“One Day or Day One, You Choose”

By Donnavan Finlay, Co-Founder of Guyding Principals.

With the vacation coming to an end for most of us, I thought I could share some of my thoughts on getting back to work and be effective and not just overwhelmed. I remember the days I dreaded getting back to the office after a vacation. All the catching up to do, the e-mails alone got me all rattled up. That was until I sat down and really though what I can do to set me for a less stressful return.

Most of us have the idea that we will get there all refreshed and ready for anything our jobs can throw at us. The reality of the matter is far from this.

Most will get back and be completely overwhelmed with all the tasks at hand. Meeting after meeting. Hundreds of e-mails and you will see your calendar just gets fuller and before you know it you hardly have time for some lunch. Before we know it we are looking forward to the next vacation.

When you walk into the office after vacation with a plan you can avoid being steamrolled with everything. Nothing will drain your energy and motivation than being overwhelmed and not being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Before you set off on your well-deserved vacation, ensure that you have an “out of office” reply set up with your mail and phone before you leave. Keep it short but informative. Add the date of your return but also forwarding information. If it is urgent they can contact the person still on duty. Most offices will have some staff around during the holidays. You should use that to your advantage.

First thing I like to do when I get to the office is clean and organize my workspace. Nothing wastes time more than looking for stuff on a messy desk. This will just add pressure to the already stressful day. Keep a trashcan close and trash everything you need to. It’s a new year so surely you do not need all the stuff and old documents you left there before your departure. Start the year with a clean slate and a tidy desk.

Just as we have planned to go away we should plan to get back again. This will avoid a pile up of work when you do get back to the office. A great book to read on managing e-mail and electronic communications is “Bit Literacy by Mark Hurst”. We tend to spend hours everyday sorting through e-mails and messages. This book trained me to cut that time in half. This gave me added free time to get other tasks done. You should consider nuking your inbox when you get back to work. Just give it a quick look, flag any important or interesting mails and delete the rest. That is correct, just nuke it. This will prevent a complete waste of time going through e-mails that do not apply to you. Avoid reading you mails in chronological order.

Consider getting back a day or so earlier. We would all love to stay at the beach for one last or extra day. I choose to get home one day or even a couple before I have to return to work. This gives me time to settle in at home. Time to unpack and actually chill a bit. This will get you in the right frame of mind before getting back to work.

You should already have an idea of what to expect when you get back to work, so use that experience to your advantage. You know what time the meetings will be and how much time most tasks will take. Plan your day in intervals so you know that you will be able to complete what you need to get done. I tend to break my day up in 30-minute intervals. Most important tasks first. This helps me stay focused on one task at a time and it helps me complete more than I would when I try to do everything at the same time.

If possible, push meetings to a day or so after your return. It will help you to not be overwhelmed with everything. If you do have meetings on the first day your to-do list will just get longer. Also, if you do share a calendar with the office, block out some time in advance. If it looks like you are available you will get tasks added to your calendar by others.

No late night drinks with you buddies. There will plenty of time to catch up and have some fun. Postpone any after work activities till after you feel settled in again. The only drinks you should be focused on are water and coffee. We all know coffee is our friend. Leave the office on time and get good rest.

Last thing to remember is that you will miss some things. Things may happen that you do not really like or agree with while you are away, but that is fine. You have a vacation for a reason and it is to get some rest and time with friends and family. If you keep checking in with work you will not get the rest you need to be productive in the office for long periods of time. Believe me, I have seen people being burned out and then losing their jobs, not a pretty sight.

Good luck with the return and I hope everyone’s new year will get off to a cracking start.


What have you done in the past to get you to settle into work a bit easier?








Dealing with Shyness.

“Believe in your Flyness. Conquer your Shyness” – Kanye West

By Donnavan Finlay, Co-Founder of Guyding Principals.

I posted an article about dealing with shyness at networking events and it got some good feedback. I did realize that this is not the only area some people need help with their social anxiety. It is estimated that about 17 million Americans have to deal with social anxiety or a social phobia on a regular basis. This is not an issue only adults have to deal with. Kids do as well. When kids join a new school they have to try to make new friends. I remember the times I moved schools. The one thing I hated was anxiety I felt, as I knew I had to try to make new acquaintance. I found it pretty stressful.

From my experiences and with dealing with shy people at a variety of events, I have put together some ideas of what you can work on to deal with your anxiety.

  • Act with Confidence.

This is one thing that you will have to work on continuously. Only through action, learning and practice will you get the results you want.

As with most things in life you need to practice continuously and learn as you go along. Think of playing golf. You need to put in a lot of practice to get better results. And even when you do get better, you still need to work on it to keep that performance level. If you do take some time off from playing, next time you do play you will have poor results and you have to almost start all over again.

Practice makes perfect.

  • Participate in YOUR LIFE

Life is too short to worry about being rejected. And to be fair, who really cares. So next time you are at the gym, start some small talk with someone.

Sporting events are great places to start a random conversation. You already have something in common, you like sports. It is easy from there.

If you see someone you are romantically attracted to, start a conversation. Ask them on a date if you feel the timing is right. Worst-case scenario, they say no. Nothing has changed and life goes as normal.

Most important lesson here is to engage and participate in your own life.

  • Just Say, “YES”

Step out of your comfort zone and try something new that makes you a bit anxious. I usually suggest to people to join some sort of club. Whether it is a sports club or social club. Put yourself in a position where you can meet new people. This will help you gain confidence and your anxiety of meeting new people will fade over time.

Another great option is to take on a new task. Something that will challenge you. Get a new hobby or develop a new skill.

Challenge yourself at every opportunity you get.

  • Be More Talkative

Whenever an opportunity comes up where you can do a speech or presentation, take it. This will be scary at first, but this is a great way to gain confidence. It will take some practice but so does everything worth doing.

Forget what other people may be saying or thinking. This is not about them, this is all about you.

Participate in conversations and make you ideas heard.

Remember that not everyone is going to like you. And it is simply impossible to keep everyone happy. So no need to even try.

  • Take Note of your Body Language

Confident body language is very important. Stand up straight, make eye contact, shake hands and listen. When you do speak, speak clearly and take note of your language.

  • Be Aware

You need to be present in your own life. Be aware of your thoughts and where they lead. You need to keep a positive mind to achieve better things. You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind.

When you try new things and conversations, take note of the whole experience. Learn from it and work on it. Experience your own life. Take note of the things around you that you are grateful for. There are lots of positives all around us. No need to dwell on the past and bad experiences and memories. Life is happening now.


Follow these steps and keep working at it. At the end it is only you that can make the positive changes in your life that you desire.

This is not a quick fix and will not always be easy. But the juice will be worth the squeeze.


Suggested book to read ; How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie. 

Tell us what you do to overcome anxiety.







Surviving the Office Party.

Surviving the Office Party.

“What I don’t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day”

– Phyllis Diller

By Donnavan Finlay, Co-Founder of Guyding Principals.

With the holiday season coming up I thought it is a good time to touch on this topic. We have all had to attend an office party at some point and it can really be a minefield of opportunities to jeopardize your career. It can also be the place to make some serious connections in the workplace and even lead to some great friendships.

When we look at a movie like ”Office Christmas Party” we wish our office party would end up like that. Completely out of control and then a happy ending. Reality is that it will most likely not. I have attended some parties that I was wishing I was somewhere else, and I know I am not the only one. I have also attended some office parties that I wish would never end.

Reality of the matter is that it is completely dependent on the people who attend and the general office environment.

There is nothing wrong with having some fun but I advise you to be aware of your behavior.

  1. There will be Gossip.

Only thing I can really say here is to avoid getting into conversations where anyone else is discussed. Just walk away. If someone overhears any part of the conversation it can be devastating to your reputation. Even if you were not part of the conversation you will still be associated with the conversation just due to your presence.

  1. Dress appropriately.

Dress professionally. Even though it is a party, it is still a work event. If there is a theme, stick to the theme.

  1. Keep the conversation light.

Avoid getting stuck in a deep or heated conversation. Avoid conversations about religion and especially today, politics. Keep moving around and mingle with as many people as you can. This is a great time to meet other employees that work in different departments. This can lead to some great connections at the workplace in the future.

  1. Drinking?

Pay attention to how much you are drinking. We all know our limits. You may think you are in control, but it may be different in someone else’s perspective. At the end of the day it is their perception of you that will affect your reputation.

  1. Do Attend.

You might not like the idea of attending a party with all the other employees you already spend a lot of time with. It is however a great place to network and meet the decision makers. In the long run this can be great for your career.

Last note is that it is not the worst idea to go. It might actually be fun. With a clear understanding of what pitfalls to avoid, you should build a good reputation and meet some influential people who may be able to help you in the long run.

What is your worst experience at an office party?


Nailing the 1st Interview

Nailing the 1st Interview

By Sam Kapur. Co-Founder of Guyding Principals.

I feel there are a few basic rules to nailing the first interview. From my experience though, after interviewing hundreds of candidates, most people don’t understand the basics.

1. Do your Research

This is the most important and neglected part. You want to know all you can about the
company, the people interviewing you, the hiring manager (because it might not be the
same as the person interviewing you), and the job itself.

I’m going to assume that the majority of people reading this blog know the different ways to research a lot of this stuff online, so I won’t go into that. Once you’ve gained the information, you need to go deeper into your research, I recommend speaking with someone who works at the company, preferably in the same division and if possible in the same role.
This way you’ll get an inside look at what you’ll actually be doing and can even find out from them what the interview process is going to look like.

2. Ask the Right Questions

I know, easier said than done, right? It actually is. The questions you want to ask should all be related to whether the position and company is the right fit for you. Ask about the daily activities, the team makeup, the skills necessary for the job, what the potential for
promotion is. What I would avoid asking is anything regarding compensation. If they bring it up it’s ok to discuss, but I personally would avoid answering by saying, “While compensation is important to me, it’s more important to see if the position is right for me”. We can discuss compensation in the next round if that’s ok with you.

The ultimate question to ask though is this. Right at the beginning of the interview say this, “Before we begin the interview is it ok if I ask a quick question? What was it about me that made you decide to schedule this interview?” This helps get them in a positive mind frame about you and gives you some excellent information to utilize during the interview.

3. Take Notes

Besides for the obvious reason of making sure you remember the information given, it also shows that you care about the interview. Another great reason is as a stall tactic to gather your thoughts before answering a tough question. When the interview starts ask
permission to take notes. Make sure to bring an extra pen, it never looks good when you
have to ask for a pen or paper.

4. Dress Appropriately

I today’s job market it’s not always right to wear a suit for your interview. You need to
figure out the culture of the company and dress accordingly. Err on the side of more formal than casual if you’re not sure. A great way to get this information is to ask someone who’s ever interviewed with the company before.

Don’t forget at any time that you are trying to sell yourself by showing the company your
best you. Stay professional, but not stiff. Answer their questions, but make sure you have
some of your own.

What are some questions you would ask a potential employer?