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What are the benefits of walking to work?

By 13 May 2015 Career

This week is Walk to Work Week 2015. The scheme is designed to encourage more people to pound those pavements and get their hearts working and blood pumping, even if it’s just for a week. There are obvious health benefits to taking to the streets rather than being cramped onto the tube or sat in traffic. Living Streets says that walking 1 mile can burn up to 100 calories and walking just 2 miles a day, 3 times a week, can help to reduce your weight by 1lb every 3 weeks. Being more active can reduce the likelihood of you becoming obese or getting diabetes or heart disease.

The Department for Health suggests that adults should be active every day and that each week you should undertake at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more. A brisk walk to work could save you money on gym membership and on travel costs. It’s a win win situation.

Walking isn’t just good for your health

Fancy arriving at work energised and ready for the day ahead rather than stressed out and fed up? The International Charter for Walking, Walk 21 states: “The more a person walks the better they feel, the more relaxed they become, the more they sense and the less mental clutter they accumulate.” Walking home again can also help you to work off some of the stresses of the day and arrive home feeling more relaxed.

Another of the benefits of walking to work is that you get to live life in the slow lane and actually take in your surroundings. Last year I had to go to London for a course and instead of taking the bus or underground and cutting my journey in half I decided to walk. Granted, I’m not in London every day but I still think that you can always stop to appreciate a city even if you’ve seen it a million times.

Benefits of walking to work - Chapterthirty


I do realise it might not be feasible to walk all the way to work, depending on your commute, but you could get off the bus or tube a few stops earlier or perhaps park a little further away. You could also compromise and walk one way. I’m not a morning person so when I was working at the Parliament of Victoria I would get the tram across the city centre in the morning and walk home. Plus it meant I got to browse in Melbourne’s shops on the way back. Always a bonus but one of the main reasons my wages didn’t go very far. Ooops. On the way home you might be less likely to be rushing: on a nice day I certainly enjoy taking a little detour and strolling home rather than walking back the same way I normally go.

Folkestone Step Short Arch and poppies - Chapterthirty

So, it’s good for your health, good for your mind and helps you arrive to work raring to go. Are you tempted to don your trainers and walk to work?

Let’s do it!

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Why getting enough sleep is important for your career

By 3 May 2015 Career, Lifestyle

Of all the things that you think could affect your career, getting enough sleep probably isn’t the first thing that pops into your head. But it turns out that sleep deprivation can not only be bad for your health but not so good for your job prospects either.

Sleep your way to a healthy life?

Not getting the right amount of sleep has been found to be bad for your health. The US-based National Sleep Federation has recently updated its sleep duration recommendations and The Guardian has reported that, “In making their recommendations, the experts [at the National Sleep Federation] took into account the health benefits, but also the risks, associated with sleep. Too little sleep over several nights leaves you tired, unable to concentrate, depressed, anxious and, eventually, if it continues, an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Too much sleep is associated with much the same problems.”

Sleeping your way to the top 2.0

If you’re going to progress in your career you’ll want to be at the top of your game. This means being able to concentrate, stay calm under pressure and preferably not yawning during meetings. Travis Bradberry, writing for Forbes, believes that not getting enough sleep could be bad for your career. He lists some of the side effects from missing sleep as:

  • Decreased creativity
  • Irritability
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Increased stress
  • Memory lapse or loss
  • Impaired moral judgement
  • Symptoms similar to ADHD

None of these sound conducive to a successful day at the office, do they?

Don’t burn the candle at both ends

It’s easy to suggest making sure you get enough sleep, but what is the magic number? Most adults need 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night. To work out how much you need will probably be a case of trial and error. On a day when you don’t have work in the morning try going to bed when you’re sleepy, rather than fighting it, and don’t set an alarm. Work out how long you slept for and try it again the next night. If you need to get up for work, try setting an alarm just in case. It might take a while before you’ve got it down but eventually you’ll hopefully be able to work in tune with your own body clock and you can wave goodbye to mornings of being rudely awoken by your alarm.

Not fighting your tiredness is easier said than done. Hell, I’m doing it right now. You might think it’s more productive to stay up into the early hours to do more work but more often than not this is actually counterproductive. Make sure you get enough sleep so that you’re ready and raring to go in the morning. A company I really admire is Buffer. One of their values is live smarter, not harder; they want their team members to ‘value waking up fresh over working that extra hour’. Buffer understands the need for rest and relaxation.

It’s your responsibility to look after your health. If making sure you get sufficient shut-eye is going to help stop you from succumbing to diabetes, high blood pressure, etc, then what’s to lose?

Do you have any relaxation tips? What’s your favourite way to unwind and get ready for sleep? Tell us in the comments below.

Tomorrow’s prompt for the Blog Every Day in May challenge is ‘guilty pleasures’. Come back tomorrow to find out what mine are.

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Tips for boosting your self confidence and achieving your career goals

By 16 April 2015 Career

There’s always that woman that walks into the room and just oozes confidence. She looks amazing and you want to be her. Don’t worry, me too.

Having a lack of self confidence could be holding you back from living your dream. Do you put off applying for that dream job job for fear of failure? Building your belief in yourself could open doors for you and help you become the person you want to be.

I’m not preaching from up high on this one. I’ve got a long way to go when it comes to my own confidence and esteem issues. My head is usually filled with negative thoughts that cloud my judgement. I try to second guess what everyone thinks about me and it’s usually negative. So I’m along for the journey on this one. Let’s do this together.

Take risks

As Richard Branson once said, “Life is a helluva lot more fun if you say yes rather than no”. When an opportunity arises to try something new, whether it’s going to a Clubbercise class, a work trip abroad or moving to a new city, ask yourself ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’

Yes, you could hate it and wish you’ve never tried it but what could you learn from the experience? Perhaps you’ll learn that your knees can’t cope with jumping up and down for 45 minutes to club tunes, but chances are you’ll feel better for trying. I’d rather have given something a go than regret saying no.

When I was 20 years old I worked as a travel agent. I’d only been there for 4 months when I was given the opportunity to go on an educational trip to Majorca. I was going to spend five days with people I’d never met before, including sharing a room with a girl who was a total stranger. I could have said no and pass on the opportunity. Instead, I got the train by myself to Manchester, I ate in a restaurant alone for the first time, and I met some lovely people who were all in the same boat as me and we had a great time.

That experience really boosted my confidence and helped me to realise what I was capable of.

Dress the part

I’m all for women dressing how they want. Hell, I spend most of my life living in jeans, trainers and a tshirt. But it’s interesting how you can feel more confident wearing certain clothes. For me it’s heels. I can’t wear heels for very long so I don’t wear them very often but when I do I turn into Dave from the Moneysupermarket advert. Heels make you strut your stuff down the pavement. Probably best not to twerk a random passerby though.

Choose clothes that make you feel epic good about yourself. If you feel more confident in a certain outfit you’re going to project this and look more confident.

Change your body language

Certain postures and behaviours can make you look and feel less confident. Having hunched shoulders, looking down and generally contracting your body inwards can make you look defensive. Conversely, if you hold yourself “in an expansive pose”, according to Harvard Business School research it gives you a feeling of power and dominance and displays these attributes to others.

So next time you’re in a situation that’s outside your comfort zone, such as at a networking event, stand tall, relax your shoulders and smile. And remember what this diva has to say:

Set yourself a challenge

Challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone. Give yourself targets to achieve so your success is measurable. Practising things that you aren’t confident doing and then realising you can actually complete the tasks is a huge confidence booster. A lack of self confidence is often down to a lack of self belief. You don’t believe you can do something and that’s what you tell yourself so don’t even try.

Setting yourself small challenges can help you to build up to the bigger goal. Hate using the phone? Challenge yourself to ringing up and ordering your next takeaway, or call the hairdressers and make an appointment rather than doing it all online.

If you don’t like going to networking events – book to go to one and then set yourself a little competition to see if you can collect at least 5 business cards. Then at your next event, try to beat your record.

By achieving these smaller goals you’re proving to yourself that you can do it. Practise and then practice some more.


If you can’t make it, fake it. Remember that confident girl who came in and rocked the room at the beginning? For all you know, it’s all an act. Inside she might be quivering but she’s pretending to be confident and she’s winning.

Create a character that is yourself but the confident you who doesn’t care what people think of her. She’s doing it for herself and she’s living her dream life. How does your character dress? How does she act at parties? Put yourself in her shoes and be her. Putting on a facade might seem a bit fake but it could be the means to actually becoming that person.

So ladies, becoming more self confident probably isn’t going to happen overnight. But by thinking about how you present yourself, saying yes to things you’d normally avoid and acting like the person you want to be, it might just happen. Next time you go to a meeting with an important client or go to a interview for theI’m going to address my wardrobe and create a charity bag of clothes that do nothing for my self esteem. What one thing are you going to do this week that will help you get one step closer to feeling more confident? Tell me in the comments below.

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6 ways to own your lunch hour

By 21 March 2015 Career

Are you guilty of eating ‘al desko’? Only 3 out of 10 employees take a lunch hour. These findings from Bupa’s new research show that the majority of British workers are staying at their desks over lunchtime. But even though you might think this can help you get more work done, it could actually hamper your productivity.

Bupa found that almost half of workers feel their productivity levels hurtle downhill about 3pm and this causes a loss of nearly 40 minutes. If this is the case, why not take a 40 minute (or longer) break at lunchtime?

Not having a lunch break isn’t just harmful to your productivity, it could also be bad for your health. Research adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Ksenia Zheltoukhova told Stylist magazine that “There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that taking a lunch break leads to better health and wellbeing and increased employee engagement.”

I’m lucky to get an hour for lunch currently, but in previous jobs I’ve had 36 minutes. Yep, pretty random but we had flexitime so could take longer if we wanted. I always take my full hour for lunch but I’m guilty of not always leaving the office. I tend to just while away the time on Twitter or reading. So although I don’t need encouragement to take a lunch break, I’d like to own it more.

Whether you need to unchain yourself from your desk or force yourself to make the time your own, this article is for you. Yes you could sit at your desk eating a boring sandwich while browsing Facebook or you could make the most of your hour to break up your day and come back to work in the afternoon feeling raring to go.

So without further ado, here are 6 things you could do to own your lunch break.

1 – Get some exercise

Whether it’s a lunchtime yoga class or just a walk around the block get your arse out of that chair and get your heart pumping. University of Bristol researchers made the discovery that those who get physical on work days are more productive, happier and suffer less stress. That sounds like a pretty good reason to me!

2 – Knit

Knitting can be very therapeutic. You can zone out and simply focus on what you’re needles are doing. Knit one, purl one, knit one, purl one… Practice enough and you’ll be knitting your own scarves, jumpers and cuddly toys in no time.

3 – Learn a language

Fancy a bit of Spanish with your sushi? There are so many ways you can learn a language in your spare time. I’ve recently tried learning a little Dutch with FutureLearn that could come in handy when I finally make it to Amsterdam (one day!). Whichever language you want to learn you can probably find a course online or something you can download. Once you’ve got a few phrases down pat, you can start planning a trip to put your learning into practice.

4 – Have a beauty treatment

Use your lunch break for a bit of me time and treat yourself. Perhaps get a pedicure, pop in and get your acrylics taken off, indulge in an express facial or visit one of the many blow dry bars popping up around the UK. Getting the ultimate blow out will help you kill that important client meeting in the afternoon or it could be the perfect prep for date night, halving your getting ready time in the evening.

5 – Read up on what’s happening in your industry

All career girls know how important it is to keep up with the latest happenings in your sector. From the latest technology to new ways of thinking, a little bit of reading during your lunch break will help to keep you ahead of the game. When you’re in a meeting you can whip out your knowledge and suggesting ideas while referencing your reading.

6 – Go for lunch with colleagues

Getting out of the office and spending time socialising with your work mates is great for team dynamics. Have a conversation without your boss breathing down your neck and enjoy catching up on all the gossip. If you haven’t got time to eat out at lunchtime, pop out for a coffee or frozen yogurt instead.

Not taking your full lunch break entitlement could mean that you’re working an extra 19 days that you’re not getting paid for. If you had 19 days to do what you want with, what would you choose to do? Tell me in the comments below!

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Discreet ways to use social media to find a new job

By 10 March 2015 Career

When you’ve got a job it can be quite hard to find another one. Recruiters call in the middle of the work day, prospective employers invite you into interview without enough notice and it’s likely that you won’t want your current employer to know you’re looking to leave so you’ll have to be sneaky about the whole thing.

Social media is a great tool to use in your job search, you just need to be a little bit clever and discreet about it if you’re not able to be open about looking for new opportunities.

There are a huge number of social media platforms out there currently, but the ones I’m going to talk about below are the most popular.


Use Twitter well and you can build your personal brand and demonstrate your knowledge in your field. If you’re looking for a complete change in career, Twitter could be a really good to way to show your enthusiasm.

Curate content to build a community of likeminded people

Share interesting articles, but don’t just use the pre-filled in tweet. Add your thoughts to your tweet, or perhaps ask your followers for their opinions. Make sure you @ mention the source of the article to give them a hat tip. This can be a good way to engage with an influencer.

Take part in Twitter chats

Usually these are guided discussions using a predetermined set of questions. The person hosting the chat will post the questions and chair the conversation. You follow along with a hashtag.

Twitter chats can be great for networking. If you want to connect with someone further after the chat, follow them and make an effort to follow up. Perhaps visit their blog and leave a comment. Or engage with a tweet of theirs the following day. There are chats that cover all sorts of topics from internal communications to weddings. This list of Twitter chats is pretty comprehensive, although most of them seem to be based in the US, there’s a number of British chats included. Engaging with people within your industry (or the one in which you want to work) can be a great way to learn about possible job vacancies, which companies are recruiting and just generally enjoy the conversation.

You can also use Twitter to physically look for jobs. Some Twitter accounts act as job boards and tweet out vacancies. Most job centres have Twitter accounts as do regional and local recruiters. You could also follow the companies for which you aspire to work as they may tweet about vacancies. Some large corporations may have dedicated careers Twitter accounts. Be careful not to follow too many recruitment accounts at once as it may look a bit suspect if someone you work with notices.

Don’t just follow the accounts but actively engage. Respond to tweets, comment on articles shared, and so on. Get your name known but make sure it’s for the right reasons. Always be polite and don’t harass the poor people running the social media accounts.

Another way you can look for vacancies on Twitter is to search for hashtags, such as #jobs. You could also search by job title and/or location, for example, a search for “#chef #Exeter” brought up this tweet as one of the results:


LinkedIn is probably the first social network that people think of when they are looking for a new role. However, if you’re already in a job, you probably aren’t going to be able to change your headline to reflect your job search. However there is still a lot you can do:

  • Ensure that your profile is up to date and comprehensive – think of it as your online CV.
  • Ask for endorsements and recommendations.
  • Connect with people who have careers you’re interested in, striking up a conversation with someone doing the job you aspire to have can help you understand how to get your foot in the door. Perhaps even arrange to meet them face-to-face.
  • Connect with recruiters. LinkedIn is a favourite with recruiters, many of whom contact potential candidates through the platform.
  • Share content – LinkedIn gives you the option to share content just like many other social media platforms, which gives you the chance to look knowledgeable (even if you’re not!).
  • Look at the job board to find vacancies you might be interested in.
  • Follow companies you might like to work for.
  • Highlight your achievements outside of the workplace, for example, voluntary/charity work, personal projects, certifications and training courses.
  • Join professional groups and take part in the discussions.


Strange as it may seem, you could also find work through Facebook. Many companies have business pages on Facebook and post job vacancies. If you’re liking company pages and engaging with potential employers it’s vital to check your privacy settings. You might want your work and education history set to public but those bikini-clad holiday snaps are not what you want your future boss to picture in their mind when you come in for interview.


OK, let’s be honest, Pinterest probably isn’t going to help you track down a job vacancy. But what it can do is to give you inspiration for an amazing CV, inspire you with #girlboss quotes and help you to put together a kick arse outfit for your interview. Take a look at the Chapterthirty for some ideas.

Share your top tips! How have you used social media to find a new job? Leave a comment below.

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