Our self-improvement programmes are proven to boost
staff morale
and productivity

We help your people bring their whole self into work.

 Our programmes are proven to increase job performance by over 55%

You can tell who attended Life Clubs – we’re the ones with a smile on our face! 

Those who know, do. Those that understand manage.

 

With apologies to Aristotle

When the mind is happy, productivity follows like a shadow.

 

With apologies to Buddha

If you want to change your team start by changing yourself

 

With apologies to Confucius

The unexamined career is not worth having.

 

With apologies to Socrates

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Scroll-free September. Been there, done that. Read on for some tips

Written By Life Clubs

Most days I’m very desk-bound. I’m at my computer from 9-5, then a little break for dog-walking and supper, then back to a screen, whether Netflix to relax, iPhone for social media or laptop to do some more work.

Last month I was on holiday and decided to go scroll free (or digital detox as it was called then). I put my laptop in the cupboard, and hid my phone. Luckily I have a husband who was there to alert me to any family WhatsApp messages and a team who promised to look at my inbox and phone my husband (that’s how seriously I was taking it) if there was anything I really needed to deal with. I was only doing this for a week. It felt too much of an imposition on others to do it for longer. 

But, what a week it was. After I got over the voice in my head which said ‘let’s look that up’ about every fifteen minutes, I started to relax. In seven days I read five great books, swam in the sea three times and took the dog for long walks. In the evenings I played cards, decluttered our holiday home and had creative thoughts. The days seemed wonderful... endless and relaxing. 

Here's the problem... I’m not sure how anyone without a partner or team can do a Scroll free September. It’s truly impossible unless you don’t care about friends, family, colleagues and clients. You become selfishly out of touch. 

What you can do is take simple yet powerful and valid steps. You can keep your phone off until you get to work. You can turn all things electronic off after work. If you’re feeling brave you can even turn everything off for a couple of hours in the morning and a couple of hours in the afternoon so you can get on with some creative thinking during the working day. If you want to cut out social media do it. I kept going on Instagram because I enjoy taking and finding photographs and it takes me a minute to post, but you don’t even have to do that. Look at the BBC headlines, ignore reading the articles, or only look at social media for an hour. Set yourself limits and keep to them. 

Scroll free September may feel like it’s beyond your wildest dreams, but Scroll lite September certainly isn’t. Never thought I’d hear myself say this, but it’s time to channel a little Simon Cowell and ditch your phone. 

 

Brand New Research

Written By Life Clubs

We’ve already had four pieces of independent research carried out on our live group workshops. Each of them has shown how our workshops positively impact the psychological well-being of employees. We know that experiencing Life Clubs workshops leads to a significant improvement in areas such as positive mood, confidence, goal-setting, quality of life, job performance, organisational commitment, and overall psychological capital.

Style and Boniwell’s study of our 90-minute group workshops over a six-week period showed participants having improved happiness, well-being, hope, self-efficacy and psychological well-being. This study also emphasised Life Clubs group-based workshops as a cheaper alternative to individual coaching.

Our new research is exciting. An American law firm is currently undertaking research on our unique 60-minute live webinars in order to assess their contribution to positive outcomes on psychological wellbeing. This study aims to build on the previous research carried out on our workshops by determining how effective our workshops are when experienced via live webinars.

We expect that these webinars will be an effective intervention in influencing levels of self-reported psychological wellbeing, Psychological Capital (self-efficacy, hope, resilience and optimism) and desired employee outcomes, in contrast to those in the control group. Participants will complete a self evaluation before the programme starts and then at the end of the 6 weekly webinars and finally at one-month after the 6 webinars.  It is expected that these live webinars will improve performance at work and also enhance wellbeing of employees.

We can’t wait to find out the results. If you’d like to see what all the fuss is about, do get in touch with me or rupert@lifeclubs.co.uk

2 Quick Tips...

Written By Life Clubs

Two quick tips to keep your team happy and productive

We all feel happier when we’re being productive. Most of us also enjoy the buzz of working together to produce even more than we could alone and we like being recognised.

We achieve all these at Life Clubs using two simple tools to ensure we help and praise each other and focus daily on things we can achieve. We have two simple things that we do that make a huge difference to happiness, morale and engagement as well as productivity. I hope you’ll enjoy doing them too.

1. Set three goals 
Every day, each of us states the three goals we want to achieve that day. That way we can each chip in and nudge each other or ask for help if someone seems to have less to do that day. If we are particularly busy, we might instead write down our three main goals for the whole week, but there’s something very satisfying about doing it every day. It’s great to make your aims public - that way we are all accountable.

2. Friday Feeling
The last thing we do every Friday is to capture all our ‘successes’ of the week (including all the goals we’ve achieved) and keep them for posterity in our ‘Friday Feeling’ book. We ignore the failures because we all know them anyway, but, of course, it means some weeks have less successes than others. What’s key is for everyone not only to state their own successes but first to mention what everyone else has done, thereby acknowledging, and even praising, each other - ‘You had a great meeting with ‘X’’ - and so on. We leave work that night on a high. 

Neither are rocket science but simple tools that work. Try them and see the difference they make to your team. And then, why not ask to experience our workshops? If we can make you think in two paragraphs, imagine what we can do in 90-minutes.

We offer 30-minute free taster workshops if you’d like to get in touch rupert@lifeclubs.co.uk

All by myself...

Written By Life Clubs

My daily treat after a day at Life Clubs is to go to the park with my dog, knowing I will always meet at least two fellow dog owners out of a group of around twenty of us.

After several very happy years of ‘dog club’, when I went to the park for a few consecutive days and found no other members, I had to face the fact that our dog club days were over.

I felt lonely and sad. I missed my ‘gang’.
 
Loneliness is a big issue. It’s been in the press a lot recently. We all know of lonely elderly people and now lonely millennials (and dog owners), but being lonely at work isn’t spoken about so often and yet it’s a huge problem. It’s not just lonely at the top, it can be lonely in a new team or if friends have left the organisation or if you go somewhere every day where you haven’t got a best friend.
 
I remember an excellent article in The Guardian which spoke about how it feels to be alone in the workplace. It cited a couple of studies that back up what we all intuitively know, that loneliness at work influences performance. Lonely people focusing on when the day will end make less ‘discretionary effort’ than those who have friends they can talk to at work. And, of course, it can affect their mental health, leading to further issues for them and for you, their employers.
 

What to do..? I’ve put together a few tips and hints to help combat loneliness in your workplace. Some are tongue in cheek, but, in each case, underneath the flippancy is a good point, not to be ignored.

  • Buddies – give new people a buddy who can introduce them around the office when they first arrive. Then give them a new buddy every month for at least the first three months.
  • Create new teams – invite different members of your team each time to brainstorming sessions. Ask them all for their views and thoughts – keep them involved. Yes, even the introverts.
  • Explain purpose - ensure colleagues know what they’re doing and what you’re doing and why.
  • Ban instant messaging – if someone needs to ask someone a question, let them get off their chair and find that person or, at the very least, schedule a chat.
  • Flexible working - don’t rush to bring in blanket flexible working. Although ideal for some, it may make other colleagues feel even lonelier.
  • Invent a game - suggest each time a colleague sits next to someone they haven’t met before, that they spend five minutes trying to find ten things they have in common – anything from favourite holiday places to favourite coffee hangout at work.
  • Picnics – if budgets are tough, suggest picnic lunches as a team or that everyone brings in a dish one day a month.
  • Alcohol - do without it. Arrange alcohol-free events which mean that everyone can attend, no matter what their faith or diet.
  • Arrange clubs – make sure everyone joins a once a month club, whether it’s swimming, jogging, singing, drawing or helping at a charity.
  • And, of course (I would say this, wouldn’t I?) there’s always Life Clubs at Work to help bond your colleagues.

A few of our favourite books...

Written By Life Clubs

OK... yes, we love Penguins, especially old and battered ones. A few of our team have written about their favourite books - hope they inspire you.

Percy Jackson & The Olympians by Rick Riordan as loved by Rupert York

This series of books is a blend of Ancient Greek Myths and Modern day America. They follow a group of demi-gods (half-mortal and half-greek gods) as they adventure through the modern world meeting Ancient Greek monsters, and fighting them with cool swords and powerful godly abilities. A teenage boys dream.

Reading these books gave me a love of Mythology. I found myself having a deep understanding of the Gods and their stories without realising it, as lessons were wrapped up in compelling stories. I remember my parents’ amazement as I recited the twelve Olympians Gods and each of their domains.

The adventures of Percy Jackson have stayed with me since I read them, and I’ve retained a passion for storytelling ever since.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett as loved by Nina Grunfeld

A Little Princess (no spoilers, I promise) is about a girl who has grown up in luxury in India and been transplanted to a horrible boarding school in London. The plot is almost neither here nor there, what I loved about the eponymous lead was her amazing fighting spirit. No matter what happened to the Little Princess she (almost) always had a way of seeing the positive and understanding that no matter how bad things were for her, they were always worse for other people.

It’s interesting that both Rupert and I have chosen books we loved as children and in my case re-loved when reading them to my children. There is something amazingly vivid about the books you read as a child and the lessons I learnt from the Little Princess have stood me in good stead for the rest of my life.

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney as loved by Minal Vara

Reading was never my thing. I absolutely despised it throughout school, but I loved writing, I could write for days on end. Nevertheless, University changed my outlook on reading (not that I had much of a choice, I am doing an essay-based course).

Mystery books are like the cherry to my cake. The Girl Before is essentially that, a toe-tingling murder mystery flickering back and forth from the past to the present, as the main lead attempts to uncover the murderer of a woman who had an uncanny resemblance to her. What I loved the most about this book was that you never knew what to expect on the next page. 

Mystery books have a thrill to them - almost like rollercoaster. I can really put myself in the character’s position and enjoy the suspense, drama and page turning events.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

And

Workin' It! RuPaul's Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style by RuPaul both loved by Trish Roberts

Can I choose two? I hope I can, because these two books are so dissimilar that I can't just choose one.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is Maya Angelou’s first autobiography - but it’s so heartbreakingly beautiful and painful that it reads like fiction. Scenes from her childhood are described so vividly that they still linger in my mind, even though it’s years since I last read it.

Workin’ It! is a bit different. A self-help book by the most famous drag queen in the world, it can only be about 5,000 words but covers everything from mental health to colonic irrigation. The front cover is neon pink, there are plenty of pictures, and it leaves you feeling like you can tackle anything.

Let us know which of these you chose to read first and, of course, your favourite read.

Stop the chaos, 10 secrets to decluttering!

Written By Life Clubs

A mess. That’s what it was. Papers, books, pens, coffee, you name it, it was on my desk. If clutter was a person, it would be me. That’s when I knew it was finally time to make a change, but the question was how? Decluttering wasn’t easy, having a full inbox, messy desk and an overflowing diary made me feel important, nonetheless my desk was a complete and utter mess.

A cluttered desk is like getting on the underground at half 5 on a Monday after work (frustrating). Expectedly there are delays, detours, congestion and many other factors getting in your way making it harder to get your work done. The time and effort spent searching for the right file, or trying to find something as small as a paper clip derails your thought process and workflow.

There is a beauty in having a decluttered desk, it exposes you to a new environment, changing your outlook.

So, here are Life Clubs’ top 10 tips to decluttering.

  1. Stop making excuses - All those papers across your desk, its time to tidy them up
  2. Only do 10 minutes a day - Baby steps

  3. Start with a contained task - Buy a box, organise a drawer

  4. Throw away one item a day

  5. Focus on one job at a time - Slow and steady wins the race

  6. Give everything a home - If it doesn’t have a space, it’s a waste ;) – everything needs a home

  7. If you haven’t used something in six months, get rid of it - If it's not practical or beautiful, do you really need it?

  8. Make it your own – It’s your desk, design and decorate it how you please.

  9. Ask a friend to help - Keep track of your progress - don’t be afraid to ask for help

  10. Reward yourself - When you achieve 4 or more of these, go out and do something for you.

So, there you have it, decluttering made not so scary.

Feel free to leave a comment/thoughts about decluttering or tips and tricks you have for a decluttered life on our facebook page.

Written by Brunel Psychology student, Minal Vara

Buddy, can you spare a dime?

Written By Life Clubs

It’s World Mental Health day today. And in a rather roundabout way, that’s brought me to thinking about an amazing man whom I met a few years ago.

Three years ago I was sitting at the traffic lights minding my own business when a lorry drove smack into the back of me. I couldn’t drive anywhere and so I got out of the car, and as I got out I realised that I was clearly more shaken than I had at first thought.

As I left the car, there facing me was a Big Issue vendor who proceeded to take me under his wing. He gently guided a shaken Nina through getting all the details from the driver of the lorry, phoning the AA, cancelling my meeting and finally giving me his details as a witness. And then as we sat down to wait for the tow-away car, he told me all about himself.

Like so many people in the UK, this man had struggled with his mental health for the majority of his adult life. In working with the Big Issue, he had found a certain level of peace. He told me that he loved making contact with people and having something not too stressful or time-based to focus on. The stability of the Big Issue meant that for the first time in a while, his relationship with work was relaxed and what many of us would describe as mindful.

As the AA arrived, we left each other to carry on with our days. Later I made a resolution: that, in his honour, I would always buy a magazine from a Big Issue vendor.

But recently I’ve noticed that I never have any money on me. I go out with my phone and my debit card in my pocket and nothing else. I travel light. Why do I need money? Why do any of us need money?

Whilst it may be convenient for us, a cashless economy is becoming a problem for Big Issue vendors. Many vendors don’t have the permanent address necessary to set up a bank account or the fancy smartphone required for a contactless machine. Our refusal to carry jingling coins has the danger of excluding a whole raft of people from participating in the economy and stable employment.

And so, I’ve made a new resolution: to make a conscious effort to carry at least five pounds with me at all times so that I can help those who can’t yet participate in society as we’ve created it. Why not join me… starting today.

If you buy Life Clubs workshops for your organisation this week (until October 17th), we pledge to run the same number for free for the mental health charity of your choice.

 

 

 

 

Enjoy that last puff...

Written By Life Clubs

Movember and Stoptober are the kind of achingly clever slogans that I really wish I’d come up with first. But despite their wittiness, I don’t feel the need to take part in either of them. Firstly, because I’ve never been able to grow a moustache, secondly, because I gave up smoking a long time ago and thirdly because I'm a rebel and doing something because I'm told to do it has never really appealed. But the NHS believe that if you can stop smoking for 28 days you're five times more likely to quit for good and that has to be worth trying.

I remember the way I gave up was cold turkey (and, sorry, NHS, I had to give up twice for it to work – even after a year of not smoking). I knew I really wanted to end my habit and the only way to do it was to not put myself near anything that reminded me of cigarettes. I drank milk or orange juice instead of coffee or wine. I spent more time with non-smokers or, ironically, I sat in such smoky environments that my eyes would water and the last thing I’d want was to add yet more smoke to the equation. The other thing I did was the classic glass jar. Every day I put in it the amount I saved by not smoking that day and watched the green notes (as they were then) grow. I found that amazingly helpful, although I can't remember the treat I bought for myself after that first month.

But smoking is very different now from when I gave up. Back in the day you could smoke anywhere – planes, trains, restaurants, pubs, your home… and, if someone didn’t like you smoking it was their problem. Now, smoking has become a ridiculously anti-social habit. Who wants curtains smelling of stale smoke or an ashtray breath? And yet, if you’re addicted, you’re addicted. There are hardly any places that welcome you having a quick cigarette, so smoking has become an excuse to move around, get fresh air and refocus when you’re working or socialising.

What do former-smokers do now when they want those fifteen minute breaks? You can mill around outside in the cold like a lemon, still craving a cigarette. But what other refreshing things can you do with fifteen minutes that don't involve tobacco? Maybe you could start by disturbing an industrious colleague, reading an interesting article, doing a few exercises or meditating.

Yes, even a few years after I gave up I still missed procrastinating with my cigarette. Having the cigarette both as a reward for when I’d achieved something – written a paragraph, for example – was very pleasant, and so too was having the cigarette as a procrastinating device for when ideas weren’t flowing as freely as they could. But the freedom I felt when I didn’t crave that cigarette, didn't have to worry about the cost and didn't have to worry if the shops were closed, was the most incredibly feeling in the world.

So, save some money, liberate your mind, get creative in your fifteen minute breaks and give up smoking now...

If you want some help, come to your local Life Clubs workshop or bring us into your organisation. We love inspiring people to stop doing what they don't want to.

Thank goodness I'm not Steve Jobs

Written By Life Clubs

Steve Jobs always used to say that each day he would check his calendar and ask himself ‘If today was the last day of my life, would I want to spend it like this?’ Apparently if the answer was ‘No’ for five days in a row, he’d begin to question what he was doing.

Thank goodness I’m not Steve Jobs…

In many ways that question is a great way of focusing you on living each day to the max, but I can also see that it could be very depressing. What if you’re not doing something vital and world changing every day? What if you like variety and days of doing small nothings and days of doing larger nothings? What if you want to take what the day throws at you? I know I’d answer ‘If today was the last day of my life I’d want to be with my children’ and I’m sure, that if we did wind up spending every day together (I’m taking this to its logical conclusion), they’d end up hating me and I’d probably get fed up with hanging around with them all the time. I suppose I could then answer the question in a different way.

Most of us like variety, doing different things at different times. Most of us enjoy a degree of randomness, of spontaneity in our lives. Most of us don’t feel the need to control every minute of every day. Plus, I always find, that it takes the days when things go wrong to make you really appreciate the days when things go right. But then, I’m not a perfectionist.

What I do think is important to notice is what we do when we’re procrastinating, because that’s often the kind of thing we’d rather not be doing. I can waste time doing lots of silly little procrastinations, like cleaning the sink or emptying the bins and, if you’re generous, you can say it’s for me to give myself some calm thinking time to prepare for what I really want to do. You can say that filling in surveys for Metro Bank means that in the back of my mind I’m deciding what I’m going to write in my bulletin. But actually I’d rather never fill in another survey again. I’d like to spend all my time writing bulletins. So, my tip for this bulletin is to watch what you’re doing when you procrastinate, because that’s probably not going to be part of the last day of your life.

Yesterday I got told, and he was right...

Written By Life Clubs

I'm a reasonably formidable person and so it's a brave human being who ventures to tell me what I'm doing wrong. Yesterday someone did. Our lovely graphic designer, David, who I've known forever, came over. We were chatting about our weekends and I told him how most of my weekend was spent walking, sleeping and watching films. I was always exhausted. 
 
"You're doing it all wrong" he said. "Every day you have to stop work at 12.30 and take a lunch break until 2.00. You'll feel much more focused and energetic in the afternoon and you'll have far more life in you at the weekend."
 
This came as a huge shock. I spend much of my time working. I love it and don't feel I want or need to do much else, especially stop working at lunchtime. Apart from the fact that I spend most lunchtimes with clients, so not doing anything would be logistically difficult, what on earth would I do with 90 minutes of nothingness?
 
"I go home... have lunch... shut my eyes for 20 minutes and have a little walk if I have time" he replied. "But, if you're out most lunches so can't take a break then, start your working day ninety minutes later". Gosh...
 
That evening David's 'take regular breaks' case was confirmed by a piece of new research by Metro Bank which shows that 1 in 10 British workers never take a lunch break and over half of those that do, take less than 30 minutes. What's more, those that work for themselves, like David and me and, I'm sure, many of you, feel more pressure to be productive during their lunch break compared to their employed counterparts. Like David, Metro Bank are advocating the lunchtime break. 
 
So... this month, in honour of our July workshop, Achieving Optimum Balance, I'll be taking that time off at lunchtime and letting you know how I feel at the weekends. Let's call it the #LunchtimeChallenge. Come and join me and let me know (via Facebook/Twitter/Instagram) how you get on and what you do in that 90 minutes.
 
           

             

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