Coping and Channeling Frustration

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Coping and Channeling Frustration

Dale Carnegie put it best. “Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration, and resentment.”

We all experience frustration; it is a natural response to stress, after all. Your internet goes out during a virtual meeting. Getting stuck in a line. Having construction on your street while working from home. And stress causes fatigue.

These are certainly frustrating examples. But, they’re also temporary. The internet will come back on, the line will move, and at some point, the construction will cease.

However, there are also long-term stressors. Examples include being dissatisfied with work, dealing with a manipulative family member, or failing to reach a life goal like starting your own business.

As a consequence, this can lead to other negative emotions like anger, anxiety, depression, irritability, loss of confidence, and stress. When not addressed, this can impact your health and wellbeing. It can even put a strain on your relationships if you’re constantly losing your temper.

Moreover, this can cause you to give up and fall prey to negative self-talk. The latter can cause you to make poor and aggressive decisions. And, frustration can even lead to nightmares.

In some cases, though, frustration can be helpful. Sometimes it’s letting you know that you’re ready to move on to the stage of your life or career. It can also remind you what your passions are and how to solve problems in a more productive and better way.

Regardless of how you use the frustration, you still need to find ways to cope and channel it. If not, it can interfere with all facets of your life. Thankfully, you can give these ten methods a try.

1. Build frustration tolerance.

“Frustration tolerance can be learned,” states Amy Morin, LCSW. “With practice and consistent dedication, you can decrease the intensity of your frustration, and you can learn to express your feelings in socially appropriate ways,” Morin suggests using the following strategies to make this possible;

  • Accept tough situations. “When you catch yourself dwelling on the unfairness of life, consider whether it’s a situation you can change or whether you need to change the way you respond to it,” she says. “If the situation is outside of your control, then focus on acceptance.”
  • Give yourself a pep talk. “Remind yourself that you can cope with distressing feelings,” Morin recommends. Try taking a deep breath or counting to 10 whenever you feel upset.
  • Learn how to calm your body. Experiment with breathing exercises, meditation, or progressive muscle relation to lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Practice tolerating frustration. “Purposely do something that is mildly frustrating, like working on a tough puzzle or waiting in a long line,” advises Morin. “Manage your self-talk, and use healthy coping skills to deal with your feelings.”

2. Make a date with me, myself, and I.

Is everyone around you getting on your last nerve? You might be experiencing a “human hangover.” And, the best cure is going on a solitude-detox.

Spending time alone isn’t for everyone. But, having a little me time lets you reflect, find your voice, and chill out. It can also spark creativity, gives you a chance to plan your life, and it’s good for your mental wellbeing.

Best of all? You don’t have to disappear and hide out in the cabin for a week. Sometimes just going for a 30-minute walk will suffice. Other times you might just need an evening to yourself.

3. Distract yourself.

Have you ever been a child who gets ticked off when they can’t do something? One of the best ways to stop their feat of rage is to divert their attention to something else. And, that’s also a technique that you can still use.

Let’s say that you’re procrastinating on a task and it’s really starting to make your blood boil. Just stop working on it. Instead, do something else from your to-do-list.

If you’re in a really foul mode, you might want to do something that’s relaxing, like exercising or reading. These are healthy ways to blow off some steam and keep your mind focused on something else.

4. Change the tone of your thoughts.

Techniques like positive visualization can be another way to distract yourself in a healthy way. Mainly because this encourages you to shift your focus to something more pleasant. However, positivity won’t always cure you of your frustration.

It can, however, “help you transition your thought process to a new path,” Rachel Sharpe writes for Declutter The Mind.

“Have you ever found yourself thinking a negative thought and going down a rabbit hole?” Sharpe aks. “And somehow, this one thought magnifies into something so big you can’t control it?” Recite all the positive mantras you want; you aren’t going to be able to climb out of this frustrating spiral.

“When a negative thought enters your mind, think of a piece of evidence that counters it,” suggests Sharpe. For example, you forgot to buy eggs at the grocery store. Don’t tell yourself that you’re a forgetful person because this “is a permanent way to describe yourself for making a tiny mistake.”

“Instead, think to yourself, ‘I forgot to buy eggs because I didn’t include it on the grocery list due to being busier than usual today. I can pick some up tomorrow,’” she adds. “That way, you include a reason for not buying eggs, and you also include a solution proving that the problem is fixable.”

5. Forget the timeframe.

There are times when deadlines can come in handy. For instance, if you had to leave at 11:30 am to meet a friend for lunch, that you could use that to motivate you to get your most important work done first.

On the flipside, unrealistic deadlines also put us under a lot of pressure. And, when we fail to meet them, we beat ourselves up.

Sometimes, you might be better off easing-up on rigid timeframes. Instead, focus on your progress.

Let’s say that you wanted to lose 20-pounds in a month. That might be a tad industrious. But, if you lost 10-pounds during that period, give yourself props for still losing weight — even if you didn’t reach your ultimate goal.

6. Be more attractive.

No, this isn’t about succumbing to your vanity. Rather, it’s about making you happier and strengthening your relationships.

The first place to start? Decide to live in a beautiful state. Tony Robbins says this is possible by saying, “I’m not going to give up my happiness over little stuff.”

You should also remind yourself not to obsess over the “things I can’t control.” Rather, “focus on what I can control and what I can do.”

“And when people are generous, when they’re playful,” adds Robbins. They’re also more warm, sincere, and loving. In turn, “people love to be around them. There’s nothing more attractive.”

But, what does it really take to be more attractive? It’s all about is appreciating your life.

“Most people, their upsets are because their expectations aren’t met,” states Robbins. “You expect people to be a certain way.” Additionally, you expect yourself and the government to be a certain way, “and it isn’t.” So, he advises to “Trade your expectations for appreciation, and your whole life changes like that.”

“If you can just start appreciating the people around you,” this moment, and the “things that you’re not noticing, you’ll live in a beautiful state, and other people will find being around you an attractive or an enjoyable experience,” he says. “It’s that simple.”

7. Use frustration as a catalyst.

Have you ever been told that you couldn’t do something? I doubt that you just shrugged and said, “Whatever.” Instead, that might have pushed you to take action.

“One fascinating aspect of frustration is that it is a kind of tool that can help us to identify our needs or goals (which are blocked), of which we might not even have been aware,” states Dr. Bertus Jeronimus. “Frustration is therefore not necessarily bad, as it helps to identify problems, and propelled by discomfort, can act as a motivator to change towards different ways or truer answers.”

“When people are frustrated, they make greater efforts and strive in other directions,” adds Dr. Jeronimus. As Thomas Edison perfectly put it, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

8. Think about your hero.

I remember the one time I got an in-school suspension. My mom was furious. But, what really cut through me like a knife was when she said, “Your grandfather wouldn’t have done that.”

I admired my grandfather. And, I wanted to be just like him. So, those words not only stung, but they also put things in perspective.

To this day, whenever I get worked up or in a precarious situation, I still ask myself what my grandpop would do. I know that if he gets frustrated — he won’t scream or take his anger out on others. He would take a couple of deep breaths, close his eyes, and then respond to the problem calmly.

9. Stop listening to Gandalf.

If you’ve watched Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies, you might agree one of the most memorable scenes involved Gandalf. Standing before the Balrog, he proclaims, “You shall not pass.”

What does that have to do with frustration? Well, hold on to that ball of negative emotions exacerbate anxiety and stress and increase the risk of coronary heart disease. Besides, learning how to get let go can lift you up and make your relationships stronger.

10. Think big but stay specific.

As opposed to steering clear of goals or plans that are intimidating, Adam Grant, Ph.D., a psychology professor at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Originals, suggests we embrace them. Why? Because it turns out that we’re actually more motivated by ambitious goals.

“Decades of research show that extremely difficult, specific goals motivate us to work harder and smarter,” he writes in The New York Times. “Most of us prefer a task with a 50-50 shot of success over an easier one.”

To ensure that you don’t fall off the tracks, remind yourself that the steps you’re taking are bringing your closer to your goals. The obvious way to do this is by breaking down large goals into small, more manageable ones.

How to Make Cancellations Less Common

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How to Make Cancellations Less Common

We’ve all been there: You’ve waited all day for a meeting, only for the client to cancel at the last minute. Last-minute cancellations can throw a wrench in your day, and sometimes your whole week

While cancellations happen, they shouldn’t be frequent occurrences. To help you cut down on frustration and revenue loss, here are some ways to keep cancellations to a minimum:

Understand Why Clients Cancel 

Everyone needs to cancel an appointment on occasion. A pattern of cancellations, however, may indicate a business-wide issue. 

Try to get into the mind of your clients. Understand exactly what’s causing them to cancel. For example, do they have kids and can’t always find childcare? Is their schedule so packed they can only spare a few minutes of their day? Or, are they not able to afford your hourly rate?

Don’t get defensive. Recognize that you, not they, may need to change. 

If you suspect travel time is an issue, for instance, try implementing a teleconferencing tool. Allowing clients to book you at the click of a button can do wonders for retention. 

Create a Cancellation Policy

Implementing a cancellation policy is one of the best ways to ensure your clients show up both prepared and on time. This policy doesn’t have to be complex; in fact, it can be as simple as charging a small fee in case of a missed appointment. 

Imposing a small penalty will motivate your clients to show up to their appointments on time. More importantly, it will reduce the likelihood that they become chronic cancellers.

Encourage each new customer to review your terms and conditions. Ask them to sign a copy when they sign up for their first meeting. This document should include the charges for no-shows, the penalties for repeatedly missing appointments, and details on how far in advance you require rebooking before you levy a fee.

Don’t Schedule Too Far In Advance

You want to stay at the top of your client’s mind. Try to schedule appointments within a week from when you last spoke with a customer. Any further ahead, and your client may lose interest by the time their appointment rolls around.

Use “when,” not “if” questions: When in the next week can they meet? Approach the conversation with a handful of specific dates and times that work for you. Look for alignment in your availability and, if none exists, offer an alternative. 

Send Reminders 

We all have a lot on our mind these days. Reminders can cut through our mental clutter, but only if we use them strategically. 

Consider your customer base. If your clients are primarily Millennials, then go with text reminders. Baby Boomers and Silents may prefer a phone call or a voicemail message.

Regardless, make sure not to send out too many reminders. You want to tread the line of being proactive without being too overbearing. Try sending a reminder as soon as a client signs up for an appointment, and then another 48 hours before the scheduled time. 

Offer Self-Serve Rescheduling

Some clients may not show up to a scheduled appointment simply because they are too nervous to reschedule. They may not want to deal with a lengthy email exchange, much less wait on hold with your receptionist. 

Nip this in the bud with software that makes it easy for a client to reschedule their own appointment. Even if it doesn’t cut down on cancellations, such a system will, at the very least, save you time. 

Use Rewards to Your Advantage 

Reward any client who regularly shows up on time for their appointments. There are plenty of creative rewards you can implement, such as:

  • A modest discount or a service credit for a future appointment
  • A quarterly drawing for a gift card
  • Priority scheduling, especially during busy periods

These little perks come at a very low cost to you, but they can really drive home your commitment to punctuality to your customers. 

Missed appointments can mangle your bottom line and throw your schedule for a loop. The good news is, communication, creativity, and education are all you need to keep most clients from throwing in the towel. What’s not to love about that?

15 Life Rules to Inspire Motivation

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15 Life Rules to Inspire Motivation

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. – Lou Holtz

Without motivation it’s kind of tough to reach your full potential. Of course, there are moments in your life where motivation is non-existent. When that happens, you should follow these 15 life rules to keep inspiring motivation day-in and day-out.

1. Trust yourself.

During his 2009 USC Commencement Speech, Arnold Schwarzenegger shared his “rules of success.” This included his epic first rule; trust yourself.

And what I mean by that is, so many young people are getting so much advice from their parents and from their teachers and from everyone. But what is most important is that you have to dig deep down, dig deep down and ask yourselves, who do you want to be? Not what, but who.

And I’m talking about not what your parents and teachers want you to be, but you. I’m talking about figuring out for yourselves what makes you happy, no matter how crazy it may sound to other people.

I was lucky growing up because I did not have television or didn’t have telephones, I didn’t have the computers and the iPods. And, of course, Twitter was then something that birds did outside the window. I didn’t have all these distractions and all this.

I spent a lot of time by myself, so I could figure out and listen to what is inside my heart and inside my head.

And I recognized very quickly that inside my head and heart were a burning desire to leave my small village in Austria — not that there was something wrong with Austria, it’s a beautiful country.

But I wanted to leave that little place and I wanted to be part of something big, the United States of America, a powerful nation, the place where dreams can come true.

I knew when I came over here I could realize my dreams. And I decided that the best way for me to come to America was to become a bodybuilding champion, because I knew that was ticket the instant that I saw a magazine cover of my idol, Reg Park. He was Mr. Universe, he was starring in Hercules movies, he looked strong and powerful, he was so confident.

So when I found out how he got that way I became obsessed, and I went home and I said to my family, “I want to be a bodybuilding champion.”

Now, you can imagine how that went over in my home in Austria. My parents, they couldn’t believe it. They would have been just happy if I would have become a police officer like my father, or married someone like Heidi, had a bunch of kids and ran around like the von Trapp family in Sound of Music.

That’s what my family had in mind for me, but something else burned inside me. Something burned inside me. I wanted to be different; I’m determined to be unique. I was driven to think big and to dream big.

Everyone else thought that I was crazy. My friends said, “If you want to be a champion in a sport, why don’t you go and become a bicycle champion or a skiing champion or a soccer champion? Those are the Austrian sports.”

But I didn’t care. I wanted to be a bodybuilding champion and use that to come to America, and use that to go into the movies and make millions of dollars.

So, of course, for extra motivation I read books on strongmen and on bodybuilding and looked at magazines. And one of the things I did was, I decorated my bedroom wall.

Right next to my bed there was this big wall that I decorated all with pictures. I hung up pictures of strongmen and bodybuilders and wrestlers and boxers and so on. 

I was so excited about this great decoration that I took my mother to the bedroom and I showed her. And she shook her head. She was absolutely in shock and tears started running down her eyes.

She [my mother] called the doctor, she called our house doctor and she brought him in and she explained to him, “There’s something wrong here.” She looked at the wall with the doctor and she said, “Where did I go wrong? I mean, all of Arnold’s friends have pictures on the wall of girls, and Arnold has all these men.

But it’s not just men, they’re half naked and they’re oiled up with baby oil. What is going on here? Where did I go wrong?” So you can imagine, the doctor shook his head and he said, “There’s nothing wrong. At this age you have idols and you go and have those — this is just quite normal.”

So this is rule number one. I wanted to become a champion; I was on a mission. So rule number one is, of course, trust yourself, no matter how and what anyone else thinks.

2. The KISS principle.

If you’re like, you had a father who liked to throw around the phrase “Keep it simple, stupid.” In case you were curious, there’s a perfectly good explanation for this. It was a design principle popularized by the US Navy around 1960.

For those who are unfamiliar with the “keep it simple stupid” (KISS) principle, it simply that states that systems perform best when they have simple designs instead of complex ones.

Personally, I use this principle almost daily.

For example, when I have to tackle a large project I break it up into smaller, more manageable tasks. This makes completing the project simpler since I can chip away at specific goals, instead of worrying about completing everything at once.

3. Follow the Goldilocks Rule.

Do you remember the fairy tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? It wasn’t just a memorable bedtime story. It also inspired the aptly-named Goldilocks Rule.

“The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities,” explains James Clear. “Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right.”

According to Clear, the Goldilocks Rule is actually backed by science. That’s because even though we love challenges, we prefer them to be within an optimal zone of difficulty.

Clear uses an analogy of playing tennis. If you played against a child, you would get bored because the match was too easy. But, if you played against a pro like Serena Williams, you’ll find yourself demotivated because the match was too difficult.

4. Embrace change.

People don’t like change. In fact, we resist it as much as possible. One study found that the reason for this is because the longer something is thought to exist, the better it’s evaluated.

Change is inevitable.

The fact of the matter is that change is inevitable throughout life. So instead of fighting it, learn how to embrace it. Start by taking baby steps and just going with the flow.

And, also keep in mind that change is good for you. It helps you grow and learn, as well gain new ideas and perspectives. That can open a whole new world of possibilities.

5. Choose possibilities, not problems.

“With personal power you possess the deep belief there are available solutions for problems. When you approach challenges from a solutions-focused perspective it engages the creative process of examining and architecting alternate routes in lieu of staying stuck in false beliefs of why things cannot be done,” writes Sherrie Campbell in Entrepreneur.

“If you cannot find a solution, open your thoughts to others, seek their ideas and suggestions. Solution-focused minds reward and inspire each other. When solutions are the focus you learn to fail and adapt, moving away from the fixing and failing approach.”

6. Measure twice and cut once.

Here’s another lesson I’ve learned from my old man; measure twice and cut once. This meant when cutting a piece of wood, you would measure it twice to make sure that you don’t make any mistakes. He would often tell me this when he noticed me rushing through something I didn’t care about.

I use this principle to guide me in almost everything I do today.

Let’s say I want to write a blog post. If I’m not feeling the topic, I may write a sub-par article that’s going to get rejected.

Instead of wasting everyone’s time, I would rather discuss a topic that I’m passionate about. When I do, the article isn’t just well-written, it has less errors and is faster for me to compose.

7. ASK.

This is an acronym for always seek knowledge. And this could be one of the greatest life rules I’ve learned. That’s because obtaining knowledge improves our lives by empowering us.

Think about it. You just read a leadership book or took an online course to learn a new skill. You most likely took that newly acquired knowledge and eagerly put it to use. As a result, you become a more well-rounded individual.

8. Be truly fulfilled.

“Michael Gerber, the guy that wrote The E-Myth, talks about why so many businesses, young businesses fail. One of the things he says is most people are not really entrepreneurs, but they think that’s what they should be. They think that’s the sexy thing, that’s the most attractive thing, that’s the best answer,” says Tony Robbins.

“What I say to you is you’ve got to separate the vehicle from the outcome. Is it going to truly fulfill you? What is it that’s going to give you that extraordinary life? What’s going to make things magnificent, on your terms, not somebody else’s terms, not your father, your mother, your background? What is that, really?”

“Separate the vehicle. There are many ways to get to that vehicle, but I’m saying, sometimes you have to reevaluate what’s going to really make you fulfilled.”

You can find this answer by asking yourself questions like:

  • What is your gift?
  • Are you an artist?
  • Are you the talent that can produce something no one else produces as a skill, a product, a service or some impact?
  • You incredibly good at management; you really know how to manage or lead people?
  • Are you an extraordinary entrepreneur that can take that gigantic gut-load of risk, create the vision, attract the talent that you need, the managers and leaders?

“You may have all three abilities, but which one really fulfills you the most, is going to be the critical question. We tend to want to do them all, especially in a room like this, because you’re all overachievers; right?”

“Me, too. You say, ‘Well, I can do all these.’ Yes, you can, but what will it do to your quality of life? See, again, the secret is going to be this. What is an extraordinary life, on your terms, today?”

9. Obey the Golden Rule.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I don’t know how many times my mom beat that into my head. And I’m glad she did. It’s helped guide me throughout life.

Take my business, for example. I treat my employees like I want to be treated. As a result, I have a highly motivated team – even though most are remote workers.

My team feels valued, respected, and delivers top-notch work on a consistent basis. That wouldn’t be possible if I mistreated them.

Besides my team, I also treat my customers with respect by delivering outstanding customer service. When I hear how my business helped a customer I want to keep that up. It’s almost like a video game, I want to keep playing until I get the highest score.

10. Give more than you take.

It’s true. Those who give, receive.

Whether if it’s through volunteering or sharing your wealth or knowledge, when you give more then you take, you’ll be rewarded. What kind of reward? It could be anything from developing new skills, gaining new experiences, or meeting new connections.

And who knows where these rewards can take you. Maybe you learned a new skill while volunteering that you can now use to enhance your business.

As an added perk, it feels pretty good too.

11. Try new things.

Here’s why we don’t try new things; we’re afraid.

The thing is, by letting that fear control us, we’re depriving ourselves from expanding our minds and experiencing new perspectives. Also, those who try new things are more likely to retain positive emotions.

So, stop being afraid and just do it. It’s better than living with could have, might have, and should have.

12. Smile.

You wake-up in the morning in a foul mood. How motivated do you think you’ll be for the rest of the day?

It’s no secret that our mood influences motivation. And one quick fix is to smile. Yep, it’s that simple.

It’s been found that smiling can instantly lift your spirits, boost your immune system, and relieves stress. As an added perk, smiling is contagious.

13. Take action.

Jim Rohn once said, “What we know and how we feel merely determine our potential for achievement. Whether we actually achieve our goals is ultimately determined by our activity.”

According to Rohn, there are two rules of activity:

  1. Do what you can. Ask yourself the following question, “What simple thing could I do, which I’m not doing, which could increase my health and/or my wealth?”
  2. Do the best that you can. Follow this philosophy from Ecclesiastes 9:10 — “Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might.”

14. Work to live; don’t live to work.

Close your eyes for a second and reflect about your life so far. Are you more satisfied about the time you spent working or the time you had living? Hopefully it’s the latter.

Remember, life isn’t about work. It’s about building relationships and how you made an impact in the world. That should keep you motivated during even the most of trying times.

15. Inspire Motivation and Keep dreaming.

Never stop dreaming. No matter your age.

Dreams help you discover yourself. They help you reach your goals. And they ensure that you don’t live a life full of regrets.

Don’t Let These 5 Things Derail Your Digital Meetings

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Don’t Let These 5 Things Derail Your Digital Meetings

Remote work’s cure period has passed. Workers will continue to keep in touch using online meeting services. Even businesses that plan to resume on-site operations will use digital meetings to supplant travel.

Virtual meetings are less expensive. They require less time. They can connect people on opposite sides of the country and around the world instantly.

The permanence of digital meetings means they’re worth getting right. Here’s how to overcome five of the most common dysfunctions: 

Technology Hiccups

Nothing can throw off a virtual meeting like an ad hoc troubleshooting session. Maybe one person can’t figure out how to turn on their video function. Another might sound like they’re calling from inside a tin can.

You can mitigate some of these issues by ensuring everyone on your team has proper equipment. Consider providing microphones or asking attendees to use headsets or earbuds. Go the extra mile by sharing troubleshooting resources for common issues. Just about every digital meeting service provider has tutorials available.

Some technological issues are beyond your control, such as outages and service interruptions. But your attendees can avoid most technology troubles with better tools and training. 

Content Temptations

After tech issues, the greatest challenge of digital meetings is content rabbit holes. To get the most out of your meeting, your attendees need to keep their eyes and ears tuned to the topic at hand. 

Take your cue from entirely remote companies. Calendar, a productivity tool with distributed team, uses a few best practices to cut down on distractions:

  • Keep curious fingers off the keys

Typing keeps you from paying attention to the speaker and distracts others. Instead, take notes the old fashioned way: with a paper and pen. Enjoy the break from your inbox while you can. 

  • Implement a “one window” rule

It’s easy to distract yourself by reading the news or planning tonight’s dinner. During a meeting, however, the only windows you should have open are the video call and the agenda. If you need additional materials, such as slides or notes, have them organized before the meeting but hidden from view.

  • Mute yourself by default

This prevents some of the audio issues that pop up during calls. Plus, it gives more attention to the speaker. This way, you don’t have to worry about dogs barking or your neighbors mowing their lawns causing sound issues.

  • Be clear and to the point

Be clear in your phrasings, and avoid going on tangents. Pause frequently to give attendees time to ask questions and process information. It also avoids the dreaded “sorry, you cut out” that requires you to start from the beginning.

Distracting Backgrounds

To avoid turning your square into a problem spot, make sure you pick a clear, uniform background. Try positioning your camera with a blank wall in the background. If that is not possible, make sure the area behind you is neat. A business call is not the time to show your dirty laundry. 

If possible, arrange to have pets, children, and other members of your household otherwise engaged during your meeting. Early in the pandemic, these cameos were fun; now, not so much.

Cross-Talk

Cross-talk happens. However, it shouldn’t be an every-minute-of-every meeting issue. 

This can be particularly difficult when you have a large number of attendees on a call. To avoid confusion, share an agenda beforehand with speakers clearly spelled out. Use built-in tools, such as the chat menu or hand-raising, to prevent participants from talking over each other. 

Use low-tech techniques as well. Encourage speakers to pause after asking a question. Remind listeners to mute themselves when they’re not speaking. 

Small Talk

This point might sound harsh, but it is critical for optimizing your meeting: Water-cooler conversations should not be teamwide time (and, by extension, dime) sucks.

When you connect with associates or colleagues, it’s human nature to bond. You want to know about their families. You want to rehash last night’s game or who was voted off of the island. But without an eye on your watch, you risk spending half the meeting on small talk. 

Find other opportunities to build camaraderie amongst employees. Create Slack channels or Microsoft Teams groups where employees with similar interests can chat. You could also have a virtual game time or happy hour. 

Meetings aren’t going away, only changing in medium. Don’t wait to master their digital format, or you may find yourself getting sucked into a lot more of them.

Motivation Secrets of Productive People

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Motivation Secrets of Productive People

Make no mistake about it. Motivation will increase your productivity.

“Motivation and productivity are twin concepts in organizational development,” wrote Kristina Dems for Bright Hub.

“First, motivation works as the means toward attaining productivity as an end. Another point: Motivation is the best road to follow to reach productivity as a favorable effect. Lastly, motivation is the stimulus to trigger productivity as a response.”

Think about how this effects you and effects your life. When you’re not feeling motivated, you’re not going to accomplish much. That’s because you don’t have the drive to get things done.

And, to put it lightly, that sucks.

Now you’re behind on your planned goals or a task, which means you’re going to get behind another and another. Eventually, everything starts to pile-up. With no end in sight, you become even less motivated.

That’s why the most productive people employ the following motivation secrets to guarantee that they’re always ahead of the game.

1. When plans are made, they anticipate obstacles.

Peter Gollwitzer, a professor of psychology at New York University, in New York City, conducted a study in 2009 that compared two groups of women who wanted to be more active. The groups were both provided information on how to live a healthy lifestyle.

However, the second group was also taught how to foresee obstacles by using if-then statements. For example, if they wanted to jog, but the weather is poor, then what will you do? The women would say, “if it’s snowing, then I’ll go to the gym and use the treadmill.”

Suffice it to say, the second group fared far better.

Gollwitzer concluded that those who plan for obstacles are more likely to follow through on projects. This is because they don’t have any excuses for completing the task at hand.

2. They “don’t break the chain.”

Years ago software developer Brad Isaac asked Jerry Seinfeld if he had any tips for a young comedian. Seinfeld told him that the only way to become a better comic was to create better jokes. And the only way to create better jokes was to write daily.

But, that was just scratching the surface. Ultimately, the legendary comic unveiled his unique calendar system that kept him motivated every day.

Jerry told Isaac to get a huge wall calendar “that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall.” Then, go get a red magic maker.

He told Isaac that for each day he writes to to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

“Don’t break the chain,” Seinfeld said again for emphasis.

Isaac says that this “works because it isn’t the one-shot pushes that get us where we want to go, it is the consistent daily action that builds extraordinary outcomes.” And, those daily actions build habits.

3. Live life from their calendars.

According to The Busy Person’s Guide to the Done List, by Janet Choi and Walter Chen of iDoneThis:

  • 41 percent of to-do list items are never completed.
  • 50 percent of to-do list items are completed within a day, many within the first hour of being written down.

Why is this the case when so many people swear by to-do-lists?

For starters, tasks on your to-do-lists are distinguished between those that only take a couple of minutes and those will last hours. Additionally, they emphasize the urgent instead of the important. And, they can add unnecessary stress.

Because of these reasons, highly productive people don’t use to-dos. They live from their calendars instead.

“Use a calendar and schedule your entire day into 15-minute blocks,” says Jordan Harbinger, co-founder of The Art of Charm. “It sounds like a pain, but this will set you up in the 95th percentile as far as organization goes.”

“If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t get done. If it’s on the calendar, it gets done no matter what. Use this not just for appointments, but workouts, calls, email blocks, etc.”

4. They don’t multitask.

Despite the myths, multitasking doesn’t make you more productive. In fact, it slows you down. This is because your brain is switching tasks and focus, which means it takes you longer to complete tasks.

In order to stay productive, you need to focus on thing at a time. Due’s Miranda Marquit uses the Pomodoro Technique to stay focused on one specific task at a time. This also boosts productivity since you’re dedicating your mental energy on one specific item.

As a perk, since you’re giving this one task 110 percent, chances are that there will be fewer mistakes. This means you won’t have to back and fix your errors, you can just move onto to something else.

5. Not controlled by technology.

“I was a Division I college athlete, and I grew up with five brothers and two sisters. I’ve always been a competitor. [But] I’ve learned that productivity should not be a competitive sport. You’re never going to win,” Cathy Engelbert, CEO of Deloitte, tells Fast Company.

“I am responsible for almost 80,000 people. I prioritize people over tasks. One Note allows me to put different tasks [involving] each of my executive-team members in a tab. That way when I talk to them, I can be more effective, because the five things I want to talk to them about [are right there].”

“If I looked at email and Twitter and texts [during the day], I don’t think I would ever give my full attention to anything. You cannot be insightful if you’re deluged with information.”

Engelbert adds, “We’re all drowning in data. We all need moments of recovery. For me, that includes not going right to my phone when I wake up in the morning. I got on a plane about six months ago, and I forgot my phone. For two days, I didn’t have my phone, and nobody died.”

Her final words of advice? “Technology should help you do your job, not control your job.”

6. They use a notebook.

Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Sheryl Sandberg all carry a notebook around. The reason? They rely on pen and paper to keep track of and remember all of their thoughts and ideas.

“I can’t tell you where I’d be if I hadn’t had a pen on hand to write down my ideas as soon as they came to me,” Branson wrote in a blog post.

“You think you’ll remember, but you won’t, and you’ll forfeit all the thoughts that flood you after you’ve freed your mind from remembering the initial spark,” adds Drew Hanson.

For Sandberg, she uses a notebook as a kind of daily planner. She jots down her to-do lists. Once she’s accomplished those items, she rips the pages out of her notebook. It’s a simple way to stay motivated for staying on track.

7. They work backwards from the future.

Steve Jobs once asked, “If today was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?”

“If too many days passed by with the answer being ‘no,’ he’d adjust his lifestyle until he hit a consistent yes,” explains HubSpot’s Scott Tousley. “This forced Steve to define long-term goals and stay motivated.”

This may sound drab, but the most productive people “think about the end of their lives,” which helps them define their legacy.

With this in mind, they then “work backwards to achieve those goals.”

“This touches on the psychological theories and models of motivation. If we’re driven by a purpose, we’re more likely to work extra hard,” says Tousley.

But, how does starting with your purpose keep you productive and motivated?

Starting with a purpose or “personal mission statement,” leads to the creation of long-term goals. Long-term goals lead to smaller goals, which create to-do-lists.

So, if you want to productive like Steve Job, define your purpose first and everything else will fall into place.

8. They’re friends with time.

Really productive people, or RPPs as Marie Forleo calls them, are friends with time. In other words, “they don’t look at time as the enemy.”

If you do, you’ll end-up always struggling with productivity and motivation. And, this makes sense. Whenever you could something the “enemy” it’s only going to end-up being a source of pain.

Instead, make time your ally. You can start by ditching time-stealing habits like multitasking and procrastination. You can achieve by practicing:

  • Mindfulness. This will help you focus on one task at a time.
  • Acceptance. Concentrating only on what you can control.
  • Authenticity. This encourages self-management since it helps you decide what to do and when to do it.

9. They create theme days.

Want to know how Jack Dorsey juggles all of his obligations at Twitter and Square? He creates theme days. Here’s what Jack said about this in 2011:

“The way I found that works for me is I theme my days. On Monday, at both companies, I focus on management and running the company…Tuesday is focused on product. Wednesday is focused on marketing and communications and growth. Thursday is focused on developers and partnerships. Friday is focused on the company, the culture and recruiting. Saturday I take off, I hike. Sunday is reflection, feedback, strategy, and getting ready for the week.”

How has that schedule help Jack work eight hours at both companies?

The first reason the schedule works is that it establishes a rhythm. You know what to expect every day because you’ve created a routine to keep you focused.

Secondly, it challenges you to complete tasks on certain deadlines. If you record a podcast every Tuesday like John Lee Dumas, then you know that you have the podcast prepared by that day.

Finally, it batches similar tasks together. This keeps you productive since it streamlines activity and eliminates distractions.

10. Bring optimism and fun back into the picture.

This may sound hokey, but research shows that the key to motivation is bringing optimism and fun.

Ron Siegel, a psychology professor at Harvard University, explains:

“Our modern brains are still wired up for the ancient evolutionary purpose of surviving in a dangerous environment. Over a million years or so, we developed specialized neural structures that selectively tuned in to danger signals. The prospect of getting attacked necessarily outranked all other neurological priorities.”

And, unfortunately, we still go into that survival mode. Instead of thinking about the pleasurable and rewarding experience of conquering a task, we focus on anxiety and fear.

For example, you just started a new business. You’re probably dwelling more on the fear of failure instead of the excitement of improving your community.

The best way to overcome this? Create basic two-columned pros and cons list so you can notice that the joys outweigh any fears or anxieties. When you actually see the positive, you’ll get yourself out of the rut you’re headed into.

As Rick Steves has written, “Be fanatically positive and militantly optimistic. If something is not to your liking, change your liking.”

How to Optimize Your Videoconferencing Setup

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How to Optimize Your Videoconferencing Setup

To say that Covid-19 has changed things would be an understatement. Perhaps the biggest change we have had to make concerns our jobs. Even if you were fortunate enough to keep yours, there is a good chance you quite literally moved from the boardroom to the bedroom. While there might have been some bumps along the way— maybe involving that pesky mute button or maybe a lack of pants — by now, you probably consider yourself a videoconferencing pro. 

With the possibility that remote working will be here to stay, however, it could be time to think about things you could be doing to get more out of your setup. These six tips will help you become a videoconferencing master:

Use Better (or More) Lighting

Everybody wants to see your bright, shining face. It is essential that the room you’re in has enough light. It also needs to be in the right place. Moving a lamp closer to you or putting one behind the device or even just facing a window can make a big difference. 

Better yet, think about utilizing multiple lights in your workspace. Try placing a lamp on each side of your desk. For the best illumination, you may also want to consider buying a lighting kit.  

Improve Your Camera

The camera in your computer or other device is…fine. If your meetings are typically just brief check-ins with team members, it might be all you need. 

However, if you have to give presentations or demonstrate visuals that your team will need to see clearly, your best bet is to buy a webcam. While there are many to choose from, pick one with HDMI capabilities for high-quality video. Also, be sure that it is compatible with Zoom or whatever videoconferencing app you use. 

One more tip: Keep the camera at eye level. This is a great way to simulate real, face-to-face interaction.

Upgrade Your Mic

Like the camera in your device, the built-in mic will also probably get the job done. However, if people are constantly complaining that they can’t hear you well, it could be time for an upgrade. 

With the rise of telecommuting (not to mention all of those podcasters), there are now tons of mics available, and prices vary widely. Wearing a lavalier mic, a very affordable option, can vastly enhance your audio.

Consider Headphones

Speaking of sound, if you frequently have to ask people to repeat themselves, the problem could be you and not them. Headphones will immediately enable you to get better sound quality. Plus, if you have a noisy household — maybe you have a kid or two at home who’s learning online — they will let you tune out of the cacophony at home.

Those big, over-the-ears, Princess Leia headphones are one option. If you think they’re too obtrusive, earbuds are the much subtler choice. 

Boost Your Signal

None of the stuff mentioned above will mean much if you often have trouble connecting with your team. If your internet connection is slow or inconsistent, don’t wait to troubleshoot it. 

Try simply moving your device closer to your router. If, however, the router is old or unreliable, a new one may be in order. If getting a new router doesn’t help, try a wired connection. And if even that doesn’t help, ask your internet company to come take a look. 

Think About What’s Behind You

You may have the latest bells and whistles, excellent image quality, and audio so clear you could hear a pin drop. But what about all of the clutter on your desk or that stack of laundry behind you? 

If you have a mess in your home, you’re certainly not the only one. While you could clean it up before the meeting, just pushing it out of the frame might be your best option. Or, if you can, move your webcam to change the viewing angle. 

Whether your stint as a remote worker is winding down or just getting started, don’t wait to master virtual conferences. Even if you go back to the office, rest assured: You have many, many more videoconferences ahead of you. 

Busy vs Productive: 9 Ways To Be Productive, Not Busy

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Busy vs Productive: 9 Ways To Be Productive, Not Busy

I recently caught up with an old friend. The first thing he asked was, “How are things goin’?” I replied, “Busy.” That “busy” response was automatic, and I’d even say it’s probably the most common response anyone would receive from entrepreneurs and professionals. For me, the statement also happens to be true, and my team members have also been hard at work Calendar. We wouldn’t want it any other way.

Have you ever asked yourself if you’re merely acting “busy?” If you’re looking busy just to be a pretender — is that a bad thing? I would respond, “yes,” just being busy (as a pretender) is a “bad” thing. If you’re juggling multiple tasks, like responding to emails and being active on social media — business productivity is not made up of these types of careless actions. Admit to yourself that you’re staying busy under the guise of being productive, and these actions will not help you move closer to your goals. In short, you’re just wasting your time.

To make sure that you’re not falling into the “busy for nothing” trap — here are nine ways you can help yourself be productive. As a result, you’ll be more effective at work and will have the time to focus on what matters most in your life.

1. Identify what is important and necessary.

Busy people are known for jumping quickly on every assignment. They have no hesitation in accepting requests for their time — and people love them for that. The thing is when you’re continually putting out fires you end-up focusing on things that are urgent, but not essential.

If your choice is to be involved in the crucial but not critical — have a clear understanding of what you are doing. These actions will have you failing to meet deadlines and you won’t reach your goals. Productive people can identify what is important and necessary. They make the most important things a priority over the things that can either wait or that don’t have a deadline.

2. Optimize your organization.

Are you so busy that you don’t have time to sit down for five minutes and do nothing? Even people who are running multiple businesses aren’t that busy. The truth is that you’re just not organized. There’s a vast difference in the mental processing of the person who is ahead of deadlines and someone who is perpetually late.

Instead of running around frantically — productive people have a solid organization strategy. The key is finding the methods, techniques, and tools that work best for you. Some of my personal favorites are:

  • Creating a simple to-do-list with no more than three “most important tasks” (MITs).
  • Using to-do list apps, such as Wunderlist or Todoist, to organize and share my lists.
  • Automating recurring tasks. Automate using Buffer or Hootsuite for social media updates, canned email responses, or chatbots for customers service. Calendar can make smart scheduling suggestions and there are also tools that can send out recurring invoices.
  • If you create content for your business, then you need an editorial calendar and template. The editorial calendar and template will keep your company’s marketing goals on track.
  • Rely on proven time management methods like the Pomodoro Technique. It helps break down larger projects into smaller chunks and will remind you to take breaks.
  • In the kitchen, a chef has a system called mise en place.” This chef system is a process they use to arrange all of their ingredients and tools before cooking. This prep-work helps account for their time, prevents looking for misplaced items, and helps them concentrate. I like laying out my clothes the night before work and having all tools (computer, cords, materials) in the bag ready to leave.

3. Create a system to minimize distractions.

You’re in your office preparing for a meeting. You hear an email notification go off on your phone. Instead of ignoring it — you stop what you’re doing and read the email. Now you’ve lost your train-of-thought and can’t get-back-on-track for a couple of seconds. These seconds and microseconds add up over time to a lot of distraction.

Distraction is a common occurrence with busy people. They allow themselves to get distracted.

Those who are productive, however, have created a system and put it in place to reduce distractions. For example, they work on their most important tasks in the morning. During this time they close their door and turn-off smartphone notifications. When completed, they have a specific amount of time dedicated to mundane tasks like email.

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Another difference between productive people and those who are not — is that busy people get lost in minor details. Productive individuals focus on macro issues. As long as you get from A to B efficiently, it doesn’t matter the exact route you took. It just matters that you got there.

Skip striving for perfection and obsessing over every little detail. Focus on hitting key milestones that help you achieve your objectives.

5. Say “yes” strategically.

Busy folks rarely say “no.” They say “yes” to most requests — whether that’s taking on a new assignment or RSVPing to a party. “Yes-ing” everything will eventually pack a schedule with things that do little to improve a persons’ lives.

Productive people are more strategic with their time. They know that saying “yes” is a time commitment that prevents them from focusing on priorities. They will only say “yes” to requests if it helps them achieve their goals. If their value goals are not being pursued, they’ll politely say “no.”

6. Be willing to make sacrifices.

There’s a belief that as entrepreneurs or business owners you have to sacrifice things like spending time with family or doing the hobbies that we’re passionate about doing. There may be some truth to that if you want to be busy 24/7.

Productive people are willing to make sacrifices if that gives them more time to rest, spend with the people who matter most and pursue interests like a side-hustle. Establishing “business” and “out-of-office” hours helps to reserve needed quality time. Examples would be unplugging on the weekends and quitting committees or organizations that are not building you in some manner.

Some people may not get you and you may even frustrate others when you’re not available on a Saturday afternoon. But, you’ll feel less hurried, overwhelmed, and stressed. Most importantly, it ensures that you aren’t neglecting your own self-care and priorities.

7. Surround yourself with productive people.

A 2014 study found that friends can influence our choices. Depending on your friends, that could be either good or bad.

For example, productive people surround themselves with those who encourage, support and motivate them. These productive people are usually competent with their goals. On the other hand, busy people surround themselves with those who indulge them. It may be fun to veg out and watch movies all day, but that is rarely the best use of your time.

8. Weigh the pros and cons before jumping on a trend.

Whether it’s the latest social or business trend, busybodies are all over it and that’s not always the worst thing in the world. But, these trends may not have enough lasting value. As a result, busybodies spend time jumping from trend-to-trend.

Before jumping on any bandwagon, productive people will weigh the pros and cons of the trend. If it’s not providing value or improving lives, then the direction isn’t worth the time or financial investment.

For example, it seems like everyone wants to have their own podcast or YouTube channel. People are making a fortune with this type of content. However, if you take a step back, you’ll realize that it’s only a small fraction of people who are making money on these channels. Are these channels the type that would help you with your career or life goals?

9. Be honest about your progress.

At the end of the day ask yourself if you had an incredibly busy day without any rhyme or reason? Or did the work you did today bring you closer to your goals? This honest introspection should become a daily ritual. Asking yourself these questions about your productivity and will help you put your work in perspective. You’ll be able to differentiate between what’s a priority and what’s not.

Questioning yourself will give you an opportunity to think about what went well with your day and what didn’t — giving you the opportunity to make adjustments going forward.

4 Covid-19 Changes to Keep for the Long Haul

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4 Covid-19 Changes to Keep for the Long Haul

Covid-19 has forever changed our work, our social interactions, and even how we view ourselves. We’ve come to understand our own limits better, even as we’ve learned the importance of self-care. That doesn’t mean, however, we’ve enjoyed the experience. 

Let’s be honest: Plenty of those changes we’ll be happy to discard once it’s safe to do so. Which of them, however, should we consider keeping for the long haul?

While you’re likely sick of social distancing, there are a few changes beyond more frequent handwashing that you should keep long after the pandemic has ended:

1. Setting Your Own Schedule

Covid-19 turned our world upside down and turned our days into a grey fog of sameness. We learned, intentionally or not, how to clear the haze by controlling our schedule. 

We need our work time, our quiet time, and our family time. As Calendar suggests, we thrive on routine, and losing it can leave us feeling lost and disoriented. 

Make a point, if you don’t already, to separate your work and play spaces. Set clear work and “office” hours. When it’s time to put one down, take the other up with a vengeance. 

To be clear, you don’t need to have every minute of the day rigidly scheduled out. But if there’s one thing you should hold on to once the pandemic is over, it’s the importance of making time for all aspects of your life. 

2. Embracing Mental and Emotional Care

You’ve likely heard the phrase “collective trauma” more than once over the past year. You may have even experienced its symptoms: chiefly irritability, frustration, and depression.  

For many of us, this has required making a conscious effort to cope. It’s meant figuring out what keeps us sane in a world that has, too often, seemed like it’s gone mad. 

Maybe you need to schedule in gym time, some counseling sessions, or even a Covid-safe spa day. Or, to the point above, it might just entail making sure you have uninterrupted family time on your calendar.

Do what you need to take care of yourself. Make your mental and emotional health your top priority this year.

3. Taking Being Sick Seriously

Too often, we treat common colds as annoyances we have to push aside and power through. It’s understandable: colds aren’t, generally speaking, serious illnesses. Covid-19 reminded us that some infections, however, are. 

According to LinkedIn, workers took an average of just 2.5 sick days in 2018. Sick employees aren’t only less productive, but they risk infecting others and affecting their productivity. 

The bottom line is, overextending yourself when you’re sick doesn’t help anyone. Focusing on what’s important and taking the time to recover, on the other hand, helps everyone.

That might involve staying in when you want to go out with friends. It might mean rescheduling a meeting or moving an in-person appointment to a virtual one. Realize that your being ill affects others. So stay home and focus on recovery. 

4. Telecommuting

This change should catch no one by surprise. Over the past year, “telecommute” has become almost as familiar a word as “pandemic.” 

To be sure, not every job or industry is suited for at-home work. Not everyone will have the option to work remotely once Covid-19 has passed. 

For those who can telecommute, however, the arrangement can be a godsend. Remote workers are as productive as, if not more productive than, their in-office team members. Leaders can leverage the perk to expand their talent pool and to save on office costs. 

Make no mistake: offices, gyms, and schools will reopen once the pandemic is over. But at the same time, telecommuting is here to stay. 

Although it can be difficult to see silver linings in something like a pandemic, Covid-19 has its share. The challenge, of course, is seizing them at the same time you steer your life back to “normal.” Fortunately, you have the entire world as company. 

12 Productivity Hacks You Probably Aren’t Using

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Sometimes the conventional wisdom and obvious advice that you’ve heard a million times doesn’t cut it when need a major productivity boost. During these times you might need to think outside the box and use the following 12 productivity hacks to get you back-on-track.

Sometimes the conventional wisdom and obvious advice that you’ve heard a million times doesn’t cut it when need a major productivity boost. During these times you might need to think outside the box and use the following 12 productivity hacks to get you back-on-track.

1. Work when you’re most effective.

“Everyone has times of the day when they are more efficient. They also have times of the day when they tend to drag their feet,” writes Max Palmer in a previous Calendar article. “If you want to maximize your effectiveness throughout the day you need to identify your peak hours.”

After you’ve identified when you’re more effective, “it’s time to optimize your schedule,” adds Max. “The tasks that require the most concentration need to be taken care of when you’re at your best.”

For example, if you’re at your peak between nine am to noon, and you’re a freelance writer, then that’s when you should writing your most important, challenging, and undesirable assignments.

Once you’ve eaten that frog, you can tackle those smaller, more enjoyable, and less important writing gigs.

2. Unsubscribe and unfollow.

Our tastes change frequently throughout life. For instance, if you got into Crossfit several years ago you probably started following trainers on social media, signed-up for newsletters and purchased the proper gear and Paleo cookbooks.

Today, however, your body can’t handle Crossfit. Now all of those newsletters and feeds aren’t relevant to you. But, they’re still filling-up your inbox and feed.

Take a couple of minutes to unsubscribe and unfollow newsletters and feeds that are no longer providing you with value. This way you won’t be spending as much time maintaining your email and social accounts since it’s lean and mean.

I would do this at least once a month so that your inbox and social feeds don’t become too cluttered.

3. Work from a communal space.

Most of us can’t focus when there’s a conversation right next to us. You can forget about getting any deep work done when that jackhammer is going to town on the sidewalk in front of your office. As a result, we tend to lock ourselves in a completely silent office.

The fact, however, is that ambient noise can actually make you more productive.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found ambient noise of 70 decibels increased productivity more than relative quiet.

So if you work from home relocate to a co-working space. Instead of shutting your office door spend a couple of hours at your favorite coffee shop. The white noise, vibe, and java will keep you going.

4. Use a treadmill desk.

I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of people raving about the benefits of standing desks. But, how about you take that to the next level with a treadmill desk?

Researchers at the University of Queensland found that standing up while you work and walking on a treadmill desk reduces stress and boosts productivity.

Lead researcher Nicholas Gilson, an associate professor with the university’s School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, said in a press release, “We found people who use activity-promoting desks were more able to focus on urgent tasks, avoid non-urgent tasks and manage stress better than people sitting at a desk all day.”

Dr. Gilson added, “The workers who used sit-stand or walking desks allocated attention most effectively and had lower levels of cortisol – known as the “stress hormone” – in their saliva.”

You can purchase a new treadmill desk, like the LifeSpan TR1200-DT5, on Amazon for just over $1,500. You could also purchase workstation to go with your existing treadmill or, if you’re creative, you can probably build your own for a couple of hundred bucks.

5. Create a mini-crisis.

I wouldn’t recommend doing this all-of-the-time, but there are moments when we work best under pressure. Let’s say that you’re heading out-of-town for a business trip or family vacation. I can guarantee that the week leading up to your departure you’re going to be hustling so that you don’t have to worry about work while you’re away.

You can recreate this sensation by blocking out less time than you think you’ll actually need to complete a task. Instead of blocking out three hours for writing, cut it down to two. Instead of an hour dedicated to emails, spend only 30-minutes. You’ll be surprised at how much more you’ll get accomplished when you have less time to spend on a specific task.

6. Sleepless.

This doesn’t mean that you should only get four hours of sleep per night. After all, quality sleep ensures that you’ll have enough energy to make it through the day.

This means that you don’t need to sleep for eight or more hours every night.

Clinical studies show that we only need 6 to 7 hours of sleep. Imagine what you can do with that extra hour or two of time instead of sleeping.

7. Optimize your workspace.

It’s no secret that maintaining a proper workspace boosts productivity, creativity, and energy. But, how many of us actually take the time to optimize our workspaces?

You can start today by making these quick workspace changes:

  • Invest in ergonomic furniture — particularly your office chair. It can be a bit pricey, but it’s worth it if you want to become more efficient while remaining comfortable.
  • Clean and organize your workspace. This means putting stacks of paper away, cleaning-up messy computer cables, and placing everything back where they belong so you can find them when needed.
  • Locate your workspace to a spot where you’re exposed to natural light. If there aren’t any sunny spots, purchase a full spectrum light.
  • Put some live plants in your workspace. They purify the air and come with psychological benefits that can boost productivity.
  • Face your workspace towards the door. Having your back to the door can make you feel insecure.

I’d also add that you set your workspace to the right temperature. Researchers at Cornell have found that offices, where temperatures were 68 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, made 44 percent more mistakes. Offices at optimal room temperature, which is around 77 degrees Fahrenheit, made fewer errors.

8. Listen to the right kind of music.

As mentioned above, white noise can increase your productivity. This also includes music. In fact, according to research from Dr. Teresa Lesiuk, those who listened to music while working not only completed their tasks faster, they also had better ideas.

The caveat here is that you have to listen to the right type of music. This includes classical, ambient soundtracks, video game music, epic music, and the sounds of nature.

[email protected] is a handy app that can boost your productivity by finding the right music to help you focus more.

9. Take a cold shower.

This may seem a little out there. But as noted by researchers at the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam, “Cold bathing is a common custom in many parts of the world.” In fact, humans have experimented with water temperature variation for centuries. “In ancient times, Roman bathing was based around the practice of moving through a series of heated rooms culminating in a cold plunge at the end.”

Modern research has found that taking a cold shower can strengthen your immunity and circulation, help you recover after exercise, and make you more alert and energized.

This doesn’t mean you have to take a 5-minute shower in freezing water either. You can start off with a warm shower and follow that by a 30, 60, or 90-second blast of cold water to get your day started.

10. Hydrate.

If you want to be at peak productivity, then you need to be fully hydrated.

It’s been found that even just a one percent drop in hydration can result in a 12 percent reduction in productivity! A three or four percent drop in hydration can lead to between 25 percent to 50 percent reduction in productivity.

To stay fully hydrated, make sure that you’re drinking at least two liters of water daily. Make sure to update this in your academic calendar as well!

11. Know exactly how long your breaks should be.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but we need to take breaks throughout the day. But, as As Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project, perfectly explains, “Without any downtime to refresh and recharge, we’re less efficient, make more mistakes, and get less engaged with what we’re doing.”

Studies have found that in the morning we can stay focused on a task for around 90 minutes before we start to lose focus. As such, we should then take a 20-minute break every 90 minutes. That makes sense it follows our natural body rhythms.

In the afternoon though, we should use the Pomodoro Technique where you work in 25-minute chunks and then take a five-minute break. When the fourth time comes around you take a 25-30 minute break. This works better in the afternoon since our biological rhythms have stabilized.

If that’s too much too figure out, break for 17 minutes every 52 minutes throughout the day. The idea is that we need frequent breaks throughout the day in order to stay focused and energized throughout the day.

12. Declutter your Calendar.

Do you wake-up in the morning, look at your calendar, and become instantly stressed? It’s probably because you’re calendar is too cluttered. And when you have too much planned in one day, it’s impossible to accomplish everything that needs to get done.

Take the time to clear the clutter from your calendar by:

  • Every night review your calendar and select only your top 3 priorities for tomorrow.
  • Review all of your recurring events and commitments. Some of these may no longer be valuable or fit into your schedule and may need to be removed.
  • Stop filling your calendar with tasks that only take a minute of your time.
  • Share your calendar with others so that everyone knows your availability.
  • Keep a separate calendar for work so that you’re calendar isn’t jam-packed with work and personal entries.
  • Stop saying “yes” to every request and invite.
  • Use a scheduling assistant, like Calendar, to eliminates those back-and-forth communications when scheduling appointments.

8 Tips for Cutting Down on Unnecessary Customer Emails

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8 Tips for Cutting Down on Unnecessary Customer Emails

The daily task of reading and responding to unnecessary customer emails can feel like an endless routine. You might think you’ve communicated every piece of information clearly and thoroughly. But some customers just don’t do their homework before sending an email with a question you thought you had already answered. 

Finding ways to cut down on unnecessary customer emails will decrease the amount of time you spend in your inbox and increase the amount of time you can grow your business. Here are some helpful tips for reducing unnecessary customer emails while keeping customers happy to continue working with you. 

Implement Online Scheduling

Your business may thrive on a personal touch that includes friendly small talk every time a customer calls to make an appointment. It’s more likely, however, that people want to quickly schedule, cancel, or confirm appointments as quickly as possible and move on. 

Offering an online scheduling option is a win-win for you and your customers, as it lets busy people communicate important information quickly and efficiently. Online scheduling also reduces scheduling errors, which are both frustrating for customers and costly in terms of staff time.

Better still, an online scheduling system gives customers the power to choose their preferred date and time for an appointment. This feature helps eliminate any potential back-and-forth emails and promotes a heightened sense of appointment “ownership.” Customers are far more likely to keep an appointment they set themselves.

Make Information Available Across Multiple Channels

Pay attention to the questions that seem to require an infinite number emails from you and your staff to answer. This is perhaps the simplest way to determine what information you should be providing to the public. The channels you select to convey that information may vary — your website, social media, and/or print — but the need to do so is plain.

Not that you’re trying to cut your customers off from all human contact. You’re simply seeking to serve them by heading off frequent questions. In doing so, you make your life easier as well.

Be the Change You Want to See in the World

Of course, no business will be able to entirely dispense with email anytime soon. Given that reality, consider the following tips for sharpening your own email conduct. After all, one of the best ways to encourage the behavior you want to see in others is to model it yourself.

Send Fewer Emails

This may sound overly simplistic, but every time you send an email, you invite the recipient to click the “Reply” button. Letter writers like to say “You gotta write ’em to get ’em,” but the reverse is also true. If you want to receive fewer emails, stop sending so many yourself.

Communication theorist Marshall McLuhan famously said, “The medium is the message.” Keep his point in mind when deciding whether email is in fact the best medium for the information you need to convey. A quick phone call, Slack message, or in-person conversation might be more appropriate.

Think Twice Before Clicking ‘Reply’ or ‘Reply to All’

Have you ever been part of an endless email thread of office lunch orders? If yes, did you enjoy putting work on hold long enough to read Ben’s request for beef on rye?

There are two equal and opposite errors to avoid when considering the dreaded “Reply to All” button. The first is needlessly copying a message to tons of people who don’t need to see it. The second error is not replying to all when all parties actually need to be informed. Choosing the right mechanism probably takes less than two seconds of thought and demonstrates respect for other people’s time.

Improve Your Subject Lines

We all skim our email inboxes trying to sift for important messages. Writing clear, specific, concise subject lines will endear you to your email recipients as it enables them to prioritize reading and responding as they think best. Providing only pertinent information will serve to minimize confusion.

Best practices include limiting every email message to one topic. If your email includes multiple issues and questions, it’s likely that one or more of them will be missed in the response. Don’t drift; stick to providing details only on what you’ve highlighted in your subject line.

Get to the Point ASAP

When speaking, it’s common to include superfluous details that help illustrate your point or reference a related situation as an aside. If you compose emails the same way you talk, though, even the simplest requests can turn into a novella.

Your goal should be to minimize the amount of time required for a customer to interact with your message, not win an essay competition. Lengthy emails will fatigue your recipients and increase the likelihood of a confused response.

Keep your salutation friendly but brief. Get to the point. Use your first few words to tell your recipient why you’re reaching out, what you hope to accomplish, and the expected time frame for a response. By doing this, you’ll avoid miscommunication and head off further emails requesting clarification.

Remember when email promised to make our work lives so much easier? The daily grind of reading and responding to unnecessary messages has since ballooned into a major contributor to lost productivity. But by following these tips to cut down on unnecessary emails, you’ll soon be able to reclaim your inbox — and your sanity.

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