All posts by Abby Miller

Time is All We Have

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Time is All We Have

When we say time is all we have, we’re not just talking about showing up to work on time every day all year long. Punctuality really means getting to work ahead of time.

Punctuality, or being on time, is essential for workplace efficiency (and especially job interviews), but it might be even more critical for your personal branding.

“You can set your clock by him (or her)” is a phrase not heard much anymore. But it is still one of the most valuable compliments an employee can be paid. With modern technology like smartphones and GPS, it ought to be a no-brainer to make it to scheduled appointments on time. Yet so often, managers complain of workers who are still an ‘a day late and a dollar short.’

With this in mind, here are five compelling reasons why timeliness is a vital soft skill to strive towards.

Punctuality equals time equals efficiency.

Few things scream “disorganized,” like being late all of the time.
While being chaotic in social settings may appear eccentric and odd, it is terrible news in the business.

Employers want to know that their employees are productive, and wasting time looking for files, tracking down client notes, or looking for a missing invoice costs the organization money.
Being organized makes it much simpler to accomplish projects, arrive at meetings, and fulfill client needs every time.

You’re on time: so you’re a trustworthy coworker and employee.

When it comes to job advancement, your personal reputation is valuable.
When your coworkers think you’re on time, they’re more inclined to include you in new and exciting tasks.

After all, no one wants to entrust a crucial project to someone who is prone to miss deadlines.

You improve the image of your organization.

It’s a safe assumption that your boss values timeliness.
Customers quickly lose faith in organizations that do not regularly deliver on time in today’s competitive industry.

Whatever position you play in the supply chain, sticking to a schedule helps maintain your company’s excellent image, which is a benefit for its success – and your involvement in it.

Punctuality demonstrates professionalism and detail-oriented thinking.

Let’s face it: storming into a meeting room five minutes late with papers flying and a sweaty brow isn’t a good image.
Furthermore, you are denying yourself the opportunity to test out beneficial techniques.

Whether it’s a client meeting, a team debrief, or a staff training session, being on time allows you to double-check that you have everything you need (iPad, pencils, agenda, etc.) and go over your notes.
It’s also an opportunity to figure out the optimum sitting location for you – one that allows you to maintain eye contact with the primary speaker while also maximizing your personal visibility so you can make a meaningful contribution.
It’s difficult to be seen as a serious contributor when you’re locked in the back of a conference room, bobbing and weaving amongst coworkers simply to see what’s going on because you arrived late.

Being on time implies you’ll have all of the knowledge you need to finish a project.
Even being a few minutes late to a meeting might result in you missing out on essential data that provide the groundwork for the remainder of the conversation.

You hold your coworkers in high regard.

Few things are more aggravating than having your own fine work sabotaged by a colleague’s tardiness.

With good reason, teamwork is a fundamental driver of modern organizations. Being on time is the fuel that runs the machine. Moreover, workplaces are interconnected; when everyone completes duties on schedule, workflows smoothly across the company.

A snag in one location, on the other hand, slows down the entire line, causing everyone else to suffer.
Setting a deadline for yourself to complete your part of the process on time indicates your respect for your coworkers’ ability to fulfill their own deadlines.

Simple strategies to incorporate timeliness into your personal brand

There are several solutions available to help you reach your aim of timeliness. Here are just a few to consider:

  • A simple written diary note or an alert on your smartphone or computer may serve as a handy reminder of scheduled appointments, phone calls, and deadlines.
  • Use a time management tool like Remember the Milk or Time Doctor to keep track of your tasks.
  • Also, avoid attempting to outwit the clock.
  • Learn exactly how long a task, a meeting, or a phone conversation will take — and manage your time better.
  • Setting unreasonable, strict deadlines will almost always result in you falling behind.
  • Allow for unforeseen disruptions by allowing some wiggle room.

These tips might assist you in maintaining your timeliness without being concerned about falling behind schedule.

Image Credit: DS Stories; Pexels; Thanks!

Parental Time Management Hacks that Work

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Parental Time Management Hacks that Work

Parents who work full-time provide a little magic and grace throughout the day. The Covid-19 pandemic punishes working parents.

Parents who work full-time are the best people to provide a little magic and grace throughout the day to their own children — But don’t underestimate the care they take with your team, either.

Parental Time Management Hacks that Work

The Covid-19 pandemic has made it almost impossible to be productive and totally engaged at work for working parents. Although everyone is ready to return to normal, even a “new normal” after the pandemic, working parents will likely feel overwhelmed and stressed.

These hacks are tried and tested and have helped many manage a busy household while helping people and teams maximize efficiency and productivity for decades. Add all of your duties and on your Calendar each month. 

Do a time audit every month.

You know that a lot of time is wasted, but most parents don’t spend the time evaluating what could be done differently. A “time audit” is a process that helps you identify where you are wasting your precious time. A time audit is like a financial-wellness audit that a financial advisor might recommend.

Take a copy of your calendar from the previous month, go through each activity and ask these questions:

  • Was this an efficient use of my time?
  • Could this be outsourced, delegated, or simplified?
  • What should I do to respond to this request?

A time audit helps you save time and money in the long term. It is too easy to fill up our calendar with requests and priorities from other people. But if we want to take control of our time, we need to take a proactive approach. Know how you use your time and assess how you use your time.

As a boss, if you are also doing a time audit — keep in mind the office chatter, the water cooler trips, and the lunches, and don’t count those “times” against your “at home” working parents.

Establish work-life friendly team ground rules

The biggest obstacle to setting boundaries about how late you can work responding to emails and other after-hour chores — or working on vacation lies in the legitimate concern that these boundaries might not be compatible with the corporate culture.

All of the extra-long-hour work you did before children are the reason you’ll want to have an essential conversation with your team.

While it is one thing to have your own habits or practices to help you leave work at home, it’s another to be able to discuss these issues as a team and set boundaries that they can all agree on when you have half the team at the office and the other half at home.

Some examples of ground rules could include:

  • Meetings after 3:00 p.m.
  • End times for meetings have always been met — keep it that way. 
  • Please leave work at work—no emails or calls after 7:00 p.m.
  • Vacation is vacation. Emailing while you are sick or on vacation is not permitted.
  • All critical path activities will have backup owners.

These “rules” might not work for you, but it is vital to have a group discussion about how your team can support each other in achieving work/life balance.

Turn Waiting Time into Audio Book Time

Remembering to turn on an audiobook is one of my favorite gifts, and it doesn’t take any extra time. So many individuals have a long list of books we want to read. But who has the time?

Tuning in to the value of audiobooks was transformative for me. The practice has turned a lot of my regular wait times into audiobook listening time.

These 15-minute listening sessions have been a big part of my self-care and my professional and personal development. Listening to audio is a regular part of my daily life, especially while waiting in the carpool line or grocery shopping; it energizes and gives you new thoughts and vision for your work.

Many people would find commute time to be an excellent opportunity for audiobooks or podcasts. It’s simple to take advantage of the downtime throughout the week and read at least one book per week. One book a week has had a significant impact on my life and makes for exciting conversations in all parts of life.

Contrary to popular belief, consuming every minute of your day with an activity (regardless of whether it’s enjoyable or not) isn’t healthy and doesn’t feel like self-care. Your body is the best timekeeper you have. So you will know how much time to spend on this new venture.

Coming out of Covid — you don’t have to accept every party invitation for your kids’ happiness.

You’ve probably accepted a birthday invitation because your child wanted to go, but then you are dragging them around all weekend you haven’t taken care of yourself. 

Many teens want to stay in bed and play vids until noon, which isn’t always a bad idea — but you need help with the house cleaning and pick up so that you are refreshed to get back to work on Monday.

It’s all too common to look at the kid’s invitation with the party theme and be excited for them — but then you don’t get your weekend catch-up done, and maybe you should consider other priorities like extra sleep, lounging, downtime, or additional sleep.

You might want to pause before accepting invitations if your weekends are not relaxing and reenergizing but rather too busy.

You can wait until the day before the party to make a decision or even suggest writing a fabulous birthday card to your child instead of going to the party.

Your Work-Life Balance Down Time

You need to have downtime as a working parent. But, when weekends are too busy, even with pleasant events such as birthday parties, you won’t have the opportunity (and need) to recharge your batteries — the batteries that will sustain you throughout your l.o.n.g week.

Sometimes, small incremental changes can lead to significant changes in your power and energy.

No one magic bullet will give you a lot of extra time, even for busy professionals.

Parents who work full-time will struggle to prioritize and make it all work. Therefore, it is essential to be thoughtful and intentional about how you spend your most valuable resource — time.

How to Recognize and Destroy Time Wasters

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They are everywhere. Time wasters. Chronological cat burglars. Minute moochers. Is there any way to stop them? You bet your sundial there is!

There are chronological criminals among us. So here is some lighthearted advice to take or not as you see fit.

Time is an interesting concept. Babies don’t know anything about it. Children bend it to suit their own selfish needs. Teenagers can be big-time wasters, as long as it makes their parents mad. Adults become enslaved by it. Seniors are threatened by it. And, of course, the deceased don’t worry about it anymore. That’s why you see so many sundials on graves. They’re laughing at the rest of us.

So what does time really mean to us? The living. The working. The anxious. The serfs. All you rich people who might be reading this article at the moment can go hop on your private jets and fly to Bermuda because you don’t care about time one way or the other, do you?

But for the average Joe Timex, time is a nagging presence that hovers over us — giving an evil chuckle from time to time when our schedules go awry. And what makes our schedules go awry? Time wasters!

Now when you’re at home or away from the office, you can deal with time wasters any way you want, legal or otherwise. But, right now, we are dealing with those insidious time wasters in the office, on the factory floor, who keep you from finishing your work.

Time is money, and you’re already in debt!

Let’s start in the home office. Many poor deluded souls believe working at home saves them time. But, of course, that might be true for the lucky few who don’t have spouses, children, neighbors, or pets just waiting to bushwhack them their schedule.

Take children, for instance. They have a built-in radar that knows precisely when you are in a Zoom conference with your manager. When they sense this opportunity, they go into action. Cereal is spilled. Knees are cut. Fights break out. In other words, all hell breaks loose. And for some strange reason, you are the one they expect to take charge of the situation.

By the time you get things settled, your boss has gone off to happy hour, and you wish you could too.

Here’s what to do . . .

  • When your spouse doesn’t respect your work schedule at home, try divorce. If that’s too expensive or emotional, try earplugs.
  • Perchance earplugs are too itchy for you — use that golden question: “Can we talk about this when I take you out to dinner tonight?”
  • If worst comes to worst, prepare a hidey-hole in your home office where you can secret yourself from the tender attentions of your spouse.
  • For pesky neighbors, the best recourse is a vicious dog. One that would bite the leg off of the Dalai Lama.
  • The only exception to this rule would be if your neighbors bring you good things to eat. If that’s the case, use land mines. So they have a sporting chance to get through.
  • Children should be treated with kindness and consideration. They are unaware of the awful burden you bear as a slave in the salt mines. So when they come to you with their petty squabbles and tears, do not turn them away. Just give them lots of candy and lead them to the TV. You’ll never be bothered by them again.
  • (The ASPCA has approved the following recommendations.) Cats should be sedated with catnip. Dogs should be given the biggest bone the butcher has. Birds should be let out of their cages into the great outdoors. Lizards and snakes, which don’t make any noise anyway, should be donated to the local zoo. You don’t have time to take care of them properly.

In the office . . .

time thief may be your own boss. If that’s the case, just grit your dentures and suck it up. It might help to daydream about the beaches of Thailand while your boss is bloviating. On the other hand, if it’s a coworker who constantly purloins your need to count the bottle caps in your desk drawer, then the answer is just put some cotton dipped in red food coloring in your ears.  And if a colleague still attempts to take your time, just point to your ears and shake your head. If this doesn’t discourage them, then try a piteous groan or two. They should take the hint.

In conclusion . . .

Although this has been a lighthearted look at time wasters — and maybe, perchance a time waster to read — the problem of time wasters is real and it is serious. The best way to keep busy and uninterrupted is to look extraordinarily harried and busy and like you will not stand for any interruption. That’s all you really need to know. That will keep most time parasites away.

Why Every Gig Worker Needs an Online Calendar

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Why Every Gig Worker Needs an Online Calendar

The spotlight was shined on the gig economy during the heat of Covid-19 as thousands of workers looked to earn paychecks as businesses closed around them. While most of the world has since reopened, the gig economy is still alive and well. There are a lot of positive aspects of being a gig worker that has kept people around for the long haul.

Several skills are helpful when becoming a gig worker, but none are as important as that of time management. When you’re not being paid by the hour, time is extremely valuable to you. That’s why every gig worker should have an online calendar. Let’s dissect the reasons why:

Managing Your Workload

Not having direct supervision as a gig worker is both a blessing and a curse. On the positive side, you get a lot more freedom and flexibility than you would by working on a salary. On the opposing end, though gig work is exciting and much more interesting — becoming a successful gig worker requires a lot of drive and initiative to get moving.

You also need to be careful about biting off more than you can chew. By tracking projects in your online Calendar, you can see if you’re getting a little overloaded and need to stop taking on new projects for a short time. For example, it’s better to complete three projects in a week with time to spare than to take on five and need to push back deadlines and endure some stressful, sleepless nights.

Meeting Deadlines

As a gig worker, the most essential aspect of your job will be to meet a plethora of deadlines. If you miss deadlines, you don’t get paid, and you’ll quickly lose customers. You want to be known as a reliable worker so that the request and recommendations continue to roll in.

What do you need to do in order to meet deadlines? Perhaps you need project management software to break down your projects into manageable pieces. On the other hand, maybe an endless stream of reminders and notifications is what you need to stay on track. Find out what methods work best for you and put them to work using your online Calendar.

Balancing Work and Home

A lot of gig workers are actually able to work from home. For these individuals, the lines between work and home can sometimes blend together. If you’re not careful, work can overtake your personal life entirely, which can be dangerously unhealthy.

With your Calendar in hand, make a proactive effort to dedicate time to family, friends, and hobbies. Learning where and how to use your time might feel forced at first, but it will help you learn how to prioritize the various aspects of your life and create time for everything. Of course, if that means you have to schedule in your family dinner in your Calendar — so be it.

A great way to tell how your work-life balance is faring, turn to Calendar analytics. This page of your Calendar will display the usage data of your time for accurate comparison. For example, if you’re noticing a very low percentage of your planned activities are geared toward family, you’ll know it’s time to plan some more activities in this area.

Scheduling helps you make sure that your created life pans out according to your dreams and the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Connecting With Clients

Your customer and client meetings are essential to both schedule and master to provide the best results to customers. Using your Calendar, you can start every meeting off on the right foot by being punctual every single time. Showing up late to your own meeting is never ideal for a first impression.

Using an online calendar will also help your clients be more timely with proposed meetings. It’s mighty frustrating to waste idle time for a customer to show up for a preplanned meeting. Reminders will often come in the clutch, and the ability to share video conferencing links directly in event invitations for any digital meetings you have.

Handling Money

Many contracted workers in the gig economy have found that there is more money to be made by being your own boss. However, paychecks can be inconsistent, and company benefits are no longer available. Therefore, you need to be smart with your finances if you want this to be a viable long-term commitment.

While online Calendars are known for their ability to help you manage your time, they are also helpful when it comes to budgeting. For example, you can set recurring reminders to set aside money for taxes, contribute to a savings account, or stay on top of bills. When you stay on top of your bills, it will help your finances feel consistent even when your paychecks aren’t.

Marketing

Gig workers are basically just miniature versions of entrepreneurs. Instead of running an entire business, they operate through a personal brand. With that being said, how you market yourself is incredibly important.

Depending on your line of work, there might be umbrella companies that can help you with marketing and advertising or eliminate the need entirely. Ridesharing or food delivery, for example, typically run through apps that customers use without requesting a specific driver. In addition, gig worker sites such as Fiverr provide a platform for all sorts of different contracted projects to increase visibility.

Other gig workers might need to use other means to draw attention to their services. Social media is an excellent example. Let’s say you’re an independent plumber working under your own name. A simple social media page can have contact information, pricing, and examples of your work to help increase customer acquisition.

If you want to see if the gig economy is right for you, pick up a few projects in your downtime to ease into the transition. If you decide to make the complete switch, keep these tips in mind so your new lifestyle can be a successful one.

How Parents Should Spend Their Time With Kids Back in School

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How Parents Should Spend Their Time With Kids Back In School

A lot of parents really look forward to the first day of school. Not only do they support growth and learning, but it’s also nice to have the house to themselves for a few hours each day. Summer can get pretty hectic, and school hours provide a much-needed respite.

For stay-at-home parents, those school hours provide a lot of opportunities. The question is, how do you fill up those empty hours in your Calendar? Here are a few ways parents can make the most of the time the kids are away at school this upcoming scholastic year:

Reverse the Damage of Summer

First things first, staying on top of messes during the summer can be quite tricky. However, now that your kids will be spending most of the day at school, you have plenty of time to pick up the slack left in housekeeping. Just a few days of elbow grease should be all you need to reverse the majority of the damage left by summer festivities.

Sure, it’s helpful and even developmentally beneficial to have your kids pitch in with the cleaning, especially if they’re responsible for the mess. However, school can often be a stressful time, and you don’t want to overload them too much if they’re struggling during their first week. Besides, you work much more efficiently than they do anyways.

Prepare the Afternoons

When your kids get home from school, they are going to be tired from sitting all day in a classroom and participating in any after-school activities they’re enrolled in. They won’t always be super agreeable or cooperative, especially if a long day was equally difficult. Preparing the afternoons for them is a great parenting gesture that requires little effort but goes a long way.

For example, let’s say you know one of your sons is coming home from football practice, and your other son is stressed about an application for the Honor Society. Before they even walk through the door, they have everything they need set up. Layout a change of clothes and set up a study area. The little things like this you can do will pave the way for your children to succeed no matter what they do.

Do Some Meal Planning

If there is anything kids can do well, it’s eating and eating often. Of course, they’ll be expecting dinner to be made for them as they return home and some sack lunches to take on a day when the cafeteria is serving mystery meat. So to avoid kitchen burnout, use your time while everyone is at school to do some meal planning.

By planning out your weekly meals, you can do your grocery shopping more efficiently and even cut down on cooking time. Leftover dinner can provide lunch for all your kids the next day or even provide some meal variations for the entire week. If you’re deciding what to cook at three in the afternoon, you’re already behind.

Nothing will make meal prep as easy as an online calendar. List out the meals you want to try throughout the week and plan around your shopping trips. You can even coordinate with other families to share meals with some of your kids’ friends.

Enjoy the Alone Time

Let’s face it; you’ve earned some ‘me time’ and should start cashing it in. The extensive family time in the summer is incredible but admittedly exhausting. So kick up your feet for a spell and enjoy a few hours of peace and quiet after months of chaos.

Try to make your alone time a little productive or at least enjoyable. Opt for reading a book or picking up an old hobby before binge-watching the latest season of Grey’s Anatomy. If it helps, use your Calendar to intentionally plan solitary activities that will ensure the entire afternoon isn’t spent napping.

Improve Yourself

As an extension to that alone time, you can take a page out of your kids’ schoolbooks and look for some ways to improve yourself. For example, you can brush up on your math skills to help with homework, or even continue your own education using the plethora of online classes available through universities around the country.

Other ways to improve yourself include getting more exercise or maintaining your mental health. With kids out of the house, it will be much easier to fit in a long daily workout or book a Calendar appointment with a counselor or therapist.

Not sure what challenge you want to face? Check out the app store on your phone for some simple ideas. Some apps can teach you new languages, give you creative writing prompts, or even how to do basic coding.

Start a Side Hustle

Being a stay-at-home parent is both admirable and awe-inspiring. However, it can be noted that some of these parents sometimes don’t feel completely fulfilled when their kids spend long hours away from home. One way to fill up the time while providing for both the family and society as a whole is to start a side hustle.

Some side hustles are easy to get into, like downloading a food delivery or ridesharing app and picking up the odd job around town. Others require more creativity but can be more rewarding, like selling arts and crafts online. There’s really no limit to what you can do, from baked goods and homespun clothing to lawn care and painting.

Thanks to the magic of technology, it’s also easier than ever for stay-at-home parents to pick up a part-time job. In addition, working remotely opens up many more doors from employment with flexible schedules for even the parents with jam-packed Calendars.

Challenge yourself to do more with the time you’re being given this school year. Set goals using your Calendar and work alongside your children to become better people every single day.

8 Backyard Activities for Your Online Calendar

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8 Backyard Activities for Your Online Calendar

Summer is full of so many fun opportunities, especially with the kids having extra time off from school. However, there will be many days when your kids complain about how bored they are. Is it your job to never let that happen? Well, no, it’s not your job exactly — but here are some fun activities that will tickle your young ones.

With the Fourth of July on Sunday, I hope you can get away — but if not, try a couple of these fun activities.

8 Backyard Activities for Your Online Calendar

One way to keep your kids busy and active all summer long is to use your imagination by turning your backyard into a play place. This article outlines just 8 of the many activities you can put in your online calendar this summer and for years to come.

1. Camping

You don’t have to venture out into the wilderness in order to go camping. You can have just as much fun pitching a tent in the backyard. Your lawn will be a lot more comfortable than the uneven ground you normally find at a campground, and being within walking distance of the kitchen and bathroom doesn’t hurt either.

If you want to make it feel more like camping, add in some activities that you would normally participate in on a normal camping trip. Set up a fishing game in a backyard pool and put together a fire pit to roast some marshmallows.

2. Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt will keep the kids entertained for hours if set up correctly. You’ll be able to get some alone time or focus on a summer project while your kids scour the yard for clues leading to a secret treasure or reward. Invite some friends over to load up the search party and so that everyone can have some fun with it.

successful scavenger hunt will take some planning, so use your online calendar to take some time to make it just right. Write up clever clues, stash away hints, and add some decorations to make the hunt seem like a pirate’s treasure hunt of the incredible journey of some sci-fi adventurers.

3. Movie Night

There’s nothing quite like enjoying a movie in the backyard. All you have to do is get a white sheet, set up a projector, and enjoy the show. A couple of extension cords should be enough to hook up the projector and some speakers for a nearly authentic movie experience.

With your online calendar, you can plan the perfect night where the weather is ideal. Rain clouds or stifling heat will quickly ruin a movie night, so it’s best to avoid a dreary forecast. Additionally, scope out the days when the sun sets early to not keep the neighbors awake with your late-night movie watching.

4. Barbeque

The smell of a backyard barbeque should bring back some summer memories. Why not make some more by grabbing your apron and spatula and whipping up a delicious meal for the whole family. There are all kinds of different meats to try and even vegan options that will add some flavor to your summer.

Suppose you like a party, the more, the merrier. Have some friends, family, and neighbors come over to enjoy the perfect summer meal. Send them a calendar invite asking them to bring drinks, silverware, or a side dish to complement your grilling. Who knows, they might invite you over to their own barbeque later in the summer as their way of saying thank you.

5. Obstacle Course

Has your family watched any American Ninja Warrior this summer or plan on watching the Olympics? Unleash your inner athlete by putting together an obstacle course in the backyard. The best time wins a trip to their favorite restaurant the upcoming weekend.

Your obstacle course can be as creative as you want it to be. Anything you can find or build can become an obstacle. Just be sure to keep safety first! You can even add some water features to make it extra challenging.

6. Photoshoot

When was the last time your family took a picture together? Maybe this summer is the opportunity for you to get an updated portrait together. Even if your backyard is nothing fancy, it’s home. The pictures you take will be full of the memories you make there.

A family photoshoot doesn’t have to be perfect. Candid shots can be a lot more fun than static, cheesy smiles if you plan them right. You might have even more fun having a themed photoshoot with costumes, props, and more.

7. Water Fight

Is it really summer if you don’t have at least one water fight? Whether it’s splashing each other in the pool or running around the lawn with water guns, getting soaking wet is a must if you really want to say you beat the heat this summer.

Tossing water balloons at each other in the backyard is one thing. Getting the entire neighborhood together for a full-out water war is another. Wage one side of the street against the other for the mother of all water fights to highlight your summer activities. You can coordinate with other families by sharing online calendars and deciding which day will be the best for everyone to get soaked.

8. Sports

There are so many sports that can take place in your backyard. Put together a family whiffle ball game or simply play catch together in the shade. Set up some soccer goals, take each other on, or have a penalty shootout to see who has to do dishes that night.

Even some of the more obscure sports can come into play here. Try something your kids might not have heard of before, like bocci ball or croquet. These lowkey sports aren’t as likely to disturb the neighbors or get a ball launched over the fence and can quickly become family traditions.

The possibilities really are endless. Grab your online calendar and start planning out some fun and games today so that the remainder of your summer is jam-packed full of fun from end to end.

How to Use Your Online Calendar to Promote Mental Health

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How to Use Your Online Calendar to Promote Mental Health

Your most important asset isn’t your car, your house, or even your professional expertise; it’s your mental health.

The rest of your life relies on your mental wellbeing. Especially while the world is facing COVID-19, you have to protect it with every tool available to you — including your online calendar.

What Your Calendar Can Do for You

Your online calendar can’t change your mental state by itself, but it can help you implement and maintain healthier habits. You might be surprised at just how much your mental health improves when you:

1. Schedule Breaks

Going full-throttle all day, every day is exhausting. If you don’t permit yourself to take a step back, you may begin to burn out. Scheduling short breaks throughout your day can help you stay productive without getting overwhelmed.

It can be tough to take breaks when things are hectic. That’s where your online calendar comes in: If it never seems like a good time to take a break, schedule one every few hours. Your calendar can be set to remind you 10 minutes before it’s time, letting you wrap up what you’re working on.

2. Take a Mental Health Day

Frequent breaks throughout the day are helpful, but sometimes you need a full day to yourself. Although it’s best to schedule mental health days for weekends, don’t be afraid to talk with your employer if you need one stat.

Once you’ve decided on the right day, add it to your calendar. Either put together an itinerary for yourself — replete with food and fun activities — or give yourself an unstructured day. There’s no wrong way to do it!

3. Remind You to Move

Regular exercise is tightly correlated with better mental health. Physical activity feels good, takes your mind off your stressors, and gives you something to do with friends.

Why not use your online calendar to put together a workout schedule? That way, you don’t have to decide at the moment whether or not you want to work out — and if so, what exercises you’ll do. After a few days, physical activity will be just another part of your daily routine.

If you’d rather attend fitness classes or play a team sport, your online calendar is also a great place to record those sessions. Add other attendees to the event to create some positive social pressure.

4. Set and Achieve Goals

Setting goals gives us something to work toward, and achieving them provides a sense of fulfillment. That’s why many experts recommend goal-setting for both mental wellbeing and productivity.

Goals should be:

  • Specific: What, exactly, do you want to achieve? Instead of becoming happier, maybe you want to have five low-stress days each week.
  • Measurable: If your goals aren’t measurable, you’ll never know whether or not you’ve met them.
  • Achievable: There’s no sense in setting a goal you have no hope of achieving. Shoot too high, and you’ll only discourage yourself.
  • Relevant: If your priority is your mental health, your goal shouldn’t be to get a promotion. Do you really need more responsibilities at work right now?
  • Time-bounded: A goal without a time horizon attached is just hope. When is a challenging but realistic amount of time for achieving your goal?

5. Schedule Affirmations

Self-affirmations are mantras designed to encourage during moments of hardship. They take little time to say but can deliver big mental health benefits.

Even something short, such as “I won’t give up,” can do wonders when you’re feeling down. Repeat them as often as needed. If you worry about others judging you for talking to yourself, step into a private space.

6. Start a Journal

Sometimes, a little self-reflection is all it takes to get yourself to a better mental state. Remind yourself that if you’re looking for reasons to be sad, you’ll find them. Looking for the good instead can help you see things from a more positive perspective.

Journaling doesn’t take hours to work its magic. Start with a five-minute session: Add a reminder to your calendar to reflect on something that makes you happy. Soon, you’ll be reminding yourself to save your gratitude journaling for the time slot you selected.

7. Eat Well

The food we eat directly affects our emotional state. Eating a healthy, balanced diet ensures our brain has the nutrition it needs to be at its best.

Online calendars are ideal tools for meal planning. Mapping out what you’re going to eat makes it easier to stick to a diet or, perhaps, more importantly, limit the unhealthy foods you spoil yourself with.

8. Get Into a Groove

Adding structure to your life helps you feel in control. While scheduling every minute of your day isn’t always necessary, using your calendar to establish a healthy routine is critical. Moving forward with your routine can give you a sense of optimism even when the odds are stacked against you.

A good place to start is a morning routine: What do you need to be your happiest, most productive self at work? Routines are also important for other times of day, such as bedtime: How do you prefer to wind down, especially when you have a lot on your mind?

You have to make your mental health a priority because no one else will. Think through what you need to take care of yourself, and use your online calendar to make it happen. Remind yourself — as often and in as many ways as you can — that you deserve to be happy.

How to Empower Your Team Through Data

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Empowerment defined is the “authority or power given to someone to do something.” The explanation may not sound all that important. But, for your team, empowerment is vital. Here is how to empower your team through data.

As noted by The Wharton School, empowering your team creates a toxic-free environment where micromanagement is discouraged. It also encourages ownership, keeps everyone satisfied, boosts engagement, and frees-up your valuable time.

While you can do this by not always looking over your team’s shoulders, you can also use data to empower your team. But, first, let’s go over the benefits that your organization will experience after they have data at their fingertips.

Provides access to information promptly.

The main benefit is that your team will have fast and easy access to information that can help them become more effective and efficient. For example, if your team uses a tool like Calendar. Each person can track their time to see the time they’re spending in specific meetings, or at certain places. Knowing the specifics of their behavior, they can alter their schedules so that they’re devoting the right amount of time to the right things.

What’s more, this data can be used to pin-down performance metrics. In turn, this can boost productivity, agility, morale, and it keeps everyone on the same page. And, as an additional bonus, timely access to information can speed up workflows and the decision-making process. That may not sound overly important. But, as found in a report from Boston University, 47% of professionals stated that slow access to information impedes their ability to make decisions.

Improves your team’s performance, engagement, and motivation.

Every leader should make this a priority. After all, when you’re able to improve your team’s performance, engagement, and motivation, your team will be more productive and satisfied. And, thanks to data, this has never been easier.

In case you didn’t get the memo, money isn’t an effective way to motivate your team. They want to know that their work has purpose and meaning. And, yes, data can help you achieve this. For instance, you could display KPIs and employee goals so that your team can see the purpose and progress of their work. As a result, you’ll be less likely to micromanage them. And, this will grant them ownership, which will keep them happy and productive.

Helps you identify your top and bottom performers.

With data easily at your disposal, you can track each of your team members’ progress. That means you can quickly identify who your top performers are and then reward them accordingly. For example, let’s say a team member had completed a project ahead of schedule or made progress towards a goal. You could acknowledge their hard work and offer an incentive that they care about.

Additionally, you can also use this information to discover who your weakest links are. That doesn’t mean you have to let them go. But, this may allow you to meet with them and attempt to get to the root problem. Maybe they haven’t been able to make progress on a goal because they don’t possess time management skills, or they have too much on their plate. As such, you could redistribute tasks or help them solve their time management problems so that they can become a top performer.

Still not convinced? Well, other benefits include operational optimization and forecasting, streamlined procurement processing, customer analysis, and behavioral prediction, and cost optimization.

Using Data to Empower Your Team

Hopefully, you’re sold on the benefits of embracing business. Now, it’s time to learn how actually to empower your team using data.

Provide the right training and tools.

Training is essential when you’re introducing new technology, strategies, or concepts. Even if your team members are familiar with data, you still want to share with them the latest developments. Most importantly, you need to align business intel with their work.

In conjunction with training, you also need to arm them with the right tools. An example of this would be giving your sales the latest AI-powered sales app so that they have real-time insights about leads and customers on their phones.

Encourage communication and collaboration.

How can you empower your team if you’re keeping the data to yourself? That’s just counterproductive and poor use of data. Instead, share this information with everyone within your organization so that they’re up-to-date and on the same page.

Moreover, provide opportunities for your team to discuss and dig into the data. It’s a simple way to see how it’s impacting their performance. But, it also is a great way to get them more involved. As noted in a Forbes article, managers can “increase task identity by involving employees in more aspects of work by having them participate in the planning, reporting, and evaluation of projects rather than just the doing.”

Make the data more engaging.

Don’t bore your team with figures and numbers. Have a little fun with the data by making it more exciting and engaging by utilizing dashboards.

Dashboards, explains the folks over at Phocas “allow you to set the business indicators that are important to your business.” But, what makes for an excellent dashboard? At the minimum, it should “provide a visual, fact-driven overview of the indicators most important to your team, enabling them to see at a glance how the team is performing.”

Your dashboard will allow your team “to dive into the underlying data in the lightning-fast grid that sits behind the dashboard.” What about you, non-technical people? Well, they can “quickly build an interactive, customized dashboard, so your team can collaborate, revise, and print on the spot without help from IT.”

Use visuals and gamification as well.

Another way to accomplish this is by providing visuals. As Calendar founder John Rampton explained in a previous article, data visualization is the key to team productivity since visual learning is more efficient. It also helps you focus on what’s most important, advances AI and machine learning, and enhances communication and collaboration.

Just remember that to get the most out of data visualization, you should:

  • Understand the data you’re trying to visualize, such as the size and uniqueness.
  • Determine the data you want to visualize and what needs to be communicated.
  • Know your audience and their learning preferences.
  • Use visuals that present the information as briefly and simply as possible.
  • Use the right visual for the right situation. For instance, Gantt charts are ideal for updating the status of a project. On the flipside, Fishbone diagrams are better suited for finding defects in a process.

And, the Phocas team also suggests that you gamify your data. “By providing your team with an immersive and gamified experience, using data becomes engaging. If your team can manipulate data quickly and easily, they are driven to improve their performance through feedback.”

“By introducing gamification, you can present a fun and competitive way for your team to detect every opportunity to increase revenue and overall productivity.” And, ultimately, this can cultivate collaboration and motivate individual team members.

Integrate analytics into every aspect of your business.

At first, this may be intimidating. But. as Roman Stanek, the Founder and CEO of GoodData writes in Forbes, “companies who have recognized value from analytics have gone beyond their competitors to become empowered analytical organizations.” What that means is that they have “successfully integrated analytics into every part of their business to drive everyday business decisions and deliver substantial returns.”

The four attributes needed to assimilate data into your business.

  • Solve for business problems. “The first step to using data to drive decisions is to look at a business process that requires more clarity or one that has an easy-to-define workflow or apparent objectives for improvement,” writes Stanek. “Preferably, it’s an area that can easily measure improvements in tangible, metric-driven ways.”
  • Recognize that it’s an ongoing process. To deliver tangible results, you need to make a serious time and financial commitment “on the strategy, talent, and business plan.”
  • Embed analytics into all areas of the business. “Analytics has value for every layer of the organization, not just the c-suite or data scientists,” adds Stanek. Because of this, “the only way to get closer to the return on investment you’re looking for is to deploy analytics to as many people as possible to improve everyone’s decision making” and showing your team how data can help them solve problems.
  • Make sure executives do their part. “For a company to successfully transition to an empowered analytical organization, leadership will need consensus around the analytics project, and to truly understand why the IT budget will need to shift to support the kind of transformation expected,” explains Stanek. “They’ll also need to routinely participate in identifying key business processes that are ripe for improvement and encourage continuous learning and additional investment.”

10 Things Gen Z Should put in Their Calendar for Productivity

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Adding anything to your Calendar may sound like a strange way to increase productivity. However, productivity is not all about cranking out task after task without interruption. A productive life is typically based on a balanced lifestyle. Extra random tasks on your Calendar will not increase your productivity, but making time for specific tasks can improve your overall productivity. Here are ten things Gen Z should put on their Calendar for productivity.

What tasks will increase your productivity?

Before making time for anything on your Calendar, you should carefully assess the possible benefits. If you aren’t entirely sure about trying something on your Calendar — then consider testing it out for a couple of weeks. Some things may not help you, but other listed items could have a life-changing impact. Everyone is different, so make time for the things that are most useful for you.

Our Gen Z — the true digital natives — have always had business savvy.

Gen Z was practically born with business-savvy. Now, take a look at a Gen Z Calendar. The Gen Zers seem to put everything in their Calendar, and this may be why they are finding a better work-life balance than the rest of us. I asked about a few of the items listed on the Calendar of our Gen Zers on the team. Below are the answers:

1. Sleep.

Although sleeping seems like the exact opposite of productivity, a healthy sleep pattern can significantly increase your productivity. Instead of getting the bare minimum amount of sleep that you need to function, consider making time to get enough sleep to feel well-rested.

Sleeping replenishes your energy reserves and allows you to function at a much higher level. We all know that sleep makes us feel good, but it can lead to an increase in productivity. If you get a healthy amount of sleep, your body will reward you with enough energy to be more productive.

Make time for a regular sleep schedule that maximizes your energy levels for higher productivity throughout the day.

2. Eat health foods — and health food.  

Eating healthy can seem like a chore to many of us. It can take time and energy to prepare a healthy meal that you will enjoy. It seems more natural to grab a quick bite from a fast food place or heat yet another unhealthy frozen meal. It takes time to make a healthy choice meal, and it takes time even to eat it. Gen Z puts in the blocks of time to do each action. Fueling your body with healthy food can make a difference in your productivity.

A few ways to make healthy eating less painful includes choosing healthy restaurants to order from — meal prep in advance and stocking your pantry with healthy options.

3. Downtime.

Making time to unwind is an effective way to increase your productivity. Without scheduled downtime, it can be tempting to keep plugging away at your ever-present to-do list. Not only is this an exhausting way to live, but it’s also unproductive.

When you choose to never really stop working, it will drain your productivity because you are never able just to start fresh. Downtime could be a short break in the afternoon, a weeklong vacation, or just enough time to enjoy the evening before bed.

4. Exercise.

Building a healthy body will also help to create a healthy mind. When you make a healthy mind and body, you’ll be more resilient to changes in your workload and prepared to tackle the inevitable challenges.

Exercise leads to the release of endorphins in your body, which are linked to a happier state of mind. Getting through your daily responsibilities while working towards your long-term goals is usually not easy. There will be good days, bad days, and “bad-bads.” Our Gen Z plan for the bad-bads better than the rest of us. A healthy boost from exercise can help make the bad-bads more bearable.

5. Learn something new.

It can seem impossible to dedicate time to anything new in the middle of your busy Calendar. However, learning new things can help you reach your overall goals. It also stimulates your brain and can help you accomplish more with the new information. I’ve put more learning into my Calendar than ever before.

Reading a book, taking a course, or flipping through an article may seem like a luxury you don’t have time for. It can be challenging but make time to learn something new. Even dedicating just a few minutes a day can really help to boost your long-term productivity.

6. Set clear goals.

Instead of vaguely setting goals and throwing tasks on your Calendar, make time to set clear and attainable goals for your future. Think about both your long-term and short-term goals. Decide on the steps that will help you achieve these goals. Finally, schedule the tasks necessary in a reasonable way.

If you don’t set clear goals, then some of your time will be wasted on tasks that do not help you achieve your goals. A clear vision will allow you to plan out your Calendar for maximum productivity.

7. Get outside.

Nature has a fantastic way of making us feel more at ease. When you are tied to your desk for days in a row, sometimes you need a little bit of inspiration to get yourself motivated. Without the right motivation, it can be hard to achieve a high productivity level.

Whether you can take a walk, plan a beach day, or escape to a National Park, a little bit of time outside can help to give perspective to your daily workload.

8. Track wasted time.

Many of us waste time in small amounts throughout the day. Scrolling through your phone or mindlessly checking emails can seriously affect our productivity levels. The worst part is that most of us don’t even realize that we are wasting this much time!

Install an app that tracks your phone usage and let it track you for a few days. It will take a few minutes to set up, but it will be worth it. You may be shocked at how much time you waste on your phone. Try to cut back this time and use it for something more productive.

9. Declutter.

Cleaning out your workspace can seem like a daunting task. You may have months (or years) of clutter piled around you. Clutter can quickly decrease your productivity in a variety of ways.

  • First, you may waste time sifting through the clutter to find important things.
  • Second, you may feel slightly claustrophobic in your workspace, which can kill your creativity.
  • Finally, thoughts that you really should tidy up invade your thoughts daily and distract you from your work.

Make the time to clean up your space. You might be surprised how much your productivity will increase. While you’re here — stick in a plant.

10. Meet with an accountability buddy.

Find someone that you can hold yourself accountable to and make the time to chat regularly. Your buddy should help to keep you on track as you work towards your goals.

An accountable relationship takes time and effort, but it can help you meet your goals efficiently.

The Bottom Line

Your Calendar is already full, but finding the time for some activities could help to increase your overall productivity. It will take some trial and error to find the right balance for your Calendar — but it will be worth the effort.

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