All posts by Deanna Ritchie

7 Tips to Attract Success as an Entrepreneur

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7 Tips to Attract Success as an Entrepreneur

Have you heard the old quip about overnight success taking ten or more years? Anyone who’s started a business knows it’s true. Think Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Though they’ve reached tremendous recognition now for their business acumen, they were once everyday guys. No paparazzi were following them — and they certainly weren’t carrying tickets to space. Nevertheless, they persevered and ended up at the top of the corporate food pyramid.

As an entrepreneur, you might feel like a decade’s a long time to finally get some respect from your peers. Plus, by the time you’re ten years older, you may not be any closer to success than you were. That’s a fair assessment and fear. However, the years will pass whether you take some risks or not. So you might as well reach for your dreams.

In the process, though, you don’t want to leave your likelihood of hitting the jackpot to chance. Instead, you’ll want to put yourself in a position to attract success like a magnet. How? Incorporate these strategies into your work and personal life.

1. Gain mastery of your mind.

Author and serial entrepreneur Mark Lachance talks about the idea of luck being a powerful force that you can harness in The Lucky Formula. Indeed, luck is a terrific asset to have if you’re bent on being successful. But as Lachance explains, it doesn’t happen until you master both your internal and external conditions. I especially want to focus on the former.

Too many founders allow other people to get into their heads. Those people could be well-meaning naysayers, like a spouse. Or they could be envious or spiteful, such as an angry ex-coworker. When you let other people control your thoughts and feelings, you have less ability to make clear, pragmatic choices.

Lachance writes that people who allow themselves to be influenced by others rarely experience luck — or success. How, though, do you stop giving other people rent-free space in your brain? It takes effort to start thinking for yourself. First, you have to know your goals and gather all the information you can about subjects you learn. Next, you need to stay flexible on most topics with a willingness to be firm on others. Finally, you have to practice the art again and again. Over time, you’ll find that you’re able to tap into your intelligence more easily and confidently.

2. Hire talented professionals and let them do their thing.

Just about all of us have been under the thumb of a boss who couldn’t delegate. As a TLNT piece reveals, nearly 60% of workers admit that they’d had the type of manager who just couldn’t let go. So even though you might claim you’d never micromanage, you might be surprised at how fast you can change your mind.

For instance, at the first sign of danger to your business, you might want to jump in and take over. After all, you assume that your people — even the high performers you respect and admire — couldn’t have the same passion as you. That’s where you’re wrong. If you empower and trust the people you’ve put on the payroll, you have a better chance of weathering ups and downs.

Is it tough to sit back and watch when you feel like you should be doing something? You can bet on it. However, your business will succeed if you act like a mentor instead of an ogre. If you’re not sure how to make a move to a coaching mentality, Gallup has some ideas. These include giving ongoing feedback, explaining why something should be done, and handing over ownership of projects. In time, your employees and peers will appreciate that you have faith in them, and many will exceed your expectations.

3. Take care of your physical and mental health.

Burnout is a real problem, especially among business leaders and owners. A Wall Street Journal piece written in early 2021 suggests around one-third of workers may suffer or have suffered from the condition. You can’t afford to let yourself get to the point of experiencing so much stress that you burn out completely in your position.

Remember, though, that burnout isn’t just having a few stressful days or even weeks. It’s a consistent, nagging state that presents itself differently in different people. Some become incredibly depressed. Others just “check out.” Plenty will struggle to check off even the most mundane items on their daily to-do lists.

To be sure, you’re going to be a busy person as a founder. That doesn’t give you carte blanche to destroy your health, however. Additionally, when your team sees you never take a day off, they get anxious: Should they do likewise? Are you modeling behaviors you expect them to follow? This can lead to serious communications disconnects within your organization.

Consequently, your best bet is to work hard but do good for your health. The main staples for good health that you must not skip are eating right, sleeping right, and exercising. Go on family vacations. You’ll be more refreshed and ready when you return to the grind.

4. Look for the silver lining.

Failures happen. Some are small. Some are big. Some are earth-shattering. After they occur, you can’t change the past. Nevertheless, you can learn from it. You can also use it as a teachable moment to help your team members see how to make different choices in the future.

Don’t worry: You don’t have to wear rose-colored glasses or do your best Pollyanna impersonation. It’s reasonable to be brought down by mistakes. You can show your disappointment and anger. The trick is not to dwell on it.

When bad things come your way, deal with them and then have a retrospective. Take a tip from agile project management principles that encourage constant review of everything. And never assume that what seems like a failure today couldn’t lead to an “Aha!” tomorrow. Most successful business people can talk about long lines of failures from their past. Their ability to move beyond backslides helped them reach their goals and find success.

5. Establish a strong, well-defined work culture.

When you build a business from your vision, you get a rare opportunity to build the culture you want. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs just assume that culture will build itself. It will — but it probably won’t be the nirvana that you envisioned when you opened your doors.

Right now, employers everywhere are having trouble finding and keeping superstars. A strong, attractive workplace culture will help you court and acquire top candidates. But, of course, what the culture looks like is up to you and maybe your executive team members. Yet you should know that recent studies show nearly half of all professionals want to work at a place where they can be themselves.

Are you worried that your culture is already heading into toxic territory? You can pull out of a nosedive fast. Start by gathering feedback from your current team members. Find out how they feel about their workplace environment. Then, use their responses to make improvements. Success is almost impossible if your workers don’t want to come to the office or log onto their computers. On the other hand, if your culture is irresistible, your employees will rave online, to customers, and to their friends.

6. Do right by your customers.

The customer doesn’t always have to be right for you to “do right” by the customer. Without customers, you couldn’t stay in business. Therefore, treat your buyers like gold. Anticipate their needs. Smooth out your clunky sales processes. Create loyalty programs that are something special.

Need some inspiration to rev up your customer-centricity? A couple of years ago, Forbes pulled together a piece on 100 companies that get customer service right every time. The list reads like a who’s who of successful brands: Warby Parker. Best Buy. Hilton. In each case, the company has invested tons of time and effort into wowing buyers through and through.

Be honest with yourself: Are your customer interactions as impressive as they could be? Do your team members have the authority to make decisions (within financial and operational parameters) to serve customers? Making any improvements will get your organization far. Who knows? The next time a 100-list is completed, your business could be on it.

7. Keep upskilling.

You founded a company because you were an expert in something. Bicycle making. Digital marketing. Veterinary medicine. Though you should keep driving hard to become an expert in your industry, you can’t be afraid to branch out. Branching out will keep you agile. It may also reveal ways you can evolve your company in exciting ways.

Imagine someone who started a business in 2000 and refused to learn anything about social media or online advertising. That person wouldn’t be running a successful company. Try, then, to stay on top of the newest aspects of the business. Although you don’t have to become super-knowledgeable about everything, you should have a working understanding of emerging technologies, competitors’ news, and possibilities.

Of course, you shouldn’t keep upskilling and reskilling to yourself. Instead, make learning a team sport by offering training to your team. Employees appreciate it when they get paid to develop their skill sets and build out their resumes. With the experience they gain, they can bring concepts to the table and fuel your brand’s momentum.

Success isn’t something that can only happen to everyone else. It’s within your reach. You just have to stretch a bit to grab it and bring it to you and your company.

12 Holiday Stress Busters

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12 Holiday Stress Busters

Even though the holiday season is often proclaimed as “the most wonderful time of the year,” there are many reasons why you may not be feeling festive. You might feel overwhelmed by a cluttered social calendar, work deadlines, financial concerns, reflecting on a loved one’s passing, or dreary winter days. And, in some cases, this could be a combination of these.

As such, it’s not all that much of a holiday surprise that a lot of us have declared this as the most stressful time of the year. According to the American Psychological Association, 38% of people reported increased stress during the holiday season. This may result in symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse if not addressed.

In addition, 64% of individuals who have a mental illness stated that their symptoms worsened around the holidays, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

In spite of this, there are ways to protect ourselves and maybe reduce some of our holiday stress. And, hopefully, these 12 tactics can make your days merry and bright.

1. Have a perfectly imperfect holiday season.

Maybe if Clark Griswold hadn’t had such high expectations, he wouldn’t have had a breakdown in Christmas Vacation. But, hey, it happens to the best of us this time of year.“

“As we gear up for the holidays, we often set the bar impossibly high for ourselves and then feel upset when our celebrations don’t live up to expectations, “says Neda Gould, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, and director of the Johns Hopkins Mindfulness Program at the Johns Hopkins University School.

Her suggestion? Be aware that not everything will go according to plan. “It’s OK if it’s not perfect. Imperfection is healthy and normal. For some of us, it might just take a little practice,” adds Gould

How else can you stop perfectionism in its tracks? Here are some proven strategies to explore;

  • Let go of control and surrender to the moment.
  • Set SMART goals that you’ll be able to achieve.
  • Invite feedback from others.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others.
  • Use “hypothesis testing” to push you out of your comfort zone.
  • Stop ruminating.
  • Find a healthy balance between good and perfect.
  • Focus on the process and enjoy it.

2. Dream of a white Christmas.

I’m not literally talking about snow falling this holiday season — even though it makes the holidays just a tad more special. Rather, this is a popular calendar tip that only the most productive people use. But, what exactly is white space?

In your calendar, whitespace refers to time blocks when nothing is scheduled. “Use that buffer time to think big, catch up on the latest industry news, get out from under that pile of unread emails, or just take a walk,” Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn, wrote. Additionally, you can use this time to meditate, reflect on the year, or prepare for a meeting. You can also use it for unexpected and last-minute duties

By adding space to your calendar for yourself, you can reclaim your day from to-do lists, emails, phone calls, and holiday obligations.

3. Run, Rudolph, run.

While physical activity is important year-round, it’s especially so during the holidays. After all, it’s one of the most effective ways to alleviate stress.

“Blend or alternate aerobics with strength training, stretching, flexibility, and agility exercises for an endorphin boost,” suggests Kathleen Hall, Ph.D., founder, and CEO of The Mindful Living Network & The Stress Institute.

You can make this even more beneficial by making this a social activity as well. Researchers found that people who exercised in groups had better mental, physical, and emotional health than those who worked out alone. And, considering that so many of us feel lonely or isolated this time of year, it’s a clever way to connect and interact with others.

4. Make a holiday budget and check it twice.

Presents, holiday feasts, decorations, and travel. Obviously, all of these put a dent in your finances. But, worrying about money right now is enough for anyone to scream “Bah! Humbug!”

The solution? Build a holiday budget. And, more importantly, stick to it.

  • Keep your budget concise, simple, and practical so that it’s easy to track.
  • If you plan on traveling, look for more affordable options, such as driving instead of flying.
  • Find a friend or family member to keep each other accountable.
  • Go back and review what you spend last year to identify what can be cut.
  • Make sure you understand the terms of the buy now, pay later offer before you use it.
  • Download a banking or budgeting app so that you can keep tabs on your spending right from your phone.

5. Prepare “Nice To Do For Me” and “Need to Do For You” lists.

“Writing down all that you have to do during the holidays will help you realize how do-able your tasks are,” notes Connie Bennett MSJ, CHHC, CPC for Psychology Today. “Be realistic as to what you put on your lists.” Then, tackle one list item at a time.

“For example, after buying gifts for your mom or significant other, take time to work out, too,” adds Bennett. “By alternating between lists, you won’t feel deprived, because you’re being good to yourself.”

A better idea? Create an “Absolute Yes.”

As Cheryl Richardson explains in her book, Take Time for Your Life: A 7-Step Program for Creating the Life you Want, by getting clear on your priorities, you’ll be inspired to use your time more efficiently. “When you practice extreme self-care and put yourself first, you are then fully available to others without resentment or anger,” she writes.

6. Go caroling.

It’s been found that if you want to get more done, you should listen to music throughout the day. However, multiple studies have also found that belting out your favorite festive tunes is integral to a healthier life.

Researchers have found that choir singers feel happier and less anxious and depressed about life. They’re also more optimistic overall about what’s to come.

What’s more, singing can forge bonds and improve immunity. Additionally, singing decelerates our heart rate and improves our lung function since we tend to take bigger and slower breaths.

7. Smell holiday scents.

Christmas trees or menorah candles can evoke pleasant childhood memories because of their distinct scent. A Japanese study also found that breathing in the scent of pine trees can reduce depression and stress.

In short, if you’re feeling stressed out, concentrate on your favorite holiday smells. It’s a simple and effective way to put you more at ease.

8. Rethink traditions.

Changing your holiday routine can be hard — especially if it’s something that you’ve always done. But it’s worth reexamining them from time to time by asking;

  • Do they still fit your lifestyle?
  • Do you and everyone in your home still enjoy them?
  • Are they causing you additional stress?

Let’s say that it’s too difficult to travel home because you have two young children. You could start a new family tradition at home or invite your nearest and dearest over to celebrate.

9. Be picky and vocal.

Although this is the perfect time to give back, you also don’t want to stretch yourself too thin. “Scale back and what you plan to do and be responsible for,” Gail Saltz, MD, psychologist, and host of the Personology podcast tells Health, “Ask for help for what needs to be done, realign expectations to something more reasonable.

Also, if you have a full plate or cluttered calendar, use delegating or outsourcing to your advantage. To make this successful, though, make sure that you follow the 6 C’s of delegation;

  • Competence. Match the right person with the task.
  • Clarity. An alignment of “what good looks like,” a timeline, and “the method of measuring success” are at a minimum.
  • Confidence. You can do this by granting autonomy, granting flexible schedules, and celebrating milestones.
  • Commitment. To get others to commit, make sure that they understand their role.
  • Checkpoint. Check-in and offer constructive feedback.
  • Continuity. Outline all daily tasks as well as repetitive processes.

Also, if you have the means, you may want to outsource whatever tasks that feel like a chore. For example, if don’t have the time to clean your home before holiday guests arrive, hire a cleaning service to do this for you.

10. Learn something new.

Sometimes the best way to fight back against stress is to distract yourself. In this case, to take your mind off holiday stress, shift your attention to something that you enjoy. For instance, if you enjoy drawing, sign-up for a virtual or in-person class.

Or, you could get a head start on your New Year’s goals. As an example, if you’ve struggled with time management in the past, you could begin exploring ways to improve this skill. As a result, you’ll be able to kick off the New Year with a bang.

11. Compartmentalize.

There can be heightened intensity in family, work, and partner interactions during the holidays. As such, this can make it a challenge to focus on work when you just had a disagreement with a family member or friend.

It’s no easy feat, but you need to let that friction go as much as possible.

Remember, don’t take anything people say personally at this time of year, as people are extra sensitive and just as stressed as you. Also, remember you can deal with anything on your mind later when everyone has cooled off and is more level-headed.

12. Prioritize self-care.

It may sound like you’re being a grinch. But, it’s imperative that you take care of yourself this time of year. Remember, you’re your most important asset.

“We need to take care of ourselves above all else,” writes Choncé Maddox in a previous Calendar article. “Make sure you are making time daily to address your self-care.”

You may choose to meditate, pray, read, journal, or even focus on a non-work-related goal. Also, give priority to passion projects as well.

“Self-care focuses on both your mental and physical health, adds Choncé. “We need to keep our health in mind and shouldn’t overwork ourselves.”

Fall Back Into Productivity: 100 Quotes to Get More Done

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Fall Back Into Productivity: 100 Quotes to Get More Done

It may not seem like it. But, a lot is going on in the autumn. Between getting back to a routine after your summer vacay to getting the kids back to school and adjusting to the end of daylight saving time (which happened on Sunday, November 7th), now you’ll have to finalize business plans for the holiday season. It’s easy for your productivity to get derailed.

The good news? If you find that you’re struggling with productivity this fall, use the following quotes to get you back on track.

Planning Quotes

If there is one secret to being productive — it’s planning.

You’re more likely to operate at peak productivity when you plan how you’re going to spend your time in advance. The alternative is taking things as they come and without a plan.

In turn, this almost guarantees both low efficiency and productivity. It’s also a chaotic way to live when you have a full plate.

1. “By Failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

2. “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”– Paul J. Meyer

3. “Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem

4. “Long-range planning works best in the short term.”– Doug Evelyn

5. “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

6. “You’ve got to get up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction.”– George Lorimer

7. “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra

8. “You don’t need a new plan for next year. You need a commitment.”– Seth Godin

9. “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” – John F. Kennedy

10. “Your daily choices and actions should be rational and productive.”– Sunday Adelaja

11. “The more time you spend contemplating what you should have done…you lose valuable time planning what you can and will do.” – Lil Wayne

12. “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”– Dwight D. Eisenhower

13. “A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door.” – Confucius

14. “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” – Alexander Graham Bell

15. “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” – Pablo Picasso

16. “Unless you have definite, precise, clearly set goals, you are not going to realize the maximum potential that lies within you.” – Zig Ziglar

17. “Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.” – Tom Landry

18. “Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” – Richard Cushing

19. “To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” – Leonard Bernstein

20. “Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.” – Thomas Edison

Priority Quotes

The definition of productivity means being more than just busy. Being productive requires that you remain focused on achieving all of your goals in the most accurate and efficient way possible. And, that’s only possible when you do the right things at the right time.

21. “Life is short. Focus on what really matters most; you should change your priorities over time.” – Roy T. Bennett

22. “When my company started really growing, I didn’t have any help in my house at all. I had the upkeep of my daily life, I had a one-year-old and a three-year-old, and I had my house. So I had to prioritize.” – Julie Aigner Clark

23. “It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”– Henry David Thoreau

24. “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” – Albert Einstein

25. “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” – Stephen R. Covey

26. “Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.”– Leo Babauta

27. “Set aside time to plan how you will spend your time. Think about what’s most important. Then do those things first.” – Frank Bettger

28. “Our greatest danger in life is in permitting the urgent things to crowd out the important.” – Charles E. Hummel

29. “The necessary has never been man’s top priority. The passionate pursuit of the nonessential and the extravagant is one of the chief traits of human uniqueness.” – Eric Hoffer

30. “Learn how to separate the majors and the minors. A lot of people don’t do well simply because they major in minor things.” – Jim Rohn

31. “Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions.” – Dallin H. Oaks

32. “Instead of saying ‘I don’t have time’ try saying ‘it’s not a priority and see how that feels.” – Laura Vanderkam

33. “When you have too many top priorities, you effectively have no top priorities.” – Stephen Covey

34. “Let us reflect on what is truly of value in life, what gives meaning to our lives, and set our priorities on the basis of that.” – Dalai Lama

35. “When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar.” – Victoria Moran

36. “Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work.” – H. L. Hunt

37. “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” – Russian Proverb

38. “Think of priorities, not in terms of what activities you do, but when you do them. Timing is everything.” – Dan Millman

39. “The Principe of Priority states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and (b) you must do what’s important first.” – Steven Pressfield

40. “Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want.” – Kristin Armstrong

Quotes to Help You Eliminate Obstacles and Adversity

No matter what task you try to accomplish, and how the amount of planning you did, there are always going to be obstacles in the way. These challenges aren’t just frustrating; they can also interfere with focus and flow state. In some cases, they may cause procrastination.

41. “If you have time to whine, then you have time to find a solution.”– Dee Dee Artner

42. “When someone tells me “no,” it doesn’t mean I can’t do it, it simply means I can’t do it with them.”– Karen E. Quinones Miller

43. “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”– Winston Churchill

44. “Sometimes, things may not go your way, but the effort should be there every single night.” – Michael Jordan

45. “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”– Earl Nightingale

46. “One who conquers the sea today is ready to conquer the ocean tomorrow.”– Matshona Dhliwayo

47. “We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”– Barbara De Angelis

48. “A challenge only becomes an obstacle when you bow to it.”– Ray Davis

49. “Sometimes you don’t realize your own strength until you come face to face with your greatest weakness.”– Susan Gale

50. “The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.”– Jean-Baptiste Poqeulin (Moliere)

51. “And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”– Haruki Murakami

52. “Because some people see a wall, and assume that’s the end of their journey. Others see it, and decide it’s just the beginning.”-  Angeline Trevena

53. “There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.”– Malcolm X

54. “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”– Christopher Reeve

55. “If you are facing a new challenge or being asked to do something that you have never done before, don’t be afraid to step out. You have more capability than you think you do, but you will never see it unless you place a demand on yourself for more.”– Joyce Meyer

56. “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you’re doing the impossible.”– Francis of Assisi

57. “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”– Robert Kennedy

58. “The individual who says it is not possible should move out of the way of those doing it.”– Tricia Cunningham

59. “You can’t get much done in life if you only work on days when you feel good.”– Jerry West

60. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”– Wayne Gretzky

Quotes to Inspire, Motivate, and Take Action

Need a shot in the arm? Use the following quotes to get you inspired, motivated, and take action.

61. “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” – Thomas Jefferson

62. “Dream big, start small, but most of all, start.” – Simon Sinek

63. “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

64. “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” – Zig Ziglar

65. “An idea not coupled with action will never get any bigger than the brain cell it occupied.” – Arnold Glasow

66. “Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot, but make it hot by striking.” – William B. Sprague

67. “Be content to act, and leave the talking to others.” – Baltasar Gracian

68. “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes but don’t quit.” – Conrad Hilton

69. “People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do.” – Lewis Cass

70. “Many great ideas go unexecuted, and many great executioners are without ideas. One without the other is worthless.” – Tim Blixseth

71. “Let your performance do the thinking.” – Charlotte Brontë

72. “Take action! An inch of movement will bring you closer to your goals than a mile of action.” – Steve Maraboli

73. “Well done is better than well said.”- Benjamin Franklin

74. “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden

75. “Action is the antidote to despair.” – Joan Baez

76. “Doing nothing gets you nothing.” – Sean Reichle

77. “Stay focused and don’t allow distractions to fill your mind or derail you from taking continued action.” – Byron Pulsifer

78. “You cannot score a goal when you are sitting on the bench. To do so, you have to dress up and enter the game.” – Israelmore Ayivor

79. “You’re a doer, because you’re prepared to make the necessary effort to translate your dream into action.” – Paul McCabe

80. “There is only one proof of ability—action.” – Marie Ebner-Eschenbach

81. “Nothing is impossible; the word itself says ‘I’m possible!’” – Audrey Hepburn

82. “The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today.” – Nolan Bushnell

83. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney

84. “Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.” – Franz Kafka

85. Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence. – Vince Lombardi

86. “You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” – Zig Ziglar

87. “Time is at once the most valuable and the most perishable of all our possessions” – John Randolph

88. “Both good and bad days should end with productivity. Your mood affairs should never influence your work.” – Greg Evans

89. “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers, you cannot be successful or happy.” – Norman Vincent Peale

90. “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure, or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.” – Thomas Watson

91. “If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.” – David Allen

92. “Action is the foundational key to all success.” – Picasso

93. “If you commit to giving more time than you have to spend, you will constantly be running from time debt collectors.” – Elizabeth Grace Saunders

94. “You don’t actually do a project; you can only do action steps related to it. When enough of the right action steps have been taken, some situation will have been created that matches your initial picture of the outcome closely enough that you can call it ‘done.’” – David Allen

95. “Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn’t have the power to say yes.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

96. “The path to success is to take massive, determined actions.” – Tony Robbins

97. “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” – Japanese Proverb

98. “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

99. “Use the word PERHAPS to change your negative beliefs to possibilities that invite ACTION and, ultimately, to positive beliefs and probabilities.” – Anita Foley

100. “If you spend time getting ready to be perfect and do not start out to accomplish your dreams, you will find out later that you could have accomplished your dream if you had just acted.” – David DeNotaris

5 Industries Benefiting from Improved Productivity and Efficiency

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5 Industries Benefiting from Improved Productivity and Efficiency

Over the past few centuries, society has undergone several Industrial Revolutions where improved productivity was the main focus. Each one introduced different kinds of innovations like mechanized fabric making, product standardization, and digital communications. Certainly, they were different in terms of what they brought to the societal table. Yet, they all had one thing in common: They enabled exciting methods of workforce efficiency on unparalleled scales.

Today, we’re nestled somewhere around the Fourth or Fifth Industrial Revolution. As a result, efficiency and its cousin, productivity, have arisen as hallmarks of successful companies. Indeed, top organizations like Apple and Microsoft do things better, faster, and cheaper than competitors.

As a result, these companies are frequently used as examples in business school curricula. When have you heard of “the greats” without hearing of Apple and Microsoft? Moreover, these businesses’ efficiencies continue to keep them in leading positions worldwide and force other organizations to keep up — or get left behind.

For instance, Amazon has mastered what is coined McDonaldization. That is, Amazon’s workplace engine runs like that of a fast-food chain. How so? People get exactly what they want when they want it at an affordable price.

No matter where an individual is under Amazon’s reach, they can expect the same level of service. The system is efficiency-in-action — and it turns consumers into loyalists. The Amazon example provides other businesses with the inspiration and impetus to boost their own company productivity ratings.

Leaning into efficiency — even when it’s a tough sell

Of course, becoming efficient isn’t simple and doesn’t come without growing pains. If it did, every startup or enterprise would run like clockwork without minimal amounts of time, human resources, or financial waste.

Efficiency takes tremendous planning, work, and dedication, right down to the individual level, which is why some sectors historically have lagged behind. Not anymore, though. Plenty of industries are finally embracing the realization that efficiency will bring myriad opportunities.

At the same time, business leaders have realized that an efficient culture doesn’t have to be robotic. Productivity can be fun and rewarding. Workers don’t necessarily disengage just because their employer values productivity. Instead, they can start to see themselves as part of the solution. Plus, if they can help cut out waste, they may see personal gains like a shorter workweek.

Improved productivity in industries not known for productivity

So which industries are becoming known for adopting more efficient processes? The following five are finding and testing exciting ways to boost productivity.

Industry #1. Media and entertainment

Video game development may be a thriving field. Nonetheless, companies have had trouble finding workers to fill roles. Part of the problem is that the technologies needed to produce games evolve rapidly. Consequently, job candidates who graduated a few years ago may not have impressive resumes or appropriate credentials.

Credentials within each market have to be updated, and some workers have not taken that opportunity — leading to problems with efficiency within video game developing companies. Why? The companies are struggling to put workers into positions.

Fortunately, the industry has found a workaround that’s both efficient and effective. As Gearbox Entertainment president Randy Pitchford has explained while on the speaking circuit, “hiring for aptitude could transform this industry.” Pitchford has seen how recruiting people with the right cultural fit, determination, and spatial skills can have more bottom-line effects than hiring someone for background alone.

Understanding gaming industry needs and the unique way of sourcing tomorrow’s gaming performers has allowed Gearbox and other entities to get projects to market (and consumers hungry for entertainment) faster than ever before.

Industry #2. Education

Although education has experienced improved productivity with the advent of technologies like the computer and the Internet, it’s still antiquated. Still, it’s undergone a bit of metamorphosis during Covid due to the rise in online learning. And that’s opened the door for education advocates, administrators, educators, and parents to discuss revamping the educational process.

Take grading systems, for instance. Instructure, the maker behind Canvas, conducted a research study during the pandemic. The study showed that about half of educational setting stakeholders felt that students were falling behind. At the same time, plenty of respondents felt the way to help kids and teens recovery shouldn’t include high-stakes testing.

Instead, 76% of teachers felt that formative assessments were better to determine if students were progressing. So if formative assessments become mainstream, they may help teachers more efficiently bring all students to a standard level.

Industry #3. Healthcare

Medicine, in general, hasn’t always been the pinnacle of productivity. How many stories have we all heard about long waits to get from the lobby to the exam room? Or the inability to schedule an appointment within three months, especially with a specialist?

These hiccups have made healthcare a place fraught with frustrations for all parties. In other words, it’s the perfect zone for a focus on improved productivity.

Healthcare has enjoyed an efficiency renaissance recently thanks to integrated healthcare portals. Many of the larger hospitals and healthcare systems are creating centralized places for records, communication, billing, insurance, and more.

By streamlining all documentation and giving patients more immediate access, providers are improving their service. They’re also putting power in the hands of patients who can schedule emotional wellness telemedicine visits and pay their bills online.

Industry #4. Retail

Consumers fell out of favor with brick-and-mortar shopping during Covid. Instead, they tended to do most of their purchasing online through sites and apps. Though they’ve returned to their favorite retailers now that they can, they’ve altered their buying behaviors.

More than ever, they value efficient interchanges — and don’t necessarily want to spend hours browsing or waiting in lines. Instead, they want the speed that can only come from highly efficient workflows.

To satisfy the public’s needs, retailers have made several efficiency changes. For one, lots have added self-service kiosk checkouts. Others have bumped up their digital spaces, adding buy-now, pick-up-in-store choices.

More retail companies are promising curbside delivery with prepayment. Not surprisingly, shoppers are taking advantage of these current opportunities to get what they want faster.

Industry #5. Real Estate

Who would have thought that real estate would take off during and after the pandemic? It happened, though. Even during the strictest lockdown periods, people found ways to connect with realtors and virtually visit properties. As soon as they could, they snatched up residential and commercial deals–sending Zestimates soaring sky-high.

Until the middle of 2021, the housing market kept going up and up. The higher prices delighted everyone, from agents to sellers to investors. But, at the same time, it highlighted the need for improved productivity with so many people clamoring to enter into the real estate market.

Even though buyers and sellers can once again meet in person, they’re not stuck doing real estate the same way. Realtors and realty companies have begun to use the web more effectively. They’re exploring ways to ramp up efficiency from streamlining documentation through online e-signature portals to showcasing even luxury properties online.

Some are even testing the waters with augmented and virtual reality. The more they can get a potential buyer to connect with available properties, the faster they can close a sale.

Some experts say that we’ve entered into the Fifth Industrial Revolution. Others say we’re only on its cusp. A few are looking forward to predicting the Sixth Industrial Revolution, which could be a combination of AI and biotech.

Regardless of which Industrial Revolution is upon us, all organizations and industries can benefit from an upsurge of innovation, adaptability, and efficiency.

8 Rainy-Day Initiatives to Add to Your Online Calendar

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Rainy-Day Activities for Your Online Calendar

There’s no need to wish for the rain to go away — especially right now — we need it so desperately right now. Not only is any precipitation great for the planet — but it gives you an excuse to tackle some indoor projects. The sun will be back soon, and you’ll have plenty of time for those outdoor activities.

Unsure of what to do with your rainy days? If you look around, you’ll always find something. It’s just a matter of finding a spot in your online Calendar. I like to have a rainy day list, so there is no decision to be made — just grab out your list, and you’re in business. Get your list ready now — have your tools in a to-go tote or to-go book bag — and you’ll be excited and ready to grab your supplies (which are always on hand) and go to work.

BTW — I also have a Windy and Snowy day Calendar list. It’s not that you’re stuck indoors, exactly — it’s that you can take a moment to think differently on your Rainy, Windy and Snowy days. You can vary your thinking process to keep your life interesting and supple — and add some deep joy on Rainy, Windy, and Snowy Days.

Rainy Day Ideas for Your Calendar

These eight indoor projects are great additions to your Calendar when rain is in the forecast:

1. Clean Up the House

No matter how hard you try, your home will never be entirely clean. So a rainy day is the perfect opportunity to catch up on house cleaning.

Plan a “spring cleaning” (or fall cleaning) in your online Calendar for the next rainy day in the forecast. Clean the countertops, dust the furniture, move the furniture and vacuum the carpets — and generally give your whole home a polish.

Home improvement projects are also great for a rainy day. Take this opportunity to do some painting or remodeling inside with the time you might’ve spent out in the yard.

2. Read a Book

Is there a book you’ve sworn to read that’s collecting dust on your shelf? Now’s your chance to finally crack it open. For one — if you really want to read a book, read it — don’t wait for a rainy day. But sometimes I find something wonderful in a book — and I save it for this type of opportunity.

There are so many great reads out there to choose from, from creative fiction novels to inspiring self-help books. Scheduling reading time in your online Calendar will make sure you capitalize on a rainy day opportunity.

Reading isn’t just an enjoyable pastime; it’s also incredibly beneficial for your health. Regular reading strengthens your mind, reduces stress, and may even help you live longer. That’s not to mention the lessons we can learn from the greatest minds around the world.

3. Have Some DIY Fun

Taking charge of a project and seeing it to completion can be incredibly gratifying. In addition, tackling a do-it-yourself (DIY) project allows you to develop your skills, discover new hobbies, and refresh your home.

There are countless DIY projects you can tackle. I like to watch for these projects at the quilt store and the hardware store — like watch for some crazy, wild creative pursuit. One time I took pieces of scrap metal (I cut it up) and threw the metal pieces against a piece of pine — then glued the metal on the board where it would have stuck in if I’d tossed hard enough.

It was a blast. When else would I feel I could just relax and do something free like that? Not with the hustle of work — no way — but a rainy day weekend was great. Perhaps you want to try your hand at woodworking to add some handmade decor to the house, or maybe you want to put together a craft to do with your kids. The possibilities are endless.

4. Prepare Next Week’s Meals

Meal preparation helps you eat better throughout the week. Put together a grocery list, put meals on the Calendar, and prepare them as a batch. With meal planning, you can control everything you eat, limiting the amount of fast food, snacks, and junk food you put into your body.

Not only will meal planning improve your health, but it will also save you money. Cooking from home is less expensive than eating out, although it does take some more time and effort. That’s why those rainy days are the perfect time to buckle down and get it done. Having meals ready for the rest of the week is worth it.

While you’re thinking about it, you can clean out the kitchen drawers and under the sink. If you’re low on sponges and disinfecting sprays, be sure you make a note on your grocery list.

4. Hold a Planning Marathon

This is where your online Calendar really comes in handy. When a rainy day disrupts your plans, take the time to make some new ones.

Your weekly and monthly plans can be as detailed as you’d like. When you hold a planning session, you’re able to fit more into your Calendar earlier so that other non-essentials take over your essentials. If you struggle with balancing your activities and responsibilities, then this is the perfect rainy day project for you

5. Clean Out Your Inbox

Managing your email can take a lot of time. If you run a business or work at one that relies heavily on email communication, you’ve experienced the overload and unanswered emails firsthand.

When a rainy day slows things down, take the time to clean out your inbox. Respond to all necessary emails and delete anything that’s not needed. You can even create some folders, such as “read” and “responded to,” to keep your inbox more organized for the future.

6. Make All Your Calls

Got a list of people you’ve needed to talk to? Give them a call while the rain pours down. You can reach out to partners or clients, but don’t forget to give grandma a call as well.

To avoid dropping in without warning on those who wouldn’t appreciate it, you can send scheduling links asking them if they are available for a call that day. Professionals like salespeople and investors can’t always take calls on a whim. You can schedule calls and get many people contacted, as you blast through your home cleaning if you put people on a Calendar schedule and keep calls to about 30 minutes.

7. Purge Your Paperwork.

If your filing system is full of old bank statements and mailers, take a rainy day and toss the junk. Keeping things organized saves you a lot of time and effort in the long run.

When the rain hits, block off time in your Calendar to go through your documents. Remember to save tax forms for at least three years. Shred or burn anything sensitive, so the information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Conclusion

You may not be able to take off work on a rainy day — but learn to appreciate rainy days as your friend. If you live by the ocean — it looks overcast every day, and it’s not rainy. You can get so much done during a rainy day if you put your mind to it. To hold yourself accountable, schedule your activities in your online Calendar.

I also have a windy day schedule and a snowy day schedule on my Calendar. Windy and Snowy days look somewhat like my Rainy day schedule. I used to sell paintings — but I don’t anymore (It’s hard to make a living in visual arts). On Snowy days, I pull out my artwork tools and force myself to begin a new piece. Maybe this piece will be for someone for the holidays or for a client. On Windy days — I try to write a piece of music or practice the piano in a deeper way.

The main point is — use these days as a reminder: rainy, windy, snowy — and catapult your beloved work to a new level. You’ll be amazed at how much richer your life will be — and how much you can accomplish in a few hours spent differently on those days.

7 Ways Your Business Strategy Needs to Evolve in 2022

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7 Ways Your Business Strategy Needs to Evolve in 2022

The market is becoming choppier, travel is slowing down, and businesses like Lyft, Google, and Apple are postponing their return-to-office plans. How, in the midst of so much chaos, can companies expect to be able to form and cohere to a single business strategy?

The short, unsatisfying answer is that they can’t. A business strategy composed in January was probably in need of serious revision by the time July came around. This is poised to be just as true for next year as it has been for this one: COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and uncertainties continue to abound. It’s time to call an audible on your business strategy in order to respond to current trends.

Here’s how you can do just that by evolving your business strategy:

1. Keep up with COVID.

This is the big, no-exceptions mantra that should ring out whenever it’s time to make a decision regarding business strategy. While major economies are unlikely to return to the harsh lockdowns of early 2020, the future trajectory of COVID-19 is something a lot of consumers are watching vigilantly. According to an ongoing survey conducted by Deloitte, some 51% of customers are concerned about their physical wellbeing when it comes to their activities, up from 47% a month prior.

Far too many businesses have been on the back foot when it comes to COVID-19, waiting for trends to appear before responding to them. Significant portions of your consumer base are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to COVID safety; if cases start to spike, they may be more hesitant to travel or perform business in person. Instead of working to accommodate those preferences as they arise, closely monitor your local and national situation and adjust your practices accordingly. If you’re not willing to take the steps necessary to make your customers feel safe and protected, they will find another business that is.

2. Complete your digital transformation.

Plenty of companies were transitioning to the cloud before 2020, but the events of that year just added more fuel to the fire. For most of the past year, developments like the rise of remote or hybrid working and virtual communication have been front and center of most companies’ business strategies. The reopening of the economy in 2021, however, has seen some businesses put a pause on their digital transformation for the time being — that’s a big mistake.

While the world may seem to be “returning to normal” for now, the future is all but certain to be one that happens online. Businesses need to transition to the cloud if they want to be ready for the next stage of digital commerce. For example, smart home and small business solutions provider Plume estimates that there will be 8.4 billion digital voice assistants in the world by 2024 — if your business is still married to brick-and-mortar operations, how effectively are you going to be able to respond to a consumer base whose primary method of purchase and research is digital voice assistants? The transitions that occurred in 2020 need to be accelerated, not halted, as 2022 approaches.

3. Don’t bet on rosy markets.

When the stock market plummeted in March and April of 2020, it seemed like the global economy was going to be in the dregs for some time. Little could anyone anticipate just how untrue that would end up being: the recession of 2020 ultimately lasted just 2 months, the shortest in US history. Growth since then has been on a sharply upward trend, and plenty of business leaders are getting ahead of themselves in expecting this growth to continue unabated for years to come.

Predicting the trajectory of the economy and the markets that comprise it is almost impossible, and there’s reason to be skeptical of those who forecast halcyon years ahead. Legendary Boston-based money management firm GMO recently predicted that the S&P 500 will have lost half of its inflation-adjusted value by 2028, for example. Don’t build a business strategy on a foundation of optimism alone. Create workflows and operating principles that can work in both good and bad times, and your business will be able to ride both the crests and troughs of whatever waves may come your way.

4. Meet your customers where they are.

In 2020, businesses had to be able to reach their customers at home if they wanted their attention. In 2021, customers were more eager than ever to get out of the house and head to businesses directly. Which of these routes is more likely for 2022? What about the 2020s in general? How can businesses expect to cope with the uncertainty of consumer behavior?

Sticking to your storefront may ultimately cause more trouble than it’s worth. Indeed, Bloomberg reports that the e-commerce industry could be worth over $16 billion by the year 2027, with few signs of slowing down in growth thereafter. There’s nothing wrong with returning to normal for a while in the next few quarters. However, don’t bet too much on brick-and-mortar making a long-term comeback. Make your way to the cloud; your customers will be waiting for you there.

Consider offering a hybrid option. You would be accommodating both customers who want a traditional in-person experience, and those who prefer to do things virtually. Be sure not to neglect the latter in favor of the former, though. Doing so is equivalent to adopting a business strategy far too near-sighted for long-term success.

5. Adjust to new social media practices.

Social media usage is booming across all platforms. However, that doesn’t mean you can just post-traditional content and expect higher levels of engagement than before. As users grow, social media trends and practices evolve. The posts that accrued big engagement in 2018 will probably not make the same kind of splash in 2021.

This is perhaps most true in the ever-growing world of social media influencers. Just a few years ago, they were objects of fascination or derision in most marketing departments. But, businesses dismiss them at their own peril. A Google-commissioned survey from Ipsos found that 40% of millennial YouTube subscribers say that their favorite creator understands them better than their friends — that level of trust and engagement is way more likely to get a customer’s attention than promoted tweets ever will. Don’t let a dynamic business strategy become sclerotic when it comes to social media.

6. Respond to changing employee priorities.

It’s not just consumers and markets who have had their trajectories changed by the past year. Your employees have likely undergone a few changes themselves. Quality of life is increasingly privileged over big salaries and flexible work over traditional office setups.

In fact, attempting to quickly re-transition to the way things were before may cause quite a bit of consternation among your team. A recent survey from The Morning Consult found that 39% of workers would consider quitting if their bosses forced them to give up remote work and return to the office. This isn’t just true for your current employees either. Prospective hires will also be expecting accommodations when it comes to remote and flexible working options. Businesses too set in their ways when it comes to cubicles and the 40-hour, 5-day workweek risk creating business strategies already out of date.

7. Think global, stay local.

It’s an oft-employed maxim that the world is constantly getting flattered, and not in the literal sense. It’s becoming easier all the time to communicate and do business across borders. At least, it was before COVID-19 struck. Disruptions to travel and international shipping meant that businesses once again needed to refocus their efforts on local and domestic markets.

What about 2022? Should companies bank on the reopening of borders and flourishing of international business or play it safe with nearer markets? Unsurprisingly, the answer is a bit of both.

Don’t abandon your local operations in the hopes that your business’s horizons will broaden in the near future. Instead, continue to nurture any and all existing customer relationships. And, do so while waiting for a good time to begin expansion further afield.

Make sure your business strategy reflects this by emphasizing operations you know can be sustained into the future while probing for potential opportunities down the line.

Anyone who tells you that they know what 2022 will look like is lying. The uncertainty that plagued 2020 and 2021 isn’t going anywhere, and your business strategy needs to be composed accordingly. Prepare your company against whatever may come, and expect solid growth in return.

Just Start — Reducing Anxiety

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Just Start — Reducing Anxiety

Did you know that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S.? In fact, anxiety affects 40 million adults in the United States each year, aged 18 and older. Or, to put it another way, 18.1% of the population each year. And, the COVID-19 pandemic has only further impacted our mental health.

There is some good news, however. And, that’s that anxiety disorders are highly treatable. For some, there may even be strategies that you can use right now that will offer immediate relief. But, for others, you may have to speak to a mental health professional.

In either case, if you want to reduce anxiety, then your first step is just to start. As tennis legend Arthur Ashe once said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Anxiety; Know your enemy.

Before getting too far ahead of ourselves, let’s quickly run down what anxiety is and why it shouldn’t be ignored.

I don’t like to even talk about mental health — and many people feel the same. My feelings are not because I don’t get anxious — but rather the fact that talking about it makes me feel worse. And — why do we have to use the word “mental?” Seriously, these things are as much physical as anything.

“Anxiety is our body’s normal reaction to stress,” explains the staff at McLean Hospital. “When we’re presented with potential danger, our bodies respond to that stress.”

A similar emotional response is fear. When our body responds to an actual or perceived threat, the result is anxiety. And, this is caused by anticipating what will happen in the future.

Examples include waiting to hear back from your doctor, preparing for a job interview, or speaking in front of a crowd. It’s completely normal to feel anxious. However, this can become a problem when anxiety is more than a temporary fear or worry.

“A person who has an anxiety disorder may always be anxious or may easily become anxious about many things,” explains McLean. “Temporary fear or worry is normal, but if the feelings associated with anxiety disorders linger, they can continue to get worse over time.”

Research has found that anxiety disorders can be caused by genetic and environmental factors. For example, being exposed to stressful events as a child. When left untreated, this can lead to a wide range of symptoms, including;

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Restlessness
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Feeling easily fatigued
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Difficulty contracting
  • Substance abuse

Overall, anxiety can have a negative impact on all areas of your life. As such, it should be addressed ASAP. And, you can use the following eleven techniques to get started.

1. Stay in your time zone.

Anxiety is a future-oriented emotion. To combat the worry of what might happen, “reel yourself back to the present,” says Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of Freeing Yourself from Anxiety. Ask yourself the following questions;

  • What’s happening right now?
  • Am I safe?
  • Is there something I need to do right now?

What helps me the most is asking, “What are you saying to yourself.” When I first learned about this technique, I had to tune into my inner voice. When I tuned in — I found I was feeling “imposter syndrome” and saying terrible things to myself. The inner convo was something like this: “You’re a piece of shit and don’t forget it,” and “you are nothing and never will be,” “you can’t do this job; you always let people down.”

You wouldn’t say any of those things to your worst enemy — so WHY would you say that to yourself?? Be aware of what you say to yourself.

If there is something you need to do for yourself — schedule another time to revisit your worries. Preferably, your revisiting plan and what you can do should be later in the day so those distant scenarios won’t throw you off track too much.

2. Just breathe.

Slow, deliberate belly breathing can help you calm your body almost instantly. What’s more, it’s easy to implement, free, and can be done anywhere. To get started, follow these five steps:

  • Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and breathe naturally
  • Put one hand on your belly, the other on your chest. As you breathe in deeply, count to four. Count to three as you hold your breath and four as you exhale. As you inhale, move your hand inward; while exhaling, move it outward.
  • Focus only on the sensation of your breath.
  • If your mind begins to wander, refocus on your breathing.
  • Repeat as necessary.

The reason why this is so effective is that breathing exercises encourage you to focus on the present. And it has the ability to slow down your heart rate.

Think about getting better at breathing and maybe turn this into a meditation.

3. Try the 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique.

The 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique is another easy and fast way to help calm your anxiety whenever you feel overwhelmed.

It works like this:

  • Five. Name five things that you see. It can be anything from a bird outside your window to the artwork on your wall.
  • Four. Next, name four objects that you’re able to touch. Everything from a knickknack on your desk, hair, or the floor that your feet are touching is fair game.
  • Three. Pick out three things that you can hear. This could be birds chirping, a running air conditioner, or your breathing.
  • Two. Notice two things that you can smell, like the brewing coffee or your perfume or cologne.
  • One. Finally, take note of a taste, like the flavor of the gum you’re chewing.

When paired with deep, slow breathing, this technique works best.

4. Use power language.

“Mind-body research shows that the words you use can have a powerful effect on how you feel,” says Deanne Repich, Director: National Institute of Anxiety and Stress. “Most anxiety sufferers use negative words that destroy their self-esteem and promote a sense of loss of control,” aka “victim” words.

“Victim words perpetuate your anxiety and fear,” adds Repich. “They create a negative self-fulfilling prophecy that results in anxious thoughts and physical symptoms.”

How can you defeat victim words? Replace them with “power” language. These are words that promote your sense of self-worth.

As an example, converting “I can’t control my anxiety” into “I can control my anxiety, and I’m learning skills to conquer it.” Another would be rephasing “I shouldn’t be late for dinner” to “I may be late for dinner. It’s unfortunate, but it’s OK.”

“Think of your inner power like a muscle, just like any other muscle,” Repich says. “The more you use it, the more toned it becomes and the more you can accomplish.” And, with practice, you’ll be able to eliminate anxiety.

5. The throwback hack.

Georgia Foster and Virginia Alexandra, co-authors of “The 3 Minute Anxiety Fix.” suggest that you look at photos whenever you feel anxious or have anxiety. Ideally, it’s stored on your phone or the cloud so that it can be accessed whenever you need it. This is effective since it sparks a great memory.

They also say that your favorite songs and inspirational quotes can help transport you to a better place.

6. Download a relaxation app.

Mindfulness apps, such as Headspace and Calm, offer guided meditations to help release tension, focus, and sleep. Best of all? Most of these apps feature meditations that last only one to five minutes.

Believe it or not, it only takes a couple of minutes of mindfulness to reduce anxiety. I use Calm religiously because of the wide range of offerings on the app for varying moods and situations (yo! even storytime to listen to while you go to sleep).

7. File it.

Have you ever lied awake at night worrying about everything that needs to get done? If so, you can use the “File It” technique to keep track of these items while putting your mind to ease.

To perform this exercise, follow these steps:

  • Close your eyes and imagine folders on a table. But, there’s also a file cabinet on it.
  • Next, pick up each file and label it. For example, if you need to make a phone call put that in the right folder.
  • After naming the file, acknowledge the racing, why it’s important, and then file it away.
  • Repeat this process whenever a thought pops into your mind.

The idea behind this is that you’re acknowledging and naming your triggers. More importantly, you’re examining them, filing them by importance. As a result, you’re not ignoring your feelings. Instead, you’re developing a plan to deal with them at a better time.

8. Be mindful of what you’re eating and drinking.

If you consume too much caffeine, you may experience heart palpitations. Additionally, caffeine can trigger panic or anxiety attacks — especially if you suffer from an anxiety disorder. Palpitations can also be caused by hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.

Furthermore, it can also cause anxiety or panic attacks because sugar is an adrenal stimulant. For some — it’s paying attention to foods containing refined flour products and even wheat that may cause inflammation as well. And aside from caffeine and sugar, food allergies can also contribute to an overactive nervous system.

Basically, don’t worry too much about anything. My mantra — Eat right, sleep right, and exercise; and most things in your life will go much better. You’ll be better able to handle things.

9. Bring laughter into your life.

“It’s true: laughter is strong medicine. It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body,” writes Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. “Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress.”

Also, there’s nothing that “works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh,” they add. “Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you release anger and forgive sooner.”

When you feel a wave of anxiety, the authors recommend that you find opportunities to laugh, such as;

  • Watching a funny movie, sitcom, or YouTube video.
  • Reading the funny pages.
  • Remembering a moment that made you laugh.
  • Spending time with people who make you smile.
  • Playing with children or a pet.
  • Engaging in fun activities like mini-golf.

10. Get your body moving.

A study from 2017 showed that 77 percent of the participants were inactive for 12 hours a day. In addition to being physically unhealthy, being sedentary most of the day can also affect your mental health. And, thanks to the pandemic, this has only gotten worse.

If you begin to feel anxious, get up and move. Preferably, you want to elevate your heart rate for five minutes through vigorous exercises. I’ve gotten out of bed and zoomed around and around the block — fast, and it kicks off the anxiety — gone. Like the restless leg thing — with an around the block two or three times — gone –. Better if you can exercise well enough during the day, but hey, “we can’t always get what we want, right?”

11. Do something.

Do something, anything. Clean or organize your workspace. Grab a glass of water. Talk a short stroll outside. Start working. Just diving in and working (even if it’s working again at night is helpful for me).

Taking any sort of action will interrupt your thought pattern. And that action will distract you from worrying. Remember, self-care is the most important thing to do for yourself. The AA and NA use another mantra I always use — “Grant me the Serenity” and the NCBI — “HALT” — don’t get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.

Please take care of yourself and you’ll start reducing anxiety — just start!

How Does Procrastination and Perfectionism Reduce Productivity?

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How Does Procrastination and Perfectionism Reduce Productivity?

The legendary comic book artist, writer, and editor Jack Kirby once said, “Perfectionists are their own devils.” And, it’s 100% spot on — just like his indispensable contributions to the comic industry.

Note that the reason why that quote resonates with you is that when you’re a perfectionist, you’re actually a procrastinator in disguise. Yeah. You might be in denial — but it’s true.

How Does Procrastination and Perfectionism Reduce Productivity?

Despite the misconception that procrastinators are slackers, the reality is that you may be caught in the procrastination-perfectionism loop.

  • Starting a project or assignment is too frightening because you feel that it won’t be good enough.
  • You devote too much time in the planning phase instead of getting to work. As a result, you wait until the last minuted to work on the actual task since it won’t align with your “grand vision.”
  • Your emotions drive your actions, such as not starting a project because you’re not in the right headspace.
  • You prioritize easier and less intimidating tasks. In turn, this prevents you from focusing on more important responsibilities.

Once you’re in this loop of procrastination and perfectionism — you can expect dire consequences.

“The symptoms of procrastination commonly reflect the inability to finish tasks, meet deadlines, arrive on time, and keep promises,” writes Dr. Bill Cloke. “Poor concentration, negative internal messages, unrealistic expectations, and the inability to organize and work constructively are present with procrastination.”

Obviously, all of the above will hinder your productivity. However, in addition to chronic procrastination, being a perfectionist can also destroy your productivity in the following ways.

1. Causes anxiety and depression.

Is anxiety the cause of perfectionism? Or is perfectionism the cause of anxiety? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t always clear. However, multiple studies have found that perfectionism can lead to a myriad of problems, such as anxiety and depression.

“It’s something that cuts across everything, in terms of psychological problems,” says Sarah Egan, a senior research fellow at the Curtin University in Perth who specializes in perfectionism, eating disorders, and anxiety. “There aren’t that many other things that do that.

“There are studies that suggest that the higher the perfectionism is, the more psychological disorders you’re going to suffer.”

2. Lowers self-esteem.

Since perfectionists set impossibly high standards, they feel awful when they don’t meet those standards. As a consequence, this casts a shadow of self-doubt over them. And, eventually, this causes them to engage in negative self-talk.

This might sound like hyperbole. But, because perfectionists never live up to the bar they’ve set, they view themselves as failures. Without that confidence, you aren’t able to succeed and forge forward.

3. Impedes innovation.

Perfectionism often kills innovation. So, it’s not surprising that this would also impact your productivity. After all, as Calendar Co-Founder and CEO John Rampton previously wrote, innovation “encourages you to continually improves and stay on top of trends so that you’ll remain relevant.”

Here’s the problem, though. You dedicate a lot of time to brainstorm ideas. But, since you’re consumed by perfection, you toss those ideas into the trash like last week’s leftovers. And, that might mean that you’re leaving some excellent ideas on the cutting room floor.

As if that weren’t enough, this can also affect your self-confidence. The reason? Because you’re rejecting possible opportunities that can make you smarter, faster, better.

4. Causes health problems.

Several studies have found that perfectionism can shorten an individual’s lifespan.

The reason? It’s simple. Perfectionism can negatively influence an individual’s physical health.

Perfectionists may suffer from chronic headaches, fatigue, insomnia, and heartburn. Perfectionism can also lead to high levels of chronic stress, which are known to be linked to cardiovascular problems. It’s also possible for perfectionists to develop eating disorders.

More concerning? Perfectionism is causing more suicides.

5. Reluctantacy to make decisions.

“There’s an argument that, for unimportant decisions, you should either decide quickly or outsource the decision,” writes Alice Boyles for HBR.

“But perfectionists have a hard time designating decisions as unimportant,” she adds. “They like to be in control of everything.”

Why is this the case? “Because imperfections bother them more than they do other people. If something goes wrong, perfectionists might feel explosive frustration or a niggling sense of irritation that’s hard to ignore, and they don’t want to take that risk.”

“Sometimes, perfectionists are so accustomed to micromanaging that it doesn’t even occur to them that any decision is unimportant,” states Boyles. “They’re blind to it. So instead, they habitually and automatically classify everything as worthy of their full effort.”

6. Difficulty achieving goals.

Perfection may also make it more difficult to achieve your goals. The reason being is that the fear of failure freezes you in place. Obviously, this prevents you from progressing and moving forward.

Furthermore, that nagging negative self-talk occupies the back of your mind. And, that’s not exactly the best way to inspire and motivate you to pursue your goals.

And, since perfectionists have a tendency to quit easily, they often throw in the towel before the going gets tough.

7. Strains relationships.

Getting along with perfectionists isn’t for the faint of heart. Perfectionists may doubt their worth as they’ve convinced themselves that they’re failures. Additionally, perfectionists have difficulty being honest and transparent since they hide their mistakes and vulnerabilities. Eventually, this kind of behavior can be detrimental to relationships.

Also, some perfectionists expect others to live up to the unreasonably high expectations that they’ve set for themselves. And, when not reached, this causes disappointment and conflict when others do not meet these expectations.

8. Limits opportunities.

Finally, perfectionists are obsessed with failure and chasing unattainable expectations, preventing them from trying new things and meeting new people. As a consequence, they can miss out on new and exciting opportunities that can make them more productive.

How to Beat Procrastination and Perfectionism

There is a silver ling, though. It’s absolutely possible to break the dreaded procrastination and perfectionism loop. And, here are some pointers on how to make this possible;

  • Lower the bar. This is a process that won’t happen overnight. But, you lower standards by starting small, like not making your bed in the morning or proofreading an email.
  • Keep your tasks bite-sized. As the joke goes, “How do you eat an elephant?” By eating one bite at a time. Breaking large projects into smaller ones makes it feel not as daunting. And take these small steps helps build momentum.
  • Stop multitasking. As a reminder, the human brain wasn’t designed for multitasking. To fight back against this, try strategies like time blocking, eliminating distractions, and seeking feedback.
  • Practice self-compassion. When you need a pep talk, go back and review what you actually accomplished in the day.
  • Surround yourself with positive support. Remove toxic relationships and spend more time with those who are supportive.
  • Incorporate mindfulness. By being present and not busy, you can stay grounded and reduce anxiety.
  • Reduce your commitments. Practice the art of saying no so that you aren’t overextending yourself. In turn, this encourages you to focus on what’s important.
  • Reward yourself. When your complete a part of a large task, treat yourself to a walk or your favorite beverage from Starbucks.
  • Track your time. This lets you determine when you’re most productive. Knowing this, you can schedule your most important or challenging tasks at this time.

The most important takeaway? Know that you’re not alone. If procrastination and perfectionism interfere with your health and well-being, reach out to a mental health professional.

Your Calendar Will Help Make Your Camping Trip a Success

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Your Calendar Will Help Make Your Camping Trip a Success

Remember going camping as a kid? Even if it was only a few times growing up, camping trips make for enjoyable summer memories for the whole family. So invite friends and family — and have a blast!

Your Calendar Will Help Make Your Camping Trip a Success

Unfortunately, many people don’t have great memories of camping — but everyone needs to say they’ve camped at least once in their lives. I call it “life lessons and learning.” And, yes, I laugh when I say that. But, whether the former camping trip was boring, got rained on, or someone was eaten alive by mosquitos — some things can get in the way of a good time. Prevent catastrophe from striking your camping trip by organizing your efforts with your Calendar. Here’s how:

Choosing Dates

Hey, you only have about six weeks before the kids are back in school — so get cracking! First things first, you must select the dates of your camping trip in advance. Very rarely will an impromptu trip work out well, especially for larger families and all of their different schedules. However, some of our impromptu trips ended up the best ever —  so don’t discount that possibility.

Using your Calendar allows you to view all of these conflicting schedules and find free days for everyone. Then, once the date is chosen — create a Calendar event and share it with everyone who plans to attend so that they don’t end up booking something for the dates selected.

Remembering to Pack

Nothing is worse than arriving at your location and realizing you forgot to pack something important. Don’t let that happen to you by setting one or several reminders in your online Calendar. I, for one, always have camping specifics in a packed bag so I can just look through the items and make sure they aren’t out of date.

You can set a reminder for virtually anything you think you might forget. For example, a Calendar notification will help you get out the door at the right time. Another event will remind you to make a trip to the store to get all the snacks and supplies you need.

You will also find it useful to set a reminder to make sure you double-check your home, set the lock, turn the camera on, check the auto sprinklers, let the neighbor know to pick up mail. I keep this same list for trips on my Calendar, so I don’t have to write a new list each time we go somewhere. That puts everything in order before leaving town for a few days. I also have a “before you go cleaning list” to not be overwhelmed when I return home.

Planning the Road Trip

The best camping spots are usually a long-distance away. Those drives can get pretty grueling, especially for young kids and big families. Your Calendar will come in handy for planning the upcoming road trip and making it as painless as possible.

Most National Parks have a number you can call and select your date and reserve your spot. You have to be there by a certain time (usually 6:00 PM) or give them a late check-in time. If you aren’t there on time — the park will give away your spot.

Looking for a spot to camp at midnight, especially if you’ve brought a baby along, is not a pretty sight. And sleeping in the car because you lost your camping spot tends to be the memory that sticks with your fam and friends forever.

Thanks to GPS technology, you don’t have to plan your route as extensively as in generations past. However, it may be worth your time to plan some stops along the way. For example, optimize your bathroom and lunch breaks or scope out some roadside attractions that are worth checking out.

Plan these out in advance, and you can make the drive more enjoyable while still making it to your campsite at a reasonable hour.

Creating an Itinerary

Camping is so much more than sleeping in a tent on the hard ground. What makes camping worth it is all the activities you plan throughout the day. Your Calendar will help you create the perfect itinerary to fill your days with plenty of activities.

Do you want to go on a family hike? You want to plan water activities when it’s the warmest and plan everything else around it. We like to take our bikes and have a big long bike trip around the lake early while it’s still cool and then have lake time to cool off around noon or 1:00 PM. You could also check to see if the park rents bikes, paddle boats, or canoes. That way you don’t have to bring your own. But all these types of activities and questions can be answered by making an itinerary for your trip.

There’s also some merit in making time to do nothing but relax and get lost in your surroundings. Feel free to include your personal “away” time on your Calendar as well. Especially if it’s a high priority to you. If you’re an adventurous type, you can also freestyle the trip and see where it takes you.

As a footnote, your Calendar doesn’t always have to be online in order to be helpful. While traveling, you can still access the itinerary in offline mode. Thankfully there are fewer places where you won’t have cell service. But be aware no cell service does occur. Sometimes I take a screenshot of my Calendar so I have it in my photos if cell service is not to be had.

Getting Work Done

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean the work has stopped. If you’re taking a weekday trip, you’ll need to ask for time off and might need to get some extra work done before you embark. Even a weekend outing can be a little stressful if you get home late Sunday night and need to get things ready to go to the office the following morning.

This is the perfect opportunity to use your Calendar for what it does best; time management. Leading up to your trip, try using time blocking or experiment with the Pomodoro Technique to get as much work done as possible so that you can take a camping trip without stressing about missing work.

Your Calendar will help you make a seamless return as well. You can organize all of your meetings and deadlines ahead of time to arrange your entire schedule before you even leave for your trip. Then, once you make it back home, all you have to do is check your Calendar for everything that needs to be done next.

Recording Memories

Just as was mentioned from the start, the goal of a camping trip is to have fun and make memories. Therefore, every event and note you add to your Calendar will serve as a reminder of the fun you had even long after the trip has finished.

You can also use your online Calendar to plan out a scrapbook or photo album of all the camping trips you ever take. This is a more visual and organized way to preserve memories for a very long time.

You can have a lot of fun roughing it if you come prepared. Before you leave to come home from a trip (camping or otherwise), get everyone to share photos from your phones. I put a reminder in my Calendar because sharing photos has become such a staple of our adventures and the highlight of our trips now.

Create a Summer Reading Program for Your Kids

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Create a Summer Reading Program for Your Kids

School’s out for summer, but that doesn’t mean the learning should stop. Parents will be looking for ways to keep their children mentally engaged with some of the extra time they have off. Of course, reading isn’t an on-off sport. Reading is year-round fun, relaxation and enjoyment.

Reading is one of the best academic activities your kids can participate in throughout their entire lives. In fact, reading is an essential component of child development, so you’ll be setting your kids up for future success by getting them to read during their offseason and all year round.

The Three B’s

I’ve always said that the three main components for good readers are the three B’s. Books, Bookshelf, and Bedlamp. Have these three available and your child will be a reader.

Create a Summer Reading Program for Your Kids

A great way to get your kids’ reading organized is with an online calendar. The following tips will help you make this summer a summer of reading while still balancing the rest of your fun in the sun.

Take a Trip to the Library

Kick things off by taking a trip to your local library. The library will contain all of the books your kids could ever dream of. Sign them up for library cards and browse through all of the books until they find one they like. There will be many options (and opinions) at the library that are not available at home, providing a greater chance for each child to find a book they’re interested in.

Additionally, most libraries will host learning activities throughout the summer that your kids can attend. While at the library, ask for a schedule containing all of the events and activities that are planned for the coming months. Add the books you’re interested in, onto your online calendar so your kids can participate.

The library also has lists of Cauldacot Book Awards and other Award-Winning Books that can be enjoyed.

They also have reading level lists that can guide the parent. I sometimes have my kids (grandkids) read a level or two lower so that they can speed through stacks of books. It’s a blast. “Yeah, I read 250 books this summer.”

Speeding through stacks of books cements little concepts that the children have missed in reading. It also helps kids gain a deeper concept of remembering content. Be sure and have conversations, “tell me what this book was about,” and “what was your favorite part of this book?”

Be sure to add your own reading schedule on your Calendar also so that the kids can see that you have your own personal reading goals. Yesterday I said, “Well, I finished the Oprah book, “What Happened to You?” My grandchild said, “What was your favorite part, grammy?” “I saw you cry.” Wow! I thought. Then I remarked candidly, “It was a hard book to read, but I learned many things, and I think maybe I was hurt as a kid.” It was a solemn talk.

What book talks are you having with your kids?

Plan Reading Times

Many kids are taking the initiative to do some reading on their own time. If your kids fall under that category, you are lucky to be able to guide them into exciting adventures in reading. Scheduling specific times for reading is great. My mom would let us read together as a child if we had showered and were ready for bed at 8:00 PM. We ran to the living room to get the best seat and read whatever we wanted for an hour.

Ask your kids when they would prefer their reading time to be. Do they like reading right before bed or in the afternoon when it’s too hot to bear going outside? Or both? Set those reading times into your online calendar and resist the urge to assign anything else at that time for your kids. Let them relax and unwind with a book.

Add Some Incentives

When pushing your kids to be more productive this summer, don’t be afraid to use incentives as encouragement. Make sure reading isn’t used as a chore. Reading is fun — free time. Always provide wonderful books for the family trip. Occasionally have a special treat. We’ve done the read at the park, read in the balls at McDonald’s, read at the mall, read on stairs outside the capitol, the lawn of the museum, on the bike trail — and many other “kids’ choice” reading spots. (At midnight on the lake with flashlights.) Epic!

Work to make reading an experience — a great experience.

Some schools have reading requirements that your kids will have to meet this summer. For this type of reading — I try always to support the schools — and I try not to show the “bad face” about it. For example, an hour of reading can qualify them for an hour of video game time or a chance to go hang out with a friend. This way, your kids will know that before they can participate in other activities of choice — they have to give some time to clear off the school reading assignments.

Being read to can be just as good as private reading for young kids, especially those just learning how to string words together. Reading to your kids can become a daily tradition that everyone looks forward to and will make a happy addition to your online calendar.

Favorite childhood stories

This summer might be a good time to introduce your favorite childhood stories to your own kids. A recurring event set for each night can mark the time everyone snuggles together to listen to Mom or Dad read aloud.

As a child, whoever got to the living room first got to sit on the back of the sofa and brush mother’s hair while others read. This was a singular event each night because mother’s hair was perfect and never out of place, and her hair was not touched at any other time.

Try something unusual. Reading and how well you read will affect an entire lifetime — you can give this profound gift to a child.

Make sure to answer any questions your kids might have about the story or words they don’t recognize.

Put Together a Movie Night

We know that books are always better than movies based on them. Luckily, kids aren’t typically as harsh of film critics. In fact, it can be quite exciting to watch the cinematic version of the book they just finished reading.

Set a goal with each child to finish their chosen book by a certain date. When that day comes, plan a movie night together in your online calendar to enjoy the plot of the story on the big screen. Grab some popcorn and dim the lights and watch the tale unfold like never before. I love to have neighborhood kids over for these events.

Bring the Stories to Life

Besides the silver screen, you can bring stories to life with other activities that bring reading to life. For example, let’s say one of your kids finished reading a nature book. Plan a day in your online calendar to go bird watching or go to the zoo to see real-life examples of what they read.

Adventure and fantasy books have a lot of potential for creative activities for your kids. Spend some time creating the perfect Harry Potter wand or drawing pictures of dragons together to spend a summer afternoon.

The last couple of weeks, my granddaughter went to a pirate and ocean summer camp. They read about oceans and spiked the kids’ interest with pirate things. She made an aquarium, a bed of coral (out of pipe cleaners), sea kelp and they made a wonderful spyglass. Interactive stuff, when reading, helps your kids exercise other aspects of creative thinking and expression.

Stay Consistent

Don’t be the parent that enforces a strict reading schedule — just enjoy the experience. For summer reading to have a lasting impact — don’t just enjoy — feel joy. Your Calendar will be your weapon of choice when developing an at-home reading program, and it will help you be consistent so that you don’t have to do all of the rememberings yourself. What a great time to live with all of the tech-helps to make it easier.

Set up all your reading times and events in your online calendar. Then, your reminders can prompt you to take action on your plans. Soon, your schedule will turn into a reading habit that no longer needs an online calendar to hold you accountable (it will still help, however).

This will be a summer for the books as you incorporate reading into every day.

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