All posts by Deanna Ritchie

Share Your Troubles With Your Coworkers; Boost Productivity

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boosting productivity

Boosting productivity is always important, but it’s also important to note that each of us has problems; and we all need a listening ear. ‌Maybe it’s a friend, spouse, or parent. Whatever the case, it’s nice to know that you’ve got someone you can talk to whenever you’re feeling low.

Further,‌ ‌the‌ ‌boundaries between work and home have become increasingly‌ ‌‌‌entwined over the past two years. In these cases, turning to a coworker could be beneficial. ‌‌‌In particular, Susan Cain, author of Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole, found that it could result in stronger coworker connections and a greater boost in ‌productivity.

In her book, Cain cites the example of a company that normalized sharing personal issues. The billing department at Midwest Billing, a community hospital in Jackson, Michigan, created a culture in which every employee was assumed to have a personal problem. ‌Rather than be seen as a problem, teammates demonstrated compassion by sharing their troubles. Employees‌ ‌helped each other out with divorces, domestic violence, deaths in the family, and even when someone was ill.

Not only is sharing troubles with others good for your mental health, but it is also good for business productivity as well. “During the five years prior to the study, Midwest Billing got its bills collected more than twice as fast as before, beating industry standards,” writes Cain. “The turnover rate in the unit was only 2%, compared with an average of 25% across all of Midwest Health System, and a significantly higher rate across the medical billing industry.”

Honestly, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Why Talking About Our Problems Helps

Talking about our problems helps us a lot, according to previous research.

In research from U.C.L.A., “affect labeling” is a method for putting feelings into words so that the amygdala is less triggered when confronted with upsetting things. ‌In this way, you can slow down your stress response over time. ‌

Being in a car after a car accident, for example, can be emotionally overwhelming. ‌But, as you talk the situation through, put your feelings into words, and process what happened, you won’t feel that way when you get back into the car.

Additionally, studies at Southern Methodist University found that writing about traumatic experiences or undergoing talk therapy helped patients’ immune systems and health. ‌It was found that suppressing thoughts and emotions increases stress. ‌Either way, the negative feelings are there, but you must work to suppress‌ ‌them. ‌When your brain and body are overworked, you are more susceptible to getting sick or feeling miserable.

How to Your Troubles At Work

While you may feel awkward sharing your troubles with your teammates, here are some pointers on how to do so.

Think about whether it’s a topic worth discussing.

Work may seem like the perfect place to vent, but it is not. ‌Never share what you are going through personally at work. ‌The exception? When a problem affects your career, sharing personal information should be reserved.

In fact, this kind of sharing can sometimes‌ ‌help‌ ‌‌‌strengthen ‌work‌ ‌relationships. Some examples‌ ‌of‌ ‌appropriate personal topics to share are:

  • An‌ ‌illness‌ ‌that’s impacting your performance.
  • You’ve got a family issue that’s affecting your‌ ‌work‌ ‌schedule‌ ‌or‌ ‌ability‌ ‌to‌ ‌work.
  • Pregnancy.

On the flip side, you should avoid discussing the following:

  • Financial concerns.
  • Problems with your children include drugs, arrests, and troubles‌ ‌at‌ ‌school.
  • Relationship problems of any kind.
  • Litigation, neighbor wars, car troubles.

If you steer clear of these conversations, you avoid being labeled as someone who has so many issues that it hinders your career.

And, one more thing. If you have a serious medical problem or family emergency, it’s probably best to discuss this with your boss. You can then brainstorm possible solutions like a leave of absence or a flexible work schedule.

Speak with the right people.

In the past, if you shared how you felt with someone and didn’t seem to yield any results, ‌it might be because you weren’t talking to the right‌‌ ‌‌person. ‌The support of someone you trust (without enabling bad habits such as co-rumination) is critical.

Find someone who has experienced the same problem and hopefully solve it. For example, if you’re struggling to meet deadlines or understand the scope of a project, ask a coworker for help. Hopefully, they can share their time management tips or clarify the work with you.

What should you do if you need a lot of time to talk? ‌Well, maybe you could schedule a recurring bi-weekly check-in. Or divide your conversations among several‌ ‌people. ‌Having a comprehensive social support system lets you distribute the load if one is worn out.

Schedule the right time and place to talk.

Even if it is a serious issue, it isn’t worth allowing to fester and linger. But, at the same time, you also don’t want to pour your heart when your coworkers are rushing to a meeting. So if you know when they’ll be less busy, pick a time that works for you. ‌

Also, pick a time when they’ll ‌be‌ ‌alone. After all, you don’t want to disclose a medical problem, for instance, at the water cooler or on a team call.

The easiest way to approach this? Share your calendar with them. This way, they can see when you’re available. From there, they can book a time to chat when they’re also free. You can even add a location, like a nearby coffee shop, to the invite to prevent other coworkers from eavesdropping. This will not only boost productivity, but it will help you be able to lean on someone for a quick listening ear.

Use “I” statements.

Thomas Gordon introduced “I statements” in the 1960s as a way to help kids understand emotions and behaviors‌ ‌during‌ ‌play‌ ‌therapy. ‌However, they can have many advantages during communication, including:

  • Feeling‌ ‌statements‌ ‌are a way to express assertiveness without provoking blame, accusation, defensiveness, or guilt in other people.
  • It’s easy to solve conflicts‌ ‌without putting‌ ‌people‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌defensive. ‌This focuses the conversation on solving a problem rather than assigning blame by focusing on the feelings and needs of the speaker.
  • Using I-messages can also be an excellent way to give constructive feedback to others. ‌The conversation is focused on the speaker’s feelings rather than how they feel‌ ‌about‌ ‌it.

Of course, not every situation requires using “I” statements. However, they can be helpful in the following situations:

  • If we need to confront someone‌ ‌about‌ ‌their‌ ‌behavior.
  • Feelings of injustice when others treat us poorly.
  • When‌ ‌we‌ ‌feel‌ ‌angry or defensive.
  • If someone is‌ ‌angry‌ ‌with‌ ‌us.

At the same time, there are potential disadvantages to “I” statements. These include being seen as expressing emotionalism, weakness, and what’s best for you.

Despite these concerns, when sharing your troubles with a coworker, they can boost productivity. For example, let’s say you’re collaborating with them, and they have a habit of not providing updates on their progress. You could say, “I get anxious when I don’t receive updates.”

Take action on solutions.

“Problem-solving makes you feel better, but getting things off your chest alone doesn’t make you feel better,” advises Kristin Behfar, Ph.D. ‌So keep multiple solutions in your back pocket, whether you offer advice or ask for it. ‌

Your next step should be to act. ‌This will ensure that you won’t complain simply for the sake of complaining.

Of course, putting that into practice isn’t always easy. ‌Here is a 10-step process devised by Brian Tracy for putting your plans into action:

  • Positively frame the problem.
  • Clearly define the situation or problem.
  • Take several different approaches to the problem using critical thinking.
  • Decide on‌ ‌the‌ ‌ideal‌ ‌solution‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌problem.
  • Select the most appropriate solution to ‌your‌ ‌challenge.
  • Prepare‌ ‌for‌ ‌and overcome the worst outcome possible.
  • Keep track of‌ ‌your‌ ‌progress.
  • Be fully responsible‌ ‌for‌ ‌your‌ ‌decision.
  • Set‌ ‌a‌ ‌deadline‌ ‌to solve the problem.
  • Solve your problem by taking action.

Set time limits.

If a colleague has taken the time out of their day to listen to you, then you need to pay them the same level of respect. How? By being respectful of their valuable time.

To boost productivity and make sure you stay focused, the first place to start is setting time limits. It’s unreasonable for them to block out three hours of their day to listen to your life story. So instead, a 30-minute should suffice.

To keep you on track, prepare an agenda — just like you would with a meeting. That means focusing on the work problem that’s giving you the most distress. Then, after identifying this issue, jot down and rehearse what you want to say to keep the talk concise.

Also, just like scheduling a meeting, leave a few minutes for possible response and brainstorming.

Another thing to keep in mind? Be on time. If you have scheduled this talk for 11 a.m. on Friday, then make sure you’re on time.

What Role Do Leaders Play?

Leading by example is often the first step in creating a sharing culture. ‌Ultimately, sharing culture can lead to a productivity boost. Cain tells the story of Rick Fox, one of the leaders of a Shell Oil oil ‌rig‌ ‌case‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌Gulf‌ ‌of‌ ‌Mexico. ‌Fox hired Lara Nuer, co-founder of Learning as Leadership, to solve problems with drilling schedules and oil production numbers. ‌Following a conversation with Fox, Nuer revealed that his biggest‌ ‌problem‌ ‌was‌ ‌fear. ‌Not only was the work dangerous, but also managing people and ensuring their safety.

As they worked together, Nuer encouraged them to speak with each other about their fears, including their personal problems. ‌During the transition from a macho culture to one in which the men supported each other, the culture shifted from one of the hiding weaknesses or asking questions.

“There were fewer accidents because the guys on the rig got more comfortable opening up when they didn’t know how to do something or didn’t understand how something worked,” says Cain.

Leaders, however, may find it hard to share their own struggles, Cain notes. “At least one study suggests that confiding one’s troubles in subordinates can cause them to lose confidence in and comfort with you,” she says. “At the same time, the best way to shift a culture is for leadership to go first.”

Leaders‌ ‌don’t have to share all their problems to be a perfect example or boost productivity. “They don’t need to speak to their employees the same way they’d talk to their therapist,” Cain adds. “It’s enough to move in the direction of open-heartedness.”

Image Credit: ANTONI SHKRABA; Pexels Thank you!

Share Your Troubles With Your Coworkers; Boost Productivity was originally published on Calendar by .

How to Deal With a Customer Complaint Quickly

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Customer Complaint

No matter what industry you’re in, customers want quick responses when they contact you with complaints. Customer service agents similarly want to resolve issues on the first try. First contact resolution (FCR) is a metric that plays a crucial role in whether your customers keep coming back. It also affects whether they refer you to others. Let’s dive into some best practices for resolving customer tickets quickly — for the good of both your customers and your agents.

Train Agents to Ask Good Questions

Good FCR starts with training agents to ask questions that uncover the root causes of issues. Again, Role-playing can help agents learn to do this.

Let’s say your company sells architectural software. In one scenario, a customer named Sara calls your help center. Sara was unable to save a project and now needs help recovering it. In the scenario, the agent, Drew, helps Sara recover her project. Then, as instructed, Drew closes by asking if there’s anything else Sara needs. Sara says, “Nope! I guess it was user error! Hopefully, I’ll save it correctly next time.”

By asking a follow-up question, Drew revealed what Sara actually needed: clear instructions for how to save her projects. Drew responded by explaining the process to Sara and sending a follow-up email with the instructions written out.

Drew was able to both solve a customer’s root complaint and suggest a change to his company’s software manual. This scenario helped him become confident with digging deeper on calls.

Analyze Your Data to Find the “Why”

If your FCR is not where you want it to be — look at your data for clues. A few metrics to start with are customer effort score (CES), customer satisfaction (CSAT), and quality assurance (QA).

As you look at the data, be curious about why customers may be contacting your team multiple times. Is it because customers don’t understand how to communicate their problems? Or perhaps they need the solution in writing? Do you have a policy that is not customer-friendly? Once you have some answers, brainstorm your next steps.

In order for this exercise to work, you need reliable internal data. Consider implementing a quality assurance scorecard system using a platform such as MaestroQA. A quality assurance system software will automate repetitive data collection tasks and give your team access to the data. Access to this system empowers your team to troubleshoot first contact resolution (FCR) issues quickly and independently.

Provide Coaching for Your Agents

Have you found FCR-related issues caused by individual behaviors? Because customer service agent coaching is highly personalized, it can target that behavior. For example, an agent might escalate most calls. During a coaching session, the agent might share that they feel insecure about navigating the internal knowledge base. The coach can provide resources to help the agent become proficient at doing so.

In the end, coaching is an excellent way to increase your agents’ confidence and improve FCR.

Update Your Learning Management System and Knowledge Base

Good customer service basics don’t change much over time. But the specifics of your industry may vary and change a lot. So, someone in your organization should be responsible for keeping your learning management system (LMS) up-to-date.

When your training materials aren’t regularly updated, you might notice red flags. Second and third phone calls from the same customer might include complaints like, “That’s not what the last person told me.” Different agents might follow different workflows to solve the same problem. Creative problem-solving is good, but your customer experience should be consistently excellent. An updated LMS helps make that happen.

In addition, your internal knowledge base should be easy to navigate. Agents should be able to find information and easily navigate to related documents quickly. Customers notice when an agent can answer questions quickly. With quick, confident responses, customers feel more comfortable asking follow-up questions — knowing the interaction will be succinct. Fast and accurate feedback will improve your FCR.

Eliminate Steps For Your Customers

When someone submits a help ticket, it is generally impossible to resolve it entirely with one message. For example, if someone needs to exchange a pair of shoes, they might initiate a return via email but leave out critical info.

To streamline any process — your customer agents should be trained to gather all necessary information at one time on the first phone call or contact. Sometimes, this call is best accomplished via an online form. Other times, the solution is best accomplished via email. (“Please send a screenshot of your original order, plus the size you’d like.”)

Whenever possible, automate frequent needs. For example, you might create a place on your website where customers can cancel their subscriptions. Your solution can include the option to pause a subscription or to receive a discount instead of canceling. Clearly written solutions on your website will save customers time and your company money.

Finally, keep the dreaded phone tree as short as possible. A brief recording might answer frequently asked questions (for example, a restaurant could include its hours on its answering machine). But anything longer risks frustrating your customer, causing complaints, and thus making your agents’ jobs harder.

Invest in Best Practices

To provide excellent customer service, you can leverage available tools and innovations. You may find a new report that helps your team, or a new technology might be helpful. For example, a video call solution that integrates into existing CS workflows can help resolve issues that typically require a site visit. Creative solutions can infuse new life into your help desk.

But sometimes, you just need to spend the time reviewing simple, reliable data. Then you can implement changes and best practices to quickly assess and resolve customer complaints.

The payoff? Happier, more loyal customers and agents. And that makes investing time and resources into these best practices well worth it.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!

How to Deal With a Customer Complaint Quickly was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie

Make Your Home Office Better for Productivity

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Home office

Since‌ ‌the‌ ‌COVID-19 pandemic began, remote working has thrived. ‌According to Nick Bloom of Stanford’s Working From Home Research Project, about 25% to 35% of workers work from home.

Despite attempts to return to normal operations, many companies will likely switch‌ ‌to‌ ‌a‌ ‌fully‌ ‌remote‌ ‌or‌ ‌hybrid style‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌near‌ ‌future. ‌Therefore, it is likely that you will‌ ‌need‌ ‌to‌ ‌establish‌ ‌a‌ ‌more‌ ‌permanent WFH‌ ‌setup.

But, how exactly can you make your home office better for productivity? ‌Here are some tips for designing a home office for your comfort, productivity, and needs.

Think — “Small is Okay.”

No. I don’t mean scouring the fridge for a cheesy treat. ‌Instead, locate the quietest spot in‌ ‌your‌ ‌house. ‌Others find any noise bothersome, even if they need some background noise to work.

“I’m much more efficient in a quiet, distraction-free space,” says John Gerard from Our Home from Scratch. “Our home office is far enough away from the television and the play area that, with the doors closed, I can easily work in peace.”

Do not let your workspace coincide with anyone else’s to prevent this from happening. Ideally, you want to ‌select‌ ‌a‌ ‌room‌ ‌with‌ ‌a‌ ‌door. Maybe this could be a spare bedroom, basement, or attic. Some people convert closets into a home office if space is tight.

Remember to Maximize Natural Daylight.

Researchers have found‌ ‌that exposure to natural light throughout the day has positive effects on our mental and physical health. ‌So, it will be beneficial for you to open the blinds and let the light in.

“Ideally you should position your desk next to a window to enjoy the best natural light levels,” says interior designer Chantel Elshout. ‌Direct sunlight, however, can make it difficult to see your computer screen. “Adjustable window treatments, like plantation shutters, are a real savior and can be tilted as the sun moves to keep the sun out of your eyes while maintaining decent natural light levels overall.”

If you don’t have access to sunlight, a simple soft light desk lamp, such as the Mi LED Desk Lamp, will be just fine. ‌The soft glow of your work environment can contribute to a more relaxed, less stressful environment. And this will also avoid eye strain.

Turn up the tunes.

One of my favorite parts about working from home? I can play my music as loud as I want. That’s not to say I’ve tossed my headphones. It’s just that this won’t distract anyone with no one else around.

Of course, you might have to be mindful if you have a roommate or a partner. But, if not, just let the music play to your content. ‌It has been proven that listening to music during the day enhances productivity, creativity,‌ ‌and‌ ‌memory‌ ‌retention. Whatever you choose, just know that different playlists are better suited for various tasks.

For menial and tedious work, go with more upbeat music. But, when it’s time to focus on deep work, you’re better listening to the relaxing beats and soothing tones of instrumental ambient music. And, certainly know when to work in silence without your tunes.

Prioritize Comfort.

A comfortable home office makes you less likely ‌to ‌get restless‌. ‌For this reason, a strategically planned interior design is crucial.

Make sure your office chair is comfortable and ergonomically designed for your health and productivity. After all, it’s a simple way to prevent back pain over time. ‌Another option to improve posture and comfort is to use a standing desk with a rubber foot mat. I like my desk to be up sometimes and down sometimes — the variety is favorable for many things.

Although you may not think this applies to you, about 90% of adults have experienced back pain at some point in their lives, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. ‌What’s more, ‌50%‌ ‌of‌ ‌Americans have back pain annually. Desk chairs that don’t properly support your back can negatively affect your health, mood, and work performance. I really like my gaming chair in my home office for work and wish I had one for my office desk.

Upgrade Your Gear.

When you’re working remotely, technology will be your best ally. ‌But, is your existing electronic device, such as a computer, printer, or connection, prone to technical problems? ‌If so,‌ this doesn’t just slow you down, it’s ‌also ‌a nuisance.

You are likely holding on to your old equipment because it still works and upgrading seems too expensive. Think back — you’ve wasted a ton of your time troubleshooting the old stuff and likely even have lost opportunity costs. At least get the newest pieces of equipment you can afford.

Remember, any lost time will negatively affect your productivity — and your mood as well. Can you imagine the stress you’ll have if your system crashes right before a deadline?

Depending on your work, the devices you use will vary. So, make sure that you have the best tools at your disposal. Moreover, make sure that your software is up-to-date. And, if you haven’t done so yet, ‌be confident that you have a reliable and fast wireless router. You may also need area boosters to get your signal throughout your workspace.

Design Flexible Layouts.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a manager or have tons of responsibility in your current company; in today’s flexible work environment, a well-planned home office layout can help you adapt to your job better.

If you are running back and forth from office to home office — it can be helpful to design both your spaces similarly.

For an efficient home office, consider installing a Murphy bed. These are kind of expensive — but really worth it. With the Murphy bed setup, when you are not working, you can use your home office as a guest room. ‌Choosing light and minimalist furniture that you can rearrange easily is also a good idea. For example, if you want to combat a sedentary lifestyle, you can move things around to exercise or leave a balance board or weights by your desk.

An ideal home office allows for ‌movement‌ ‌and‌ ‌flexibility. ‌If you don’t like some aspect of your home office in the future, you can change it without investing in a significant renovation.

Organize Your Desk for Efficiency.

“Regardless of your preferences or inclinations, your workstation should be set up for the best time management, efficiency, and, yes, comfort,” states Robert Half. “After all, you may spend more time at your office desk than you do in your own bed.”

There is no better time than now to tidy up your files, piles of papers, and general disarray if you are constantly overwhelmed by them. ‌Here are some suggestions on arranging your environment to maximize productivity for a more manageable process.

Methodize Your Stuff.

For instance, put away non-essential items from your desktop on Monday morning. ‌Put back only what is necessary to complete the task on your desk while working. ‌Put everything still on the floor into a drawer, closet, or recycling bin at the end of the week.

Determine Your Best Workflow.

Left-to-right thinking is prevalent among many people, and they like to place items in a certain way, left to right. ‌Don’t worry about following these norms. Watch yourself a day or two to see what feels the most comfortable for you. Where is the best place for your computer?

Where will you place your phone, so it’s always where you want it? Keep a clear workspace in the middle, and completed paperwork can be on the right — unless you are left-handed. Organizing your desk depends mainly on your work style and ‌how‌ ‌you operate but try a few new things to see if they will work for you.

Allow Yourself to Have Open Desk Space.

You will likely feel more comfortable with some open space on your desk. Have an area where you can spread things out a little. If you want a space to be clear of junk — don’t put anything in that space, no matter what. To keep my clear spot clear — I set a couple of books I’m reading in the “keep clear zone.” Two books are easy to move when needed — other things are not.

Clear off Desk Clutter Everyday Before You Go Home

Despite an orderly desktop, it’s hard to keep it clean, and you may have too many distractions. ‌For example, some workers use sticky notes on their computers or monitors. This habit drives me insane — I didn’t know that until someone told me to stop that habit. Instead, use your desktop notepad or put notes on a spreadsheet. Some have laughed at my spreadsheet — but I know what I get done or need to do every single day — and there are no sticky notes to cause a distraction.

For Better Mental Health, Have Something You Love on Your Desk.

Your workspace doesn’t have to ‌be‌ ‌sterile. ‌Author Marie Kondo advocates putting things in your environment that will bring‌ ‌you joy. ‌Organize your desk, bulletin board, or wall with something that has a meaning for you. Don’t overdo it — just something simple.

Going Digital Will Save You From Excess Clutter.

We are all trying to save the Earth — and that can start with caring about trees. Okay, so maybe I have too many Amazon boxes piled up — but most of your desk clutter will be from paper stuff. Get rid of it and sync it to your calendar, to-do list, and memo pad. There are notification options in your digital productivity tools. Set up meetings, appointments, tasks, and appointment alerts from your tools. Keep thinking: no paper.

Are Your Power Cords Tripping You Up?

Legroom is essential, so don’t ignore it. ‌Check under your desk and tame the wild cord-snakes. We have a 21-hole medusa between each set of four desks at work — and it works great. (Two desks on one side and two on the other facing each other with the long power cord in the center.) ‌Only two of us have filing cabinets on the side of our desks.

At home, I have all the power cords and surge protectors in the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet, with one cord plugging into the wall.

Clean Up More Than Clutter — Wipe off Your Desk and Station

Make a habit of regularly cleaning your desktop and equipment. In one company I worked in years ago, the office manager came around on Monday morning with hand sanitizer on a cloth. We all wiped everything down — our computers, keyboard, monitor, and phones (even our cellphones). ‌As a company, this practice cut down on illness by 70%. Of course, I kept asking if I sneezed on my own keyboard could I catch a cold from myself? That question was never answered — but we had less sickness overall.

Scenting the Air is Popular

I like diffusers, but I read somewhere about taking hot water with a few drops of essential oil and setting it on your desk. I also use non-smoking candle wax. “Traditional aromatherapy suggests that certain scents‌ ‌can‌ ‌make‌ ‌us‌ ‌feel‌ ‌calm (lavender)‌ ‌or‌ ‌energized‌ ‌(citrus).”

No matter what your opinion on fragrances, they can ‌be‌ ‌‌enjoyable. For instance, adding eucalyptus or rosemary to your workspace can make you happier. On the other hand, sometimes artificial smells such as baked goods give me a headache, so watch your new scent trials.

Go Green.

Never underestimate the power of nature. ‌Additionally, having plants in your home office (and your office-office) can make you happier.

The proximity to nature, including access to window views of natural scenery and office plants, improves workers’ morale. ‌In addition, nature of almost any kind will increase productivity and reduce‌ ‌stress.

Have Your Distraction Nearby — But Not in‌ ‌the‌ ‌Way.

Despite their bad reputations, distractions‌ ‌can‌ ‌be‌ ‌healthy and beneficial. ‌Distractions, for instance, can give us a break from ‌routines,‌ ‌our‌ ‌work,‌ ‌our‌ ‌stress‌ ‌, and‌ ‌our anxiety. In addition, research shows that people can distract themselves, alleviate pain, cope with problems, and stop bad habits — all with distraction.

Distractions also help me remember that I get to choose how I spend my time. ‌‌‌It’s also nice to know I have things to do when I need a break. ‌Instead of trying to escape reality, distractions are better to relieve stress. And, they’re better than unhealthy habits like being too lenient with flex time.

Choose a distraction that you can do for only a few minutes — may‌ ‌be‌ ‌a‌ ‌walk, a computer game, guitar‌ ‌, or the piano in‌ ‌the corner. ‌Pick whatever activity you enjoy in a relatively short period and distract yourself every once in a while for your health.

Whatever you do — learn to accept and love your home office hours.

Image Credit: Tima Miroschnichenko; Pexels; Thank you!

Make Your Home Office Better for Productivity was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie

Add These 101 Phrases to Your Calendar for Productivity

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Productivity

Why do we love quotes? Well, many of us can be inspired by a quote on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. For example, when need to be re-energized when motivation has lost its luster. In addition, using quotes as a ‌guide‌ ‌can‌ ‌help‌ ‌us‌ ‌achieve‌ ‌specific‌ ‌goals and increase productivity.

Whatever reason you tap into the power quotes, the key is to keep them front and center. And, what better place to do that than by adding the following 101 phrases to your calendar for productivity. This way when you review your daily schedule or receive reminders, you’ll also get that much-needed productivity boost when needed.

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

2. “A wind that blows aimlessly is no good to anyone.” — Rick Riord​an

3. “Focus on being productive instead of busy.” — Tim Ferriss

4. “Lost time is never found again.” — Benjamin Franklin

5. “It’s not knowing what to do, it’s doing what you know.” –-Tony Robbins

6. “Use your mind to think about things, rather than think of them. You want to be adding value as you think about projects and people, not simply reminding yourself they exist.” — David Allen

7. “Luck is only important in so far as getting the chance to sell yourself at the right moment. After that, you’ve got to have talent and know-how to use it.” — Frank Sinatra

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

9. “Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.” — Dale Carnegie

10.. “Time is the school in which we learn, time is the fire in which we burn.” — Delmore Schwartz

11. “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.” — Stephen Covey

12. “Action is the foundational key to all success.” — Picasso

13. “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” — Bruce Lee

14. “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” — Theodore Roosevelt

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

16. “If there are nine rabbits on the ground, if you want to catch one, just focus on one.” — Jack Ma

17. “Ordinary people think merely of spending time, great people think of using it.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

18. Stressing output is the key to improving productivity while looking to increase activity can result in just the opposite. — Paul Gauguin

19. “The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.” — Oprah Winfrey

20. “Life is too complicated not to be orderly.” — Martha Stewart

21. “It’s not always that we need to do more but rather that we need to focus on less.” — Nathan W. Morris

22. “You may delay, but time will not.” — Benjamin Franklin23 “Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” — Coco Chanel

23. “Don’t confuse the urgent with the important.” — Preston Ni.

24. “The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends, there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.” — Thomas A. Edison

25. “The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings.” — Thomas Sowell

26. “Make each day your masterpiece.”– John Wooden

27. “My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.” — Francine Jay

28. “The tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.” — Benjamin E. Mays

29. “The best way out is always through.” –– Robert Frost

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

31. “Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” — Peter Drucker

32. “Position yourself to succeed by doing the other things in your life that rejuvenate you. Exhaustion affects your quality and productivity.” — Jeff VanderMeer

33. “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” — Albert Einstein

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

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

36. “Saying ‘I don’t have time’ really means ‘it’s not a priority.’ If someone offered you a ton of cash to do whatever you claim you don’t have time for…you’d probably find the time!” — Laura Vanderkam

37. “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” — Stephen King

38. “Sometimes the biggest gain in productive energy will come from cleaning the cobwebs, dealing with old business, and clearing the desks—cutting loose debris that’s impeding forward motion.” — David Allen

39. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” — Steve Jobs

40. “When one has much to put into them, a day has a hundred pockets.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

41. “Great acts are made up of small deeds.” — Lao Tzu

42. “‘Tomorrow’ is the thing that’s always coming but never arrives. ‘Today’ is the thing that’s already here and never leaves. And because that’s the case, I would much prefer to invest in today than sit around waiting for an arrival that’s not arriving.” — Craig D. Lounsbrough

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

44. “Stop measuring days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence.” — Alan Watts

45. “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” — Muhammad Ali

46. “Time is not refundable; use it with intention.” — Unknown

47. “Effective performance is preceded by painstaking preparation” — Brian Tracy

48. You can’t get much done in life if you only work on days when you feel good. — Jerry West

49. “The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.” — Tom Peters

50. “There is no waste in the world that equals the waste from needless, ill-directed, and ineffective motions.” — Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Sr.

51. “We have a strategic plan. It’s called doing things.” — Herb Kelleher

52. “You don’t get paid for the hour, you get paid for the value you bring to the hour.” — Jim Rohn

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

54. “If you have time to whine then you have time to find solutions.” — Dee Dee Artner

55. “All things will be produced in superior quantity and quality, and with greater ease, when each man works at a single occupation, in accordance with his natural gifts, and at the right moment, without meddling with anything else.” — Plato

56. “Light tomorrow with today.”– Elizabeth Barrett Browning

57. “Don’t confuse activity with productivity. Many people are simply busy being busy.” — Robin Sharma

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

59. “Busy is a decision” — Debbie Millman

60. “People often say that motivation doesn’t last long. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” — Zig Ziglar

61. “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” — Amelia Earhart

62. “There is never enough time to do it right, but there is always enough time to do it over.” — John W. Bergman

63. “There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.” — John F. Kennedy

64. “Just do what works for you because there will always be someone who thinks differently” — Michelle Obama

65. “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work in hand. The Sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus” — Alexander Graham Bell

66. “Every day that I procrastinate, every day that I sit stagnant in fear, every day that I fail to better myself, someone else out there with the same goals and dreams as me is doing the exact opposite.”– Noel DeJesus

67. “Where your attention goes, your time goes” — Idowu Koyenikan

68. “I get to do what I like to do every single day of the year.” — Warren Buffett

69. “Pick a problem that hurts enough for enough people and go solve it – execution is much more important than the perfect idea.” — Cristina Junqueira

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

71. “Someday is not a day of the week.” — Janet Dailey

72. “Working on the right thing is probably more important than working hard.” — Caterina Fake

73. “Reflect on what you do in a day. You may have never realized how some simple, harmless activities rob you of precious time.” — Vivek Naik

74. “Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law” — Douglas R. Hofstadter

75. “A year from now you may wish you had started today.” — Karen Lamb

76. “The key to productivity is to rotate your avoidance techniques.” — Shannon Wheeler

77. “Start by doing what is necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” — Saint Francis of Assisi

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

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

80. “Over the long run, the unglamorous habit of frequency fosters both productivity and creativity.” — Gretchen Rubin

81. “Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes in a day.” — Denis Waitley

82. “The happier you are, the more productive you will become.” — Chris Bailey

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

84. “Don’t worry about breaks every 20 minutes ruining your focus on a task. Contrary to what I might have guessed, taking regular breaks from mental tasks actually improves your creativity and productivity. Skipping breaks, on the other hand, leads to stress and fatigue.” — Tom Rath

85. “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” — Martin Luther King

86. “Want to be more productive? Uncover the subtle nuances that steal your productivity and fix those.” — Allison Graham

87. “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. It comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.” — John Wayne

88. “Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.” — Charles Richards

89. “Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.” — Sam Levenson

90. “Your daily choices and actions should be rational and productive.” — Sunday Adelaja

91. “Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” — Brian Tracy

92. “Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.” — Napoleon Bonaparte

93. “What gets measured gets managed.” — Peter Drucker

94. “What looks like multitasking is really switching back and forth between multiple tasks, which reduces productivity and increases mistakes by up to 50 percent.” — Susan Cain

95. “You don’t need more time in your day. You need to decide.” — Seth Godin

96. “Each minute is a little thing, and yet, with respect to our personal productivity, to manage the minute is the secret of success.” — Joseph B. Wirthlin

97. “Fall in love with the process, and the results will come.” — Eric Thomas

98. “Take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves.” — Lord Chesterfield

99. “My future starts when I wake up every morning. Every day I find something creative to do with my life.” — Miles Davis

100. “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” — H. Jackson Brown

101. “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” — J.R.R. Tolkien

Image Credit: Bich Tran; Pexels; Thank you!

Add These 101 Phrases to Your Calendar for Productivity was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie

10 Priorities to Add to Your Online Calendar This Summer

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Online Calendar

“Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August.” —Jenny Han. While I couldn’t agree more, not everything deserves your time and energy during these three remarkable months. But how exactly should you spend your summer then? Here are ten priorities to add to your online calendar to make this summer memorable and productive.

Priorities to add to your Online Calendar

1. The most critical task you need to complete.

According to research, 25% of employees feel less productive during June, July, and August than ‌during the‌ ‌rest‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌year. ‌This can be caused by many factors, including summer distractions, excessive heat, and lack of vacations.

In addition, even if you’re still working hard, your employees, investors, vendors, and clients might be away. Or, there’s the possibility that you’ve implemented shorter summer hours. ‌With decision-makers away or a shorter workweek, things are hard to accomplish.

So, now might be the perfect time to do less. And in my opinion, that starts with identifying only three critical tasks.

“Before filling up your entire calendar, limit yourself to just three tasks per day, suggests Calendar co-founder John Hall. “If you finish them ahead of time, then definitely begin working on something else.” Or, you could dip out early and enjoy the park.

No matter what, the goal‌ ‌here‌ ‌is‌ ‌not‌ ‌to‌ ‌overwhelm‌ ‌yourself. ‌In addition, it is impossible to accomplish everything in a single ‌day.

“When you’ve identified your three most important priority tasks, add them to your calendar,” he adds. “To prevent under-or-overestimating the correct amount of time, you need to block, track your time for a couple of weeks, or review past calendars.”

When these tasks are added to your online calendar priorities, they‌ ‌become‌ ‌non-negotiable. “Let’s say that you’re planning to work on your pitch deck this afternoon.” ‌A friend texts you before lunch inviting you to see the latest Marvel movie. ‌You would love to see it. “But, you’ve already committed to cranking out that pitch deck.” But, if you have Friday afternoon open, catch that matinee.

2. Your health.

In our busy lives, we often‌ ‌neglect‌ ‌our well-being. ‌Yet, despite this, making your health and well-being a priority‌ ‌can:

  • Anxiety and stress‌ ‌are‌ ‌reduced. ‌These factors boost the immune system and prevent health problems, such as hypertension.
  • Work productivity increases when you’re healthy.
  • You’ll have more energy to do the things you love.
  • Taking care of yourself makes it easier‌ ‌to help‌ ‌others.
  • Sleep quality is improved.
  • In addition to feeling better, you’ll attract more people.
  • It‌ ‌helps you model better behavior‌ ‌for‌ ‌your‌ ‌children‌ ‌and employees.
  • Feeling good mentally and physically gives you more confidence.
  • You can save on health care and‌ ‌unhealthy‌ ‌habits‌ ‌like‌ ‌smoking.
  • Provides new opportunities, such as meeting new people and supporting‌ ‌local‌ ‌businesses.

Thanks to the nice weather, getting in shape is easy and affordable. After all, who wants to be stuck in a sweaty gym when you could be outside? Also, being in nature can improve your mood.

In other words, the summer is an ideal time to prioritize your health. And you can do this by hiking local trails or riding your bike. You could even see if there are summer camps or sporting activities like baseball or swimming.

If you have the space, you could even plant a vegetable garden. Or, if you have a balcony, you could try growing veggies in a container.

3. Healthy relationships.

One of your main priorities in life is, without question, your relationships.

“This idea of feeling connected becomes very reinforcing to all of us. It contributes to happiness, it contributes to mental health, and it does also contribute to physical health,” said psychologist John Northman.

“It’s well known that when people feel better connected, that they feel better physically, they’re certainly less likely to feel depressed — or if they do, they’re in a better position to get out of being depressed.”

“Overall, it leads to a feeling of a greater degree of support and connection psychologically,” said Northman.

Research indicates that close friendships are more beneficial close friendships are more beneficial while family ties are essential. ‌As our friends tend to choose us and are more comfortable around us, that shouldn’t be all that’s surprising. Further, studies show that close relationships improve our overall well-being and make us happier.

While many of us wait until the holidays to catch up with our nearest and dearest, I’m all about summertime gatherings. Is there anything better than family reunions, BBQs, road trips, or watching fireworks with friends or family.

4‌. ‌Bask in‌ ‌the‌ ‌sun.

According to Harvard University scientists, cold weather actually boosts worker productivity. Why? ‌The majority of us would rather be outside than indoors.

Researchers reached this conclusion after conducting the study for two and a half years. ‌When it rained, workers got more accomplished. ‌A similar conclusion was reached in other experiments.

“What we found was consistent with the field data,” says Francesca Gino, an associate professor of business administration at Harvard. “Once again, we see that people tend to be more productive on a bad weather day than on a good weather day.”

“When the sun is out, you’re sort of thinking about the many different things that you could be doing outside,” adds Gino. But, “when the weather is bad, that doesn’t even come to mind because that’s not even an option.”

But, how can we spend more time outside? ‌

Working outside is the obvious solution. ‌For instance, I have a folding outdoor table. ‌For me, it’s my preferred way to get work done while being‌ ‌outside. However, you could set up shop in a park or schedule walking meetings.

Another‌ ‌idea? ‌Start early or finish late. ‌In the summer, when the weather is nice, I get up early and get to‌ ‌work. ‌Later, I spend the day relaxing in the sunshine. ‌Everything else I need to finish, I will‌ ‌do‌ ‌at‌ ‌night.

5. Fun and relaxation.

We have too little time to work round the clock or surround ourselves with‌ ‌negativity. ‌Instead, take your life for what it is and enjoy it. ‌

For starters, plan a family vacation or camping trip. ‌Also, consider taking a day off of work. You could then spend that day relaxing at the pool or beach or just reading in your backyard. Maybe you could catch a concert or baseball game with friends.

Overall, enjoy the little things in life when you’re away from work.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle starts with making leisure a priority. This will result in a more fulfilling life that’s more enjoyable and meaningful.

6. Team building activities.

As part of its investigation of why summer makes us lazy, the New Yorker cites‌ ‌a‌ ‌Harvard‌ ‌study. ‌According to the study, viewing pictures of others enjoying activities such as eating outside or sailing caused them to lose focus‌ ‌at‌ ‌work.

“Instead of focusing on their work, they focused on what they’d rather be doing,” the New Yorker observed. “The mere thought of pleasant alternatives made people concentrate less.” What’s more, we may get a server case of FOMO. After all, you want to be stuck working when you see people on social media soaking up summer.

Sure. Reducing your time on social media is one solution. That might sound like an impossible task. However, it’s possible to build your team while enjoying summer. Here are a few ideas:

  • Reward your team with a visit from an ice truck.
  • Going on a field trip like an amusement park or baseball game.
  • Playing games outside like volleyball.
  • Volunteering for a park or beach cleanup.

What if you have a remote team? You could start a virtual book club or campfire.

7. Gain an edge‌ ‌at‌ ‌work.

As mentioned above, we all experience a summer slump. But, instead of slacking off, ‌try to be proactive.‌Try to be proactive.

“It’s okay to enjoy the slower summer months,” says Ishviene Arora, co-founder, and COO at Vested, a financial services communications agency. The way to do it is to “work smarter, not harder.” ‌If, for example, your industry slows during the summer, take advantage of your downtime to experiment with projects you may not usually be able to pursue.

“You have an opportunity to get more visibility when you go the extra mile,” agrees Addie Swartz, CEO of reacHIRE, ‌whose mission is to enable women to return‌ ‌to work‌ ‌after‌ ‌a‌ ‌career‌ ‌break. ‌As a result, more people will be out on vacation or taking long weekends during summer. “If you can help solve a crisis when others are checked out, it can make a difference,” Swartz says.

Some other suggestions would be:

  • Complete projects ahead of the deadline.
  • Offer to help others at work.
  • Tie up any loose ends.
  • Learn or enhance your skillset.
  • If caught up, volunteer for a new task or responsibility.
  • Attend industry events.
  • Expand your professional network.
  • Evaluate your future goals.

8. Be a part of the community.

We feel a sense of belonging when we are a part of an engaging community. As a result, we can become closer to each other and support the endless growth of ourselves, each other‌ ‌, and‌ ‌the environment. ‌But, more importantly, it can provide opportunities for connection with people, goal-setting, and feeling‌ ‌safe and‌ ‌secure.

You can foster a sense of community through team-building activities or hosting cookouts. But, I’m talking about using the summer to engage with your actual community by:

  • See if your city has any events scheduled. There is a wealth of information about upcoming events on city websites. ‌Check your city’s online calendar for parades, festivals, concerts, and volunteering. Also, check online ticket sites or visit your local radio station’s site.
  • Visit your city’s ‌Chamber‌ ‌of‌ ‌Commerce‌ ‌website. Chamber of Commerce websites often list upcoming events  ‌in your‌ ‌area. ‌The events can range from local business meetups to local plays and performances.
  • Participate in local activities in your town with local groups. For people who get together for fun activities — check out meetup sites or social media groups. ‌This summer, join one of our adventures and meet new people.

9. Summer breezes mean summer cleaning.

It may have just seemed like you did your spring cleaning. However, that doesn’t mean you get to let your guard down now. After all, with the added heat and humidity, you can expect foul odors and mold or mildew. Also, it’s common for dust to be more prevalent.

Additionally, certain chores are ideal for the hotter months of the year. Examples include washing your vehicle, the outside of windows, or pulling weeds. You could even go all out and powerwash your home or workplace.

But that’s not all. If you’re feeling the dog days of summer, you might want to engage in some cluttering. This could be your pantry, office desk, or event calendar. You could even clean out your inbox if you’re procrastinating.

10. Streamline fall planning.

“As summer ends and we inch our way back into the school year, you’ll have to plan back-to-school events for your kids,” writes Calendar’s Abby Miller.

“You can use an online calendar to schedule back-to-school shopping times for efficiency.” You can also add shopping lists for your children on the online calendar.

You’ll save significant time by planning all your children’s back-to-school activities online.

What if you don’t have kids? Even though it seems far off, you can still plan for a productive fall.

Most notably, as everyone returns from vacations, your workload will increase. So, start blocking out your online calendar priorities for upcoming work tasks. For example, if there will be a weekly team meeting on Mondays at 9 a.m., schedule that recurring event to prevent conflicts.

On top of that, there are fall priorities you should add to your online calendar. Again, this will prevent clashes while ensuring that they get done. These include cleaning out gutters, planning seasonal parties, fiscal year budgeting, or holiday content for your business. Use the tips to schedule your online calendar priorities.

Image Credit: PicJumbo.com; Pexels; Thank you!

10 Priorities to Add to Your Online Calendar This Summer was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie

Freelancers Today Have More Options Than Ever Before

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Freelancers

What’s the first thing that pops to mind when you hear “freelancing”?

Perhaps you think of someone working from the comfort of home with their laptop and smartphone close by. And, how could you not? This is a reality for 21st-century freelancers, thanks to digitalization. And that’s a good thing.

The thing is, freelancing has been around for centuries.

References to the word “freelance” date back to the early 19th century. Thomas N. Brown first used the term in The Life and Times of Hugh Miller (1809). In his book, Ivanhoe, written in 1819, Sir Walter Scott referred to it in 1820. As it appears in the book;

“I offered Richard the service of my Free Lances, and he refused them—I will lead them to Hull, seize on shipping, and embark for Flanders; thanks to the bustling times, a man of action will always find employment.”

However, as we know it, freelancing really picked up steam in the 21st. In 2017 Upwork reported that freelance workforce growth is accelerating and has outpaced overall U.S. workforce growth by 3x since 2014. It was also anticipated that freelancing was on pace to account for a majority of the U.S. workforce by 2027.

And then you know what happened in 2020. As a result of the pandemic, the freelance revolution has now truly arrived. It’s currently being forecast that by 2028, there will be over 90 million freelancers in the U.S. alone, making up over half of the entire workforce.

Why Freelancers Have More Options Than Ever Before

So, why has freelancing become so popular that it’s considered the future of work? Well, here’s why.

Technological advancements.

As technology advances, freelancing will become more commonplace. Because of this, a wide variety of workers, skills, and jobs are available. Typically, technical skills are needed first, followed by creative skills.

It is almost impossible for today’s businesses to fulfill all their technological needs with just a few employees or with one. To solve specific problems, they must rely on temporary workers. Additionally, freelancers evolve along with technological advances.

Aside from what the World Economic Forum refers to as an “acceleration in the adoption of new technologies,” automation has highlighted a rapidly growing skills gap in the fields of artificial intelligence, encryption, big data, the Internet of Things, and non-human robotics.

Roles that require these specialized skills are hard to fill for many businesses. Besides detracting from productivity, that also adds financial stress. Do freelancing and the future of the workforce differ in any significant way?

As companies struggle to find qualified staff, they increasingly rely on contractors to complete tasks that require specialized skills. Data analysts, big data experts, AI and machine learning specialists, software engineers, and IT security analysts will be in high demand for the foreseeable future. The availability of contract work creates a lot of opportunities for freelancers with these skills to pick up contract work to fill in gaps and choose which companies to work with and how they spend their time.

Freelancing is expanding into other industries.

At the same time, freelancing is no longer just for creative industries, according to Hayden Brown, the president and CEO of freelancing platform Upwork.

“It’s also across every business type,” Brown told Fast Company. “We serve 30% of the Fortune 100. They’re using freelance talent in more new ways and mom-and-pop shops. Small companies realize that this is a workforce they can be tapping into. So it’s cutting across all sectors of the economy, [and] all types of skills,” says Brown.

“Freelancers are in high demand in almost every skill area that can be done in front of a computer.”

People are choosing to freelance.

Getting a healthier work-life balance is the top reason people choose to freelance, according to a FlexJobs survey. Seventy percent of respondents said their desire to be a freelancer is related to seeking a better “rhythm” between their career and personal goals.

But, wait. There’s more.

  • Additionally, 62% of survey respondents said that the flexibility of work schedules was a significant factor in their decision to freelance.
  • It was also found that 56% of respondents said that having the freedom to work on their own terms is a huge reason to freelance.
  • The flexibility to work anywhere and move without fear of losing their job was highly regarded by 55% of respondents.
  • 46% of people stated they wanted to select their own projects.
  • 45% of respondents said family responsibilities were the top reason they freelanced.
  • 38% of respondents said they wanted to stop commuting to work, both in terms of time and money.
  • Among respondents, 36% listed increased productivity as their main reason for freelancing.
  • The FlexJobs survey found that 35% of people are willing to work freelance to save time and be more efficient.
  • 30% cited avoiding office politics and distractions as the main reason to freelance.

Creativity boost and deeper talent pool.

Freelancers have many opportunities to develop their creative skills. Accessing diverse cultures and approaches for all fields is facilitated by exposure to international markets and various industries. Freelancers can therefore adapt their activities and projects to different markets, thereby expanding their business.

Likewise, employers can tap into a deeper and more innovative and diverse talent pool. Best of all? They can do this regardless of location.

Cost reduction.

Unlike having a full-time or in-house team, employers can save money by hiring freelancers on an as-need basis. For example, they can outsource a web designer or IT specialist when building their website or troubleshooting. As a result, they can dedicate this money to other aspects of the business.

On the other hand, the freelancing lifestyle allows freelancers to save money by not having to commute to work or by not buying expensive clothes, meals, and so on. What’s more, most freelancers only require internet access and a computer.

Additionally, starting out as a freelancer is very affordable. For the first few months, you may only have to sign in to freelance websites and platforms and pay for your internet service. As for marketing, you can tap into social networks for free.

Hybrid and remote work is here to stay.

Finally, hybrid and remote aren’t going anywhere even as the world returns to somewhat normalcy. In fact, by shifting their talent model to include both full-time and freelance employees, 90% of companies surveyed predict that they will gain a competitive advantage in the future.

Moreover, unlike in the past, workers have more freedom these days to live wherever they want while still having access to various job opportunities. Further, a number of non-technical workers such as marketing consultants, insurance brokers, and financial workers are demanding permanent work-from-home opportunities.

Additionally, an estimated 70% of the workforce will work remotely at least five days per month by 2025. With more remote work opportunities, more people will be turning to freelance.

How to Land Your Next Freelance Gig

Make no mistake about it — freelancing is growing. And, it’s also never been easier to land freelance work.

While you could go the tried and true route with referrals from friends, family, and colleagues, it may also be beneficial to join trade or industry associations where you will be able to meet others who share your interests.

More conveniently, though, you can utilize social media. First, of course, there’s LinkedIn. By joining groups, building connections, and publishing content on their platform, you could reach potential contacts. You can also search for freelancing jobs on Facebook and Twitter.

And, you definitely need to tap into the hundreds of freelance job websites out there. There’s Upwork, FlexJobs, Freelancer, Indeed, and Fiverr for general freelance work.

But, there are also niche marketplaces.

  • Contena and Freelance Writing Gigs for writers.
  • For designers, there are 99 Designs and Behance.
  • Developers should check out Codeable.
  • The Creative Loft is perfect for photographers.
  • What about marketers? Remotive and People Per Hour are worth exploring.
  • If you’re in sales, check out ZipRecruiter or CommissionCrowd.
  • Belay is a sold choice for virtual assistants.
  • Customer support jobs can be found over at We Work Remotely

One final piece of advice. Regardless of your field, you need to have your own website. Nowadays, you can easily do this yourself for only a couple of bucks. But, it’s worth the investment as this gives you a chance to highlight your freelancing skills.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!

Freelancers Today Have More Options Than Ever Before was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie

Should You Have Full Meetings or a Quick Slack Chat?

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Should You Have Full Meetings Quick Slack

Before COVID the question of whether you should have a full meeting or a quick slack chat would not even have been on the radar of issues needing to be addressed. One study showed that 55 million meetings are held worldwide each week. Another study discovered employees spend two hours a week attending unnecessary meetings. This is not only a massive waste of time but $541 billion in resources as well.

In light of the studies — it is not surprising that most of us question each and every meeting on our Calendar. And, certainly, the seeming craziness has gotten more ridiculous following COVID-19, but what action to take is less apparent.

Virtual meetings used to take up two hours a week, but now they take up more than ten. In other words, we spend one-fourth of our work week in virtual meetings, whether through Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and the like.

However, it might be possible to replace your full meetings with a quick Slack chat to save you and your team time, money, and sanity.

Not All Meetings Are Quality

“Meetings have become a necessary evil in the post-pandemic world,” notes Howie Jones in a previous Calendar article. “Many, if not most, can be done remotely. On Zoom, or some other remote platform. And there are ways to keep them from becoming too annoying.

Meetings are not completely effective even in ideal circumstances, say people from all levels of a company, including the CEO, he adds. The pandemic, the current turbulent labor market, and the pressing needs at home make today’s corporate climate a challenging one.

“Executives and teams simply cannot afford to squander time and resources,” says Howie. Meetings typically squandered people’s time and rewarded grandstanding and egomaniacs before Covid-19. “In 2019, Korn Ferry reported that 51% of workers thought the excessive time spent on calls and meetings hampered their effect at work, while 67% stated excessive meetings hindered peak performance.

Only 11% of respondents thought all meetings were useful. Sometimes, though, a meeting is the best approach to bringing everyone together.

It’s About The Medium

Meetings can be very productive. Others can be awful. No matter what, they play an important role in the work of every organization. What separates them, however, is the goal of each meeting, as well as the medium.

For example, meeting one-on-one for a performance review has a more formal vibe than the laid-back atmosphere of catching up over lunch. There’s also a different feel to a scheduled meeting at a conference table compared to an impromptu chat at someone’s desk.

Electronically, emoji-filled texts convey a different mood from emails. What’s more, Slack notifications are handled differently than a distracting ringing phone. Regardless, use every channel at your disposal to reduce or prep for meetings. And, don’t overlook tools like Calendar which allow you to streamline schedules.

Whatever you meeting you choose, make sure you have everything you need for productive interactions. And, to ensure that, you can answer the following questions;

  • Are you going to need to refer to your documents during the conversation?
  • Can this conversation be conducted over the phone while you walk?
  • Does it matter to you that you can see each other?
  • Would a file-sharing program be better suited for this particular collaboration?

After you’ve established the best method of communication, make sure you formally document those guidelines. In the case of a chat function, it might be perfect for exchanging short ideas. On the flip side, it’s not ideal for sending documents or important dates. After all, a long conversation can lead to too many details being missed.

It’s probably best to send information via email. As for collaboration, you can’t go wrong with Google Docs — particularly when real-time evaluation is needed. When you need to talk privately or have a two-way brainstorming session, the trusty phone should suffice.

Providing these guidelines lets your employees know what to expect from a phone call or an app notification. Additionally, creating clear expectations makes communication more effective, avoids misunderstandings, and reduces stress.

Meetings That Go Great With Slack

Generally, video chat, phone, or in-person meetings are some of the best methods of handling meetings. However, Slack interactions can be used to replace certain types of meetings.

The daily status meeting.

“One of the best candidates to be replaced by activity in Slack is the daily status meeting,” states the Slack Team.

During these meetings, team members share what they are working on today, what they finished yesterday, and any issues holding them back. But, the facilitator may find it difficult to enforce and prevent discussion creep even if you limit each update to 60 or 90 seconds. For example, if you have a dozen people on your team, you would spend at least 15 minutes every morning in these meetings, which would amount to three person-hours per day, they add.

If you want to avoid this problem, you should set a start time for this kind of meeting so everyone can submit an update on time. By using Calendar, you can easily manage this.

Brainstorming sessions.

New ideas are the lifeblood of businesses. Meetings to brainstorm are essential if you want the river of ideas to flow.

“Brainstorming meetings are designed to generate a lot of ideas over a short period of time—and they’re critical if you’re trying to solve a problem or achieve a goal,” says David Chaudron, an organizational psychologist and the managing partner of consulting firm Organized Change.

How can brainstorming meetings be successful? Don’t focus on the outcome of the meeting, but on the ideas.

According to Chaudron, brainstorming sessions should be open to ideas “without having to judge them right then. Figure out what works and doesn’t work after you do the brainstorming. It’s important you have a separate [meeting] just for the brainstorming itself.”

When using Slack for brainstorming sessions, you should integrate it with collaborative tools like Dropbox or Google Drive. You should also set up a dedicated brainstorming channel in Slack. And, whenever you brainstorm, always create tangible materials such as sheets, documents, or even doodles

Reviews and approvals.

‌‌Another type of meeting that might be handled better through text is a project review and approval meeting. It is possible for these meetings to lack focus, resulting in lengthy and ineffective gatherings.

As an alternative to meeting face-to-face or video conference, upload any relevant images or documents to Slack. Once completed, you can ask for feedback from everyone involved. Depending on the culture of your workplace, some people request emoji responses here.

Furthermore, Slack can also be used to discuss how to improve the current project or how it might be structured in the future. By doing all of this over Slack, participants can think about their responses at their own pace, as opposed to feeling like they’ve been put on the spot in a face-to-face meeting.

Team building activities.

During team-building meetings, members gain a better understanding of each other, develop trust, and strengthen their cohesion. Increased productivity and employee satisfaction can be achieved by improving employee collaboration as well.

Through the use of games or team challenges, team-building meetings are meant to create a fun and interactive atmosphere. Leaders and organizers have a great opportunity to connect with their teams and build stronger bonds.

Virtual team-building meetings are becoming more and more important as more people work remotely. These programs engage and connect remote workers who may feel isolated from their teammates and organizations. It is important for companies to engage with remote employees to prevent morale and the company culture from deteriorating.

Post-survey meetings.

Because there are so many types of surveys, each of which serves a different purpose, you can use surveys to improve virtually all aspects of your team.

In low-trust environments, anonymous surveys can assist with tracking team morale, employee feedback can be collected and analyzed, and there are also team feedback surveys. Moreover, running surveys in Slack saves time and stores historical data for future reference. And, Slack threads are perfect for follow-ups.

Are Slack Meetings Better?

In a nutshell, no.

You can easily conduct daily check-ins, brainstorming sessions, and review meetings using a text-based application, like Slack. It’s also handy for team-building and surveys. The majority of other meetings, however, are better conducted by phone, video chat, or in person.

You can enhance your team’s connection and relationship with face-to-face meetings. Even when people are many miles apart, phone calls can help them feel connected. Both make teams more productive.

In others, use Slack for quick chats or collaboration. But, for more complex and detailed conversations, a full meeting still serves a purpose. Furthermore, you can use Slack to prepare for one-on-ones and full meetings. For example, you can send attendees the agenda, prep questions, and a log to track progress.

When appropriate, use Slack to save time and energy so that your team’s meetings can be as productive as possible. And, more importantly, quick Slack chats can improve efficiency and preserve your and your team’s energy.

Image Credit: Tirachard Kumtanom; Pexels; Thanks!

Should You Have Full Meetings or a Quick Slack Chat? was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie.

12 Happiness Hacks to Add to Your Calendar

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12 Happiness Hacks Add Calendar

What is happiness? Is it a feeling? Or, is it a state of being?

The exact definition of happiness has been debated and evolved throughout history. But, regardless of what it is, there’s no denying that happiness plays a pivotal role in our daily lives.

For starters, happiness is important to our physical health. Why? Because it reduces stress, strengthens the immune system, and is linked to better heart health. Additionally, happiness improves relationships and sparks creativity. And, at work, happiness increases productivity.

In short, happiness can change your life for the better. But, how can you raise your happiness levels on a consistent basis? Well, here are 12 happiness hacks that you can practice daily after being placed in your calendar.

1. Start your morning on your own terms.

Michelle Was traveled to all 50 states in 2019 to understand how Americans achieve inner happiness whatever their circumstances. The American Happiness documentary chronicled her journey and learnings while interviewing more than 500 self-described happy people.

She discovered that the happiest people start their days on their own terms.

Starting your morning on a positive note is one of the most impactful things you can do to develop day-to-day happiness,” she wrote for Fast Company. “This doesn’t require hours of your time, but it has the power to transform your day.”

“Instead of immediately rushing into the day or grabbing your phone to scroll through social media, take a minute to yourself without any distractions to set intentions for the hours ahead,” she adds. “What do you want to achieve, how do you want to achieve it, and with what attitude?”

Choose your reactions to situations deliberately rather than constantly being reactive. By doing this exercise, you become more present and intentional with your actions, Wax explains.

2. Reflect on the good and bad.

“Acknowledging the complexity of life may be an especially fruitful path to psychological well-being,” states psychologist Jonathan Adler of the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering. In other words, a range of positive and negative emotions can contribute to happiness, he believes.

Adler and his colleague Hal Hershfield examined this experience of mixed emotions and how it relates to positive psychological wellbeing. The participants filled out questionnaires before each of the 12 weekly therapy sessions that they went through. They found that feeling dejected and cheerful at the same time preceded improved mental health.

As an example, someone could say, “I feel sad because of the recent losses in my life, yet I am also happy and encouraged to be working through them for a positive outcome.” Adler explained, “Taking the good and the bad together may detoxify the bad experiences, allowing you to make meaning out of them in a way that supports psychological well-being.”

In a follow-up study, Hershfield examined the link between mixed emotions and health. During a 10-year study, he and his team discovered that accepting mixed emotions (like “taking the good with the bad”) is directly linked to good physical health.

What does this all mean? Well, don’t ignore your negative feelings. Block out time to acknowledge and embrace them, like writing in a journal in the morning or evening. When you do, you’ll be able to find ways to overcome whatever obstacles you must overcome.

3. Tackle your hardest task first.

As the founder of Inner Mammal Institute and author of “Habits of a Happy Brain,” Loretta Graziano Breuning asserts that humans can rewire their brains.

How? By recognizing that we possess certain “happy chemicals” inherited from earlier species, and using that knowledge to develop habits that activate them, explains Catherine Pearson for the Huffington Post.

Dopamine is one of these chemicals which Breuning describes as “a sense of accomplishment.” To stimulate it, you should tackle your most difficult task first thing in the morning.

An example would be returning an email you’ve been putting off or completing a task with a deadline. To make sure that tackle these items before anything, add them to your calendar. And, ideally, you should block out times for these when you’re most alert and energetic. For most of us, that would be in the morning.

4. Be a social butterfly.

Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert, the author of the widely read humorous book “Stumbling on Happiness,” says;

We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.

Among these happiness hacks, this is probably the simplest. Additionally, it’s the one that arguably gives the most. After all, who else could make you as happy as your family or friends?

With that in mind, you can use your calendar to stay close to your nearest and dearest. For instance, you could schedule get-togethers, set reminders for check-ins, or establish traditions. And, you could also make sure to block off your calendar when you have quality time scheduled, like when eating dinner with your family.

5. Move 11-minutes per day.

Put aside the excuse that you do not have time for exercise. An 11-minute bout of moderate exercise can boost your lifespan, according to a recent study. Furthermore, physical activity is proven to boost your mood and increase your energy levels.

Exercise can be as simple as taking a walk or using the treadmill. Yoga, dance, or a combination of squats, push-ups, and running in place would also be great options as well.

So, even if you have a packed schedule, you should be able to squeeze in a little bit of physical activity. Personally, I always go for a walk after lunch. Besides burning off some calories, it clears my mind. and recharges me for the rest of the day.

6. Spend more time outdoors.

As Shawn Achor, who has lectured at Harvard University and Wharton School of Business, says in his book, “The Happiness Advantage.” spending 20 minutes outside in nice weather can improve your mood. It can also broaden thinking and help improve working memory.

Multiple studies have confirmed this claim from Achor. Cornell University researchers found that spending at least 10 minutes a day in natural spaces, such as parks or walking trails, improved students’ mood, focus, and physiological markers such as blood pressure and heart rate. The authors of this study believe that “nature therapy” could help patients who are anxious, stressed, or depressed.

7. Take microbreaks.

It’s been found that watching funny videos online during a quick break during work has high emotional payoffs and makes people feel more energetic, happy, and less stressed, says Allison Mango.

In addition to improving your mental health, this is also extremely easy to do if you are in a bad mood. And, you’ll also boost your metabolism while you’re at it.

8. Focus on your favorite song.

Researchers have found that happy music can improve your mood and increase your awareness when you practice mindfulness meditation.

Listen to one of your favorite songs over and over again, focusing on a different layer each time, such as the solo, harmonies, guitar, bass, and so on,” said Dr. Chandan Khandai, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “Not only will your favorite song bring a lot of joy, it will also cultivate mindfulness as you listen to a particular part and filter out the others.”

9. No matter how stressful it is, learn something new.

Can learning a new skill be stressful? Absolutely. But, in the long run, this can increase your happiness. In fact, you will be happier every hour, every day, and over the long haul.

The Journal of Happiness Studies published a study in 2009 detailing the benefits of this investment in time and effort. According to the study, participants who engaged in activities that enhanced their competency met their autonomy need or helped them cultivate relationships with others reported less happiness at the moment. However, they eventually experienced increased happiness each hour and every day.

The key? Choosing the right new skill to master. Or, one that pushes you outside of your comfort zone. Happiness is increased most when you learn a skill you choose rather than one you believe you should or are required to learn.

10. Limit your screen time.

12 hours and 9 minutes.

That’s how much time Americans spent with media in 2019. Per day. It was forecasted that this amount would increase by another four minutes even before COVID-19.

Is this a problem? Yep.

You can feel anxious or depressed when you spend too much time on your phone. This can also disrupt your sleep. It can also negatively impact your performance at work.

But, research has found that cutting back on screen time results in;

  • 75% of people believe that they get more done and are more productive.
  • 57% stated that they’re motivated to do their best.
  • 51% feel more confident.
  • 49% reported that they’re happier.
  • 44% claim that they deliver higher quality work.

Nevertheless, distancing yourself from your phone and computer is not easy. Listed below are a couple of easy ways to start;

  • Organize your tasks in batches. Stay connected and avoid FOMO by blocking out a time in the morning, afternoon, or early evening for email and social media. During the times when you are not doing this, turn off your notifications or set up apps to block them.
  • Establish tech-free zones. Your bedroom, bathroom, and eating areas should be free from electronics.
  • Find ways to distract yourself. Take a walk, clean your house, or read when you’re bored.
  • Delate social media apps. Social media can be harmful and addictive. Logging in on your PC/laptop and batching these tasks can be useful for branding or networking.
  • Meet in person or pick up the phone. When feasible, arrange more in-person meetings or catch-ups. Or, make a phone call instead of using chat or email threads if necessary.
  • Leave your phone behind. When you go for a walk or grocery shopping, don’t take your phone with you. Don’t worry. The world will keep spinning if you disconnect for a couple of minutes.

11. Help others.

Buying things for ourselves boosts happiness less than spending money on other people. This is what’s known as “prosocial spending.”

In 2012, Harvard researchers gave away money to study participants. In one-half of the cases, they were asked to spend the money on themselves, and in the other half, on others.

Here are the results;

“Participants assigned to recall a purchase made for someone else reported feeling significantly happier immediately after this recollection; most importantly, the happier participants felt, the more likely they were to choose to spend a windfall on someone else in the near future. Thus, by providing initial evidence for a positive feedback loop between prosocial spending and well-being, these data offer one potential path to sustainable happiness: prosocial spending increases happiness which in turn encourages prosocial spending.”

Giving to others does not always mean spending money. You can also donate your time through volunteering or mentoring othersThere is a study out of Zurich, Switzerland which supports the idea that volunteering can lead to greater life satisfaction.

How much time should you dedicate to helping others? Well, according to Adam Grant’s book “Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success,” 100 hours per year — or 2 hours per week.

12. Be flexible.

Todd Kashdan, a professor of psychology at George Mason University and an expert on wellbeing, says;

“Human beings have the potential to tolerate better and effectively use emotions, thoughts, and behavior to extract the best possible outcomes in varying situations. This wide range of dynamic abilities forms the essence of health.”

After all, a healthy person is someone who can manage themselves in the uncertain, unpredictable world around them, where novelty and change are the norm rather than the exception.”

Believe it or not, your calendar can assist with this. How? By leaving free blocks of time in your schedule. This way you can shuffle your day around in case you have to address an emergency or overcome procrastination.

12 Happiness Hacks to Add to Your Calendar was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!

Reduce Stress by Reducing Procrastination

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Reduce Stress Reducing Procrastination

Everyone is told time and time again that stress is bad for you. Unchecked stress can lead to many physical health issues. The month of April is dedicated to stress awareness. How are you handling your stress these days?

We all know that stress can cause issues like high blood pressure, obesity, and even heart disease. While unchecked stress has many adverse physical health conditions, stress leads to many mental health issues.

These mental problems include depression, panic attacks, and anxiety. The psychological and physical issues all stem from prolonged amounts of stress on the body. Further, these conditions can worsen over time as tension and stress are left untreated and ignored. Therefore, with the possibility of these issues, it is essential that we find ways to resolve stress.

One of the best ways to reduce stress is to reduce procrastination. Procrastination is the process of worrying and delaying what needs to be done. The constant effects of procrastination can build up high amounts of stress and anxiety. This article will discuss some easy and actionable ways to reduce stress by reducing procrastination in your life.

Create a Daily Task List

Before you start your day, sit down and write the tasks that need to be done. When we take a step back and organize our thoughts, we make a better plan of action to get things done. Create a schedule for your tasks. For example, you could set up time blocks to focus on each task.

Scheduling time for each task throughout the day will help structure a plan of action. Put the most essential and draining tasks first on your list. For example, you may put thought-intensive tasks like writing and emailing ahead of a meeting with a coworker. Getting these tasks done earlier in the day will not only make you feel accomplished but also makes the rest of the day easier.

Make the task list as simple as possible, while still being specific. For example, you might say “read 30 pages” instead of “read the book.” Being specific will help keep you on track and know precisely what you need to do. The list should not have more than ten items on it at one time, but if it does, you may be using the task list as a tool for avoiding work rather than getting organized.

Set Aside Time to Take a Breather

Set aside time to take a deep breath and relax on your Calendar or schedule. For example, you could plan a quiet, relaxing walk after finishing an intensive task. The breaks can help reset your mind and re-energize yourself for the next task at hand.

While taking a break, try to remove work-related thought distractions. This time should be a way for you to relax and escape work entirely, not sit and think about all your to-dos. Also, avoid using social media and other online distractions. For starters: Scrolling through news apps and refreshing your social media feed during your designated break time will not be relaxing, especially if negative news shows up.

Lastly, use breathing techniques. Try taking a deep breath in for ten seconds, holding it for a few seconds, then slowly letting it out for another ten seconds. Practicing breathing techniques effectively can help slow down our intrusive thoughts. Your clearer mind will allow you to come back to work full of energy and focus.

Remind Yourself of the Consequences

Make a note of the consequences of not completing a task. Understanding the consequences of not getting something done can help you understand why it was necessary in the first place, in addition to serving as a motivator to complete it. For example, if you’re a student, you might make a list of consequences for not studying for a big exam. The list could include repercussions, such as failing the class or not learning the material.

Or, if you do not want to go as far as making a physical or digital list, make it a habit to remind yourself mentally. For example, if you were finding yourself struggling to start a project, you could ask yourself, “what would happen if I did not start the project.” Having that consistent mental reminder of why the task is necessary can make it much easier to get started.

Set Reasonable Goals and Deadlines

Create reasonable goals and deadlines for your work. Setting up a marker to aim towards helps us realize the bigger picture of each individual task. It also prevents us from continually moving something off into the near future. When a hard deadline is set, you are set on finishing the project on time.

Make your goals SMART:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Attainable
  • R – Realistic
  • T – Timely

The SMART acronym helps you identify all components of a great goal. For example, the goal “read a book” could be developed into “read 25 pages of Harry Potter: Death Hallows by Wednesday night.” As a result, the goal becomes much more attainable. In addition, thinking about the acronym can help you find the weak points of your goals.

Making your goals more exciting can also reduce the probability of you avoiding what needs to be done through poor goal setting. Take this a step further by making the goals visible throughout the day, like perhaps adding your goals to your weekly Calendar. Crossing off completed goals helps you achieve a sense of accomplishment. A visible goal list will not only motivate you but will also make accomplishments a habit.

Eliminate Potential Distractions

Scan your work desk for things like a clock, extra desk clutter, fidget items, and anything that can potentially distract you. For example, for some people, a clock on the wall might tempt them to continuously check the time — for others, a clock on the wall saves time and motivates them. Figure out and know which person you are. Desk clutter might tempt you to organize. Clearing your desk of anything that is not necessary to have to accomplish your daily tasks will help you be more productive.

As with clocks and desk clutter, fidget items like writing utensils, Pop-Its, desk decor, and more – are also a distraction, even though they are valuable items. Do yourself a favor while trying to hone in on a specific task and get rid of the distraction. Removing them from your view is a great way to set yourself up for improved focus and success.

Concluding Thoughts

Take positive, consistent actions to start reducing stress by reducing procrastination in your life. This article discussed several actions you can take to begin this process. You can get more organized by approaching tasks with a daily task list. While striving to work hard, you should also remember to set aside time for mental breaks to energize yourself.

Tasks are there for a reason. Evaluating the root reason you are doing a task in the first place can help motivate you to be more productive. Try to view your goals as assistants who are helping you create benchmarks for success. Just be sure that the goals are set properly to be helpful in the long run.

Additionally, clearing your workplace clutter will help you eliminate the sources of procrastination from their roots. By implementing some of these lessons in your own life, you can be more productive as stress and procrastination start to fade away.

Reduce Stress by Reducing Procrastination was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!

The Profound Impact of Productivity on Your Soul

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Profound Impact Productivity Soul

People are constantly looking for new ways to improve their productivity. This is because there are only so many hours in the day, and yet there is always so much to do in the allotted time. Productivity habits not only motivate us but also help us lay claim to time that is slipping away, unused, or wasted on activities that are done out of boredom — time we actually want.

Productivity should be an essential focal point for anyone who wants to live a more fulfilling life. This article will discuss productivity and its impact, far beyond simply checking tasks off your list. It will address how productivity can evoke positive thoughts about ourselves and our work, which will allow us to grow into more productive people in the long term — and help us fill our time with soul-filling activities.

Productivity and Its Impact Beyond Work

Finishing what you set out to do feels great. Have you ever had a rush of satisfaction after checking off that last item on your to-do list? Feeling satisfied and fulfilled about what you are doing is the essence of great productivity. Of course, it means you are getting stuff done, but you are also getting stuff that is actually important and meaningful.

Here is why productivity can mean much more than simply crossing something off your list of things to do.

Helps You Contribute to Society

We feel more fulfilled when we contribute to something more than ourselves. Lazy days can help us visualize our impact better. We all have these lazy days, and sometimes they are nice — but they can leave us with a sluggish feeling, sometimes nagging thoughts, and a guilty feeling of lost time.

While it is important to treat ourselves to a break, and wisely use some time for self-care — being a productive person can rid us of the dissatisfaction of not being a contributor. In addition, productivity can make us feel overall better as individuals because we have a sense of accomplishment.

Encourages You to Embrace Yourself

When we “do,” we share a piece of ourselves with the world. Our work can speak volumes about ourselves. Every time we decide to be productive and take action to complete something, we are embracing our identity and who we are. Being able to choose our efforts and be who we want to be is a rewarding feeling.

However, it is also essential to ensure you are doing it for yourself and are not trying to meet someone else’s expectations of you. For example, some younger kids will play sports that they hate to ensure the happiness of their parents. The kids are doing it for their parents, rather than themselves.

What happens when you don’t do it for yourself is twofold; First, you become dependent on someone else’s validation. Second, you cannot truly embrace who you are as a person. Productivity can be a fulfilling tool, but if you are not being productive for the right reasons, then it can backfire and hurt your wellbeing.

Helps You Achieve Balance

For example, productivity applies to many more areas in your life than work. Productivity can apply to sitting down and reading that book you have always had on your nightstand. Or, further, it can apply to prioritizing time to spend with your family.

Productivity isn’t just about getting work done; It’s about using your time effectively to live the balanced, fulfilling life you want to live. You shouldn’t stretch yourself thin to get an impossible amount of tasks done. Instead, try to focus on the things that give you the most happiness and satisfaction.

Below are several actionable steps you can take to be more productive.

Actionable Tips to Be More Productive

1. Understand the 80/20 Rule

Learn how to use the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule states: “20% of your efforts actually contribute to 80% of your results.” For instance, 20% of your effort in a sales role may contribute to 80% of actual sales. To understand this rule in your life, write down all the tasks you do daily.

Afterward, try figuring out how each task relates to concrete results. While the rule is certainly not infallible, it does help us think about how we use our time. For example, what are the 20% of efforts that actually lead to results? How can we prioritize these efforts and minimize the other 80% of actions that do not lead to anything?

Understanding more about how our efforts contribute to actual results helps us get more out of our actions and, in turn, will help us achieve a more accomplished and fulfilling life.

2. Organize Your Schedule

Develop a schedule that works for you. If you get specific tasks better at certain times in the day, it might make sense to align those times with the tasks on your schedule. Productivity may be more about planning out an excellent strategy for getting things done rather than complete execution. If we embrace a plan to organize our time, we’re setting ourselves up to accomplish the tasks we have set out for ourselves — and this is productivity.

We become less worried about whether we’re using our time in the most productive way because we’ve already pre-optimized our schedule. From your schedule organization efforts, you’ll be able to organize your day into something that works well for you.

3. Find Ways to Prioritize

Prioritize what’s important, and focus your efforts on that. For instance, you could write down the single most important thing to get done for the day, and then plan on making it the first task item you start your day with. Understanding what is most important each day can help you avoid meaningless tasks. In addition, you will begin to feel better about yourself when you start focusing on what you deem meaningful and vital.

4. Write Down Your Why

Take some time to write down your why. In other words, try understanding the reason behind all that you want to accomplish. For example, you might write that your why is “providing for family.” Or, perhaps your why might be “getting to do exciting things in life.”

That piano is not going to practice itself, the gym will not come to you, Babbel isn’t going to finish your Spanish lesson, your next research paper won’t be written if you don’t do it, the drawing sitting in your creative room will not complete itself, and a visit to a sick friend won’t happen without you. And are you missing out on this level of productivity because you got sucked into a video game? Well, I do, and most people I know admit to doing the same time-suck activities.

You want a life lived in the present.

No matter what you write for your why — this exercise helps you understand what drives you. You’ll be motivated and driven with a revitalized understanding of why you started something in the first place. This also enables you to ensure that what you are doing actually provides fulfillment and purpose in your life. If you are doing something that does not align with your true whys — it might be a good idea to eliminate it from your life.

5. Listen to Music

Listen to music more. Next time you’re doing dishes, you could try playing some upbeat music in the background from top-hit artists, such as Pitbull, to get some energetic beats going. Science shows that listening to music while working actually makes people more productive. So not only can music be fun, relaxing, and exciting to listen to, It’s also going to make you feel great as you see yourself in a new, productive, and music-loving light.

6. Be More Consistent in Communicating Tasks

Be more consistent in communicating tasks with teammates. For example, let coworkers with whom you work closely know when you start a new project. You want to avoid any miscommunication or potential duplication of project efforts.

This goes back to the idea that productivity is not just about getting things done; it is about getting things done with a purpose. Knowing that you are starting a fresh, new project makes you feel like a more fulfilled teammate since you know you’re doing something valuable.

7. Use Time Tracking Tools

Using time tracking tools is excellent for productivity – and accountability. For example, you could set a 25-minute focus timer on an alarm clock to get a task out of the way. Many apps even have AI to help analyze how you are spending your time. There are plenty of time-tracking tools out there to find.

Final Thoughts

Find which productivity method works for you, and start reaping the benefits to your soul.

You’ll find yourself feeling more focused and level-headed — and happy. When you start getting more done, you’ll feel satisfied knowing that your planning efforts have been successful. Overall, your productivity will reflect in more areas in your life than just one, giving you more time to spend on what truly matters.

The Profound Impact of Productivity on Your Soul was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie.

Image Credit: Cottonbro; Pexels; Thank you!

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