All posts by Hunter Meine

5 Ways to Be More Thankful

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Ways to Be More Thankful

As the calendar turns to the year’s penultimate month, all eyes are on the upcoming holidays. Thanksgiving is up next, full of hearty meals, parade floats, and American football games. This is an exciting time for everyone, and it’s a season we all look forward to.

Thanksgiving is all about being thankful for what you have, but sometimes being grateful is easier said than done. Life is full of hardships, many of which have been magnified by Covid-19 and other present-day calamities. Not to mention the growing rate of depression and anxiety forming among both children and adults today.

Being thankful in 2021 doesn’t have to be so difficult. With just a few steps, you can change your entire outlook on life and really be able to stop and smell the roses on your way to 2022. Here are some of the things you can do to be more appreciative:

1. Keep a Gratitude Journal

One of the simplest things you can do to become more thankful is to keep a gratitude journal. All you need is a notebook and a pen. Then, each day, write down at least one thing that you were thankful for before bed. Keep up this habit for at least a couple of weeks.

Some days you might struggle to find a single thing to write down. So do your best to write down at least one thing, even if it’s just thankful for oxygen. Over time, you’ll be able to pick out more and more things that you’re grateful for, which will gradually improve your outlook on life.

Use your Calendar to stay on top of your gratitude journal for as long as you need it. Creating an evening habit is your best bet so you can reflect on the day you’ve had. Consistency is critical here, so try not to miss a single day if you can help it.

2. Lend a Hand

Giving service to others is one of the best ways to be more positive and thankful regarding your own life. For starters, witnessing the struggles of others can be eye-opening to your life where your problems pale in comparison. Second, there are few feelings as heart-warming as hearing someone be thankful for you and your time and effort to help another human being.

With the holiday season starting to get underway, there are sure to be several community events where your services will be beneficial. Don an apron at a soup kitchen, volunteer at a nursing home, or deliver presents to an orphanage. Pay attention to the smile you’ll have on your drive home and think about how much more thankful you are for things now than you were starting the day.

Every time you plan to volunteer and serve, add the event to your Calendar. Feel free to send calendar invitations to friends and family members you think would enjoy the outing as well.

3. Make a Change

In addition to looking outside of yourself, take some time to do some introspection. Are there aspects about yourself or your situation that you can improve? It’s easy to blame the world when things aren’t going your way, but more often than not, there are steps you can take to improve your situation. In addition, you’ll find it much easier to be thankful after you’ve made the necessary changes.

Start by cleaning up your room. We’ve all put off this task for longer than we should, so there’s no shame in admitting it now. You’ll feel much better once your laundry pile is put away and your bedroom floor is finally clear once again. Isn’t it easier now to be thankful for where you live and the things you own now that everything is tidy?

Other changes will be more profound, such as breaking a smoking habit or getting back into shape. It will take a lot of hard work, but after making those changes, you’ll be so glad you did. You’ll be more thankful for your health and for the activities you can now participate in.

4. Say Thank You More Often

Need another simple solution to lift up your spirits? Say thank you more often! These two words can be powerful when used in repetition, significantly if you’ve fallen out of the habit.

Let’s say you forgot to bring your lunch to work, and that’s soured your mood a little. Of course, you might only be at Taco Bell for that reason, but still, take the time to say thank you to everyone who serves you. Doesn’t that make you feel a little better? You might even make the day of a food service worker who’s having an even more challenging day.

5. Surround Yourself With Loved Ones

Sure, people can ruin your day by being rude and inconsiderate. But, forget them for a second. Instead, you’ll find it much easier to be thankful when you surround yourself with supportive, loving individuals. Family and friends are so important if you want gratitude to abound in your life.

A social experiment showed that individuals increased their happiness levels by considerable amounts when they took time out of their day to call a loved one and express their gratitude to them. Now imagine if you made an effort to express such feelings regularly. Then, your family and friends will reciprocate your gratitude and fill your life with so much joy and kindness.

With Covid-19 regulations being lowered, make time in your Calendar to hang out with these essential people more often. Take an old friend out to lunch, go visit your grandparents, or go to the movies with your in-laws. These little activities will give you so much to be thankful for.

This Thanksgiving, make an effort to find more gratitude than ever. The holiday season will be much more enjoyable as you put these simple steps to the test to end the year.

Planning for Retirement With Calendar

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Planning for Retirement With Calendar

It’s never too early to start planning for retirement! In fact, it’s encouraged to begin planning for the day you retire as early as possible. The sooner you begin planning for retirement, the more contributions you can make to ultimately live out your dream.

It’s also ok to realize that it’s not too late to start making retirement plans. If you don’t know where to start, let’s work through some of the basic steps you should take to begin creating your retirement plan and turning it into a reality:

Start to Visualize

Picture in your mind the ideal retirement scenario. Do you find yourself in a house on the beach or a cabin in the mountains? Do you go golfing every week, or is your time spent woodworking in the shop? Ironing out these details allows you to create goals to work for and implement into your retirement plan.

Make sure you write down your retirement goals somewhere. You can refer to these goals over the years and adjust them as needs and interests change. You might have to change your overall retirement plan to match your new trajectory. Regardless of how often you change your mind, you’ll always have a set plan to work toward.

Your goals and aspirations will need dollar signs attached to them. How much money will you need each month to live out your dreams? An estimation of your cost of living will give you a tangible target goal for your retirement fund.

Set Money Aside

Retirement isn’t cheap. It takes quite a bit of money set aside to live the life you want without earning a steady paycheck. Fortunately, if you start setting money aside now, you should be able to retire comfortably by the time you’re in your 60’s.

Between paying bills and shopping on Amazon, people tend to forget to make contributions to a retirement or savings account. Your Calendar can help with that. Set a monthly reminder to move some money into one of these accounts.

The day you set aside money doesn’t matter as much as making sure you have committed to the process. Your day could be the day you receive your paycheck so that you always make that contribution before spending it on something else.

Be sure to note that retirement accounts such as a 401k have limits to which you can contribute each year. But for most of us — we don’t have $58,000 to drop in our 401s — so just make sure you contribute to your fund.

Be sure to get a tax person to look at your info. Even the Forbes article says $57,000 ($63,500 for those 50 and older) after it tells about the limit being $19,500 — plus another catch-up of $6K.

Nonetheless — getting as close to that savings maximum limit as possible gives your account a greater ability to accrue interest over time, so it’s a good goal to reach if you’re living within your means.

Take Advantage of Company Plans

Most companies offer retirement benefits to their full-time employees. If you qualify for such a plan, take advantage of it while you can. With the help of your employer, you can significantly expand your saving and investing potential over the years.

The benefits you’ll typically get are employer contributions to your retirement account, usually in the form of a 401k. The contributions made by your employer stack on top of the contributions you make on your own up to a certain percentage. You set aside much more money, which generates a more significant return as interest piles up over the years.

Choosing retirement benefits may even impact where you decide to work in the future. A typical employer contribution is 50 cents on the dollar up to 6% of your income. Don’t worry; they’ll do the math for you, but this is a good benchmark for deciding which retirement benefits package you lean toward the most.

Get a Grip on Your Time

You only have so long to prepare for retirement, so there’s no time to waste. However, by improving your time management, you can do more to work toward retirement before it’s too late.

For instance, using an online calendar can help you plan out your days better to get more done in the same eight-hour shift. Getting more done can lead to entrepreneurial advances, promotions, or other career jumps that augment your income. Proper time management can also open doors for side hustles and other forms of income to be added to a retirement fund.

Be sure to remember that you should enjoy life leading up to retirement as well. Time management with your Calendar allows you to get your work done while spending quality time with family, pursuing hobbies, and getting proper rest. These aspects of life are just as important now as they will be when you ultimately retire.

Find Alternate Sources of Income

Speaking of additional income, this is a great time to address the need for more than one source of monthly stipend. The reality is that many Americans don’t make a great deal of money from a single paycheck to pay their expenses, keep up a healthy savings balance, and save enough for retirement. Many have found success by generating additional income through a variety of means.

Investing is one way retirement dreams have become a reality for many Americans. Unlike a 401k or IRA account, investment portfolios don’t have a contribution limit. You can invest as much money as you’d like and withdraw it at all. Make smart, calculated investing decisions on stocks and bonds, and you can watch your money grow from year to year.

Starting your own business is another excellent way to increase your income. You can do some freelance work on the side using one of your skills or look at getting into real estate and collecting rent on a couple of properties. Each option has risks and labor involved, so choose wisely the paths you wish to take.

If you want retirement to be everything you hoped it would be, start preparing now. Draft out some preliminary plans in your Calendar and begin taking steps forward, and by the time you wish to retire, you will have the resources to do so.

Being Cold Can Hurt Your Productivity

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Being Cold Can Hurt Your Productivity

These final months of the year keep getting colder and colder. Of course, some people love the cold, especially after a blazing hot summer. However, no matter how you feel about the cold, it’s essential to understand that being cold can actually hurt your productivity.

When you’re cold, your body expends more energy trying to keep warm. Unfortunately, this can make it difficult to focus and maintain energy and power throughout a long shift. Cornell University performed a study that showed that employees committed 44% more errors in their work in a cold setting instead of a warmer one.

Here are some tips for warming up your body and your brain so that cooler weather doesn’t compromise your seasonal productivity:

Grab a Space Heater

It’s understandable if you don’t want to crank up the heat throughout the entire building if you’re just a little bit chilly. Not only might this inconvenience others, but it can also run your utility up considerably. A small space heater can do the trick in this scenario.

Space heaters can be set to target temperatures so that they aren’t constantly running but will quickly flip on when things get chilly. However, leaving a space heater on for too long or unattended can be a fire hazard, so be sure to unplug it when you leave the room. Additionally, keep the surrounding area around it clear, and you won’t experience any problems.

If you want a more focused heating experience, try a heated blanket. You can wrap the “blankie” around your legs or shoulders to warm up key areas of your body. Just make sure the heat and comfort don’t make you drowsy, causing you to lose productivity.

Bundle Up

Shorts are so comfortable, but you’re going to need to start bundling up a little bit more. Just look on the bright side; winter layers offer many more opportunities to show off your style and fashion sense. Besides, you can always peel off extra layers when you’re feeling too warm. You can’t conjure up a jacket if you leave it at home.

For at-home workers, bundling up presents an interesting dilemma. The outfit of choice during the latter half of the year often includes a pair of cozy sweatpants. While it’s essential to keep warm, make sure your clothing isn’t putting you in the wrong state of mind for a productive day.

If you get cold hands but need to type all day, try on a pair of fingerless gloves. There are all kinds of typing gloves on the market to keep your digits warm while retaining dexterity.

Do Some Exercise

If you feel the cold making it difficult to focus, get up and do some light exercise. A few small exercises will get your blood pumping to warm up your body and reactivate your mind. Of course, there’s no need to hop on the treadmill to warm up; just do something simple at your desk.

For example, you can set a recurring reminder in your Calendar to stand up and do 15 jumping jacks every hour. The people in our office do all kinds of exercise during work. Jumping jacks, situps, running in place, or going up and down the stairs in the building, stretching, and a variety of other activities to keep the blood flowing and the mind awake.

These short activities won’t make for much of a weight-loss routine, but they will help keep you warm and active during the fall and winter months. In addition, coworkers can join in on exercise fun, leading to a fun office tradition.

Watch What You Eat

What you put into your body can help regulate your temperature or make matters worse. You might love ice cream more than anything in the world, but that’s certainly not going to help you focus on productivity on a chilly day. Your best bet is to try something warmer. Coffee, a little green tea, hot chocolate — there are many options.

Coffee and tea are popular drinks, especially at this time of year. Sipping on a hot drink will warm you inside and out. Not to mention that these drinks also contain properties that are designed to perk you up even on the earliest and chilliest of mornings.

Be wary of the effects of these drinks — and watch to see if they’re helping more than hurting. For example, some people are sensitive to caffeine, so while you might enjoy getting warmed up and energized, your hyperactivity might make it difficult to concentrate on project details. You also need to stay hydrated even when it’s cold, so be wary of drinking too much of something that’s not doing the job.

Get Some Sun

Not only does the sun help warm you up, but it’s also an important ward against seasonal depression. Sometimes the cold and dark affects you more mentally and emotionally than it does physically. Shining some extra light in your life will help on both counts.

During times and regions where the sun doesn’t shine in too often, look at compensating with some artificial light. For example, a small desk lamp can be strategically placed to light up your workspace when outside is nothing but dark and gloomy. You can even alarm clocks that simulate the rising sun, helping you start each morning on a more positive note during the colder months.

Spend Time With Others

Time spend with other people isn’t a suggestion to huddle together with your coworkers like penguins. Instead, try to make time for healthy social interactions. Sharing a laugh with others is a great way to keep seasonal depression at bay and warm up your emotional state.

Different challenges such as Covid-19, remote work, and even social anxiety make this challenging for some. So get to your Zoom calls a minute early and chat with your team or join online groups with people sharing similar interests. A little social interaction can go a long way when the winter woes are pulling you down.

Baby, it’s cold outside,– but that doesn’t mean your productivity has to freeze over. Instead, keep yourself nice and warm, and you won’t have a problem making the next months just as purposeful as the rest of the year.

Productivity Lessons Learned From the Olympics

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Productivity Lessons Learned From the Olympics

It’s 2021, but they’re calling it the 2020 Olympics — a year later than scheduled. It’s an exciting time for athletes and sports fans around the world. Even though fans cannot be in attendance due to lingering concerns over Covid-19, there have been plenty of memorable moments and incredible performances to remember. In addition, there are productivity lessons that can be learned from the Olympics.

The Olympics are often an inspiring event for global citizens of all ages. Kids become interested in trying new sports, and adults get a burst of energy to get up off the couch and exercise more often and better than better. All the while, citizens cheer on their countries in a display of unity and patriotism.

You can take many lessons from the Olympics and apply them to your everyday life. So watch a few events the next couple of days and tune in before the Closing Ceremony’s on Sunday, August 8th. Here is a list of the lessons we would like to take home from these Olympic games:

It’s OK Not to Be the Very Best

A lot of people will tear themselves down when they notice that someone else is better at them at something. That’s easy to see while watching the Olympics from home. You might ask yourself, “Why should I continue to pursue swimming if there’s always going to be someone who’s faster?” That sort of feeling will get you stuck in a deep rut rather quickly.

Keep watching the games and you might notice something peculiar. You’ll see athletes jump for joy with tears in their eyes after winning a bronze medal. Two people bested them, but they didn’t care. The way they saw it, they were still one of the best in the world and now had a medal to commemorate all of their hard work.

Seek to find that joy in what you do even if you’re not the best at it. Play the guitar because you enjoy it, not because you’re going to be the next Jimi Hendrix. You will be a lot happier and more fulfilled when you make that mindset shift.

Learn From Your Failures

While watching the world’s greatest athletes compete on TV, it’s easy to think that they’re superhumans that rarely make mistakes. But, in reality, the opposite is true. The athletes you see have actually had countless failures, but they learned from every single one of them.

Learning from your failures is hard. It’s much easier to curl up in a ball with some Netflix and ice cream and admit defeat instead of pushing through. Nevertheless, its greatness occurs when you rise from the ashes, and you use the experience, however bitter, to become better than you were before.

Musicians are another great example of learning from mistakes to become better. While practicing a piece of music, they commit numerous errors in the early stages. You’ll experience this when taking on a new job or trying to learn a new skill. When those mistakes come, look at how to avoid repeating them instead of letting them conquer you.

Get a Good Support System

While tougher to notice in this year’s Olympics, you’ll often notice athletes run to celebrate a victory with someone special. Family members, friends, and coaches the athletes have grown close to are the first to bask in a win with the victor. This support system knows just how hard the athlete has worked to get where they are today and was there to guide them for most of the journey.

Friends and family can and should make up part of your existing support system. If your loved ones are a bad influence, consider expanding your circle to include some more positive friendships. Spend time with those who uplift you and support your goals, and you’ll be amazed by what they can help you achieve.

Another way to build up your support system is through networking. By networking, you can find valuable mentors who can teach through experience and lend a helping hand. While you’ll most likely find mentors in a professional capacity, the advice and support they can give can be applied to almost every facet of life.

Preparation is Everything

The Olympics are only every four years (switching off between summer and winter games). While there are regional and even some global competitions in between each Olympics, there’s nothing quite like having an Olympic medal draped around your neck. That’s why those four years are filled with intense focus and preparation from every athlete.

Just think about the runners in the 100m dash. Their races only last for about ten seconds. Yet, they spent years training for those ten-second races. That sort of dedication is quite admirable. It should put a lot of your personal goals into perspective, like going back to school or changing career paths. It will take a lot of Calendar events, planning, and execution to reach your goals.

Discipline is Required for Greatness

Let’s circle back to that Olympic work ethic for this last section. While it’s true that most, if not all, of the Olympic athletes you see, are naturally gifted, none of them made it to the world stage without their fair share of hard work. It takes gallons of blood, sweat, and tears to become an Olympian and even more to make it to the podium.

When the going gets tough, just remember that discipline is required to be great. Many professional athletes are used to getting up early and working long hours to achieve their goals. You should expect to do the same, especially for the goals most worth pursuing.

At the end of the day, the Olympics make for entertaining television. However, let us not let the lessons that can be learned from the various sporting events we watch — be lost on us.

Everyone has it within themselves to become someone or something magnificent (or at least better than we are now) with a ton of hard work and focused determination.

6 Tips for Getting a New Job

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6 Tips for Getting a New Job

There is a major labor shortage happening in the United States right now. There are many reasons why this might be the case, but regardless of the circumstance, this could be an excellent opportunity for many working Americans. Thousands of new job openings mean that this could be the perfect window of opportunity to chase a dream job or change careers.

Tips for Getting a New Job

Getting a new job can be just as daunting for seasoned workers as it is for college graduates. There are a lot of factors to consider when applying for a job that could ultimately lead to success. This article aims to guide you through the process so you can take the next step in your professional career no matter where you are now.

1. Review Your Resume

Your job résumé is your first impression when applying for a new position. That being said, it’s one of the most important resources you have when searching for a job. As a result, most candidates are sifted out based on the contents of their résumés.

Different hiring managers look for different things in a résumé. Of course, they’ll want to see relevant experience and a work history that shows you’re reliable. Try and keep your résumé concise no matter what and have the most important information in clear, bold lettering. There are plenty of formatting guides and templates that can aid you in your résumé design.

If you. have a complicated or complex resume — consider hiring a service that can give your resume the polish it deserves.

2. Brush Up Your Interview Skills

Almost every job you’ll ever apply for will have some sort of interview process. Some smaller companies will hold a single, semi-casual interview, while others have applicants undergo a more extensive screening process. Others still might meet with you over the phone and call that good. So you need to be prepared for anything.

Every interview will be different, so you can’t memorize a list of questions and the answers you’d like to give. You can prepare for basic questions, however, such as “why do you want this job,” “what do you know about this company,” and “why do you feel like you’re a good fit for this position?”

Get a trusted friend to pepper you with questions, hop on YouTube and watch interviews, listen to some podcast interviews, watch a few TedTalks for good speaking with clarity tips, and don’t forget to stand in front of the mirror and ask questions.

Don’t work yourself up too much. You don’t have to be a master negotiator in order to nail a job interview. Most employers just want to ask a few questions and get to know you a little better. Team chemistry and job fit can be a big deal, so coming across as respectful and eager to learn is often better than acting arrogant and overconfident in your abilities.

3. Flood the Mailbox

Don’t just apply for a single job and wait to hear back. Who knows how long this can take. Moreover, while you’re patiently waiting for a single response, you could be missing out on dozens of other opportunities. Instead, take a shot at a position you don’t feel qualified for yet; you might surprise yourself.

Set a goal to send your resume to a variety of different companies.  You could aim to send out one new application each day or a set amount of 10-20 by the end of the month. Job posting website Indeed recommends you send even more than that, up to 10-15 applications a week or 2-3 per day.

Even if they don’t have a job posting listed, send them your resume in an email just to reach out. Then, you might hear back from an organization that is at least willing to guide you in the right direction.

4. Take Advantage of Networking

That segues nicely into this next section. Networking is your best friend when looking for a new job. Having reliable connections can get you to people and places you had no idea existed or couldn’t find independently.

For example, you might inquire at a local hospital if they have any job openings available even though none are posted. Even so, you might be able to connect with someone who has a friend running a local clinic that is hiring. Without networking with the hospital, you might have never found this job opportunity.

Another great way to network is through social media. Websites such as LinkedIn provide a great platform for connecting with industry leaders and professionals from around the world, not just in your local community. You can get great advice from here as well as access to certification courses to advance your education and career.

5. Take an Internship

Sometimes you just need to find a way to get your foot in the door. An internship can do just that, giving you training and networking opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable to you. For example, it’s a lot easier to get an internship at Google than to become employed there without a previous relationship.

Unfortunately, many internships are unpaid or pay a lot less than regular employment. This can be a tough situation for someone looking for a job to pay the bills. However, a part-time internship at a more promising company or in a new field you’re interested in might make for a bountiful long-term investment.

6. Steady the Course

Don’t let your job search impact your work performance at your current employer if you do, in fact, have on. Many companies will contact former employers to inquire about you as a worker. But, of course, you want them to say only good things about you, so don’t cut the slack even if you’re planning on making a move.

Also, don’t give up. Job searches can get exhausting quickly when applications are sent back, and doors seem always to be closing. Instead, keep working on improving yourself, networking, and seeking out opportunities and eventually, you’ll find an opening.

Best of luck on your job search now and any time in the future you look for a change of scenery. Keep these tips in mind and bet on yourself. You’ll be amazed by what you’re able to accomplish.

Life’s a Beach: 6 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Summer

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Life’s a Beach: 6 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Summer

Life’s a beach is a light-hearted phrase that reminds us that there is still so much good in the world to be enjoyed. Slip into complacency, and you’ll miss out on a lot of opportunities for both fun and personal progression.

With your Calendar, you can take advantage of both the productivity and fun these summer months have to offer. All you need to do is consciously manage your time to make sure that every day contains a moment to remember before the season ends:

1. Plan a Trip

Summer is prime time for vacation, especially for families with children who don’t have school to worry about. The wonderful weather also enables various pleasant trips, from weekend camping trips and day hikes to a week-long vacation on a tropical beach.

Don’t feel pressured if you can’t fit a big family vacation into your budget every year. You can make just as many memories and have a lot of fun doing something smaller. For example, plan a campout in the backyard or take a day trip to the lake as your summer trip. You’ll be glad you did something, no matter how small.

2. Chase Down Some Goals

Not sure how to spend all of your summer downtimes? Set some goals to pursue during the season. These goals will give you something to work toward instead of spending every afternoon in a backyard hammock (which is perfectly fine every once in a while, it’s important to rest).

The beauty of a summer goal is that it can be anything you want it to be. Want to learn a new skill? Schedule some classes and practice time in your online calendar. Want to tackle some home improvement? Your online calendar will help you work out some time to build that new deck or repaint the basement.

It’s important to note that summer is short, typically containing fewer than the 104 days Phineas and Ferb get to enjoy. With that being said, set realistic goals that are within your limits. You’ll only have a few months to complete a summer goal, and setting your sights too high can leave you feeling discouraged when fall arrives and your goal is left incomplete.

3. Get Your Tan On

The sunlight is oh so good for you, and it will do you well to catch some rays throughout the summer. Sunlight is known for helping people stay healthier and more positive. But, unfortunately, not getting enough rays is part of why seasonal depression is so prevalent; the cold weather and shorter days make it more difficult to get sunshine in your life.

Just 15 minutes of sunlight can have a positive impact on your day. If you spend all day in an office, you can squeeze in a little outdoor time during your lunch break. Filling your online calendar with outdoor activities over the weekend will also get plenty of Vitamin D into your schedule.

Of course, there’s always the concern that too much sun can be a bad thing. Just be sure that you have on some sunscreen and some covering to reduce your risk of skin cancer and sunburns. This is especially important for kids with more sensitive skin.

4. Attend Every Event

When kids don’t have classes to attend, parents will often fill their schedules with other activities to don’t spend every day glued to their electronic devices. So whether they’re participating in sports, dance classes, or music lessons, make time to attend every one of the events.

Even if your kids decide they don’t want to participate in whatever extracurricular activities they’re pursuing, they’ll be happy that you were always there to support them. So add any recital or match into your online calendar, and do your best not to miss a single event supporting your family.

5. Limit Your TV Time

We get it; electronics are awesome. Sometimes there’s nothing better than watching your favorite TV show at night or playing video games all weekend. However, if you’re not careful, those electronics can take away your entire summer and leave you wishing you did a little more.

To make sure you don’t waste your summer on the internet, use your online calendar to monitor your screen time. You can designate specific blocks of time to try a new video game or set a consistent bedtime, so you don’t stay up all night binge-watching movies, messing up your entire routine.

Helping your kids stay off of electronics will be quite the challenge as well. When schedules and routines fall short, a few incentives might do the trick. Have them spend some time outside or doing some chores to earn their screen time. Looking back on their summer, they’ll be glad that they were able to experience more than just their electronics.

6. Get Involved in the Community

Your town or city will be putting on a number of activities and events this summer. Getting involved in your local community will be one of the best decisions you make this summer. Besides, it won’t take a lot of planning to fill up your online calendar when you import the city calendar over.

Few experiences will be as memorable as a Fourth of July parade, a summer reading program, and outdoor theater nights at the park. You’ll be able to meet new friends, visit new places in your town, and try a lot of new things that can become traditions for years to come.

Summer is almost over, so get started today to make sure you have no regrets once fall arrives. Then, start making plans for next summer to make it even bigger and better than the last.

Should You Bring Work On Your Vacation?

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Should You Bring Work On Your Vacation?

Summertime is a popular time for vacation-goers. Sometimes when I’m headed on vacation with friends, it’s easier to get off work at other times during the year. But when you want to head out of town with the kids, summer is the best time because they are out of school for the next few months.

Parents still have to take time off work, which can be a bit of a logistical problem at times. For this reason, many working parents debate on whether or not they should take some work with them on vacation.

The obvious answer to some might be no, that ruins the point of a vacation. However, there is some merit to taking a little work with you on a trip if you play your cards right. This article will dissect both the pros and cons of such a decision for your upcoming family trip:

Why You Should Take Work on Vacation

There are some scenarios when bringing work on vacation with you can actually be a good idea. For those who really struggle with the stress of taking off work, bringing a few assignments along may provide an ideal balance:

Take More Time Off

When you take work on the road, you might be able to squeeze in some more time off. In addition, the ability to take on a few tasks and assignments even when you’re out of the office means that you’re not needed back as quickly, buying you some more vacation time.

Let’s say there’s a simple project that you need to get done by the end of the week. By picking up that task and taking it with you, you can fulfill an obligation with work without the need to show up at the office. In addition, with this project getting done, you can feel better about the time you’re spending away from the company.

Keep Up With Deadlines

What happens when you want to take a vacation, but you have some deadlines coming up? Trying to jam them all into your online calendar before your trip is extremely stressful and can really damage the quality of your work. On the other end of the spectrum, pushing all of your deadlines back until you get home from your trip can fill your entire vacation with dread.

Instead of trying to alter your schedule too much, just plan around your vacation to include a few deadlines throughout the duration of your trip. A deadline or two sprinkled into your online calendar won’t take up too much time and will help ease your concerns about missing work for an extended period.

Stay Fulfilled

There are a lot of people in the world that work hard every day. Sometimes people do extra work because they crave the sense of fulfillment they get from a job well done. Taking a week off to relax, however beneficial for them, can be a challenge when they’re not checking off boxes or turning in assignments.

If you’re one of these people that gets a little antsy without your work — taking a bit of work with you on vacation can provide the relief you want. Whether it’s the fulfillment you need, or something else, you don’t need to feel guilty about bringing along your diversion. You also don’t need to worry about kicking back.

This concept also applies to anyone trying to pursue some lofty goals this summer that are work-related. Completing some tasks even while on vacation helps ensure you stay on the right track toward completing the goals you set for yourself, like qualifying for a promotion or a pay raise.

Why You Shouldn’t Bring Your Work Along

While we applaud productivity here, oftentimes, a vacation needs to be just that. Trips are to explore the world, experience new things, and take a break from your daily stress and responsibilities. Bringing work along can end up being counterproductive in that sense. But you can slowly work toward the goal of working less and less on vacations until you hit your best compromise.

Lose Time With Family

When you’re on a family vacation, your highest priority should be spending quality time with your loved ones. Nothing should get in the way of that, especially not work. So what’s the point of even taking a trip with your family if you’re not going to be participating in the trip with them?

If you plan to bring work with you on a trip, use your online Calendar to make sure it doesn’t get in the way of quality time with family. Block off time, specifically very early morning or later at night when vacation activities aren’t scheduled, and people are in bed. In this way, you’re not missing out on the family fun. Correct scheduling is the way you can have the best of both worlds.

Builds Up Stress

Vacations are meant for relaxing. It’s a chance to forget about work and relish in a life free of worries. So why bring work into the mix when it can easily mess up that chemistry?

Of course, not bringing work with you might be the source of your stress. Stress can eat away at you, especially if you have just started your business or are a true entrepreneur.

Until things are set up in certain ways, maybe with a few more employees, it may only be you who can make the business running smoothly when while. You’re on vacation.

Whatever the case is for you — if you have a team, just make sure you set your team up right and only respond to emergencies as needed. Then, they’ll be able to do the heavy lifting while you take a much-needed break away from it all.

Increases Burnout

Taking a break from work is meant to reduce the risk of burnout. However, when burnout strikes, it strips you of motivation and drive, leading to a sharp decline in productivity and quality of work. This can be costly when it comes to staying in good standing with your current job.

If you truly feel like you need to take some time off to forget about work, make your number one priority. Let your company know that you need this time so you can return an invigorated and energized employee. If they start sending you calendar notifications for meetings and assignments, let it be known that you plan to decline every single one of them until you return.

In the end, it’s up to you whether or not you bring work with you on vacation. Consider what you hope to accomplish and let the pros and cons help you make the right decision.

Host a Successful Yard Sale With Your Online Calendar

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Host a Successful Yard Sale With Your Online Calendar

We’re back in the office and we need to dejunk to get a fresh start. Most homes need a little dejunking too. Yard sales are an American staple. They’re a fun way to get rid of some excess belongings while turning a quick profit. However, yard sales are hard work and require a fair amount of time and effort to pull off.

Using an online calendar makes organizing a yard or garage sale that much easier. Planning things out will help them run more smoothly, leading to a more successful experience. This guide will help you put together the best yard sale in town:

1. Schedule Your Dates

The first step toward a successful yard sale is pinning down your dates. This will get your plans in motion under a set time parameter. Everything else will be so much easier if you know exactly when your yard sale will be.

Weekends are generally the best time for yard sales because more people are free to come and visit. The summer months have a little more flexibility, as families with kids out of school will be looking for extra activities through the week to fill their time. Once you’ve selected the days and times you want, it’s time to move to the next step.

2. Organize a WorkForce

You need manpower to run a successful yard sale. The larger the sale, the more help you’ll need. Using an online calendar you can schedule shifts for friends and family to help make sales and manage merchandise for your own little pop-up shop.

For those outside of your household or your office team who are pitching in to help, you can share your online calendar. Your Calendar will let them know the exact times of the yard sale and when you’re hoping they can come help out. With an online calendar, your scheduling is a smooth operation.

3. Leverage Social Media

Getting the word out about your yard sale is key to its success. After all, without customers, your efforts will be in vain. In today’s world, one of the easiest ways to reach people is through social media.

Use your online calendar to plan out a content calendar for social media posts advertising your yard sale. Schedule posts throughout each day of the sale to maximize exposure over as many platforms as possible. People scrolling through news feeds will see your post and be prompted to make a visit.

4. Include the Neighbors

To ramp up the scale of your yard sale, ask your neighbors if they’d like to be included. Even if they only have a few items to contribute, they can provide an extra set of hands and can further spread the word about the event. The bigger and better the event is, the more worthwhile it is for customers to stop in.

Once again, you can share that online calendar to sync schedules with anyone who’s interested. Even just making them aware of the yard sale can be of benefit, as word of mouth can lure in more prospective buyers.

5. Allow for Prep Time

A yard sale doesn’t set itself up. Before you open your doors, or lawn, to the public, everything needs to be in its proper place. Otherwise, the early birds who select you as their first stop of the day won’t be able to fully participate in your yard sale.

Schedule preparation time in your online calendar. You can prepare a lot of things in the days leading up to the sale, and will also need some time the day of to get everything arranged. Decide how much time you need and use your online calendar to make it happen.

6. Plan a Cleaning Day

You might already have a pile of stuff dedicated to your yard sale. If not, or if you want to expand your inventory, plan a deep cleaning day. Throughout this clean, look for other items you don’t mind letting go of to add to the pile.

Periodic deep cleans get rid of the clutter that so frequently fills American homes and offices. This will not only help your current yard sale efforts, but it will also help you feel like your home and office are much more open and clean, making it a more comfortable living and working space.

7. Provide Refreshments

For the most memorable yard sale experience, provide refreshments to all your guests. You can offer some simple free beverages, or let the kids set up a lemonade stand or snack shop to earn a little change themselves.

Providing refreshments will require some prep of its own. Make sure you have all the ingredients you need for whatever you supply. Then, use your online calendar to remind you to restock throughout the yard sale so there’s always something available for customers.

8. Scope Out Other Yard Sales

If you’re still looking for a way to set yourself apart, scope out some other sales happening in your area. You can look for postings in the newspaper and online to find places to go. Seeing a yard sale from the perspective of a customer will help you know what you should include in your own.

Plan a day or two to go sale hopping. Add the times and locations of sales into your online calendar so you can make time for the trip and plot the best route. You can learn a lot from what you see, so be sure to take notes.

9. Schedule a Day to Donate

When it’s all said and done, you probably won’t have sold every single item from your yard sale. Instead of packing these things back into storage to sit for another year or throwing them out, seriously consider donating them to charity. There are plenty of individuals and families that would be grateful for such a gift.

Research local charities and organizations in your area. Once you’ve selected one, plan a day in your online calendar to drop off the remaining items from your yard sale. This will be the perfect end to your hard work and efforts.

A successful yard sale will depend on the work you put into it. Follow these tips and get excited for a great time and you won’t be disappointed.

10 Activities for Your Inner Outdoorsman

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10 Activities for Your Inner Outdoorsman

Sheltering in place for many long months has taken its toll. Now that the warm weather is finally here, it’s time to get outside! Your Calendar is just itching for you to fill it with some outdoor activities.

Activities for Your Inner Outdoorsman

Your inner outdoorsman might need some waking up after hibernating for the winter or from living in the city for too long. Luckily, there are a number of activities suited for everyone from the biggest homebodies to the backwoods enthusiasts:

1. Camping

Need to get away for a weekend? A camping trip will do just the trick. There should be at least one campground within driving distance from where you live, yet far enough away that you feel like you’re on an expedition.

If you’re unable to travel or just don’t feel like completely roughing it, camp out in the backyard. This can be just as fun, especially with small children who don’t travel well. Besides, camping within walking distance from the kitchen is the best of both worlds.

2. Hiking

The great thing about hiking is that you can go at your own pace. There are trails of varying difficulties so you can go on a calm afternoon stroll one day and get in a solid uphill workout on the next. You can also decide just how long you want to hike, simply turning around when you’re feeling ready to head back home.

If you live in the concrete jungle without access to nearby hiking trails, look for greenbelts and parks with walkways instead. These are beautiful and accessible places to talk a walk or go on a jog by yourself or with family.

3. Rock Climbing

Daredevils around the world chase the thrill of summiting the largest and most difficult peaks they can find. There’s a great sense of accomplishment that comes from completing a rigorous climb and enjoying the spectacular view of your achievement.

The reality is that not many people are willing and able to participate in outdoor rock climbing. However, you can have just as much fun doing some indoor rock climbing. Your innermost outdoorsmen will be just as entertained, and you’ll be much safer all the while.

4. Biking

You’ve heard the saying “it’s as easy as riding a bike”. There’s a reason this phrase has been around for so long; you never truly forget how to ride a bike. Put that to the test by saddling up for a bike ride.

There are varying degrees of biking for everyone from aspiring Olympic athletes to parents looking to unplug their kids from video games. You can take a mountain bike to hit the trails, get a street bike for some intense exercise, or take the family on a Sunday ride with whatever wheels you got. Biking can even replace your commute to work if you’re within riding distance.

5. Bird Watching

Want to enjoy the great outdoors without feeling like you’re only trying to survive? Give bird watching a try. This activity surrounds you with nature but encourages you to stay as still as possible instead of hiking up a mountainside.

Many bird watchers take a guidebook and a set of binoculars and try to spot as many species as they can. To take the hobby up a notch, grab a camera and work on your photography skills. The pictures you take will make a wonderful record of the time you’ve spent outdoors.

6. Golf

Another way to get outdoors without expending too much energy is to play a round of golf. You can get a good walk in or enjoy a ride in a golf cart, one of the best forms of transportation out there.

Most golf courses are immaculate. Groundskeepers do an excellent job keeping everything green and luscious. You’ll almost feel like you’re walking through a field in the woods instead of on controlled, manicured grounds.

7. Water Sports

You don’t always have to be a landlubber to be an outdoorsman. You’re depriving yourself of a lot of great experiences if you stay away from the many lakes and rivers in our country.

For the adrenaline junkies, white water rafting is one of the most exhilarating water activities you can find. For a calmer experience, take a canoe or a paddleboard onto a serene lake.

8. Archery

Archery has come a long way since it was first invented. Before it was a method of self-defense and survival. Today, it’s an outdoorsman hobby for testing technique and accuracy.

The reason that archery falls so far down the list is that it’s a fairly expensive hobby. Quality bows aren’t cheap, although arrows are reusable and targets can be made at home. You might be able to find a local archery range that allows you to rent bows and a range to give it a try before making a full commitment. If they offer archery classes, add one to your Calendar for some beginner instruction.

9. Fishing

There aren’t many activities as therapeutic as fishing. Minimal effort is required to set up a pole and wait for the fish to bite. After casting your line you can sit back in a chair and read a book or let your eyes rest for a moment.

If you have reliable data, you can even get some work done while at the fishing pond. Take the time to catch up on emails or schedule a phone call in your Calendar for the time you’re out fishing. Just make sure that work doesn’t completely overtake your outdoor experience so it feels like you’re still getting away.

10. Horseback Riding

Can you imagine a time before cars? While today people will commute many miles just to and from work, many years ago the distance a horse could ride was your limit. Getting back to those deep American roots will be sure to bring out that inner outdoorsman of yours.

There’s nothing quite like riding a horse. Commanding such a powerful animal is an experience not many can say they’ve had in today’s world. Setting up a horseback ride in your Calendar for a picnic or just to feel the wind in your hair is an event you won’t soon forget.

Pick a couple of these outdoor activities to add to your Calendar. Use up your weekends and afternoons to get out and experience the world while you can.

10 Activities for Your Inner Outdoorsman was originally published on Calendar by .

Avoiding the ‘Black Hole’ of Customer Engagement

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Avoiding the ‘Black Hole’ of Customer Engagement

Automated appointment systems make life so much easier for both businesses and their customers. Booking and executing an appointment have never been more efficient. However, you need to be careful about falling into the “black hole” of customer engagement that can form around automation. 

Too many automated appointment systems facilitate client interaction during the booking process but end there. There are no response mechanisms or continuing interaction throughout the rest of the customer journey. Make sure you don’t lose people after they click the “Submit” button by following these tips:

Keep an Agent Within Reach

While online appointment software and other digitized features have nearly endless benefits, sometimes customers just need to talk to someone. It gets frustrating when you’re stuck with a chatbot and need to ask a more complicated question that only a human can answer. 

One of your employees doesn’t have to be available to help customers 24/7, as chatbots are able to do. Still, make sure your customers know they can speak with a customer service agent during business hours for more complex problems and concerns. 

When solving customer problems, your CS representatives have an excellent opportunity to further engage with customers. They can ask leading questions to get customers to provide feedback that, in ordinary situations, they might just keep to themselves. Have your reps record any comments customers make so you can take action on the issues they think need to be addressed. 

Send Out Customer Surveys

Customer engagement after the appointment is just as important as engagement before and throughout. The feedback you receive from customers provides valuable information on ways you can improve or practices you should continue using. 

After an appointment, send out a short email thanking customers for their business. Include a survey link in each email and ask customers to respond to questions about their experience. Make sure the survey link is easy to locate within your message. 

Use Social Media Regularly

If you want to engage with your customers when they’re not at your business, turn to social media. Roughly 70% of Americans have a social media account, most of which are used regularly. There are plenty of opportunities for customer engagement here.

Social media can spur customer engagement in several ways. An ad campaign will gather clicks that can lead to more appointment bookings. Inviting comments on posts provides another platform for customers to voice their comments and mention concerns the company can address.

Track Key Data Metrics

When customer engagement gets placed on the back burner, you have to find new ways to bring it back to the forefront. Set goals to track key metrics using customer data. In order to accomplish these goals, you’ll have to monitor customer engagement via online interactions. 

Set up your website to track customer engagement online. You’ll be able to see how long customers spend on your website, what pages they visit, and your landing page bounce rate. This information will help you adjust the layout to place forms and resources where they’ll best be seen. 

Data metrics can be drawn from your in-house team as well. Tracking the percentage of customers who accept an upsell will show you how customers are responding to this sales tactic. If percentages are low, you’ll know you need to change your strategy.

Incentivize Engagement

Some customers will purposely place themselves in the black hole of customer engagement because they simply don’t want additional interaction. If something goes wrong, they’ll either grin and bear it or take their business elsewhere without a word. 

Customers have the right to keep their thoughts to themselves, but your business benefits from their feedback and engagement. To draw them out of the woodwork, incentivize engagement to get the highest engagement rates possible.

A common business strategy is to take survey responses and use them as raffle tickets. Customers who leave feedback are entered into a drawing to win free services or other perks that are valuable to them. Using this tactic, you’ll receive more feedback than just the occasional review from those with strong opinions. 

Be Transparent

Nowadays, customers might associate surveys and unprovoked emails with marketing schemes intended to make a sale. Be transparent about the real reason you’re looking to boost customer engagement so they don’t shy away from your overtures.

For example, you might be reaching out to customers to inquire about a service package your company provides. Make it known from the get-go that you’re sending the survey to gauge whether you should continue to offer the package (or whatever your reason is). Customers won’t feel like you’re only trying to sell them something and will be more likely to provide honest feedback. 

Make Engagement Count

Finally, when you gather feedback, do something about it! Customers will fail to see the need for interaction and engagement if your company isn’t listening or reciprocating. 

Let’s say customers consistently mention the long wait times they experience before each appointment with your business. Instead of just nodding in sad agreement, come up with a solution. Do you need to install self-check-in kiosks in the lobby or take measures to stop appointments from running long? Your actions will inspire customers to continue to provide feedback, as they’ll know it is being used to improve their experience. 

Learn to spot the signs of a customer engagement black hole so you can steer clear of it. As soon as you feel your business being drawn in, take the necessary steps to adjust your course. By doing so, you will retain more customers and keep your operations running smoothly.

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