All posts by Hunter Meine

When Time Management Can’t Help

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When Time Management Can't Help

The concept of time management is often misunderstood and generally unsuccessful in minimizing overload and stress. Although the emphasis on efficiency is admirable — true overload is self-defeating and futile.

Initiate clear time guidelines for selecting what types of activities you won’t do, and develop processes like establishing a day when managers conduct no meetings. There is a zen to taming time, not confronting it.

Remember, there is no such thing as time in the metaverse.

The persistent sensation that there is never enough time causes much stress. We do need to learn time management to tame and manage our time. We aim to convert hour-long sessions into half-hour sprints or schedule more minor activities to reduce wasted time.

But we want to use time management as a stress reducer — not an anxiety producer. As we improve our efficiency, we may add more duties and begin to feel a more significant strain. Attack the core causes of worldly stressors: the sheer amount of work, choices, and diversions.

But time management should be used to reduce stress by freeing up time to take care of yourself. Maybe get to the gym, take a walk or have a massage. Think time management for freedom — not time management as a whip.

Time Management’s Trap

The shift to remote work after the Covid-19 epidemic created a fascinating natural experiment illustrating the time management problem. Working from home saves time (commuting and business travel), and approximately half of remote employees say they are more productive.

A study by Atlassian found that self-reported time savings and productivity increases are ineffective. The average workday has grown by 30 minutes worldwide — the reverse of results from individuals spending their time more efficiently. Complicating matters, the extra 30 minutes of work have mostly come at the price of evening leisure time.

Time management assures us that we can easily accommodate all of our tasks by being more efficient. But, like digging a hole at the beach, time management requires a lot of water to fill it. An hour on your schedule is like a signal flare proclaiming your ability to take on another project or position. So keep thinking about your ability to now claim the freedom to take care of yourself.

Time management has never been useless—productivity matters. But in a society plagued by burnout, we need techniques to reduce the anxiety producers rather than accommodate the volume.

You will want these three options to escape the trap.

1. Reduce task volume

“I’ll handle the budget update for next week’s meeting,” “I’ll pick up something for supper on the way home,” and so on.

As soon as you agree to take on an extra task — the pressure to deliver starts. Any agreement to be broken or renegotiated adds stress and guilt to the situation. The way you hold the line depends on whether your to-do list grows from assigned duties. Or does it grow things you choose to take on?

Prioritize tasks instead of time. When a supervisor asks you to accomplish something, answering with “I don’t have time for that” may seem overly abrupt. Instead, ask, “Where should I prioritize this task versus x, y, and z?” Answering in this manner achieves two goals. In the first place — this gives your superior a glimpse of what you’re working on — and sometimes lets you off the hook. Nevertheless — they set the priority, not you.

2. Reframe the dialogue from a binary option to a collaborative debate

If you want to add tasks, calendar-block first. We typically overestimate our capabilities, leading to over-exertion. Our calendars show some daylight, so we believe, “I can certainly do this by Friday.”

Then comes Friday, and we have to renegotiate.

Best advice — get your self-care actions and family obligation on your Calendar first. If others are synced to your Calendar, and you don’t want them to see your plans, frame the verbiage differently.

My weekly massage appointment says, “On point meeting with Sarah H.” I do combine the massage time with my lunch hour and pound a boiled egg down on the drive over. The point is, we’re not trying to get out of our intense, crowded, stressful work — we come back refreshed and work harder and faster. Putting in time for yourself makes it so that you don’t resent the extra half hour, hour, or longer you stay after work.

The issue is that your Calendar typically only displays synchronous work (tasks you compete with others simultaneously). Then you include meetings, phone calls, etc. Your to-dos are a list of agreements with others for asynchronous labor (tasks you do alone, not in real-time with others).

The answer? Merge your Calendar and to-do list by scheduling time for each task. Getting the complete picture of your obligations (and self-care) allows you to assess your capabilities before taking on more.

3. Decide on principles

We’ve spent the last couple of years making decisions: Do I send my kids to school? Can I visit them? Is it safe to go to work? Constantly facing difficult decisions with limited information can lead to cognitive overload. The overthinking and unknowns in cognitive overload are where mental work demands outpace our coping ability. Cognitive overload raises the chance of mistakes and leads to feelings of overwhelm.

You might start by replacing choices with absolute principles. For example, the science of weight loss management teaches us that “I won’t eat after 7 p.m.” is more successful than “I won’t nibble after 7 p.m.”

Can I have this cup of yogurt? How about some fruit?

The ultimate guideline of no eating after 7 p.m. closes the door. The choices vanish — the result is less overload.

Author and podcaster Tim Ferriss calls the overload scenario “finding the one option that eliminates 100 decision.” Ferriss set a goal of not reading any new books in 2020 — he would finish the ones he’d started. Since writers and their publicists bombarded him with dozens of new or impending books every week, this blanket principle relieved him of hundreds of book-by-book choices.

Steve Jobs famously wore the same thing (a black t-shirt and jeans) every day to avoid morning clothing selection weariness. Jon Mackey is a managing director of a Canadian business. He built his establishment with “No meetings on Fridays.” After failing to safeguard time for serious work by choosing which meetings to accept or refuse, Jon Mackey devised a weekly concentration day.

4. Minimize Distractions with Structure Not Will

Diversions prevent us from completing activities and making critical judgments. Interruptions contribute to overwhelming by preventing us from feeling like we are making headway against the causes of the pressure.

Trying to ignore digital platforms with fortitude puts you up against an army of our generation’s brightest brains. These most brilliant brains focus on exploiting what Facebook founder Sean Parker calls “vulnerabilities in human psychology” to grab your attention. When it comes to distraction, structure always wins.

Several company executives set aside time throughout the day to switch off their laptop’s Wi-Fi to concentrate. Others have scheduled 30-minute meetings for their staff to ask questions and obtain guidance. Then fewer individuals ask, “Can I grab you for five minutes?”

Cathy Engelbert, past Deloitte CEO, banned back-to-back conferences. So instead, it was a 10-minute break for SMORs or tiny minutes of reflection. This fast recovery break meant she wasn’t distracted by the following meeting or carrying over the previous meeting’s agenda.

Conclusion

The answer isn’t to become more efficient and just accept more work, choices, and diversions. Instead, reduce your workload, make choices based on principles, and create a structure to prevent distractions.

Have your new mantra be, Simplify, and make your time management choices reflect a renewed determination to take care of yourself, your loved ones, and your life.

When Time Management Can’t Help was originally published on Calendar by Hunter Meine.

Image Credit: Tara Winstead; Pexels; Thank you!

Ways to Have Some Fun While in Virtual Meetings

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Ways to Have Fun Virtual Meetings

Virtual meetings have become a weekly or even daily affair for many professionals as firms have transitioned to entirely or partly remote work arrangements in the past several years. These hybrid virtual meetings bother some employees, but you may as well lighten up and have some fun. You can remain professional while you have fun in a virtual meeting.

While virtual meetings are a crucial method to keep communication lines open, they may be difficult for people who are not used to appearing and speaking on video. Furthermore, everything from technical difficulties to the increasing problem of “reading the room” can lead to stiffness and formality in proceedings — making it difficult to inject the personal interactions and “little bit of fun” that make in-person meetings so beneficial for relationship-building.

Remote meetings can be made less formal and more engaging for attendees using the following components. The most essential element of our meetings is not to get to business and not waste time — so keep that fact in mind as you plan to lighten the mood of virtual meetings. Try a few different variations of the themes below and find the best fit for your team.

1. Begin with some one-on-one conversation.

One firm decided to make it a practice to begin each meeting with some personal banter — meaning, nothing work-related. Not having continual work topics at the beginning of the meetings helps employees unwind, share an intriguing anecdote or two, and maybe even chuckle. Casual conversation is stimulating and refreshing and it helps attendees to slip in a few minutes of humanity before getting down to business. Touching base as humans, and not simply coworkers will bring warmth to virtual meetings.

2. Post photographs that are irrelevant to your job.

Request that team members contribute a non-work-related picture. Whether it’s a photo of a pastime, family, or pet, it helps team members to see another side of their colleagues’ personalities. Indeed, it may help each person relate to and understand each other better. Showing a photo will also create a comfortable environment for team members to be open and honest since they choose what to share. Transparency, in turn, aids in the development of connections.

When you first start showing photos you will notice that are bland. With the continual practice of showing photos, your employees will warm up to you and each other, and you will notice a change in the nature of the photos.

3. Show off your pets.

Do you have a lot of pet owners in your workplace? When you host a meeting in the future, start by having everyone introduce their furry companions. It’s a terrific way to bond with your team, and it always results in a grin. We’ve always had the ability to bring our pets to work in the office — and a photo of the furry friends brings back these memories and good times.

4. Pose a virtual meeting “connection inquiry.”

Before the meeting, connect with individuals by asking “connection questions” that bring everyone together. Ask everyone to tell a story around a common theme (give them a time limit). People like talking about themselves and sharing information about themselves.

5. Honor birthdays.

One office manager noted, “We celebrate one other’s birthdays by sending something special (usually food-related) on that day or week of the birthday — and having a sing-a-long song. It is consistently well-received. We spend the remainder of the catch-up time talking about things other than work, which is refreshing and vital.                             

After your sing-along and chat, you can dive into work information and topics.

6. Experiment with different backgrounds.

Getting creative with your video backdrop is one way to add extra fun and boost relationship-building in virtual meetings. A new subject for each meeting, such as a favorite location visited or a bucket list trip destination may help break up the monotony of the day. Indeed, act as a meeting icebreaker, and allow for more in-depth relationships among team members. These change-ups don’t have to take a ton of time.

7. Play around with virtual reality.

Another office manager said, “We experimented with virtual reality, and the results were unexpected. We had meetings, played games, and even attended Virtual Burning Man as a group. The experiences of being in the same place are pretty effective in forming relationships. This is subconscious and highly ancient: but it means we belong to the same tribe.”

8. Hold virtual meetings coffee and lunch get-togethers.

Virtual coffee or lunch meetings with two to four team members may benefit relationship development. Center the plan on connecting rather than addressing work matters. These ties often result in better professional partnerships. Do you allow anyone on your team to do virtual meetings invites? For casual get-togethers — consider allowing others on the team to be the host.

9. Include a ‘human’ aspect.

Adding a “human” factor to virtual meetings is one approach to make them more enjoyable. You can hold video meetings at workers’ homes. Moreover, this is something that is physically left behind while working from the office. Use meetings hosted at individual team member homes to your advantage by asking “about me” questions. Or you could engage in scavenger hunts. Indeed come up with other innovative methods to engage people. It’s the small things that count.

10. Hold competitions and happy hours.

Make meetings more enjoyable by hosting virtual happy hours or competitions, such as “Best Zoom Background” or “Best Home Office.” The distinction between home and workplace has blurred, so have fun with it. During Zoom meetings, we get to meet family members and pets. We’ve moved the office into the houses where we live. Working connections have grown more casual as a result of this new phenomenon. On a personal level, people have reported that they are feeling more connected.

11. Assign various team members to serve as virtual meeting hosts.

Building camaraderie isn’t intricate in theory, but it does need work. Try having various members of your team host. This encourages involvement and introduces fresh ideas to the discussion. Utilize internet games on occasion. Encourage members to give each other informal acknowledgment at the start or finish of each meeting. Most importantly, don’t take anything too seriously. It’s simply a gathering. And sometimes, as a leader — you should let your team have meetings without you.

12. Allow everyone a turn in the spotlight.

When there are a lot of workers in the virtual meetings, strive to close the sessions with activities that give each employee a chance to shine. One amusing example is ending meetings with newborn images of staff. Indeed, asking everyone to vote on who that baby grew up to be.

Image Credit: Ivan Samkov; Pexels; Thank you!

Ways to Have Some Fun While in Virtual Meetings was originally published on Calendar by Hunter Meine.

6 Ways to Make Your Meetings More Productive

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Six Ways Make Meetings More Productive

Organizations must improve their ability to have productive meetings to become more successful. How can managers help bring meetings with a better outcome?

Meetings take up a lot of our time at work, but how much do they truly accomplish? According to Korn Ferry’s study, meetings rarely do what we set out to accomplish. Furthermore, more than two-thirds (67%) of employees report that spending too much time in meetings and on phone conversations prevented them from having an effective workday.

Organizations must improve their ability to have productive meetings to become more successful. This topic has been of much interest in the last few years. Are we getting better with our meetings and making them produce what we set out to create? So, what can leaders and managers do to help bring about better meeting results?

The Front Stage Meetings

1. Think of the meeting as the ‘front stage,’ and prepare for them by working hard on the ‘backstage.’ And don’t ignore the priorities.

“While many meetings are routine,” says Dr. Shameen Prashantham, professor of international business and strategy at China Europe International Business School and author of Gorillas Can Dance, “others feel there should still be an improvement to meetings on every level.”

2. Give yourself time to “check-in.”

We never start a meeting without ‘checking in,’ says Fiona Logan, CEO of Insights, a worldwide people development firm. Checking in with each person briefly enables participants to completely participate by discussing what’s on their minds, how they’re feeling, or what they want to gain from the meeting. Then the meeting becomes a time management situation.

Checking in, according to Logan, helps individuals understand and empathize with their colleagues, fostering connection and trust. It also allows them to change their mentality from before the meeting to where they need to be during the session.

“This promotes participant participation, which typically leads to a happy and effective meeting,” she explains. Logan also suggests scheduling 45-minute meetings instead of hour-long sessions since it keeps everyone engaged for the length of the discussion.

Productive Focus

3. Focus on results rather than updates even when considering your new software or scheduling apps.

Suppose executives evaluate the expense of bringing their colleagues together for the conference. Some believe that meetings must provide at least twice as much value as they used to. Prepare by thinking about outputs, not updates, the next time you chair a meeting and make it as output-oriented as possible so that everyone arrives at the table with their thinking hat on and not their dinner plans.

4. Distribute reports ahead of time.

“Don’t waste meeting time presenting papers,” urges Annelise Ly, an associate professor at the Norwegian School of Economics and a CEMS Global Alliance in Management Education member. Instead, ask your partners to read information ahead of time and go right into the topic when you meet. The direct approach keeps people interested and cuts down on meeting time.

5. Take command of the discussion. Know when time is being wasted.

“Deep discussion and disagreement in meetings is a critical trait for creating innovation and ensuring that teams will grow and prosper,” says David Liddle, CEO of TCM and author of Transformational Culture. However, he cautions that heated debate may quickly devolve into something harmful and dysfunctional.

Managers can no longer afford to sit back and let the argument evolve. Instead, a manager needs to lead by taking on the role of facilitator. Liddle contends that providing safe places where open, honest debate can take place, and a variety of views can be put forth, leads to better team acceptance and fosters a tighter-knit group.

“Helping our people to disagree constructively,” says Liddle, “is the goal of healthy discussion.”

6. When gathering electronically, plan and speak in short spurts.

Everyone has had ‘Zoom fatigue,” says one prominent doctor of business, Dr. Amanda Nimon-Peters of Hult International Business School in the United Kingdom. Dr. Nimon-Peters is also the author of the forthcoming book Working With Influence. She continues, “That’s because, when we stupidly approach virtual meetings as if they were real meetings, they become tiresome and unpleasant.”

While our technology has advanced to allow for distant meetings, Nimon-Peters points out that our minds have not.
We suffer subconscious discomfort because of a perceived closeness that the simulated distance between video conference participants.

Successful online teams, according to Nimon-Peters, interact in bursts rather than in back-to-back, conference-length conversations. Participants must also plan ahead of time to make their time together as productive and interesting as possible.

Are all Meetings Poppycock?

Not at all. No meeting has to be futile or pointless. The key is to get to the main points of the meeting and get to it first. Be prepared ahead of time and never hesitate to redirect the conversation.

If things are not going as planned — don’t be afraid to close one door and open another — one that’s more productive. Don’t facilitate the time wasters, over-talkers, or indecisive ones. Instead, come with a plan, execute that plan — then leave on time.

Image Credit: Fauxels; Pexels; Thank you!

Six Ways to Make Your Meetings More Productive was originally published on Calendar by Hunter Meine.

4 Recommendations for Teams in 2022

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Recommendations Teams 2022

The mixed work model will likely be commonplace throughout 2022 and well into the future, so we may as well get used to it and learn to do it well. Consider these suggestions to help you create a great mixed-team work approach.

COVID brought on the full-hybrid work model, and as long as it continues to work well, it will likely be the work model forever. Teams will experience growing pains until hybrid work can work out the kinks and become the norm. While no one technique works for all individuals, positions, or projects — consider these suggestions. Creating a productivity schedule is crucial.

Develop the hybrid work model with your company.

There is no one-size-fits-all hybrid work paradigm; it must match your organization’s culture and personnel. The key to success is co-creating that model with your team and providing communication avenues and expectations.

Avoid making top-down judgments with your hybrid worker without consulting a few team members. All decisions, no matter how small, immediately affect your employees. Ask about employee preferences and attempt to fulfill them. Take time to listen to individual needs so that discontent and anger don’t erode your culture and morale.

1. Agree on the office’s role in the hybrid environment.

Consider which structures work best for your team. Take care of your workers, and they will care for your consumers. Popular hybrid work arrangements include remote-first with office days or office-first with remote days. Some firms only meet in person once a month — but your very individual business needs will have to dictate many of your decisions.

Agree on the office’s role in the hybrid environment. Is it to encourage cooperation or relationships? Collect everyone’s ideas and don’t simply go back to work because that’s what you used to do. Alternatives to your enormous, unoccupied workplace may also benefit your yearly budget.

2. Trust your staff

Let people work in ways that make them happy and productive.

Set goals and deadlines for your team instead of time monitoring. It’s challenging to be productive and present when working remotely. However, measures should not be considered a punishment but a tool to help personnel achieve their objectives.

Most employees don’t work the eight hours they’re at the office because they have spontaneous meetings and strong connections with coworkers. Consider: managers should ignore time as a productivity indicator and trust staff to accomplish their jobs well. Time as an indicator is a sign that the objectives are too simple and that the workers are distant since they don’t need to cooperate as much or “look busy.”

Otherwise, you risk the “watermelon effect” — excellent “green” performance, but a significant chunk of red underneath the surface, representing an awful employee experience. Employees may address issues with coworkers rather than management at the (virtual) water cooler.

3. Meetings: rethink

Don’t be a victim of your success.

We need to discover new working methods to not spend all our time in meetings and our weekends and nights on “serious work.” So we need more asynchronous work.

Adopt a facilitator’s approach to developing new working ways — concentrate on understanding human interactions and structuring work to fit them best.

Asking check-in and check-out questions helps to keep meetings sociable. Having off-topic talks and connecting with people is vital.

4. Foster connections and interactions

Consider alternatives like walk & talks, virtual coworking, music quizzes, open office hours, and buddy systems.

During their initial weeks or months at the organization, a “work buddy” meets with new workers one-on-one to facilitate a seamless transition.

This allows for knowledge exchange and learning even while working remotely. Younger workers who rely on senior staff for information appreciate this exchange.

Encourage your staff to plan walking meetings or catch-ups with one other. Walk & Talks help you exercise and interact with others. Plus, they help alleviate our collective Zoom fatigue.

Leaders and workers may add open (virtual) office hours to their calendars or status bars to encourage more spontaneous talks. During specific time windows, anybody may phone that individual to bounce ideas off, discuss a problem, or check in.

Virtual coworking allows people to work together yet on their projects. A group video conference is great for collaborating on separate tasks. People feel more accountable and productive when cameras and microphones are on.

Having the appropriate tools helps to facilitate teamwork.

There will be an issue with your team when you introduce information or tools that:

a) team doesn’t grasp the purpose of and

b) tool doesn’t enhance the team workflows or productivity.

Also, the tools must easily integrate synchronous and asynchronous operations. Tools and admin for their own sake are harmful, so giving people the correct tools and listening to their comments goes a long way. If tools aren’t helpful after a long test period, destroy them. Don’t utilize them because it’s tradition.

Teams in hybrid mode

Balance is essential since individuals have varying amounts of energy while socializing. You don’t want your staff exhausted or lonely. Using these suggestions might assist your employees in shifting to the hybrid model in a manner that seems so natural you’ll soon be calling it work.

Image Credit: Fauxels; Pexels; Thank you!

4 Ways to Make 2022 Better than 2021

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Make 2022 Better

To be quite frank, 2021 was a really tough year for just about everyone. There was a lot of hope that 2021 would improve as the world got a grip on the Covid-19 pandemic, but different variants and new problems arising made it just as much of a challenge. As the calendar turns to 2022, we’re all looking for a better year to come.

If you want to make 2022 better than 2021, you can’t just wait idly for things to improve. You have to look for opportunities and take them head-on. You can control the direction of your ship instead of allowing the storm to carry you off. This guide will help you prepare yourself for the best year of the decade so far:

1. Make Better Plans

The first thing you need to do is tighten up your time management skills. How you use your time will directly reflect upon the success you have in 2022. Using your Calendar to make better plans will keep you active and engaged every single day of the new year.

Start by scheduling out any upcoming events you already have planned. Work schedules, holiday events, doctor’s appointments, etc. This will give your Calendar some good bones to work with.

Next, look for ways to improve the plans you’ve made. Do you need to coordinate with your team better for an upcoming work meeting? Should you reschedule an appointment so that it doesn’t take up as much of your day, allowing you to be more productive? Small adjustments like this will really add up over the 365 days of the new year.

2. Change Your Mindset

You need to start 2022 off with the right mindset, or at the very least make an effort to keep a positive one. Sure that’s easier said than done, but if you start changing your mindset in January you’ll be a new person by December. It’s high time you got rid of the doom and gloom that’s taken up residence in your subconscious.

A simple method you can employ to try and change your mindset is to use daily affirmations. These are little mantras or phrases that you repeat to yourself to keep your mind clear and your spirits high. Negative thinking and self-talk won’t get you very far, as is very evident from the years past.

An example of a daily affirmation you can use is “I can do this”. Rather than assuming that the task at hand or the global situation is too difficult to handle, you quietly remind yourself that you are capable of so much more. Whisper this phrase to yourself enough and you’ll replace negativity and doubt with courage and drive.

3. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

The past few years it’s been a little too easy to resort to our comfort zones. Ever since sheltering in place during the beginning of Covid-19 we’ve been hesitant to dream, to do, and to discover. Getting out of your comfort zone won’t be easy, but it will set the stage for a colorful and fun year.

Take a look at the blank spaces in your Calendar and start brainstorming ways to fill them. Maybe it’s time you tried speed dating for the first time or considered taking a boxing class as part of your New Year’s resolution to get back in shape. Under normal circumstances, you wouldn’t dream of pursuing such activities, but you never know what you’re missing out on until you venture out into the unknown.

Getting out of your comfort zone is usually easier with a friend, especially if you’re moving out of your own comfort zone into theirs. For example, you might have a friend that’s an avid rock climber that’s willing to show you the ropes, literally and figuratively. You can coordinate times to go out with them and have a buddy to accompany you as you try new things.

4. Prioritize Yourself

Nothing is more important in 2022 than yourself. If you prioritize yourself this year, you’ll see lots of improvements, especially in your physical and mental well-being. Those two aspects of your life have likely been affected in a negative way due to Covid-19 and the other challenges of the past couple of years.

Look for ways to use your Calendar to put yourself first. This can be done by planning specific activities for personal development or creating habits and routines that promote wellness and growth. Here is a list of ideas you can use to fill up and utilize your Calendar while prioritizing yourself:

  • Make time to exercise every day
  • Develop a good sleep routine
  • Schedule a regular mental health day
  • Get counseling and guidance as needed from professionals
  • Set aside time for things you enjoy
  • Create a meal plan for healthier eating

Each one of these bullet points is an example of something you can do in 2022 to take care of yourself better. This will raise your mental and emotional health which will enable you to have a much more enjoyable year. Prioritizing yourself will also build a strong foundation for many years to come, not just the next 12 months.

Nobody can promise that the events of 2022 will be any better. However, you can take control of your destiny to make this year much better than the last no matter what happens. All it takes is some grit and determination even on the toughest of days. Of course, your Calendar has all the tools you need to make anything happen.

Image Credit: Artem Podrez; Pexels; Thank you!

4 Ways to Make 2022 Better than 2021 was originally published on Calendar by .

How to Stay Motivated in the Winter

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Motivated in Winter

For many of us, it has felt like winter for a couple of months. Unfortunately, not everyone experiences a winter wonderland during the chilly months of the year. For many, winter is the most challenging time to stay motivated and productive. Regardless, work carries on as usual, and workers need to keep on top of their game no matter the season.

Staying motivated throughout the winter will take a little extra effort on your part. Luckily, winter only lasts so long. With the following tips, you should be able to maintain your productivity until spring without an issue:

Make Light a Priority

One of the biggest triggers of seasonal depression is the lack of sunshine. The presence of light subconsciously lifts up your spirits and boosts your motivation. Unfortunately, with fewer hours of sunlight in the winter, it’s more difficult for many people to remain positive and productive throughout the entire season.

To help yourself stay motivated in the winter, try to take advantage of those few hours of sunlight that are available. Pull back the drapes, face the window, and brave the cold for the occasional walk. Even a little bit of natural sunlight will make a massive difference in your winter motivation.

If getting natural sunlight proves to be difficult, try some artificial light. For example, you can purchase a small desk lamp that works as an artificial sun. It might not seem like much, but the additional light will help you start each day off on the right foot.

Manage Your Temperature

In addition to the amount of light you get during the winter, regulating your temperature is part of your environment you need to stay on top of. If your body is shivering in the cold, you’ll have a hard time focusing on your daily to-do list.  In addition, being cold has been proven to stunt productivity.

On the opposite end, being too warm can make you feel sluggish and work just as slowly as if you were battling the cold. So make sure that by keeping warm, you’re not so cozy that productivity is too far out of reach. Otherwise, you’re just replacing one extreme with the other.

Managing your temperature goes beyond adjusting the thermostat. For example, you might love cuddling up at your desk with a warm blanket, but is that making you feel productive or snoozy? You might need to opt for a nice sweater and some cozy socks to stay warm without falling into a trance.

Create Plans and Goals for Summer

If winter keeps bringing you down, create some plans and set some goals for the following summer. This will give you many exciting things to look forward to, which should boost your morale, even if only temporarily. Your summer plans will also make for a nice reward for making it through the winter to the best of your abilities.

Let’s use the classic example of summer vacation. To make this vacation happen, you need to save up money and build up your vacation hours to get the time off. This should give your work ethic a significant boost through the winter months as you dream of sunny beaches and piña coladas.

Schedule Time for What You Love

What are some activities that you just love to do? Use your Calendar to ensure you’re making time for them. Participating in your favorite activities is sure to reinvigorate you even after a long and cold week.

If you’re fighting the winter blues, it’s also unfortunately easy to lose motivation, even when it comes to your favorite hobbies and passions. Scheduling time for these activities will add to your to-do list and help you stop making excuses and procrastinating.

For example, you might love painting but have put away your easel in favor of wrapping yourself in multiple blankets while binge-watching TV throughout the afternoon. Add some time slots for painting in your Calendar to break out of your cocoon and do some painting. Even if it’s only for a few minutes a day, you’ll get the variation and enjoyment from doing something that actually interests you. Keeping up with your hobbies are a great way to stay motivated in the winter.

Remember to Exercise

Another activity you might lose motivation for during the winter is regular exercise. Not only is exercise good for perking you up, but it’s also a great way to stay warm. Exercise improves blood circulation and gets your heart pumping, allowing your body to regulate its temperature more effectively. Not to mention, a good sweat is bound to warm you up on even the coldest of days.

You don’t necessarily have to brave the cold to get your exercise in. Going to a local gym provides access to all kinds of indoor workouts, including stationery bikes, indoor tracks, and sometimes even a heated pool. You’ll build up healthy habits and warm up your body while only needing to walk to and from the parking lot.

If you don’t have access to a nice, friendly gym or simply don’t have the time, try some at-home workouts. You can accomplish a lot by following video guides using simple exercise methods. You don’t even need any equipment to get a good workout in; just follow the steps provided by your instructor and feel the burn.

Not all of us can say, “the cold never bothered me anyway.” However, that doesn’t mean that winter has to deprive you of all energy and enjoyment until you thaw out in the spring. Start making an effort to stay motivated by tackling winter head-on, and you won’t be bothered by the freezing temperatures even one bit.

Image Credit: Pixabay; Pexels; Thank you! 

Work Less Because It’s Done and Play More in 2022

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Work Less Because It’s Done and Play More in 2022

You may have seen folks around you who get everything done and then some. How do they get so much done so fast?

Time management is the answer.

Time management is the art of organizing and allocating minutes, getting things done. This maximizes productivity and achieves goals. Time management improves job performance and life satisfaction while reducing stress. High achievers don’t just happen. Rather, they’ve honed the talents required to achieve more in less time.

Productivity is a skill.

It’s an acquired talent that everyone must learn. However, it is feasible (and simple) to learn time management. There are several tools, strategies, and approaches available to assist you. We’ve rounded together our finest 32 day-saving ideas.

Planning Your Time to be Done Faster

Planned calendar management will help you build solid habits, get things done and increase your chances of success.

1. Conduct a time audit.

First things first: figure out where you spend your time. Often, what you believe is taking up your time isn’t. Humans are lousy at estimating task duration. Let’s say you need to send a 300-word email. Think: “Emailing is easy. It should just take 5 minutes.” Proofreading, checking language choice, and identifying email addresses are all duties that might add to the task’s duration. Your 5-minute email may take you 20 minutes, 500% longer than expected with such changes.

Assume you have the same issue with numerous tasks. A balanced workload will inevitably turn into a hectic to-do list during the day. You need to know what you can do and what is genuinely eating up your minutes. That’s why a time audit is useful. The most straightforward approach to undertake a time audit is using calendar tracking software. Many firms provide free software, but Toggl Track is the easiest, with applications for all devices.

Track your activities for a week to get an accurate time utilization picture. Then, examine the reports at the end of the week and analyze the time you spend on various chores. With this data, you can quickly improve. For example, you may waste time in useless meetings or busywork.

Now you can see how you spend your time and prepare accordingly.

So here’s the next piece of advice.

Tip #2: Set realistic goals and prioritize and be done.

Time management won’t assist you if you have too much to do. After doing a time audit, you’ll know if you need to manage your time better or if you have too much on your plate.

For attainable goals, skip to suggestion 3.

If you feel overwhelmed, create an Eisenhower matrix or use the 4 Ds of time management: Do, Defer, Delegate, and Delete. Your duties are divided into four categories into both methods:

Do: Important and urgent tasks.

Defer: Important yet non-urgent tasks.

Delegate: Urgent but unimportant tasks.

Delete: Non-urgent or non-critical tasks.

These methods will help you decide what jobs to prioritize, schedule, delegate, or remove. They should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.

Tip #3: Make a daily management strategy.

You can do this in the morning or at the end of the day. Creating a daily to-do list is one of those time slots. Keep your to-do list simple. The sight of half-completed lists is discouraging.

Even in personal productivity, it’s preferable to under-promise and over-deliver. Write your list as though you’ve already finished it. Submit Report to Project Manager instead of “Submit Report to Project Manager.”

This tiny method will give you an extra push of desire to finish your duties.

Tip #4: Sunday planning management

A strategy will help you focus on your critical goals during the workweek. It also enables you to move from weekend mode to “work mode” on Monday morning. First, spend a few minutes on Sunday planning your entire week. Then, break down weekly goals into daily chores to increase achievement.

You’ll be able to see your daily tasks at a glance. Schedule low-priority work for Fridays and other low-energy days. The week’s energy and creative levels change. Finish creative projects on Tuesday and Wednesday. Plan meetings for Thursday, when your team’s energy drops. Plan and network on Fridays and Mondays.

Personal productivity has hundreds of variations. Because everyone works differently, experimenting with these time management techniques will help you find the ideal strategy for you.

Tip #5: Finish your most critical and time-consuming activities first thing.

The first few hours of work are usually the most fruitful. This is because you can focus better while your brain isn’t completely awake.

They have less energy for daydreaming and other duties. So, preferably, do your most intellectually demanding responsibilities first thing in the morning.

What to Schedule When Returning Home for the Holidays

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What to Schedule When Returning Home for the Holidays

The holiday season is a time reserved for family. However, responsibilities don’t all disappear during this time, and you might not want to spend all month with your in-laws. Scheduling your time can help you find the perfect balance.

Whether it’s Christmastime, Thanksgiving, or even a family Easter gathering, you can make the best use of your time back at home with your online calendar. Here’s what to schedule to maximize your return home for the holidays:

Start With Family Commitments

Before you fill out the rest of your online calendar, mark down any family commitments you have. Of course, planned dinners, movie nights, and other family activities should take precedence. This is why you’re traveling home in the first place, after all, so it should be the bulk of your online calendar for the duration of the trip.

Once your online calendar is filled with family events, you can fill in the cracks with anything else that needs attention. However, it’ll be much more challenging to find the time you need to tend to personal responsibilities without scheduling things out.

Other family commitments may include getting Christmas presents for everyone or bringing a meal to a family potluck. Use your online calendar to make time for these commitments, whether it’s a reminder to go shopping or planning a cooking schedule for holiday dinner.

Get Travel Plans in Order

Will you need to make a long trek to visit family? The better you plan your travel itinerary, the less holiday stress you have to endure. Start by scheduling times to pack, so you don’t forget anything in the last-minute rush.

If you plan on flying, schedule your departure time to get to the airport on time, and note arrival times if the family will be picking you up. If you opt to drive, schedule your own departure time that works best for everyone. Whichever option you choose, be sure to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.

In some scenarios, you might end up staying in a hotel rather than with a family member. If this is the case, you can add check-in times to your online calendar to work around the rest of your schedule. Be sure to take note of any breakfast served!

Make Time for Work

At least for this holiday season, you might have to take work home with you. This is because so many employees who moved to remote work due to COVID-19 were offered a lot of flexibility — but also the likelihood that you’ll have a few projects to tackle over the extended break. So be sure to add time during your trip to complete these projects before returning home.

If your trip home includes time off, straighten out your work schedule before and after the days of your trip. Many people want time off during the holidays, so the sooner you can request your days off, the better. You can even pick up some shifts before and after your trip to help out your fellow employees.

Here’s a pro tip for your online calendar; plan out the week of your return before you even leave for your trip. This way, meetings, and deadlines are all straightened out for you right when you get home. You won’t have to fuss over any details during or after your trip if they’re already squared away.

Straighten Out Duties at Home

Just because you’re on a trip doesn’t mean that responsibilities get waived at home. Got some pets at home? Some plants that need to be watered?  Make sure everything is cared for even while you’re away, even if that requires some extra help.

You can hire a pet sitter or a housesitter while you’re gone. But, if you do, sync up an online calendar with them to know precisely what needs to be done at what times. Then, with proper communication, you’ll come home with everything looking like you never left.

Keeping your home safe while you’re away should also be a high priority. You can ask a neighbor to pick up scheduled mail and packages and to keep an eye out on your property while you’re away, allowing you to have some peace of mind.

Stick With Your Routine

You should have a good routine going that keeps your life in order from sun up to sundown. If you aren’t already, use your online calendar to help you stick with it every day. Your online calendar will really come in handy when sticking to a routine on the road.

If you maintain your routine throughout your trip, you’ll more easily adjust when you return home. Of course, some aspects of your routine might need some adjustments, like substituting your morning workouts for evening pickleball tournaments with the family. However, you should try to maintain as closely as possible, like a healthy sleep schedule built for maximum productivity.

Give Yourself Time to Recover

A long trip with the family can be exhausting. So before you make a return to reality, schedule some time to recover. Some good old-fashioned “me time” will do the trick.

When planning your trip, add a day or two to the end of it just to relax and get your affairs in order. Heading right back to work after a long trip can make you feel exhausted, stressed, and even depressed. Take care of yourself before getting back to business.

More than anything, do your best to have fun when visiting family, regardless of the occasion. Your online calendar will help you take advantage of every moment, leaving no time block left behind.

5 Virtual Holiday Ideas to Lighten Up Your Calendar

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5 Virtual Holiday Ideas to Lighten Up Your Calendar

In recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed and even canceled plans for the holidays as people strive to stay safe and stop the spread of the virus. Many people are wondering how it can be possible to enjoy the Christmas season without many of the activities and events they love this time of year.

Luckily, a lot of great individuals and organizations have put together some digital Christmas events to try and provide some holiday spirit to everyone staying at home. The following are examples of events that can be added to your Calendar this December and give you an idea of other virtual events you can use to mark the holidays:

Try a Cooking Class

There’s a lot to be excited about during the holiday season, but the food is definitely toward the top of the list. This special time of year means you can justify pulling out all the stops on extravagant meals and delectable desserts. However, not all of us are expert chefs, so we can use all the help we can get.

A fun way to prepare delicious treats for the whole family is to join a holiday cooking class. For example, you can visit a website such as Cozymeal to join a guided cooking class held over a Zoom call. You’ll be instructed on what ingredients to bring and how to combine them into dishes that will be the talk of the town.

This class by Chef Zach will give you an idea of what sort of cooking classes are available. Not only will a professional chef be a helpful guide, cooking with a group will be a lot of fun.

Dates: December 4th, 2021, December 10th, 2021, December 11th, 2021

Price: $39 per device

Take a Tour of the Holy Land

Christmas has deep roots in the Holy Land of Israel. Many people are unable to make the long trip to visit these locations. Though a virtual tour can’t make up for a real trip, it will still be very satisfying. If you’re still wary about travel, this is an excellent decision for your upcoming Christmas plans.

Taking a virtual tour of Jerusalem is great for everyone. Most religions consider this a sacred place, which makes this an appropriate activity for those celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, and more. Even if you’re not religious, the history, geography, and architecture are fascinating enough to capture your attention.

Another potential virtual tour opportunity is seeing the city of Bethlehem, the birthsite of Jesus Christ whose namesake marks this holiday season. Below is an example of one of the virtual tours you can take, this one offered by the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America.

Date: December 12th, 2021

Price: One ticket per household received after donation

Join a Choir

Most of the virtual events you will find online involve some sort of singing. There are so many memorable tunes to choose from, and radio stations are already broadcasting some of their favorites. Listening to some Christmas carols or even joining in yourself is sure to bring the spirit of the holidays into your home.

Many concerts are offered for free, especially those provided by local organizations. However, there are also concerts that use ticket sales to support a worthy cause. For example, the UK branch of the Alzheimer’s Society is putting on a fabulous concert show that will bring light to many families and bring in donations to help many more. Their virtual option is affordable and allows you to participate in the event from afar while still extending your support to the organization.

Date: December 15th, 2021

Price: £10.00 for an online ticket

Enjoy George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

This exquisite production performed by the New York City Ballet has become a Christmas classic. The first premiered this show in 1954 and it has been an annual tradition ever since. They are welcoming back fans and guests in person this season, but not everyone can make it to New York to witness such a performance.

Luckily, there are virtual performances of The Nutcracker that you can watch from home. One of these events comes courtesy of the Pacific Northwest Ballet. With a show time of just over two hours, your family can enjoy a movie-length show while wearing Christmas PJs and stocked up on treats. All you need to do is buy a digital pass one time and enjoy it with as many friends and family as you can.

Date: December 20, 2021 – December 28, 2021

Price: $49 flat rate

Participate in a Christmas Virtual Run

Believe it or not, running is a holiday tradition for many people and families. With COVID-19 concerns, a lot of races have gone virtual as an extra precautionary measure. One of many virtual fun run events is the Christmas Jingle Virtual Run, with registration open until Christmas Day.

All you have to do is sign up for a virtual run and they’ll ship you your race gear and finisher medal. Participate in the event on your own time and see how you square up with other virtual runners. Many of these events also donate proceedings to foundations and charities, making it an even more heartwarming holiday tradition.

Date: December 25, 2021 – January 23, 2022

Price: $5 – $40 per participant

Add one or more of these to your online calendar for a completely unique Christmas experience. You can also plan your own virtual event with family, hosting a bake-off, caroling session, or unwrapping presents together virtually on Christmas morning. Do whatever it takes to make the season bright. You may even come up with a fun new tradition to come back to every year.

5 Virtual Holiday Ideas to Lighten Up Your Calendar was originally published on Calendar by 

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.

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