All posts by John Hall

What Is Timeboxing?

By | Time Management | No Comments
Large Clock on a Glass Wall;; What Is Timeboxing?

All of us have experienced that 30-minute task that morphed into a full-day project. After all, without time constraints, work can easily drag on throughout the day. This phenomenon is known as Parkinson’s Law, which says “work expands to fill the time available for completion.” Thankfully, you can regain control of your schedule by timeboxing.

When you use timeboxing to manage your work, you can overcome procrastination, regain lost productivity, and focus on the work that matters. Ultimately, the goal is to spend less time planning work and more time working.

What Is Timeboxing?

By timeboxing, you allocate a set amount of time to a specific task on your calendar.

Instead of just working until something is done, you decide when and how much time you will dedicate to it. To put it another way, timeboxing means scheduling a specific amount of time for a particular task in your calendar.

Basically, it’s the same as scheduling a meeting. You pick the day, as well as the start and end times. And most importantly, you reserve time in your calendar to avoid calendar conflicts.

Once you reserve a slot time, you should treat it like an appointment. If you work on a time-boxed task, you will not be interrupted by reschedulings or distractions.

In the case of larger tasks, you may need to reserve several blocks of time ahead of time. You can effectively schedule and prioritize your time with this approach.

“Timeboxing will change your life,” explains Nir Eyal. “It works because it uses well-researched technique psychologists call, ‘setting an implementation intention,’ which is just a fancy way of saying, ‘planning out what you are going to do and when you will do it.'”

No wonder leaders like Bill Gates and Elon Musk have sung the praises of this practice.

The Pros and Cons of Timeboxing

Timeboxing has several advantages. Among the main benefits are:

  • You’ll be more intentional about your work. Creating a timebox requires prioritizing tasks and deciding how long they should take. The more you think about these details for every task, the more aware you are of where your time is going.
  • It is easier to “force yourself” to tackle those tasks you have procrastinated on or that you know you will struggle with.
  • Setting strict limits on when and how much time you will spend on a particular task will help you organize your schedule more effectively. In addition, you’ll be more productive and focused if you don’t get interrupted or distracted while working on your task.
  • Reduces multitasking. The human brain is incapable of multitasking. The brain must re-upload information every time we switch tasks, which takes energy and time. When you timebox, you focus on one task (or a related group of tasks) at a time. This way, you won’t jump between projects.
  • It helps you manage perfectionism, overprocessing and overdoing.
  • Establishes a routine. You can gain a better understanding of your day. When you schedule your timeboxes in your calendar, you can clearly see when each task will be completed. When you schedule your work in advance, you will be less likely to get caught up in the “guessing game” of scheduling and can approach each day more confidently.

The Disadvantages of Timeboxing

Although timeboxing has many benefits, it isn’t for everyone. Listed below are some of the most common drawbacks of timeboxing and some ways to overcome them.

  • You can’t finish your task before the timebox is up. When first starting out, this is a common issue with timeboxing. However, if you track your time over time, you’ll more accurately estimate the time needed to complete specific tasks.
  • Timeboxing disrupts my flow. It can be frustrating when you have to switch tasks when the timer goes off. This is why grouping similar tasks into back-to-back time boxes is recommended.
  • By timeboxing, I rush through tasks, resulting in low-quality work. When establishing a timebox, be realistic. You shouldn’t force every ounce of productivity out of time management techniques like timeboxing. If you try that, you will burn out instead of succeeding. Instead, keep your expectations realistic and schedule downtime between tasks to prevent burnout.
  • My calendar is a bit cluttered after adding all of my timeboxes. Taking control of your calendar is possible with timeboxing. But this time management strategy is not for everyone. Another time management strategy, such as time blocking, might help you if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

How Timeboxing and Timeblocking Differ

When you use time blocking, you schedule a time to accomplish everything on your agenda, everything you might otherwise be unable to accomplish.

Time blocks, also called time periods, refer to shorter time periods that can be marked on your calendar and dictate starting and ending times for activities. Each time block is intended to motivate you to help you follow your schedule and complete your work on time.

Then you assess whether you completed the task before the end of the time block. If not, you allocate more time for the next attempt.

How is timeboxing different?

When you timebox, you limit activities to avoid wasting too much time.

The process involves creating time periods called “timeboxes,” which can range in length from a few minutes to several months. In addition to deadlines and goals, timeboxes may also include milestones, deliverables, and a budget.

Regardless of the outcome, you declare your work done at the end of the timebox. After that, you assess whether or not you have reached your goals.

For example, you might want to clean up your office without spending the whole afternoon doing so. Whenever your 30-minute timebox runs out, you stop immediately, regardless of how much cleaning you’ve done.

Getting Started With Timeboxing

Are you interested in giving timeboxing a try? Here are nine pointers to get you started on your journey.

1. Identify appropriate tasks.

The general rule is to assign a timebox to any task you want. However, setting timeboxes for the following would be most helpful:

Those tasks you don’t want to do.

In most cases, these are time-consuming and demanding tasks, such as writing an eBook. As a consequence, your procrastination is the result of knowing you cannot complete these tasks quickly.

If you break up your work into smaller, more manageable chunks with their own deadlines and milestones, you make the task seem less daunting. Then, to reach the next one, you only need to motivate yourself.

The tasks you want to complete as quickly as possible.

Cleaning your bathroom or arranging your emails are two examples of necessary but unpleasant tasks. These tasks will either take a long time to complete or consume too much of your time.

A strict deadline will limit the time you’ll spend on the project from the get-go.

2. Differentiate between hard and soft timeboxes.

To clarify what you should do after each timebox, distinguish “hard” timeboxes from “soft” timeboxes:

  • Soft timebox. A soft timebox can be thought of as a group of smaller tasks you’ve broken down into larger ones. After completing one timebox, you move on to the next timebox. You can keep track of your work with symbolic milestones, which will help you parse it more effectively and make it easier to manage.
  • Hard timebox. A hard timebox is one you won’t think about once it’s over. You move from one completely unrelated timebox to the next as soon as you finish one. As your focus shifts to a different type of task, milestones become more apparent.

3. Make timeboxed time a priority.

You may find it tempting to rearrange, reschedule, or cancel your timeboxes when you have a busy day. Keep this to a minimum. When you have established your timeboxes, think of them as self-scheduled meetings instead of going with the flow.

By setting aside time for a specific task, you are committing to yourself that you will complete it during that time. Therefore, Timeboxes shouldn’t be canceled at the last minute, just like you wouldn’t cancel a meeting at the last minute unless absolutely necessary.

4. Visualize your time.

The best way to timebox is to make it visually appealing. To see what time limit you have on any particular task, it helps to schedule focus time on your calendar. In addition to helping you stay on schedule, it also lets others know when you will not be available.

5. Set a limit on the timebox.

How long should a timebox last if it’s realistic?

According to the widely discussed science of ultradian rhythms, you should never allocate more than 90 minutes to any task in one sitting.

The amount can, however, be reduced. For example, feel free to set a five-minute time limit for brainstorming tasks that will take about five minutes.

It’s entirely up to you how long your timeboxes are and how many tasks you’ve got to accomplish. But, regardless of the timebox length, taking a break after 90 minutes is always a good idea.

6. Take breaks between timeboxes.

Breaks help you stay focused longer. Again, science shows that your attention begins to wane after 90 minutes, but it might wane much earlier. To keep your routine smooth, you must plan ahead for breaks.

It is possible, for example, to work for 45 minutes and then take a 15-minute break. This will give you a full hour.

Also, you should make the most of these breaks. I recommend taking a break during your break time to let your eyes rest, primarily if you work all day in front of a computer. Try stretching or taking a short walk outside instead.

As soon as you return, you’ll have regained your focus and concentration, just in time to work for another 45-minute timebox.

7. Set timers.

As soon as you’ve assigned time to each task, set a timer to remind you when it’s time to move on to the next one. You will not only be motivated to work efficiently if you set a specific period of time. But you will also ensure you don’t leave out other important projects as well.

8. Similar tasks should be grouped together.

It is best to create individual timeboxes for most tasks and initiatives to timebox effectively. This is because it takes time and mental energy to switch between tasks, even with timeboxing. Therefore, tasks should be grouped in adjacent timeboxes to avoid this problem. By doing this, your brain will stay on the same “track” even while you work on individual projects.

In other words, even if you switch timeboxes, grouping similar tasks will make it easier for you to stay focused and flow.

9.  Review, rinse, and repeat.

Review your progress at the end of every timebox or day. Can you learn anything and apply it to your future schedules if you complete all your tasks?

If not, ask yourself why. Did you allow enough time for the task to be completed? What distracted you or derailed you?

What is Timeboxing? was originally published on Calender.com by John Hall. Featured Image Credit: Thomas Brenac; Pexels.com. Thank you!

What If Your Productivity Tools Are Making You Less Productive?

By | Business Tips | No Comments
productivity tools less productive

The earliest known form of the to-do list was recorded in 1791 by Benjamin Franklin. Lists are still popular, but digital productivity tools are becoming increasingly important. In addition to Google Calendar, you might use Slack, Zoom, Trello, Asana, or Jira as part of your task-management system.

Moreover, many productivity tools provide features for monitoring behaviors and collecting metrics to improve performance, including:

  • time tracking;
  • project management;
  • delegation;
  • automation;
  • user behavior analytics; and
  • keystroke logging.

Additionally, AI and machine learning are being used to help improve productivity. Take, as an example, Calendar. It uses machine learning to analyze past data to make intelligent suggestions on when to schedule your next meeting. Calendar even suggests who to invite and where.

In short, these tools certainly serve a purpose.

And, even better, they’re packed with advantages. Mainly the fact that these tools can assist with time and project management. For instance, time tracking tools or employee monitoring software can see when and where you or your team are wasting valuable time. Knowing this can help prevent distractions and create more realistic schedules.

As a result, there’s less stress involved. Consider that over 70% of employees worry about stress at work. So we have life stressors on the job that can cut into productivity. Moreover, this can help achieve a work-life balance. And while not always top of mind, this can bolster productivity, morale, and engagement.

But that’s not all. These tools can also help with everything from employee collaboration to creating estimates for clients. There is no wonder, then, that the global productivity management system market was valued at USD 47.33 billion in 2021. And is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.8% between 2022 and 2030.

But, as with all things in life, too much of anything can be harmful. And that’s undoubtedly true with productivity tools. These tools can actually make you less productive.

Tools for productivity aren’t meant to do your job for you.

Most productivity tools do as promised. Take Todoist as an example. In Todoist, you can organize your tasks by project and record them. Think of this as an upgraded to-do list. Besides recording and organizing your own tasks, the app lets you share and assign tasks with others.

Here’s the thing, though. The app isn’t going to generate a to-do list for you. That’s on you. It’s like wanting to step up your cooking game by buying a shiny, new cookware set. Even though you have all the right equipment, the meals aren’t going to cook themselves.

Productivity tools are like having a kitchen full of equipment but not knowing how to use them. In other words, if you don’t have the motivation and determination to be productive, then there is no tool (or) app that can help you.

Searching for tools is unproductive.

Looking for an app or tool to make you productive? There’s an app for that. Even though having various options is nothing to sneeze at, it can be challenging to find and settle on the right one.

In addition, tools with premium features make things more challenging. Why? It’s impossible to decide whether to use an app based on the free features it offers.

Moreover, the pursuit of better productivity tools will leave you with many options to choose from, which could be overwhelming. And you may not be satisfied with any of them.

Research has found that when people have too many choices, they tend to be dissatisfied and regret their decisions more. Therefore, spending too much time looking for productivity products is detrimental to your productivity and happiness.

There may be a learning curve for some tools.

Have you ever purchased a new board game? Unfortunately, some of these games can be so detailed that a complex set of rules accompanies them. As a result, you might spend most of your game night learning the rules instead of actually playing the game.

It can be the same with new productivity tools. They can take a lot of time to get used to — especially for more complex applications with different user interfaces. As such, it’s possible that learning how to use a new software will take up more time and energy than actually using it.

Work-related distractions.

In a study conducted by GoTo’s, 54% of respondents reported frequently using five different computer programs at once. For example, during a video conference call with a client across the country, an employee may write an email, shop for clothes, text their significant other, and schedule a meeting.

Furthermore, Udemy reported in 2018 that 36% of Millennials/Gen Z spend more than two hours daily on their phones for personal purposes. Moreover, U.S. employees switch between 13 applications on average 30 times daily, as per Asana’s Anatomy of Work Index 2021.

While this may seem innocent enough, bouncing between productivity tools isn’t just distracting. It also drains your energy. This is called “context-switching.” And, it’s responsible for losing five hours per week.

In other words, many tools take up a lot of time. But, let’s be more specific.

Companies want their teams to have the best collaboration tools, apps, and devices to get work done efficiently. For this reason, most workplaces provide employees with specialized tools to meet various needs, such as messaging, conference calls, project collaboration, etc.

Every tool indeed has a role. However, employees may be wasting their valuable time. Again, this is because they are switching between too many programs, forgetting to record billable hours, or missing messages from clients if they have to log onto too many programs.

A lot of mistakes are being made.

In continuation of the previous point, employees are making relationship-damaging mistakes. The reason is because of the hindrances and multi-modal multitasking mentioned above. According to the GoTo study, being distracted has caused 57% of respondents to send an email to the wrong person. Also, 33% sent an email or chat before they were ready, and 23% talked badly about someone in a chat.

Information overload.

“Our lives and work are increasingly digital,” Almuth McDowall, professor of organizational psychology at Birkbeck, University of London, told the BBC. “But it’s a complex world, and there is an information overload. Good apps, well used, can help us to negotiate this. But there is still a question of whether we’re really interested in becoming more productive, or simply ‘doing more to seem effective.’”

Employees are certainly experiencing software overload, according to data. According to a study conducted in 2018, operational support workers switch between 35 different applications over 1,100 times during the course of a day. In most highly industrialized countries, productivity is shrinking despite an abundance of apps and tools, while burnout is rising.

“Evidence shows that working hours and the time that we spend in online meetings is increasing, so it may be that we are working harder, not smarter,” suggests McDowall. “Why are we not getting better at managing the quality of our output?”

There are multiple locations where work is being done.

Another problem of app or tool overload? There is a lot of information scattered around, making finding it difficult.

According to Qatalog and Cornell University research, 54% of people find it harder to find information with apps. Another 43% are tired of changing communication channels and tools constantly.

In other words, you may lose productivity due to adding new tools to your workspace.

Skills are more important than anything else.

“A company can invest in the latest productivity software,” writes Aytekin Tank, Founder and CEO of Jotform. “Roll it out with top-notch technical training. And yes, its employees will become whizzes…at using the software.” It won’t always result in increased productivity, though.

Personal productivity is no different. “The cleverest app in the world won’t make a blind difference if you don’t have an existing framework to support it with,” he adds.

“You need to know where to tap.”

First, consider the methodology. Then, Tank says, you can decide what tools you need – if any.

You can find where your workflow has holes by stripping it down to its bare essentials. For example, the following strategies might be helpful rather than wondering what productivity app or tool to download:

  • Reduce. Humans aren’t great at estimating time. As such, don’t give yourself more time but less. In this way, you can distinguish between urgent and filler tasks.
  • Assess. You will be most alert and productive if you work with your body clock. Once you’ve got a rhythm going, work in timed, highly focused sprints. Tracking your progress and setting boundaries will also be easier with this approach.
  • Eliminate. Instead of having a never-ending to-do list, focus only on tasks that will have the most impact.

When it comes to productivity, there’s no magic bullet,” adds Tank. “The latest tool or app will only enhance what’s already there, which is why you need to create a well-oiled system.”

Image Credit: Cottonbro; Pexels; Thank you!

What If Your Productivity Tools Are Making You Less Productive? was originally published on Calendar by John Hall.

The Pros and Cons of a 4-Day Workweek

By | Business Tips, Knowledge Base | No Comments
4-Day Workweek

Henry Ford’s five-day work week was seen in 1926 as a revolution when it gave his employees Saturdays off. How gracious of him, right? And a short time later, in 1932, the five-day week was officially codified for all workers in the United States. But, after a century of Ford’s “radical” idea, is the next workplace innovation the four-day workweek?

However, companies of all sizes have been tinkering with four-day work weeks worldwide. Down in New Zealand, consumer-goods corporation Unilever implemented a 12-month test run of a shorter work week. The four-day working week became a reality in Spain in March of 2021 after several dozen companies participated in a pilot project. Fundraising company Kickstarter will test the four-day work week with employees in 2022. Also, in 2022, home improvement retailer Lowe’s adopted a four-day workweek.

But that’s not all. Scotland, Iceland, Japan, Belgium, and the United Arab Emirates all have four-day workweek pilot programs in the works. Additionally, Democratic Congressman Mark Takano introduced legislation reducing the standard workweek from 40 to 32 hours here in the United States.

The world’s most extensive 4-day workweek trial run occurred in the U.K. in 2022.

All eyes are on the U.K.

To determine whether a similar model is possible and supported in the United States, over 3,300 workers and 70 British companies participated in the trial in the U.K.

According to Eagle Hill Consulting, 83% of respondents agreed that a four-day workweek would reduce burnout. In a Joblist survey, 94% of job seekers said they wanted a four-day workweek. But did the study back these claims up? Here’s what the study showed:

  • According to 51% of employees, they can do their jobs to their fullest potential in 40 hours or less
  • In 85% of the survey responses, respondents said it was logistically possible to work four days a week
  • A 4-day workweek was cited as a benefit by 94% of respondents
  • Approximately 28% of full-time employees would consider a four-day week in exchange for a pay cut

So far, so good. But is a four-day workweek really a good idea? Well, let’s weigh the pros and cons.

What is a Four-Day Workweek?

Before getting too far ahead of ourselves, let’s have a brief rundown on what exactly a four-day workweek is.

You could work 32 hours with a four-day workweek without losing productivity, pay, or benefits. There might be a Monday-through-Thursday work week with Fridays off — depending on the industry and the company. Alternatively, each employee could choose their third day off, or the company could have a third different day off policy on Mondays or Wednesdays.

Both options have their pros and cons. When everyone works at the same time, collaborative work is enhanced. But the company will be unstaffed when most others are. Individual employees may prefer a flexible third day off, but teams may struggle with it.

It may seem unorthodox to work a four-day week. Over the last century, however, we have gradually reduced the number of hours worked per week.

In 1890, a full-time employee within a manufacturing plant worked an average of 100 hours per week, according to the United States government. But, by the mid-20th century, manufacturing employees were on average working 40 hours a week. So, as radical as it may seem, reducing our current work week to 28 hours is not as drastic as it may seem.

The Pros of a Four-Day Workweek

In a report in The Atlantic, people who work a four-day week say they’re healthier, happier, and less stressed. As a result, their employers report that their employees are more productive and focused. In addition, 94% of employees have a positive sense of well-being when they feel their employer cares about them. Also, according to research, it is best not to work intensively for more than four hours per day.

Some of the most significant advantages of a four-day work week are as follows.

Increased productivity.

The relationship between productivity and hours worked was studied by Sanford University. It was found that those who work an overworked schedule are actually less productive than those with a regular work schedule.

During a trial study conducted by a New Zealand company, Perpetual Guardian, four-day work weeks were tested. In addition to maintaining their productivity levels, employees improved their job satisfaction, teamwork, work/life balance, and loyalty to the company. There was also a decrease in stress from 45% to 38% of employees.

Norway, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands, along with some of the world’s most productive countries, work on average 27 hours a week, the same hours suggested for a four-day work week in the U.K. In contrast, Japan, a country notorious for overworked employees, ranks 20th out of 35 countries in terms of productivity. In fact, Japan’s four-day workweek experiment led to a 40% increase in productivity.

Physical and mental well-being is improved.

Several positive side effects are reported by employees who work fewer days per week. Whether it’s exercising more, finishing a Master’s program earlier, volunteering more, or maintaining a healthy work-life balance, these measures can help. In turn, this contributes to a worker’s increased productivity. “I like to take walks … just wander and let my brain breathe,” Natalie Nagele, Wildbit CEO, told The Atlantic.

A more balanced life leads to less stress for parents with children. In addition, they spend more time with their families. In addition, caregivers of aging parents have the opportunity to help them. “One of the biggest factors in people’s level of work-family satisfaction is the pure number of work hours they have,” Melissa Milkie, a sociologist at the University of Toronto who studies time use, told The Atlantic. “So cutting it is huge … It would re-balance things for working families.”

“I can enjoy my weekend now because I’ve got my Friday for my chores and my other bits and pieces or… if I want to take my mum out for a walk, I can do that now without feeling guilty, Lisa Gilbert, a lending services manager at Charity Bank, told CNN Business.

In addition to caring for her son and two elderly parents, Gilbert gets an extra day off a week, which allows her to spend more time with them.

“I find that I’m saying ‘yes we can as opposed to ‘no, sorry we can’t,’” she said.

Enhanced motivation.

A compressed or reduced 4-day workweek can motivate your employees. As with any other benefit, it’s perceived as a way for the company to support its employees both on and off the clock.

Moreover, the rarity of these programs may encourage your staff to work hard to earn them or keep them.

It has improved employee engagement.

Employees are more likely to be satisfied and committed if they have four days off each week. They have enough time to rest and recover, which allows them to return to work feeling ready to take on new responsibilities.

A study conducted by Sweden in 2015-2017 investigated the effects of shorter work weeks on nurses. Nurses were working solely six hours a day and five days a week. Results showed nurses logged fewer sick days, reported better health, and engaged patients 85% more.

Reduced costs.

Over half, 51%, of business leaders surveyed by Henley Business School reported savings on facilities and utilities, and almost two-thirds reported increased productivity.

Downtime is reduced.

Employees have that extra day off during traditional business hours to schedule personal needs. As a result, they can make doctor’s and other appointments on their regular day off without taking time away from work. According to the same study, 62% of business leaders report that fewer sick days are taken.

We have increased employee attraction and retention.

It has been reported that job postings listing four-day workweeks have tripled within the last five years. Post-pandemic challenges may make this trend continue. As the competition for talent surges, top job seekers are looking for the best potential opportunities.

Furthermore, focusing on wellness and avoiding burnout is key to retaining employees. In a 2020 Gallup poll of over 10,000 workers, workers who worked a 4-day week reported the lowest level of job burnout. Among employees with a four-day work week, 63% reported thriving wellbeing.

A smaller carbon footprint.

In countries with shorter working hours, the carbon footprint is typically smaller. Consequently, reducing our work week from 5 to 4 days could also have environmental benefits. In addition, the shorter working week eases employee commutes and means large office buildings spend less time unused.

Utah’s state government employees showed a significant environmental impact from reducing workweek length from five to four days through a compressed work schedule during a trial conducted in the state. Over $1.8 million was saved in energy costs due to closing the large office building on Fridays. In addition, the state estimates it could save 12,000 metric tons of CO2 by working one day less a week, equivalent to removing 2,300 cars from the road for one year.

The Cons of a Four-Day Workweek

It is true that a four-day work week has many benefits. But there are also a few disadvantages that shouldn’t be ignored. For example, the study involving Swedish nurses found that the project wasn’t cost-effective in the long run.

There is a cost.

Some argue that recruiting employees would be expensive with a four-day work week. In the U.S., as in other countries, employers offer full-time employees more than just their annual salary. They also throw in benefits like pensions and health insurance. As a result, employers may not be able to hire more employees to cover the reduced number of working hours.

Additionally, many workers in many countries prefer working fewer days a week – or fewer hours – in return for a higher salary. YouGov and HuffPost surveyed approximately 50% of American workers in 2014 and found that they would work an additional day a week for 20% more pay. Part-time workers were even more likely to make the trade.

It decreased customer satisfaction.

Despite providing some great environmental results and employer and employee benefits, the Utah study closed due to unsatisfactory customer feedback. Due to government offices being closed on Fridays, customers complained they couldn’t access government services.

However, companies can improve customer satisfaction by using technology, such as chatbots and AI-powered websites. How? By allowing customers another avenue for support instead of relying solely on employees.

Not everyone can participate.

A four-day work week is challenging to implement for some industries that require 24/7 availability. A four-day work week, for example, may make it difficult for your business to manage customer service problems.

Companies must deal with problems during the weekday and weekends regardless of the industry. However, planning and forethought are required to cover every aspect of the business during the workday.

Scheduling conflicts.

Compressing the workweek may be complicated by the need for your team to assist customers or other team members. Furthermore, this can make finding appropriate coverage during working hours a chore.

Additionally, internal scheduling may cause problems in managing client needs. For example, scheduled meetings can be planned in advance in the workweek. On the other hand, impromptu or emergency meetings might be more problematic.

Also, when employees who are off cannot attend brainstorming sessions, there may be limited input. How often these events occur in an organization may determine whether a 4-day workweek is feasible.

Workers may still put in the same amount of time.

In some cases, reducing hours may not be feasible for specific jobs. For example, one experiment in France found that workers put in the same number of hours regardless of the four-day work week. So what’s the only difference? Overtime costs were added to the company’s expenses.

Added stress.

There’s nothing better than a 3-day weekend, is there? Businesses usually structure their 4-day week this way (Mondays and Fridays off). To maintain that benefit, you will have to work harder during your ‘on’ days to ensure you don’t lose your ‘off’ days.

Most employees surveyed said a four-day week helped them maintain a work/life balance. So having a flexible schedule is a plus. But if the work portion adds more stress, it might not be worth it.

Should You Adopt a Four-Day Workweek?

There are many advantages to condensing workweeks, such as increased productivity and more time to pursue personal interests. But, at the same time, some industries, businesses, or individuals don’t work well with a four-day schedule. In addition, it won’t magically fix toxic workplaces or unpleasant jobs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a reevaluation of work worldwide, which has increased interest in four-day workweeks. As a result, we must adjust our mindset and culture to make it the new normal, deemphasize work, and examine work activities that can be automated, deprioritized, and eliminated.

However, if you want to give a four-day workweek a try, consider the following strategies:

  • Clearly define your goals
  • Make sure your goals are achievable within a shorter work week
  • Tasks should be prioritized and reevaluated
  • Work asynchronously
  • Keep interruptions and distractions to a minimum
  • Don’t measure hours, measure outcomes
  • Automate more tasks
  • Create a culture that emphasizes human creativity
  • Work-based social events should be limited
  • Meetings should be reduced and shortened
  • Pay employees as usual
  • Regularly solicit feedback from employees
  • Don’t micromanage your team
  • Experiment and learn from your mistakes

Image Credit: Rebrand Cities; Pexels; Thanks!

The Pros and Cons of a 4-Day Workweek was originally published on Calendar by John Hall.

Have Better Financial Health by Using Your Calendar

By | Appointment | No Comments
financial health

It’s incredibly easy to lose track of your financial obligations when you’ve got so much on your plate. But, it’s not just about keeping a budget on track either. It’s also about paying bills on time and saving money.

Thankfully, using a calendar to schedule essential milestones and reminders is one of the best ways to take control of your finances. Calendar apps are readily available for all mobile devices. Or, if you prefer to go old school, you can download and print one for your home or office. If you do that, you can stay on top of your monthly, quarterly, and annual financial obligations in just a few minutes a week.

Of course, this can be daunting. But, here’s our advice for getting the ball rolling.

Maintain a monthly schedule of financial obligations.

Keep track of monthly financial commitments with a calendar to avoid becoming overwhelmed. How? By focusing on the following areas:

  • Budgeting. Budgeting is an excellent tool for getting your finances in check. Effort and time are required, though. So, make it a habit to track your spending and ensure it’s within your budget. And that’s easy to do by setting up calendar reminders. By making this a routine, you’ll be able to avoid overspending before the next paycheck comes.
  • Contributions to savings accounts. You should dedicate a portion of your income to one or more savings accounts first. Not only can a savings account help you prepare for unforeseen events, but it can also help you make down payments on a home or vehicle. It can also help you save for a family vacation. Every week, set aside some time on your calendar to see if your budgeting efforts resulted in extra savings.
  • Paying your bills. It’s easy to set up automatic payments through your bank. But you’re still on the hook when it comes to paying your bills. Ensure your account has sufficient funds and receive a gentle reminder each week to make sure these automatic payments are paid correctly and on time by using a calendar.
  • Deposit tracking. Is your paycheck deposited directly into your bank account? To ensure that your funds have arrived on time and are in the correct amount, set a reminder on your calendar. Direct deposits can be delayed or incorrectly credited to your account due to accounting errors. At the same time, they are rare.

Assess your financial health every quarter.

Take the next step by setting up reminders for checking in on your budgeting progress, checking for savings opportunities, and paying bills on time.

  • Examine your financial situation holistically. Each quarter, set aside an hour to review your financial progress. Did you save $1,800 for holiday gift-buying expenses this year? Will you be able to reach this goal at your current savings rate? Budget adjustments are necessary if this is not the case.
  • Find out what the current interest rates are. Has there been a change in interest rates since last quarter? It may be beneficial to refinance your mortgage or consider growing your money in a term account if rates go up.

Be prepared for significant financial commitments by using annual reminders.

New year’s resolutions are great and all. However, it’s also a great time to prepare for future financial commitments like:

  • Tax season. Make a note in your calendar to begin collecting essential tax documents as soon as possible. At the very least, you’ll need your W-2 from your employer, 1099s for dividends, mortgage interest, child care costs, and receipts for deductions.
  • Exemptions from property taxes. Property tax exemptions such as homestead, disability, and others can also be filed at the beginning of the year. Depending on your state, you may qualify for various exemptions. Contact your county’s tax assessment office for more information.
  • Make sure your credit report is accurate. A free annual credit report is a great way to ring in the new year. Using this report, you can view the status of credit cards, car loans, mortgages, and more associated with your name and social security number. Examine this report thoroughly to identify errors so you can contact the vendor directly to resolve them before your credit score is affected.

As you can see, you can drastically improve your financial health using your calendar. But, let’s take your financial planning to the next level by preparing a personal finance calendar.

Sample Month-by-Month Personal Finance Calendar

How you create a personal financial calendar is totally up to you. What’s more, everyone has their key dates. For example, if you are a student, you don’t have to be concerned with dates like when to apply for financial aid. With that said, here’s a sample month-by-month personal finance calendar you can use as a template.

January: Get your finances in shape.

  • Calendar yourself out of debt. Put a three-to-six-month emergency fund together. And, if you haven’t already, pay off all your high-cost, non-deductible credit cards.
  • Create (or update) a statement of personal net worth. This would be the prior year’s income minus expenses.
  • Your portfolio should be reevaluated, and its asset mix should match your risk tolerance and time horizon.
  • Verify your workplace retirement plan’s eligibility and contribution limit. Then, make sure you contribute enough to take advantage of any employer matching benefits.
  • Check your insurance policies. If you don’t have health insurance, January 15 is crucial. If you’re getting health insurance through HealthCare.gov, it’s the last day to enroll in or change plans for the year. After that, only special enrollment periods after this date will allow you to enroll or change plans. And, while you’re at it, check your other insurance policies, like auto and life, to ensure you’re not paying too much.
  • You must file your fourth-quarter estimated income tax payment by January 18 if you don’t pay enough income tax through regular payroll withholding.
  • It is recommended that you receive your tax forms 1099, 1098, and W-2 by January 31 (for some 1099s, by February 15).
  • Rebalancing your investment portfolio can be combined with your cash-flow planning if you’re retired.

February: Organize your tax documents and go frugal.

  • The first week of the month is the best time to organize your W-2s, interest and dividend statements, and other tax documents.
  • A popular idea that has been around for several years is the Frugal February Challenge. Here you would spend a bit less, save a bit more, and get your money situation more organized during this shorter-than-average month.

March: Plan your refund and bonus.

  • If you’ve received a tax refund, bonus, or pay increase in March, choose a date to allocate it.
  • Additionally, use your employer’s annual bonus thoughtfully to maximize its potential benefits. You might be tempted to splurge on a bonus, but consider using it to pay off debt, build an emergency fund, or contribute to your retirement account.
  • Also, Medicare enrollees have until March 31 to apply for Parts A and B for coverage starting in July. If that applies to you, mark this date down.

April: Pay your taxes.

  • Tax returns must be filed by April 15. Any taxes you owe by April 15 still have to be paid, even if you’re getting an automatic six-month extension.
  • IRA and Coverdell Education Savings Account contributions for the prior year must be made by April 15.
  • The 15th of April is the deadline for first-quarter estimated income tax payments, if applicable.
  • You might want to mark April 22 as “Teach Children to Save Day” if you have kids. This program is sponsored by the American Bankers Association and aims to encourage young people to save.

May: Maintain a healthy debt load.

  • Make use of this month to determine your debt load. Provide a detailed breakdown of your debt. And make sure you include all your monthly debt payments in your debt-to-income ratio. Ideally, you want to keep that ratio under 36%.
  • Will you be attending a big event or performing a great activity in the next few months, such as a wedding or summer vacation? Make sure you plan ahead and budget accordingly to avoid unnecessary debt.

June: Assess your finances mid-year to ensure you’re on track.

  • You should compare your projected cash flows with your actual income and expenses.
  • Do you have enough money saved for retirement and other expenses?
  • Make sure your cash flow projections match your actual income and expenses. Also, withhold or pay quarterly taxes.
  • If you’re a college student, mark June 30 in your calendar. This is the last day to apply for federal student aid for the upcoming academic calendar year.

July: Improve your financial IQ.

  • Take advantage of the dog days of summer to build or refresh your money skills. For instance, your summer reading list should include at least one book on investing or personal finance.

August: Take steps to improve your credit score.

  • Put a reminder on your calendar to check your credit score with Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. Then, make sure it stays healthy by learning how to maintain it.
  • You may also want to compare what you actually spent on expenses like summer vacation or back-to-school supplies. You can use this to budget for next year to avoid debt.

September: Review your benefits and quarterly taxes.

  • The 15th of September is the deadline for third-quarter estimated income tax payments, if applicable.
  • Usually, employer benefits enroll in the fall and last for four to six weeks. Don’t forget to review your health choices, 401(k), and other benefits you receive as an employee.

October: Get ahead on college funding.

  • While you can wait until next year to file your FAFSA for the 2023-2024 school year, you can start on October 1. This is because some colleges use a first-come, first-served policy.
  • If you requested a six-month extension in April, you must file your income tax return by October 15.

November: Plan for next year’s health care costs and holiday spending.

  • Enrollment in the federal health insurance marketplace for 2023 begins on November 1. There will be an open enrollment period on HealthCare.gov between Nov. 1, 2022, and Jan. 15, 2023.
  • You might also want to start planning your holiday shopping at this time. Make sure you don’t charge more than you can comfortably pay back in full on your credit card statements in January

December: Celebrate another year in the books.

  • Consider how your financial decisions before the end of the year might affect your taxes next year before the new year arrives. For example:
  • Would you like to make one more 401(k) contribution?
  • Is there any way to deduct donations from charity?
  • To possibly lower your tax liability and better position your portfolio going forward, consider tax-loss harvesting if you’ve lost value in your investments this year.
  • If you’re doing well financially, perhaps it’s time to watch the ball drop, relax, and get ready for the New Year.

Image Credit: Image by Bich Tran; Pexels; Thank you!

Have Better Financial Health by Using Your Calendar was originally published on Calendar by John Hall.

A Work-Life Balance Will Help You Keep Employees

By | Appointment | No Comments
A work-life balance

Although this may seem like a modern concept, “work-life‌ ‌balance” was popularized in the 1970s and 80s. The idea? Stressed baby boomers were attempting to balance work, family, and other things. ‌However, due to shifting generational experiences, HR leaders have reevaluated ‌ ‌ the ‌ ‌term. ‌According‌ ‌to Forbes, Gen X is big on balance, embracing remote work trends and using PTO for family and work.

However, Forbes reports that as millennials rise through the ranks, “they are more interested in finding a career path that will support their’ lifestyle,’ which in this context means their life outside of work.” ‌As such, millennials, along with Gen Z, are looking for companies and jobs that support their lifestyles. ‌By doing this, you flip to the more traditional way of finding a job and then building a life around it.

Of course, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, every generation wants a better work-life balance. ‌Besides pay raises, flexible working hours and remote working are the three most important factors for workers.

What’s more, work-life balance isn’t just about attracting talent. It’s retaining them. And, that’s more important than ever.

As part of the “Great Resignation,” 4.53 million Americans‌ ‌quit their‌ ‌jobs‌ ‌in‌ ‌March‌ ‌2022. ‌It beat the previous series high of 4.51 million recorded in November 2021, according to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. While that has since decreased to 4.3 million in July 2022, this should remain a top priority for employers.

When employers support their employees’ work-life balance, they can enhance employees’ healthy lifestyles and keep them on board.

What is Work-Life Balance?

Achieving a work-life balance means maintaining a healthy separation between work and personal life. ‌It’s hard for some employees to spend enough time in each area. This is especially if they work overtime, commute a lot or have a lot of personal responsibilities.

Some companies have procedures and benefits that help employees balance work and life. ‌Here are some companies who have perfected the art of work-life balance:

  • Asana offers 16 weeks of paid parental leave, flexible PTO, and a four-year sabbatical program.
  • Medidata provides employees with unlimited personal time off, wellness programs, and flexible work time.
  • Dolby gives many U.S. employees every other Friday off.
  • Outbrain offers its team a free gym membership and access to telehealth. Also, they give employees 31 days off a year, including 13 holidays and 18 personal time off days, unlimited sick days, and a $300 work-from-home allowance.
  • As part of Riskified’s Global Recharge Program, employees are encouraged to take two weekends every year to shut their computers off and recharge to prevent‌ ‌burnout.

Why is Work-Life Balance Vital to Employee Retention?

Work-life balance is rated highly by 10% of employees, which increases their likelihood of remaining at the‌ ‌company. ‌Additionally, Kronos’ Employee Engagement Series found that 95% of HR leaders admitted employee burnout contributes to workforce turnover.

In contrast, employees may feel overwhelmed and burnt out when work-life balance is off. They may even have difficulty reaching their goals. Even remote workers aren’t immune to this. ‌About half of employees say they’re ‌burnout‌ ‌while‌ ‌working from‌ ‌home.

Work-life balance can be supported by flexible work hours, remote working options, and telecommuting. ‌As a result, productivity will increase, and costs will decrease. Moreover, a healthy work-life balance can lead to;

  • A higher level of‌ ‌job‌ ‌satisfaction. ‌Companies that support work-life balance have less burnout and other performance problems. ‌Healthy work-life balance lets employees enjoy their jobs, as well as their personal lives.
  • Increased‌ ‌engagement. ‌Engaged‌ ‌employees‌ ‌are happier at work. ‌Focusing on projects rather than work stresses makes employees more productive, efficient, and effective at networking.
  • Fewer sick days. Employees are less likely to become sick when they have time to rest and relax.
  • A greater sense of‌ ‌commitment‌ ‌to‌ ‌work. ‌It’s easier to meet goals if team members are supported in achieving work-life balance. ‌As a result, they perform better at work and have a greater‌ ‌chance‌ ‌of‌ ‌getting promoted.
  • Health and wellness are improved. ‌It is common for employees to feel happier, healthier, and more fulfilled when they can balance work and life responsibilities. ‌A healthy lifestyle and a low level of stress are important factors that contribute to a long and healthy life.
  • Improved collaboration. ‌Respect and support often create a higher level of innovation and collaboration among employees.

Work-Life Balance and How to Measure It

An easy way to measure work-life balance? According to Calm, let your people respond anonymously to brief surveys. ‌If you’re planning a survey, make sure it covers all‌ ‌aspects‌ ‌of‌ ‌work-life‌ ‌balance:

Individual.

These types of questions focus on issues of personal satisfaction, priorities,‌ ‌well-being,‌ ‌and meaning. Examples include:

  • Would you rate your overall well-being as good or bad?
  • How meaningful do you find your work on a scale of 1 to 5?
  • In terms of work-life balance, how satisfied are you?

Organizational.

You can use these questions to understand how your employees feel about workloads‌ ‌and‌ ‌time‌ ‌spent. ‌In addition, you should consider how the policies and practices of your organization may‌ ‌affect‌ ‌work-life balance. Among them:

  • Do you often‌ ‌work‌ ‌overtime?
  • How supportive is‌ ‌your‌ ‌manager?
  • Is there anything we can do to improve your‌ ‌work-life‌ ‌balance?

Home.

Here are personal questions about work’s impact on personal life, residual stress, sleep habits, time sacrifices, and family‌ ‌life. Some examples are:

  • On an average work night, how long do you sleep?
  • Are you satisfied with that level of sleep?
  • When does work take precedence over personal or family time?
  • From 1 to 5, how much stress does work bring home?

A survey cannot perfectly capture a topic as complex and nuanced as the work-life balance. Over time, however, the same questions can reveal underlying trends and issues.

How You Can Support Employee Work-Life Balance

Offer flexible working arrangements.

“People don’t want a full, nine-to-five day of meetings,” Brian Elliott, executive leader of the Future Forum, tells Fortune. “They want the flexibility to turn off notifications when it’s right for them. Maybe for caregivers, it’s the flexibility to log off from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., and then come back and do some heads-down work after the kids are in bed.”

An overwhelming 95% of knowledge workers want flexible hours more than hybrid work. ‌However, flexible work arrangements can take many forms, including:

  • Remote work. ‌The COVID-19 pandemic has made working from home a necessity for most office workers, as opposed to a nice-to-have perk.
  • Flextime. A flexible work arrangement gives employees options for structuring their days or weeks. ‌It is rare, though. for employees to decide when and how long they work. ‌Flexibility in work arrangements generally means employees must work certain core hours during‌ ‌the workday. ‌However, they can choose their own start and stop times (within specific parameters).
  • Compressed workweek. This arrangement requires employees to work the average number of hours for ‌fewer‌ ‌than‌ ‌five‌ ‌days. ‌Compressed workweeks are often referred to as 4/10s,‌ ‌in‌ ‌which‌ ‌employees‌ ‌work‌ ‌four 10-hour‌ ‌days‌ ‌instead‌ ‌of‌ ‌five‌ ‌eight-hour‌ ‌days.
  • Job-sharing. ‌Two permanent employees hold shared jobs. ‌Depending on how much of the job each worker shares, salary, and benefits may be prorated. To make a job-sharing arrangement successful, both employees must be qualified for the job and be able to work together ‌effectively.
  • Less than 40 hours. ‌Suitable for employees who want a limited work schedule. A typical work week consists of 20 to 29 hours. However, employees can sometimes choose which days to work and for how long.

Ensure paid leave is available.

Allow your employees to use their PTO for illnesses, personal time, and vacations. ‌Employees can utilize their PTO as they see fit when managing their leave time. ‌This is an alternative to worrying about using too many sick days or not enough vacation time.

Provide childcare services.

A childcare solution on-site can be a great benefit if you have staff who are parents. ‌After all, there are many scenarios where parents have to find childcare for their young kids. For example, if the babysitter gets sick, the parent will have to call out.

The presence of an on-site daycare can help ease‌ ‌these‌ ‌concerns. ‌Additionally, it provides peace of mind for parents knowing their kids are secure and close by.

Provide temporary childcare during summer break or other inclusive holiday seasons if this isn’t a full-time option for your workplace.

Limit carryover.

What can you do to‌ ‌encourage‌ ‌your‌ ‌employees‌ ‌to‌ ‌ ‌use‌ ‌their‌ ‌PTO? ‌First, establish a limit on how many days or hours they can carry over from year to year.

Why set limits? ‌The goal is to let your employees know that you expect them to spend time with their families during their time off from work. ‌Or, as an alternative to stockpiling PTO for later, they may rest or manage their personal obligations.

Time off should be respected.

Please respect your employees’ time by not emailing or calling them while they are on PTO. Company-wide expectations should be set that you’ll leave work at the end of the day. ‌The same applies even if you’re off work due to illness and you’re not expected to communicate with other employees or get any work done‌ ‌at‌ ‌home.

Also, do not contact employees during non-working hours. Because flexible hours make this more difficult, you could ask them to share their calendar with you. Of course, you shouldn’t demand this. But, it can ensure that you aren’t bothering them when they’re not working.

Sponsor family activities.

Organize bonding activities regularly‌ ‌for‌ ‌your‌ ‌employees‌ ‌and‌ ‌their‌ ‌families. ‌For example, organize an after-work happy hour or a Saturday family picnic on Friday after work.

Doing this will encourage your employees to get to know one another better. ‌In addition, they can enjoy an activity with their family without being pressured by‌ ‌work. ‌Remember that camaraderie at work and high morale contribute to employee‌ ‌retention.

Control the flow of work.

Balance your employees’ hours during busy and slow seasons if your company experiences both. ‌If so, consider reducing hours if you know your employees will need to work overtime during a busy few months. Another option? ‌In lower seasons, offer additional PTO to help employees balance work and family obligations.

Before allocating work, it’s essential to understand how much each employee, individually and collectively, can handle if work is consistent throughout the year. Using an effective project management tool to track your employees’ work hours is the best way to accomplish this. ‌By comparing the time logs, you can determine how efficient each employee is. Or, you could just ask them what their capacity is.

Also, make sure that you set reasonable deadlines and allocate work evenly.

Respect‌ ‌their‌ ‌time.

Finally, be respectful of their most valuable resource; their time.

Let’s say that you have a meeting at 2 p.m. It doesn’t matter if it’s in-person or through Zoom. What really matters is that you’re ready at the exact time. If you show up 10-minutes late, that could eat into your employee’s personal time. Maybe they have to pick their child up from school or have a doctor’s appointment.

If you are going to be late, give them a head’s up. Of course, the worst-case scenario is that you’ll have to reschedule the meeting. But, it’s better than earning the reputation of someone who misuses other people’s time.

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

A Work-Life Balance Will Help You Keep Employees was originally published on Calendar by John Hall

Is Your Startup Failure Holding You Back?

By | Business Tips | No Comments
Startup Failure

Every person fails at some point in their‌ ‌life. ‌And, it’s undoubtedly one of the scariest parts‌ ‌of‌ ‌starting‌ ‌your‌ ‌own‌ ‌business.

Though, that concern is valid. After all, it’s long been reported that an astounding 90% of startups fail. Moreover, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open. ‌After five years, 45%, and after ten years, 65%.

But, let’s say that you’ve considered the possibility of failure. ‌To‌ ‌stop this from happening, you made a checklist of everything you’ve done to prepare for your startup launch. ‌You’ve done your‌ ‌research. ‌Plus, you know people need/don’t have this product/service/company.

Despite making all the right moves, your startup still fails. Maybe it was because there were flaws in your business plan, ‌your sales strategy was sloppy, or perhaps you trusted the wrong investor. And, sometimes, there are things out of your control, such as a declining market.

Whatever the exact reason, to build a successful startup, you have to face your fears and overcome them. But what if you just can’t shake this off? Well, that means you’re less likely to pursue new opportunities.

The good news? It’s possible to break free from your fear of failure And when you do, the sky’s the limit.

Signs That Your Fear of Failure is Holding You Back

If you haven’t admitted to yourself that you’re afraid of failure, here are some telltale signs.

You’re cautious about trying‌ ‌new‌ ‌things.

To be brutally honest — failure sucks. And, one reason why? It takes away your ‌zeal to break out of your comfort zone.

There once was a time when I leaped at trying new things. Whether it was eating at a new restaurant, seeing a band you’ve never heard of, or attending a networking event. But, after the failure of your startup, you hesitate.

While there’s nothing wrong with saying “no” occasionally, you must be open to new opportunities. ‌I‌ ‌get‌ ‌that‌ ‌you‌ ‌only‌ ‌want to‌ ‌tackle challenges you believe you can achieve. However,‌ ‌avoiding failure by not taking risks can prevent you from developing new skills, taking risks, and making cool stuff.

Get in the habit of saying “YES” when‌ ‌someone‌ ‌invites‌ ‌you‌ ‌to‌ ‌try something‌ ‌new. ‌You’ll be surprised what can happen when you step out of‌ ‌your‌ ‌comfort‌ ‌zone.

In the words of Teddy Roosevelt, “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

You procrastinate or avoid responsibility.

“Did you know there’s a direct correlation between the fear of failure and a person’s ability to manage assignments within the time allotted?” asks Kate Rosenblatt, MA, LPC, LMHC. “According to Adam McCaffrey, a researcher discussed that those who continuously have negative thoughts and panic at the idea of failing exhibit a lower sense of self-determination.”

Often, this makes people feel unmotivated‌ ‌to‌ ‌finish‌ ‌deadline-driven‌ ‌projects. ‌Also, it makes them insecure about taking‌ ‌on‌ ‌significant ‌responsibilities. ‌When the fear of failure paralyzes you, you won’t be able to get things done.

“It might be helpful to ask yourself: ‘what fears do I have around success?’” suggests Rosenblatt. “You can journal or voice note your answers and see what comes up so you can figure out any best next steps for you.”

For example, if you experience low self-esteem or perfectionism, journal about it. ‌Then, you can figure out how to support yourself here to get past your fears and closer to your ‌goals.

The quality of your life, relationships, and mental health has declined.

“When you fear failure, it can paralyze you at times,” writes Deanna Ritchie, Editor-in-Chief at Calendar. “Many people believe that going after anything wouldn’t be worth it because all efforts are bound to fail.” As a result, ‌this can cause missed chances and an inability to succeed.

“The potential negative consequences of such a mindset can go far beyond the failure to achieve a goal,” Deanna adds. “Mental health, relationships, and overall quality of life are adversely affected by fear of failure.” ‌Plus, it could‌ ‌lead‌ ‌to;

  • Procrastination or avoiding tasks
  • Low self-esteem
  • Low self-efficacy
  • Reduced resilience
  • Underperformance
  • A sense of helplessness
  • A high level of anxiety elsewhere in life
  • A state of emotional instability and upheaval

It’s counterintuitive to fear failure. “Since you’re terrified that you won’t reach a goal, you won’t even start,” Ritchie adds. “In turn, this inhibits you from living life to the fullest.”

You settle‌ ‌for‌ ‌less‌ ‌than‌ ‌you‌ ‌‌‌are worth.

You absolutely adore your creativity-stifling, monotonous job. You’re thrilled with your non-committal partner, who isn’t all that nice to you. No, it’s not that you’re afraid of change – you’re just ecstatic at the thought of living every single day the exact same way as you have for the last year.

You don’t want to be complacent just because you’re content with your life. ‌In reality, you can change your situation and your life if you want to. ‌For that to happen, though, you have to admit that you want and deserve it.

Sure. There’s a risk involved. ‌And you’ll be more likely to fail if you do that. ‌However, on the flip, you’ll also have a higher chance of living a more fulfilled and happy life.

If‌ ‌you’re like this, take some time to think about how your life is going. ‌Assess your work, relationships, and current situation. ‌What‌ ‌are‌ ‌you‌ ‌satisfied‌ ‌with? ‌What‌ ‌would you change?

You can then think about what changes you could make to improve your life. ‌Think about what good could come out of facing your fears. And put a plan in motion that helps you take a step toward your goals.

You’re projecting onto others.

According to Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed, LCSW, projection‌ ‌is when you unconsciously attribute unwanted emotions or traits to someone else that you don’t like about yourself.

A‌ ‌cheating spouse who’s suspicious that their partner is unfaithful is a classic example. ‌They transfer their partner’s infidelity rather than admitting it to themselves.

So, if someone is uber-successful, you assume they must be excellent. ‌Yet when you see someone failing, you automatically assume they screwed up. ‌Or‌ ‌perhaps they aren’t cut out to be an entrepreneur.

You should be mindful of how you see failure and success when they don’t involve you. ‌After all, this can be very insightful in learning what you did right and wrong. ‌Furthermore, you avoid acknowledging a part that you dislike about yourself by projecting it onto someone else.

When assessing how you’re doing, focus on your internal qualities instead of your external success. ‌Also, be careful not to compare yourself with‌ ‌others. ‌However, there are a lot of lessons to be learned from other people’s successes and failures. ‌Therefore, measuring yourself against them isn’t productive. ‌

You make excuses.

There are a million reasons why you shouldn’t, can’t, or won’t ‌start‌ ‌a‌ ‌business. ‌It’s too expensive. ‌There’s no time. It’s not the right economic condition. ‌So there is a good chance your awesome idea does not work out.

Fear‌ ‌spouts excuses like a river. ‌Sure,‌ ‌some of them are valid. Nonetheless, ‌if‌ ‌you‌ ‌genuinely want to start a business, you should never let an excuse stand in the way.

You can’t move on from your failures.

“Those with fear of failure still accomplish much in life,” notes Team Tony Ribbons. “The difference between reaching your peak state and simply existing lies in your reaction when you do fail.”

“It’s normal to feel sad and disappointed,” they add. “But if you tend to wallow in these emotions or experience prolonged distress, it could be because you’re unable to find the lessons and move on – two absolute necessities if you are to learn how to overcome fear of failure.”

How to Overcome Your Fear of Failure

Fear can only be overcome by facing it head-on. ‌Despite your fear, you still have to take action. ‌And, yeah, there will be moments when your fears creep in again. However, you can learn to ignore it and focus on what you’re doing.

How? Well, you can give these strategies a spin.

Choose the right reasons to start your business.

“There are a lot of different valid goals,” says Vinod Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems. “It may be important not to have to answer to somebody else. That’s a reasonable goal.”

“Maybe you want to make enough money not to have to balance your checkbook,” he adds. “Maybe you want to work with friends. All of those are valid goals for being an entrepreneur. The trouble is when you confuse those goals.”

Redefine failure.

A significant reason why many aspiring entrepreneurs fear failure is that they view it as a‌ ‌negative. ‌It’s interesting to note that all successful entrepreneurs had “failures” ‌before‌ ‌becoming successful.

In other words, you can’t have success without failure. So it’s a part of success.

Failure consists of getting results that you didn’t ‌want. That’s it. ‌Failure is just feedback, so it can’t be all bad. The key is learning from this feedback so that you can take the next forward. And more importantly, avoid the mistakes you’ve made.

Failure reveals flaws.

“There is an essential function to failure that most people miss, at a severe cost to their development,” adds entrepreneur Aaron Vick in Forbes. “When you fail at something, you get a rare chance to see your deficiencies.” Failure shows flaws and weaknesses that must be addressed.

That’s what development is about. “Your company finds flaws in itself after failing at something and then works to improve them,” Vick adds. “Over time, those efforts pay off as the company gets the skills it needs to take on larger and harder projects.” ‌And‌ ‌when those more significant projects are completed, you can use the profits to grow your company further.

“Don’t ever languish in failure; it’s not something you should be comfortable with harboring,” Vick advises. ‌Instead, get back on your feet whenever you lose and do your best to avoid it again. “There’s nothing shameful in failing fast; it’s admirable.” ‌

Overall, failure is part of growing.

Tap into your intrinsic motivation.

According to Harvard leadership expert and best-selling author Bill George, entrepreneurs should chase intrinsic motivations rather than extrinsic motivations. ‌To accomplish this, align‌ ‌your‌ ‌strengths‌ ‌with‌ ‌your intrinsic‌ ‌motivations.

In Bill Gates’ case, he wanted to make a positive impact on‌ ‌the world. Instead of trying to make money, Guy Kawasaki aimed for meaning. Doing great work was what motivated Steve Jobs.

And, personal growth and accomplishment have motivated other entrepreneurs.

Get in touch with your passion before moving on from failure. What‌ ‌makes you happy? ‌What‌ ‌excites you?

If you are motivated by your intrinsic motivation, you will be able to overcome any obstacle.

Find techniques to help you disconnect emotionally from the business.

“This may sound strange, but I’ve found that I’m much less afraid of failing in business if I use techniques to help me disconnect myself emotionally,” Erik Bergman, co-founder of Catena Media, writes for StartupNation. “For example, after my party planning business, I started calling new ventures’ hobbies’ instead of businesses.” ‌He adds that I‌ ‌began with a few hobbies before starting Catena Media, an affiliate marketing business.

“From a psychological perspective, calling new projects’ hobbies’ rather than ‘businesses’ allowed me to distance myself.” ‌This‌ ‌also‌ ‌relieved some of the associated fears. “After all, have you ever heard of someone failing at a hobby?”

Distancing‌ ‌yourself‌ ‌from‌ ‌something doesn’t mean you stop being passionate. Instead, it “simply means delineating between what’s business and what’s personal and learning how to identify yourself beyond your work.”

Focus on the present.

“I once had a conversation with an oncologist about what it’s like to give people a dire, late-stage cancer diagnosis,” Arthur C. Brooks writes in The Atlantic. “He said that some of his patients—people with a particular need to control all parts of their lives tightly—would immediately go home and start researching their prognosis on the internet.” ‌However, he ‌advised them that this would only make them sick with anxiety.

His advice to them was to start every‌ ‌day‌ ‌with‌ ‌this‌ ‌mantra: “I do not know what will happen next week or next year. But I know I have the gift of this day, and I will not waste it.” Besides changing their outlook on the disease, he said it made them happier in general.

“I recommend this same refrain to anyone suffering from a fear of failure,” adds Brooks. “Own the unknown future through gratitude for the known present, and watch your happiness rise, as you enjoy what you have in front of you.”

Start small and keep track of your accomplishments.

Lastly, what’s the best way to overcome your‌ ‌fear‌ ‌of‌ ‌failure? ‌Take baby steps, achieve some success, and keep building.

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “go big or go home.” ‌People use it to justify taking massive action or talking themselves out of it. ‌In‌ ‌some‌ ‌cases, this is sound advice. ‌However, it can be more beneficial to start small in the case of startups.

Don’t forget ‌that success‌ ‌‌leads to ‌success. ‌As you consistently produce positive results on a smaller scale, momentum builds. ‌It’s that momentum that helps you make more significant gains‌ ‌later.

Image Credit: Canva Studios; Pexels; Thanks!

Is Your Startup Failure Holding You Back? was originally published on Calendar by John Hall

How to Tackle Your 5 Toughest Summer Goals

By | Knowledge Base | No Comments
summer goals

Summer goals are great to set to make sure you accomplish everything you need to before the “back-to-school” season begins. Now that we’re in June, summer has officially arrived — and it’s moving faster than anyone can imagine. So have you accomplished your toughest summer goals?

I know summer is a popular ‌time‌ ‌to‌ chill and ‌hang‌ ‌out — whether‌ ‌by the pool, the beach, or attending concerts with friends. ‌‌‌But, unfortunately, summer isn’t about all those things, even though I love them.

Instead, be thinking about your summer‌ ‌goals — specifically, the goals you want to achieve by fall. Have you worked out your personal, professional, and academic progress goals?

Even though summer is often the season of reflection, refreshment, refocus, and rejuvenation — it’s also a great time to explore and try new things. And, because you have more availability thanks to vacations or summer breaks, you can actually focus on your goals. ‌

Thanks to the warm weather, you’ll also have more energy and a better mood. As such, you’ll be able to start tackling your dusty, and un-completed bucket list.

You can still enjoy your summer.

You can still enjoy your summer. Image Credit: Juan Salamanca; Pexels; Thank you!

Tackle Your Five Toughest Summer Goals

Tackling your most challenging summer goals is not easy, especially when you want to be outside and have fun in the sun.

Use these tips to tackle your goals and still enjoy the dog days of summer.

1. Setting forth the goal.

Summer goals are no different from any other goals. ‌The first step is to make‌ ‌a‌ ‌list. To not feel overwhelmed, your list should be lean and mean. In other words, prioritize the things that have value.

Planning your goals is also essential. ‌Holding yourself accountable is also crucial. ‌Writing down your goals helps you do‌ ‌this.

“Vividly describing your goals in written form is strongly associated with goal success,” writes Mark Murphy, founder of www.LeadershipIQ.com. “And people who vividly describe or picture their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish them than people who don’t.” This is thanks to external storage and encoding.

Best of all? You can refer back to this whenever you need it.

The next step is to choose a deadline. ‌By setting a deadline, you will remain‌ ‌on‌ ‌track. Deadlines also keep you accountable and motivated.

Last but not least,‌ ‌make‌ ‌this‌ ‌list‌ ‌visible. ‌Put it somewhere you can see it daily, for example, on your fridge, computer, or calendar. ‌Daily reminders will ensure that you stay on track.

Another option? ‌Write‌ down your‌ ‌goals‌ ‌in‌ ‌a‌ ‌journal. ‌Then, you may reflect on them or make any necessary changes at the end of the day.

2. Change your mindset about summer and goals.

Instead of treating this transition period as a break, see it as an opportunity for change. ‌This mindset will make a huge difference.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change,” said Dr. Wayne Dyer, an‌ ‌author‌ ‌, and‌ ‌motivational‌ ‌speaker. ‌Think of the summer as a time for a change, as well as renewal. ‌Thinking about Summer less traditionally can be the key to starting and completing even your most demanding ‌goals.

It’s no secret that our minds are strong. ‌But, if you place your mind in vacation mode, you’ll think, “let’s take a break.” ‌But, on the other hand, setting your mind on a time for change sets your attitude to “what’s next.”

Even better? Consider adopting a freedom mindset to align with the Fourth of July. ‌Essentially, this growth mindset allows you to break free of‌ ‌whatever‌ ‌is‌ ‌holding‌ ‌you‌ ‌back. To develop this type of mindset, be a little selfish by turning down requests if they interfere with your priorities.

3. ‌‌‌Establish monthly, weekly, and even daily goals for yourself, and check in periodically throughout the process.

“Truthfully, goal setting is easy,” writes Nicolas Cole in Fast Company. “It’s the accountability side of things people struggle with.”

“Instead of thinking about your summer as one massive chunk of time (90 days), try to visualize your summer as three separate chapters (June, July, and August),” Cole suggests. ‌Then,‌ ‌divide each of those chapters into smaller chapters‌ ‌(Week‌ ‌1,‌ ‌Week‌ ‌2,‌ ‌Week‌ ‌3,‌ ‌Week‌ ‌4). “And then within those sub-chapters, really internalize each day that makes up each one of those weeks (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7).”

The next step is to set micro-goals ‌for‌ ‌each by asking:

  • By the end of June, July, or August, where would you like to be?
  • To get there, what goals must you achieve?
  • Next, what can you do to break down those goals ‌into‌ ‌weekly‌ ‌milestones?
  • Finally, can you break down each of those milestones ‌into‌ ‌daily‌ ‌micro-milestones?

“The more you can help yourself see the next step in front of you (as opposed to the entire three-month journey), the more likely you are to remain consistent and connected to the process,” Cole adds.

4. Don’t fall into a summer slump.

There is no secret that productivity is at an all-time low during the summer months — ‌especially‌ ‌in‌ ‌July‌ ‌and‌ ‌August. ‌According to Captivate Office Pulse’s study, productivity drops by 20 percent during the summer months. ‌In addition, attendance dropped by 19 percent and work turnaround time increased‌ ‌by‌ ‌13‌ ‌percent.

There are several reasons why. For starters, people are on vacation. Maybe your gym buddy is out of town, meaning you don’t have someone to hold you accountable. Perhaps you can complete a project at work because your collaborator is out of the office for a long weekend.

We also tend to develop serious cases of FOMO. Why focus on your goals when you want to be at the beach with your friends? And, of course, as already mentioned, there’s the weather.

How can you prevent falling into the summer slump? Well, you could look for inspiration. Maybe reading a book while chilling by the pool. Perhaps, you could schedule a walking meeting with a mentor or someone who pushes you.

Or, you could take a class or attend events to learn new skills to help you reach your goals. And, if the workplace is quieter than usual. Primarily — making plans and the steps to achieve them.

5. Make keystone habits a part of your daily routine.

In the summer, you have many chances to improve your life. For example, let’s say that you want to prioritize your health. ‌Incorporating healthy practices into your daily summer routine could transform these seasonal habits into second nature before frost and cooler weather set in.

For example, studies show that spending time in nature lowers stress, heart rate, and blood pressure, all risk factors for heart disease. The summer months are a great time for friends and family to enjoy sports such as walking, swimming, biking, and hiking. ‌Incorporate outdoor activities into your family’s weekly schedule by setting aside time for them on the calendar. What’s more, this can reduce your screen time usage.

If you want to achieve your goals, you should instill keystone habits.

In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhig aptly describes the keystone habit. As the cornerstone of any structure, the keystone holds everything‌ ‌in place. ‌Additionally, keystone habits encourage the development of other good habits while helping eliminate bad ones.

If you develop keystone habits, you’ll be able to achieve your goals while also improving your time management.

Image Credit: Josh Willink; Pexels; Thank you!

How to Tackle Your 5 Toughest Summer Goals was originally published on Calendar by .

Sharpen Your Calendar Skills to Increase Productivity on Social Media

By | Time Management | No Comments
Make Your Webinars More Conversational

Productivity on social media is not as difficult to achieve as one might be led to believe, and can be done in a few simple steps. Doom-scrolling, on the other hand, is the last thing anyone wants to waste time on, as this is a task that does not provide any productivity value. This‌ ‌is‌ ‌particularly the case if you are unsure which of those tasks actually produces‌ ‌results. After all, time is too precious to waste on useless‌ ‌tasks.

And, this is especially true when it comes to social media. After all, the average daily social media usage is 2 hours and 27 minutes.

Like most of you, I have limited time to spend on social media each day. ‌As a result, I’ve got to use that time wisely. ‌This means figuring out which social media tasks produce results and how to do them most efficiently.

Although ‌it sounds easy, being more productive on social media has taken a lot of trial and error. ‌The best thing I’ve found is to sharpen your calendar skills.

Set goals and understand why you use social media.

How can you practice ‌more‌ ‌productivity ‌on‌ ‌social‌ ‌media? ‌First, understand why you’re using those channels.

In other words, you shouldn’t just scroll through a feed of updates when you log into Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. ‌Instead, it should serve a single‌ ‌purpose. If you’re unsure, you could ask the following questions:

  • Would you like‌ ‌to‌ ‌gain‌ ‌followers?
  • Do you wish‌ ‌to‌ ‌increase‌‌ ‌‌brand‌‌ ‌‌awareness?
  • Are you seeking‌ ‌referrals‌ ‌or‌ ‌connections?
  • Are you interested in sharing‌ ‌resources‌ ‌with‌ ‌your‌ ‌followers?
  • Do you want‌ ‌to‌ ‌drive‌ ‌traffic‌ ‌and‌ ‌leads?

Aim for greater productivity on social media:

To reach your own social media productivity success, you may find that you need a mix of platforms and goals. ‌Having multiple channels might serve different purposes. ‌First, make sure you are clear about the results you want.

There are so many ways to break down a business goal once it’s clarified, such as:

  • Decide on an overall goal. ‌Maybe it’s to reach more ideal clients and to increase‌ ‌sales.
  • Assess how you’ll measure the result. Then, find out how you will know if you have met your‌ ‌goal. ‌For‌ ‌instance,‌ ‌grow‌ ‌your Instagram followers by 10% by the end of the quarter.
  • Break‌ ‌down your specific goals into action steps. Then, you need to do what it takes to achieve it. Maybe it’s posting five days a week or running a poll.

Make sure your actions match up with your goals. ‌‌‌Taking time-sensitive approaches will also keep you from getting overwhelmed.

And most importantly? Add your social media goals to your calendar. You’ll be less likely to give up on them when you do.

Always batch.

Task batching allows you to take all of your tasks for the day and very carefully and methodically determine similar and repetitive actions performed within each task,” explains Calendar’s Angela Ruth. “In short, you’ll be ‘reverse-engineering’ each task you have on your list and coming up with the most efficient combinations of activities.”

It might take a while to get started. ‌But it’s worth it. ‌After all, batching will save you brainpower ‌throughout‌ ‌the day. ‌And, when your mind is sharper, you’ll be have increased productivity on social media.

Yet, that is only‌ ‌scratching‌ ‌the‌ ‌surface. Batching also simplifies tasks and reduces transition time. ‌Instead of multitasking, you concentrate‌ ‌on‌ ‌just‌ ‌one‌ ‌task‌ ‌at‌ ‌a‌ ‌time. ‌As‌ ‌a result,‌ ‌there is no time wasted in transitions.

Using batching will help you avoid forgetting important tasks. ‌This can include social media postings or blog posts.

I should add that there are a variety of ways you can save time when it comes to social media by batching.

  • Think of‌ ‌post‌ ‌ideas‌ ‌all‌ ‌at‌ ‌once. ‌The goal is to accumulate a wealth of social media post ideas you can refer to as needed.
  • Regularly schedule posts. ‌You’ll save a lot of time if you schedule all your posts at the beginning of each week or month. ‌Then, you can adjust your schedule throughout the week or month if something special arises.
  • Engage in social media only during designated‌ ‌times. ‌Check and respond to critical social media posts and messages once or twice a day. If you don’t want to get sucked in, set a timer for 10-15 minutes. ‌It’s amazing what you can do when you set strict limits.

Choose your distractions.

Social media is inherently distracting. ‌Staying connected and being available are some reasons, according to one study. Also, avoiding a task can play a role.

Social media was ranked fourth on Atlassian’s list of main workplace distractions. ‌So you will inevitably be distracted by social media tasks.

As a result of distractions taking over our day, we are less productive. But, at the same time, navigating distractions can be a challenge. So, what can you do?

Well, utilize your calendar.

To be more productive on social media, put batching on your schedule, for example. That’s what I do every Monday. From 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., I schedule all my posts for the week. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I turn off social media notifications until I’m scheduled to check them. Do this after lunch and right before I’m done work for the day.

Also, plan for distractions as well. ‌Unfortunately, there is no way‌ ‌to‌ ‌prepare ‌for‌ ‌every‌ ‌distraction. ‌However, you can schedule a buffer time to ‌accommodate‌ ‌them.

Create a content calendar.

“A content calendar is simply a planner, spreadsheet, or calendar that details the content you’ll be publishing for weeks or months in advance,” Abby Miller writes in a previous Calendar article. “This not only gives you a quick overview of your content schedule, it can also be shared with your team so that they’re aware of deadlines and project details.”

“Content calendars will help you stay on top of content creation schedules, generate new ideas, and encourage team collaboration,” Abby adds. ‌Furthermore, a content calendar helps ensure accountability, utilize different formats, and identify the type of content your target audience responds to the most.

Don’t worry if you haven’t created a content calendar before. Here’s how to get started:

  • Brainstorm content ideas. ‌Topics should fit your brand persona, address concerns or questions your audience has and establish your authority in the‌ ‌industry.
  • Determine your publication channels and frequency. You can use social media channels to promote content, build brand awareness, and engage‌ ‌with‌ ‌your‌ ‌audience. “The frequency changes between channels as such; Facebook no more than twice a day, Twitter 3 times daily, LinkedIn once per day, Instagram 1.5 times daily, and Pinterest 5 times daily,” she adds.
  • Use a spreadsheet and calendar to map everything out. You should include details like publication date, title, content description, and where it’s going.
  • Define the workflow. As a part of your content strategy, this should include overall goals, editorial guide, best practices, and assigned responsibilities.
  • Schedule, publish, promote, track, and tweak your content. Review your analytics so that you can make proper adjustments.

Put the right tools to work.

One of the best ways to increase your productivity? You’ve got to use the right tools. ‌For example, you can use a digital calendar to manage your time. It’s also handy if you want to track your time and plan‌ ‌meetings.

Moreover, you can take your productivity to new heights when paired with project management software, video conferencing apps, and social media.

As‌ ‌far as productivity on social media goes, specific tools can help you get more done. It’s all about choosing the right tools for the job, though.

There‌ ‌are‌ ‌several tools available to you that can help you accomplish the following:

  • Schedule your social media posts ahead of time.
  • Become a better listener and responder.
  • Keep track of the metrics you chose when selecting your goals for social media.
  • Analyze your social media metrics to improve ‌productivity‌ ‌and‌ ‌results.

However, it’s important not to get distracted by every new shiny tool you see. Instead, find out what works best for you, your goals, and your process by reading reviews, using free trials, and testing tools.

De-stress.

Stress can cause shallow breathing, whether at work or elsewhere. ‌Therefore, the brain receives less oxygen, making you even more stressed and unable to think clearly.

Feeling stressed and overwhelmed on social media will make you less productive. According to the American Institute of Stress, an estimated $300 billion is spent annually by U.S. industries due to stress.

Develop a daily productivity checklist of your social media activities to reduce stress and overwhelm. ‌Plan it based on your goals and the tasks you need to accomplish daily or weekly.

Also, you may want to add activities that can help you de-stress to your calendar as well. For example, you could go for a walk after lunch before diving back into your social channels. You could also carve out time for self-care and ‌pursuits that you enjoy doing.

Efficiency is built on templates.

It is unquestionably true that templates are incredibly useful today. An example is calendar templates. Why? Because they’re real-time-savers.

Make it easier on yourself by using a pre-made calendar instead of making a new one every time. ‌Just fill in the blanks, and you’re set. Calendar template examples include tracking the progress of goals, a to-do-list checklist, or a social media content calendar.

Moreover, you can create templates specifically for your social media efforts. For example, you can use successful headline templates rather than coming up with new headlines each time you create a new social media post idea. For example, “X Ways To Do X.”

Another idea? ‌Take advantage of Canva’s social media templates. You can even use templates for social media posts. Again, I’d head over to Buffer for more info on how to create a social media report.

Block out time to check your metrics.

Determining how you’ll measure your success with social media is essential.

Consider scheduling a weekly or twice-weekly review. And, consider recording your key metrics on your calendar. ‌These‌ ‌might be follower counts,‌ ‌views,‌ ‌comments,‌ ‌likes,‌ ‌and‌ ‌shares.

The reason? ‌Monitoring your metrics regularly will help you see patterns emerge. Additionally, you’ll be able to make better decisions about what to post, when‌ ‌to‌ ‌post,‌ ‌and‌ ‌how‌ ‌to‌ ‌engage‌ ‌with‌ ‌your followers. For example, let’s say you’ve been posting daily at 7:30 every morning. After a month, however, you ‌discover that your posts have more engagement at 4:30 p.m. As a consequence, you begin scheduling content at that time.

Whatever metrics or feedback you choose to use, tracking your progress will allow you to see progress‌ ‌in‌ ‌your‌ ‌channels‌ ‌over‌ ‌time. ‌As a result, you will be able to adjust as required to become productive‌ ‌on‌ ‌social‌ ‌media.

Image Credit: Cottonbro; Pexels; Thank you!

Sharpen Your Calendar Skills to Be Productive on Social Media was originally published on Calendar by .

Slash These 10 Work-From-Home Habits to Build Productivity

By | Time Management | No Comments
work from home

Although work from home can boost productivity, habits will determine the productivity success. ‌So, remote workers should eliminate unproductive habits. And, more importantly, know which habits to replace them with.

Did you know that 16% of companies globally are fully-remote? Even if you aren’t a part of that percentage, there’s a good chance that you occasionally work remotely. ‌After‌ ‌all,‌ ‌62% of employees between 22 and 65 say they work remotely ‌occasionally.

So, with that in mind, here are 10 work-from-home habits you need to slash to build productivity.

1. Taking “flex time” too far.

Often, work-from-home jobs come with more freedom. ‌After‌ ‌all, there’s no set time to show up‌ ‌to work in many cases. ‌So, it’s certainly awesome to have this “flex time.” But you also don’t want to overdo it.

Two possibilities can sabotage your productivity in the absence of a schedule for your work hours.

The first is starting work too late in the day. This might not be a problem if you’re a night owl and working later anyway. But what if you’re a parent? Let’s say that you don’t get into work mode until 11 a.m., but have to get the kids at 2:30? That doesn’t give you much time to get as much done as you would like to — or need to get done.

Secondly, you can lose‌‌ ‌‌your‌‌r downtime ‌‌to‌‌ ‌‌overwork. ‌According to The Economist, people in April and May of 2020 reported working 30 minutes longer than they did from‌ ‌January‌ ‌through‌ ‌March‌ ‌of‌ ‌2019. Over the past few years, working after hours and on weekends has become more common. ‌In addition, those commuting minutes might‌ ‌have‌ ‌been‌ ‌consumed‌ ‌by‌‌ ‌‌paperwork‌‌ ‌‌or‌‌ ‌‌video‌‌ ‌‌calls.

You need to set regular hours when working from home in either case. This will create consistency and a routine, but it will also help you establish boundaries.

2. Living a sedentary lifestyle.

Even before the pandemic, it was found that, on average, we sit daily for 7.7 hours. The problem has only gotten worse since the pandemic. ‌An Upright Pose survey of 2,000 remote and hybrid workers in the US found alarming ‌results.

  • Since working remotely, 60% of employees have reduced their mobility by over 50%.
  • Remote workers average 16 steps to their workstation from bed.
  • On‌ ‌a‌ ‌typical‌ ‌remote‌ ‌workday,‌ ‌one‌ ‌in‌ ‌three‌ ‌workers‌ ‌sits ‌in‌ ‌their‌ ‌work‌ ‌chairs‌ ‌the‌ ‌entire‌ ‌day, and‌ ‌63%‌ ‌walk‌ ‌only‌ ‌to‌ ‌use‌ ‌the‌ ‌bathroom‌ ‌or‌ ‌kitchen. ‌Additionally, 24% of remote workers never leave the house.
  • Despite the 8,000 steps per day recommended by health experts, nearly half of remote workers take fewer than 1,000 steps during work hours.
  • 50%‌ ‌of respondents report pain in the lower back, 48% in the shoulders, and 52% in the eyes.
  • Around 82% of workers under 35 reported experiencing a physical health issue for the first time over the past year, and 70% of them sought medical treatment.
  • 78%‌ ‌of respondents say they are concerned about the long-term health effects of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

How can you counter this sedentary lifestyle?

Well, the obvious answer is to be more active. “If possible, create a daily routine to become second nature, like brushing your teeth,” suggests Deanna Ritchie, Editor-in-Chief at Calendar. “For example, working out first thing in the morning or going for a long walk after lunch.”

Deanna also suggests the following:

  • Use a sit-stand desk.
  • Stand or walk during calls.
  • Set ‌alerts to remind you to stretch.
  • Make chores, like yard work or vacuuming, more intense by picking up‌ ‌the place.
  • Keep moving‌ ‌throughout‌ ‌the‌ ‌day. ‌You can, for‌ ‌example,‌ ‌do‌ ‌heal-raises‌ ‌or push-ups‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌counter‌ ‌while‌ ‌your‌ ‌morning‌ ‌coffee‌ ‌is‌ ‌brewing.

3. Choosing the wrong workspace.

The key to successfully working from home? First and foremost — choosing the right‌ ‌place‌ to work.

For example, you’ll want a quiet and more private space when taking calls or doing video conferences. If you don’t want to get distracted by others, find a room with a door. ‌Keeping it closed signals to others that you don’t want interruptions. ‌Consequently, you are more likely to go about your day as if you were at the‌ ‌office.

What if you don’t have a spare room for a home office? Could you convert another area in your home into an office? Perhaps the garage or basement would work for a cozy office spot? Do you have a yard to place a tiny house or insulated shed?

If not, there’s nothing wrong with working with what you’ve got—for instance, designating your kitchen table as your workplace during working hours.

Or, consider occasionally getting out of the office. For example, you might get more done if you set up shop in a cafe, library, or coworking space.

4. Multitasking.

Could you talk on your phone and fold laundry or walk the dog simultaneously? ‌Of course. ‌This is probably not a great idea when dealing with tasks like deep work, which are more challenging. ‌You’re in the minority even if you think you’re an expert. Only 2% of people are actually proficient at‌ ‌this.

So,‌ ‌instead‌ ‌of‌ ‌attempting‌ ‌to‌ ‌do‌ ‌the‌ ‌impossible,‌ ‌‌‌commit to monotasking.

“We’ve been sold the myth that multitasking is a valuable skill, giving us the ability to get it all done – but this couldn’t be further from the truth,” explains business coach Ryan Jackson, author of The Success Rebellion.

“A more productive approach is to devote days or half-days to themes or closely related tasks,” ‌he‌ ‌says. “That way, it’s easier to knock jobs down one at a time, and even if you do get distracted, it’s quicker to pick up the thread again.”

5. Temptation to evade work.

HighSpeedInternet.com surveyed 1,000 Americans ages 18 and older who currently or have worked from home for its report titled Work From Home Wrap Up 2021: The Expected, the Bad, and the Naughty. And there were some interesting findings.

77% of respondents used their work computers to use social media and shop online during work‌ ‌hours. Over half said they played video games or streamed shows ‌instead‌ ‌of‌ ‌working.

Also, inevitable distractions easily lured most survey respondents ‌away‌ ‌from‌ ‌work. ‌When asked what types of distractions they encounter:

  • 29% ‌attributed it to food
  • 23% to entertainment
  • 19% to household tasks
  • 9% ‌to‌ ‌caring for‌ ‌family‌ ‌members‌ ‌or‌ ‌pets
  • 9% to miscellaneous activities
  • 6% to sleeping or staying in bed

Following are some specific types of distractions mentioned by respondents:

  • “I mine for crypto several times a day to give myself a break.”
  • “I eat and drink my fruit punch and play ‘Call of Duty.”
  • “Eating popcorn.”
  • “Wish to abolish capitalism.”
  • “I pretend I’m not home and don’t answer the call.”

It’s not easy to fight back against distractions. But when it’s time to focus on work, turn off your phone and even unplug your TV or gaming console. Also, schedule time to eat healthy meals and snacks, have downtime and attend to your pets and yourself.

6. Working from bed.

“Beds are designed to make you feel relaxed, supported, and ready for rest,” notes Drew Miller for Coworker. “They’re not designed for work or prolonged sitting up periods.” ‌As a result, working in bed may harm your health and well-being in unexpected ways, such as aches and pains. It can also interfere with your sleep.

Moreover, working from impairs your productivity. For example, you may get distracted by having the TV on in the background. Or, maybe, you’re just so comfy that you take an extended nap. And, you also don’t have easy access to the tools you need to get your work done.

In short, work anywhere else in your home except your bed.

7. No transition between work and home.

A commute home or a workout after work would signal the end of the workday — and it also signals the beginning of‌ ‌downtime‌ ‌at home. ‌Unfortunately, today, many people have no‌ ‌such transition‌. ‌That poses a challenge to maintaining your energy.

“Our commutes used to serve as a transition, and now that period of time has evaporated,” says Sarah Ohanesian of SO Productive, productivity coach, speaker, and trainer.

Again, creating a designated “work area” inside your house can also help you separate work from home life. ‌Will your home office resemble a traditional office? Probably not. But keeping all your necessary items in one spot can help you separate your workday from your personal‌ ‌life.

Additionally, you can establish after work transitions, such;

  • Setting up a wrap-up routine like reviewing your schedule for tomorrow or tidying up your workspace.
  • Turning off your work laptop.
  • Creating an evening intention.
  • Listening to a podcast.
  • Going for a walk or exercising.
  • Changing your clothes.
  • Cooking dinner.

8. Being uncalm.

The ongoing pandemic definitely has taken a toll on us. ‌Gallup’s 2021 State of the Workplace report found that 45% of people felt the pandemic significantly impacted their lives. ‌Additionally, 57% reported feeling stressed on a daily basis.

As a result, it’s essential to have some tools to help cope with ‌stress. Examples include deep breathing a few times a day, calling a friend, laughing, or working out. ‌Chronic stress can cause burnout and many health problems.

Observe any tightening of the shoulders or a raised heart rate. And, if possible, relieve‌ ‌the‌ ‌stress. For me, that’s making self-care a priority by scheduling it in my calendar.

9. Poor personal hygiene.

“Remote work offers you flexibility, but some people carry it too far,” says Vartika Kashyap, Chief Marketing [email protected] “Working in pajamas all day long, for example, does no good for your productivity or morale.” Moreover, when sitting continuously for hours, it’s not unusual for remote workers to neglect their personal hygiene.

“You may not realize, but there is a strong connection between what you wear and your mood,” adds Vartika. ‌For example, if you work without taking a bath or wear wrinkled clothes, you feel lousy, unorganized, and unkempt.

How can you slash this unhealthy habit? It’s pretty obvious.

Wake up early, shave regularly, take a bath before you start to work, and put your neatly ironed workwear on,” she recommends. “You will see how it makes a world of difference to your overall mood.”

10‌. ‌Failure‌ ‌to‌ ‌detach‌ ‌and‌ ‌disengage.

If you disconnect from work and ignore the emails in your inbox until tomorrow or later, you will grow as a person and be a better employee. Here is a fascinating study from‌ ‌the Journal‌ ‌of‌ ‌Experimental‌ ‌Social Psychology. The findings suggest that people who can’t stop feeling like they’re being lazy and unproductive while relaxing tend to feel less happy and more anxious, stressed, and depressed.

In other words, leisure and relaxation should not be considered‌‌ ‌‌a‌ ‌waste‌‌ ‌‌of‌‌ ‌‌time. Make sure to take frequent breaks throughout the day to catch your breath. You also should block out your calendar for non-work activities, like yoga or dinner with friends.

And I would also strongly advise establishing “tech-free” zones in your home. Examples could be the dining room or bedroom. These areas should be reserved for undisturbed meals or rest.

Image Credit: energepic; Pexels; Thanks!

Slash These 10 Work-From-Home Habits to Build Productivity was originally published on Calendar by John Hall.

How to Politely Share Your Scheduling Link on Calendar

By | Scheduling | No Comments
scheduling link

Meetings that are unproductive and poorly managed claim endless hours of our time. ‌What I believe is even worse is the valuable time wasted using emails, texting — and worse calling, going back and forth. ‌After‌ ‌all,‌ ‌on average, a meeting is scheduled after eight emails, according to studies. But there are ways to politely share your scheduling link on Calendar.

Share Your Scheduling Link on Calendar

Thankfully, a scheduling link can solve this problem. ‌If you’re not familiar, this is an instant communication method that establishes real-time connections between people or a URL. ‌As a result, you will stop email ping pong, avoid scheduling conflicts, eliminate arduous work, and simplify‌ ‌your‌ ‌meeting‌ ‌workflow.

However, if you want to effectively share your scheduling link on Calendar, you need to do so politely. And here’s how you can accomplish just that.

Share when it is appropriate.

Let’s say you’re at your favorite coffee shop catching up on some work. Eventually, you strike up a conversation with a fellow patron. And, since you’ve hit it off, you decide to keep the conversation going by exchanging contact information.

It doesn’t matter if this is a potential romantic relationship or a new business ‌connection. It would undoubtedly be pretentious if your first message included your calendar link. However, it is a relatively clear indication that you are a significant person.

Instead, just get their contact information and nurture the relationship organically. Then, in the following correspondence, ask them if they have a calendar link they would like to share. If not, then suggest sharing your calendar link with them. If that doesn’t fly, ask them when they’re available.

Additionally, ‌disclosing “your schedule and routine to a stranger gives them information about your life that they could use against you,” says Max Palmer in a previous Calendar article. “Keep your sensitive calendar information to yourself.”

But, this isn’t the only time that it’s inappropriate to share a calendar link. For example, planning a surprise party or a brief 10-minute call probably doesn’t require scheduling links.

Open the door for them.

Traditionally, we were taught to open the door for others before ourselves. And we can definitely apply that to our Calendar availability as well.

Rather than just sending over your Calendar link and saying, “Here’s my calendar link,” you can “open the door” for someone else first. How? By asking for their availability.

You can then offer them your Calendar link after they have walked through the door. If you need a script to follow, try something like, “I would appreciate it if you could let me know when you’re available. Or, if it’s more convenient, you can ‌choose a time off my Calendar.”

It may not seem like much. ‌However, we observe a variety of seemingly little gestures, such as silencing your phone in a‌ ‌movie‌ ‌theater. Julianna Margulies perfectly put it, “Small gestures can have a big impact.”

Create priorities.

Kelly‌ ‌Nolan,‌ ‌a‌ ‌time-management‌ ‌strategist,‌ ‌uses three different links in her Calendar for various purposes: client meetings, casual coffee dates or networking events, and ‌team‌ ‌meetings. ‌In addition, she gives enthusiastic support to auto-scheduling for unexpected‌ ‌reasons.

“You set end times,” Nolan told Bloomberg. ‌For example, schedulers can set up time slots of up to 30 minutes, preventing attendees from ignoring the out-of-time cues when a meeting is over. ‌Additionally, most programs she uses to protect her clients’ time are better than what they can manage independently.

“Many of us have that people-pleaser tendency to say ‘Well, okay, I’ll just make that inconvenient time work,’ which removes that propensity,” she said.

To avoid negative messaging, Nolan shares her calendar link and a note that says: ‌If any‌ ‌of‌ ‌my‌ ‌upcoming‌ ‌appointments‌ ‌aren’t convenient for you, please ‌‌let‌‌ ‌‌me‌‌ ‌‌know.

“It’s a signal that I’m willing to work with certain people beyond my calendar tool,” Kelly said.

Establish a friendly‌ ‌tone.

When inviting people to use your Calendar, pay attention to your wording. ‌While you want to be direct, you don’t want to be too brash or disrespectful of their time. Instead, ‌emphasize the convenience of using a calendar link, like no longer playing the back-and-forth game.

For example, you could say, “Whenever you’re ready, here’s my scheduling link on Calendar, so you can select a time that works best for you. I look‌ ‌forward‌ ‌to speaking‌ ‌with‌ ‌you soon.”

Timing is everything.

Timing is everything when sharing‌ ‌your‌ ‌Calendar. ‌It’s best not to share your calendar link until it’s too late. At the same time, you don’t want to share it until the very ‌last‌ ‌minute. ‌It is essential to strike‌ ‌a‌ ‌balance.

You should share your Calendar 24-48 hours before you depart with your family and assistant, for example, if you plan a trip. For example, if you need a team meeting on Thursday, sending a scheduling link on Tuesday is cutting it way too close.

In short, you should factor in urgency and deadlines before sharing your Calendar so that it is shared at the appropriate‌ ‌time.

Moreover, be mindful of business hours, time zones, and holidays. For example, if you’re on the east coast and want to have a virtual meeting with a colleague who lives on the west coast, don’t suggest a 9 am EST meeting time. Instead, you’re asking them to jump on this video call at 6 am.

Be flexible.

Even if the other person’s schedule does not align with what you have available on your Calendar, be open to accommodating their needs. For instance, “Could you share a convenient time for a meeting, or could you choose from my calendar if you prefer?”

Note that you don’t say that blocking out your time is only possible by using your calendar link. I often use this as a starting point, however.

Choose a compatible calendar.

Tech can be a little thorny sometimes. ‌For example, even though it’s possible to switch between Apple, Google, or Microsoft, that can be confusing. What’s more, it’s not always convenient if you’re sharing a Google Calendar link with a group that primarily uses Apple Calendar.

Generally, you should ensure that your Calendar can be accessed from‌ ‌multiple‌ ‌platforms. ‌This way, there is no syncing or sharing process to worry about. And, it’s convenient and doesn’t require the other invitees to install a new app or learn how it functions.

Follow the Goldilocks Rule.

“Certainly, privacy could be an issue for successful calendar sharing,” writes Kayla Sloan in an article for Calendar. “But many people merge work and personal calendars without issue.”

Most online calendars and apps “have settings that let you make some entries private and others shared.” ‌Unfortunately,‌ ‌those settings prevent others from being able to see sensitive information.

“However, not all calendars have the same capabilities,” adds Sloan. “Therefore, you can permit everyone to see personal appointments, make entries vague, or not put them on work calendars.”

When adding event details to a shared calendar, strike a balance. ‌Date, time, and location should be listed at the very least. It’s also a brilliant idea to include who will attend.

With attachments containing agendas and locations, they can obtain directions on their phones without giving too much information.

Also, avoid being ‌vague. ‌Do‌ ‌not‌ ‌just schedule the afternoon for “meetings.” Make sure everyone has the information they need in advance.

Don’t ghost anyone.

In other words, if you receive a calendar link, don’t leave the sender high and dry.

I’ve sent calendar invitations to someone who never replied in the past. Maybe because they knew about the invite and assumed that I anticipated their attendance. But, it’s still a pet peeve of mine.

You only have to click a button to confirm. Also, it’s nice to let others know you’re coming. ‌Additionally, you will receive updates, such as cancellations. ‌One invitation allows for more efficiency than multiple invitations.

And hopefully, because you responded, others will reciprocate when you share your scheduling link in the future.

Email embedding.

You might consider embedding your calendar link in your email body. ‌Why? There are fewer clicks involved than on your website. In turn, it’s more courteous since saving other time when scheduling.

Image Credit: Cottonbro; Pexels; Thank you!

How to Politely Share Your Scheduling Link on Calendar was originally published on Calendar by John Hall.

Register Now & Get a 30 Day Trial Register Now