All posts by John Hall

Have Better Financial Health by Using Your Calendar

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Increased Productivity Will Increase Your Happiness

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increased productivity

You might not give happiness the attention it deserves in your quest to achieve increased productivity. However, productivity is often associated with burnout and unhappiness. This is because productivity can be connected to a rushed, task-oriented lifestyle void of fun and relaxation. And those emotions can prevent you from being as productive as you’d like to be.

With that in mind, it’s not really surprising that happiness and productivity are linked. Various studies have shown that happy people are more productive — by as much as 12 percent, according to a University of Warwick study. However, this isn’t a one-sided relationship as productivity can also affect happiness.

Why Being Productive Feels Good

You’re happier when you check off your to-do list.

There is no doubt about it. You get a great sense of accomplishment when you cross out tasks or mark them as complete on a to-do list.

The reason? Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel light and happy, is released when we check off tasks. Also, this neurotransmitter is responsible for feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction. As a result, you feel pretty awesome. Moreover, you’ll be motivated to continue completing tasks and continue to enjoy that pleasant experience.

Progressing towards goals can make you happy.

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” — Albert Einstein

Not surprisingly, Einstein was spot-on.

It has been shown that achieving personal goals based on your interests increases your emotional wellbeing. So you’ll be happier when you achieve your goals.

Why? Our emotions will remain optimistic if we set short-term, realistic, easy-to-attain goals. Regardless of the goal, as long as we’re tracking our goals and making headway, this increases positive feelings.

More specifically, pursuing achievable goals will positively impact your well-being. In addition, it is usually more satisfying, rewarding, and enjoyable when you achieve a goal you have been working on.

Also, just like crossing items off your to-do list, there’s a dopamine release when we reach goals. Furthermore, this motivates you to move forward and achieve other goals. And a combination of long- and short-term goals helps ensure that you look forward to and enjoy what you are doing.

A sense of purpose makes you happy and healthy.

In 2013, in collaboration with scientists from the University of North Carolina, UCLA researchers discovered that happiness is derived from purpose as opposed to pleasure-seeking. But why’s this the case?

For starters, don’t conflate being busy with fulfilling your purpose. Yes, you’ve worked your tail off and earned a raise. However, “these types of achievements often don’t bring the kind of fulfillment that comes with finding your personal sense of purpose,” explains Maggie Wooll over at BetterUp.

“A personal sense of purpose is less of a specific end goal and more of an ongoing impact on the world, large or small,” Wooll explains. “Purpose is your why.”

You are guided and sustained by this sense of purpose. “Day-to-day and through the years.” Having a purpose gives you stability and a sense of direction, even in times of setbacks and turmoil. “That’s why finding purpose is essential for living a happy, healthy life,” she says.

It may seem lofty to ask your purpose, but it’s a question you shouldn’t ignore. But, attempting to answer it is essential. Having a sense of purpose in your life can open up greater joy and fulfillment in every aspect of your life.

Boredom can be hazardous to your health.

“It is such a universal, human experience,” said Jacqueline Gottlieb, a neuroscientist at Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute who recently convened a group of leading scholars in the field for a discussion. “Yet, there is a lack of knowledge about boredom. Until recently, scientists paid it little attention.”

At some point, we’ve all experienced boredom. And, in small doses, that’s not exactly a bad thing. Research suggests that boredom, particularly if it is temporary, can spur creative and productive thinking by letting the mind wander.

As of now, most research suggests boredom does more harm than good to our lives. For instance, chronic boredom is linked to impulsive behavior, reckless behavior, compulsive gambling, substance abuse, reckless thrill-seeking, and self-destructive behavior.

Additionally, people who are easily bored are prone to depression, anxiety, anger, academic failure, poor work performance, and loneliness.

The more productive your day is, the more driven you’ll be to get things done.

Best of all? You don’t have to accomplish anything extraordinary. You just have to do something. Case in point, rather than picking up your phone because you’re bored, read a book, go for a walk, practice gratitude, or strengthen a skill.

Exercise improves your mood and happiness.

Yes. Getting your body moving releases endorphins. But, that’s just scratching the surface. Exercise can lower stress, relieve depression and anxiety, and boost your immune. Also, physical activity can make you more confident and fortify your bonds with others if you have a workout buddy.

In addition to keeping your body active, exercise can also keep your mind occupied. For example, when you are busy finishing a project, you have less time to dwell on negative emotions. As a result of staying active, you can focus and concentrate on the positive.

Cleaning and decluttering can make you happy.

Clutter has been proven to interfere with productivity. Princeton University researchers found in 2011, for example, that visual clutter, such as a messy home, interferes with your ability to concentrate. On the other hand, even healthy eating and generosity are associated with an orderly house.

Mr. Clean also studied physiological responses to cleaning, such as heart rate. Scientists concluded that cleaning creates an almost adrenaline rush-like feeling of excitement. A majority of 62 participants reported feeling at ease after a deep clean, while 81 percent reported feeling accomplished and in control.

Another study conducted by Clorox found that cleaning for an extra hour per week could boost happiness levels by 53 percent. According to the study, maintaining a clean environment also leads to a variety of benefits, including better sleep, increased productivity, and even improved focus.

Ways to Boost Productivity and Happiness

As you can see, there are simple ways to boost both your productivity and happiness. This includes scheduling time in your calendar for physical activity, decluttering your life, and tracking your goals on your calendar.

But, if you really want to take this to the next level, you should also add these happiness hacks to your calendar;

  • Kick-off each morning on your own terms, like setting an intention instead of diving into emails.
  • Every morning or evening, write in a journal to acknowledge both the good and bad.
  • Since you have the most energy in the morning, do your hardest task first.
  • Plan get-togethers set reminders for checking in or establish traditions with friends and family.
  • Move your body for at least 11-minutes a day.
  • Spend more time outside in nature.
  • Take microbreaks throughout the day.
  • Listen to your favorite song.
  • Learn something new and help others
  • Limit your screen time, like leaving your phone behind when taking a walk.

In the words of Buddha, “There is no path to happiness; happiness is the path.”

Image credit: Julia Avamotive; Pexels; Thank you!

Increased Productivity Will Increase Your Happiness was originally published on Calendar by John Hall.

Successful Founders Do the Morning Routine Better

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morning routine

“Most of us would agree that having a healthy morning routine allows you to achieve your goals and ambitions easier and faster,” Dovile Sinke writes for 21 Day Hero. “Several health benefits such as better mental health, lower stress levels, increased energy, improved sleep quality, etc. can be achieved due to having a daily morning routine.”

As such, it’s no surprise that the most successful founder not only have a morning routine, they do it better. How? Well, here are just 12-morning routines that successful founders swear by.

1. Make sure you get enough sleep.

A study conducted by Royal Phillips showed that over five years, 44% of respondents had reported worsening sleep. In addition, nearly one in three Americans sleep less than six hours a night.

What’s the big deal about that?

According to the experts, we should sleep between 7 and 9 hours a night. If that doesn’t happen, it can lead to a variety of disorders, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and cognitive decline. All of these can lead to death.

Although we’re not trying to play down this issue, it is clearly impossible to perform well if one isn’t in tiptop shape physically or mentally.

It’s for this reason that successful people prioritize sleep. However, if you are struggling, the CDC recommends adopting these habits:

  • Consistency is key. In other words, get up and go to bed at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  • Try to create a cave-like atmosphere in your bedroom. That means it should be cool, dark, and quiet.
  • TVs, smartphones, and other electronics should be banned in your bedroom.
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.
  • During the day, do some physical activity.

Putting in place a relaxing evening routine is also essential. A few ideas include meditating, reading, journaling, taking a bath, or reviewing your schedule for tomorrow. Clearing your mind and relaxing are two simple and effective ways to unwind.

2. Drink 12-16 ounces of water.

If you have slept for eight hours, you most likely feel lethargic and probably dehydrated. After all, during those hours of sleep, your body is working to recuperate from the day’s wear and tear. And, what’s more, your brain also requires water.

With that said, whenever you wake up after a deep sleep, slam plenty of water as soon as you wake-up. It is beneficial to drink water within 30 minutes of rising because it boosts blood flow, improves overall wellbeing, boosts alertness, and increases mental clarity.

What if you’re a coffee lover? You can still enjoy your morning cup o’ joe. But, you may want to wait. Research suggests that the best time for drinking coffee is mid-to-late morning, about an hour or two after your cortisol levels have dipped back down. So, if you wake up at 7:00 a.m., you should drink your coffee between 10:00 a.m. and noon.

3. Stimulate your mind.

“As an entrepreneur, you are a visionary and a dreamer who constantly thinks of new ideas or solutions to problems,” writes Nancy Solari for Lifehack. “It can become overwhelming having so many goals in your head, and you might feel like you are biting off more than you can chew.”

“To process your thoughts constructively and efficiently, you should stimulate your mind first thing in the morning,” such as;

  • Journaling. Consider the week ahead, note down tasks you’d like to complete, or just jot down whatever thoughts you need to get rid of. Writing in a journal can help you declutter your mind, which can help you feel refreshed when you wake up.
  • Self-reflection. Set aside anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes for this. By becoming aware of your feelings and emptying your head of anything holding you back, you will find it easier to focus on other things.
  • Read or solve a crossword puzzle. You can also improve your concentration by reading or doing a crossword puzzle in the morning. You can read just a page or one article in a newspaper in the morning if you feel you don’t have much time.
  • Watch the news. Watch the news or listen to a funny or inspirational podcast if you want to relax and veg out in the mornings. You don’t have to do much to do these activities, but they allow you to be aware of what is going on and provide a reprieve from constantly thinking about your business.

4. Practice mindfulness.

One of the most common habits of highly successful people is a quick meditation session in the morning, and ten minutes of mindfulness every day can help you get started in the right direction. Harvard researchers found that meditation effectively reduces stress and anxiety, so meditation can help people focus, sleep better, make better decisions, and regulate their thoughts.

Many widely successful entrepreneurs like Oprah, Arianna Huffington, Jeff Weiner, Russel Simmons, and Marc Benioff all meditate. In fact, Winfrey meditates each morning and evening for 20 minutes consistently. She explains that meditation allows her to be in tune with her mind and body. A quick meditation session in the morning is a must for Arianna Huffington as well.

5. Get the blood pumping.

There’s no way to overstate how good exercise is for you.

“I find exercise the most natural and effective mood booster there is,” writes Richard Branson. “You only have one body and one shot to look after it – and the older I get, the more important I realize my health is.”

“If people feel their best, they will be their most productive selves at work,” adds Branson. “I find exercise the most natural and effective mood booster there is.” In addition to increasing your energy, this morning routine improves memory and mental sharpness, promotes creativity, and reduces stress.

Know that you might not have the availability as Branson. Ideally, though, you should try to squeeze on 20 to 30 minutes per day exercising. If you’re really crunched for time, at least go for a morning run or walk or a 10-minute yoga workout.

And if done consistently, it can keep you in better physical shape and better health, allowing you to be more productive. So try to spend at least 20 to 30 minutes of exercise per day, even if you can’t squeeze it into your morning routine.

6. Engage in self-care.

Entrepreneurs and founders rarely discuss self-care or don’t make it a priority. However, you must also take care of yourself if you want to succeed.

Self-care can take many forms, but one or two of these acts should be included in your daily routine. The key is to slow down whatever you are already doing. For example, instead of grabbing a cereal bar or hitting the drive-thru for breakfast, make a healthy omelet. And, while you do, listen to your favorite tunes.

7. Make your bed.

“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day,” said Naval Adm. William McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, in his commencement address at the University of Texas at Austin. “It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.”

“By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed,” he added. “Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”

“If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right,” said McRaven.

“And, if you have a miserable day by chance, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”

8. Jump into a cold shower.

Some highly successful people swear by cold therapy, even though a cold shower may sound like the absolute last thing you’d want to do to start the day. For example, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey begins his day by taking an ice bath every morning.

In addition to creating a jolt to the system, a cold shower can increase oxygen intake and circulation — getting you ready for an eventful day. Moreover, there is research that cold showers can strengthen your immune system and relieve symptoms of depression.

However, be aware of the risks as well. For instance, if you have heart disease, the stress of a cold shower could lead to an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia.

But, if you want to proceed, exercise physiologist Zach Carter, CSCS, recommends giving your body time to adjust. You can receive some results from thirty seconds under a cold stream. And, after three minutes, the benefits of drinking cold water start to wane.

9. Declutter.

When your home or office is clutter-free, you’ll feel less stressed and less anxious and spend less time getting ready for your day. But does that mean you have to spend several hours each day doing this? Nope.

You could dedicate 10-minutes in the morning to filing paperwork, cleaning out your calendar or inbox, or putting or your breakfast dishes.

10. Set your goals and priorities in stone.

If you want to succeed, you can’t ignore the importance of goals; they serve to motivate you while providing direction for your life. Many people, however, do not set smaller goals daily even when they have solid long-term goals. Examples could be spending less time in your inbox or mapping out your social media content calendar for the month.

Think about the day’s most important goals and priorities during the morning. What would you like to accomplish? What are your top priorities?

After identifying your goals and priorities, add them to your calendar. When you do, this makes them non-negotiable. And it prevents less essential items from eating up your valuable time.

11. Focus first.

Doing your most important work first makes sense, and many entrepreneurs swear by this concept. Why? Because this is often when we have the most energy and fewer distractions like your kids or non-stop notifications.

Dr. Ivan Zakharenkov, whose company helps veterinarians transform their business operations, says, “the first 90-180 minutes of the day is when the brain is most productive in combining the information deposited in the long-term memory during sleep.” So he takes advantage of this valuable time.

“I drop into doing the most important work that I lined up the night before with all distractions turned off.” While business coach Melitta Campbell plans each day ahead of time, “so I wake up with intention. Before getting out of bed, I remind myself of that day’s goal and my first steps toward this. It prevents me from being distracted by social media or email, i.e., other people’s priorities!”

The founder of the eCommerce store Brown Skin Dark Lips, Natalie Glover, has an innovative approach. “Every day, I log into Zoom at 5:30 am to join a power hour with fellow entrepreneurs. We sit in silence with our cameras on, and I focus on tasks which need uninterrupted quiet time and concentration before the children wake up.”

Glover is building her business while she finds companionship here. “Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey, something only fellow entrepreneurs can empathize with. So if I can physically see that I’m not really alone, it’s encouraging and motivating on the difficult days.”

12. Be predictable, yet flexible.

Although most entrepreneurs don’t enjoy predictability, sticking with the same morning routine can sometimes be a good idea. When the following chain of events and activities is predictable, getting ready for the day requires less mental energy and focus. As a result, you can focus on what’s truly important and conserve your energy.

At the same time, if your morning routine is no longer cutting it or you feel that you’re in a rut, don’t hesitate to shake things up. Remember, it’s your routine. So, do what works best for you.

Image Credit: Taryn Elliott; Pexels; Thank you!

Successful Founders Do the Morning Routine Better was originally published on Calendar by John Hall.

Fall in Love This Month — With Your Online Calendar

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with your online calendar

With your online calendar, use it in different ways so you can increase work productivity and have some “me” time, since work-life balance can be stressful. You also may find that your productivity suffers. Trying to do too much throughout the day without scheduling time for relaxing and happy activities may affect your entire family. Use these techniques to make the most out of your online Calendar.

Use Recurring Events

Certain events happen every week, month, or year. For example, you may have a monthly team member meeting to discuss the progress being made or any task changes. You may also have some life activities that occur on the same day each month or year. For example, the family may celebrate anniversaries, date nights, or a child’s piano practice.

You just have to set that date and time aside once with recurring events. The online calendar function automatically sets aside that timeframe each day, week, month, or year for the specific activity. You don’t have to constantly jot the same info down as you would in a traditional planner or Calendar. Any event you do regularly may be set aside as a recurring event. This online calendar feature is an excellent function for constantly reminding you about recurring activities.

Sync Calendars with Teams Members and Family

One productivity killer involves making sure everyone attends a work meeting or family activity simultaneously. Waiting for someone to show up just wastes valuable time and sets back other activities. A common problem involves not having everyone jot down the activity in their Calendar or using different versions of Calendar apps that don’t integrate.

Consider using an online calendar designed to be used by teams of people. These online calendars will automatically synchronize schedules for everyone involved in the meeting or activity. So you don’t have to constantly remind other people to place the events in their scheduling apps. This tactic ensures meetings and activities start on time. So you boost productivity and won’t feel rushed throughout the day. It also helps you avoid double-booking activities for the same time slots.

Calendar synchronization also happens over all of your devices. So long as the devices access the same online calendar software, the syncing feature may occur even if different companies manufacture the devices.

Set Reminders

Forgetting things placed on the traditional Calendar or planner can quickly happen. You get so busy working on a task that you don’t remember to move on to the next activity. Online calendars have reminder functions to set for events.

How you want to see the reminder is up to you. A reminder is set to help you eliminate stress in your life, so you don’t have to worry about extra things. For example, some people prefer a pop-up to appear on the screen reminding you an event will be happening at a specific time. Other people also set the alarm to go off. You also typically have options on when you want the reminder to go off. For example, you could set it 15 minutes before the activity happens or even a day before the event.

The reminders could come over your phone, tablet, or PC. You could also have the feature send out an email to your inbox. A wonderful thing about this feature is that reminders may also be sent out to other people. So they are informed about an activity that may involve them, whether it’s for work or play.

Schedule Family Check-Ins

It’s easy to get so busy with other tasks that family events get set aside. You may have a spouse or other family member say something in passing to you about an event, but it didn’t register in your memories. Take a moment to set a family check-in event on your Calendar. Family check-ins allow you to set aside some time to reconnect with the family.

Take the time to just relax or ask questions about their days. You may also learn about events and activities that everyone wants to agree to. Then you can easily update your online Calendar at that moment to ensure time is set aside for everyone. With family check-ins, you may also reevaluate all your activities and come to compromises on when to do them that make everyone happy.

Family check-in times don’t have to only occur during mealtimes. Also, they don’t have to happen face to face if everyone has a busy schedule. You can set your Calendar to send out a check-in reminder to everyone. Then they can get back to you about things over the phone, text, or email.

Take Advantage of All Day Events

You may be a person that likes to micromanage every moment of your schedule. However, even if you are performing the same task, you need to have the event penciled in during each time period. Yet doing this task becomes tedious as you spend more time placing in calendar entries rather than doing work.

A seldom-used feature in online calendars is the all-day events function. This function allows you to set a specific task for the entire day. Typically, people use this feature to take the day off from work when out of the office. Yet you may use it for specific work projects that don’t have a set completion time.

In this manner, you only have to look at the online Calendar once to know your plans for the entire day. You don’t have to rush through each hour to the following time period only to find out you’re doing the same task.

Schedule Breaks

You’re allowed to take a break. Scheduling a break is especially important for people who work from home. Teleworkers face a common issue: they never “turn off” work. The projects are only a home office or laptop away. As a result, you may find yourself drawn back to the task even when you should be doing daily chores or spending time with the family.

If you’re experiencing this issue, an online calendar can become another incentive to use to create self-care time. For example, you may block in 10 minutes to step away from the computer and stretch your legs or a whole hour to let your mind decompress. Breaks provide needed downtimes that may allow you to lower your stress and find a moment of fun or happiness during your day. Then, with an improved mood, you’re ready to get back to work and improve your productivity.

When to schedule the break depends on the work and family schedule. You may extend a lunchtime break to include a time just to relax or make a reoccurring time each day after completing a task.

Use Online Calendars Efficiently

Online Calendars have many features designed to keep your work and daily tasks organized. In addition to the features mentioned above, make sure to spend some time exploring all the other functions. You may find one that helps to boost your work productivity further.

There may also be features that allow you to create more time for yourself and your family. For example, with an online calendar, you have more ways to place entries at set time periods and can be automatically reminded of the tasks. As a result, you’ll never forget a task or be required to constantly look at the schedule, as you would with a traditional planner or Calendar.

Image Credit: RODNAE Productions; Pexels; Thank you!

Fall in Love This Month — With Your Online Calendar was originally published on Calendar by John Hall.

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