All posts by John Hall

The Debate is Over – Yes You Need a Calendar

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you need a calendar

First, there are many reasons you need a calendar. For example, while you’re enjoying your Sunday, you’re planning your week since the weekend is over. Suddenly, there are a million racing thoughts going through your head.

On Monday night, your kids have a soccer game. There’s a meeting with your team on Tuesday morning. Wednesday? There’s a project deadline, along with a dentist appointment. On Thursday, there’s lunch with an investor and parent-teacher conferences. So even though you’re exhausted by Friday, you need to review progress reports and schedule dinner reservations for the weekend.

Take a moment to breathe. Everything is going to be alright.

Our calendars are constantly filled with meetings, events, special occasions, assignments, and tests, even before the week has begun. Therefore, keeping your schedule organized is essential to your success when pursuing your goals. And the simplest, most effective, and inexpensive way to achieve this is by utilizing a calendar.

In short, regardless of whether you use a paper-and-pen notebook or an online calendar, there’s no debate about it. You need a Calendar. Period.

Promotes accountability.

“Did you know that writing down your goals will make you 1.4 times more likely to succeed?” asks Howie Jones in a previous Calendar. “One reason for this is because writing lets your brain know what to focus on.” As a result, it becomes easier to remember.

Moreover, writing clarifies your goals and limits exceptions. “Also, written goals serve as constant reminders, lets you review your progress, and gives you the satisfaction of crossing items off your to-do list,” he adds.

What if you aren’t using a daily planner or wall calendar? Even though adding entries to your online Calendar may not be effective, it still helps you to schedule a specific meeting or doctor’s appointment. As well as giving you the chance to meet up with friends or accomplish particular tasks on your to-do list, it allows you to carve out time for family time.

Additionally, with an online calendar or app, you can set reminders. As a result, this will ensure that you won’t run late for a meeting, miss a deadline, or show up late to your kid’s soccer game.

And, speaking of accountability, with a calendar, you’ll finally achieve your goals. This is clutch since about 70 percent of people don’t reach their goals. But, how can a calendar help you reach your goals? While you can set realistic deadlines for mico-goals instead of setting ambitious and vague goals that take you longer to complete than anticipated. Additionally, you can use your Calendar to track your progress so that you’ll remain motivated.

Helps with prioritizing.

I get it. You have a never-ending list of tasks you need to get to. But, here’s the thing. Not every item on your to-do list is a priority.

Putting items on your Calendar allows us to choose which tasks are essential and which are not. By filtering out the unnecessary, we can make room for the important stuff.

But don’t just take my word for it. According to experts like Daniel Markovitz and Kevin Kruse, you should live by your Calendar instead of making lists. To them, lists give us too many options and fail to provide context, making it difficult to tell what is urgent and what is essential. They also don’t take time into account. And, lists can sway from tacking more challenging and complex tasks.

Aids in record keeping.

It’s also useful to maintain an up-to-date calendar for finding information about past events. Knowing when certain things, such as oil changes, quarterly reviews, doctor’s appointments, pet grooming, annual conferences, ensure that you won’t overlook them. It can also remind you of your child’s school schedule or keep track of your habits.

As if that weren’t enough, you could review past events to know when to book a team meeting, who to invite, and what should be discussed. You may even refer to your Calendar if there are any issues like billing disagreements or getting audited.

And, most importantly, at least for me, this can help you plan out your year in advance. That may sound excessive. But, I firmly believe that this is the key to time management.

Addresses procrastination.

Are you prone to procrastination? For some, this might motivate them to kick it into high gear. However, procrastination can halt productivity, impede innovation, limit opportunities, and strain relationships. And it can also cause anxiety and depression.

Will a calendar alone completely absolve you of procrastination? Most likely not. Nonetheless, having a specific date and time set aside for our tasks gives us a sense of urgency.

What’s more, this motivates us to get to work on time by eliminating excuses. For example, if you must complete a task by noon, then you can politely decline your co-worker’s invitation to join them for a mid-morning coffee break.

Provides structure.

Most of us thrive when we have a structured routine. And that’s precisely what Calendar provides us. For example;

  • Begin your day with a ritual. Get in the habit of waking up early and starting your day on the right foot by establishing a morning routine. Exercise, clearing out your inbox, reading, and planning your day are all excellent ideas for a morning ritual.
  • You should eat frogs in the morning. Not literally. Your “frog” is actually your most important task of the day. According to studies, our alertness and concentration are at their peak two hours after we wake up. Therefore, your morning should be used to tackle your main priority for the day.
  • Make the most of your afternoons by performing soft tasks and doing physical activities. Throughout the day, our energy levels decrease. Because of this, you should spend your afternoons on physical activities, meetings, and organizing your emails instead of working on tasks that require a lot of mental energy.
  • Take advantage of your commute by brainstorming. Chances are, you’ll be exhausted at the end of the workday. However, since you are less likely to be able to make connections in your brain, this is an excellent time to come up with new ideas.
  • Spend your evenings relaxing. The best way to recharge for the day ahead is to relax after dinner. The best ways to spend your evenings are to go for a walk, read, meditate, write, and check your Calendar.

Of course, you can use your Calendar to schedule breaks and fun activities to help you unwind and recharge.

Protects your mental and physical health.

By noting due dates, tasks, and special events on your Calendar, you will be able to free your mind from clutter. In addition, your Calendar is a good place to keep track of things, as you frequently check it. In turn, this can reduce stress and anxiety.

A calendar also “helps your physical health by helping you track things like diet and exercise,” writes Barbara Markway, Ph.D. for Psychology Today. Also, “you can schedule regular doctor and dentist appointments, and make sure you are getting enough fresh air and vitamin D by scheduling days spent outdoors.”

Prevents conflicts and establishes boundaries.

We all know how frustrating it is when we accept an invitation to an event, only to find out that we already have obligations during that time. Or the feeling of embarrassment we feel when we’ve double-booked ourselves into a corner. In either situation, someone will feel let down, which may also harm your reputation.

Calendars let you see what commitments you have and when you are available. It is easier to plan events or other special occasions when you know your availability. And more importantly, a calendar can assist you in setting boundaries so that you aren’t overextending yourself.

Image Credit: William Mattey; Pexels; Thank you!

The Debate is Over – Yes You Need a Calendar was originally published on Calendar by John Hall.

How to Protect Your Team’s Mental Health

By | Business Tips, Knowledge Base | No Comments
team mental health

In a given year, approximately 1 in 4 adults in the United States suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. Unfortunately, according to the report Mental Health Has Bigger Challenges Than Stigma, 45% of people with a clinically significant mental illness fail to seek help. But, as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, our collective mental health has deteriorated to the point that we’re not facing a crisis.

As a result, this can have serious repercussions when not addressed. By neglecting your mental and emotional needs, you’ll suffer from a decreased quality of life. What’s more, you can expect diminished physical health and strains on your relationships. And, your professional life will also be impacted.

Why you need to protect your team’s mental health.

Suffice to say, as a leader, it’s time to make your team’s mental health a priority. Not only because it’s the right thing to do, but it also creates a more supportive environment. As a result, this will;

  • Boost productivity. Studies show that nearly 86% of employees with depression report improved work performance. Researchers have found that treating depression can reduce presenteeism and absenteeism by between 40 to 60 percent in some studies.
  • Sparks creativity. It’s not surprising that anxiety and stress hamper creativity. What’s more, the effort involved in doing creative work increases for people with mental health challenges. On the other hand, when people report struggling “not at all” with mental health, creative work involves 23% less effort.
  • Improves retention. In a 2019 survey, half of millennials, (defined here as 23-38 years old) and 75% of Gen-Zers (18-22 years old) left a job, both voluntarily and involuntarily, partly because of mental health issues.
  • Decreases health care and disability costs. Those with serious mental illness have twice as many heart and metabolic diseases as those without.

Globally, depression and anxiety are estimated to cost $1 trillion in lost productivity per year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). According to the WHO, treating mental health concerns has a return of $4 in improved health and productivity for every $1 invested.

And, finally, an American Heart Association CEO Roundtable report called “Mental Health: A Workforce Crisis” identifies this link between physical health and mental health. In the document, employers are called upon to provide comprehensive programs that address mental illness prevention and treatment. “The cost of doing nothing is higher than investing in evidence-based prevention and treatment,” the report found.

But, how exactly can you protect your team’s mental health? Here are ten suggestions to achieve this goal.

1. Create policies that promote a culture of safety, inclusion, and equality.

The culture of your organization is comprised of its values, expected behaviors, and practices. As a result, this will guide your team in how to view, engage, and follow leaders. Because of this, the National Safety Council has identified six areas that are fundamental to workplace mental health policies:

How your organization interacts with everything from customers, vendors, and employees is established by the policies you develop. It can also improve your team’s mental health, as well as your company’s performance. Make sure, however, that these policies, both written and unwritten, provide a safe, inclusive, and equal environment.

2. Develop EAPs.

Programs that help employees resolve personal issues that could affect their lives are called employee assistance programs, or EAPs. These programs are intended to help employees deal with personal problems, like substance misuse or relationship challenges before they impede their work performance. Employee assistance programs are provided for free by stand-alone vendors or by providers included in comprehensive health insurance plans.

In spite of the fact that EAPs can significantly reduce absenteeism and workplace stress, they are largely untapped. Studies show that less than 10% of companies use EAPs.

If you’re looking for a top EAP program, consider Modern Health, Spring Health, Ginger, Talkspace, or Anthem.

3. Promote the importance of mental health and stress management.

Many employees are unaware that there are resources and benefits are available to them. Often, individuals do not know where to find lists of options, let alone what they are or how they are relevant to what they are going through.

How can you solve this problem? Here’s what the CDC recommends;

  • Deliver mental health self-assessment tools to all team members.
  • Offer free or subsidized depression screenings and follow up with feedback and referrals when necessary.
  • Provide mental health counseling and medications with no or low out-of-pocket costs.
  • Offer lifestyle coaching, counseling, and self-management programs for free or at a reduced cost.
  • All employees should be provided with materials, such as brochures, flyers, and videos, about mental health signs and symptoms and treatment options.
  • Organize seminars or workshops on depression and stress management techniques, such as mindfulness, breathing exercises, and meditation, to reduce anxiety and stress in the workplace and increase focus and motivation among employees.
  • Allow employees to take part in decisions regarding job stress issues.
  • Managers should receive training on recognizing stress and depression in team members and urging them to seek professional help if needed.

Will this be a lot of work to implement? I would think so.

However, you should know that a survey of employees throughout the nation found that what people want in the workplace is training and access to easy-to-find mental health counseling information. Moreover, the survey finds that employees would prefer an open culture regarding mental health at work.

4. As part of your health care plan — include mental health coverage.

Take the time to get to know the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Why? Well, a mental health condition, including substance use disorder, must be covered in the same way as other medical problems.

With that in mind, don’t buy plans with “phantom” mental health coverage. Instead, discover the number of psychologists and psychiatrists who are in-network with your plan. And, consider, incentives, such as health savings accounts (HSAs, that can offset out-of-pocket expenses.

5. Overcommunicate.

“Our study with Qualtrics and SAP showed that employees who felt their managers were not good at communicating have been 23% more likely than others to experience mental health declines since the outbreak,” write Kelly Greenwood and Natasha Krol for HBR.

“Make sure you keep your team informed about any organizational changes or updates,” they suggest. Set clear work hours and expectations. Whenever possible, minimize stress by setting expectations about workload, prioritizing what must be done, and acknowledging what can be put off.

“Make your team aware of available mental health resources and encourage them to use them,” Greenwood and Krol add. “Almost 46% of all workers in our study said that their company had not proactively shared those. Don’t hesitate to share them again if you have already done so”

“And be aware that shame and stigma prevent many employees from using their mental health benefits to seek treatment, so normalize the use of those services.”

6. Embrace positivity.

Does the workplace have the power to energize and fulfill employees so that they are able to perform at their best? Absolutely.

As a result of leading with empathy, hope, trust, and compassion, work becomes a positive experience instead of a stressful one.  A solution such as Workhuman’s Social Recognition® can be a powerful tool to create positivity, purpose, and belonging. According to the science, social recognition in organizations leads to;

  • Aligning people and culture to the mission
  • Reducing voluntary turnover
  • Increasing engagement
  • Increasing employee happiness

Other ways that you can create a more positive work environment include;

  • Make the effort to build meaningful relationships with your team members, either individually or as a group.
  • Show your gratitude and appreciation, such as a handwritten “thank you” note or a team party.
  • Listen to everyone’s ideas and solicit their feedback.
  • Instead of micromanaging, grant your team autonomy.
  • Be spontaneous and have fun from time to time. For example, after a product launch, throw a surprise ice social, impromptu basketball game, or dance party.

7. Support well-being.

There are many components to mental well-being. For mental health support to be effective, many departments need to work together. Again, you can offer clinical depression and mental health screenings or host mental health workshops.

Beyond that, consider the following other ways to support your team’s well-being;

  • Schedules should be as flexible as possible for all employees.
  • Provide users with access to apps that can assist in sleeping and reducing stress.
  • Think about introducing a meditation room, mindfulness training, and/or yoga classes.
  • Encourage employees to take advantage of their vacation time. Some companies limit the number of vacation days employees can carry forward to encourage this.
  • Permit your team members to take mental health days.

Also, if you have people who need to take a leave of absence due to mental health issues provide accommodations and develop a return-to-work process for them. It’s an effective way to help employees feel supported upon their return.

Finally, provide employees with opportunities to build connections among themselves. Examples could be social events, affinity groups, or even virtually through electronic message boards or virtual lunches.

8. Provide mentoring opportunities.

Mentoring can offer an effective method of supporting mental health at work, according to the Mental Health Foundation. Mainly, this is because employee well-being is improved since mentoring encourages human interconnection. It’s particularly relevant today, given the challenges posed by remote and hybrid work environments in terms of added isolation and stress.

Furthermore, workplace engagement is improved through these meaningful relationships. In fact, it’s been found that having a best friend at work not only increases engagement, it also leads to innovation and a more positive work experience. Additionally, mentoring can make team members feel included and fosters a greater sense of purpose.

9. Improve the workplace.

The benefits of natural light, adequate personal space, greenery, and designated quiet spaces in offices are beneficial to employee productivity and satisfaction. You should strive to create a welcoming atmosphere in your office while making sure each space meets the needs of your employees. For instance, co-working can be a great place for some individuals. But others may prefer to work alone from time to time.

In short, stress and anxiety in the workplace often stem from its design. And, eventually, this can lead to employee burnout.

10. Adjust with changes.

There is no guarantee that what works today will work tomorrow. In the same way that circumstances may impact organizational strategy, team-based support is subject to change as well.

In the event of a change in circumstances, strategies and steps to support a team member’s mental health may be less effective. With that in mind, if you want to keep your team mentally healthy, leaders should maintain ongoing communication with them.

Image Credit: Madison Inouye; Pexels; Thank you!

How to Protect Your Team’s Mental Health was originally published on Calendar by John Hall.

Still Struggling to Hire? Here’s What You Should Do Differently

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struggling to hire

Businesses are navigating through one of the most unprecedented times in recent history. After overcoming many difficulties related to Covid-19, numerous establishments are now struggling to fill positions with new hires. Having new hires ready to go for the new year comes at the same time as high levels of unemployment. So, where’s the overlap?

The ratio of open job positions to jobs being filled is at a record high. With so many potential hires, where is the disconnect? If you’re experiencing some hiring struggles of your own, here are a few things you might consider changing:

Be More Flexible

Perhaps the top thing that prospective employees are now looking for is more flexibility. During episodes of quarantine, workers saw just how feasible it was to work from home. Many workers were able to take side gigs to improve their work-life balance while still making an income. If employees don’t see those same opportunities even as Covid-19 blows over more likely to move on to greener pastures.

Becoming more flexible will not only increase your chances when it comes to hiring, but you also have a better shot at landing high-quality hires. Typically the best employees know that they can afford to prolong their job search looking for the best option. Showing that you can be flexible for them will lure them to your place of business.

Being flexible doesn’t always mean that you offer remote opportunities. Being willing to work with individual schedules, hire part-time help, and make unique accommodations is sometimes what it takes to get the best talent. This is particularly true for workers who haven’t reentered the workforce yet due to lingering concerns about the Covid-19 virus.

Review Your Compensation Package

Many former workers have concluded that they just aren’t getting paid enough for what they do. Besides, why go to work for 40 hours a week when you can get a comparable benefits package from the government while doing nothing? But, of course, that’s without even mentioning climbing inflation rates that wage increases have yet to match.

You don’t have to overpay by absurd amounts just to fill your vacant positions. However, it’s not a bad idea to take a look at your compensation package to reevaluate it. For example, how long has it been since you’ve increased your hourly wages? Are you providing fair access to insurance and retirement programs? The more improvements you can make, the more attractive your workplace will become.

Offer a Return Incentive

Some people just need a little nudge out the door to get back into the workforce. You can do your part by offering a return incentive for new hires. In addition, some exclusive offerings can get some workers out of the woodworks.

A typical example you can find is a signing bonus. Many a business trying to funnel in more job applications, a lump sum of $1,000 or so has been dangled. At the very least, this can get people thinking about applying for a job opening, whereas before, they were being more passive with their job search.

Other incentives might include your revamped benefits package, the ability to work remotely, or access to tools and software programs employees will need to perform their job to the fullest. But, again, choose incentives that fit the role you’re trying to fill that also draw in the type of employee you’re hoping to acquire.

Focus on Your Culture

Run a poll with your existing employees about your company culture. What do they like about the environment there? What aspects of the workplace could they do without? In many cases, good hires are found by word of mouth, and even your best employees might not be keen to spread the news about a job opening if they have a few gripes left unchecked.

For example, you might not have noticed a micromanagement trend seep from the top of your organization to the bottom. Of course, most employees hate being led by a micromanaging leader. But, even if the rest of the organization is up to par, the sour taste that micromanagement leaves in your mouth can make you forget about all of that some days.

Whatever problems you uncover by communicating with your team, look for a viable solution. For example, perhaps using an online calendar to better label due dates and meetings will cut down on some habits that may seem like micromanagement. In addition, by taking better care of your existing employees, not only will you draw in more talent, but your retention rates will be higher than ever.

Look to New Sources

If your usual hiring route keeps coming up empty, perhaps it’s time to try a different approach. There are multiple channels and platforms you can use to find new hires, and all of them are worth trying.

Previously you might have only relied on Facebook posts and window signs to advertise vacancies. Try a job posting website to expand your reach if that’s not working right now. Even branching out to different social media sites should better get your job postings on the map.

With Covid-19 not as prevalent an issue anymore, in-person events are another great place to go. For example, a job fair at a local college will be filled with inquisitive students who can at least fill a part-time or internship role to help your business out for the short term. Internship openings can also lead to exciting new opportunities for your business, such as an extensive onboarding process or a boosted relationship with your community.

While looking to fill roles, make decisions that will get you the best talent and retain your greatest employees. Think about the people you want to work with, and the rest of your organization will slowly fall into place.

Image Credit: Kampus Production; Pexels; Thank you!

Still Struggling to Hire? Here’s What You Should Do Differently was originally published on Calendar by John Hall.

5 Best Team Management Apps

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5 Best Team Management Apps

In today’s fast-paced workplace, communication is essential. Helpful collaboration software — like team management apps — makes it simple. Since workflows with multiple steps and components are passed around to various departments and team members, most of whom might not even be in the same building on a day-to-day basis.

Using effective team management apps can be vital in keeping everyone on the same page and streamlining tasks. Options are available for scheduling, task tracking, integration with complementary programs, document storage, and a host of other functions that can be ignored or executed, depending on your team’s specific needs.

Here are the five best team management apps to keep your members on track:


Teamwork allows multiple people working on a single project to collaborate efficiently. Designed primarily for teams, the free version, built for individuals and small groups, offers basic task management, the setting of milestones, and messaging. Teamwork is a good choice for the individual or office that values ease of use. The setup process is minimal and not nearly as complex to use as some other options. It is also compatible with integration on other major apps such as Slack and QuickBooks.

The teamwork app really excels at bringing its users along as they move from working through a simple to-do list to more elaborate projects with multiple moving parts. It also allows everyone connected to any project to see, at a glance, which tasks have been completed and to whom they were assigned. That feature keeps others motivated as no one wants to be the one person preventing others from moving forward.

As an added benefit, Teamwork offers multiple packages and pricing points to provide great flexibility. Employers can choose which functions would be most beneficial for their purposes and choose the corresponding package accordingly.

2.’s strength lies in its ability to visualize tasks in a way that makes them instantly comprehensible to end-users. The interface is deceptively simple to use at first glance but hides a ton of features. As a result, the features are harder to use and have a steep learning curve.

Updates to team members occur in real-time. So, everyone attached to a project is aware of every development on their to-do list. easily accommodates cross-departmental project management. Tutorials are helpful and clear. Spreadsheet enthusiasts might wish allowed workflow integrations to be easier. Integration aside, its ease of use and organizational capacity make it an excellent choice for organizations of all sizes.

3. ClickUp

ClickUp requires a little bit more time for initial deployment, but many organizations find the extra effort is well worth the payoff. Additionally, ClickUp can organize surface tasks by the due date, responsible party, or just about any other criteria you care to program. Users work from a single dashboard that toggles back and forth easily.

The ClickUp interface facilitates internal, task-specific communication and a to-do list that bolsters accountability and provides a running account for future reference. If ClickUp suffers from anything, it’s the sheer depth of its features that can sometimes confuse end-users. Set aside some time upfront to teach your people which features you’ll use — and those you’re planning to ignore — and your team should be good to go.

4. Asana

Asana does a great job of allowing your business to manage day-to-day tasks and engage in high-level planning all in one place. Users of Asana like its ability to put all of their sticky notes, files, and data in one place. Asana is not specifically geared to the needs of an individual user quite as well as it is for teams, though it can certainly be used for teams. Strengths in the team settings include task allocation and tracking, collaboration, and virtual meeting management.

Asana sets up in minutes and features an interface that allows Type A personalities to enjoy their work as they check off completed tasks one after the other. A great user experience includes not overwhelming a user but serving up to-do list tasks in manageable chunks.

Another perk is the program’s regular upgrades and additions of features. On an annual basis, Asana has been adding functions such as video voicemails, voice to text, and personalization of the user’s task interface. They also continuously update available app integrations. Having a program that continuously adapts to user preferences rather than remaining stagnant is helpful in any team product. As a result, the office communication feature is constantly evolving.

5. Google Tasks

As you might expect, the Google entry into creating a to-do list was designed primarily to connect large teams. However, Google also designed it to connect teams across boundaries of time and geography. The Google Task interface will be immediately intuitive to anyone who is already familiar with the use of Google products such as Gmail.

Unsurprisingly, Google Tasks integrates perfectly with other Google products, making ramp-up time minimal. While getting customer service for Google Tasks can be difficult — most users shouldn’t need it. While Google Tasks can hardly be classified as rich in features, it includes all of the basics of team-oriented task management. Those looking for highly personalized options for complex projects in large teams may want to look elsewhere. However, for pre-existing Google users looking to dive in quickly, this app might be the path of least resistance. The transition is effortless from a viewer interface standpoint. The ease is because the design mimics other Google products the user recognizes and can easily navigate.


The workforce is no longer in the days when, with few exceptions, employees exclusively came into a brick-and-mortar building every day. Being in the same physical space every day meant team members could collaborate face to face with their coworkers. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case with the rise of remote or hybrid work options and innovative technology.

So, have a system in place, whether your team is large, small, in-office, or remote. Having your app choice in place will help keep your team functioning as a cohesive unit is vital in workflow efficiency. There are numerous options available for team management apps and software. So, it’s essential to choose the system that is most valuable for your business and your team.

Image credit: MOHI SYED; Pexels; thank you!

5 Best Team Management Apps was originally published on Calendar by John Hall.

Getting Excited About Work After COVID

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Getting Excited About Work After COVID

After adjusting to working remotely for the past year, it’s about time to head back to work. In some cases, some people have already returned. In either case, it’s not going to be a smooth transition. Some people would prefer to continue working from home — while others may still be concerned about their safety. The good news, though, is that the following strategies can be used to get you excited about work after COVID.

Overcome your anxiety.

“So much has changed since March 2020,” says Kate Sweeny, professor of psychology and Teresa and Byron Pollitt Endowed Term Chair. “For many of us, one change has involved learning to work from home rather than going to an office every day.”

Initially, the pandemic may have been quite stressful. Still, thankfully, those who survived have been able to adjust and become comfortable staying at home most of the time – or at least relatively so, says Sweeny. “Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, many people are feeling anxious as they look ahead to a time when they have to return to the office, returning to once-comfortable but now unfamiliar routines.”

“My research on the psychology of stressful uncertainty reveals several ways of managing these anxieties.”

The first thing you should do is plan ahead so that you gain control over the future. Some suggestions would be going over your work wardrobe, dusting off your daily planner, or finding a new recipe to pack for lunch. These are important things to plan before going back to work after covid.

Secondly, you can see the good in returning to work to boost your hope and optimism and calm your fears. Have you missed any coworkers? Are there any old routines that will provide comfort? That could be anything from grabbing a latte at your favorite coffee shop to getting dressed to listening to a podcast during your commute.

“Finally, if all else fails, you can find challenging, engaging activities to absorb your attention,” suggests Sweeny. This is a process called “flow,“ and it can “help pass the time pleasantly while you wait for the ‘old normal’ to return.”

Remember the “why.”

“When people have to do something they feel anxious about, it can help to know there’s a good reason behind it,” writes Amy Gallo for HBR. “If the senior leaders at your company haven’t clearly articulated why it’s important people come back to the office, you may need to fill that gap.”

“Communicate the vision from upper management so employees see it as reasonable and can get out on board. If they don’t buy-in, it’s going to feel like coercion,” says Jacob Hirsh, an associate professor at the University of Toronto. “What’s the value proposition for going back in? What is in it for the employees? Will they strengthen their relationships with their coworkers? Will it lessen work-life conflicts if there are clearer boundaries? It can be perceived as a loss so reframe it as to what they will gain.”

You should also let your team know that this wasn’t a hasty decision. “They need to see that there’s a competent and well-thought-out plan,” Hirsh says. The plan should also take their needs into account. For example, you might say something like, “We understand that some of you have reservations, and those make sense. To address those, we’ve….” Again, you want people to feel heard and considered.

Find meaningful work.

What if you’re in a leadership position? What if it hasn’t been articulated that you will or won’t return to the workplace? You can find meaningful work by;

  • Identify the parts of your job that you enjoy and what you’re passionate about.
  • Use the alignment triangle. To align these three concepts, one must consider three elements: passion, values, and gifts (or what many refer to as talents and skills).
  • You can turn your current job into one you genuinely enjoy by implementing a job crafting strategy. How is that possible? You can do this by modifying your job description so that it is meaningful. The result will be greater happiness and engagement at work.
  • Seek autonomy, such as being able to work when you’re most productive.
  • Ask others, like ” What am I good at?” or “What’s the purpose of my work?”

Harness the power of hybrid work.

Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, which surveyed more than 30,000 people globally, found that 40% of those surveyed were considering leaving their employers this year. So it’s clear that employers are under tremendous pressure to adapt to changing expectations after covid.

What matters is not whether or not flexible work is possible in the future, but whether and how employers support employees. For example, Nielsen’s Total Audience Report for August 2020 indicated that 80% of respondents would prefer to work for a firm that would let them choose where they would work.

Work-from-home (WFH) arrangements offer more flexibility, autonomy, and (theoretically) more time for personal responsibilities. But, on the flip side, WFH results in a decrease in trust within the workplace. And, people still value face-to-face meetings and interacting with colleagues.

The solution? A hybrid work model where you occasionally work on-site, while other times you would work from home — or wherever you want. Besides offering the best of both worlds, hybrid work increases productivity and can help everyone ease their way back into position.

Reunite with colleagues.

According to Gensler’s research, interacting with colleagues is what employees have missed the miss most. However, some extroverts will find this reason enough to get excited about returning to the office.

In a world where we see a decrease in office occupancy, relying on interactions during breaks and at coffee, stations are no longer sufficient to spur innovation. Due to the more flexible schedules and seating available in your workplace, you’ll need to find new, creative ways to facilitate team building.

Providing new amenities or forms of recreation at your office is one suggestion. Another is scheduling catered lunches or volunteering together at a local charity. You might even want to explore cross-functionality so that everyone has a chance to interact with people from various departments and backgrounds.

It’s important not to overlook the fun part, gatherings like office parties — when it’s safe, of course. But, even simple opportunities for reuniting and connecting will motivate employees to return to work. And, having people return and take part in in-person meetings will create a sense of FOMO.

However, just note that there might still be some awkwardness and conflict. Some of us may have to work on learning how to socialize again with others. This resocialization is much more authentic in such a polarizing time politically and socially.

Foster healthy competition.

A healthy competitive environment can also inject a whole lot of excitement and efficiency back into the workplace after covid. Team members who have benchmarks for performance and are rewarded for exceptional performances motivate themselves to give their best. This also stimulates them to come up with new ideas. Exercises that help build team spirit and encourage competition are a great way to keep their spirits high.

In teams where employees return after a long absence, it’s imperative to foster competition while maintaining team unity. By appreciating their abilities and besting their past performances, you can promote fair competition.


A tried and true strategy in keeping people happy and engaged is through workplace perks. In fact, an employee survey found 48% would consider company benefits, including snacks, when choosing a new job.

Besides refreshments, consider the following perks;

  • Recognition programs
  • Flexible work schedule
  • Vacation or paid time off
  • Health and wellness programs, like gym memberships or access to apps like Calm
  • Employee discounts and rewards
  • 401 (k) plan, pension, or other retirement plans
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Stock options
  • Childcare assistance

Development opportunities after covid.

One of the significant drawbacks of remote work reported over the past year has been a lack of professional development opportunities. You can use this to your advantage and have your office become a business networking and seminar center. For instance, a regular company-wide training program at your company headquarters makes everyone feel more connected.

The opportunity to learn and grow is significant for Millennials and Gen Z. In fact, a Gallup survey showed 59% of Millennials value learning opportunities and growth when applying for jobs.

Furthermore, a survey conducted by CNBC showed that 9 out of 10 employees who have a mentor say they are happier with their jobs. You can also provide mentorship programs in your office so that your employees can find mentors, whether they are formal or informal.

Spruce up the workspace.

You don’t have to completely redo the workplace after covid, like painting the walls or adding more windows. Instead, you could simply invest in a standing desk or just adding more plants. Plants have been shown to have many benefits, including increasing productivity, improving health, and creating a more inviting workspace.

Image credit: Ylanite Koppens; pexels; Thanks!

Getting Excited About Work After COVID was originally published on Calendar by John Hall.

Top 25 Calendar Experts You Should be Following

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Top 25 Calendar Experts You Should be Following

The purpose of a calendar has always been to calculate past or future times. Centuries ago, this had life or death implications as it let our ancestors know when to plant and harvest crops. It then evolved to remind us when festivals or religious ceremonies were to be celebrated.

Today? We rely on our calendars to not only keep track of time. We rely on them to schedule events, prioritize, stay on task, and be more productive. Yeah. Calendars play a vital role in our daily lives.

As such, you should follow these 25 experts so that you’re getting the most out of your calendar.

1. John Rampton

Named by Entrepreneur as the “Top Online Influencer in the World,” John Rampton and his team have built an impressive four unicorns over the last decade. And, one of these companies happens to be Calendar, where he also serves as its Chief.

Calendar launched in 2018, intending to reinvent the online calendar for the modern person. As a scheduling software, it uses machine learning to make smart suggestions. For example, it analyzes past calendars to recommend when, where, and whom to invite for your next meeting.

Follow John on Twitter (@johnrampton) or connect with him on LinkedIn for the latest calendar, time management, and productivity tips.

Suggested reading: Best Online Calendar and Scheduling Apps

2. Jory MacKay

Jory MacKay is a freelance writer and editor. His work has been featured in publications like Fast CompanyInc.Business Insider, Lifehacker, The Next Web, and The Startup. But, this award-winning writer also shares timeless productivity tips over at the RescueTime blog.

For the uninitiated, RescueTime is a time-management tool that tracks how you spend your days. With this data, you can make the appropriate changes. For instance, identifying when you’re most productive so that you can block this time out in your calendar. It’s also handy if you want to block out distractions when you’re trying to work.

Suggested reading: How to make a daily schedule that won’t ruin your day

3. Laura Stack

Also known as the Productivity Pro, Laura Stack is a Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker and bestselling author who has been featured on CNN, NPR, Bloomberg, the New York TimesUSA Today, the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, and Forbes. She’s also written for the American Business Journal, Huffington Post, LinkedIn, Salesforce, Time Management, and Productive magazines.

While her work can help anyone improve their personal productivity, her main focus is assisting leaders in high-stress work environments to increase performance. She shares daily productivity tips on Twitter (@laurastack); she definitely gives her a follow.

Suggested reading: Protecting your calendar from others: managing availability

4. David Allen

David Allen is a productivity consultant and mastermind behind the time management method called “Getting Things Done.” After first publishing Getting Things Done in 2001, this system has helped millions of people bring order to their chaotic lives. Today, it’s expanded to courses, videos, podcasts, and blog posts to help you capture, clarify, organize, reflect, and engage.

As for your calendar, in GTD, Allen recommends that it shouldn’t be cluttered with miscellanea. Rather, it should only contain time-specific actions, day-specific actions, and day-specific information.

Suggested reading: When to block your calendar

5. Leo Babauta

Piggybacking off Allen’s advice, keeping your calendar simple and mindful can make you feel less overwhelmed. More importantly? It allows you to hone in on what’s truly important.

That’s exactly what Zen Habits is all about. It’s a blog that was founded in 2007 by Leo Babauta. And, it covers how you can implement zen habits into your daily life..including your calendar. Also, follow Leo (@zen_habits) on Twitter for more minimalist and meaningful tips.

Suggested reading: Simplify Your Day Module Plan

6. Laura Vanderkam

One of my go-to experts when it comes to time management and productivity is Laura Vanderkam. After all, she’s the author of books like 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think and Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done. What’s more, she’s the host of the Before Breakfast and has appeared on The Today Show and CBS This Morning.

As if that weren’t enough, her work has also been featured in publications like The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalUSA TodayCity Journal, Fortune, and Fast Company. And, if you haven’t done so yet, her TED Talk, “How to gain control of your free time,” is a must-watch.

Suggested reading: The calendar meeting

7. Steven Griffith

Considered a leading authority on the connection between time, productivity, and performance, Steven Griffith is also the author of The Time Cleanse: A Proven System To Eliminate Wasted Time, Realize Your Full Potential, And Reinvest In What Matters Most. In it, he coins the “Timefulness” solution that “adds time to your life, and life to your time.”

Over the last 25 years, Griffith also has an advisor and coached a wide range of CEOs, entrepreneurs, and athletes. You may have even seen it on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, or in publications like Forbes or Entrepreneur.

Suggested reading: How to Use Your Calendar Like GPS

8. Barnaby Lashbrooke

Want to free up blocks of time in your calendar? One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is by delegating tasks to others. But, what if you’re a solopreneur and don’t have people to delegate to?

The answer to this quandary is through freelancers, such as virtual assistants. And, you can turn to the award-winning tool Time Etc to accomplish this. You should also follow its founder, Barnaby Lashbrooke, on platforms like Twitter (@blashbrooke)Forbes, or Entrepreneur for top-notch time management and productivity tips.

Suggested reading: How To Plan Your Work Week For Maximum Productivity In 2021

9. Elizabeth Grace Saunders

Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E®, which is a time coaching and training company. She’s also the author of The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success With Less Stress and writes for Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Inc, and Lifehacker.

What sets her work apart from others is that it’s all about empowerment so that you can stop feeling guilty and overwhelmed. And, with less stress, you’ll feel more accomplished and confident.

Suggested reading: Respect Yourself and Take Back Control of Your Calendar

10. Michael Hyatt

Not only is he the founder of Michael Hyatt & Company, but Hyatt is also an author, podcaster, and speaker. While much of his work focuses on leadership, he’s also provided solid goal setting and productivity tips.

I would also suggest that you follow him on Twitter (@MichaelHyatt). He’s extremely active on the social channel, where he shares advice on breaking away from the cult of overwork.

Suggested viewing: How to Conquer a Chaotic Calendar

11. Chris Bailey

Another personal favorite writer of mine, Chris Bailey, is the author of Hyperfocus. It’s a practical guide on how to manage your energy. Which, if you weren’t aware, is more important than managing your time.

He’s also written The Productivity Project. In it, Bailey lets us know that productivity is the product of managing your time, attention, and energy. He also discusses what biological prime time is and how to identify procrastination triggers.

For more useful advice and insights, head over to his website, A Life of Productivity.

Suggested reading: Feel overwhelmed by work? Try giving your days a theme.

12. Chloe Leibowitz

Chloe Leibowitz is a trained life coach with over a decade of experience. She primarily focuses on aiding you in forming new habits and boosting your productivity. In addition to one-on-one consultations, Chloe also has events and workshops like Bullet Journals.

If you visit her blog, you’ll find articles involving self-care, goals, mindset, and daily habits. However, she’s also shared her calendar hacks with Business Insider.

Suggested reading: Productivity experts break down how these 6 calendar hacks, from scheduling focused work to ‘timeboxing,’ help them work smarter

13. Craig Jarrow

Craig Jarrow is the author of Time Management Ninja. His main philosophy is teaching others the habits, skills, and tools needed to reclaim their time. He’s also a speaker and coach and featured on Lifehacker, Huffington Post, and American Express OPEN.

Craig is also another expert that you should follow on Twitter (@TMNinja). He posts excellent nuggets of wisdom multiple times a day. And, it also wouldn’t hurt to subscribe to TMN for even more tips and tools.

Suggested reading: Are You Making These 5 Calendar Mistakes?

14. Tope Awotona

Tope Awotona is the founder and CEO of Calendly. Founded in 2010, Calendly is a free online appointment scheduling software that eliminates those pesky back-and-forth emails. What’s more, it users automation so that you can spend less time scheduling and more time doing what really matters.

Awotona also has an inspiring story that you should read. He braved war zones while building the tool in Ukraine. Today? The company is a unicorn.

He’s definitely someone else you should follow on Twitter @TopeAwotona.

Suggested listening: Calendly: Tope Awotona : How I Built This with Guy Raz: NPR

15. Justin Pot

Justin Pot is currently a staff writer at Zapier. Previously, he’s written for How-to Geek, Digital Trends, and MakeUseOf. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, these are all tech publications.

There’s an excellent explanation. Justin is a tech writer who has the knack to explain it to us mere mortals easily. And, since calendars have gone digital, he’s a reliable authority figure in this realm.

Follow Justin on Twitter (@jhpot) to stay up-to-date on the latest tech news.

Suggested reading: Why everyone needs to use Google Calendar’s out of office feature

16. Anshul Kumar

Anshul Kumar is the founder and president of Nextgen Digital. The content he produces covers topics like personal growth, digital transformation, and productivity. He’s also a YouTuber and top writer for the self-improvement publication Curious.

Suggested Reading: My Simple Hack for Calendar Blocking — Love It!

17. Caleb Moran

Caleb Moran is a business coach, minister, and father of five. He also just so happens to be the author of Calendar HackingIn it, Moran shares his proven method that will help you “underwhelm your life and MAXIMIZE your days,” such as;

  • Giving up so that you can go up with the Mountain Climber method.
  • The difference between being intentional and busy.
  • The importance of boundaries.
  • Why your daily routine is the secret to your future.
  • How make your calendar a new boss you’ll love.

Suggested listening: 5 Steps To A Productive Work Week

18. Maura Thomas

Maura Thomas is an award-winning speaker, trainer, and author of Attention Management and Personal Productivity Secrets. Her work has also been seen in Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Forbes, Entrepreneur, and The Wall Street Journal.

Furthermore, her productivity blog is reaped with priceless productivity tips like organizing your life, organizing your emails, and gaining brainpower momentum.

Suggested reading: Should You Schedule Tasks on Your Calendar?

19. James Clear

James Clear is a photographer, entrepreneur, and author. His New York Times bestseller, Atomic Habits, is one of my favorite books from the last couple of years. It’s mainly because it’s jam-packed with practical and realistic tips on breaking old habits and sticking to good ones.

Clear also has produced a Clear Habit Journal. And, he shares even more advice on his Twitter account (@JamesClear).

Suggested reading: The Ultimate Habit Tracker Guide: Why and How to Track Your Habits

20. Ellen Faye

Ellen is an ICF Professional Certified Coach and IAC Certified Productivity Leadership Coach. Since 2001, she has helped people work smarter and live better.

Her blog is another excellent resource if you’re struggling with calendar management and productivity. Ellen also shares how you can set priorities, improve efficiency, and juggle multiple commitments.

Suggested reading: Make Space – See What’s Possible.

21. Jill E. Duffy

Jill E. Duffy is a writer who covers mainly personal technology, productivity, and remote work. Since 2012, she’s also been a columnist for, writing for a series called Get Organized. In this digital era, this series has been a priceless resource.

Jill has also written articles for the BBC, Fast Company, and Productivity Report. You can follow Jill (@jilleduffy) on Twitter as well.

Suggested reading: How to Turn Splinters of Time Into Blocks

22. Mike Vardy

Mike Vardy is a writer, speaker, and productivity strategist. Oh yeah. He’s also the founder of a pretty cool website dubbed Productivityist. He’s also the author of The Productivityist Playbook and TimeCrafting: A Better Way to Get the Right Things Done.

Definitely go ahead and give him a follow on Twitter (@mikevardy), listen to his podcast, or visit his blog for some stellar productivity tips.

Suggested reading: The One Thing I Started Scheduling On My Calendar

23. Julie Morgenstern

Julie Morgenstern is a New York Times bestselling author and speaker who has been assisting people to become more organized to reach their goals. She’s written columns for O MagazineRedbook, and Wells Fargo. And, she’s also shared her expertise on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, The Rachael Ray Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, and NPR.

She’s also the founder and CEO of Julie Morgenstern Enterprises. The company publishes original content on its blog and hosts workshops to help bring order to this chaotic world.

Suggested reading: Julie Morgenstern: “America’s Organizing Queen” on how to organize your time (and your life)

24. Cal Newport

Cal Newport is a computer science professor at Georgetown University. He’s also the author of seven best-selling books, including the influential Deep Work. His other work includes Digital Minimalism, A World Without Email, and The Time-Block Planner.

Somehow, Newport also has a podcast featured in USA Today, Good Morning America, and NPR.

Suggested reading: Feel frazzled? This time management strategy can help reduce stress.

25. Matt East

Matt East is a productivity coach and author of The Purposeful Planning Method: How to Plan Your Day, Beat Procrastination, and Regain Control of Your Time. He’s also the host of not one but two podcasts — The Goal Achievement Podcast and the Better Humans Podcast.

Suggested reading: These 10 Questions Lead To Better Time Management, Says This Productivity Expert

10 Ways to Remove Your Digital Clutter

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10 Ways to Remove Your Digital Clutter

The global pandemic seems to be abating — but the wind has kicked up some dust. I was cooped up at home all last weekend. I decided to make the best of it by getting a jump on my upcoming week. You know, laundry, meal prep, tend the kids — and planning my schedule.

I hate it if I allow my laptop to become a filthy, disorganized mess. Why did I let this happen? My best advice is — DON’T be a digital hoarder.

The term “digital-hoarding” was first used in 2015. Specifically, it was regarding a 47-year-old man who snapped an astonishing 1,000 digital photographs every day!

“He never used or looked at the pictures he had saved but was convinced that they would be of use in the future,” wrote the authors of a case study published in the British Medical Journal. They went on to define this phenomenon as “the accumulation of digital files to the point of loss of perspective which eventually results in stress and disorganization.”

In a follow-up study, researchers went on to identify four types of digital hoarders.

“‘Collectors’ are organized, systematic, and in control of their data,” explains one of the researchers Nick Neave, Associate Professor in Psychology, and Director of the Hoarding Research Group, Northumbria University, Newcastle “‘Accidental hoarders’ are disorganized, don’t know what they have, and don’t have control over it.”

“The ‘hoarder by instruction’ keeps data on behalf of their company (even when they could delete much of it),” Neave adds. “Finally, ‘anxious hoarders’ have strong emotional ties to their data — and are worried about deleting it.”

Why is digital hoarding a problem?

Digital hoarding more not seems like much of an issue. What’s the big deal if you have thousands of photos stored on your hard drive? Is it really so bad that you have an arsenal of tools that make work more efficient?

In reality, this can make you anxious and feel overwhelmed. It’s also distracting. And, it can lead to information overload, which depletes your energy.

It’s like when you have a sink full of dirty dishes or a desk with a mountain of papers. It’s difficult to focus on anything else when you’re surrounded by clutter. And, it’s exhausting to keep with emails, Instagram pics, Slack messages, and trying to find a research paper you wrote back in college.

Digital clutter interferes with your mental health and robs you of greater productivity.

As I realized over the weekend, digital clutter slows down your computer. That’s not just annoying. It can also waste your valuable time.

Moreover, “the more data is kept, the greater the risk that a cyberattack could lead to the loss or theft of information covered by data protection legislation,” states Neave. “In the EU, new GDPR rules mean companies that lose customer data to hacking could be hit with hefty fines.”

“The final consequence of digital hoarding — in the home or at work — is an environmental one,” he adds. “Hoarded data has to be stored somewhere. The reluctance to have a digital clear-out can contribute to the development of increasingly large servers that use considerable amounts of energy to cool and maintain them.”

Ways to become a digital minimalist.

While I don’t think that my digital hoarding had gotten that out of control, it was clear that I needed to do a little housekeeping. Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. In fact, here are ten easy ways you can avoid becoming a digital hoarder.

1. Get your inbox in check.

I know a lot of people who neglect their inboxes. Eventually, they have thousands of unread messages. Besides potentially missing an important email, this creates a cycle where they are so overwhelmed they continue to let this happen.

Right now, go through and clean out your inbox. Just breathe; you’ll feel better when it’s done. Afterward, you can prevent this from happening again by keeping your email in check;

  • Setting up rules, filters, and labels. It’s a simple way to keep your inbox organized by separating messages.
  • Use or Sanebox to unsubscribe from lists.
  • Block out specific times to check your inbox.
  • If you have multiple accounts, unify them so that you only have to go through one.
  • Instead of lengthy threads, use other communication mediums like phone calls, texts, or Slack messages.

2. Keep your desktop as minimal as possible.

Are you old enough to remember Windows 95? I do. I remember most of how littered it was with icons — many of which were free trials or programs I’d never use.

Thankfully, that’s a problem from the past. You can quickly access programs and files through a menu like Launcher (Chrome), Start (Windows), and Launchpad (Mac). That means that there’s really no reason to have distracting icons and shortcuts on your desktop.

Personally, my desktop is icon-free. And, it’s been a game-changer. My laptop looks so fresh and clean.

What about the programs you use the most? They are conventionally located in your taskbar at the bottom of your screen.

Also, use a minimalist background. It’s a simple way to prevent your eyes from facing the negative effects of digital clutter.

3. Break up with old files.

It’s hard to part ways with documents, photos, videos, or whatever else you’ve downloaded. But, if you go through all of your old files, I guarantee that you can delete a bulk of them without losing a moment of sleep.

At the same time, I do understand that this can make you anxious. So, start nice and slow. And I would begin with deleting all duplicate files.

From there, I would tackle the oldest documents. In most cases, I doubt you need to hold onto a digital file from several years ago. But, if you feel that you do, organize them and store them on an external hard drive.

4. Use cleanup tools.

I use CCleaner. While I didn’t do this for a while, it will eliminate cookies and your browsing history. It can also clear your cache and downloads. You can also try similar tools like;

You don’t have to use these tools. I feel that it’s more convenient since it’s conveniently located next to my browser.

Also, CCleaner can be useful to detect “bloatware.” Also known as “crapware,” this is unuseful software that’s been preinstalled or that you unknowingly downloaded and installed. And it can impact the performance of your device.

Other tools that you can use to address bloatware are Clario and Should I Remove It? However, to do this right, you need to remove “bloatware” manually. If you don’t know how to do this, ZDNet has an article on how to do so if you’re using Windows 10.

Bonus tip: Delete bookmarks that you no longer need. For the ones that you do want to save, move them over to Evernote or Pocket.

5. Uninstall old apps and programs.

Remember when you made your desktop a minimalists utopia? Well, just because you deleted icons doesn’t mean that you completely uninstalled the apps or programs you no longer want. To get rid of them for good, you need to uninstall them.

The process will depend on the device you’re using. For example, it can be complicated if you’re using Windows 10. As such, head over to PCMag for advice on how to do this. It’s more straightforward if you’re using a Chromebook or Mac.

6. Be less social.

I’m going to be 100% upfront—I’m over social media, but we likely have to use this media for business. These platforms can be useful to network, spread brand awareness, and keep in touch with friends and family — just watch that they’re not destructive to you or you’re productivity.

On average, we spend 145 minutes per day on social media. Considering that social media feel increasingly toxic and can negatively impact our mental health, don’t you think that time could be spent elsewhere? Even if you don’t feel that exact way, it’s still distracting.

While not everyone can permanently delete social media, at least cut back on the accounts, you use. If you never go on Pinterest, then go ahead and delete your account. You should also defriend and unfollow people who are negative and only make you angry.

You can also reduce the time spent on social by;

  • Removing the apps from your smartphone so that you have to log in on the browser.
  • Using social media and monitoring tools like Hootsuite or Sprout Social.
  • Block social media apps and sites at specific times.
  • Set time limits on how long you’ll be on social.
  • Use batching to check your channels only three times per day; before work, around lunch, and before ending the workday.

7. Cut back on the passwords.

According to a study commissioned by NordPass, the average person has 100 different passwords across various sites and services. The study states that there’s been an across as more people have searched for new services and entertainment during the pandemic.

Trying to remember all of these different passwords is no easy feat. But, using a password manager like LastPass, Dashlane, or 1Password will securely remember these passwords for you.

I’d also recommend that you go through and delete rarely used accounts. Dormant accounts can cause security risks. You’ll also receive less junk mail.

JustDeleteMe is a directory of the most frequently used sites and how difficult it is to delete your account.

8. Free up space through defragging.

If your computer is really dragging, then you’ll probably need to defrag it to free up space. Most computers do this automatically. But, if not, you’ll want to create a calendar reminder to do this regularly. Or, you could use a took like Disk Space Fan.

Again, each OS is different. Here are some resources you can turn to if you still have trouble freeing up space;

9. Don’t forget about your smartphone.

Digital clutter doesn’t just involve your laptop or PC. It can also spill over to your smartphone.

Most of the tips listed above can also be applied to your smartphone. But here are some pointers you can use to clean digital clutter on your phone.

  • Deleting unused apps from your device.
  • Moving apps that are frequently used from your home screen or placing them in “drawers.”
  • Organizing apps by tasks, usage, or emojis.
  • As opposed to saving files, use streaming services.
  • Go through your photos and delete the ones that you would never share. As for the ones you want to keep, back them up and delete them from your phone.

10. Clean up your online calendar.

Your calendar app may not be eating too much digital space. But, if it’s jam-packed, how exactly will you squeeze in the time to handle your digital clutter? Besides, when you’re calendar is lean and mean, you’ll have more flexibility in your schedule — as well as enjoy your leisure time.

Final words of advice.

It’s easy to let digital clutter build up over time. However, if you let it get out of control, it can affect your device’s performance, productivity, and health. At the same time, it’s not the most exciting chore; set aside a couple of minutes each week to keep up against the fight against digital clutter.

Still Working From Home? Here are 10 Must-Read Books

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Still Working From Home? Here are 10 Must-Read Books

Even before COVID-19, remote work was having a minute. Global Workplace Analytics estimates “that 56% of the U.S. workforce holds a job that is compatible (at least partially) with remote work.” Moreover, “25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.”

Regardless if we ever actually return to a pre-COVID world, it does appear the working from home isn’t going anywhere. And, that’s both a blessing and curse.

For years, remote workers have proclaimed that they’re more productive and happier. Numerous research has backed this up. As for business owners, they have more productive teams — and are saving money like scaling back on the size of a physical workplace.

The thing is, it appears that we’ve hit a wall. Between Zoom meetings, social distancing, and yearning to finally get back to normalcy, we’re flat-out exhausted. Additionally, there are unique WFH distractions, knowing when to disconnect, and overcoming isolation.

Still Working From Home? Here are 10 Must-Read Books

In short, the honeymoon with remote work is over.

If you’re in this position — here are 10 books that we should read to help you fall back in love with working from home.

1. The New Corner Office: How the Most Successful People Work from Home by Laura Vanderkam

For my money, Laura Vanderkam is one of the best sources to turn to if you need advice regarding productivity and time management. During her career, Vanderkam authored some of the best books in this area, such as I Know How She Does It, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, and168 Hours.

In 2020, she released this timely book that shares the following hacks;

  • Managing tasks, as opposed to time. For example, only setting 3-5 ambitious goals per day.
  • Getting into a rhythm by allocating time for work, breaks, and downtime.
  • Constructing broader and more effective networks

2. Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Although written in 2013, Remote did an excellent job convincing people of the perks of working remotely. In the wake of COVID, though, the book has seen a resurgence. And, it definitely deserves that.

Authored by the founders of Basecamp, the book has timeless lessons for both employees and leaders. These include;

  • Building trust and collaboration through messaging tools, virtual water coolers, and focusing on outcomes instead of “time in the chair.”
  • Being aware of “dragons.” To avoid pitfalls, make sure that you have the right equipment, ergonomic furniture, maintaining healthy habits, and socializing.
  • To effectively manage remote teams, use asynchronous communication, don’t overwork them, and schedule one-on-ones.

3. Working From Home: Making the New Normal Work for You by Karen Mangia

Written by Karen Mangia, Vice President of Customer and Market Insights at Salesforce, Working From Home is another timely book as it was released in August 2020. And, like Remote, it covers tried and true advice for those working remotely.

Key takeaways include;

  • How to build an inspiring and budget-friendly workspace in your home.
  • The importance of establishing routines, rituals, and boundaries.
  • How to break boulders into smaller pieces.
  • Igniting innovation by creating new processes.
  • Tips on sprucing up your virtual meetings.
  • Advice on how to handle burnout and Zoom fatigue.
  • Redefining success by focusing on what you can control.

4. Work-from-Home Hacks 500+ Easy Ways to Get Organized, Stay Productive, and Maintain a Work-Life Balance While Working from Home! by Aja Frost

Aja Frost, Head of Content SEO at Hubspot, put together over 500 quick and easy solutions in one handy book. It’s quick and to the point.

It contains popular advice ranging from setting up your workspace to overcoming distractions. There are also tips on how to stay organized so that you can be productive.

This book is more geared to WFH newbies. Those who are seasoned at working remotely are probably familiar with the hacks in this book. For example, putting on real clothes and establishing boundaries. Still, if you’re still struggling with this new normal, it wouldn’t hurt to go back to basics.

5. Surviving Remote Work by Sharon Koifman

Sharon Koifman, DistantJob’s President and Founder, wrote Surviving Remote Work in the wake of COVID-19. In the book, Koifman shares insights on his remote management. After all, he has more than 15-years of experience in this arena.

Going beyond obvious and common-sense advice, Surviving Remote Work provides strategies for onboarding employees and building a connected culture remotely. Koifman also has tips on managing extroverts and introverts and what tools should be in your arsenal. And, how to protect yourself from cyber-threats.

6. Work from Home Superstar: How to Stay Focused and Rock Your Day by Jack Wilson

Released in the good, old days of 2017, Jack Wilson offers a crisp guide into working from home based on his own hilarious experiences. Through his experiments, he discovered what the biggest distractions are when working from home — I’m looking at you Netflix — and how he structured his day for productivity.

Wilson also has recommendations on how to get into the right mindset and develop self-discipline. And, Work from Home Superstar also stresses the importance of prioritizing your health and occasionally getting out of the house.

7. The Remote Facilitator’s Pocket Guide by Kirsten Clacey and Jay-Allen Morris

According to one review over at Goodreads, “Everyone who does online meetings should read this book.” And, I couldn’t agree more.

Clacey and Morris begin The Remote Facilitator’s Pocket Guide by going over the challenges of virtual meetings, such as;

  • Virtual events often feel more intimidating than in-person events.
  • It’s harder to focus and encourage engagement as 8 in 10 participants are multitasking.
  • These events are more dependent on the mood and style of the facilitator.

To overcome these pitfalls? The authors provide strategies like how to create equal opportunity, enable flow, and nurture connection. They also recommend using visuals to your advantage and encouraging playful learning.

8. The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership by Kevin Eikenberry and Wayne Turmel

Published in 2018, The Long-Distance Leader can actually be a resource for anyone in a leadership position. However, as founders of the Remote Leadership Institute, Eikenberry and Turmel have essentially written the book on remote leadership.

The book covers all the basics like using technology as a tool, focusing on outcomes, and building trust. There are also tips on how to set goals, seek feedback, and avoid burnout. To companion the book, there are also online tools and resources, such as a team goal clarity assessment and pre-conference checklist, to help you become a stronger remote leader.

9. How to Declutter Your Home or Work Office to Improve Productivity by Sarah Adams

Clutter may not be on the top of your mind. However, it can interfere with your productivity. It can also increase stress, sleep problems, and make it difficult to relax.

With that in mind, it’s crucial that you keep your home and work area tidy. To assist you in that department is How to Declutter Your Home or Work Office to Improve Productivity. Although it’s a short read, it’s still packed with inspiring and practical tips on how to keep get, and remain, organized.

10. Unhackable: The Elixir for Creating Flawless Ideas, Leveraging Superhuman Focus, and Achieving Optimal Human Performance by Kary Oberbrunner

While not specifically written about working from home, Unhackable is a must-read as we navigate through the “Attention Economy.”

Written by coach and author Kary Oberbrunner, this compelling book presents 30 daily missions that will help you develop superhuman focus and organize your life around your “flow.” As a result, you’ll get more done in less time and live the life you truly want.

15 Time Management Games and Activities

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15 Time Management Games and Activities

At Calendar, we have defined time management as “the ability to plan, organize, and control your time.” Another big definition we use is, “save time, be more productive, and focus on the things that matter.” That’s it, not too complicated, right?

Manage Your Time

The reason why we’ve put such an emphasis on time management is that time is your most valuable resource. Moreover, it’s so meaningful to our daily lives as it;

  • Ensures that you make the most of this finite source.
  • Encourages self-discipline.
  • Helps you get more done in less time.
  • Reduces stress and anxiety.
  • Makes you feel more fulfilled.
  • Prevents you from being that person. In other words, you’ll earn a reputation of being dependable.
  • Manages your energy.
  • Prevents indecisiveness and procrastination.
  • Allows you to take advantage of new opportunities.
  • Helps you reach your goals.
  • Identifies your priorities.
  • Improves every facet of your life, ranging from your career to personal relationships.

Improving your time management should definitely be something that you improve upon. And, while tried and true techniques like tracking how you spend your time, delegation, and blocking out distractions work, they’re not always exciting.

Instead, you can use gamification. Implementing gaming techniques can increase motivation, engagement, and problem-solving skills. It also improves resource management, speaks creativity, and enhances teamwork abilities.

Also, games and activities are just a fun way to learn. And, they can be something that you do during your downtime or as a team-building activity.

With that in mind, here are 15 time management games activities you can play if you want to manage your time more effectively.

1. How Long is a Minute?

Overall, we’re fairly decent at estimating time. However, there are a number of external and internal factors that can alter our perception of time.

For example, when we have something to look forward to, time dilutes. And, when you’re having fun, time does literally fly.

More interesting was a study involving a group of people who had to sit in a room for seven-and-a-half minutes without anything to do. Some felt that it was only two-and-a-half minutes. Others proclaimed that it felt like 20-minutes.

So, if you’re working with others, a simple activity you can do together is the minute challenge. Here, everyone closes their eyes and stands up. They sit down when they believe a minute has passed.

One person, or a timer, keeps track of the time so that they know when to open their eyes. It’s an effective way to demonstrate how everyone’s perception of time is different. And, if we over-or-underestimate time, that could throw off everyone’s schedules.

Of course, you can also do this on your own if you want a better idea of what the actual passage of time really is.

2. The Big Picture Challenge

Inspired by Orangeworks, here’s how this activity works;

  • Divide your team into small groups,” each responsible for painting a small segment of The Big Picture.”
  • Without knowing what the final image will be, the “teams must work together to ensure that all lines meet and colors match up.”
  • “The painted image can be a representation of a company’s brand, conference theme, values, goals or even a recreation of a famous work of art.”
  • After its completion and unveiling, the final masterpiece “can be proudly displayed back in the office as a constant reminder of what can be achieved through teamwork.”

The idea behind this is to encourage faster decision-making and prioritizing. More importantly, it fosters communication and collaboration.

3. The Mayo Jar

The mayo jar activity is straightforward. It’s an excellent way to visually highlight the importance of doing the most important tasks first.

Start with an empty jar. You’ll need materials like large rocks, smaller rocks, gravel, sand, and water. Next, try to get all of these items into the jar.

The only way this is possible is by starting with the big rocks and working your way. The biggest rocks are meant to represent your MITs. So, that’s why you always focus on them from the get-go.

4. Finding the Ace of Spades

Do you have multiple decks of cards? If yes, then this is a simple time management activity that you can do with at least one other person.

  • Like any other card game, you’ll need to shuffle one pack so that it’s random. The other deck, however, will be organized in ascending order.
  • Each player then gets a pack.
  • Participants must then quickly find the Ace of Spades.
  • As you might surmise, the player with the organized pack might find this to be less taxing than the individual with the mixed deck.

What does this accomplish? It highlights why the organization is so important to time management.

5. $86,400

With this time management activity, you would imagine that yourself or group members would have s $86,400 to spend. You can spend this fictional amount however you want.

There are two restrictions, though. First, you aren’t allowed to increase the amount of money. Second, you have to spend everything in one day, or you’ll lose it.

Once you’ve come up with a list of ideas, go over why and how you spent your $86,400. If playing with others, then everyone will discuss how they spent their money.

While it’s nice to occasionally pipe dream, this activity isn’t about money. It’s how you should spend your time more wisely. After all, there are only 86,400 seconds in a day so spend it on what’s most important. Because once it’s gone, you can’t reclaim your most valuable asset.

6. Blind Polygon

For larger groups, you might want to consider this classic team-building activity. It’s effective in encouraging communication and problem-solving skills, as well as working under a deadline.

Here’s how it works;

  • Everyone must put on a blindfold and are given a 15-30 meter rope.
  • The groups must then form a perfect square/triangle while blindfolded in a specific timeframe.
  • Players must be connected to the rope at all times.
  • You can do this in rounds or replay the game so that you can figure out how to accomplish this task more efficiently and quickly.

7. Desert Island

We’ve all been asked, “If you were marooned on a desert island and you could only take three things with you, what would you bring?”

While, here’s a game that puts a spin on that question.

Either by yourself or with a group, envision that you’re stranded on a desert island. Next, write down everything that you would take with you. The catch is that you only have two minutes to do this.

You’ll earn points for essential items, but none for nonessential. Hopefully, this will show the difference between what’s a priority and what’s not. And, knowing this will help you become more mindful of what you assign to your time blocks.

8. Circadian Rhythm

“Circadian Rhythm, “circadian” comes from the Latin and means, roughly, around (circa) the day (dian from diam which means day) and it’s a pretty special quality,” explains Tom Williams for Peak. “It helps your body understand what time of day it is and controls not just sleep but also your body temperature,” hunger, metabolic rate, “and the release of various hormones.”

“To put it more bluntly, it’s your body’s to-do-list,” states Abby Miller in a previous Calendar article. And, ideally, you should be working with your circadian rhythm by scheduling tasks accordingly.

For example, you wouldn’t work on a priority when you’re tired or drained of energy. Instead, you would do this when you’re most alert, energetic, and focused.

To help you, and even your colleagues, figure this out, write down your daily routine in hourly blocks of time. Next to each activity, take note of how you feel;

  • ‘at 70%’
  • ‘cruise control’
  • ‘distracted’
  • ‘hungry’
  • ‘on fire’
  • ‘slowing down’
  • ‘tired’
  • ‘vibrant’

After compiling this information, you should have a better understanding of your natural energy levels. When you do, you’ll be able to schedule the right activities at the right time. Eventually, you’ll be able to get more done in less time.

9. Time Squared

Here’s another activity that can be used to see how you’re spending each day. Of course, you can also do this with others.

  • Print 3 pages containing 24 squares — these will represent the 24 hours of a day.
  • On the first page, fill out the squares with routine activities. For example, if you sleep for 7 hours that would equal 7 squares.
  • On the second page, list how non-working time is spent at work, such as checking email or water cooler chats.
  • Summarize the data from these two pages on the third page. You can use different colors to tell the pages apart.
  • The empty or uncolored squares? That’s”‘productive time.”

Thanks to visualization, you can see how you’re spending your time. That should make it easier to reduce or eliminate certain activities so that you’ll have more productive blocks of time.

10. What I Did Yesterday

With this game, your team members can identify patterns in their workday. Just have them jot down 10 things that they did at work yesterday. On another piece of paper, ask them to record 5 items they expect will be discussed at their next performance review or one-on-one.

They should then look at the two lists together. Why? Because you want them to see which activities they did yesterday will impact the second list.

A variation of this would be putting the 10 things that they did yesterday on an “Importance/Urgency” grid.

In either case, this should encourage your team members to focus on their priorities.

11. Delegation Skill Practice

Here’s a fun time management activity where players imagine that they have a new assistant. That means they can finally offload some of the fewer critical tasks that were noticed in the previous activity.

Divide participants into groups of 3; a delegator, an employee, and an observer. The delegator should define an unpleasant task and assign it to the employee. The observer will then record how well this was explained and share their feedback.

Rotate these positions so that everyone has a turn. By the end, this should help everyone sharpen their delegating skills.

12. Dealing With Distractions

When it comes to productivity, distractions can be lethal. Thankfully, this activity can help you identify your most common distractions so that you can eradicate them.

An easy way to do this would be to track your time over several days. Write down everything you’ve been doing. You may notice that you’re spending too much time on social media or multitasking.

Since you’re aware of this, you can come up with solutions to stop letting distractions eat-up your valuable time.

13. Colored Blocks

As long as you have a set of colored blocks, you’re good to go. Just beware that you’ll need more blocks if doing this with others.

With that out of the way, here’s how this works;

  • Place the blocks on a table. You then have one minute to pick up as many blocks as you can during that timeframe.
  • You’re only permitted to use your non-dominant hand. As such, you may be able to only pick up one at a time.
  • When the 60-seconds are up, write down or reflect on the results.
  • Do this again, but this time, assign a point value to each color.
  • Now, you’ll have to think about the number of blocks you can grab, as well as the points associated with them.

The idea behind this activity is to demonstrate the importance of doing the most important tasks first, organization and planning.

14. Ribbon of Life

Want to know how much time you have at your disposal? Well, this activity will certainly help achieve that goal.

All you need to get started are a pair of scissors and a ribbon that’s 100cm long. Next, ask what the estimated lifespan is of an individual. On average, that’s 79 years old, which means you’ll want to cut-off 21 cm from the ribbon so that you’ll have 79 left.

You’ll then want to cut off how old you currently are or the average of your team. So, if that would be 40, then you’ll need to cut off 40cm more. With the remaining 59 cm, you’ll subtract the average time you spend commuting, eating, and sleeping. Don’t forget about time off from work as well, such as weekends, public holidays, and vacation time.

The remaining amount of ribbon left is what you have to make or break your life! So, squeeze as much out of it as possible.

Related: 25 Best Habits to Have in Life

15. Overcooked!

Finally, there’s this video game where you manage a restaurant. The premise is that you must prepare and serve food to customers in stressful situations. It’s a fun and interactive way to help you make more rapid decisions on how to put out fires.

You can purchase the game at Team 17.

10 Ways to Keep Your Environment Productive

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10 Ways to Keep Your Environment Productive

With some exceptions, the roughly 287 million registered vehicle owners realize that purchasing their vehicle was only half the battle. The other? Properly maintaining it.

Unless you’re driving a temporary vehicle, most car owners intend to keep their automobiles for an extended period of time. They have to change the oil regularly change the oil, transmission, brake, and coolant fluids. You also need to protect it from the elements and keep it clean — don’t forget the underside that’s full of winter salt and road grime.

As with vehicle maintenance — you have to maintain your productivity.

The same is true with productivity. It’s one thing to take steps in becoming more productive. It’s quite another to maintain that output.

And, this has never been more true during the last year of COVID. Many people have had to learn how to thrive in a remote world. Now, we might be preparing for a post-COVID world.

Initially, this might all seem overwhelming. But, here are 10 simple ways to remain productive by focusing on your environment.

1. Reevaluate your schedule.

This might not be applicable for everyone. If you are fortunate enough to have a flexible schedule, now might be the perfect time to check-in to see if it’s still effective.

For example, let’s say that you’re a parent. You had the daunting task of juggling work and homeschooling your children. Even though you might have hit a stride, is this still going on?

Some schools have opened back-up. Maybe you’re comfortable with a babysitter, neighbor, or family member watching your kids now. Personally, my mom has gotten the vaccine, so we’re on the right trajectory with my family.

Another example? Maybe your workplace is gearing to reopen. Do you feel comfortable going back to work in-person? Can you stagger shifts so that there aren’t as many people in the building?

The point is, things have changed over the last couple of months. So, you want to see how this has impacted your schedule. Maybe you can work when you’re most productive because the kids aren’t around, or you can maintain a flexible work schedule even though the office is back open.

2. Get your calendar in-shape.

“No matter how organized you may be, there is such a thing as over-scheduling,” writes Howie Jones in a previous Calendar article. “Taking planning to an extreme can make an ordinary day feel overwhelming. Deciding what might be unnecessary to add to your online calendar can cut down on busy work and wasted time.”

How can you get your calendar back to being lean and mean? Remove unnecessary entries like;

  • Meetings or agendas that don’t serve a purpose
  • Standing or back-to-back events
  • Notes and checklists
  • Reminders for minuscule or repetitive tasks like eating breakfast
  • Other people’s priorities

What should be on your calendar? Date-specific appointments and important tasks that you’re struggling with for sure. You should also pencil in time for networking, learning something new, and monthly themes that are attached to your goals.

You can also use “time analytics provided by a calendar app can also help you determine if you are using your time well,” adds Howie. “This could help you cut down on low-priority meetings, opening up more space in your online calendar.”

3. Keep it clean.

Several studies have found that a computer keyboard is dirtier than a toilet seat. Even dirtier? Your smartphone.

Although crawling with bacteria, most of these germs are harmless. But, still. That’s gross.

Moreover, cleanliness leads to an 80% reduction in catching a cold and a 2-8% productivity increase.

So, make cleaning your work environment a part of your regular routine. For me, when I’m shutting down for the day, I wipe down my keyboard, mouse, and desk. Every Friday, I do a little bit more, like vacuuming and organizing paperwork.

If you keep up with this, it will only take a couple of minutes out of your day. That’s much better than being bedridden cause you’re under the weather.

4. Automate your workspace.

When it comes to tedious business tasks, there is no shortage of tools to do the heavy lifting for you. Take scheduling appointments. Calendar uses machine learning to make smart suggestions on which meetings you should add to your calendar.

What’s more, you can automate email responses, social media posts, invoicing, and recruiting. As if that weren’t enough, automation can be used to fill-out forms, sign documents, nurture leads, and create proposals. Seriously, the sky’s the limit.

But, you can also use automation to keep your actual workspace productive. Case in point, there are subscription services that will replenish office supplies like pens, notebooks, and ink printers. FilterTime will automatically air filters to your home or workplace.

Smart assistants like Google Home and Alexa can control everything from your room’s temperature to lightning. Nest, as an example, will learn your preferred settings when you’re in a specific location. So, instead of fidgeting with the thermostat when you get to work, it will do this for you.

5. Adjust the volume.

I live near a school. When in-session, I’ve learned to adapt my routine. For example, I walk my dog before teachers and students arrive.

I also plan accordingly when school lets out. The busses roaring by and kids excitedly going home are distracting to me. To counter this, I either take a break during this time or put on a pair of headphones.

Some of you might be fine with this. — to each their own. But, if you were used to background noise and it’s no longer there, you might want to listen to some music or white noise.

6. Stay in-bounds.

Boundaries, in my opinion, are non-negotiable. For instance, if you want to spend quality time with your family or unplug after work, then don’t allow phones at the dinner table.

The same is true with the various zones you have throughout your home. There should be dedicated places to work, eat, relax, and sleep. Don’t get complicit now.

I know that there are days when you just want to stay in your cozy bed and work from there. That’s just not going to cut it. After all, working from bed decreases work productivity, energy levels, and quality of life.

Moreover, it can interfere with the quality of your sleep, encourage bad posture, strain your eyes, and negatively impact your mental health. It’s also unhygienic and can decrease relationship satisfaction.

7. Put your mental health first.

COVID has taken a serious toll on our mental health. In December 2020, it was reported that in the U.S., 42% of people surveyed have symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. This was an 11% increase from the previous year. Data from other surveys have found similar findings across the world. “I don’t think this is going to go back to baseline anytime soon,” says clinical psychologist Luana Marques, at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.

The uncertainty of what the future holds, social distancing, and grieving have all contributed to these negative feelings. If there is any good news, it’s that there are ways to put your mental health first.

Keeping up with a daily routine gives you structure, predictability, and a sense of control. Limiting your social media and news consumption also help. Additionally, you should minimize isolation, even if it’s just talking to a friend on the phone.

One of the most effective strategies is spending time outside — 20 minutes a day is feasible. And, definitely schedule a meeting with a therapist. Teletherapy makes this more accessible while keeping you safe from COVID.

8. Follow healthy habits.

COVID hasn’t been just taxing for our mental health. It’s also impacted our physical health. Since the pandemic swept the work, there’s been an increase in sedentary leisure activities and a decline in physical activity.

Lockdowns have also lead to unhealthy eating habits and an uptick in alcohol and tobacco use. That’s just not damaging your physical health; it’s also affecting your mental health and productivity.

More, now than ever, engaging in healthy habits is vital. But, just like there are ways to prioritize your mental health, there are steps you can take to make this possible.

For starters, it is still possible to remain physically active. This might seem problematic if your gym is closed or you’re working from home. However, it’s not out of the realm of possibility if you;

  • Do exercises that can be done anywhere, like burpees, squats, or push-ups, before breakfast and later in the day.
  • Set alarms that remind you to stretch.
  • Create a “commute.” For instance, when you’re done work for the day, take a walk.
  • Keep workout equipment and clothing visual.
  • Utilize technology like activity-tracking apps or smart fitness machines.
  • Use a standing desk.
  • Stand or walk when on phone calls.
  • Spread movement throughout the day. One idea would be to do calf raises or squats when brewing your coffee.
  • Launch a fitness challenge with friends, family, or co-workers.

In addition to physical activity, seek help with curbing vices, like smoking cigarettes. And, fill your workspace with healthy snacks from subscription services like SnackNation or Naturebox.

9. Build camaraderie.

“A major challenge with remote teams is fostering a connected culture,” writes Deanna Ritchie in another Calendar article. “After all, you aren’t literally working side-by-side or bumping into each other during a coffee break.” There also aren’t opportunities to socialize during lunch, meetings, or team-building activities.

“It is still possible, however, to build camaraderie with your virtual team,” adds Denna. You could “schedule virtual lunches or plan after-hours events like a video game tournament. Other ideas would be planning a fitness challenge, create a virtual breakroom, and use gamification in their work.”

“And, if you have a video call scheduled, open it up a couple of minutes early,” she advises. “Hopefully, this gives early arrivers a chance to partake in a little informal chitchat.”

10. Celebrate the small wins.

Finally, don’t count out the power of celebrating small wins. They give us a glimmer of hope and help us become more self-confident. But, how can you give yourself that well-earned pat-on-the-back?

Some suggestions to consider;

  • Keep a diary to keep track of all your daily accomplishments.
  • Give someone a high-five. Due to COVID, physical contact with someone outside your bubble might not be wise. But, you could have a group chat with your colleagues, family, or friends to congratulate each other.
  • Rewarding yourself by engaging in self-care or buying a book that you’ve had on your wishlist.
  • Repeat a celebratory mantra like ‘You’ve accomplished more than you had ten minutes ago!”
  • Jot down your minor victories and place them in a mason jar for future reference.
  • Say “thank you” to someone who has helped you accomplish a win.
  • Leave some blank spots in your calendar so you can spend that time if you wish.
  • Embrace failure as a part of the journey.
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