All posts by John Rampton

10 Support Organizations for Productive Entrepreneurs

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10 Support Organizations for Entrepreneurs

I have no regrets about being an entrepreneur. Chasing my dreams and starting my own business was the best decision I ever made. That’s not to say that it’s always been easy. I’ve had businesses fail, sacrificed relationships, and had to deal with daily challenges. Handling upset customers or motivating employees are the smaller situations to deal with.

To make matters worse, on the really big things — I’ve felt that I’ve had to overcome these hurdles all by myself.

The Top 10 Support Organizations for Productive Entrepreneurs

  1. Entrepreneur’s Organization
  2. Business Network International
  3. Young Presidents Organization
  4. Small Giants Community
  5. Vistage
  6. Young Entrepreneur Council
  7. Startup Grind
  8. 8. Founder Institute
  9. 9. Baby Bathwater Institute
  10. 10. StartUp Nation

It can be lonely being an entrepreneur.

You see, it can be lonely being an entrepreneur. And when you’re going through a rough patch or need some inspiration — it’s not always available. After all, there’s not always someone around who has shared these same experiences.

The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. There is no shortage of organizations that you can join to help support you during your journey.

Here are ten of my favorite support organizations for entrepreneurs that they should join today.

1. Entrepreneur’s Organization

Since its inception in 1987, EO is regularly considered one of the best organizations for entrepreneurs to join. For starters, this peer-to-peer network connects its more than 13,000 members from across the world. From there, EO aims to guide them in expanding and strengthening their business.

Members of the Entrepreneur’s Organization also receive perks like personal mentorships, participating in forums where you can learn from the experiences of successful business owners.

These opportunities are also extended to attend exclusive global or local chapter events. EO members can also become a part of the Healthnetwork Foundation to gain VIP access to the 30 of the most highly ranked hospitals in the U.S.

The stipulation is that your company is doing at least $1 million a year in revenue or has received $2 million in venture funding.

2. Business Network International

Started by a group of friends in California in the early 1980s, BNI has become the leading referral organization in the world with over 240,000 members. In fact, in 2017 alone, BNI member referrals generated a whopping $13.6 billion in revenue for member businesses.

BNI focuses primarily on lead sharing and networking for solopreneurs through weekly meetings and exclusive resources. For example, you can have breakfast with several other solopreneurs and salespeople at a local chapter to help each other increase sales. Even if you decide to leave BNI, it’s easy to imagine that you’ll maintain those connections.

To become a member, simply complete a brief application and if approved you’ll be contacted by BNI’s Global Alliance Approval Team.

3. Young Presidents Organization

Similar to EO in terms of events and forums, the Young Presidents Organization has been connecting and empowering its more than 25,000 chief executives in 130 countries since 1950. The main differences are that you don’t have to be the founder of a business, just its current leader, and the revenue requirements are higher.

As a member, YPO will assist you in personal development, learning business practices, and how you can impact your community. Besides the exclusive events and forums — YPO achieves this mission through a series of excellent podcasts — such as the program “Ten Minute Tips from the Top.”

This is where members and experts share advice and insights.

4. Small Giants Community

Compared to the other organizations on this list, Small Giants Community is relatively new — the groundwork was laid in 2006. It’s quickly become a community where purpose-driven leaders and entrepreneurs.

As an entrepreneur, you can share your experiences and advice through podcasts, blog posts, and virtual peer groups. There are also amazing discussion-based webinars called Fishbowls to provide you with practical systems that you can apply to your business.

Small Giants Community also offers a one-year certification program to help leaders grow.

The program consists of face-to-face meetings with a learning cohort, virtual learning sessions, and event tickets to two Small Giants gatherings.

What makes this community so unique is that the members are extremely positive and helpful, as opposed to the exhausting “What can you do for me?” mentality you experience at most networking opportunities.

5. Vistage

If you’re a CEO looking for an organization that focuses on business and coaching, then Vistage is a solid choice. Like EO and YPO, this is done through monthly forum meetings with your peers.

At Vistage, a paid coach or moderator will work with you one-on-one.

Vistage, which has been around since 1957 — states that members can become better by:

  • Gaining insights by connecting you with “salient, trustworthy and applicable insights and resources.
  • Becoming better leaders by developing new skills through training.
  • Helping you make better decisions by refining your instincts, improving your judgment, and expanding your perspectives.
  • Achieving better results. In fact, it’s been found that Vistage member companies grew 2.2 times faster than average small and medium-sized U.S. businesses.

6. Young Entrepreneur Council

Founded by Scott Gerber, the Young Entrepreneur Council is recommended for founders, co-founders, and business owners. These founders generate at least one million dollars in annual revenue — or one million dollars in financing. The catch is that in order to be invited to join you must be under the age of 45.

As a member of YEC — you have access to tools, mentorship, community, and educational resources. In addition, you have the chance to partake in monthly Q&As and connect with super connecters who will support you through each stage of your business from development to growth.

To convince you to join, you can also receive discounts for select conferences and be invited to VIP experiences at exclusive art, film, music, fashion, and sporting events.

Through a series of partnerships, you can also receive discounts on travel, insurance, and HR benefits.

7. Startup Grind

Founded in 2010, Startup Grind is one of my personal favorites. It’s a global community with members in 150+ countries where each month there’s an event for you to network with your fellow entrepreneurs.

Each event also features local founders, investors, innovators, and educators who share their success stories and what they’ve learned during their journey.

Startup Grind also shares advice and insights from these successful entrepreneurs through blog posts, podcasts, and videos.

However, what’s really drawn me to this group are its values, which are believing in making friends, not contacts; giving, not taking; and helping others before helping yourself.

8. Founder Institute

The Founder Institute is an ideal organization to join if you’re in the early stages of your startup. They’ve even dubbed themselves as “ the world’s premier pre-seed accelerator.”

As a member, the Founder Institute has developed a methodology that has helped launch over 3,000 companies since 2009. This includes creating an Equity Collective for a support network and a three to five-month program to assist you in making your idea into an actual business.

Even after completing the program, you’ll receive a lifetime of support. To join, you’ll have to pay a $50 application fee, as well as a course fee of around $1,200.

9. Baby Bathwater Institute

Yes. The name is a little out-there. But, this is an excellent and active community made up of entrepreneurs from a variety of industries. What makes it stand out from other groups are the unique events.

Instead of the traditional networking event or workshop, these all-inclusive events are held in the mountains of Utah or on Baby Bathwater Island in Croatia.

I would consider this more an experience where you can go on an adventure while meeting new friends, while also gaining fresh perspectives and business solutions

10. StartUp Nation

Last, but certainly not least, there’s StartupNation.

Founded in 2002, StartupNation provides an endless amount of resources. These topics include such help as starting your business, growing your business, and managing your business through blog posts, an engaged online community, and a radio show.

You can use the forums to exchange ideas or find a mentor or business partner. StartupNation also provides the following services:

  • Logo design.
  • Website, development.
  • Copywriting.
  • Domain name registration.
  • Incorporation.
  • Business consultation.
  • Public relations.

Best of all, it’s free to join this community of more than 101,000 registered members.

9 Collaboration Mistakes You’re Making With Your Remote Team

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9 Collaboration Mistakes You’re Making With Your Remote Team

According to Upwork’s “Future of Workforce Pulse Report,” by 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely. That’s an impressive 87% percent increase from pre-pandemic levels.

“Our research shows the long-lasting impact that remote work and COVID-19 are likely to have on how hiring managers think about their organizations,” says Upwork Chief Economist, Adam Ozimek. “As businesses adapt and learn from this remote work experiment, many are altering their long-term plans to accommodate this way of working. On work marketplaces like Upwork, we can already see this shift underway with increased demand for remote professionals.”

For many, the support of work from home jobs should come as welcome news. After all, people tend to be happier and more productive when working from home. It also allows you to tap into a larger talent and save money since you don’t have a large office.

But, there are also drawbacks to remote work. Loneliness is often cited as the biggest challenge. However, it can also be a struggle to meet deadlines and communicate effectively.

How can you solve all of these problems? By making collaboration a priority. And, to get started, make sure that you aren’t committing the following nine mistakes.

1. Creating teams just because.

There are over six decades of research that have show that individuals are more creative than teams. What does that mean? Well, when it comes to creative tasks, like generating ideas, you might want to scrap the brainstorming session.

“Please don’t create a team just for the sake of creating a team,” says Leigh Thompson, the J. Jay Gerber Professor of Management and Dispute Resolution at the Kellogg School. “People hate that.”

In addition to sparking creativity, having “me” time can be incredibly powerful. Solitude has been found to relieve stress, give you a chance to reflect, and practice gratitude. Moreover, this aids in planning and can strengthen your relationships.

Related: Why You Should Schedule Dedicated ‘Me Time’ If You Don’t Get Enough Right Now

2. Lack of a common purpose.

“Like many parts of leadership, this is not rocket science,” writes Ben Brearley BSc. BCM MBA. “It is not meant to be a detailed, exhaustive list of roles and responsibilities.” Rather, “purpose simply acts as a guiding vision for your team.”

`Brearley adds that team purpose should contain the following three elements;

  • A “functional statement about what your team does.”
  • Why your team is important and are doing what they do.
  • How your team delivers.

When you have all three parts, and clearly let them be known, you’ll be able to decide “whether you are in (committed) or out (choosing not to take on the work),” states Brearley. Additionally, it assists in modeling the right behavior and connect to a higher meaning.

3. Ignoring time zones/schedules.

Let’s say that you reside in the Eastern Time Zone. By 9 a.m., you’re ready to tackle the day. So, you start sending out Slack messages, emails, or even prepare for a meeting at 9:30 a.m.

The problem? Several of your colleagues are out on the West Coast. It’s unreasonable to expect them to respond to your messages or attend a virtual event when it’s only 6:00 a.m. or 6:30 a.m.

Even if you’re in the same time zone, be self-aware that working remotely means having different schedules. You might be a morning bird. But, others could be night owls and might not be online when you are.

Tools like Calendar by handling availability across time zones. So, when you’re scheduling an event, you can see what time it is for your team members before adding it to everyone’s calendar. You could also poll your team to figure out the best time for everyone to get together.

4. Building brick walls.

Are you not listening to others? Do you allow your team members to share their opinions or ask questions?

In other words, are you being stubborn and not accepting different points of view? If so, then that’s not exactly a supportive, positive, and collaborative environment. It sounds more like a dictatorship.

Let everyone voice their opinions and input. Encourage them to ask questions. And, make sure that not only listen to them but act on their suggestions.

Most importantly? Grant autonomy and let your team do things their way.

5. Over-participating.

“Over-participating and taking on too much within a team can stifle group collaboration by sapping the oxygen in the room and making team members feel unheard and excluded,” writes Sabina Nawaz for HBR. But, you can avoid overtaking the group by taking the following steps;

  • Find your unique contribution. It’s 4th, and 10 and your football team is on the 20-yard line. You wouldn’t call in your linebacker to kick a field goal. Have the right people playing the right positions.
  • Redefine what it means to be helpful. When it comes to groups, figure out where you belong. Sometimes you might just be an onlooker from the sidelines or helping out with busy work.
  • Stay quiet. “Mute before you refute to see how the discussion goes,” states Nawaz.
  • Negotiate a realistic timeline. The team should all agree on deadlines that work best for everyone, so that aren’t any bottlenecks.

Related: How to Focus Employees Who Are Too Helpful With Their Ideas

6. Not creating channels to share ideas.

If you go by the dictionary, then sharing ideas would count as collaborating. But, that’s not always the case in the real world.

Think about when you have your best ideas. It’s not when you’re forced or put on the spot. It happens more organically, like when taking a shower or going for a walk.

As such, provide multiple channels throughout the day for your team to share their ideas when the iron strikes hot for them.

To be fair, this would be much easier in a physical workplace. For example, there could be in-person lunches or drop-bys. But, you can still do this remotely by;

  • Planning virtual lunches and water-coolers.
  • Shared docs or dedicated Slack channels for ideas.
  • A process for vetting ideas.

7. Using the wrong tech.

Just because you’re an Apple devotee doesn’t mean that everyone is as well. With that in mind, it wouldn’t make sense to schedule all video calls on FaceTime. Instead, you would choose a platform that all of your colleagues use and are comfortable with.

Furthermore, make sure that you’re using the right communication.

“Having a surplus of communication and collaboration tools is great,” writes Deanna Ritchie in a previous Calendar article. “At the same time, you don’t have to collect them all. We’re not talking about Pokemon here.”

“Instead, limit the tools that you’re using,” Deanna recommends. “Besides decreasing distractions, it prevents everyone from bouncing back-and-forth between tools. And, it can also help avoid information overload.

8. Getting too comfortable.

Routines can kill creativity. How can your team be innovative when everyone is nice and cozy? By that, I mean working with the same people on familiar tasks day-in-and-out.

Rather than digging you and your team into a rut, push everyone out of their comfort zones by;

  • Creating a more innovative climate. Encourage your team to take on new roles that they find exciting and challenging. You can also push them to work on side projects.
  • Assemble diverse and inclusive teams. You can do this by having a team that is comprised of people from various backgrounds, geographical settings, and/or business units.
  • Shake-things up. As opposed to a tired, virtual team meeting, freshen it up. For example, you could host something like a hackathon to get the creative juices flowing.

Related: Beyond The Comfort Zone: Building A Model Workforce

9. Your team has become a victim of natural pitfalls.

According to renowned author Patrick Lencioni, “companies fail to achieve effective teamwork because they unknowingly fall victim to five natural pitfalls that progress like falling dominos, one after another,” notes Jody Michael Associates. These include the five following dysfunctions;

  • Absence of trust. “In this context, trust is the ability of team members to make themselves vulnerable— essentially revealing weaknesses without concern about repercussions,” add the authors. To achieve vulnerability-based trust, use personal histories and team effectiveness exercises. And, profile personalities.
  • Fear of conflict. Don’t run away from healthy debates. Conflicts can encourage open-mindfulness and prevent groupthink. It’s suggested that you use tools like the Thomas-Kilmann conflict mode instrument (TKI). You can also encourage them to be “miners” and encourage engagement.
  • Lack of commitment. Commitment is simply “a function of clarity and buy-in.” You can accomplish this by reviewing key decisions, establishing deadlines, and discuss Plan B.
  • Avoidance of accountability. “In this context, accountability refers to the willingness of team members to call out their peers on behaviors that might hurt the team,” state the authors. To ensure that this happens, publish objectives and standards, have a progress review, and reward your team.
  • Inattention to details. “Avoidance of accountability creates an environment in which team members put their individual needs (such as career) or even divisional needs (such as status) above the team’s need for results,” they write. To avoid this, publicly declare your desired results and align team members’ rewards to specific outcomes.

10 Time Management Skills Every Person Should Cultivate

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10 Time Management Skills Every Person Should Cultivate

To be successful, everyone needs to continue to add to their skillsets. Each entrepreneur, startup, and small business will have its set of “how-tos” that are vital. Then there will be the set of skills that are the essential ones to know.  Search your business and become the best you can at your particular business space. Time management will assist you forever in getting better at performing your tasks. Here are 10 excellent time management skills every person should cultivate.

We also have essential life skills everyone should know. Examples include:

  • Housekeeping skills — basic home repairs, cleaning after yourself, and knowing how to cook at least one signature dish.
  • Survival skills — knowing how to change a tire, administrative basic first aid, and living without electronic for more than an hour.
  • Professional skills — minimum skills required; writing a resume, networking, preparing for an interview, and negotiating a raise.
  • Money management skills — being able to create and stick to a budget and calculating a tip.
  • Self-awareness and relationship skills — knowing your strengths and weaknesses, basic etiquette, being respectful, and learning how to communicate.

Those possessing these skills will get further in life — you can’t respond to life events well without some of the basics. But, they also make life more fulfilling and can give you a little self-confidence boost. However, one set of skills that often get overlooked are those related to time management.

Some of these greater and lesser skills go hand-in-hand with each other. For example, being respectful of others motivates you to arrive on-time and never keep people waiting. However, for the most part, when it comes to time management, it’s in a category on its own.

So, if you’re ready to manage your time effectively, here are the 10-time management skills every person should have.

1. Plan your day around priorities and goals.

The most successful and productive people are well aware that they must address both essential and urgent matters daily. Here’s their secret though; they how to balance the two.

It’s definitely an art to master this juggling act. But, it’s possible when you know what priorities need your attention to know and what can be dealt with at another time. To assist you with this, you can use the Eisenhower Matrix. This Matrix is where you evaluate all of your tasks and separate them as follows:

  • Urgent and vital — these you’ll do immediately since they are pushing you closer to achieving a goal.
  • Important, but not urgent — tasks that can be scheduled for later.
  • Urgent, but not important — these the things that can be delegated.
  • Neither urgent nor important — these are the tasks that can be deleted altogether.

According to Calendar’s Howie Jones, the secret behind an amazing time management strategy is able “to systematically focus on importance and suppress urgency.”

Once you’ve identified your priorities, you should schedule them when you have the most energy and focus — or, in other words, when you’re “in the zone.” For most of us, that’s in the morning. Also, completing your most important task of the day in the morning gives you the momentum to tackle the rest of the items on your to-do list. If a priority or goal is a big one, break it up into more manageable chunks.

2. Effectively use your time.

There are a couple of ways to effectively use your time. The first is being more present and giving your full attention to what deserves it at this moment. For example, you can’t be engaged in a conversation or meeting when you keep looking at your phone every time you receive a message. It’s not only disrespectful, but it could also cause you to miss an essential piece of information or not being an active participant.

The other way to effectively use your time is to get creative. Let’s say that you’re sitting in a waiting room for an appointment or meeting. There might be a TV with a talk show that you stare at because it’s there. Or, you could get sucked into mindless social media nonsense. Either way, that time you were sitting, there could have been used to catch-up on your emails or the latest industry news.

3. Schedule it, do it and forget it.

“No one can multitask, even people who pride themselves on their ability to do so,” writes Angela Ruth in a previous Calendar article. Research shows that multitasking cuts efficient and even raises risks.

“Avoid the temptation to multitask by scheduling time to handle batches of small tasks throughout the day,” suggests Angela. “For example, set one time during the morning and one time during the afternoon to answer emails, then ignore the inbox outside those windows. Schedule a couple of short breaks to avoid burnout and maintain focus.”

What’s more, you can eliminate indecisiveness “by setting deadlines on when to make final choices.” It could be as simple as making a phone call to a vendor by Friday morning or settling on a flight in the next 10 minutes. “Get into the habit of acting on available information to cut down on unnecessary balking. If the decision isn’t correct — you can pivot just as quickly.”

4. Become a master-batcher.

Speaking of multitasking, did you know that productivity decreases by 40% when we attempt to focus on more than one thing at a time? That’s because according to Peter Bregman

In a piece for The Harvard Business Review, we’re not multitasking. “We switch-task, rapidly shifting from one thing to another, interrupting ourselves unproductively, and losing time in the process.”

The most effective way around this is not just focusing on one thing at a time. It’s grouping similar tasks together and knocking them out at the same time. Instead of checking your email and social media feeds every time you receive a notification, don’t allow yourself to check more than three times a day. Check once before jumping into work, right after lunch, and at the end of your workday.

5. Pencil in time for distractions and interruptions.

Batching is also a great way to handle distractions. Turn your phone off while working and don’t worry that you’re missing something important. You’ll be confident in this action because you know you’ve planned to check your phone when it’s time. However, no matter how hard you try, distractions and interruptions are inevitable.

One way to manage these distractions is to add blocks of free time into your schedule. So, if a co-worker wants to speak with you, let them know that you currently not available to chat. But you can talk to them at one pm.

Another perk of this is if there’s an emergency. For example, you were zoned in on your work when suddenly a frantic knock on your door interrupts you. A colleague lets you know that the company network has been compromised. Something this important needs your immediate attention. Once it’s resolved, you can use that free block of time to go back to work without completely getting your schedule off-track.

6. Stop biting off more than you can chew.

There are a variety of reasons why you may be tempted to overextend yourself. At work, you pick-up extra hours or take on a new project because you want the extra money or don’t want to upset your boss. Socially, you accept every social invite because of FOMO.

The reality is that if you already have a full schedule, spreading yourself too thin could have some repercussions like scheduling conflicts or delivering subpar work. And, as previously discussed, it prevents you from focusing on your priorities.

7. Add “no” to your vocabulary.

“I honestly believe that the main reason why time is an issue for so many of us is that we can’t say ‘no’ says Howie Jones. “We can’t turn out an invite to an unproductive meeting or social event. And, we can’t tell others that we already have enough work to focus on and can’t take on any more responsibilities.”

The downside to this is that if you’re always saying “yes,” “then you’re letting other people take control of your time.”

While I get why “no” isn’t a word we like to say, you don’t want anyone to be offended; it has to become a part of your vocabulary. And, you can accomplish that, without ticking anyone off, y doing the following:

  • Be transparent and upfront. Don’t lie or make excuses. People will understand if you’ve already made a social commitment or have a full workload.
  • Don’t initially fully commit. “Let’s say someone invites you to lunch. You don’t have to accept or reject the request immediately,” adds Jones. “Tell your caller that you have to check your calendar and you’ll get back to them before the end of the day tomorrow.”
  • Offer alternative solutions. You may be booked solid for the next two weeks. If there are openings three weeks from now, ask your client to meet then, for example. If not, refer them to a colleague.
  • Always be polite and professional. “Simply saying ‘thanks’ can go a long way.”

8. Develop your emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence can be defined as “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” What does that have to do with time management? Well, EI can assist you with problem-solving, calm you down, and improve your communication skills — all of which can be applied to time management. For example, when you frustrated, it’s almost impossible to give your full attention to the task you’re currently working on.

Moreover, those with strong EI possess qualities like not being a perfectionist and being able to balance life and work. Also, EI can help you establish boundaries, maintain motivation, and be more aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are.

Overall, improving your EI can help you stay focused on completing your most productive tasks. Make sure that functions are aligned with your goals.

9. Learn how to delegate and outsource.

Remember the Eisenhower Matrix that you used to help you determine your priorities? If you recall, it also encouraged you to hand-off specific responsibilities to others. These are usually essential tasks that aren’t exactly worthy of your time.

For example, you could hire a service to clean your home or office. Spend the saved time on more productive areas like building your business or spending time with your family. If you don’t enjoy writing, but there’s an employee who does, you could ask them to take over your company’s blog.

Just keep in mind that delegation isn’t handing off all of your responsibilities to someone else. It’s assigning the right work to the right people so that you can open up sometime in your schedule.

10. Find a time management technique that works for you.

Finally, experiment with different time management techniques that work best for you. I’ve mentioned the Eisenhower Matrix several times. While that could be helpful for a lot of people, it may not be sufficient for you. Instead, approaches like the Pomodoro Technique, Getting Things Done Technique, Rapid Planning Method, or Pareto Principle may be better suited for you.

Don’t expect you to solve all of your time management issues overnight. It’s a process that involves some trial and error. And, most importantly, it’s continually working on and improving upon your skills until you get it just right.

How to Collaborate, Engage, and Influence Others Using the SCARF Model

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How to Collaborate, Engage, and Influence Others Using the SCARF Model

Growing up surrounded by technology, Millennials and Zoomers take for granted how intimidating and overwhelming this can be for different generations. Case in my point, my father. I’m not sneering here — but he’s a Boomer and still has trouble navigating his smartphone — he can barely store new contacts.

Over the years, I have literally sat next to him and given him step-by-instructions — the same ones — over and over. He still misuses his phone. Eventually, he just ignores my feedback and gives me the briefest of cold shoulders.

Initially, I took his actions way too personally. Here I was trying to help him and this was his reaction? Not cool.

The thing is, after some time, I could empathize with my old man. I’ve also been frustrated or standoffish when someone has offered advice or feedback. My guess is that we all have felt a little threatened under the correction and instruction of others.

But don’t just take my word on this. Research has backed this claim up—specifically, the work of neuroscientist Dr. David Rock and his SCARF model.

What is the SCARF model?

Back in 2008, Dr. Rock, who I think has one of the coolest names ever, published the paper “SCARF: A Brain-Based Model for Collaborating With and Influencing Others.” In it, he outlines the five key “domains” that influence our behavior in social situations.

  • Status — our relative importance to others.
  • Certainty — our concerns about predicting the future.
  • Autonomy — a sense of control over events.
  • Relatedness — how safe we feel when around others.
  • Fairness — the perception of fairness between people.

Dr. Rock just didn’t grab this out of thin air. He based his research on previous neuroscience research to come to the following themes.

“Firstly, that much of our motivation driving social behavior is governed by an overarching organizing principle of minimizing threat and maximizing reward,” he wrote. “Secondly, that several domains of social experience draw upon the same brain networks to maximize reward and minimize threat as the brain networks used for primary survival needs.”

“In other words, social needs are treated in much the same way in the brain as the need for food and water,” he clarifies. “The SCARF model summarizes these two themes within a framework that captures the common factors that can activate a reward or threat response in social situations.”

Additionally, the SCARF model “can be applied (and tested) in any situation where people collaborate in groups.” Social events, family gatherings, education environments, and all workplace settings are all fair game.

How the SCARF model affects the workplace.

Confused? Don’t be. The main takeaway is that the foundation of this model is all about minimizing threats and maximizing rewards.

For example, you weren’t invited to a team meeting or after-hours event. You might view that as a threat to your status and relatedness. As a result, that might can stimulate the part of the brain where physical pain resides.

When you receive negative feedback, like customer reviews or the mistakes you’ve made, that releases cortisol, aka the “stress hormone.” By responding to this threat, your survival response is triggered. As a consequence, this can:

  • Speed up your heart rate and increase blood pressure.
  • You’re tenser and on edge.
  • Decrease creativity and focus.
  • Reduce the ability to solve problems.
  • Make it more difficult to communicate and collaborate.

On the flip side, when you feel rewarded, like being acknowledged and celebrated for your work, your brain releases dopamine, aka the “happy hormone.” In turn, this increases blood flow to the brain. And, when this occurs, you’ll be more creative, focused, and receptive to fresh insights and ideas.

Also, because you’re floating on top of cloud 9, you’ll want to be rewarded again. So, this motivates you to keep putting your best foot forward.

How to use the SCARF model.

Overall, the SCARF model can be used to collaborate, engage, and influence others. But, to make that possible, let’s explore how you can use each domain of the model.

Status

“Status is about relative importance, ‘pecking order’ and seniority,” writes Dr. Rock. “Humans hold a representation of status in relation to others when in conversations, and this affects mental processes in many ways.” For instance, when you win a game, you feel better than your opponents, which in turn increases dopamine levels.

As a leader, you can maximize rewards through regular paise and celebrating wins — regardless of how big or small. You can also give them a chance to voice their opinions and learn new skills.

To eliminate threats, never take credit for their hard work or dismiss their ideas. Furthermore, you may want to skip the performance reviews and let them evaluate their own performance.

Certainty

Since the brain is a “pattern-recognition machine,” it craves certainty. “Without prediction, the brain must use dramatically more resources, involving the more energy-intensive prefrontal cortex, to process moment-to-moment experience,” adds Rock. In fact, even the slightest hint of uncertainty can generate “an ‘error’ response in the orbital frontal cortex.”

Why’s that a problem? When this occurs, it diverts our attention away from our goals. And, we’re more focused on correcting the error.

How leaders provide certainty in an uncertain world? Well, here are some top suggestions;

  • Establish crystal clear guidelines and expectations.
  • Break down larger goals or projects into smaller, more manageable chunks.
  • Agree on desirable deadlines and outcomes with the entire team.
  • Create an agenda, so that meeting attendees know what to expect.
  • Be transparent and share relevant information.
  • Set boundaries by having consistent operating hours.

When change does inevitably happen, you can manage it and reduce threats by;

  • Declaring your vision change.
  • Follow the “3 C’s,” which are communicate, collaborate, and commit.
  • Identify your All-Stars and get them on board.
  • Keep stress at a minimum and boost morale by celebrating milestones.
  • Reduce change fatigue by building trust and making sure everyone has a sense of belonging.
  • Follow through with your plans, but be flexible.
  • Measure and analyze metrics and KPIs to see if you’ve reached your goals.

Autonomy

Autonomy is the perception of exerting control over one’s environment; a sensation of having choices,” explains Rock. The less autonomy we have, the more a situation is perceived as a threat. When we feel like we have control, this activates the reward structures of the brain.

In order to minimize threats, encourage ownership among your team. When you do, this will tap into their intrinsic motivation. And, you can accomplish this by;

  • Encourage your team members to ask questions and express their opinions.
  • Let your team members chose how they’ll complete a task or solve a problem.
  • Permit flexible schedules.
  • Learn how to delegate effectively.
  • Provide constructive feedback.
  • Let them show off their strengths and talents.
  • Make sure that they always have the right tools and resources.
  • Build trust by not micromanaging your team.
  • Use mistakes as learning opportunities.

Relatedness

“Relatedness involves deciding whether others are ‘in’ or ‘out’ of a social group,” Rock states. It’s also “a driver of behavior in many types of teams, from sports teams to organizational silos: people naturally like to form ‘tribes’ where they experience a sense of belonging.”

In short, we want to be a part of a group. When we have this sense of belonging, this releases oxytocin. When we don’t, this can block empathy and diminish creativity.

The answer to encouraging relatedness? Creating a connected culture. You can do this through team-building activities, scheduling one-on-ones, or having team lunches. Other recommendations would be making them feel psychologically safe, providing mentorship opportunities, and showing gratitude.

Fairness

Lastly, we prefer a sense of equity and equality in group settings. When we’re faced with an injustice, this sets off a strong threat response. In fact, this might make us feel disgusted.

To promote fairness, always be transparent when making decisions. For example, a team member was promoted because they have exceeded expectations, like surpassing a sales quota or obtaining a certificate. Moreover, you must practice diversity and inclusion.

Autonomy, celebrating accomplishments, and having a culture built on shared values all can achieve this as well. And, always treat everyone with the same level of respect. For example, if you planned to meet an employee for lunch at noon, don’t arrive at 12:30.

Build Your Energy, Build Your Productivity

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Build Your Energy, Build Your Productivity

There is a direct line between energy and productivity. When you feel zapped, you just aren’t going to get as much done. But, unlike time, there are ways to build your energy levels.

What happens when you achieve this? You’ll surpass expectations because you’re a lean, mean productivity machine. And, it’s really not all that difficult if you do the following.

Get the best sleep ever.

I know this is a give-in. But, so many of us aren’t getting enough sleep each night. Some of us are even engaging in some revenge bedtime procrastination.

The ugly truth is that sleep deprivation can have serious consequences. In addition to a lack of energy, you could experience everything from mental health disorders to physical ailments like cardiovascular disease. Other symptoms include poor decision-making, reduced attention span, and burnout.

The good news? You can treat yourself to the best sleep ever by;

  • Setting a sleep schedule based on your circadian rhythm.
  • Making your bedroom resemble a cave — it should be cool, dark, and quiet.
  • Gradually power down by avoiding electronics at least an hour before bed.
  • Cutoff coffee at least six hours before bedtime.
  • Wear socks to bed.
  • Implement an evening routine that involves progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Investing in a new mattress, pillows, and bedding.

Also, it’s alright if you take a nap as well. Just keep it under 20-minutes and not too late in the afternoon.

Fight fatigue with the right diet.

A close second to getting a good night’s rest? What you’re eating and when. Here are some suggestions courtesy of the Department of Health, State Government of Victoria, Australia;

  • Stay hydrated, but don’t backlog water at the end of the day if you don’t want to wake up all night. Stop drinking water about four hours before bed.
  • Have carbohydrate-rich breakfast foods such as cereals or wholegrain bread for breakfast.
  • Don’t skip meals.
  • Eat healthy foods, like fruits and veggies. You can also enjoy low-fat dairy products and lean meats.
  • Try eating six-mini meals as opposed to three large meals to prevent overeating.

Close open-loops.

“Is there something you’ve had on your mind for weeks, months, or maybe even years that you haven’t completed?” asks Amanda Bucci. For example, have been putting off that dentist or doctor appointment? How about that package that requires a trip to the post office?

These are called “open loops. And, even though you don’t realize it, they quietly drain a lot of energy out of you. Why? Because they occupy valuable space in your subconscious.

“Instead of wasting effort by having your brain remind you of that thing you haven’t done, take an hour, day, or week to close the loop and do that thing,” advises Bucci.

Don’t be shady.

Even novice comic book fans know that Superman is powered by the yellow sun. But, you don’t have to be from Krypton to also harness the power of the sun.

Case in point, seasonal affective disorder. Many people feel more lethargic during the colder months of the year because they aren’t exposed to much natural light. Remember the tanning bed if you occasionally need it.

However, a study done by Prof Mirjam Muench, associate research professor for the Sleep/Wake Center in New Zealand, further verifies the need for natural sunlight. He compared the effects of natural and artificial lights. The result was that those who worked under fluorescent lighting were more tired at the end of the day.

Those who were fortunate enough to work somewhere with natural or blue (wavelength) lighting? They were actually more active after the workday.

Take a grateful stroll.

Another way to soak up the sun? Go outside for a walk — even during the winter. As an added perk, this gets your body moving and gives you a chance to clear your head.

But, you can bolster your daily walk by practicing gratitude.

Going for a 10-minute “thank you” walk is a technique that “combines the power of gratefulness with the positive effects of walking and exercise,” explains Jon Gordon, a professional speaker, energy coach, and author of Become an Energy Addict. As a result, this floods “your brain with happy neurotransmitters and endorphins.”

“It’s a simple yet powerful exercise that energizes the mind and body and builds mental and physical muscle,” Gordon adds.

Stop hanging out with wet rags.

We are social creatures. A 79-year-old-Harvard study even found that embracing community helps us live longer and be happier.

However, not all relationships are equal.

Carve out some alone time and reflect on your relationships. If there are people who are toxic and draining, remove them from your life. And, spend more time with those who are positive, supportive, and give you a jolt of energy.

Keep stress and workload at bay.

“Stress-induced emotions consume huge amounts of energy,” notes Harvard Health Publishing. “Talking with a friend or relative, joining a support group, or seeing a psychotherapist can all help diffuse stress.” You can also try relaxation therapies, such as meditation, self-hypnosis, yoga, and tai chi.

Another culprit? Overwork. Examples “include professional, family, and social obligations,” adds the publication.

“Try to streamline your list of ‘must-do’ activities,” the authors suggest. “Set your priorities in terms of the most important tasks. Pare down those that are less important.”

Also, don’t hesitate to ask for help or delegate some of your responsibilities. And, don’t feel guilty if you have to say “no.”

Set reminders to look away and stretch.

Staring at a computer screen for too long can cause eye fatigue, which eventually can cause headaches, dizziness, and overall exhaustion,” says Adina Smarandache, an internist at Scripps Coastal Medical Center in San Diego. The answer? Live by the rule of 20.

Here’s how it works, set a timer or reminder for every 20 minutes. At this time, stare at a spot 20 feet away for 20 seconds. It’s a simple way to refresh your eyes, which will also rejuvenate your body.

And, while you’re taking a quick break, use that time to stretch. Whether if it’s an upward stretch or elbow plank, doing this pose. realigns your body and gets your blood circulating.

Put your records on.

The great Ray Charles once said, “Music is powerful. As people listen to it, they can be affected. They respond.”

And, he was naturally correct.

Music is, in fact, an incredible force of nature. In fact, music has been found to;

  • Help you become more immersed in your work.
  • Improve cognition and mood.
  • Move your brain to pay attention.
  • Boost both mental and physical performance.
  • Encourage you to work faster and more efficiently.
  • Increase morale and work environment.

While listening to your favorite songs can release dopamine, just note that there are exceptions. For instance, listening to intelligible lyrics can be distracting.

Get your clutter under control.

A little bit of clutter? Not the worst thing in the world.

But, too much? It can negatively impact your mental and physical health.

All that dust can be terrible for your allergies. Piles of paperwork can cause anxiety, stress, and procrastination. No wonder people describe clutter as “suffocating.”

While it may not be the most thrilling of chores, you need to block out time to clean and organize your workspace. At home, donate or sell the clothes you no longer wear in your closet. And, even clean out your inbox and computer files.

Don’t overwhelm yourself though. Take baby starts.

For example, in-between a meeting, wipe down your desktop and toss the trash. During your next break, organize a drawer. Before you know it, you’ll have your entire work area fresh, clean, and free of clutter.

How to Build Accountable Work from Home Teams

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How to Build Accountable Work from Home Teams

Even though technology has made working remotely possible, it was still a luxury for most employees. In fact, under 5 million worked at home before 2020. And, as you know, a global pandemic changed all that.

Since then, 62% of employed Americans have reported that they have worked from home during the crisis. And, no matter what happens, a majority of them would prefer to do so.

Because of this, leaders have had to step up their game. They’ve had to get used to communicating and collaborating virtually. And, even more challenging, they’ve had to learn to trust their team members.

How to Build Accountable Work from Home Teams

Unlike being in an office where you would expect to see your people working, you’ve had to believe that they’re doing the same thing at home. You’ve also had to learn that they need flexibility in order to meet both their professional and personal demands.

The good news? You can still build an accountable work from home team. When you do, you’ll still meet deadlines, while earning the trust of your team members.

Create a team-facing work-from-home policy.

“You need a solid work-from-home policy that plainly lays out how your remote team operates,” writes Jeremy Elder for Hubstaff.” It should also cover “what you ask of your teams when they’re working away from the office.”

Why? That’s easy. “Employees can’t deliver what you want unless they understand what you expect of them,” explains Elder.

When developing this policy, however, make sure that’s just not a list of procedural steps. It should be something that “inspires and educates on why your strong remote work culture is a reflection of the larger mission and values of your business.”

Elder adds that a solid remote work policy will answer the following questions:

  • Who can work from home?
  • When and how often can they work from home?
  • Who approves remote work requests?
  • What equipment and amenities are required?
  • What security and privacy measures must be taken?
  • Is remote work completed on a flexible schedule, or must the team member complete work during specific hours?
  • What meeting standards must be met while working from home?

You may also want to address things like dress codes and meeting availability. And, you may also want to be flexible with deadlines. Even though your team is working remotely, they will still have to deal handle personal issues that may pop-up.

Not only will this keep your current team members productive, but you can also use this to attract talent. Why? Because 72% of talent professionals have stated that “flexible working and remote options are very important” when attracting new workers.

Get to know your team members.

Not everyone is cut out for remote work. Knowing this, you would bring on those who are. Unfortunately, that’s not how the cookie crumbles — just look at how the coronavirus made WFH a necessity.

As such, you should spend time with each of your team members. Find out where they’re struggling so that you can mentor or help them. For example, maybe they never had a proper workspace at home. If not, you could send them a standing desk or share resources on how to create a home office.

Additionally, this lets you know when they’re most productive. Let’s say you a team member who is a morning bird. You should anticipate that they need the AM to focus on work, so you might want to have a one-on-one with them in the afternoon. Also, you shouldn’t be frustrated if they’re not available at night.

And, this can also help you know the challenges that they’re facing. If bandwidth is an issue at a certain time, you may want to recommend other locations where they can work. Or, you could be flexible with their availability.

Don’t complicate communication and collaboration.

Try to streamline your communication and collaboration by limiting the number of tools that you use. It can get confusing switching back and forth with platforms. Even worse, your team members may misplace a piece of information because it was located in an Outlook email when Gmail is preferred.

At the minimum, you should create and manage a shared team calendar. It’s a simple way to remind everyone of due dates, map out projects, track progress, and schedule meetings. Other suggestions are:

  • Messaging platforms like Slack. Create both channels for work and non-work topics.
  • Project management software like Basecamp, Trello, or Monday.com. These can help you assign tasks, share files, and track progress.
  • Google Apps like Gmail and Docs for easier communication and collaboration.
  • Web conferencing tools like Zoom or Go2Meeting. These can aid in brainstorming, check-ins, and combat the loneliness of remote working. Just be aware of Zoom fatigue so that you and your team don’t get exhausted.

Set hard deadlines, but trust they’ll be met.

You don’t want to be a nuisance. However, you should frequently check-in with your team members to see how they’re progressing. Some leaders prefer a daily check-in, while others are cool with doing this weekly.

The reason? Just to make sure that there aren’t any hiccups. If so, you can either jump in and lend a hand or push back a deadline.

At the same time, if you’re set goals with hard deadlines, you won’t have to communicate with them as often. Why? Because deadlines make us feel the pressure of accountability and can counter procrastination.

Focus on output, not time-in-seat.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced more people to work from home. While some thrived, others had to adjust — particularly employers and managers. “One of the biggest holdbacks of remote work is trust — managers simply don’t trust their people to work untethered,” said Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics. “They’re used to managing by counting butts in seats rather than by results. ”

As a consequence, employers embraced tools to monitor and track everything from keystrokes, email, app usage, and file transfers. They also used time tracking tools and screenshots.

The thing is, working remotely doesn’t mean you’re sticking to a traditional 8-hour workday. You might put in an hour or two, but then do laundry or homeschool your kids. Or, you may be more of a night owl and get most of your work done in the evening.

“I think there’s an opportunity here to learn how to be a manager that values output, not time-in-seat,” Natalie Nagele, cofounder of Wildbit, told Fast Company. “To me, the value of remote work is that trust and that ability to empower every person to manage their time, to manage their days and their responsibilities around an output.”

“We make a promise to each other,” adds Natalie. “I’m gonna deliver on this thing, and if I can’t deliver it to you, I’m going to communicate why.”

Provide (and solicit) feedback.

What happens if a project has been delivered and it’s not exactly what you wanted? Don’t belittle the person responsible. Instead, go over with them what they did wrong and how to improve.

On the flip side, ask them where you can improve. Maybe your instructions weren’t crystal clear. Now that you’re aware of this, you’ll set clear project expectations and guidelines going forward.

Know when it’s time to micromanage.

Make no mistake about it. Micromanagement drives employees crazy. That’s why you should grant autonomy and let them do their thing.

However, there will be times when this is necessary. Examples include:

  • Employee engagement has become stagnant.
  • Your company is going through a period of uncertainty.
  • Your business is changing direction.
  • You want to unleash the full potential of a team member.
  • The results have been disappointing.
  • There’s a new leader, employee, or unit.
  • You want to build a culture of collaboration.
  • Your business is venturing into new territory.
  • A project requires very specific results.
  • Your team is struggling with time management.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you should interrupt your team when you know that they’re working or off-the-clock. Instead, it’s al about balancing micro and macro-management.

How to Develop New Forms of Leadership

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How to Develop New Forms of Leadership

What do all successful leaders have in common? They’re on a constant quest for knowledge. Whether through books, workshops, or shadowing peers, it’s an essential leadership trait.

Why is this the case? Because it keeps them up-to-speed on the latest trends and sparks creativity. And, most importantly, it ensures that they can grow into an inspiring and productive leader.

With Gen Z entering the workforce, this is more important than ever. After all, how boomers and millennials were lead are completely different than what Gen Z would expect. One area that you shouldn’t overlook is developing new forms of leadership so that you can connect with this demographic.

Increase your leadership capacity.

“Developing leadership skills is one of the most powerful moves you can make to transform your professional and personal life,” states Team Tony. “It’s an empowering process of harnessing your natural talents to inspire others.” During this journey, you’ll also “become more attuned to your strengths and weaknesses, which creates self-awareness and the ability to relate to others.”

How can you achieve this? By asking yourself the following three questions;

  • Do I know what my leadership style is? “Understanding your leadership style opens the door for building managerial skills in harmony with your true nature,” the authors add. “Is your leadership approach democratic, visionary, coaching, affiliative, pacesetting, or commanding?” Knowing “where you fall in these categories, you’re better equipped to develop leadership skills.”
  • What are my weak spots? Be honest with yourself here. It’s the most effective way to pinpoint what skills or form of leadership you need to address.
  • How can I take action? Now that you’re aware of your strengths and weaknesses, you can take steps to develop leadership skills. For example, if you want to become more of a coach, then you’ll want to focus on areas like becoming more self-aware and how to ask guided questions. And, you also have to practice offering guidance as opposed to micromanaging others.

Get in the trenches.

Do what separates a boss and leader? Bosses believe that they’re above the team. True leaders, however, are a part of the team.

Instead of hiding out in your office or distancing yourself from your team, spend time with them. You can do this by eating lunch with, scheduling one-on-ones, and working next to them. Besides giving you the chance to get to know them better, which you can use to motivate them, you can also learn new forms of leadership from them.

For instance, maybe it’s difficult for you to give up control. That’s understandable as a business owner. But, encouraging ownership is one of the most effective ways to motivate your team.

But, after spending time with a team member, you realize that they possess more of laissez-faire or hands-off style. You can then pick their brain or shadow them to see how you can delegate more effectively, promote a more autonomous work environment, and how to let go of control.

Embrace 360-degree feedback.

A 360-degree feedback approach is when leaders use a full circle of viewpoints to evaluate their performance. Examples include feedback from subordinates, colleagues, customers, and their own self-assessment. When done correctly, this can increase self-awareness, clarify behavior, and encourages personal development.

The biggest hurdle to jump is being willing to listen to negative feedback. Don’t take it personally. Use it as an opportunity to learn, grow, and make changes.

Learn from a coach, mentor, or consultant.

Whether it’s hiring a coach, catching up with your mentor, or bringing in outside consultants, these types of relationships are priceless. They can share with you how they achieved past victories, as well as setbacks.

Moreover, they can challenge you to try out new forms of leadership. Or, you can be inspired by them and put your own twist on their style.

For example, you may look up to Steve Jobs or Elon Musk for being innovative, decisive, or encouraging teamwork. But, you don’t have to romanticize their bad behavior. As such, you could blend those styles with empathy.

Work outside your organization.

“One of the simplest and most powerful sources of learning is simply to have worked within different organizations,” writes Ben Brearley BSc. BCM MBA. “Leaders who have spent much of their time within a single organization tend to become accustomed to the status quo.”

To prevent this, spend time in other work environments. When you do, you become exposed “to new ideas, new people and new organizational models,” adds Brearley. “It also provides you access to more diverse leadership approaches, because you’ll have had many different bosses to report to.”

“If you are somebody who has worked at the same organization for a long time, you need to ensure that you continue to learn from as many different external sources as possible,” he suggests. Hopefully, this will “provide you with diverse outside information that you can bring into your current role.”

How can you work with other organizations? You could find a part-time job, volunteer, or collaborate with partner companies. Some ideas for the latter would be co-sponsoring an event, co-branding a product/service, or publishing research together.

If the above is too overwhelming, seek opportunities to take on new roles and responsibilities within your organization. Maybe you could spend a day working for your sales department manager to see how they lead.

Share what you know.

“If you want to learn — teach,” advises Sally Fox, Ph.D. “Those of us who teach leadership professionally know this secret: We have to develop ourselves, keep learning, and model what we believe.”

“No matter where you are in your career, you can mentor others, offer what you know, share your questions, exchange insights, and keep learning,” Dr. Fox adds. “By so doing, you’ll further your own education.”

In addition to mentoring, write blog boats, host a podcast, or start an online course. I also think that speaking opportunities are clutch since you can also mingle and network. Overall, there’s no shortage of ways for you to pass along your knowledge.

Schedule “me” time.

Most of us avoid spending time alone. After all, we’re social creatures. And, loneliness can be detrimental to our mental and physical health.

However, there’s nothing wrong with indulging in some solitude occasionally. In fact, this can be beneficial as this can reduce stress, encourage gratitude, and build mental strength.

Moreover, spending time by yourself allows you to plan and develop compassion. Most importantly? It gives you a chance to reflect and learn more about yourself so that you’re comfortable in your own skin.

Introduce yourself to new and disruptive ideas — as often as possible.

As a leader, I’m positive that you’re surrounded by your favorite books, podcasts, and websites. And, there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, these resources are proven ways to keep learning and growing.

But, you should also expand your horizons. Ask your network what book you should read next. Listen to a brand-new podcast while you commute or exercise.

You can also subscribe to innovation blogs like Innovation Management or Both Sides of the Table. Another idea would be following influencers on social media or stay updated with hashtags. And, you should become a TED Member and dig into leadership reports from organizations like Criterion.

The Psychological Price of Meetings

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The Psychological Price of Meetings

With so many personalities within your organization, it’s not every day that you can reach unanimous decisions. However, if there is one thing that everyone can agree upon it’s how much they despise meetings.

People dread meetings for several valid reasons. For starters, most people view meetings as unproductive and inefficient. That’s because there isn’t a clear purpose and a lack of clear, actionable outcomes. What’s more, meetings often drag on for far too long. As a result, attendees are pulled-away from meaningful work.

Other culprits include:

  • Having to wait for late arrivals — which wastes even more time of participants.
  • Believing that there’s too much talking and not enough listening.
  • Inviting too many people because you don’t want anyone to be left out.
  • Not having any structure — such as an agenda or allowing others to go off-topic.
  • Feeling bored or not engaged.

While that is not an extensive list, the point is that people really can’t stand meetings. And, the numbers seem to back this sentiment up.

The Psychological Price of Meetings

Research from Atlassian found that the average employee attends 62 meetings per month, with half being considered “time wasted.” The research also shows that we spend approximately 31 hours per month in unproductive meetings.

According to research from Fuze, unproductive meetings cost more than $37 billion annually. It also wastes 15 percent of an organization’s collective time. However, for middle management, that figure increases to 35 percent and 50 percent for upper management. That’s a lot of time and money when 67 percent of executives consider meetings to be failures.

Because of this, it’s no surprise that some organizations, like Asana, have banned meetings on specific days as a solution to the meeting problem. Other businesses have even scrapped meetings altogether.

But, few of these organizations have examined the most detrimental part of meetings; the psychological price it has on employees.

The Toll on Physical Health

Wait. Wasn’t this article supposed to be about the psychological price of meetings? Yes. However, there’s a strong correlation between physical and mental health.

While it’s no secret that physical health reduces serious health concern like heart problems, diabetes, or concern, it’s also a proven way to reduce stress and anxiety. Being active also improves your mood, focus, and concentration thanks to the release of dopamine and serotonin.

Exercise has also been found to stimulate other chemicals in the brain called “brain-derived neurotrophic factors.” These allow for new brain cells to grow and develop. Furthermore, research shows that older adults who are physically fit have a bigger hippocampus and better spatial memory.

In short, when you prioritize your physical health, you’re improving your mental health.

Considering that the average person already sits for 12 hours per day, slouching at a conference table only adds to this sedentary lifestyle. No wonder living sedentary has become the fourth leading risk for global mortality.

To counter physical inactivity, it’s suggested that we need at least one hour of physical activity a day. Of course, this is no easy feat during a hectic workday. The good news is that instead of sitting throughout a meeting you implement standing meetings.

While this won’t completely resolve physical inactivity in the workplace, it’s an excellent starting point to improve employee health — they’re also 34 percent shorter. Additionally, standing meetings come with the following benefits;

  • Releases endorphins and boosts energy levels.
  • Decreases distractions.
  • Encourages better collaboration, a sense of purpose, and creative thinking.
  • Keeps attendees focused and alert.
  • Improves posture.
  • Burns 50 percent more calories than sitting.

Added Workplace Stress and Anxiety

Workplace stress has already been dubbed the “silent killer.” The outcome known as a silent killer is because when left unchecked stress can result in physical alignments like headaches, trouble sleeping, and increased blood pressure. It can also affect concentration, confidence, and mood disorders like anxiety and depression. 72 percent of people who have daily stress and anxiety say it interferes with their lives at least moderately.

Meetings can add to an already stressed out workforce due to issues like being afraid to speak in public and interacting with an authority figure. There’s also legitimate worry when there isn’t access to an agenda or resources before the meeting. I mean is there anything worse than not knowing what to expect when entering a meeting? Worse, have you been asked a question for which you didn’t or couldn’t prepare an answer?

When it comes to reducing workplace stress and anxiety, there isn’t such a thing as “one size fits all” approach. However, one solution is to provide all attendees with the required information, resources, and agenda in advance. Giving meeting attendees advanced information offers them the opportunity to prepare — so that they aren’t afraid of the unknown. The dividend is money back in your pocket in saved time.

You may also want to consider offering meditation classes and encouraging employees to take frequent breaks. Also, create a friendly and positive company culture through team building exercises, socializing outside of work, and not tolerating bullying. When employees feel comfortable and respected with their colleagues, it can ease stress related to areas like the fear of public speaking.

FOMO

Despite the evidence that regular meetings are unproductive and costly, why do we keep scheduling or attending them? There may be a simple explanation; FOMO.

FOMO, which is stands for the “fear of missing out,” is defined as “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere.” It may explain why leaders schedule weekly meetings. If they don’t see their team, they’ll worry that they don’t know what everyone is working on, or assigned.

Personalities can also play a role. Extroverts, for example, are naturally drawn to recurring brainstorming sessions and group activities. As a result, they set face-to-face communications because they believe it’s necessary.

The truth of the matter is that when everyone within your organization is in-attendance, performance decreases because the group size is too large. C Northcote Parkinson addressed this first with his“coefficient of inefficiency.” Parkinson stated that meetings consisting of five people were “most likely to act with competence, secrecy, and speed.” Above nine, Parkinson added, “the organism begins to perish.”

Via Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”:

The “evidence from science suggests that business people must be insane to use brainstorming groups,” writes the organizational psychologist Adrian Furnham. “If you have talented and motivated people, they should be encouraged to work alone when creativity or efficiency is the highest priority.”

Before inviting your entire staff to the next meeting, review all current recurring meetings and ask yourself the following questions;

  • Does the meeting still serve a purpose?
  • Is the meeting necessary?
  • Does everyone need to participate or can you invite only the key stakeholders like department heads?
  • Can you use Slack, email, or a project management system instead of in-person?
  • If you must meet face-to-face, can you replace the meeting with a 5-minute inspiration break?

It’s never easy to start eliminating meetings from your calendar. But, start experimenting with alternatives. It may take some trial and error, but you may find a more productive option.

Decreases Morale and Engagement

When meetings are irrelevant to invitees and don’t serve a purpose, they can kill morale. Instead of being able to focus on more critical work, attendees are stuck in a meeting that is an utter waste of time.

When employee morale is low, you can also expect engagement to drop as well. Initially, this may not seem overly significant. But, employee disengagement leads to;

  • Dissatisfaction with their jobs.
  • Unproductivity.
  • Causes people to withdraw, which harms collaboration.
  • Less employee input.
  • A lack of growth, empowerment, and improvement.
  • An increase in costly mistakes.
  • More absenteeism and turnover.

Again, avoid scheduling meetings that are a waste of time. Make sure they have a clear purpose and work towards a common goal. And, make sure they’re short, concise, and engaging.

Unnecessary Information Overload

Do your meetings contain too many facts? Are you throwing stats at attendees left and right? Are you boring them with slide after slide packed full of information?

Annoying people to death or overwhelming them with information may seem innocent. Unfortunately, when exposed to too much information our brains become unnecessarily stimulated. This information overload can result in negatively affecting our mental well-being in the following ways:

  • A decrease in productivity.
  • Drained energy.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Strong compulsion to check emails, social media, etc.
  • A decreased cognitive performance which can impair decision-making.

When planning a meeting keep in mind that the brain can only handle to so much information at one-time. Additionally, our brains can only focus for so long before starting to wander. If a meeting is an hour-long and delivers too much data — processing and focus will be dull, and everyone will lose interest.

As such, only share the most critical data points during your presentation. You can send any supporting information to your team in the form of a word document that they can view at their leisure. A quick, readable piece will also ensure that the event will be short and concise. Ideally, you should take a page of the TED Talk playbook and keep your presentation under 20-minutes.

Multitasking Damages Your Brain

A whopping 92 percent of people have admitted to multitasking during meetings. Whether if this is checking their email or during other work, multitasking does more harm than good.

Research out of the University of Sussex found that multitaskers have “ less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region responsible for empathy as well as cognitive and emotional control.” A study from the University of London discovered “that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night.”

One solution would be to ban gadgets, like a smartphone. Former President Obama, for example, had people place their phones in a basket before entering a meeting.

Another option would be to make meetings more interactive. Interactive meetings take up more time though. But an occasional question-and-answer session can be helpful, group activities, or ditching the chairs and implementing standing meetings can also be beneficial.

Distractions Derail More Than Just Productivity

It’s no secret that distractions harm productivity. For example, if you’re interrupted by an email, it will take around 16 minutes to refocus your attention. As for meetings, it can take 2 hours to recover from these disruptions. The reason? Switching between tasks leaves us with a frantic sensation. As a result, this over-stimulates the brain.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Because distractions lead to productivity loss, the work day gets longer. Eventually, this leads to frustration, stress, and a lack of engagement and motivation. And, because we’re attempting to catch up on work, we make more mistakes.

As if that weren’t bad enough, workplace distractions impair employee IQ scores.

Once again, if possible, avoid having too many unnecessary meetings. If a situation can be handled electronically, then go that route as opposed to interrupting people from working. If meetings are necessary, keep them under 30-minutes and at least have one day per week where meetings do not take place.

Can Lead to a Sense of Failure

As mentioned above, a majority of executives feel that meetings are a failure.

Failure isn’t always a bad thing. It allows you to learn and grow from your mistakes. At the same time, that doesn’t make failure an enjoyable experience.

Failing time-and-time again can make the same goal less attainable. It also distorts how you perceive your abilities, makes you believe you’re helpless, causes anxiety, and unconscious self-sabotage.

Every meeting on your calendar should have clear goals and objectives. Calendar info involves:

  • Identifying the desired outcome and how it can be achieved.
  • Determining why the outcome is essential. In other words, how does it align with the bigger picture?
  • Deciding when the outcome should be achieved and establishing roles.

Meetings Aren’t a Good Waste of Time

Meetings aren’t just a waste of time. They’re a terrible waste of time. This doesn’t even account for the psychological price of meetings on a human soul.

While our brains require downtime, instead of sitting in a useless meeting you should provide opportunities for yourself and team to meditate, new learn a skill, exercise, build hobbies, or work on a passion project. In other words, you shouldn’t be watching Netflix for an hour. Instead, you should focus on activities that have some potential positive value.

When time is spent as an investment, productivity increases, it also encourages creativity, solidifies memories, and replenishes attention.

Meetings Can Still Be Beneficial

You may believe that all sessions are a waste of time? But, that’s not honestly always the case. When done correctly, meetings can;

  • Keep everyone in the loop and on the same page.
  • Share problems, concerns, and solutions to problems.
  • Promote leadership and the chance for employees to step into new roles.
  • Opportunity to give and receive feedback.
  • Provide training opportunities.
  • Promote team collaboration. Teamwork can improve the flexibility of the organization, keep everyone engaged, spark innovation, and improve the health of employees.

Even more promising is that meetings can encourage group cohesion. While meetings should be as short as possible, letting participants spend a couple of minutes before or after engaging in informal communication boosts productivity.

A study from MIT backs this statement up by stating that “with increased cohesion likely comes an increase in things such as shared tacit knowledge, shared attitudes and work habits, and social support.”

Moreover, a Microsoft survey discovered that people crave face-time. In-Person meetings are the communication method that makes them the happiest.

Proven Ways to Improve Meetings

Although there have been suggestions throughout this article to help make meetings successful, a team of psychological scientists have developed the following recommendations;

Before the Meeting

  • Assess current needs. Meetings should only be held to solve a problem, make a decision, or have a substantive discussion.
  • Set and share the agenda. An agenda will make the purpose of the meeting clear. It will also keep the meeting organized.
  • Invite only the right people. Attendance should be kept to a minimum. As such, only those who will help achieve its goals and initiatives should be invited.

During the Meeting

  • Encourage contribution. Ask questions. Encourage feedback. Facilitate group discussions. Or, have a little fun by playing games.
  • Add a little humor. Humor breaks the ice, lightens the mood, and creates a more positive environment.
  • Redirect complaining. Complaints change the mood of the meeting and gets the discussion off-track. Squash complaining and address it one-on-one following the meeting.
  • Keep discussions focused. Stick to the agenda and only allow reviews that are relevant to the meeting objective.

After the Meeting

  • Share the minutes. Attendees can refer to this when they need a reminder of what to do next and who’s responsible for specific roles. Those who couldn’t attend can also use the minutes to stay in the loop.
  • Seek feedback. Feedback will help you plan the next meeting to ensure it’s productive.
  • Look ahead. Keep the momentum going by encouraging everyone to think about future actions, follow-through, and short-and-long-term outcomes.

Additional suggestions;

  • Don’t schedule meetings in the morningMornings should be spent on priorities that involve deep work and focus. Instead, schedule meetings in the afternoon, like around 3:30 or four pm since it’s unlikely that any other project will get started at this time.
  • Pick the right location. Where the meeting is held needs to be large enough to accommodate participants, be an environment that inspires creativity and has the right tech if needed.
  • Eliminate distractions. Again, don’t allow phones into the meeting — or ask them to be turned off. Also, do not allow small talk during the presentation.
  • Set a time limit. Meetings that range between 15-45 minutes are ideal.
  • Step-up your virtual meeting etiquette. If working with a remote team, make sure you’re using the right technology, stop multitasking, close unnecessary programs, and mute your mic when not speaking.

What is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

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What is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

The other night I thought that as soon as my head hit the pillows, I would be out cold. I had one of those non-stop days. You know, getting ahead of work and attending to household responsibilities like laundry.

A peculiar thing happened. I laid there wide awake.

So, I decided to read a book to calm down. When I felt drowsy enough, I put the book down but continued to toss and turn. Frustrated, I grabbed my phone and turned on a podcast until I eventually fell asleep.

I was well aware that it was past my bedtime. I also knew that I was going to pay for not going to bed on time by dragging all day tomorrow. But, I just couldn’t help myself.

Of course, I’m not an anomaly. In fact, this such a prevalent problem that the phenomenon has its own name; it’s called “the revenge bedtime procrastination.”

What is revenge bedtime procrastination?

“Revenge bedtime procrastination is just a cry from overworked people, and they’re actually trying to put off bedtime just a little bit so they can reclaim something for themselves,” said Dr. Rajkumar Dasgupta, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles.

More directly, it’s sacrificing sleep so that you have more leisure time.

For example, if you’re exhausted and it’s 10 p.m., you might decide to watch a movie? The reason, you didn’t feel that you had much downtime during the day. So, you want to make up for that, relax, and enjoy a movie.

The problem? You’re breaking your normal sleep schedule by falling asleep until after midnight. And, you’re willing to accept the consequences — mainly that you’ll be a zombie tomorrow at work.

Another factor could be an unplanned circumstance. Maybe your favorite baseball team goes into extra innings causing you to it the hay later than planned. Or, you aren’t falling well or dealing with a restless child or dog.

Where did the term revenge bedtime procrastination originate from though? Well, bedtime procrastination first surfaced in a 2014 study out of the Netherlands. Appearing in Frontiers in Psychology, in 2018, the authors stated that those who tried to “resist desires” during the day were more likely to be a bedtime procrastinator.

The link between COVID and sleep.

Another cause is that the lines between work and life have become too intertwined. For instance, you’re responding to emails or Slack messages at all hours of the night instead of enjoying your leisure time. So, to recapture some much-needed “me time,” you stay up later.

For many, this has been the case following COVID-19. Many of us no longer had a clear separation between work and life since our homes became our workplaces. We were also more stressed and couldn’t stop ourselves from doomscrolling.

How bad has gotten? Well, since the pandemic started, 40% of people have reported sleeping problems.

What’s revenge got to do with it.

As the revenge part? That came about in 2016 when it took off on the internet in China. “Revenge bedtime procrastination” is the literal translation is “staying up late in a self-revenge way.”

The phrase finally went viral in English following a tweet by New York-based journalist Daphne K. Lee. She defined this as “a phenomenon in which people who don’t have much control over their daytime life refuse to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late night hours.”

The importance of sleep.

It might some harmless to occasionally stay past your normal bedtime. After all, at least you’re getting some amount of z’s, right?

Occasionally, this might be acceptable. However, it’s a myth that you can catch up on sleep. Moreover, bedtime procrastination can lead to sleep deprivation.

Why’s that concerning? Well, falling short on slumber doesn’t just make you so tired that you chug multiple pots of coffee. It can cause symptoms like;

  • Being more prone to accidents or making mistakes.
  • Degrades decision-making, thinking, and memory.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression.
  • Irritability, which can impact your relationships.

What’s more, a lack of sleep can also cause physical health conditions like;

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Hormone-related problems
  • Weaker immune system
  • Chronic pain

As if that’s not bad enough, a lack of sleep can reduce self-regulation and impulse control. And, it also raises the odds of dying early.

In short, sleep deprivation negatively affects all facets of your life. As such, it needs to be a top priority.

Getting revenge on revenge bedtime procrastination.

Ideally, we all should be getting between 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. For adolescents and teenagers, it’s more. But, how can we win this fight against bedtime procrastination? Well, here are 6 recommendations.

1. Honor your sleep chronotype.

“According to sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus, there are four different chronotypes or circadian rhythm personalities,” writes Abby Miller in another Calendar article. “He suggests that you determine which one you are so that you can mirror the sleep-wake habits that best describe you.”

  • Bear. For most of us, our sleep-wake patterns follow the sun. As such, you’re “ready for intense tasks smack in the middle of the morning,” but feel a dip by mid-afternoon.
  • Lion. Lions are early risers. “These are the go-getters, the leaders, the type-A movers, and shakers.” The downside is that they usually have to go to bed earlier.
  • Wolf. Wolves are nocturnal loners. That means that they get a later start and have two peak periods — noon to 2 pm and late afternoon/early evening.
  • Dolphin. Since dolphins are light sleepers, they’re more likely to have irregular sleep routines. They’re also perfectionists and do their best work from mid-morning through early afternoon.

“To find out what your animal, track your time and take Dr. Breus’ sleep chronotype quiz,” she advises. “After that, re-organize your day so that you can align your sleep pattern and work schedule. For example, if you’re a lion, then you would want to tackle your most important work bright and early.”

2. Chillax in the evening.

As you should know, your morning routine can make or break your day. But, your evening routine is equally important. And, that should conclude with your bedtime ritual.

Preferably, this should take place around 30 to 60 minutes prior to bed. And, it should contain only activities that make you feel relaxed. Some suggestions would be;

  • Taking a warm bath or shower.
  • Meditating or doing light stretches.
  • Focusing on your breathing.
  • Listening to soothing music.
  • Reading a book.

3. Resist the blue light special.

Electronic devices, such as your phone or tablet, emit blue light. In case you weren’t aware, this reduces melatonin levels. Melatonin is the chemical that’s responsible for your wake/sleep schedule.

What’s that mean? When these levels dip, you’ll have more difficulty falling asleep.

Additionally, blue light can stimulate your brain. Which, as you might have guessed, makes sleep more of a challenge. And, if you keep your phone close, notifications that you receive at night can interrupt your sleep.

The solution? Avoid blue light at least an hour before bed. You should also stop using your phone as an alarm and place it across your room.

4. Keep your bedroom sacred.

Your bed needs to be reserved only for sleep and sex. Nothing else. What’s more, your bedroom should be cool, dark, and quiet.

Preferably, set your thermostat between 60°F and 67°F, invest in blackout curtains, and even earplugs. Also, don’t skimp on your pillows and mattress.

5. Release stress before bed.

If you’re putting off sleep because you’re worrying, then address these thoughts before laying down. For instance, you could jot down your worries so that they’re out of your head.

Other suggestions include;

  • Planning and organizing tomorrow by prioritizing your lists.
  • Journaling.
  • Meditating.
  • Purchasing a weighted blanket to reduce anxiety.

6. Use your online calendar.

What does your calendar have to do with hitting the hay? In a previous Calendar article, Angela Ruth argues that with your trusty calendar, you can add structure to help encourage a better night’s rest, such as;

  • Follow a consistent routine. “It’s easier to get sleep when you follow a routine,” writes Angela. “If you don’t make time in your schedule for rest, it may become sporadic. Adjust your rhythm gradually, or you could overcorrect — and oversleeping can leave you feeling groggy and unproductive.”
  • Take charge of naps. “When you nap, use your online calendar to hold yourself accountable,” she advises. “Make sure you’re not taking one too late in the day and set an alarm to ensure your power nap doesn’t turn into a snooze fest.”
  • Manage your eating and drinking. “Just as you shouldn’t be napping too late in the day, there are other things that should be reserved for earlier hours,” she adds. Examples would be avoiding caffeine later in the day or eating too late at night.
  • Add exercise to your day. Block out a regular time during the day for physical activity as this promotes sleep.
  • Kick bad habits. You know which vices I’m referring to. Smoking cigarettes, drinking, and eating junk food are all bad habits that you need to ditch. You can use your calendar to set goals and track your progress.
  • Keep things tidy. Set a recurring event to declutter and clean your bedroom to reduce stress. And, don’t forget to regularly wash your bedding.

If you’ve done all of the above and are still struggling with sleep, then make an appointment with your physician. The sooner you get to the root cause, the faster you can nip bad sleep habits from robbing you of another good night’s sleep.

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.

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