Category Archives: Appointment

How to Organize Your Best Tailgating Season Yet

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How to Organize Your Best Tailgating Season Yet

It’s that time of year again — the weather is cooling down, and leaves are starting to change colors. Fall is here, and you know what that means? Football. And what better way to enjoy the sport than hosting the best tailgating party ever?

You might think hosting a tailgate party is easy. All you have to do is show up and eat, right?

Not necessarily. A great deal goes into throwing a tailgating party, and it’s essential to be organized. In this article, we list six tips to help you plan an unforgettable tailgating party this fall.

1. Pick a date.

The earlier you start planning your tailgate party, the easier it’ll be. Remember, you’re dealing with other people and need to give them enough notice to plan accordingly. You also want to make sure you have enough time to organize everything. From what foods to make to what decorations, you must have a plan in place before diving right in.

A good rule of thumb is to start planning your party about eight weeks before the event.

So, first things first, pull up your calendar and find a time that works for you. Luckily, tailgating season is several weeks long, so you can pick and choose what game day you want for your party. Or maybe you want to host the tailgate every game day? Then you really want to start planning early.

Once you have the date, figure out who you want to attend your party. Some people prefer creating a guest list first, so they can work with other attendees on finding the perfect date. However, if you prefer this method, ensure you aren’t relying too heavily on other people’s opinions. After all, you’re hosting the tailgate and should have the final say on when it’s held.

2. Get the tickets.

Buying your game day tickets is crucial to preparing for tailgate season. After all, it’s not a tailgate without a football game.

So to ensure you and your friends get good seats together, start looking for tickets early. This is especially true if you’re trying to attend a post-season game. Those are known to sell out fairly quickly.

You also want to take into account who’s playing. For example, some teams have a large fanbase, which could cause an increase in ticket prices and the speed at which they sell out.

There are a few tips you should know when shopping for tickets. For one, look at afternoon games rather than night games as they tend to be more expensive. You also want to look at third-party websites, like Stubhub, as those tickets can be cheaper.

A lot of people recommend waiting until the last minute to buy tickets. While tickets can drop in price the closer it gets to the game, the seat choice will be limited. So if you want great seats, start looking earlier rather than later.

3. Send out invitations.

If you’re hosting a tailgate party, aim to send out your invitations no later than four weeks before the date. That should be enough time for attendees to determine whether they can attend.

Speaking of which, it’s a good idea your invitation includes a request that the guest RSVP by a specific date. This can help you and the guests plan accordingly.

There are several ways you can send out invitations. You can mail a physical invitation or send a digital one via email. Opting for the ladder can save you time and cost. If you have your guest’s email addresses, simply create a calendar invitation on Gmail.

Make sure you label the invitation accordingly so there’s no confusion. For example, “Tailgate Party.” Then, add your guest’s email addresses. There is also a space where you can provide additional notes, like potluck instructions, addresses, etc. The more information you share, the smoother the event will go. Make sure you double-check the information you provided is accurate before hitting send.

4. Find a location.

Once you have your ticket, look at where the game is held. Typically, tailgate parties are held outside the venue. Make sure you know how big the parking lot is and have a good idea of where your group will be.

Remember that deciding on your spot is just the first step — you need to claim your spot on game day. To do that, you will want to wake up early (depending on what time the game starts) and drive to the venue. It’s a good idea to arrive with a couple of your fellow tailgaters so that you can block off your spot with multiple cars.

Be sure to bring something noticeable on the day of, so the rest of your group can find you. Maybe bright-colored balloons or a streamer. Whatever it is, make sure you include how to see you on the invitation.

5. Bring furniture.

Who said you must stay in your car or stand around during a tailgate? No one!

Consider bringing some pop-up furniture to ensure you and your guests are comfortable — for instance, a canopy tent, a foldable table, and maybe a few foldable chairs. Not only does this give your fellow tailgaters a place to rest, but it can help define your space.

Having a few foldable tables can make serving and preparing food easier. It gives you a designated area to set up, regardless of how much food and drinks you plan on having.

Foldable furniture, like a tent, can protect you from the weather. Because let’s face it, September can be unpredictable, depending on where you live. The last thing you want is a little rain or snow to get in your way of a good time.

Remember, you can always request your guests bring their own foldable furniture to the tailgate. Include “bring foldable furniture” in the calendar invitation.

6. Portable is better.

Is this your first time hosting a tailgate party? Then you’re probably wondering how to transport your food and drinks from your house to the actual tailgate.

There are several ways you can go about this, depending on the type of car you’re bringing. For instance, if you have an RV, you might plan on cooking your food there, taking advantage of the fridge and counter space.

On the other hand, let’s say you’re just bringing a regular car or SUV. Since you don’t have a kitchen, you should prepare your food at home. Then, transport it using Tupperware, reusable bags, etc. If you have hot food, consider using glass containers as they hold heat better than plastic. Wrapping hot food in foil can also help keep it warm.

To keep your drinks chilled, consider purchasing a cooler if you don’t already have one. Coolers are also a convenient way to move food and beverages from one place to another. And they come in different sizes to fit your specific needs.

Are you hosting a tailgate party this fall? From the food to the camaraderie, tailgates are an excellent way for sports fanatics to get together and have a good time.

That said, hosting a party can come with some challenges, especially a tailgate party. You have to worry about finding a spot and how to transport food. Luckily, the tips above can help you organize the best tailgating party.

How to Organize Your Best Tailgating Season Yet was originally published on Calendar.com by Abby Miller. Feature Image Credit: FreePik.com. Thank you!

How to Run Appointments Effectively and Efficiently

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run appointments effectively

Appointments are inevitable. Whether it’s to get the oil changed in your car or get a cavity looked at, everyone is going to end up with an appointment or two on their calendar. While many services require an appointment, that doesn’t mean people enjoy spending all day in one.

If you’re operating an appointment-based business, it’s vital that you learn to respect your customers’ time. You should have two underlying goals in mind. Your appointments should be efficient, getting customers in and out as quickly as possible. On top of that, your appointments should be effective. The decreased duration shouldn’t come at the price of quality.

So how does one accomplish this feat? A lot will depend on the operations that are specific to your business. However, there are a few universal tips and tricks you can implement to make some improvements. Consider the following:

Enable Self-Scheduling

Appointments don’t necessarily start at your place of business. An appointment begins as soon as a customer starts the booking process. Traditionally, this involves calling a representative and listening to the available options over the phone. There’s a much easier and more efficient way of doing this in 2022.

All you have to do is enable self-scheduling. Put a calendar up on your website that shows which appointment slots are available for the coming weeks. All a prospective client has to do is click on the availability they want and reserve it for themselves.

This helps appointments run more smoothly in two ways. First, the initial booking process takes a lot less time by cutting out the middleman. Second, the middleman doesn’t have to be on the phone so often. They are now free to help move things along at your place of business instead of being tied to a phone line.

Start Check-In Early

The sooner you can get an appointment going, the quicker you can get it completed. Customers don’t want to spend all day at an appointment, and you want to service as many clients as possible. You can speed up the entire process by starting the check-in process early.

Try to accomplish as much as possible before a customer even arrives at your front desk. You can have customers fill out an online questionnaire for information pertinent to an upcoming appointment. Store that information in a customer portal, and check-ins will continue to speed up.

Part of appointment booking can overlap with check-in necessities. You can include some questions in your booking process that can check off some of the boxes required for check-in. Even a single piece of information can help get the ball rolling.

Invest in Employees

You can get a lot of mileage out of your business simply by investing in your employees. In particular, you should consider buying into training programs that can help your workers become more efficient. If your team is running efficiently, so will your appointments.

Training time should always be on your dollar. Provide all of the necessary resources to your employees and compensate them for the time they spend in training. This way they will be able to focus on training properly and apply it to their role immediately.

You should also invest in the mental and emotional wellbeing of your employees. Happy workers tend to work harder. Help them achieve a proper work-life balance and provide adequate working conditions for them. You should see key appointment metrics rise just by doing that alone.

Use Appointment Software

A lot of inefficiencies come from operator errors. A secretary can write down the wrong time for an appointment by accident, or a customer can accidentally book two appointments when they only needed one. While small, these errors can derail an entire day of appointments if left unchecked. You can avoid common mishaps by using appointment software.

Online appointment software takes care of so many factors. This is the type of program that will make self check-ins and self-scheduling not only possible, but simple and easy. Many appointment software programs are also customizable. You can pick the features and layouts that best fit your needs.

When you try online appointment software for the first time, you’ll have a harder time finding a need that isn’t filled. You can set up online payments, send custom reminders, and explore integrations. These tools will have your appointments running more effectively and efficiently than ever.

Ask yourself how you would like an appointment to be run if you were the customer. It could be as simple as wanting online booking. Perhaps businesses that do have online booking have check-in processes that are way too long. Whatever it is that you think works best, those are the aspects you should apply to your own business. Your customers will thank you for it.

Image Credit: Pavel Danilyuk; Pexels; Thanks!

Thinking of a Career Change? Take it From Possibility to Reality

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career change

Deciding to change careers is a huge one. There are a lot of different opportunities out there for many people. There is no reason to stay in a career that is not right for you. You may not like your job. You could be looking for a brand new start in a completely different field. In other cases, you may want to advance.

As you think about your future, consider how you could get there. Often, giant leaps in careers take some time to plan. You need to consider many variables to know when to make your move and how. That is especially true for older people who may have obligations to meet. In all cases, your first objective is to create a plan.

To take your goal from a dream to reality, work to focus on a few simple tools that can help you to get there. Of course, every situation is a bit different, but most career changes can happen with some planning and organization. Here’s what to consider.

Document Your Goals

The first step to take is to document what your goals are. That’s a big one. You don’t have to be specific just yet. Write down what you want to do. Make it your dream job or career path. Then, write down other things you would like to do.

Within your goals, document objectives as clearly as possible. For example, who do you want to work with and why? What type of work do you hope to do? What are your “whys” for this process? Then, when you put these thoughts and ideas onto paper, you make them a reality. That is, you define what you want. Now, you can start planning for how to get to that point.

Discuss What Your Strengths and Weaknesses Are Next

No matter how big your dream is, you have to be qualified for it. To know where you stand, write down all of the strengths you have. Then, be sure to list things that could help you do well in this new field. Be specific here so that you can see what your opportunities really are.

Outline your weaknesses next. As you work to plan for your goals, you need to know what you need to work on. These could be career skills or technical abilities. It could also be a list of objectives you have for soft skill development. That could be taking a leadership course or two.

Next, make a plan for achieving improvement in all areas that impact your desired career. For example, you may need a certification from a college program. Set a date for achieving these objectives. It may be a few months out or longer. By putting a date on that goal, you further make it real and give yourself something to work towards.

Get Yourself Organized

Now that you have an idea of where you want to go, create some objectives to achieve. That includes working on those weaknesses. The most critical first step is to consider a timeline.

How long will it take you to obtain the education you need to work in the field you want? Use a calendar app to give yourself that amount of time. Set a date for achieving that objective based on the length of time it takes.

Next, consider the process of reading yourself — like, listening to audible books, and reading hard copies, also. Amazon has an incredible selection of business books and audible books. You may need time to network and build relationships. You may need some time to work in the field in a stepped-up position before taking on a significant role. Again, use a Calendar App to put that into place. Give yourself enough time for learning.

No matter what you need to do for the position, place a time goal on it. That makes it a bit easier for you to continue to pursue your education, skill training, and other objectives. You know what you need to do. You have a timeline to do it. Let that motivate you to make it happen.

Consider Your Financial Needs

Money is often one of the most common obstacles stopping people from taking the giant leap. You may be taking a pay cut. You may need to take some time off work to return to school. These things are scary for those who have financial responsibilities.

If you need to save money, determine how much you need to keep. Your need will be based on your current budget and financial need. It may look like a lot of money. Instead of seeing it as one big chunk, break it down into a weekly or monthly number. How much do you need to put into savings to be able to do this every week?

Here’s a trick. Set up an auto draft into your savings account from your paycheck each week for a portion of the amount you’ll need. You can use your calendar app to help you a bit here. It can remind you to move money where it needs to go, for example.

Make Some Plans to Get Things Done

What is going to help you make a move? While you work on training and building skill, don’t forget the small things that really add up. Begin to make appointments with yourself for specific tasks — and also to connect with others who can help you build and widen your career choices.

For many people, a new resume is necessary. Spend some time updating your resume. Be sure it is focused heavily on the specific type of job you plan to have. Adjust all your skills and abilities to match the kind of work you plan to do. Here’s a tip to do this well. Use the job websites to check out the wording and requirements that many employers have in the field you plan to pursue. Make sure your resume has those words and skills in it. Be sure to be honest, but thorough.

Next, take some time to update your LinkedIn profile. Many employers use social media as a way to gain some insight into the person they are hiring. Be sure your LinkedIn profile matches your resume. It needs to help you to shine through this process. You can also write content and some tremendous informational pieces about the industry you are interested in or the work you’ve done. That way, would-be hiring managers can see your passion in the field.

Work to freshen up your soft skills, too. You may want to volunteer in groups that are important to you. Become a member of the professional association associated with your potential future career. What other qualifications do applicants in your field have? Work towards earning those.

Start Networking

Many employers today spend a lot of time networking with would-be employees. They turn to similar platforms, too. For higher leadership positions, it helps to have a few connections. Work to meet people. Punch in a few more events into your calendar app — such as professional events or networking events. Set up some time to meet with someone in the field for lunch. Talk to people already working in the field. How did they get their job?

Consider Your Long-Term Goals

A career change is excellent, and it is what you are planning for now. However, now that you have some goals to work towards, it is time to think about your very long-term objectives. What’s the most significant and boldest goal you have?

Use this as a way to choose where to work. You want to be sure that your next career move is going to support all of your future goals. The right company, people, and opportunities make a big difference.

It takes a lot to plan for your future. But stay organized through it all. Use a calendar app to help you stay on track of your goals and the work you plan to do. Doing so can help make your vision become a reality.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!

Thinking of a Career Change? Take it From Possibility to Reality was originally published on Calendar by .

Have Better Financial Health by Using Your Calendar

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financial health

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

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

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

Maintain a monthly schedule of financial obligations.

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

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

Assess your financial health every quarter.

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

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

Be prepared for significant financial commitments by using annual reminders.

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

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

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

Sample Month-by-Month Personal Finance Calendar

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

January: Get your finances in shape.

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

February: Organize your tax documents and go frugal.

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

March: Plan your refund and bonus.

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

April: Pay your taxes.

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

May: Maintain a healthy debt load.

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

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

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

July: Improve your financial IQ.

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

August: Take steps to improve your credit score.

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

September: Review your benefits and quarterly taxes.

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

October: Get ahead on college funding.

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

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

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

December: Celebrate another year in the books.

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

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

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

5 Methods Your Employees Can Start Using for Better Time Management

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better time management

Companies have training regimens in place that help onboard new hires as quickly as possible. More often than not, company mandated training focuses on hard skills required to perform daily tasks. While it’s important to know what you’re doing when filling a role, soft skills shouldn’t be overlooked.

One of the most important and impactful soft skills is that of time management. There are workers out there who might not have hard skills developed in their trade just yet, but excel at managing how they use their time. These employees typically have a much higher capacity than their peers.

Time management can be taught. As a business leader, you should make an effort to help your employees, both new and old, to improve how they use their time. These five methods can be introduced to them with that goal in mind:

1. Weekly Planning

An old adage reads as follows: failing to plan is planning to fail. There is a lot of truth in that statement. While a plan might not be carried out exactly as listed, it’s the preparation that’s important. Entering each new week with ample preparation makes it much easier to ultimately use your time wisely.

If you know when all of your upcoming meetings and deadlines are, you can better plan around them. You’ll know just when you can check your emails, return some phone calls, and finish up a marketing pitch. Without weekly planning, you’ll be in more of a scramble. This leads to a lot of stress and burnout among employees.

2. Task Prioritization

Another soft skill that tends to get overlooked is learning how to prioritize a task list. Each daily task has its own size and importance. Much like a puzzle, the fastest way to finish is by deciding where to start and figuring out which pieces go where.

A common way to approach task prioritization is the Eisenhower Matrix. Named after the former U.S. President, this method can help even the least experienced learn how to prioritize effectively. The matrix consists of four quadrants based on their importance and urgency. Tasks of high importance and great urgency are moved to the top of the to-do list.

This is a simple way to quickly determine which tasks should be first on the schedule. With a prioritized list, employees can manage their time more effectively while completing the most important tasks.

3. Calendar Upkeep

Few things help with time management like a good old fashioned calendar. Digital calendars in particular are very helpful for tracking and planning your time. You can create and edit a variety of events whether they’re work-related or personal.

Company calendars are helpful but can only get you so far. A personal calendar can be customized to fit the needs of the user. For example, if one of your employees needs numerous reminders to stay on top of their schedule, a personal calendar can be equipped to do so.

A personal calendar can also help employees learn time management skills outside of work. If workers can implement time management strategies with parenting, hobbies, and daily routines, they can come to the office better prepared for a busy day.

4. Task Management

There is such a thing as trying to do too much. Companies that overload their employees can’t expect them to be very effective or efficient. This is something you can work on as a manager. However, even if you provide the best working conditions possible, employees should still learn how to manage their capacity.

Let your employees know that they won’t be penalized for using their time off or focusing on work-life balance. This is something you should both enable and encourage. Happy, well-rested employees will work much harder and much more effectively than they would otherwise.

One method you can consider is enabling remote work or hybrid work. Employees who work from home often have an easier time balancing their work with the rest of their lives. Instead of continuing to overload their schedule, time with family can easily take place.

5. Goal Setting

Time management is often easier to tackle when you have a goal set in mind. Goals with designated deadlines give you a greater sense of resolve. Instead of running on autopilot, you’ll be more motivated to manage your time in pursuit of the goals you’ve set.

In some roles or particular times of year there aren’t many goals that get assigned by others. In these cases, employees need to learn how to set their own goals. If they can create that sense of urgency and direction, they will have more motivation to manage their time in order to reach said goals.

Let’s use a sales team as an example. If they’re compensated by commission, they’ll only be paid as often as they close. Setting personal goals for sales numbers will force them to manage their time to make things happen.

Time management can be taught. Set the example, and provide your team with the tools they need. Improved time management can allow them to get their jobs done in less time with greater satisfaction.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thanks!

A Work-Life Balance Will Help You Keep Employees

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A work-life balance

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is Work-Life Balance?

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

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

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

Why is Work-Life Balance Vital to Employee Retention?

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

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

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

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

Work-Life Balance and How to Measure It

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

Individual.

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

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

Organizational.

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

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

Home.

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

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

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

How You Can Support Employee Work-Life Balance

Offer flexible working arrangements.

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

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

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

Ensure paid leave is available.

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

Provide childcare services.

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

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

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

Limit carryover.

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

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

Time off should be respected.

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

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

Sponsor family activities.

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

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

Control the flow of work.

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

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

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

Respect‌ ‌their‌ ‌time.

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

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

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

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

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

How to Use Your Online Calendar to Promote Mental Health

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mental health

Your most important asset isn’t your car, your house, or even your professional expertise; it’s your mental health.

The rest of your life relies on your mental wellbeing. Especially while the world is facing COVID-19, you have to protect it with every tool available to you — including your online calendar.

What Your Calendar Can Do for You

Your online calendar can’t change your mental state by itself, but it can help you implement and maintain healthier habits. You might be surprised at just how much your mental health improves when you:

1. Schedule Breaks

Going full-throttle all day, every day, is exhausting. If you don’t permit yourself to take a step back, you may begin to burn out. Scheduling short breaks throughout your day can help you stay productive without getting overwhelmed.

It can be tough to take breaks when things are hectic. That’s where your online calendar comes in: If it never seems like a good time to take a break, schedule one every few hours. Your calendar can be set to remind you 10 minutes before it’s time, letting you wrap up what you’re working on.

2. Take a Mental Health Day

Frequent breaks throughout the day are helpful, but sometimes you need a full day to yourself. Although it’s best to schedule mental health days for weekends, don’t be afraid to talk with your employer if you need one stat.

Once you’ve decided on the right day, add it to your calendar. Either put together an itinerary for yourself — replete with food and fun activities — or give yourself an unstructured day. There’s no wrong way to do it!

3. Remind You to Move

Regular exercise is tightly correlated with better mental health. Physical activity feels good, takes your mind off your stressors, and gives you something to do with friends.

Why not use your online calendar to put together a workout schedule? That way, you don’t have to decide at the moment whether or not you want to work out — and if so, what exercises you’ll do. After a few days, physical activity will be just another part of your daily routine.

If you’d rather attend fitness classes or play a team sport, your online calendar is also a great place to record those sessions. Add other attendees to the event to create some positive social pressure.

4. Set and Achieve Goals

Setting goals gives us something to work toward, and achieving them provides a sense of fulfillment. That’s why many experts recommend goal-setting for both mental wellbeing and productivity.

Goals should be:

  • Specific: What, exactly, do you want to achieve? Instead of becoming happier, maybe you want to have five low-stress days each week.
  • Measurable: If your goals aren’t measurable, you’ll never know whether or not you’ve met them.
  • Achievable: There’s no sense in setting a goal you have no hope of achieving. Shoot too high, and you’ll only discourage yourself.
  • Relevant: If your priority is your mental health, your goal shouldn’t be to get a promotion. Do you really need more responsibilities at work right now?
  • Time-bounded: A goal without a time horizon attached is just a hope. When is a challenging but realistic amount of time for achieving your goal?5. Schedule Affirmations

Self-affirmations are mantras designed to encourage during moments of hardship. They take little time to say but can deliver big mental health benefits.

Even something short, such as “I won’t give up,” can do wonders when you’re feeling down. Repeat them as often as needed. If you worry about others judging you for talking to yourself, step into a private space.

5. Start a Journal

Sometimes, a little self-reflection is all it takes to get yourself to a better mental state. Remind yourself that if you’re looking for reasons to be sad, you’ll find them. Looking for the good instead can help you see things from a more positive perspective.

Journaling doesn’t take hours to work its magic. Start with a five-minute session: Add a reminder to your calendar to reflect on something that makes you happy. Soon, you’ll be reminding yourself to save your gratitude journaling for the time slot you selected.

6. Eat Well

The food we eat directly affects our emotional state. Eating a healthy, balanced diet ensures our brain has the nutrition it needs to be at its best.

Online calendars are ideal tools for meal planning. Mapping out what you’re going to eat makes it easier to stick to a diet or, perhaps, more importantly, limit the unhealthy foods you spoil yourself with.

7. Get Into a Groove

Adding structure to your life helps you feel in control. While scheduling every minute of your day isn’t always necessary, using your calendar to establish a healthy routine is critical. Moving forward with your routine can give you a sense of optimism even when the odds are stacked against you.

A good place to start is a morning routine: What do you need to be your happiest, most productive self at work? Routines are also important for other times of day, such as bedtime: How do you prefer to wind down, especially when you have a lot on your mind?

You have to make your mental health a priority because no one else will. Think through what you need to take care of yourself, and use your online calendar to make it happen. Remind yourself — as often and in as many ways as you can — that you deserve to be happy.

Image Credit: Riccardo; Pexels; Thanks!

How to Use Your Online Calendar to Promote Mental Health was originally published on Calendar by Abby Miller.

Use Your Calendar App to Snag the Best Bargains

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Calendar App

Everyone at some point sees a garage sale flier and takes interest, only to forget about it minutes later. With so much going on in your life, these little bargains are easy to miss. The same goes for any kind of sale, really — thrift stores, clothing brands, bake sales, etc. Whenever you come across an exciting sale, you can integrate it seamlessly into your schedule via your calendar application.

1. Follow Public Sale Calendars

Organizations that regularly hold these events (recreation centers, religious communities, etc.) usually have a publicly-viewable calendar. This can be a physical one on a bulletin board in town or an easily-accessible digital one. The latter is more common as time goes on and is incredibly convenient to follow. Then, depending on the app, you can subscribe to be notified of new postings or upcoming events.

Sometimes you’ll get lucky and find a fully-integrable calendar for you to add to your app alongside your personal one. Remember that many people have similar interests as you, and you may find some helpful bargain-hunting communities online. Along with these opportunities come plenty of resources on the subject. If they have a shared calendar, they’ll do a lot of the work.

2. Note Every Sale That Catches Your Eye

Even if it draws you at first glance, not every sale will grab you enough to want to go. But you never know what you might find sitting in the back of a thrift store or outlet mall. So it’s worth taking a slight detour to see what a sale is all about, if it’s even of tangential interest. Then, whether you end up going or not, just jot down (or snap a picture of) the information for later.

Then, you can enter it into your calendar and reconsider as it approaches. Is it worth fitting the potential bargains in among your other duties? You can also take this time to look into the event a little more and get more information. If you end up removing it from your schedule, this experience will still help you learn more about bargain-hunting.

3. Separate Them Into Categories

Once your calendar starts to fill up, the different events can get confusing. Ideally, you’ll want to know which are higher priority and what types of items you’ll find just from a glance. Most calendar apps have multiple categorization options to make this happen. Depending on your platform, you can label events by type, color, tag, importance/urgency, topic, etc.

You can, for example, mark all sales of your favorite categories (like video games or cookware) as a specific color. Then, when you open your calendar for the month, you can see that color and immediately recognize what it stands for. Adding a textual tag (“church,” “garage”) can help you separate these events even further based on location or type. The more identifiable each category is, the easier it is to differentiate sales without reviewing each one visually.

4. Fit Sales Events Into Your Established Schedule

You can decide which events you want to move forward with, fitting in among your other responsibilities. Luckily, you don’t necessarily have to do the math if your calendar app has a visual editing component. You only need to click and drag things around to reschedule them in many instances. Then it won’t feel like you’re wasting time (which you aren’t!) by going to a sale — it’s already scheduled.

The mental effect of this is perhaps the most powerful part. People often don’t devote the time they need to the things they love without doing something similar. Your responsibilities are already set in stone, so there’s no reason not to fit these things around them. Scheduling free time helps balance work and life and gives it relative psychological importance for completion.

5. Get the Important Things Out of the Way First

It’s not always possible to fit the exciting things in among your more essential duties. However, it is possible to get the latter done first to open up your schedule later on. This is the objective of the MIT time management strategy — prioritize more essential tasks to complete them before moving on. This helps particularly if you get overwhelmed easily because you’ll only focus on a few tasks at a time.

As a result, you’ll be able to be more productive in completing what you need to complete. In addition, it saves mental bandwidth so you don’t burn yourself out early and time you can spend shopping afterward. The best part is lessening your anxiety when taking that time— you know you’ve already been productive today.

It sounds unnecessary to track sales on your personal calendar, but it is perfect for saving money. As long as you spend consciously, it can make a big difference in your finances. And calendar apps are genuinely well suited for such a task, so it’s a no-brainer if you’re passionate about saving. So next time you see a garage sale flier, put it in your calendar, and you may discover something wonderful.

Image Credit: by Pixabay; Pexels; Thank you!

Use Your Calendar App to Snag the Best Bargains was originally published on Calendar by Abby Miller

COVID Personal Wellness Program

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Personal Wellness

Personal wellness isn’t something we usually prioritize, but would certainly benefit from. The world seems like a completely different place than it was a mere couple of years ago. For many, it’s almost unrecognizable. To make matters worse, there is so much uncertainty on when things will go back to being “normal.” COVID-19 and now the riots — suffice it to say — this whole thing is really doing a number and all of us emotionally, mentally, and physically.

There is, thankfully, a silver lining. You can create a COVID personal wellness program that can help you cope with everything that’s going on while building up your resilience.

Attend to your physical health and safety.

The first place to start when it comes to developing a COVID personal wellness program is obviously your physical health and safety. I’m sure you’ve come across this information countless times in the past. But, it certainly bears repeating.

Health and safety.

For starters, wash your hands! You may be tired of hearing this. But, that’s a simple reason why. Soap annihilates the virus. Well, as Pall Thordarson, a Professor in Chemistry at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, in The Guardian that this is “because the virus is a self-assembled nanoparticle in which the weakest link is the lipid (fatty) bilayer. Soap dissolves the fat membrane, and the virus falls apart like a house of cards and dies – or rather, we should say it becomes inactive as viruses aren’t really alive.”

Another way to keep yourself protected? Limit your time around others. I know. Staying at home can be tiring. But, social distancing is imperative right now. So, postpone non-essential appointments and try to stock up on groceries two weeks at a time. If possible, have them delivered to you or chose curbside to go.

Nutrition.

Speaking of food, fuel your body mindfully right now. That means eating foods that reduce anxiety and strengthen your immune system. That means limiting meals and snacks that contain high amounts of sugar and fructose corn syrup, as well as vegetable oil and refined carbohydrates. Instead, consume items that contain mainly Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and zinc, such as fruits and veggies, nuts, fatty fish, and yogurt. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water.

Physical activity.

Besides a healthy diet, make sure that you get enough physical activity. Even though your gym might be closed, there are more than enough exercises that you can do from home. You may also want to upgrade your home office by investing in a standing desk that you aren’t living a sedentary lifestyle.

Even better, though, get outside and go for a walk or bike ride. It’s actually been found that spending 120 minutes outside per week is associated with good personal health and wellness. And, as noted in TIme, even light activities like walking and housework can be just as effective.

Staying physically active doesn’t just your body in top-tip shape. It also bolsters your immune system and combats stress and anxiety. It also gives you an energy boost so that you’ll remain productive.

Sleep.

Finally, make sure that you’re getting enough sleep. I think this is often overlooked. However, getting a good’s night rest is vital to your health and safety. That’s probably easier said than done though with so much going on right now. But, you can try the following techniques to help you fall asleep:

  • Shut off screens at least 30 minutes before bed.
  • Eat a snack like a slice of cheese or apple slices.
  • Write out a to-do-list for tomorrow.
  • Don’t overdo it with the afternoon naps.
  • Set a bedtime time and stick with it.
  • Exercise, preferably in the morning.
  • Meditate.

Make your mental health and well-being a priority.

Let’s not sugarcoat this. COVID-19 is taking a serious toll on our mental health. As such, you need to make this a priority.

Physical activity, eating healthy, and sleep will help with personal wellness. But, for many of us, these typical ways to cope with stress and anxiety aren’t cutting it. After all, we’re in a completely different world than a couple of months ago.

How can you take care of your mental health and well-being during these uncertain times? Well, here are some suggestions:

  • Stick to your routine since it provides structure and sense of normalcy. If your previous routine has changed, start a new one.
  • Keep contributing. If you’re fortunate enough to work from home, then keep on trucking. Just remember to set boundaries and not work around the clock. If you aren’t working as much, then look for ways to share your unique talents with friends, family, or nonprofits. My sister, as an example, is crafty. So, she’s been making masks and selling them online with a portion of the proceeds going to charity.
  • Reach out to others. Technology has made it incredibly easy to interact with others remotely. Check-in with friends, family, and co-workers so that you can fight back again the risks of isolation. If no one else is around, then hang out with your pet.
  • Do meaningful things, such as learning, getting around to a project you’ve been putting off, or volunteering virtually.
  • Keep doing the things that you love like a hobby or indulging in a little self-care.
  • Use this time as an opportunity to start a new and healthy habit.
  • Focus on the positive by writing in a gratitude journal or reading uplifting and inspiring news stories.
  • Keep your sense of humor. Yes, this is a serious time. But, Gallow’s humor has long been a way for people to cope with a crisis. Some would even say it can be cathartic.
  • Download an app like Calm or Headspace to help you meditate.
  • Make use of teletherapy or emergency hotlines if you’re feeling overwhelmed or like you’re going to harm yourself.

Keep your environment clean and organized.

Things are already tense enough, so why add any additional stress and anxiety to your life right now?

But, that’s precisely what clutter can do. As Deanna Ritchie wrote in a previous Calendar article, one “study shows a link between clutter and procrastination.” Several others “have also found that clutter increases stress, decreases productivity, and makes it difficult to unwind.” As if that weren’t enough, “clutter can encourage bad habits, such as unhealthy eating and sleep problems.”

“And, most worrying to me is that clutter can clog neural networks,” adds Deanna. “As a result, you’ll be slower and less efficient in processing information.” Moreover, decluttering can provide you with a sense of control — which is certainly in short supply these days.

Oh yeah, Keeping a clean environment, like wiping down high-touch objects, such as doorknobs and faucets, is another way to protect you against the virus.

Make decluttering and cleaning a part of your routine. For instance, tidy up your workspace. During your downtime, clean an area of your home (and your vehicle) and either trash, recycle or donate the items you longer need.

But, clutter isn’t just restricted to physical items. You could also clean out your inbox, unsubscribe from newsletters you no longer need, and remove unnecessary files from your computer.

The same is also true of toxic people. Instead of spending your valuable time with those who drain you emotionally, surround yourself with people who are positive and supportive.

Address your financial and insurance concerns.

Before COVID, Americans were most stressed about money. Considering how this pandemic is negatively affecting people’s work and finances, these concerns will only get worse. However, there are ways that you can manage financial stress during COVID-19.

  • Create a budget and stick with it.
  • Avoid adding additional debt.
  • See if any government programs can help.
  • If applicable, find ways to add revenue streams. Maybe you could make masks online and sell them like my sister or deliver takeout orders during the weekend.

For more information, turn to trusted sources like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You should also speak with your accountant or financial advisor to develop a plan.

On top of getting your finances in order, know what your health benefits are during this crisis.

Stay informed, but also make time to unplug.

There is a lot of misinformation being spread around regarding COVID-19. And, that could be potentially dangerous — for some even life-threatening. What’s more, as more research is being conducted about the virus, we’re finding out new information almost daily. Besides, you also want to stay informed on how the pandemic is impacting both your work life and personal wellness.

At the same time, we all deserve a break from all things COVID. I mean, between the news, talking to others remotely, and writing articles like this, I feel like I’ve been wearing down. There’s just no reprieve. And, it’s been really taking a toll on my well-being.

Fortunately, I have found easy ways to give myself a break. For example, I take my dog for a walk every afternoon after lunch — sans phone, smartwatch, or any other piece of tech. I’m usually not that productive at that time anyway. So, I use this time to get the blood flowing, enjoy the outdoors, and clear my head.

You can also try establishing tech-zones in your homes, such as the dining room and bedroom. I’m also a fan of blocking apps at certain times or just turning off my phone completely when I’m working or enjoying a downtime activity like reading. But, if that makes you uncomfortable, then set time limits for news and social media consumption.

Here’s something else that’s helped me out a lot. Talk about something else other then COVID-19! Let’s say the next time your talking to a friend on the phone, ask them if there are any new podcasts or documentaries they can recommend. Talk about a new hobby you started.

If you need help with personal wellness, seek it out immediately. Heck, make plans about getting together once you physically can.

If you’re at home with family or roommates, go around and ask if they learned anything new today. What are they grateful for? And what are their plans for tomorrow?

Image Credit: Pixabay; Pexels; Thanks!

COVID Personal Wellness Program was originally published on Calendar by .

Make Your Home Office Better for Productivity

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Home office

Since‌ ‌the‌ ‌COVID-19 pandemic began, remote working has thrived. ‌According to Nick Bloom of Stanford’s Working From Home Research Project, about 25% to 35% of workers work from home.

Despite attempts to return to normal operations, many companies will likely switch‌ ‌to‌ ‌a‌ ‌fully‌ ‌remote‌ ‌or‌ ‌hybrid style‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌near‌ ‌future. ‌Therefore, it is likely that you will‌ ‌need‌ ‌to‌ ‌establish‌ ‌a‌ ‌more‌ ‌permanent WFH‌ ‌setup.

But, how exactly can you make your home office better for productivity? ‌Here are some tips for designing a home office for your comfort, productivity, and needs.

Think — “Small is Okay.”

No. I don’t mean scouring the fridge for a cheesy treat. ‌Instead, locate the quietest spot in‌ ‌your‌ ‌house. ‌Others find any noise bothersome, even if they need some background noise to work.

“I’m much more efficient in a quiet, distraction-free space,” says John Gerard from Our Home from Scratch. “Our home office is far enough away from the television and the play area that, with the doors closed, I can easily work in peace.”

Do not let your workspace coincide with anyone else’s to prevent this from happening. Ideally, you want to ‌select‌ ‌a‌ ‌room‌ ‌with‌ ‌a‌ ‌door. Maybe this could be a spare bedroom, basement, or attic. Some people convert closets into a home office if space is tight.

Remember to Maximize Natural Daylight.

Researchers have found‌ ‌that exposure to natural light throughout the day has positive effects on our mental and physical health. ‌So, it will be beneficial for you to open the blinds and let the light in.

“Ideally you should position your desk next to a window to enjoy the best natural light levels,” says interior designer Chantel Elshout. ‌Direct sunlight, however, can make it difficult to see your computer screen. “Adjustable window treatments, like plantation shutters, are a real savior and can be tilted as the sun moves to keep the sun out of your eyes while maintaining decent natural light levels overall.”

If you don’t have access to sunlight, a simple soft light desk lamp, such as the Mi LED Desk Lamp, will be just fine. ‌The soft glow of your work environment can contribute to a more relaxed, less stressful environment. And this will also avoid eye strain.

Turn up the tunes.

One of my favorite parts about working from home? I can play my music as loud as I want. That’s not to say I’ve tossed my headphones. It’s just that this won’t distract anyone with no one else around.

Of course, you might have to be mindful if you have a roommate or a partner. But, if not, just let the music play to your content. ‌It has been proven that listening to music during the day enhances productivity, creativity,‌ ‌and‌ ‌memory‌ ‌retention. Whatever you choose, just know that different playlists are better suited for various tasks.

For menial and tedious work, go with more upbeat music. But, when it’s time to focus on deep work, you’re better listening to the relaxing beats and soothing tones of instrumental ambient music. And, certainly know when to work in silence without your tunes.

Prioritize Comfort.

A comfortable home office makes you less likely ‌to ‌get restless‌. ‌For this reason, a strategically planned interior design is crucial.

Make sure your office chair is comfortable and ergonomically designed for your health and productivity. After all, it’s a simple way to prevent back pain over time. ‌Another option to improve posture and comfort is to use a standing desk with a rubber foot mat. I like my desk to be up sometimes and down sometimes — the variety is favorable for many things.

Although you may not think this applies to you, about 90% of adults have experienced back pain at some point in their lives, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. ‌What’s more, ‌50%‌ ‌of‌ ‌Americans have back pain annually. Desk chairs that don’t properly support your back can negatively affect your health, mood, and work performance. I really like my gaming chair in my home office for work and wish I had one for my office desk.

Upgrade Your Gear.

When you’re working remotely, technology will be your best ally. ‌But, is your existing electronic device, such as a computer, printer, or connection, prone to technical problems? ‌If so,‌ this doesn’t just slow you down, it’s ‌also ‌a nuisance.

You are likely holding on to your old equipment because it still works and upgrading seems too expensive. Think back — you’ve wasted a ton of your time troubleshooting the old stuff and likely even have lost opportunity costs. At least get the newest pieces of equipment you can afford.

Remember, any lost time will negatively affect your productivity — and your mood as well. Can you imagine the stress you’ll have if your system crashes right before a deadline?

Depending on your work, the devices you use will vary. So, make sure that you have the best tools at your disposal. Moreover, make sure that your software is up-to-date. And, if you haven’t done so yet, ‌be confident that you have a reliable and fast wireless router. You may also need area boosters to get your signal throughout your workspace.

Design Flexible Layouts.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a manager or have tons of responsibility in your current company; in today’s flexible work environment, a well-planned home office layout can help you adapt to your job better.

If you are running back and forth from office to home office — it can be helpful to design both your spaces similarly.

For an efficient home office, consider installing a Murphy bed. These are kind of expensive — but really worth it. With the Murphy bed setup, when you are not working, you can use your home office as a guest room. ‌Choosing light and minimalist furniture that you can rearrange easily is also a good idea. For example, if you want to combat a sedentary lifestyle, you can move things around to exercise or leave a balance board or weights by your desk.

An ideal home office allows for ‌movement‌ ‌and‌ ‌flexibility. ‌If you don’t like some aspect of your home office in the future, you can change it without investing in a significant renovation.

Organize Your Desk for Efficiency.

“Regardless of your preferences or inclinations, your workstation should be set up for the best time management, efficiency, and, yes, comfort,” states Robert Half. “After all, you may spend more time at your office desk than you do in your own bed.”

There is no better time than now to tidy up your files, piles of papers, and general disarray if you are constantly overwhelmed by them. ‌Here are some suggestions on arranging your environment to maximize productivity for a more manageable process.

Methodize Your Stuff.

For instance, put away non-essential items from your desktop on Monday morning. ‌Put back only what is necessary to complete the task on your desk while working. ‌Put everything still on the floor into a drawer, closet, or recycling bin at the end of the week.

Determine Your Best Workflow.

Left-to-right thinking is prevalent among many people, and they like to place items in a certain way, left to right. ‌Don’t worry about following these norms. Watch yourself a day or two to see what feels the most comfortable for you. Where is the best place for your computer?

Where will you place your phone, so it’s always where you want it? Keep a clear workspace in the middle, and completed paperwork can be on the right — unless you are left-handed. Organizing your desk depends mainly on your work style and ‌how‌ ‌you operate but try a few new things to see if they will work for you.

Allow Yourself to Have Open Desk Space.

You will likely feel more comfortable with some open space on your desk. Have an area where you can spread things out a little. If you want a space to be clear of junk — don’t put anything in that space, no matter what. To keep my clear spot clear — I set a couple of books I’m reading in the “keep clear zone.” Two books are easy to move when needed — other things are not.

Clear off Desk Clutter Everyday Before You Go Home

Despite an orderly desktop, it’s hard to keep it clean, and you may have too many distractions. ‌For example, some workers use sticky notes on their computers or monitors. This habit drives me insane — I didn’t know that until someone told me to stop that habit. Instead, use your desktop notepad or put notes on a spreadsheet. Some have laughed at my spreadsheet — but I know what I get done or need to do every single day — and there are no sticky notes to cause a distraction.

For Better Mental Health, Have Something You Love on Your Desk.

Your workspace doesn’t have to ‌be‌ ‌sterile. ‌Author Marie Kondo advocates putting things in your environment that will bring‌ ‌you joy. ‌Organize your desk, bulletin board, or wall with something that has a meaning for you. Don’t overdo it — just something simple.

Going Digital Will Save You From Excess Clutter.

We are all trying to save the Earth — and that can start with caring about trees. Okay, so maybe I have too many Amazon boxes piled up — but most of your desk clutter will be from paper stuff. Get rid of it and sync it to your calendar, to-do list, and memo pad. There are notification options in your digital productivity tools. Set up meetings, appointments, tasks, and appointment alerts from your tools. Keep thinking: no paper.

Are Your Power Cords Tripping You Up?

Legroom is essential, so don’t ignore it. ‌Check under your desk and tame the wild cord-snakes. We have a 21-hole medusa between each set of four desks at work — and it works great. (Two desks on one side and two on the other facing each other with the long power cord in the center.) ‌Only two of us have filing cabinets on the side of our desks.

At home, I have all the power cords and surge protectors in the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet, with one cord plugging into the wall.

Clean Up More Than Clutter — Wipe off Your Desk and Station

Make a habit of regularly cleaning your desktop and equipment. In one company I worked in years ago, the office manager came around on Monday morning with hand sanitizer on a cloth. We all wiped everything down — our computers, keyboard, monitor, and phones (even our cellphones). ‌As a company, this practice cut down on illness by 70%. Of course, I kept asking if I sneezed on my own keyboard could I catch a cold from myself? That question was never answered — but we had less sickness overall.

Scenting the Air is Popular

I like diffusers, but I read somewhere about taking hot water with a few drops of essential oil and setting it on your desk. I also use non-smoking candle wax. “Traditional aromatherapy suggests that certain scents‌ ‌can‌ ‌make‌ ‌us‌ ‌feel‌ ‌calm (lavender)‌ ‌or‌ ‌energized‌ ‌(citrus).”

No matter what your opinion on fragrances, they can ‌be‌ ‌‌enjoyable. For instance, adding eucalyptus or rosemary to your workspace can make you happier. On the other hand, sometimes artificial smells such as baked goods give me a headache, so watch your new scent trials.

Go Green.

Never underestimate the power of nature. ‌Additionally, having plants in your home office (and your office-office) can make you happier.

The proximity to nature, including access to window views of natural scenery and office plants, improves workers’ morale. ‌In addition, nature of almost any kind will increase productivity and reduce‌ ‌stress.

Have Your Distraction Nearby — But Not in‌ ‌the‌ ‌Way.

Despite their bad reputations, distractions‌ ‌can‌ ‌be‌ ‌healthy and beneficial. ‌Distractions, for instance, can give us a break from ‌routines,‌ ‌our‌ ‌work,‌ ‌our‌ ‌stress‌ ‌, and‌ ‌our anxiety. In addition, research shows that people can distract themselves, alleviate pain, cope with problems, and stop bad habits — all with distraction.

Distractions also help me remember that I get to choose how I spend my time. ‌‌‌It’s also nice to know I have things to do when I need a break. ‌Instead of trying to escape reality, distractions are better to relieve stress. And, they’re better than unhealthy habits like being too lenient with flex time.

Choose a distraction that you can do for only a few minutes — may‌ ‌be‌ ‌a‌ ‌walk, a computer game, guitar‌ ‌, or the piano in‌ ‌the corner. ‌Pick whatever activity you enjoy in a relatively short period and distract yourself every once in a while for your health.

Whatever you do — learn to accept and love your home office hours.

Image Credit: Tima Miroschnichenko; Pexels; Thank you!

Make Your Home Office Better for Productivity was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie

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