Category Archives: Knowledge Base

4 Ways to Boost Your Productivity When You’ve Hit a Wall

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4 Ways Boost Productivity Hit Wall

If being productive were easy, everyone would have scads of Employee of the Month plaques and closets stuffed with achievement awards. Alas, productivity doesn’t come so easily to everyone. A lot of dedication and resilience is required to maintain peak productivity over long periods of time, and even those who are able to do so need all the help they can get.

It’s likely you’ll hit a wall every now and then, even when your best intentions are focused on being productive. What the world’s greatest achievers do when they hit that wall is to find a way around it. Here are a few strategies that they use to boost their productivity during these times and that you can implement in your own life as well:

1. Take a Screen Break

Most jobs today require people to spend a lot of time in front of a screen, and your position is probably no exception. Everyone from marketers to music producers spends hours in front of a computer navigating through different tools and apps to complete their daily tasks. After extended periods of time, the strain from screen light and the sameness of the work can take a toll on your productivity.

You can fix this by scheduling in some period screen breaks. Taking a pause from work does not mean switching to your smartphone to scroll through social media. Instead, take a short walk outside or do some simple meditation. This will allow your mind and body to reset and recover from the stress and strain of the workday. You’ll be able to return from your quick break feeling refreshed and reenergized.

2. Eat a Healthy Snack

Your body uses up a lot of energy while working, even if you’re just sitting at a desk. Getting up for a stroll can help, but what if you are in a time crunch and need to kickstart your productivity to meet an upcoming deadline? Try a healthy snack instead.

Even a couple bites of the right foods can give you the energy you need to push through the next hour or so of work. A protein bar is an excellent example of a snack that can provide a lot of energy in a short period of time. Healthy snacks are always best because they contain ingredients that will actually lift you up rather than give you a quick sugary buzz.

Many people drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks to boost their productivity throughout the day. This is a fine idea as long as you’re able to moderate your intake. While caffeine does boost your brain’s serotonin levels, too much coffee can leave you jittery and worse off than before you grabbed your third cup.

3. Get an Accountability Buddy

There will be days when, despite your best efforts, there is nothing you can do to boost your productivity on your own. On days like this, you’ll benefit from having an accountability buddy. This is a friend, family member, or co-worker who will keep you accountable to the goals you set and the responsibilities you hold to make sure you’re doing everything you need to.

A common example of an accountability buddy is a gym partner. Unfortunately for many of us, getting motivated to exercise is not an easy task. A gym buddy will inspire you to continue chasing down your health and wellness goals even on the days when you’d rather sleep in.

An accountability buddy can help keep you honest when you’re trying to start a business, break a bad habit, or even finish one last task before clocking out of work for the day. If you know your buddy’s going to ask whether you made all four of your planned sales calls today, for example, you’ll be less tempted to leave the fourth for tomorrow. In return, you can be an accountability buddy for them. Together, you’ll help each other to be a little bit better every single day.

4. Switch Gears

If you’re stuck on a particularly difficult task or project, it’s much easier to hit a productivity wall. Instead of bashing your head against it repeatedly hoping it will budge, consider changing course for a moment instead. By shifting gears to a new task or project, you can maintain your productivity for the day and avoid losing momentum.

Let’s say you’re a student working on a particularly difficult math assignment. One of the early problems is giving you a lot of trouble, and now your productivity is at a standstill. Instead of redoing the same problem over and over again, skip it for now and give the next one a try.

By changing gears ever so slightly, you can reset yourself while still getting work accomplished. The next problem might be easier to solve and may even shed some light on what you were doing incorrectly before. At the end of the day, you’ll at least have part of the assignment completed instead of struggling with the same equation all day long.

Once you’ve developed the perfect strategy for breaking down your productivity barriers, you’ll be able to fill your days with many more achievements. Don’t be afraid to take some breaks every now and again, but also be sure you don’t let a little wall get in the way of having a productive and fulfilling day.

Image Credit: Anna Shvets; Pexels; Thank you!

12 Happiness Hacks to Add to Your Calendar

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12 Happiness Hacks Add Calendar

What is happiness? Is it a feeling? Or, is it a state of being?

The exact definition of happiness has been debated and evolved throughout history. But, regardless of what it is, there’s no denying that happiness plays a pivotal role in our daily lives.

For starters, happiness is important to our physical health. Why? Because it reduces stress, strengthens the immune system, and is linked to better heart health. Additionally, happiness improves relationships and sparks creativity. And, at work, happiness increases productivity.

In short, happiness can change your life for the better. But, how can you raise your happiness levels on a consistent basis? Well, here are 12 happiness hacks that you can practice daily after being placed in your calendar.

1. Start your morning on your own terms.

Michelle Was traveled to all 50 states in 2019 to understand how Americans achieve inner happiness whatever their circumstances. The American Happiness documentary chronicled her journey and learnings while interviewing more than 500 self-described happy people.

She discovered that the happiest people start their days on their own terms.

Starting your morning on a positive note is one of the most impactful things you can do to develop day-to-day happiness,” she wrote for Fast Company. “This doesn’t require hours of your time, but it has the power to transform your day.”

“Instead of immediately rushing into the day or grabbing your phone to scroll through social media, take a minute to yourself without any distractions to set intentions for the hours ahead,” she adds. “What do you want to achieve, how do you want to achieve it, and with what attitude?”

Choose your reactions to situations deliberately rather than constantly being reactive. By doing this exercise, you become more present and intentional with your actions, Wax explains.

2. Reflect on the good and bad.

“Acknowledging the complexity of life may be an especially fruitful path to psychological well-being,” states psychologist Jonathan Adler of the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering. In other words, a range of positive and negative emotions can contribute to happiness, he believes.

Adler and his colleague Hal Hershfield examined this experience of mixed emotions and how it relates to positive psychological wellbeing. The participants filled out questionnaires before each of the 12 weekly therapy sessions that they went through. They found that feeling dejected and cheerful at the same time preceded improved mental health.

As an example, someone could say, “I feel sad because of the recent losses in my life, yet I am also happy and encouraged to be working through them for a positive outcome.” Adler explained, “Taking the good and the bad together may detoxify the bad experiences, allowing you to make meaning out of them in a way that supports psychological well-being.”

In a follow-up study, Hershfield examined the link between mixed emotions and health. During a 10-year study, he and his team discovered that accepting mixed emotions (like “taking the good with the bad”) is directly linked to good physical health.

What does this all mean? Well, don’t ignore your negative feelings. Block out time to acknowledge and embrace them, like writing in a journal in the morning or evening. When you do, you’ll be able to find ways to overcome whatever obstacles you must overcome.

3. Tackle your hardest task first.

As the founder of Inner Mammal Institute and author of “Habits of a Happy Brain,” Loretta Graziano Breuning asserts that humans can rewire their brains.

How? By recognizing that we possess certain “happy chemicals” inherited from earlier species, and using that knowledge to develop habits that activate them, explains Catherine Pearson for the Huffington Post.

Dopamine is one of these chemicals which Breuning describes as “a sense of accomplishment.” To stimulate it, you should tackle your most difficult task first thing in the morning.

An example would be returning an email you’ve been putting off or completing a task with a deadline. To make sure that tackle these items before anything, add them to your calendar. And, ideally, you should block out times for these when you’re most alert and energetic. For most of us, that would be in the morning.

4. Be a social butterfly.

Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert, the author of the widely read humorous book “Stumbling on Happiness,” says;

We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.

Among these happiness hacks, this is probably the simplest. Additionally, it’s the one that arguably gives the most. After all, who else could make you as happy as your family or friends?

With that in mind, you can use your calendar to stay close to your nearest and dearest. For instance, you could schedule get-togethers, set reminders for check-ins, or establish traditions. And, you could also make sure to block off your calendar when you have quality time scheduled, like when eating dinner with your family.

5. Move 11-minutes per day.

Put aside the excuse that you do not have time for exercise. An 11-minute bout of moderate exercise can boost your lifespan, according to a recent study. Furthermore, physical activity is proven to boost your mood and increase your energy levels.

Exercise can be as simple as taking a walk or using the treadmill. Yoga, dance, or a combination of squats, push-ups, and running in place would also be great options as well.

So, even if you have a packed schedule, you should be able to squeeze in a little bit of physical activity. Personally, I always go for a walk after lunch. Besides burning off some calories, it clears my mind. and recharges me for the rest of the day.

6. Spend more time outdoors.

As Shawn Achor, who has lectured at Harvard University and Wharton School of Business, says in his book, “The Happiness Advantage.” spending 20 minutes outside in nice weather can improve your mood. It can also broaden thinking and help improve working memory.

Multiple studies have confirmed this claim from Achor. Cornell University researchers found that spending at least 10 minutes a day in natural spaces, such as parks or walking trails, improved students’ mood, focus, and physiological markers such as blood pressure and heart rate. The authors of this study believe that “nature therapy” could help patients who are anxious, stressed, or depressed.

7. Take microbreaks.

It’s been found that watching funny videos online during a quick break during work has high emotional payoffs and makes people feel more energetic, happy, and less stressed, says Allison Mango.

In addition to improving your mental health, this is also extremely easy to do if you are in a bad mood. And, you’ll also boost your metabolism while you’re at it.

8. Focus on your favorite song.

Researchers have found that happy music can improve your mood and increase your awareness when you practice mindfulness meditation.

Listen to one of your favorite songs over and over again, focusing on a different layer each time, such as the solo, harmonies, guitar, bass, and so on,” said Dr. Chandan Khandai, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “Not only will your favorite song bring a lot of joy, it will also cultivate mindfulness as you listen to a particular part and filter out the others.”

9. No matter how stressful it is, learn something new.

Can learning a new skill be stressful? Absolutely. But, in the long run, this can increase your happiness. In fact, you will be happier every hour, every day, and over the long haul.

The Journal of Happiness Studies published a study in 2009 detailing the benefits of this investment in time and effort. According to the study, participants who engaged in activities that enhanced their competency met their autonomy need or helped them cultivate relationships with others reported less happiness at the moment. However, they eventually experienced increased happiness each hour and every day.

The key? Choosing the right new skill to master. Or, one that pushes you outside of your comfort zone. Happiness is increased most when you learn a skill you choose rather than one you believe you should or are required to learn.

10. Limit your screen time.

12 hours and 9 minutes.

That’s how much time Americans spent with media in 2019. Per day. It was forecasted that this amount would increase by another four minutes even before COVID-19.

Is this a problem? Yep.

You can feel anxious or depressed when you spend too much time on your phone. This can also disrupt your sleep. It can also negatively impact your performance at work.

But, research has found that cutting back on screen time results in;

  • 75% of people believe that they get more done and are more productive.
  • 57% stated that they’re motivated to do their best.
  • 51% feel more confident.
  • 49% reported that they’re happier.
  • 44% claim that they deliver higher quality work.

Nevertheless, distancing yourself from your phone and computer is not easy. Listed below are a couple of easy ways to start;

  • Organize your tasks in batches. Stay connected and avoid FOMO by blocking out a time in the morning, afternoon, or early evening for email and social media. During the times when you are not doing this, turn off your notifications or set up apps to block them.
  • Establish tech-free zones. Your bedroom, bathroom, and eating areas should be free from electronics.
  • Find ways to distract yourself. Take a walk, clean your house, or read when you’re bored.
  • Delate social media apps. Social media can be harmful and addictive. Logging in on your PC/laptop and batching these tasks can be useful for branding or networking.
  • Meet in person or pick up the phone. When feasible, arrange more in-person meetings or catch-ups. Or, make a phone call instead of using chat or email threads if necessary.
  • Leave your phone behind. When you go for a walk or grocery shopping, don’t take your phone with you. Don’t worry. The world will keep spinning if you disconnect for a couple of minutes.

11. Help others.

Buying things for ourselves boosts happiness less than spending money on other people. This is what’s known as “prosocial spending.”

In 2012, Harvard researchers gave away money to study participants. In one-half of the cases, they were asked to spend the money on themselves, and in the other half, on others.

Here are the results;

“Participants assigned to recall a purchase made for someone else reported feeling significantly happier immediately after this recollection; most importantly, the happier participants felt, the more likely they were to choose to spend a windfall on someone else in the near future. Thus, by providing initial evidence for a positive feedback loop between prosocial spending and well-being, these data offer one potential path to sustainable happiness: prosocial spending increases happiness which in turn encourages prosocial spending.”

Giving to others does not always mean spending money. You can also donate your time through volunteering or mentoring othersThere is a study out of Zurich, Switzerland which supports the idea that volunteering can lead to greater life satisfaction.

How much time should you dedicate to helping others? Well, according to Adam Grant’s book “Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success,” 100 hours per year — or 2 hours per week.

12. Be flexible.

Todd Kashdan, a professor of psychology at George Mason University and an expert on wellbeing, says;

“Human beings have the potential to tolerate better and effectively use emotions, thoughts, and behavior to extract the best possible outcomes in varying situations. This wide range of dynamic abilities forms the essence of health.”

After all, a healthy person is someone who can manage themselves in the uncertain, unpredictable world around them, where novelty and change are the norm rather than the exception.”

Believe it or not, your calendar can assist with this. How? By leaving free blocks of time in your schedule. This way you can shuffle your day around in case you have to address an emergency or overcome procrastination.

12 Happiness Hacks to Add to Your Calendar was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!

Reasons to Stop Planning Too Much — Live in the Now.

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Reasons Stop Planning So Much Live Now

It seems easy enough, yet we humans struggle to appreciate the present. Why? We frequently speak only of our future plans — but what about building your now? You hear, “Know your why.” Start thinking, “Know your now.”

Some people think we lose out on fantastic moments because we are too busy rehashing previous events or preparing for the future. We seldom pause to smell the flowers. We don’t enjoy the moment. Keep the destructive process from becoming the precedent.

It’s sad not to be in your own personal time zone — since we don’t know how many more moments we’ll have. Meditation and many of the healthy habits we work to learn are all about living in the now.

Go ahead and plan your life in detail.

This is not suggesting we spend less time planning. To leave out the planning is terrible counsel. Setting goals is critical to our personal and professional happiness. Setting and achieving realistic objectives fosters personal accountability. Careful planning is a kind of goal-setting that gives significance to our lives since it requires devotion, hard effort, and tenacity to achieve.

Some people feel our culture has gotten obsessed with planning. We frequently speak about constructing for the future, but what about building the now? We all want true pleasure, and to experience it, we must live in the now. Focusing only on the future causes tension and negative thoughts and even uncertainty to enter our thought processes.

Why should you concentrate on living now instead of preparing too far ahead?

1. Right now is the only moment you can control.

No matter how much you plan, you can never predict how life will unfold. You will only know when you are there.

The only moment you can control is this one right now. You may either appreciate or despise the situation. And of course, you may also choose to squander the moment by ignoring it, but the choice is yours.

Planning won’t get you out of the moment. It may help you achieve your objectives, but it will not enhance your current quality of life. Planning for the future won’t ensure a desirable result, so why not focus on the now?

2. Enjoy every minute in the now.

Nobody knows how many moments you will get to experience. This is vital to understand. Nobody knows when their next moment will be gone. Your next moment isn’t specific, so why not make the most of it?

You can’t have this perspective if you’re always planning your next level. You can only feel this excitement for life by living in the now. It’s trite and impractical, but it’s true.

Don’t waste time. Plan when needed, but not at the price of enjoying the moment. Life is brief, so enjoy it while you can.

3. Being present reduces stress.

Too much future and past thinking generate stress. Some of the stress that comes from not living now may be harmful to one’s mental, physical, and emotional health. Yes, your thinking takes a controlled effort to remain within a balanced life — but the effort will be worth it.

The over-planners hinder themselves from living in the present and cause unneeded tension in their life. Invigorate your life with present-focused living practices.

You certainly don’t have time to meditate for five hours a day and not make plans for the future, but making tiny adjustments will help decrease stressors and help you be able to get a jump on the inevitable problems that come up in life.

Observe when your mind starts focusing on the future instead of the current moment. Ask yourself whether this is required. Being conscious of your thoughts can help you be more present.

4. Plans seldom come to fruition as expected, so live in the now.

Know that you have planned the best you know-how, and expect that things don’t always turn out as your plan dictates whether you like it or not. How often have you attempted to plan something that didn’t work out? What happened? Did you become offended, or did you accept and comprehend the situation, do something else, or move forward?

Plans go awry. You fail a lot as an imperfect species. It is inevitable.

Trying to plan every stage of your life is tricky and unhealthy. Plan for the best — but be determined that you will not be annoyed or disturbed when those plans don’t work out.

You don’t have to prepare for the worst — just have contingency plans here and there in your life — then, just let life happen and be.

Make preparations if that helps you, but don’t lose sight of the moment. If your plans don’t work out, try to accept them.

5. Being present makes you happy now and in the future

Some people don’t like using the term “makes you happier” since nothing makes you happier than yourself. With that in mind, living in the now is one of the surest ways to achieve true joy in your life. But, yes, happiness is a choice most of the time.

Without going into all the statistics and studies, it is clear that living in the now is one of the most important keys to happiness. Too much long-term planning will keep you from enjoying the moment.

Take a moment each day and observe how living in the now has made you feel? How can you make a better plan? How can you remain in the present if your plans take a dive off the planned course? Plan when necessary, but keep an eye on the present.

Strike a balance between spontaneity and forethought. You can only control the present moment.

You’ve heard it before if you’ve worked on mindfulness at all — this moment is a gift. Try to believe that and be okay with the statement. Enjoying the present reduces stress. Recognize that plans don’t always go as planned. Accept the moment and be joyful.

Plan as you see fit. Save for a family and a home — then invest in yourself. Set and achieve objectives. As you plan, put yourself first and don’t lose sight of where you are now.

Reasons to Stop Planning Too Much — Live in the Now was originally published on Calendar by

Image Credit: Jill Wellington; Pexels; Thank you!

4 Cybersecurity Protocols to Add to Your Appointment-Based Business

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Cybersecurity Protocols Appointment Based Business

Running a business in the 21st century provides access to so many useful tools. From electronic mail to online appointment software, technology makes every aspect of business so much easier. However, there are some cybersecurity dangers of relying so heavily on technology that you should be wary of.

Cybersecurity threats cost businesses trillions of dollars annually. That’s right, global corporations are losing trillions of dollars due to different forms of cybercrime. You can lose a lot of money and credibility when data breaches occur in your own organization. Small businesses, in particular, can be delivered massive blows as they often lack the necessary resources to recover from a cyberattack.

To survive in this day and age, you need to add these cybersecurity protocols to your appointment-based business as soon as possible. This guide will walk you through what each of them entails and why they will be of benefit to you and your customer base:

1. Require Two-Factor Authentication

Most organizations require at least one form of identification in order to book an appointment. More often than not, all that is required is a username and password used to access some sort of customer or patient portal. While this is better than using no barriers at all, you can do better.

Two-factor authentication is gaining popularity among businesses because it’s a simple addition that adds a lot of extra security. In addition to the username and password, customers need to use an additional method of verification before booking an appointment or making a payment. This can be done by accepting a security code via email or text message in a matter of seconds.

Thanks to two-factor authentication, anyone trying to access your customer’s account will be stopped in their tracks unless they also have access to their smartphone or other devices. This extra barrier to entry doesn’t take up much extra time for the consumer, but it’s enough to fend off most intruders.

2. Implement Security Programs

There may be times when customers need to input sensitive info when booking an appointment or updating their customer portal. You hold a great responsibility to protect any information that customers share with you. Implementing digital security programs will help your customers feel safe and protect the information you collect from them.

For example, you can force visitors to your website to open a new secure window using a security program whenever they need to enter sensitive information. This is a strategy many banks implement to prevent the risks associated with account information.

Of course, there is a certain amount of responsibility that consumers need to take when handling their personal info online. Still, the company in question will almost always be the first to be blamed if data is ever breached. Don’t take any chances and use a security program to keep your customers as safe as is within your power.

3. Secure Your Mobile App

In addition to protecting customers using your website, you should also make sure to keep the mobile resources you use safe. In particular, if you offer a mobile app, you should have security options enabled and even required for consumer use.

Common security options for mobile apps include requiring an account ID with a PIN, including a secret word chosen by the customer, or even FaceID for select devices. Each of these options helps to keep customer accounts secure in a variety of situations.

Another feature you should consider implementing is automatic inactivity log-out. This feature boots customers off of the app or website if they are inactive for a period of time. This reduces the risk of someone having time to access their account in person or hack into it online.

4. Safeguard Your Network

Your cybersecurity protocols should extend all the way to your lobby. If you offer complimentary Wi-Fi to your guests, you should only do so on a secure network. Public Wi-Fi is notorious for being insecure and an unsafe browsing option. So, you don’t want your place of business to be an example of that.

Start by making sure your physical equipment is in a secure location. You can spend a lot of time working on the digital side of security, but someone with physical access to your internet router can override all of that.

Next, you can start working on the digital side of things. Put up an extra firewall, require login for internet use, and separate the access points between your business hardware and personal devices in your lobby. Keep your software and hardware updated, and you shouldn’t encounter very many problems.

One should never take cybersecurity lightly. You would be frustrated if a business you patronize lost your personal data, so don’t let a data compromise happen to your customers on your watch. Implement these protocols without delay and continue to look for ways to keep your security as strong as possible.

Image Credit: Cottonbro; Pexels; Thank you!

4 Ways to Make 2022 Better than 2021

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Make 2022 Better

To be quite frank, 2021 was a really tough year for just about everyone. There was a lot of hope that 2021 would improve as the world got a grip on the Covid-19 pandemic, but different variants and new problems arising made it just as much of a challenge. As the calendar turns to 2022, we’re all looking for a better year to come.

If you want to make 2022 better than 2021, you can’t just wait idly for things to improve. You have to look for opportunities and take them head-on. You can control the direction of your ship instead of allowing the storm to carry you off. This guide will help you prepare yourself for the best year of the decade so far:

1. Make Better Plans

The first thing you need to do is tighten up your time management skills. How you use your time will directly reflect upon the success you have in 2022. Using your Calendar to make better plans will keep you active and engaged every single day of the new year.

Start by scheduling out any upcoming events you already have planned. Work schedules, holiday events, doctor’s appointments, etc. This will give your Calendar some good bones to work with.

Next, look for ways to improve the plans you’ve made. Do you need to coordinate with your team better for an upcoming work meeting? Should you reschedule an appointment so that it doesn’t take up as much of your day, allowing you to be more productive? Small adjustments like this will really add up over the 365 days of the new year.

2. Change Your Mindset

You need to start 2022 off with the right mindset, or at the very least make an effort to keep a positive one. Sure that’s easier said than done, but if you start changing your mindset in January you’ll be a new person by December. It’s high time you got rid of the doom and gloom that’s taken up residence in your subconscious.

A simple method you can employ to try and change your mindset is to use daily affirmations. These are little mantras or phrases that you repeat to yourself to keep your mind clear and your spirits high. Negative thinking and self-talk won’t get you very far, as is very evident from the years past.

An example of a daily affirmation you can use is “I can do this”. Rather than assuming that the task at hand or the global situation is too difficult to handle, you quietly remind yourself that you are capable of so much more. Whisper this phrase to yourself enough and you’ll replace negativity and doubt with courage and drive.

3. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

The past few years it’s been a little too easy to resort to our comfort zones. Ever since sheltering in place during the beginning of Covid-19 we’ve been hesitant to dream, to do, and to discover. Getting out of your comfort zone won’t be easy, but it will set the stage for a colorful and fun year.

Take a look at the blank spaces in your Calendar and start brainstorming ways to fill them. Maybe it’s time you tried speed dating for the first time or considered taking a boxing class as part of your New Year’s resolution to get back in shape. Under normal circumstances, you wouldn’t dream of pursuing such activities, but you never know what you’re missing out on until you venture out into the unknown.

Getting out of your comfort zone is usually easier with a friend, especially if you’re moving out of your own comfort zone into theirs. For example, you might have a friend that’s an avid rock climber that’s willing to show you the ropes, literally and figuratively. You can coordinate times to go out with them and have a buddy to accompany you as you try new things.

4. Prioritize Yourself

Nothing is more important in 2022 than yourself. If you prioritize yourself this year, you’ll see lots of improvements, especially in your physical and mental well-being. Those two aspects of your life have likely been affected in a negative way due to Covid-19 and the other challenges of the past couple of years.

Look for ways to use your Calendar to put yourself first. This can be done by planning specific activities for personal development or creating habits and routines that promote wellness and growth. Here is a list of ideas you can use to fill up and utilize your Calendar while prioritizing yourself:

  • Make time to exercise every day
  • Develop a good sleep routine
  • Schedule a regular mental health day
  • Get counseling and guidance as needed from professionals
  • Set aside time for things you enjoy
  • Create a meal plan for healthier eating

Each one of these bullet points is an example of something you can do in 2022 to take care of yourself better. This will raise your mental and emotional health which will enable you to have a much more enjoyable year. Prioritizing yourself will also build a strong foundation for many years to come, not just the next 12 months.

Nobody can promise that the events of 2022 will be any better. However, you can take control of your destiny to make this year much better than the last no matter what happens. All it takes is some grit and determination even on the toughest of days. Of course, your Calendar has all the tools you need to make anything happen.

Image Credit: Artem Podrez; Pexels; Thank you!

4 Ways to Make 2022 Better than 2021 was originally published on Calendar by .

How to Stay Motivated in the Winter

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Motivated in Winter

For many of us, it has felt like winter for a couple of months. Unfortunately, not everyone experiences a winter wonderland during the chilly months of the year. For many, winter is the most challenging time to stay motivated and productive. Regardless, work carries on as usual, and workers need to keep on top of their game no matter the season.

Staying motivated throughout the winter will take a little extra effort on your part. Luckily, winter only lasts so long. With the following tips, you should be able to maintain your productivity until spring without an issue:

Make Light a Priority

One of the biggest triggers of seasonal depression is the lack of sunshine. The presence of light subconsciously lifts up your spirits and boosts your motivation. Unfortunately, with fewer hours of sunlight in the winter, it’s more difficult for many people to remain positive and productive throughout the entire season.

To help yourself stay motivated in the winter, try to take advantage of those few hours of sunlight that are available. Pull back the drapes, face the window, and brave the cold for the occasional walk. Even a little bit of natural sunlight will make a massive difference in your winter motivation.

If getting natural sunlight proves to be difficult, try some artificial light. For example, you can purchase a small desk lamp that works as an artificial sun. It might not seem like much, but the additional light will help you start each day off on the right foot.

Manage Your Temperature

In addition to the amount of light you get during the winter, regulating your temperature is part of your environment you need to stay on top of. If your body is shivering in the cold, you’ll have a hard time focusing on your daily to-do list.  In addition, being cold has been proven to stunt productivity.

On the opposite end, being too warm can make you feel sluggish and work just as slowly as if you were battling the cold. So make sure that by keeping warm, you’re not so cozy that productivity is too far out of reach. Otherwise, you’re just replacing one extreme with the other.

Managing your temperature goes beyond adjusting the thermostat. For example, you might love cuddling up at your desk with a warm blanket, but is that making you feel productive or snoozy? You might need to opt for a nice sweater and some cozy socks to stay warm without falling into a trance.

Create Plans and Goals for Summer

If winter keeps bringing you down, create some plans and set some goals for the following summer. This will give you many exciting things to look forward to, which should boost your morale, even if only temporarily. Your summer plans will also make for a nice reward for making it through the winter to the best of your abilities.

Let’s use the classic example of summer vacation. To make this vacation happen, you need to save up money and build up your vacation hours to get the time off. This should give your work ethic a significant boost through the winter months as you dream of sunny beaches and piña coladas.

Schedule Time for What You Love

What are some activities that you just love to do? Use your Calendar to ensure you’re making time for them. Participating in your favorite activities is sure to reinvigorate you even after a long and cold week.

If you’re fighting the winter blues, it’s also unfortunately easy to lose motivation, even when it comes to your favorite hobbies and passions. Scheduling time for these activities will add to your to-do list and help you stop making excuses and procrastinating.

For example, you might love painting but have put away your easel in favor of wrapping yourself in multiple blankets while binge-watching TV throughout the afternoon. Add some time slots for painting in your Calendar to break out of your cocoon and do some painting. Even if it’s only for a few minutes a day, you’ll get the variation and enjoyment from doing something that actually interests you. Keeping up with your hobbies are a great way to stay motivated in the winter.

Remember to Exercise

Another activity you might lose motivation for during the winter is regular exercise. Not only is exercise good for perking you up, but it’s also a great way to stay warm. Exercise improves blood circulation and gets your heart pumping, allowing your body to regulate its temperature more effectively. Not to mention, a good sweat is bound to warm you up on even the coldest of days.

You don’t necessarily have to brave the cold to get your exercise in. Going to a local gym provides access to all kinds of indoor workouts, including stationery bikes, indoor tracks, and sometimes even a heated pool. You’ll build up healthy habits and warm up your body while only needing to walk to and from the parking lot.

If you don’t have access to a nice, friendly gym or simply don’t have the time, try some at-home workouts. You can accomplish a lot by following video guides using simple exercise methods. You don’t even need any equipment to get a good workout in; just follow the steps provided by your instructor and feel the burn.

Not all of us can say, “the cold never bothered me anyway.” However, that doesn’t mean that winter has to deprive you of all energy and enjoyment until you thaw out in the spring. Start making an effort to stay motivated by tackling winter head-on, and you won’t be bothered by the freezing temperatures even one bit.

Image Credit: Pixabay; Pexels; Thank you! 

7 Tips to Attract Success as an Entrepreneur

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7 Tips to Attract Success as an Entrepreneur

Have you heard the old quip about overnight success taking ten or more years? Anyone who’s started a business knows it’s true. Think Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Though they’ve reached tremendous recognition now for their business acumen, they were once everyday guys. No paparazzi were following them — and they certainly weren’t carrying tickets to space. Nevertheless, they persevered and ended up at the top of the corporate food pyramid.

As an entrepreneur, you might feel like a decade’s a long time to finally get some respect from your peers. Plus, by the time you’re ten years older, you may not be any closer to success than you were. That’s a fair assessment and fear. However, the years will pass whether you take some risks or not. So you might as well reach for your dreams.

In the process, though, you don’t want to leave your likelihood of hitting the jackpot to chance. Instead, you’ll want to put yourself in a position to attract success like a magnet. How? Incorporate these strategies into your work and personal life.

1. Gain mastery of your mind.

Author and serial entrepreneur Mark Lachance talks about the idea of luck being a powerful force that you can harness in The Lucky Formula. Indeed, luck is a terrific asset to have if you’re bent on being successful. But as Lachance explains, it doesn’t happen until you master both your internal and external conditions. I especially want to focus on the former.

Too many founders allow other people to get into their heads. Those people could be well-meaning naysayers, like a spouse. Or they could be envious or spiteful, such as an angry ex-coworker. When you let other people control your thoughts and feelings, you have less ability to make clear, pragmatic choices.

Lachance writes that people who allow themselves to be influenced by others rarely experience luck — or success. How, though, do you stop giving other people rent-free space in your brain? It takes effort to start thinking for yourself. First, you have to know your goals and gather all the information you can about subjects you learn. Next, you need to stay flexible on most topics with a willingness to be firm on others. Finally, you have to practice the art again and again. Over time, you’ll find that you’re able to tap into your intelligence more easily and confidently.

2. Hire talented professionals and let them do their thing.

Just about all of us have been under the thumb of a boss who couldn’t delegate. As a TLNT piece reveals, nearly 60% of workers admit that they’d had the type of manager who just couldn’t let go. So even though you might claim you’d never micromanage, you might be surprised at how fast you can change your mind.

For instance, at the first sign of danger to your business, you might want to jump in and take over. After all, you assume that your people — even the high performers you respect and admire — couldn’t have the same passion as you. That’s where you’re wrong. If you empower and trust the people you’ve put on the payroll, you have a better chance of weathering ups and downs.

Is it tough to sit back and watch when you feel like you should be doing something? You can bet on it. However, your business will succeed if you act like a mentor instead of an ogre. If you’re not sure how to make a move to a coaching mentality, Gallup has some ideas. These include giving ongoing feedback, explaining why something should be done, and handing over ownership of projects. In time, your employees and peers will appreciate that you have faith in them, and many will exceed your expectations.

3. Take care of your physical and mental health.

Burnout is a real problem, especially among business leaders and owners. A Wall Street Journal piece written in early 2021 suggests around one-third of workers may suffer or have suffered from the condition. You can’t afford to let yourself get to the point of experiencing so much stress that you burn out completely in your position.

Remember, though, that burnout isn’t just having a few stressful days or even weeks. It’s a consistent, nagging state that presents itself differently in different people. Some become incredibly depressed. Others just “check out.” Plenty will struggle to check off even the most mundane items on their daily to-do lists.

To be sure, you’re going to be a busy person as a founder. That doesn’t give you carte blanche to destroy your health, however. Additionally, when your team sees you never take a day off, they get anxious: Should they do likewise? Are you modeling behaviors you expect them to follow? This can lead to serious communications disconnects within your organization.

Consequently, your best bet is to work hard but do good for your health. The main staples for good health that you must not skip are eating right, sleeping right, and exercising. Go on family vacations. You’ll be more refreshed and ready when you return to the grind.

4. Look for the silver lining.

Failures happen. Some are small. Some are big. Some are earth-shattering. After they occur, you can’t change the past. Nevertheless, you can learn from it. You can also use it as a teachable moment to help your team members see how to make different choices in the future.

Don’t worry: You don’t have to wear rose-colored glasses or do your best Pollyanna impersonation. It’s reasonable to be brought down by mistakes. You can show your disappointment and anger. The trick is not to dwell on it.

When bad things come your way, deal with them and then have a retrospective. Take a tip from agile project management principles that encourage constant review of everything. And never assume that what seems like a failure today couldn’t lead to an “Aha!” tomorrow. Most successful business people can talk about long lines of failures from their past. Their ability to move beyond backslides helped them reach their goals and find success.

5. Establish a strong, well-defined work culture.

When you build a business from your vision, you get a rare opportunity to build the culture you want. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs just assume that culture will build itself. It will — but it probably won’t be the nirvana that you envisioned when you opened your doors.

Right now, employers everywhere are having trouble finding and keeping superstars. A strong, attractive workplace culture will help you court and acquire top candidates. But, of course, what the culture looks like is up to you and maybe your executive team members. Yet you should know that recent studies show nearly half of all professionals want to work at a place where they can be themselves.

Are you worried that your culture is already heading into toxic territory? You can pull out of a nosedive fast. Start by gathering feedback from your current team members. Find out how they feel about their workplace environment. Then, use their responses to make improvements. Success is almost impossible if your workers don’t want to come to the office or log onto their computers. On the other hand, if your culture is irresistible, your employees will rave online, to customers, and to their friends.

6. Do right by your customers.

The customer doesn’t always have to be right for you to “do right” by the customer. Without customers, you couldn’t stay in business. Therefore, treat your buyers like gold. Anticipate their needs. Smooth out your clunky sales processes. Create loyalty programs that are something special.

Need some inspiration to rev up your customer-centricity? A couple of years ago, Forbes pulled together a piece on 100 companies that get customer service right every time. The list reads like a who’s who of successful brands: Warby Parker. Best Buy. Hilton. In each case, the company has invested tons of time and effort into wowing buyers through and through.

Be honest with yourself: Are your customer interactions as impressive as they could be? Do your team members have the authority to make decisions (within financial and operational parameters) to serve customers? Making any improvements will get your organization far. Who knows? The next time a 100-list is completed, your business could be on it.

7. Keep upskilling.

You founded a company because you were an expert in something. Bicycle making. Digital marketing. Veterinary medicine. Though you should keep driving hard to become an expert in your industry, you can’t be afraid to branch out. Branching out will keep you agile. It may also reveal ways you can evolve your company in exciting ways.

Imagine someone who started a business in 2000 and refused to learn anything about social media or online advertising. That person wouldn’t be running a successful company. Try, then, to stay on top of the newest aspects of the business. Although you don’t have to become super-knowledgeable about everything, you should have a working understanding of emerging technologies, competitors’ news, and possibilities.

Of course, you shouldn’t keep upskilling and reskilling to yourself. Instead, make learning a team sport by offering training to your team. Employees appreciate it when they get paid to develop their skill sets and build out their resumes. With the experience they gain, they can bring concepts to the table and fuel your brand’s momentum.

Success isn’t something that can only happen to everyone else. It’s within your reach. You just have to stretch a bit to grab it and bring it to you and your company.

Goal Setting Not Working? Try These 8 Alternatives

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Goal Setting Not Working? Try These 8 Alternatives

Somewhere in between holiday festivities and wrapping up all of your year-end obligations, you might also be setting your goals for next year. While there’s nothing wrong with that, most of us fail to reach these goals. An astounding 92 percent of people who set New Year’s resolutions never follow through, according to researchers at the University of Scranton.

Why do we keep setting ourselves up for failure? That answer varies from person to person. However, some of the most common culprits include;

  • Making goals too vague.
  • Setting unattainable goals.
  • Listing only your long-term goals.
  • Writing your goals as negative statements.
  • You get discouraged when messing up.
  • Your environment doesn’t support your goals.
  • You downplay or don’t celebrate your wins.
  • There’s no system to hold you accountable.

Furthermore, goals hardly translate to daily actions, and some of us don’t track our progress.

Whatever the reason, if you’ve found that goal setting isn’t getting it done, you might want to explore the following eight alternatives going forward.

1. Ask yourself, “Did I do my best?”

Do your best. If it sounds like advice from a kindergarten teacher, well, I get it,” writes freelance writer and Fast Company contributor Daniel Dowling. “Vague goals produce vague results, right?”

However, Dowling found that one undefined goal can prove a punch in the gut reality check when included with a system of daily goals. What’s more, it can lead to tangible results.

The reason why this can work? Firstly, many of us have difficulty determining how much time to dedicate to our goals. When setting goals, we don’t know where to draw the line between ambition and delusion. In turn, this results in us not getting the desired outcome.

When Dowling asked himself, “Did I do my best?” he was confronted with just how much effort he had actually given that day. If he “frittered away most of the day,” he would analyze why and make changes so that he wouldn’t repeat the same mistake again.

“Without asking myself if I’d done my best each day, I’d either have wallowed in self-reproach or failed to reflect on my performance at all. Instead, I’d turned self-criticism into a self-improvement habit,” he wrote.

2. Establish anti-goals.

Is your calendar packed with pointless meetings? Are you burned out from working long hours? Have you questioned your relationships?

If you’ve ever had these types of questions, you can turn things around by setting anti-goals.

While this might seem counterintuitive, “anti-Goals create a balance by showing us a tangible set of values or actions that we don’t want to be,” clarifies Ken Wu.

Originally introduced as a concept called ‘premeditatio malorum,’ which Seneca, Foucault, and Socrates used, “anti-goals give us a benchmark of failure to avoid and allow us to anticipate ourselves at our worst,” he adds. This enables us to develop our first steps of personal growth, and we remain true to ourselves as we develop.

When starting out, Wu focused on the following areas;

  • Values. Do you want to reject any standards or behaviors?
  • Habit. Which actions are you consciously trying to avoid?
  • Physical. What possible health issues do you want to minimize?
  • Emotional. Which mental states do you wish to avoid?
  • Relationships. Do you want to avoid certain relationships? What is your ideal way to interact with others?

To harness the power of anti-goals, however, Wu advises that they shouldn’t consume you. He also says that they shouldn’t make you complacent or remain stagnant. Instead, they must evolve and drive you forward.

3. Set themes.

Although there is a place and time for goals daily, goals often lead to anxiety, regret, and depression rather than fulfillment, pride, and contentment, claims Niklas Göke. This is because we exert pressure on ourselves until we reach our goals. In addition, when we finally do accomplish them, they disappear without a trace.

Moreover, we think that happiness is experienced after this burst of relief. In turn, this inspires us to set a new, bigger goal. However, it remains beyond our reach. In short, it’s a vicious cycle.

Harvard researcher Tal Ben-Shahar calls this “the arrival fallacy” — the illusion that “reaching some future destination will bring lasting happiness.” To combat this, author and entrepreneur James Altucher lives by themes instead of goals that encourage meaning over pleasure.

Göke says that a theme could be a single verb, a noun, or an adjective. “Commit,” “growth,” and “healthy” are all valid themes, he adds. As are “invest,” “help,” “kindness,” and “gratitude.”

“Themes are immune to anxiety about tomorrow,” states Göke. So your regrets about yesterday don’t matter to them either. “All that matters is what you do today, who you are in this second, and how you choose to live right now.”

4. Focus on systems.

According to James Clear, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, Atomic Habits, asserts that there are several problems with goals, including;

  • Both winners and losers have the same goals.
  • Attaining a goal is a momentary change.
  • Goals can restrict your happiness.
  • Goals are often at odds with a long-term process.

Because of this — look at, Clear champions systems over goals. These are simply daily processes and habits. For example, exercising for 30-minutes before work or learning a new skill for 10-minutes after lunch. Even though you didn’t set a specific outcome, like losing 50 pounds or becoming fluent in Spanish, systems are flexible and help you make progress.

This is well described by Clear using a rowboat metaphor. Consider goals as the rudder and systems as the paddles: “Goals determine your direction. Systems determine your progress.”

5. Burn or burn.

Okay. This might seem a little radical and potentially dangerous. However, it might be worth trying if you struggle to complete those necessary but dreadful tasks needed to reach a goal. And, here’s how it works, according to Nir Eyal in an Observer post.

  • Pick your routine. For instance, going to the gym.
  • Book your time. Block out time in your schedule for the routine. Routines can’t be performed if you don’t reserve the time to arrange an appointment or meeting.
  • Find a crisp $100 bill — or any denomination that you wouldn’t want to lose.
  • Find a lighter.
  • Buy a wall calendar and place it somewhere you’ll see daily.
  • Place the lighter near the wall calendar and tape the $100 bill to today’s date.

There are now two options available to you. On any given day, when it’s time to perform your routine, you have the option to choose either option A and perform the routine, in my case to feel the “burn” in the gym, or option B and literally burn money, explains Eyal. The money can’t be given to someone or spent on anything; it must be set ablaze.

Not only is it dangerous to actually light the bill, but it’s also illegal. However, science has found that just the thought of watching your hard-earned money aflame can motivate you to complete the tasks that you don’t want to.

6. Adopt a mantra.

The process of achieving a goal often involves changing your habits as well. Of course, this is always easier said than done. After all, when some of us experience setbacks, we tend to get so disappointed that we simply quit.

Perhaps you should adopt a “mantra” instead of a resolution if this describes you. As a result of being overextended, entrepreneur Reshma Chamberlin tried this approach by incorporating a yearly “anchor.”

For Chamberlin, as she told Fast Company’s Jenna Abdou, “It’s not a single objective, like go to the gym every day. Instead, your mantra is a conscious choice to take control of your life.” For example, her 2017 mantra was, “Ask, and you shall receive.” Through this motto, she was felt more empowered to pursue new experiences.

When setting mantas, though, Chamberlin suggests that they are positive and deliberate. And, the mantra is too unrealistic or making you unhappy; try a different one.

7. Make a PACT.

“Instead of SMART goals, which don’t encourage ambitious, long-term endeavors, I prefer to make a PACT with myself,” notes Anne-Laure Le Cunff over at Ness Labs. “While a SMART goal focuses on the outcome, the PACT approach focuses on the output.”

In short, rather than pursuing a well-defined goal, it’s about continuous growth. In this regard, it can be a valuable alternative to SMART goals.

But, what exactly does PACT stand for?

  • Purposeful. An appropriate goal should be relevant to your long-term purpose in life, not just to your immediate needs. It’s much easier to get and stay motivated when your goals are aligned with your passions and priorities.
  • Actionable. You should have a goal that is both actionable and controllable. Focusing on immediate outputs rather than overplanning for distant outcomes in the future is the key to shifting your mindset.
  • Continuous. Choice paralysis prevents so many people from achieving their goals, explains Le Cunff. This happens when you have so many options that you spend more time researching than actually doing things to further your goal. One benefit of continuous goals is that they’re flexible and repeatable. That means focusing on continuous improvement is more important than a pre-determined endpoint.
  • Trackable. Not measurable, Anne-Laure Le Cunff adds. Often, statistics are overrated and don’t apply to a wide variety of goals. As with the GitHub tracker, Le Cunff likes the “yes” or “no” approach to goal tracking as it makes tracking progress a breeze.

8. Don’t set goals at all.

According to Leo Babauta, the author behind Zen Habits, sometimes the best goal is no goal at all.

“Today, I live mostly without goals. Now and then, I start coming up with a goal, but I’m letting them go,” he writes. “Living without goals hasn’t ever been an actual goal of mine … it’s just something I’m learning that I enjoy more, that is incredibly freeing, that works with the lifestyle of following my passion that I’ve developed.”

That may sound liberating in theory, but how does this actually work?

He explains that there’s no goal for the year, the month, the week, or the day. You don’t obsess over tracking or actionable steps. There’s even no need for a to-do list, though jotting down reminders is fine.

“What do you do, then? Lay around on the couch all day, sleeping and watching TV and eating Ho-Hos?” he asks. Of course not. You just do.

“You find something you’re passionate about, and do it, Leo states. “Just because you don’t have goals doesn’t mean you do nothing — you can create, you can produce, you can follow your passion.”

As a result, Leo says that he can accomplish more than if he had goals since he’s always doing something that excites him. But, that’s ultimately not the point. Instead, he emphasizes, “all that matters is that I’m doing what I love, always.”

Work Less Because It’s Done and Play More in 2022

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Work Less Because It’s Done and Play More in 2022

You may have seen folks around you who get everything done and then some. How do they get so much done so fast?

Time management is the answer.

Time management is the art of organizing and allocating minutes, getting things done. This maximizes productivity and achieves goals. Time management improves job performance and life satisfaction while reducing stress. High achievers don’t just happen. Rather, they’ve honed the talents required to achieve more in less time.

Productivity is a skill.

It’s an acquired talent that everyone must learn. However, it is feasible (and simple) to learn time management. There are several tools, strategies, and approaches available to assist you. We’ve rounded together our finest 32 day-saving ideas.

Planning Your Time to be Done Faster

Planned calendar management will help you build solid habits, get things done and increase your chances of success.

1. Conduct a time audit.

First things first: figure out where you spend your time. Often, what you believe is taking up your time isn’t. Humans are lousy at estimating task duration. Let’s say you need to send a 300-word email. Think: “Emailing is easy. It should just take 5 minutes.” Proofreading, checking language choice, and identifying email addresses are all duties that might add to the task’s duration. Your 5-minute email may take you 20 minutes, 500% longer than expected with such changes.

Assume you have the same issue with numerous tasks. A balanced workload will inevitably turn into a hectic to-do list during the day. You need to know what you can do and what is genuinely eating up your minutes. That’s why a time audit is useful. The most straightforward approach to undertake a time audit is using calendar tracking software. Many firms provide free software, but Toggl Track is the easiest, with applications for all devices.

Track your activities for a week to get an accurate time utilization picture. Then, examine the reports at the end of the week and analyze the time you spend on various chores. With this data, you can quickly improve. For example, you may waste time in useless meetings or busywork.

Now you can see how you spend your time and prepare accordingly.

So here’s the next piece of advice.

Tip #2: Set realistic goals and prioritize and be done.

Time management won’t assist you if you have too much to do. After doing a time audit, you’ll know if you need to manage your time better or if you have too much on your plate.

For attainable goals, skip to suggestion 3.

If you feel overwhelmed, create an Eisenhower matrix or use the 4 Ds of time management: Do, Defer, Delegate, and Delete. Your duties are divided into four categories into both methods:

Do: Important and urgent tasks.

Defer: Important yet non-urgent tasks.

Delegate: Urgent but unimportant tasks.

Delete: Non-urgent or non-critical tasks.

These methods will help you decide what jobs to prioritize, schedule, delegate, or remove. They should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.

Tip #3: Make a daily management strategy.

You can do this in the morning or at the end of the day. Creating a daily to-do list is one of those time slots. Keep your to-do list simple. The sight of half-completed lists is discouraging.

Even in personal productivity, it’s preferable to under-promise and over-deliver. Write your list as though you’ve already finished it. Submit Report to Project Manager instead of “Submit Report to Project Manager.”

This tiny method will give you an extra push of desire to finish your duties.

Tip #4: Sunday planning management

A strategy will help you focus on your critical goals during the workweek. It also enables you to move from weekend mode to “work mode” on Monday morning. First, spend a few minutes on Sunday planning your entire week. Then, break down weekly goals into daily chores to increase achievement.

You’ll be able to see your daily tasks at a glance. Schedule low-priority work for Fridays and other low-energy days. The week’s energy and creative levels change. Finish creative projects on Tuesday and Wednesday. Plan meetings for Thursday, when your team’s energy drops. Plan and network on Fridays and Mondays.

Personal productivity has hundreds of variations. Because everyone works differently, experimenting with these time management techniques will help you find the ideal strategy for you.

Tip #5: Finish your most critical and time-consuming activities first thing.

The first few hours of work are usually the most fruitful. This is because you can focus better while your brain isn’t completely awake.

They have less energy for daydreaming and other duties. So, preferably, do your most intellectually demanding responsibilities first thing in the morning.

12 Holiday Stress Busters

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12 Holiday Stress Busters

Even though the holiday season is often proclaimed as “the most wonderful time of the year,” there are many reasons why you may not be feeling festive. You might feel overwhelmed by a cluttered social calendar, work deadlines, financial concerns, reflecting on a loved one’s passing, or dreary winter days. And, in some cases, this could be a combination of these.

As such, it’s not all that much of a holiday surprise that a lot of us have declared this as the most stressful time of the year. According to the American Psychological Association, 38% of people reported increased stress during the holiday season. This may result in symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse if not addressed.

In addition, 64% of individuals who have a mental illness stated that their symptoms worsened around the holidays, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

In spite of this, there are ways to protect ourselves and maybe reduce some of our holiday stress. And, hopefully, these 12 tactics can make your days merry and bright.

1. Have a perfectly imperfect holiday season.

Maybe if Clark Griswold hadn’t had such high expectations, he wouldn’t have had a breakdown in Christmas Vacation. But, hey, it happens to the best of us this time of year.“

“As we gear up for the holidays, we often set the bar impossibly high for ourselves and then feel upset when our celebrations don’t live up to expectations, “says Neda Gould, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, and director of the Johns Hopkins Mindfulness Program at the Johns Hopkins University School.

Her suggestion? Be aware that not everything will go according to plan. “It’s OK if it’s not perfect. Imperfection is healthy and normal. For some of us, it might just take a little practice,” adds Gould

How else can you stop perfectionism in its tracks? Here are some proven strategies to explore;

  • Let go of control and surrender to the moment.
  • Set SMART goals that you’ll be able to achieve.
  • Invite feedback from others.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others.
  • Use “hypothesis testing” to push you out of your comfort zone.
  • Stop ruminating.
  • Find a healthy balance between good and perfect.
  • Focus on the process and enjoy it.

2. Dream of a white Christmas.

I’m not literally talking about snow falling this holiday season — even though it makes the holidays just a tad more special. Rather, this is a popular calendar tip that only the most productive people use. But, what exactly is white space?

In your calendar, whitespace refers to time blocks when nothing is scheduled. “Use that buffer time to think big, catch up on the latest industry news, get out from under that pile of unread emails, or just take a walk,” Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn, wrote. Additionally, you can use this time to meditate, reflect on the year, or prepare for a meeting. You can also use it for unexpected and last-minute duties

By adding space to your calendar for yourself, you can reclaim your day from to-do lists, emails, phone calls, and holiday obligations.

3. Run, Rudolph, run.

While physical activity is important year-round, it’s especially so during the holidays. After all, it’s one of the most effective ways to alleviate stress.

“Blend or alternate aerobics with strength training, stretching, flexibility, and agility exercises for an endorphin boost,” suggests Kathleen Hall, Ph.D., founder, and CEO of The Mindful Living Network & The Stress Institute.

You can make this even more beneficial by making this a social activity as well. Researchers found that people who exercised in groups had better mental, physical, and emotional health than those who worked out alone. And, considering that so many of us feel lonely or isolated this time of year, it’s a clever way to connect and interact with others.

4. Make a holiday budget and check it twice.

Presents, holiday feasts, decorations, and travel. Obviously, all of these put a dent in your finances. But, worrying about money right now is enough for anyone to scream “Bah! Humbug!”

The solution? Build a holiday budget. And, more importantly, stick to it.

  • Keep your budget concise, simple, and practical so that it’s easy to track.
  • If you plan on traveling, look for more affordable options, such as driving instead of flying.
  • Find a friend or family member to keep each other accountable.
  • Go back and review what you spend last year to identify what can be cut.
  • Make sure you understand the terms of the buy now, pay later offer before you use it.
  • Download a banking or budgeting app so that you can keep tabs on your spending right from your phone.

5. Prepare “Nice To Do For Me” and “Need to Do For You” lists.

“Writing down all that you have to do during the holidays will help you realize how do-able your tasks are,” notes Connie Bennett MSJ, CHHC, CPC for Psychology Today. “Be realistic as to what you put on your lists.” Then, tackle one list item at a time.

“For example, after buying gifts for your mom or significant other, take time to work out, too,” adds Bennett. “By alternating between lists, you won’t feel deprived, because you’re being good to yourself.”

A better idea? Create an “Absolute Yes.”

As Cheryl Richardson explains in her book, Take Time for Your Life: A 7-Step Program for Creating the Life you Want, by getting clear on your priorities, you’ll be inspired to use your time more efficiently. “When you practice extreme self-care and put yourself first, you are then fully available to others without resentment or anger,” she writes.

6. Go caroling.

It’s been found that if you want to get more done, you should listen to music throughout the day. However, multiple studies have also found that belting out your favorite festive tunes is integral to a healthier life.

Researchers have found that choir singers feel happier and less anxious and depressed about life. They’re also more optimistic overall about what’s to come.

What’s more, singing can forge bonds and improve immunity. Additionally, singing decelerates our heart rate and improves our lung function since we tend to take bigger and slower breaths.

7. Smell holiday scents.

Christmas trees or menorah candles can evoke pleasant childhood memories because of their distinct scent. A Japanese study also found that breathing in the scent of pine trees can reduce depression and stress.

In short, if you’re feeling stressed out, concentrate on your favorite holiday smells. It’s a simple and effective way to put you more at ease.

8. Rethink traditions.

Changing your holiday routine can be hard — especially if it’s something that you’ve always done. But it’s worth reexamining them from time to time by asking;

  • Do they still fit your lifestyle?
  • Do you and everyone in your home still enjoy them?
  • Are they causing you additional stress?

Let’s say that it’s too difficult to travel home because you have two young children. You could start a new family tradition at home or invite your nearest and dearest over to celebrate.

9. Be picky and vocal.

Although this is the perfect time to give back, you also don’t want to stretch yourself too thin. “Scale back and what you plan to do and be responsible for,” Gail Saltz, MD, psychologist, and host of the Personology podcast tells Health, “Ask for help for what needs to be done, realign expectations to something more reasonable.

Also, if you have a full plate or cluttered calendar, use delegating or outsourcing to your advantage. To make this successful, though, make sure that you follow the 6 C’s of delegation;

  • Competence. Match the right person with the task.
  • Clarity. An alignment of “what good looks like,” a timeline, and “the method of measuring success” are at a minimum.
  • Confidence. You can do this by granting autonomy, granting flexible schedules, and celebrating milestones.
  • Commitment. To get others to commit, make sure that they understand their role.
  • Checkpoint. Check-in and offer constructive feedback.
  • Continuity. Outline all daily tasks as well as repetitive processes.

Also, if you have the means, you may want to outsource whatever tasks that feel like a chore. For example, if don’t have the time to clean your home before holiday guests arrive, hire a cleaning service to do this for you.

10. Learn something new.

Sometimes the best way to fight back against stress is to distract yourself. In this case, to take your mind off holiday stress, shift your attention to something that you enjoy. For instance, if you enjoy drawing, sign-up for a virtual or in-person class.

Or, you could get a head start on your New Year’s goals. As an example, if you’ve struggled with time management in the past, you could begin exploring ways to improve this skill. As a result, you’ll be able to kick off the New Year with a bang.

11. Compartmentalize.

There can be heightened intensity in family, work, and partner interactions during the holidays. As such, this can make it a challenge to focus on work when you just had a disagreement with a family member or friend.

It’s no easy feat, but you need to let that friction go as much as possible.

Remember, don’t take anything people say personally at this time of year, as people are extra sensitive and just as stressed as you. Also, remember you can deal with anything on your mind later when everyone has cooled off and is more level-headed.

12. Prioritize self-care.

It may sound like you’re being a grinch. But, it’s imperative that you take care of yourself this time of year. Remember, you’re your most important asset.

“We need to take care of ourselves above all else,” writes Choncé Maddox in a previous Calendar article. “Make sure you are making time daily to address your self-care.”

You may choose to meditate, pray, read, journal, or even focus on a non-work-related goal. Also, give priority to passion projects as well.

“Self-care focuses on both your mental and physical health, adds Choncé. “We need to keep our health in mind and shouldn’t overwork ourselves.”

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