The Importance of Creativity in the Workplace

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Creative Mural on Building

The cornerstones of productivity are staying organized, mission-driven, and efficient. But, staying creative shouldn’t come at the expense of those pillars. On the contrary, creativity is becoming an increasingly valuable asset in the workplace for both individuals and teams.

Furthermore, the World Economic Forum states that creativity is or is related to nine of the ten skills that will define the world in 2020 and beyond. In addition to increasing confidence and collaboration, being creative increases problem-solving skills.

But that’s not all. In business, creativity has the following benefits.

Goes hand-in-hand with innovation.

Innovation requires two ingredients: novelty and utility. Unfortunately, despite the importance of creativity in generating unique and original ideas, they’re not always practical. Creative solutions, however, are essential for innovative solutions.

Leads to productivity.

Creativity fosters productivity as long as the work environment allows them to coexist. As a result, creativity can lead to productivity in the following ways:

  • Prevents getting stuck in a rut.
    • There’s nothing wrong with routines. However, sometimes you need to shake things up and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Doing so will expose you to fresh ideas and perspectives.
  • Solves bigger problems.
    • You and employees will be able to see the bigger picture and focus their energy on issues that significantly impact the company when creative thinking is encouraged. When employees can apply these efforts to bigger-picture problems rather than simply churning out work, they are more productive — and the business thrives.
  • When employees are encouraged to be creative, their workplaces will be changed for the better.
    • Motivation comes from allowing people to make a tangible, visible difference in their workplace. You don’t want to feel like a drone, mindlessly completing tasks without any apparent impact on your life.
  • People get emotionally involved in it.
    • Quite simply, work without passion is tedious — especially for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. Some people, however, require a little more motivation to spark that passion at work. Participating in the creative process empowers workers, regardless of their department or role.
  • By promoting creativity, failure becomes less likely.
    • People need the freedom to fail if they are going to foster a creative environment. Creative environments that fear failure are crippled and hamstring the flow of ideas. As a result of fear, we tend to color outside the lines, preventing us from identifying new and more effective ways of working, improving processes, streamlining operations, and creating new products.

Provides adaptability.

It may not always be necessary to adjust your business model when creatively addressing challenges. For example, to improve the efficiency of your operations, you might develop new products or services. However, don’t reject an idea because it doesn’t match the scale of a problem.

Business is a world of constant change, and adapting to it requires creative solutions.

Growth depends on it.

The idea that there is only one way to approach or interpret a situation or challenge is one of the main hindrances to a business’s growth.

It’s easy to fall into cognitive fixedness because it can be tempting to approach every situation the same way you have in the past. There are, however, differences between each situation.

A company’s leaders can stagnate if they do not take the time to understand the circumstances they face, foster creative thinking, and act on findings.

The skill is in demand.

Top industries like health care and manufacturing value creativity and innovation. It is mainly due to the complexity of challenges faced by every industry.

How to Encourage Creativity in the Workplace

So, we know that creativity is essential. But, how exactly can you encourage creativity in the workplace?

1. Schedule opportunities for creative thinking.

“Creative thinking can often be overlooked if it doesn’t get time on our calendars,” writes Nathan Rawlins in CIO. “There will always be more meetings and tasks to check off our lists, so it’s important to actually book time for creative activities.”

For example, hackathons have resulted in significant updates for our product offerings. In two to three days, teams spend a lot of time thinking creatively, collaborating, and testing out ideas outside the box. “The results are fantastic features that bring value to both the product and the company,” adds Rawlins. “Additionally, these events boost morale and demonstrate our commitment to creativity and innovation.”

2. Instill autonomy.

Increased responsibility and autonomy will likely lead to the generation of more ideas, as well as a greater sense of pride and confidence in your team’s skills.

Broadly, this could allow your team to work however they want, instead of micromanaging. More specifically, you let your team choose the agenda when meeting one-on-one.

3. Implement flexible work hours.

Consider offering flexible or work-from-home hours for specific roles requiring only an internet connection. When employees work from home, they can think more clearly, come up with more innovative ideas, and reduce their stress levels.

Establish clear expectations and guidelines to ensure steady productivity at home. And plan a flexible schedule that suits managers and their teams and the company’s requirements.

4. Don’t worry about “how.”

“Leaders unknowingly weaken their team’s creativity by focusing too early on implementation,” says Lisa Guice, Lisa Guice Global-Vision, LLC. “The fastest way to kill the creative process is by requiring your team to produce tactical solutions in tandem with creative ideas.”

This not only stifles the creative flow but also shifts the work environment into a “produce while editing” mindset, which results in a diminished individual contribution.”

5. De-silo your organization.

For innovative teamwork to take place, it is essential that a collaborative and social environment is created. Managers will notice a significant difference when they take steps to “de-silo” their organizations.

In addition to working on their own projects, employees can interact with colleagues in other departments and learn more about the company. As a result, ideas and inspiration will flow freely throughout departments, sparking workplace creativity.

Furthermore, humor is great for team building, inclusivity, and creativity.

What if you have a primarily remote or hybrid team? You might want to set up a Slack or similar chat channel called “water cooler.” By doing so, your employees can engage in some friendly office banter. Or, at the end of your team meetings, schedule time for everyone to discuss their plans for the weekend.

Playfulness creates a sense of belonging and safety, inspiring creativity.

6. Get walking.

Regarding fresh thinking, walking is one of the oldest and most effective sources. “Walking meetings” were a popular method used by Steve Jobs to foster connection and creativity with coworkers and collaborators.

In addition, Harvard Medical School researchers found that walking meetings enhanced creativity by 5.25% and engagement by 8.5%. Stanford University researchers also discovered that walking increased creative thinking by 60%. The movement itself energizes the brain, regardless of how long or where it takes place.

7. Don’t let good ideas go to waste.

Incentives should be provided to encourage employees to share their ideas. One suggestion is to implement the best ideas and to acknowledge other people’s efforts. To let the employee know you plan to implement their ideas, I suggest you personalize your message. Finally, if the change is successful, notify the team of the inspiration behind it.

To foster innovation, it is important to address and publicly commend good ideas. As a result, team members feel more inspired to share their ideas and opinions.

8. Encourage self-reflection.

You’ll find that your employees become absorbed in their work and forget the importance of what they’re doing when the workload picks up. To combat this, make check-ins for self-reflection a habit for employees. By doing this exercise, they are inspired to see things from a different perspective, both in terms of what they have achieved and what lies ahead.

Your team can also see the concrete results of their hard work and innovative solutions by sharing monthly or quarterly achievements.

9. Allow for failure.

When you ask your employees for their creative input, ensure they know you don’t expect perfection or thoroughly polished work. To be able to take risks without negative consequences, staff members need to be allowed to develop plans that go awry. The ability to fail wisely is a valuable skill for managers and companies.

“Once [employees] see, firsthand, the value of putting out what we call a ‘low-resolution prototype’ and getting feedback from a key constituent, and seeing how that direct[s] the next step, people start to become believers in that process,” explains Graham Henshaw, executive director of the Alan B. Miller Entrepreneurship Center at William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business, on the W&M Leadership and Business podcast. “[Innovators must have] an openness to risk… You’re willing to take risks where you might fail, but you learn something from that failure and move forward,” he continued, emphasizing, “[You need] a tolerance for ambiguity…you’re withholding that need for immediate closure.”

10. Set a tone of risk-taking.

Most professionals feel that their firms and departments are not taking enough risks. However, the risk is essential to enhance your business’s competitive advantage and encourage workplace creativity.

When appropriate, empower employees to make bold decisions and push them to take calculated risks instead of micromanaging them.

The Importance of Creativity in the Workplace was originally published on Calendar.com by Deanna Ritchie. Featured Image Credit: NextVoyage; Pexels. Thank you!

How to Manage the Influx of Back-to-School New Customers

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New Customers; Busy Hair Salon

Students aren’t the only ones who deal with back-to-school stress — an appointment-based business can, too. Whether you operate a hair salon or a healthcare facility, you may be affected by an increase in new customers as the school year begins. Consequently, a busier schedule is a great opportunity for business but can also lead to stress and turmoil if managed improperly.

Is your business feeling unprepared for an increase in appointments? Here are a few ways you can prepare for the influx of customers as students return to campus.

Prepare Your Staff

A happy customer starts with a happy employee. While businesses enjoy customer satisfaction, it’s important you aren’t sacrificing your employees’ happiness as a result. As a result, an increase in appointments can lead to employees deferring their own needs.

Whether it’s for a doctor’s appointment or a therapy session, make sure your employees still feel comfortable taking time off when needed. To prioritize your employees’ well-being, start by providing a healthy work environment your employees feel comfortable being a part of.

One way to reduce the stress of your employees could be to offer additional paid time off. An overstuffed schedule can lead to employee burnout.

Reward your employees for taking on ample new appointments by providing them with the relaxation they deserve. After some time off, they will come back less stressed and more welcoming toward new clients.

Offer Deals on Services

For many college students, going back to school also means relocating to another city or state. Searching for a new hair salon, doctor’s office, or therapist can be overwhelming, especially when those services are expensive.

Relieve stress for new clients on tight budgets by offering deals on your services and loyalty program discounts. Extending special appointment deals to new student clients can make them feel better about choosing your business.

Special discounts are a great reward to give as an appointment-based business.

For example, if you own a beauty salon, you could give a first-time bonus to new customers for your initial services. This could include a free eyebrow wax, bonus facial massage, or a discounted haircut. Such offers not only help your customers save money, they also allow them to become familiar with your services.

Therefore, start cycling these deals for birthdays and anniversaries to continue to pique interest in your company.

Balance Scheduled and Walk-In Appointments

The arrival of new clients can lead to long wait times, which can ultimately turn away both new and current clients. Prevent losing your customers to competitors by properly balancing your scheduled and walk-in appointments.

If you do accept walk-ins, try limiting the range of services you provide to those without a scheduled appointment.

For example, if you own a tattoo studio, only offer to accept walk-ins if the client needs a touch-up or consultation. If they’re seeking a more time-consuming service, make them an appointment for a later date. That way, you avoid increasing the wait time of customers already on your schedule.

If your business doesn’t accept walk-in appointments, make sure this is clearly stated to avoid annoying would-be customers.

Turn this policy into a positive opportunity for new customers by giving them an incentive to schedule in advance. You might provide a coupon to those who make their first appointment online or offer a bonus service for booking in advance. Either is a great way to keep your clients satisfied without overworking your employees.

Keep Information Updated and Relevant

Save your customers hassle by ensuring your business’s information is updated and easily accessible.

Try looking at your business from a client perspective to see where your company can improve. Review your company website to see whether it states your current business hours and provides the location information they need to visit your business.

Update any required online customer information forms and ensure all links navigate to the correct pages. Many times, your online presence is your customer’s first impression of your business. Avoid phone calls from confused prospects by tidying up your site’s information.

To remain relevant to your new customers, your business must stay current with the latest technologies.

Update any outdated tech so that you can handle more customer traffic without the pain of slow response times or server crashes. Robust appointment software that enables automated email reminders and calendar sync options can make your business run more smoothly.

With help from these technologies, you can take on more customers and retain old ones, thereby increasing business revenue.

Appreciate Your Increased Business

Back-to-school season is a great time to boost revenue and build loyalty among customers and employees.

It can also be a joyful experience for college students, as they embrace the adventure of a new school year. You’ll do right by customers new and old if you prepare your business for the influx and attend to your staff’s needs. By following the tips above, you can optimize your back-to-school customer experience.

Featured Image Credit: David Geib; Pexels.com. Thank you!

How Not to Dread Returning to Work After Time Off

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Office Worker Slumped Over Desk

How did you spend your recent vacation? Did you soak up the sun at the beach or go hiking in the mountains? Maybe you backpacked through Europe, took a family road trip, or simply had a relaxing staycation. Everything seems to be going well until you realize that returning to work awaits you on the last day of vacation. And, it starts with a capital W.

No. Your mind isn’t playing tricks on you. We all hate going back to work after vacation. In fact, it’s a phenomenon that’s been studied numerous times. As an example, a Zapier / Harris Poll found that 87% of knowledge workers dread returning to work after taking a vacation.

But, why? The following tasks are among the most dreaded.

  • Reestablishing a routine – 37 percent.
  • Getting caught up with administrative tasks – 31 percent.
  • Feeling overwhelmed by busy work – 27 percent.
  • Post-vacation blues – 27 percent.
  • Dealing with piles of unread emails/messages – 26 percent.
  • Being overwhelmed by a busy schedule – 25 percent.
  • Not being in the loop about tasks – 23 percent.
  • Catching up on missed work while feeling unproductive – 20 percent.
  • Missing an important decision made while they were away – 18 percent.
  • A delay in a project caused by their absence – 18 percent.
  • Having trouble managing their projects – 17 percent.

Hanging On to Vacation Benefits Upon Return

Psychologist Jeroen Nawijn, who has studied how vacations affect the quality of life, tells Popular Science that people generally feel rejuvenated after a vacation. However, these benefits tend to disappear after they return home. “They most likely feel best during vacation because they have more freedom to do what they want,” he explains.

Suzanne Degges-White, a therapist at Northern Illinois University and chair of the department of counseling and higher education, agrees. “Once we get back into the work world, the majority of us have to answer to someone about what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and when we’ll be done,” she says.

In addition, she says that going on vacation doesn’t alleviate all of our responsibilities and quandaries. “Many people dread the return as they know that problems may have stacked up in their absence. There may be a pile of new requests of their time on top of the unfinished tasks they left behind,” Degges-White explains.

Additionally, she points out the impact of switching from a more flexible sleep schedule on vacation to a more rigid and regimented bedtime schedule during the week. Moreover, overeating (and drinking, if that is your thing) can lead to sluggishness. And, it can also negatively impact wellbeing.

At the same time, you don’t have to let the good times go after the vacation has ended.

1. Plan before you go.

Before leaving for vacation, prepare for returning to work.

As soon as you begin planning your vacation, you should consider what potential problems or events could distract you. Also, don’t wait until the last minute to start any big projects. Be sure to complete any urgent tasks before you depart if there are any deadlines during your absence.

If you’re going away, plan ahead and get your team to assist you while you’re away. I’d also suggest that you reciprocate while they are away.

Some other tips include:

  • Tackle your priorities ASAP.
  • Don’t burn yourself out before your vacation.
    • There’s nothing like front-loading what you can. “But, you still need to take breaks to rest and recharge,” he advises. “If I know, I have an upcoming vacation, I might put in a couple more hours of work each day.”
  • Clean your plate, don’t add more.
    • In Max’s case, this means not taking on any new assignments until he gets back home. “I also cut back on the number of meetings I accept so that I can focus mainly on my work.”

One final suggestion. Don’t forget to schedule your vacation days.

Let clients and coworkers know you’ll be away. If you’re on vacation, they should be respectful of your absence. It is unlikely that you will be bothered by people if they know you are on vacation — especially if you have given them several weeks’ notice.

2. Don’t disappear completely.

It may make more sense to be “largely” disconnected — even if the original idea is to completely disconnect.

That doesn’t mean you should scrap out-of-office messages altogether. Still, you might want to check your email periodically. In this way, you can stay up to date on what’s happening in the office. And, this also prevents your inbox from getting too cluttered.

Additionally, some messages may require your response. For example, as a freelancer, you may want to reply to potential clients about how long you are away. If you are available, let them know. Or, perhaps you can refer them to someone who can help.

3. Schedule a buffer day.

Whenever you are considering how many leave days to take off, consider a buffer day or two as well. It’s these days that give you a chance to reorient yourself at home after your vacation. For example, when you get home, you can unpack, do laundry, bond with your pets, and go shopping for essentials.

In short, having a buffer day gives you time to unpack your bags, do your laundry, go grocery shopping, and prep your meals for the week instead of doing so after work.

4. Check your calendar.

Make sure you check your calendar the day before you return to work so you are not surprised by unforeseen meetings or tasks. If you do encounter unexpected surprises, consider whether you can handle them without too much preparation.

And, if possible, postpone them until you can contribute meaningfully.

5. Stay in stealth mode.

Your boss, colleagues, clients, and immediate reports may be aware that you’ve returned. In any case, there is no harm in waiting a couple of days before broadcasting your return to the real world.

Why? With selective stealth, you can catch up and return to normal life without being rushed or distracted.

6. Divide your first day back into time blocks.

Break up your first day back at work after vacation into blocks of time. And, don’t forget to take regular breaks. One rule of thumb is the 52/17 Rule. Here you would work for 52-minutes and then take 17-minutes.

On your first day back at work, do not feel pressured to work hard. Once you’ve returned from vacation, it’s important to give your body and mind some time to adjust. And, time blocks can do just that while also helping you focus on your priorities.

7. Get organized.

Getting organized is the first thing you should do when you return to work. For some, this might mean putting yourself in a good physical or mental state. As such, you might want to engage in some physical activity to release endorphins.

Keeping your office or workspace tidy is another suggestion. This should also be done before you leave for vacation, so you’ll be able to return to a clean work environment. If not, use your post-vacation to clean and organize this area. Or, use this as an excuse to finally spruce up your workspace.

8. Make work fun.

Use your first week back to accomplish things you actually enjoy. Maybe this could be scheduling lunch with a coworker where you exchange vacation stories. Or, you could embrace gamification in the workplace.

You can also make work fun with these practices.

  • Start the day with a playlist that gets you pumped and motivated.
  • Review your past accomplishments and track the progress of your goals.
  • Decorate your workspace.
  • Put on clothes that will make you happier and more confident at work.
  • Bring your dog to work — or let them stay with you in your home office.
  • Whenever you complete a task on your to-do list, reward yourself with a healthy snack or victory lap outside.
  • Plan an out-of-work activity with coworkers.

9. Don’t go full throttle.

You shouldn’t be too rigid about what you expect for your return to work — whether you plan to take it easy or jump right into the fire. After all, there’s a possibility that your plan for a slow and easy return may turn out to be a lot faster than you expect.

Make time for self-care, pace yourself, and ask for extensions when necessary. You will be less stressed and less overwhelmed if you are kind to yourself during this transition.

10. Take a piece of your vacation with you to work.

When you return to work after vacation, bring a souvenir that is appropriate for the office, such as a coffee mug, mouse pad, pen, desk ornament, or framed picture of your trip. It has been found that recalling vacations and other adventures can provide great pleasure, according to UC Riverside psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book, Myths of Happiness.

A souvenir can bring back happy memories that can motivate you through the daily monotony of your work.

How Not to Dread Returning to Work After Time Off was originally published on Calendar.com by Albert Costill. Featured Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska; Pexels.com. Thank you!

The Most Important Ingredient in Successful Webinars

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Woman Presenting a Webinar on Chemistry

What is the most important ingredient in a successful webinar, and how will you spice up yours? If you really want to be a downer — call your exciting, fun, online learning event a webinar.

Somehow we’ve learned along the way that work should be just that — work — and that having pleasure is somehow incompatible with getting everything done at work. Fun, especially at work, is frivolous and unprofessional, according to some. As a result, even having fun working makes it unsuitable for serious business people.

What’s the attendance rate at fabulous online learning events like?

The majority of webinars are uninteresting. When was the last time you went to a webinar that made you feel energized, successful, and ready to up your productivity game? You’re likely more inclined to call your webinar uninteresting. Here are a couple more webinar adjectives: Bland. Beige. Boring. And boredom is like poison — it deteriorates mental health and learning, according to scientists.

Boredom is an abnormal condition for the brain; thus, any activity that keeps you from being bored is healthy.

Why are webinars so uninteresting?

Webinars don’t seem to be all that different from previous online meetings, for starters. We can go from a team meeting to a learning webinar and have the same experience.

Webinar designers and presenters often don’t approach their job with a unique perspective; it’s simply another task on their to-do list. However, having a good time should be one of the host’s primary goals. Having fun while learning provides unique cognitive resources, correlates reward and pleasure with knowledge, and toggles abstract thought and concentrated attention — according to Cognition Today.

“People tend to forget the majority of webinars. Many are in the category of “forgotten” soon after you’ve attended them. Positive emotions extend our attention capacity and help us pull additional mental resources, and boost access to memory networks,” Cognition Today continues.

Most online presentations do not elicit favorable feelings and are not very engaging. These speakers, bosses, and assigned team members seem to have a bad attitude about attending their own event — and they aren’t enjoyable in the least.

However, having pleasure, social contact, and sensory engagement during a learning process increases neuronal alterations. That is to say, it stimulates numerous brain areas to store a high level of information throughout one event.

Why work harder?

Webinars can provide additional benefits. Inherently, the webinar presenter has to work much harder than in in-person learning programs, necessitating special consideration in their design and execution. They have to work harder because, by design, these presenters are to accommodate, even promote, distraction. But how much extra time and initiative would it take to make it a happy distraction?

When you’re in a room with other people, multitasking is less possible. Furthermore, there’s some social pressure to keep you from doing so. Multitasking seems to be a good notion while you’re sitting at home in front of your laptop or phone screen. And our do-it-all, busy-ness society makes it very difficult to resist distracting ourselves.

“A society that values productivity implies that grownups have less time to goof around,” writes Stuart Brown, a Stanford consulting professor in Johns Hopkins Magazine. “It’s a matter of public health. Although we may believe we are ultra-productive, just 2% of individuals can multitask well.”

But — during a webinar — you feel like multitasking in any way possible. “Where are my games? Can I watch a reel without being seen? And holy cannoli  — I can’t take this meeting one more minute.”

So, if you’re the creator of webinars or you create and deliver webinars — what does all of this knowledge and neuroscience of learning data mean to you?

Pump up the joy.

If you want to provide something successful, you must blatantly pump up the joy, human connection, and interactivity. When you finally decide to engage your audience, you’ll distinguish yourself from your colleagues. You can spur your team and employees to greatness — and likely deposit a large sum of money into your brand bank account when you take the time to pump up the joy.

Here’s how to make your webinars unique and captivating.

Make your stuff attractive.

Instead of words, consider images and video. Vary your material as much as possible, using statistics, ideas, thoughts, stories, and other elements. To engage both halves of the brain and make your material remember, tell tales. Make sure that 85 percent of your slides have no more than 15 words on them.

Use your slides as a teleprompter. To keep it lively, use animations and transitions.

Increase the humor.

“If you’re looking for indicators that you’re having fun, one of them could be laughing,” said Robert Provine, a neuroscientist and psychology professor at the University of Maryland. When was the last time you burst out laughing in the middle of a webinar? People will be delighted and hooked to your presentation if you use hilarious short films, Instagram reels, pertinent jokes, and exciting tales.

Create a sense of belonging.

Most professionals do not want to disappoint their coworkers. Participants are more likely to connect, support one another, and learn and develop as a team when the webinar leader is visionary. The leader allows the development of cohorts, groups, and partners. You also allow everyone to have a good time.

Throw in a breakout to assist in fostering a stronger cohesiveness and involvement with your team. Even a one-hour webinar may include one or two entertaining breakout sessions.

Boost interaction and engagement by increasing the number of people who interact with you.

When individuals are doing something rather than watching something, it is easier to hold their attention. Fill the webinar with competitions, polls, whiteboards, hand raising, Q&A, and other activities to keep people engaged. The more you change things up, the more interested your team will be. If you’re doing webinars for clients? Watch your customer retention stats for your services and predict what will happen next.

Increase the entertainment value of your presentation, and your audience will be hooked to your display, oblivious to even the most urgent email pings.

The Most Important Ingredient in Successful Webinars was originally published on Calendar by Angela Ruth.

Featured Image Credit: CottonBro; Pexels. Thank you!

How to Make Time for the Most Important Meal of the Day

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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. People try something different, but the science keeps telling us breakfast is important.

We’ve all heard the advice before — “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” However, most of us laugh it off and do not take the notion seriously. And what about all of the intermittent fasting people? Is that a health fad that’s going to be a problem down the road for many people? So why would breakfast be more important than lunch or dinner?

Rush University Medical Center reports that the phrase actually stands true. Eating a healthy breakfast is an excellent start to your day. It can increase metabolism, improve your focus, and serve as a boost of vitamin and mineral intake. In addition, you’re less likely to be caught snacking throughout the day.

The Cleveland Clinic says that people who skip breakfast have a 55% higher chance of getting Type 2 diabetes. One reason you don’t want to skip breakfast is that eating a morning meal speeds up your metabolism, meaning you burn more calories throughout the day. So in other words, this means breakfast can actually keep you from gaining extra weight, provided you eat healthy meals.

Unfortunately, many adults say they skip breakfast simply because they can’t find the time in the mornings. However, you don’t need to have a fancy, sit-down breakfast every day. Even simple, on-the-go options can be nutritious.

So what can you do to make more time in the mornings for the most important meal of the day? Here are some tips to get the most out of your morning meal time.

1. Establish a morning routine.

Creating a morning routine is one of the most significant improvements you can make to your schedule. Adding some structure to the mornings can help you feel more rested, confident, and prepared for the day ahead. In fact, successful people are known to recommend a morning routine as a leading contributor to their success.

Start by figuring out the major tasks you need to complete in the early hours before work. Showering, getting dressed, and brushing your teeth should be priorities! If you like morning runs, make sure to configure that into your schedule.

Speaking of schedules, creating a to-do list for the mornings is a great way to keep yourself on task. You’re less likely to forget things or get distracted. Want a digital checklist? There is excellent scheduling software to choose from, and the ease of access will make you more likely to use it.

2. Meal prep is key.

Planning ahead is crucial if you want to maximize your time in the mornings. One way to do this is meal prepping. Sometimes it can be hard to wake up earlier to cook an excellent breakfast. But what if you didn’t have to get up extra early to have a nice meal?

Preparing your breakfast in advance can help with conserving your precious morning hours. You can prepare as much or as little ahead as you want. Depending on how much time you want to spend on cooking, you can choose to pre-cook elements of your meal. For example, you could cook bacon the night before and use it the next day in your omelet. Eggs are much faster to cook than bacon!

A great way to plan your morning meals ahead of time is to schedule your breakfasts. Decide what you will make on each day of the week. This way, you won’t have to decide in the mornings. As mentioned above, cook certain foods in advance so you can easily reheat them or incorporate them into more elaborate foods.

Meal prepping is also perfect for helping you eat healthier. You eat better when you’re not rushed in the mornings and grab your breakfast on the way out the door. Have you always wanted to make a fruit smoothie but never had the time? Make one the night before! Using fruits like bananas and strawberries are excellent sources of vitamins, and adding protein powder is perfect to keep you full and energized.

3. Go to bed earlier.

Benjamin Franklin knew what he was talking about when he said: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” But seriously, how can you expect to be ready to go in the mornings if you stay up past midnight?

Creating a healthy sleep schedule is necessary for waking up feeling refreshed. The Mayo Clinic says adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night. So make sure you’re treating your body right by getting enough hours.

What if you’re so used to going to sleep late? There are many tips out there to help your body adjust to an earlier bedtime. These could include using lavender essential oils or engaging in a relaxing activity, like listening to calming music.

Without proper sleep, you can’t expect to feel great naturally when you wake up. So get to bed earlier and make time for a yummy breakfast!

4. Use a slow cooker.

Slow cookers are fantastic tools for making low-effort yet delicious meals. They do all the cooking for you while you sit back and relax. Or, maybe while you’re at work. Most people use them for dinner, but why not use them for breakfast?

Most slow cooker recipes require the food to cook anywhere from four to eight hours, which means you can cook breakfast overnight. This takes time off your hands in the mornings. Instead of making your meal when you wake up, all you’ll need to do is dish up your plate!

There are many slow cooker breakfast recipes out there to try. From breakfast casseroles, to oatmeal, to cinnamon rolls, there’s bound to be something you’ll enjoy. Not to mention, slow cookers can be purchased at a relatively low price. This is a great way to schedule your meals while also freeing up more of your time in the morning.

5. Do all you can the night before.

Another way to give yourself more wiggle room in the A.M. is to prepare your tasks in advance. It’s like meal prepping, but instead, you’re prepping yourself!

Pick out your outfit the night before. Set out any products you use to groom yourself (deodorant, hairspray, etc.). Prepare any work-related items that you’ll need for the next day. For example, if you’re a teacher, this could mean printing out worksheets or grading papers.

In other words, organizing your home in ways that make it easier to grab what you need in the morning is an excellent idea. Knowing exactly where everything is and having things visually laid out means you’re less likely to forget something you need. Additionally, you’re less likely to feel rushed, and therefore stressed, while getting ready.

Don’t rush yourself.

Remember, scheduling your mornings to be more efficient means you should be taking away from your stress. Planning shouldn’t feel like a nightmare. Make things easier, not harder, on yourself. Try out different routines until you find one that feels best.

Make sure you’re scheduling time for a nutritious morning meal. Even if you prepare ahead of time, without a good schedule, there might not be time to sit down and eat. You don’t want to have to scarf down that delicious breakfast in the car without being able to enjoy it.

Most importantly, don’t rush in the mornings. This adds stress to your life, and you want to eliminate it as much as possible. Mornings shouldn’t have to be hectic. Make that to-do list. Scramble those eggs before bed to reheat in the morning. Schedule your time wisely. After all, the first step toward success is enjoying the day’s most important meal.

How to Make Time for the Most Important Meal of the Day was originally published on Calendar by Angela Ruth. Featured Image Credit: Photo by Daria Shevtsova; Pexels; Thank you!

4 Ways Businesses Can Expand Their Payment Options

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Expand Payment Options

Part of catering to customers’ needs is offering flexible and convenient ways to pay. Sometimes the difference between making a sale and not is a payment selection clients can work with. Whether you strictly stick to services or also sell products, increasing your payment options can also expand your customer base.

At the same time, balancing business and client needs is essential. It may not be practical or cost-effective to offer some solutions if setup and maintenance expenses are too high. Frequency of client use, transaction fees, and chargeback risks are considerations every owner should evaluate. Most importantly, payment options must make sense for individual appointment-based business models. Below are four ways to expand customers’ payment choices.

1. Set Up Mobile Payments

Mobile payments can cover everything from digital wallets and peer-to-peer payment services to QR codes. These options make it easier for customers without traditional bank accounts and debit cards to submit payments. With the rise in the gig economy and money management alternatives, mobile payments also offer clients additional flexibility.

Some customers may have conventional checking accounts where they manage part of their income. However, they might also do side work and have supplemental income that goes into peer-to-peer or digital wallet accounts. These clients may prefer to pay for services like haircuts and home repairs with their side income. Online and in-store mobile payments make the process simpler since customers don’t have to move money between accounts.

Survey research shows that 71% of U.S. consumers have used a mobile wallet to make payments in the last year. The convenience of not carrying a physical wallet or purse may be part of the appeal. Other factors that make mobile payments attractive are their contactless nature and enhanced security. Customers don’t have to exchange card details or account information. Businesses, however, have to consider transaction fees and the possibilities of chargebacks.

2. Offer Electronic Invoicing

Electronic invoicing is a way to bill clients after they’ve received a company’s services.

Say your business provides in-home maintenance services related to plumbing or electrical wiring. Customers schedule appointments for these services on your website and receive confirmations with a technician’s details. Often, the extent of the problem and the appropriate fix aren’t known until the day the tech shows up.

Before property owners pay, they want to ensure work is done properly and everything’s working. It may take a few days after the job is done for clients to verify nothing else is wrong. Sending invoices via email after technicians complete the work gives customers that time and lets them submit payments securely.

Customers don’t have to exchange credit card or checking account information directly with someone they may not know. Electronic invoices also save employees time at a customer’s location. Repair technicians don’t have to collect and verify payment details or ensure they have a good cellular data connection. They can inform the customer they’ll receive an invoice in their email and move on to the next job. Business risks include delayed payments and write-offs.

3. Give Recurring or Automatic Payment Options

Repeat customers who come in frequently or purchase ongoing services might prefer recurring or automatic payments. With these options, clients can set up which account they want a business to charge each time they buy something. For example, a pet daycare and boarding facility can offer recurring payments for clients who use the services weekly.

Instead of collecting payment for each visit, the facility can charge the person’s account. The frequency could also be set according to client preferences or business needs. For instance, the facility might apply charges on a rolling 30-day basis. The business might charge for monthly boarding and daycare visits at once, giving customers an easier way to budget.

Recurring or automatic payments can also work well for gyms, dance studios, house cleaning services, and ongoing care facilities. One of the biggest advantages of routine payment options is they’re convenient for the customer and the business. Neither side has to remember to send or collect payment. Yet some of the same risks and costs that occur with manual payments still apply. These include insufficient funds, fees, chargebacks, and fraudulent transactions.

4. Provide Payment Plans

While some services don’t cost much, others do. Significant expenses can make customers delay their purchases and major projects. Others won’t be able to fit these costs into their budgets without ways to make smaller payments over time. Offering payment plans or same-as-cash credit options can help businesses overcome the affordability obstacle.

For instance, a painting service may perform a variety of jobs that vary in cost. Some requests will run a few hundred dollars, while others will go into the thousands. Clients may appreciate options to pay off the work over six months or even a year. Payment plans give customers flexibility and ease the pain of paying for much-needed services.

Some businesses may choose to manage payment plans in-house or work with a service that extends on-demand credit to clients. Either way, working within customers’ budgets can bring in more business and expand market reach. However, payment plans may require more follow-up and some degree of automation. The risks of write-offs and slow payments exist. Credit services might also mean more transaction fees and reduced revenues for businesses.

Expanding Payment Solutions

When businesses offer more payment options, their services are more likely to appeal to a wider customer base. Flexibility, affordability, and security often represent clients’ top needs. Giving customers choices beyond cash and conventional credit and debit cards shows a business is willing to accommodate those desires. Alternatives, such as mobile wallets and payment plans, can give service providers another way to stand out from the competition.

Featured Image Credit: Yan Krukov, Pexels. Thank you!

4 Ways to Inspire and Motivate Employees

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motivate and inspire employees

Managing a team of employees is one of the greatest challenges when it comes to running a business. Workers can’t be consigned to a spreadsheet and assigned responsibilities that are fulfilled without question. To motivate your employees, they need considerably more care — which they deserve! — but they’re also the backbone of your business.

Given the continued tight labor market, businesses throughout the country have taken a variety of approaches to retaining critical employees. Some have offered creative benefits such as reimbursements for streaming services or discount programs for local restaurants. Others have provided onsite services such as an in-house coffee shop or a company gym.

What often succeeds better than any of that is striving to keep your employees engaged and motivated in their work.

You should be constantly seeking different means of motivating, inspiring, and empowering your workforce. If you’re always looking for ways to keep them engaged, you won’t encounter as many productivity ruts. The following are a few motivational tips you can try out to give your team a push forward.

1. Encourage Days Off

When trying to motivate your employees to work harder, encouraging them to take time off might not be your first thought. Yet this is exactly what you should be doing.

Employees who are able to consistently take time off tend to be happier and more well-rested. This equates to more engaged workers during the hours they are clocked in.

Numerous studies have shown that the best-performing employees usually have a healthy work-life balance. They’re not as worried about their families or disappointed that they are too busy to pursue hobbies.

When an organization enables this sort of balance, it gets repaid by maximum effort when employees are at work.

There are several ways you can encourage your team members to take time off. Give your employees vacation time and urge them to use it annually. Improve your workflows so that they don’t have to work nights and weekends. Conduct cross-training so other colleagues can pick up the slack when employees take some time for themselves. These efforts will enable employees to return to their tasks with greater focus and energy.

2. Host Team Events

If your employees work in a team environment, you should always be trying to encourage team bonding. Team members who understand and trust each other work more effectively. Additionally, having a close relationship with co-workers can make work days feel shorter and more enjoyable.

Team lunches and group training sessions will allow employees to grow closer together. Trusting that your teammates are capable and will pull their weight can be quite encouraging. Team training can help each worker feel like they can perform their job properly and feel motivated to do so.

Perhaps more valuable than work activities are team events held outside of the office. These are opportunities for your team to connect without everything being about workplace responsibilities. Consider taking employees and their families to the park or buying baseball tickets for the entire team as an outing.

3. Spruce Up the Office

The environment in which your employees work has a great effect on their motivation. Bland, bare walls won’t be cause for much inspiration. A little additional light and color can go a long way toward boosting employee morale.

You don’t have to resort to a new paint job to lighten up your office, though. Start with your actual lighting. Do you have natural light coming in? Have you lit your rooms well, or do you need to install some new fixtures? Even an additional desk or floor lamp can brighten the place up.

Other ways to spruce up your office include a colorful paint job, some green plants, or new amenities in the break room. Employees who feel comfortable at work will have more energy in the office they spend so much time in.

4. Offer Incentives

Even with a gelled team and a convivial environment, a little extra push every now and then won’t hurt.

Employee incentives are a great way to spur some extra motivation within your team. They give team members something to strive toward, which is very helpful when the routine nature of work begins to wear them down.

Arranging a friendly competition is a common and effective way companies can offer incentives. Whoever is able to close the most sales or complete the most project tasks can win a prize. If this is the route you choose, make sure everyone feels fairly treated, or their momentum may quickly hit a wall.

Individual development incentives require a more hands-on approach but may be even more motivational. Set benchmarks and incentives for each individual employee to reward them for exceeding past performance. Competing against themselves can be just as inspiring as competition with others.

Remember that your employees are human beings with needs and desires. If they feel like these aren’t being addressed in your workplace, they’ll be willing to look somewhere else.

To retain your best people, seek to motivate all of your employees and make sure they feel fulfilled in their work. They will reciprocate with improved productivity, making your efforts well worth the investment.

Image Credit: Fauxels; Pexels; Thanks! 

The Key to a Strong Morning Routine Starts at Night

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Your Morning Routine Starts at Night

Not everyone is a morning person. There are many reasons why this might be the case. However, it shouldn’t become a scapegoat for a sorry attitude and lack of productivity each morning. We can all do a little more to make our mornings manageable.

Many so-called “morning people” have found success through daily routines. The routine gets them into a groove that makes starting each day simple and easy. Developing your own daily routine can help you become more of a morning person or at least less of a morning monster.

The important thing to note here is that a strong morning routine doesn’t begin with the sound of an alarm clock. If you want each morning to be successful, you need to start things off the right way the night before. Here are just some of the things you should be doing at night and why they can help you have a great morning.

Stop Staying Up

As Benjamin Franklin said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” While you won’t wake up with a couple of extra IQ points this way, this saying bears a lot of truth. With a regular job, you can’t control when you have to wake up in the morning. What you do have control over is when you get to bed.

The average adult needs at least seven hours of sleep a night. If you’re constantly waking up at 6:30 in the morning, that means you should be sound asleep by 11:30 P.M. To accomplish that, you might need to be in bed with the lights out by 11. Your evening routine should accommodate that timeline.

Try to estimate how long your nightly routine will take. You shouldn’t begin winding down at the time you wish you were asleep; it should start much earlier. You can even time your desired nightly routine to ensure you’re ready for bed in time to get enough sleep.

Turn Off Your Devices

Putting your phone away at night takes a lot of self-control. Admittedly, scrolling through funny videos while lying in bed can be pretty enjoyable. But, unfortunately, late-night screen time can ruin your morning routine before it even begins.

For starters, you can easily get sucked into social media and stay up much later than you originally intended. The later you are awake, the fewer hours of sleep you get. The fewer hours of sleep you get, the harder it will be to wake up in the morning. Feeling grumpy and sluggish in the morning will push your routine all over the place.

The second reason being on your phone at night is terrible for you is because of the blue light. This light, emitted by electronic screens, has been linked to increased rates of attention and reaction times. This is all well and good during the day, but it can get you wired up at night. An extra attentive brain is not going to settle down easily.

Watch What You Eat

If you usually eat an early dinner, right before bed is when you’re going to feel a little snackish. This can be dangerous if not handled properly. Late-night snacking can be bad for your health and your sleep schedule, making it more challenging to begin the next day on the right foot.

Your body doesn’t process food as well while you’re sleeping. So instead of burning calories through regular activity, you’ll store more fat and gain weight more quickly. This can also disturb your circadian rhythm, which is the natural way your body falls asleep and wakes up each day.

What you consume is just as important as when you do. For example, drinking caffeine or alcohol late at night can make it difficult to fall asleep and get enough rest for the following day. Food with high sugar content can also cause some issues, even if they are delicious.

Some foods and beverages are actually suitable for consumption before bed. Cherries, for example, have natural melatonin. Likewise, a cup of tea before bed can help you to relax as long as it doesn’t also contain caffeine.

Plan Ahead

Have you ever lay awake in bed stressing over the events of tomorrow? Unfortunately, this exercise doesn’t usually end up being all that productive. Instead of repeatedly experiencing an existential crisis each night, you should incorporate some planning into your nightly routine. This will help you follow a consistent sleep schedule and set the stage for a solid morning routine.

There are quite a few things you can do at night that make mornings easier. You can pick your outfit for the next day and have it ready and waiting. Pack up anything you’ll need for school or work, so you don’t forget something important during a morning scramble.

You can also go over your schedule for the following day. Got a meeting planned for the first thing in the morning? Get it confirmed the evening prior. A simple confirmation can put your mind at ease and allow you to drift into slumber free from worry.

Fall Into a Routine

Keeping a consistent schedule is perhaps more critical than when you go to bed and wake up each day. Your body cannot adjust to a sporadic sleep schedule. You won’t feel as rested when you wake up at different times each day on varying hours of sleep.

This is an essential point for those who operate on schedules that stray from the norm. Those who work nights, for instance, can’t be expected to wake up at 6 A.M. when that’s the end of their shift. Instead, these individuals will benefit significantly from a consistent sleep schedule that fits their needs.

After a few days, you can start to adjust your own circadian rhythms. Even though you’re working through the night or following another irregular schedule, you can feel awake and refreshed every day. Routines can also help you quickly adjust to different time zones while traveling for business or leisure.

Work on Your Timing

There are plenty of beneficial activities. Sometimes the problem lies in the timing of it all. Moving some activities from night to morning, or vice versa is a small yet simple way to make a huge impact.

Exercise is a prime example. Getting proper daily exercise is vital for your health. However, exercise right before bed can pump your body with adrenaline, making it difficult to fall asleep. So switch that routine to the morning instead, and you’ll wake up your body for the day.

Evening exercise, on the other hand, may be the best of both worlds. It’s early enough that you still have time to calm down for nighttime. You’ll also burn some extra energy, so by the time bedtime actually rolls around; you’ll be sincerely tired. It’s all in the timing.

Consistency cannot be understated when it comes to any one of these takeaways. If you don’t stick with a plan for long, you won’t reap the benefits. Craft a strategy using this guide and plot your progress over a month. You should begin to see how evening and morning routines start to help you feel progressively better.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Maria Tyutina; Pexels; Thank you!

The Key to a Strong Morning Routine Starts at Night was originally published on Calendar.com by Max Palmer.

The Power of Simplicity: Avoiding Workplace Complications

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simplicity

It’s not always easy to achieve simplicity. What does that mean, and why? We make most things in our lives difficult, and they don’t have to be. Life is simple, but we persist in making it complicated. — So said Confucius in 500 B.C.

Firstly, life may be more difficult for you because of the tremendous flood of information and technology. Simplicity has become impossible, especially in businesses. For instance. Try scheduling a Zoom meeting at the last minute — what happens?

How We Complicate It All

Consider the daily barrage of elements: calendar invitations, metrics, measurements, methods to account for things, technology, too many permissions, paperwork, unnecessary tasks, etc. We often generate complication instead of simplicity. We generate it by over-correcting and creating exceptions — and staying in meeting-mania-mode.

Secondly, some people make up for poor performers with crazy workarounds. We frequently over-engineer solutions to make people feel better about participating in a process. Much of it is superfluous — but really, it’s us.

The technique of complicated workarounds has several drawbacks: weariness, lack of results, dissatisfaction, shattered passion, execution expenses, and employees leaving companies.

Or could this be you? Talk for about a half-hour, then send a letter of agreement to finalize the sale.

What is the cost of making that choice in any company? Multiply that amount by all of their choices. And all of their meetings.

Why Simplicity Helps Businesses

Businesses that aim for simplicity have an edge. Here is one lesson learned in the 1990s. The mortgage application procedure was excruciating for prospective customers. Consequently, the banks and lenders just blew up the process, making it more client-friendly, and they were able to see tremendous growth.

Use a Devotion to Simplicity

The evidence backs this up. Heidrick & Struggles studied Fortune 500 “super accelerators” and discovered devotion to simplicity. They incorporate simplicity as a way of living, thinking, and working — and this allows them swiftly identify and reallocate resources to the essential opportunities, the report’s authors wrote. Teams who followed these rules fared better financially. Simplicity pays.

Think: Fast. Simple. Good. Done.

This is the foundation of a “Fast. Simple. Good. Done” mentality with clients and employees and a game-changing mentality that combines these four interconnected components to boost performance. Change to this motto and see the results.

How To Be Simple

Experts frequently tell customers to act as a private equity business. History or connections do not bind customers, so they may make various simple judgments about how they do their tasks. However, this is a liberating and powerful perspective for your work. Moreover, many of us feel the influence of our emotions trickle into our actions and choices.

Think: Simplify now or sink later.

To meet simple, we must think differently. Many experts typically have groups of ten people pass a ball around in a circle, stressing it must contact each person’s hands.

Try this game with your team.

Managers schedule their first round and give them some planning time. Some experts have many groups do this little exercise simultaneously to make it competitive. Then we celebrate the winner. When the advice is to reduce their time in half, the room erupts, and they experiment and typically succeed. Next, some experts instruct the team to double their time.

Now they say the manager (boss) is insane. Finally, the victorious team should join hands and have one person sweep the ball around, touching the hands (this is what you want the team to finally come to.

Think: We must alter our mentality. Simplicity will win, hands down.

How?

1. Take a figurative weed-whacker to your old methods. Be brutal as you simplify.

That is to say, don’t hold back simply because that’s how you’ve always done it.

2. Communicate concisely.

Moreover, say anything you want to say on a bumper sticker.

3. Consider your audience.

The point of reference is usually a bright, retired 95-year-old mother. However, is it basic enough for her to grasp even if she has no prior experience?

4. Simplify all decision-making.

Who is the lowest-level decision-maker?

5. Aim for outcomes. Simplicity goals.

However, time is money, so act appropriately.

6. Define your requirements.

Do we need it? What can we do? How can we speed up? Re-purpose the surplus for good.

7. Get a review of your processes.

Examine it with a neutral party. One who believes in simplicity.

8. Be brave in the scene cuts. No excess talk or processes at work.

Say no to complications.

9. Accept flaws.

The pursuit of perfection is costly. One and done is a good motto. Or, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

10. Lastly, review your to-do list and prioritize chores.

That is to say, remove meetings, reports, etc., and observe whether anybody notices/needs them.

Defend simplicity.

Expert opinion advises that your firm, workers, and shareholders will benefit greatly from shaving down the minutes needed on processes, in meetings, and on perfect projects.

Think: Like a Zen Master.

How simple can you make scheduling a meeting? And then, how can you introduce disruptive simplicity into each meeting? Impossible? Unproductive? UnAmerican? Nonsense. Decide to be one of the greatest business executives — and think like a Zen master.

Think: Like Henry Ford.

For instance, Henry Ford set an egg time in meetings. Ten minutes. When it went off, he left. Anything left undecided or unexplained went to him as a memo. Ford executives were known for the brevity of their meetings. And Henry laughed all the way to the bank. You can do the same.

Image Credit: Anna Nekrashevich; Pexels; Thank you!

The Power Of Simplicity: Avoiding Workplace Complications was originally published on Calendar by Abby Miller.

How to Make Remote Team Meetings Shorter and Better

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remote team meetings

Virtual team meetings are essential for remote team collaboration and productivity: they serve as a venue for aligning on shared goals. And, yes — it’s a venue. The team needs to understand that this virtual meeting spot is your hangout, your space, your place, and your venue. This information tells them — we meet here; we belong here.

It doesn’t take much to undermine the magic when team meetings don’t work.

Meetings with no purpose or organization are not only a waste of time, but they also stifle employee productivity and irritate employees. It’s no surprise that many people find meetings inconvenient, boring, useless, and just too frequent.

Do you want your employees to feel that way about your meetings? You want your team to be happy, productive, and active in their work community.

So here we are, with some practical suggestions for doing shorter, more productive meetings while avoiding the common pitfalls of remote work. You want high performance.

1. Should we meet, or should we not meet?

Nobody likes to waste their time in ineffective meetings; therefore, first and foremost:

Consider if you really need a meeting or whether you can get the same outcome with a different approach.

Is it feasible to send an email or a short video message summarizing the significant points of your meeting?

Can you address your problem at the next meeting if your team has recurring sessions to address any changes or impediments?

Avoid the temptation to “invite everyone just in case” and instead focus on the most critical attendees to the meeting’s success.

2. Hold meetings that will benefit your whole team.

According to recent research, 42% of remote workers felt “more productive” after working uninterrupted for an extended period. Conversely, getting everyone in the exact virtual location without disturbing production might be challenging, especially if you’re working with a remote team that spans many time zones.

Before agreeing on a time for your meeting, check calendars to see what people’s working hours are.

Instead of spreading meetings throughout the day, consider grouping them together to create large windows of uninterrupted work time.

Avoid scheduling a lot of emergencies or unexpected meetings since they may cause an employee’s regular workday to crash.

Encourage members of your team to keep track of their own schedules.

As a consequence, meeting planners will have a better understanding of the best days and times for everyone.

3. Make a thorough team meeting strategy.

Setting a clear agenda for each virtual meeting that includes the following things is critical:

In addition, there is a time restriction for each component and crucial talking points.

Attendants

Each team member participates in the meeting according to your expectations.

Any relevant documents

Aside from questions and answers or debate,

Set a meeting time limit and stick to it — you want your meetings to be as productive as possible!

Everyone can prepare if the plan is shared ahead of time.

4. Keep everyone’s attention.

All of the components we’ve described are necessary for a virtual meeting to take place.

But now comes the tricky part: keeping the team engaged throughout the meeting.

You have to work twice as hard to produce realistic, in-person conversations in a virtual environment since you don’t have all of them in an office setting.

Spend a few minutes at the beginning of the meeting checking in with everyone, keeping up with what is happening, or just discussing the most recent series everyone is talking about.

This will strengthen your team’s culture while also fostering an open and welcoming atmosphere.

Also, remember that remote collaboration may be more difficult or stressful than face-to-face collaboration.

According to studies, Microsoft observed that brainwave indications associated with overwork and stress are much higher in video meetings than in non-meeting work.

In a virtual conference, participants must maintain regular eye contact with the screen to extract essential information and stay engaged. Unfortunately, there are few nonverbal cues to assist them in reading the room or knowing when it’s their turn to speak.

To keep your team’s attention and ensure that everyone on the team has a role, try to break up long meetings with little breaks every thirty minutes.

Passive listeners are prone to be bored or distracted, but giving them a role may help them feel like they’re a part of the action.

Who will be taking notes, for example?

Who is in charge of the follow-up?

5. Have a specific team meeting aim in mind before you leave.

Never leave a meeting without clearly conveying your intention and verifying that your meeting objectives were satisfied.

Everyone should walk away from a meeting knowing all there is to know on the following topics:

  • What are your plans for the future?
  • Who is responsible for each task?
  • When is each assignment due?
  • When will the next meeting be held?

Finally, keep track of your peeps after the meeting so that everyone on your team knows who is working on what and how it is developing.

And — really (bosses) — think about butting out of the meeting at the end and let your virtual team and your office team have a few minutes to chat together — without you sitting there observing.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Artem Podrez; Pexels; Thank you!

How to Make Remote Team Meetings Shorter and Better was originally published on Calendar by Hunter Meine.

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