Build Your Energy, Build Your Productivity

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Build Your Energy, Build Your Productivity

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

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

Get the best sleep ever.

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

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

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

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

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

Fight fatigue with the right diet.

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

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

Close open-loops.

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

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

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

Don’t be shady.

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

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

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

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

Take a grateful stroll.

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

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

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

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

Stop hanging out with wet rags.

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

However, not all relationships are equal.

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

Keep stress and workload at bay.

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

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

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

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

Set reminders to look away and stretch.

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

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

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

Put your records on.

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

And, he was naturally correct.

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

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

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

Get your clutter under control.

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

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

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

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

Don’t overwhelm yourself though. Take baby starts.

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

Common Obstacles for Appointment Booking and How to Tear Them Down

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Common Obstacles for Appointment Booking and How to Tear Them Down

There are appointment booking obstacles in the way of every business and new customers. Identifying these obstacles and breaking them down is how companies are able to promote growth and deliver quality products and services to consumers. 

Appointment-based businesses have their own unique struggles when it comes to getting new customers to book their first appointment. Below are some of the most common obstacles for customers when it comes to appointment booking. 

Commitment Issues

Committing to an appointment time is a struggle for some people. Maybe they have an unpredictable schedule, so making a commitment seems impossible. 

It could also be that your available openings do not fit their schedule. Perhaps you need to specify one night a week that you’ll accept evening appointments or open at 8 a.m. each day to catch customers before they start their workday. Figuring out how to accommodate customers’ varying schedules will help you fill up your bookings and keep everybody happy.

Committing to your business is also a factor that may give customers pause. Booking an appointment isn’t like entering a grocery store or eating at a restaurant. The appointment process requires more information to be given out and a relationship to be established. If a customer isn’t ready to make that commitment to your business, they won’t be booking an appointment any time soon. 

How do you help customers get over their commitment issues? Maybe you need to improve your online rating or focus on getting more referrals. Word-of-mouth advertising is a powerful tool when it comes to convincing customers to give your business a try. Trust is already established through a friend or family member who speaks well of your services. 

Poor Accessibility

If you’re not using online appointment software yet, you’re missing out. A big deterrent for new customers is an obstacle-strewn path to booking an appointment. If customers have to find a time to call in — risking an unanswered phone or being put on hold for an indefinite period of time — they’re more likely to try their luck as a walk-in (if that).

Online appointment software resolves that issue easily. Online bookings are open 24/7, meaning a customer can book an appointment on their own at their convenience. They can even look at daily availability on the off chance they find an extra hour in their day when they can sneak in an appointment. 

Of course, you should also continue to accept phone bookings for those who prefer to call in. It may be that a portion of your customer base doesn’t have reliable internet access, or your online system could go down temporarily. The more appointment-booking options you offer, the more accessible your business will be.

No Perceived Need

If you’re being super accommodating with those walk-ins, chances are you’re hurting your appointment rates. Many customers won’t bother booking an appointment if they know they can just show up and get in during the next opening. However, too many walk-ins create a lot of variables that can slow down your operations and cause unneeded chaos.

If you want your customers to book appointments — and thus make your operations run more smoothly — limit the number of walk-ins you accept each day. Set clear guidelines so customers understand why they need to book an appointment. 

Your no-show policy will also impact appointment bookings for your business. If you have a lax no-show policy, you might get more bookings, but cancellations will frequently ruin your day. In addition, a high no-show rate might encourage even more walk-ins hoping to land a spot left behind by a last-minute cancellation. 

Poor Strategy

This obstacle is put up by businesses themselves. If you have a poor appointment strategy, you’re just making life more difficult for yourself. To encourage more appointment bookings, you’ll need to revamp your approach to meet customers where they are.

Start with your online presence. Do your website and social media pages clearly state information about appointment booking? Using technology in this way makes it clear to customers where they can book an appointment and how easy the process is. 

Next, take a look at your customer acquisition plan. Are you targeting the right audience? Is your marketing reaching them in the right place? Find the sweet spot with your acquisition strategy, and you’ll find more customers who are ready to book appointments with you. 

Faulty People Skills

The common denominator with appointment bookings across industries is human interaction. Even if a customer books their appointment online, they’ll come into contact with a receptionist or other employee at some point. If they’re treated poorly, you’ll never hear from them again.

Make sure your entire team is well-trained in customer service skills and habits. This is just as important for your mechanics and hair stylists as it is for representatives that handle phone calls. Answering one question the wrong way may cost your business an appointment booking. 

If you don’t know where to start with your customer service training, add a survey to the messages customers receive upon completion of their appointment. Their feedback will highlight exactly where your team members excel and where they need to improve. This will help you better train for customer service skills as well as gauge customer needs in other areas. 

Analyze your business and look for cracks in its foundation. What needs to be improved to make appointment booking easier and more desirable for customers? Once you’ve pinpointed those needs and resolved glaring issues, there will be fewer hurdles for customers to jump on their way to your waiting room. 

How to Build Accountable Work from Home Teams

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How to Build Accountable Work from Home Teams

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

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

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

How to Build Accountable Work from Home Teams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get to know your team members.

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

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

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

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

Don’t complicate communication and collaboration.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Focus on output, not time-in-seat.

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

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

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

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

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

Provide (and solicit) feedback.

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

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

Know when it’s time to micromanage.

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

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

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

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

How Social Media Can Land You More Appointments

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How Social Media Can Land You More Appointments

With social media, the world is, quite literally, at our fingertips. With just a few taps, we can connect with friends, plan our next meal, or get inspired. 

While social media is entertaining, it can also be a powerful tool for business. If used with intention, social media can help you foster client engagement and even increase the number of appointment clients book with your business. Here’s how you can use your social media channels to help you land more appointments.

Post Consistently 

Today, having a social media presence for your business is non-negotiable. It’s also one of the most cost-effective marketing tactics around. Creating content and posting it regularly gets you in front of potential customers and builds trust. You can create standard posts, host a livestream, and add posts to stories that will live for 24 hours.

The problem is, posting engaging content can be a challenge, especially if you don’t have anything planned prior to sitting down to update your pages. Fortunately, this last-minute stress can be eliminated through the use of a social media calendar. By leveraging a social media calendar, you can create relevant content ahead of time and schedule posts all year long, holidays included.

A social media calendar will enable you to post consistently and build credibility for your brand. Not only that, but you’ll make your own life easier and will have more time to focus on your clients.  

Engage With Your Clients 

Sharing photos on your social media stories can help boost engagement, and you can make those stories interactive. With many social media stories, you can include polls for your followers to participate in. Instagram, for example, allows you to include polls, quizzes, and Q&A forms. These features offer a great way to get feedback from clients or answer any questions they have about their appointments. 

Many social platforms want you to go beyond the regular photo posts, and you should use this to your advantage. Your social media content needs to be engaging and memorable. One way to achieve this is by posting video content on your social pages. Try a how-to video, an animation, or even an interview with a thought leader from your industry. And when potential clients see videos of the services your business offers, they will be more likely to book with you. 

With appointment-based businesses, cancellations are inevitable. If you have a last-minute opening, social media is good for that, too. Announce any available time slots on social media so they can still be used productively.

Brag About Your Business

Don’t be shy when it comes to sharing your successes on social media. People want to have confidence that they’re making the right choice when it comes to spending their money and precious hours. So that means it’s time to boast and be bragged on. 

Most consumers make their purchasing decisions based on the reviews they read and the recommendations they hear from people in their circle. Including reviews and testimonials from past clients on your social pages can help future ones feel more secure in their decision to choose you over competitors. 

You can also share photos and videos of your satisfied clients. This will help your future customers imagine themselves in your current fans’ shoes. Including real clients will bring a touch of humanity and emotion to your brand. This makes it easier for clients, old and new, to support your business. It will remind them that they’re interacting with real people and not a robot that posts every day at noon. 

Make Booking Appointments Easy for You and the Client

Let’s face it, with technology, we’ve been spoiled. With just a couple taps, we can have whatever we want (almost) whenever we want it. When clients are ready to book an appointment after scrolling through your pages, they want to schedule theirs quickly.

You can share links to your website to book appointments or include a booking button on your social media pages. Adding this button is a snap, and you can even connect it to an automated program that moves the request along to staff for approval. This functionality will help you strike while the iron is hot, turning audience interest in your social content into more appointments in your (digital) schedule book. 

When you plan your next campaign to bring in more appointment bookings, don’t forget about social media. You can interact with your clients and answer their burning questions. You can provide updates in real time. And you can share the stories of your current clients and bring your brand to life.

Social media is a powerful business tool, and it’s only growing. If you plan your content with intention, you can use social media as an inexpensive marketing tool to land your business even more appointments.

How to Develop New Forms of Leadership

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How to Develop New Forms of Leadership

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

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

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

Increase your leadership capacity.

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

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

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

Get in the trenches.

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

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

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

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

Embrace 360-degree feedback.

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

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

Learn from a coach, mentor, or consultant.

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

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

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

Work outside your organization.

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

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

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

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

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

Share what you know.

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

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

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

Schedule “me” time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spring Cleaning Tips for Appointment-Based Businesses

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Spring Cleaning Tips for Appointment-Based Businesses

Spring has sprung, and with blooming flowers and singing birds comes the yearly rallying cry of spring cleaning. Something about those first rays of sun melting the snow motivates people to deep clean after their winter hibernation. While this is a beneficial practice for your home, spring cleaning should occur in your business as well. 

Whether it’s taking a broom and mop to the floor or cleaning up your operations, a good spring cleaning will keep your business running on all cylinders. The following ideas can help you direct your spring cleaning efforts to where they’ll be most effective:

Tune Up Your Website

When was the last time you looked at your website layout? There might not be anything inherently wrong with it, but it’s always good to tune up your online presence from time to time. After all, as an appointment-based business, you’ll get a lot of traffic to your website from customers looking to book appointments online.

Start by testing your loading speeds. If your website is taking longer to load as time goes by, focus your spring cleaning on backend solutions geared toward faster speeds. Also pay attention to how your website performs on mobile devices and determine whether a change in design is needed to recapture the attention of customers. 

Amp Up Your Marketing

While you’re online, take a look at your marketing strategy. Is it accomplishing what you set out to do? Is your ROI acceptable? Taking the time to reevaluate your marketing campaigns is always a good idea.

Even if your marketing efforts are exceeding your every expectation, you should be preparing your next approach. Rarely does a single marketing campaign survive without eventually going stale. A new strategy will attract customers whom your original plan didn’t appeal to and will keep your content fresh.

Your social media pages will need the most upkeep. Consumers are heavily influenced by what they see on social media, with over half of them using social media to research new products. Take a moment to review your profiles and newsfeeds and look for ways to improve your brand image. A change of wording or a new profile picture is a small touch but can make all the difference. 

Go Paperless

As useful as it can be, paper is easily wasted and can slow down your operations significantly. How many times have you dug through stacks of paper looking for a particular document only to come up empty-handed (or, if you did find it, taking twice as long as you had expected to do so)? Fine-tune your operations by going paperless.

Converting your paper-based system to digital platforms is much easier than it might sound. Cloud storage will take care of those paper stacks cluttering your back office, and online document management software will make it even easier for customers to fill out and sign paperwork associated with their visits. Other software applications will help with project management, communication, and any other requirement your business needs to fulfill. 

Clean Up Working Space

What’s spring cleaning without some actual tidying of your business? Now’s the perfect time to deep clean your workspace before the warmer weather and looser COVID restrictions bring customers pouring in. They’ll appreciate the clean and tidy atmosphere just as much as you will.

Start by cleaning everything visible to the customer. Bathrooms should be spotless, reception desks immaculate, and waiting rooms prepped for royalty. A clean business makes a good first impression and sets the tone for a successful appointment. 

Renovations are more expensive, but they are also worth considering. Long-term customers will especially appreciate the improvements you make to your business, such as a state-of-the-art waiting room, increasing the odds that they’ll continue to be loyal to your brand.

Organize Your Bookkeeping

Your business handles hundreds, if not thousands, of transactions per week. Bookkeeping is the active processing, tracking, and recording of these transactions. Bookkeeping is how invoices are sent and received, employee pay is monitored, and financial reports are generated. 

With so much information to keep track of, bookkeeping can be a daunting process. If the task is getting beyond your staff’s capabilities, consider outsourcing it to an accounting service or implementing accounting software like QuickBooks or Sage. Clear all your outstanding balances and check for discrepancies in your accounts. The more accurate and efficient your bookkeeping is, the better your business’s financials will be. 

Evaluate Your Goals

Your goals could probably use some dusting off as well. Are you on track to meet your annual goals? Have you been keeping pace with weekly and monthly goals? If your goal-setting has been lacking these past few months, now’s your chance to pivot in the right direction.

If your annual goals seem too lofty after the first quarter of the year, reevaluate them to make them more feasible. Let’s say your original goal was to triple your customer base by the end of the year. If progress has seemed slow, consider changing that to double. 

Then, establish weekly and monthly goals that will help you reach your new target. You might set a goal of getting five customer referrals per week or increasing walk-in appointments by 25% per month. By creating weekly and monthly goals that break down your year-end goal, you can use them as stepping-stones to get there.

Many hands make light work, so get your team together and dive into your business’s spring cleaning. Once you’re finished, make a plan to stay on top of all the areas you just tackled. Next spring, it will be much less of a project to rejuvenate your business.

The Psychological Price of Meetings

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The Psychological Price of Meetings

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

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

Other culprits include:

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

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

The Psychological Price of Meetings

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

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

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

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

The Toll on Physical Health

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Added Workplace Stress and Anxiety

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

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

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

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

FOMO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Decreases Morale and Engagement

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

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

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

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

Unnecessary Information Overload

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

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

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

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

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

Multitasking Damages Your Brain

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

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

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

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

Distractions Derail More Than Just Productivity

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

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

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

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

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

Can Lead to a Sense of Failure

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

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

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

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

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

Meetings Aren’t a Good Waste of Time

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

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

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

Meetings Can Still Be Beneficial

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

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

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

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

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

Proven Ways to Improve Meetings

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

Before the Meeting

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

During the Meeting

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

After the Meeting

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

Additional suggestions;

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

Appointment Deals Your Business Should Consider

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Appointment Deals Your Business Should Consider

Every business, even appointment-based businesses, runs a deal at some point to bring in new customers and to give back to their loyal following. Special events renew interest in your brand and can tip the scales in your favor when customers are on the fence. 

Appointment-based businesses will approach deals differently than other industries. While promotions will have to be implemented in different ways, they can still be just as effective at building your customer base and giving revenue a short-term boost. Here are some ideas you can use for your next appointment deal:

Online Booking Promotions

If you’re trying to move toward online appointment booking software, run a promotion that rewards the first customers to adopt it. Even if you explain all the benefits of online appointment booking, you’ll have some customers who don’t like change and will be hesitant to make the switch. Offer them extra reward points, discounts, and flexibility during the first weeks of implementing the new software, and they’ll be more willing to jump on board. 

The real benefits will be enjoyed by your business. Online appointment booking is faster and more reliable than traditional booking. You can easily keep track of appointments, quickly make adjustments, and conveniently access customer information. Your customers can book appointments whenever they please and can even prepay online. 

Loyalty Punch Card

When extending deals to your customers, your primary goal should be to incentivize them to return as often as possible. While new faces are great, it costs five times as much to acquire customers as it does to keep them around. For that reason, many businesses across a variety of industries provide loyalty punch cards to their current fans.

The concept of a punch card is simple. Each time a customer leaves an appointment, they get a punch or a mark on their card indicating they’ve completed a visit. After a certain number of appointments — 10 is typically the magic number — they qualify for a reward. This could be a free appointment or any other incentive that would get customers to pursue the end goal. After their punch card is used up, they can start a new cycle.

First-Time Bonus

Just because getting new customers is more expensive than retaining existing ones doesn’t mean you should stop trying. A healthy business continues to gain new customers as others fade away and need to be replaced. To incentivize new customers to commit to their first appointment, offer them a small bonus.

A first-time appointment bonus should be big enough that it lures in new customers, but not so large that it devalues future appointments they would potentially book. A $10 cut in price or a free additional service will work just fine. A free service — an eyebrow wax with a haircut, say — will also give new customers a taste of what they can enjoy at future appointments. This will act as another incentive to get them to return. 

Bulk Discounts

Another technique to keep customers coming back again and again is to offer a discount for bookings made in bulk. Let’s say you run a chiropractic office, and a regular adjustment costs $60. Over the course of 10 appointments, the bill would run to $600. With a bulk discount, customers can pay for all 10 appointments up front, lowering their total cost by a set amount. A 10% bulk discount, for example, would result in a cost of only $540.

This program benefits your regular customers who were already prepared to pay the full fee for all their appointments. Additionally, it may sway some new customers in your direction as they weigh their options before committing to a business. The promise of a substantial discount on future services when compared to the competition will win over many.

You might be wondering whether this large of a discount will hack away at your revenue. After all, a 10% price reduction can add up over time, especially if multiple customers take advantage of it. What you need to consider is the fact that you’re filling up several appointments in advance. Appointments at a 10% discount still pay more than an empty appointment slot. 

Referral Bonus

Referrals are a powerful asset for your business. A Neilsen study found that more than 80% of U.S. consumers actively seek recommendations before making a purchase. They’ll ask friends and family or poll their social media following to get insight on the brands and businesses those individuals prefer before making a decision for themselves. 

With so many potential customers already looking for recommendations, your task is to get your current loyalists to bring those customers to you. A referral program will incentivize your fans to be more vocal about their decision to do business with you. They’ll talk with their friends and family and guide them to you, receiving a bonus for their efforts.

What should your customers receive for making referrals? For many, additional perks at their own appointments will be a welcome reward. Otherwise, gift cards, lottery tickets, and other prizes may do the trick. You can even hold a referral contest where the winner gets their next five appointments for free or dinner at the hot new restaurant in town. 

Offering the right deals to your customers will help your business grow and flourish — it will also make your customers happy. Don’t be afraid to cycle through these types of deals every once in a while to keep things fresh. New deals and promotions will continue to pique interest in your company year-round. 

What is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

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What is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

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

A peculiar thing happened. I laid there wide awake.

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

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

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

What is revenge bedtime procrastination?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The link between COVID and sleep.

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

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

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

What’s revenge got to do with it.

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

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

The importance of sleep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting revenge on revenge bedtime procrastination.

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

1. Honor your sleep chronotype.

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

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

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

2. Chillax in the evening.

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

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

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

3. Resist the blue light special.

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

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

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

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

4. Keep your bedroom sacred.

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

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

5. Release stress before bed.

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

Other suggestions include;

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

6. Use your online calendar.

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

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

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

The Best Amenities for Your Waiting Room

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The Best Amenities for Your Waiting Room

Think about your most recent experience in a waiting room. What — if anything — did you enjoy about the atmosphere? What bothered you? Now think about the customers that come to your business waiting room. What are they thinking as they wait for their appointments?

Time spent in the waiting room is inevitable for appointment-based businesses. While you can do your best to cut down on wait times, you should still provide the best waiting experience possible. You can improve your own lobby by offering these valued amenities to your guests:

Free Wi-Fi

Even during a short wait before an appointment, your customers want to stay connected. Whether they use it to scroll through social media, play a mobile game, or finish up some work emails, your clients will be grateful for the Wi-Fi connection you provide.

When offering Wi-Fi to your customers, keep cybersecurity in mind. You’re better off extending a private connection that requires guests to sign in before use rather than a public server. A private connection is more secure than the public alternative, reducing the risk for any users. You can set this up via a customer portal where only regular customers can connect. 

If you want to go the extra mile, include a workspace in your waiting room. This will be especially appreciated if your customer base largely consists of business professionals who could use the area to get some work down while waiting for their name to be called. Besides, everyone will be thankful for a place to charge their device while they wait. 

Space for Children

Many a parent will enter your business with a child in tow. Whether the appointment is for the child or the parent simply can’t leave them home alone, having a special place for children will keep them entertained as they wait. 

For children at a dentist or doctor’s office, a play area will help them relax and feel less anxious before their appointment. Parents will likewise be less stressed when their children are entertained and can get their wiggles out rather than struggle with boredom and confinement.

Keeping play areas clean is a top priority, especially while COVID-19 remains a concern. Opt for toys and games that can easily be cleaned, such as blocks and toy cars. Avoid anything that might be a choking hazard or could easily get lost. 

Comfortable Seating

Even a short wait will feel like an eternity when you’re stuck in an uncomfortable chair. The most basic aspect of your waiting room is the seating arrangement, so it makes sense that comfortable chairs should be a high priority.

The type of seating you have available will also impact the attractiveness of your waiting room. A couch will be comfortable, but it will probably only appeal to family members who want to sit together. Strangers will feel more inclined to keep some distance between themselves in individual chairs, especially during the ongoing pandemic. A variety of seating options will cater to every guest.

A massage chair may also be a welcome addition to your waiting room. Not only will it make wait times more bearable, some customers might even wish for a more extended wait so they can enjoy the massage for just a little longer!

Check-In Kiosks

The more efficient you can make your appointment process, the better. Online appointment software will help speed things along before the actual appointment. Once customers arrive, you can cut wait times with self check-in kiosks in the waiting room.

For busy appointment-based businesses especially, self check-in prevents lines from forming and helps customers get checked in faster. Once customers check themselves in, the front desk is alerted, and appointments can be set in motion. This operations system also makes it easier to work around late arrivals by enabling staff to adjust the queue to keep things moving fluidly. 

Refreshments

It’s hard to turn down a free cookie or bottle of water when the wait for an appointment makes you realize how empty your stomach is. Refreshments are welcomed by customers of all ages. They help hit the spot when being hungry or thirsty could otherwise make customers irritable before an appointment.

Many appointment-based businesses provide coffee to their customers. Think carefully before making this decision for your business. While a cup of coffee certainly helps a lot of folks in the morning, extra caffeine can work up already anxious customers. Considering your customers’ particular needs will help you decide whether caffeinated beverages are actually the best choice for your waiting room or not. 

Reading Material

A staple of waiting rooms for years is an array of magazines sitting on a coffee table in the center of the lobby. And for good reason — a 10-minute wait provides the perfect amount of time to catch up on celebrity gossip or digest an opinion piece. A range of magazines on different topics will appeal to the variety of customers you get every day. If you choose to continue the magazine tradition, make sure the issues you provide are up-to-date and in good condition.

A shelf of books is another way to provide reading material. Books of different genres and sizes can be just as entertaining, and they never become outdated. If a customer gets sucked into a particular novel, let them borrow it. Your bookshelf can turn into a small lending library that will encourage customers to book a return appointment.

Reading material can replace a wall-mounted TV or be a separate option for waiting guests. The problem with a TV is that the channel may be tuned to something customers aren’t interested in — or may even object to. Plus, reading is a much more fruitful and relaxing activity to participate in.

Adding some of these amenities to your waiting room will keep customers happy even if their appointment needs to be pushed back. Between keeping public areas tidy and providing these comforts and conveniences, you’ll be sure to have a winning waiting room.

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