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10 Types of Businesses That Can Benefit From Scheduling Software

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To your customers, your team, and your company’s bottom line, time is priceless.

Whether you run a deli or a software startup, you have to ensure that your team never misses a scheduled deadline or appointment. And these days, many customers would rather schedule appointments online as well. 

Still wondering if scheduling software is right for your business? Read on to learn about ten surprising industries that rely on it in their daily operations:

1. Medical clinics

Did you know that more than 50% of healthcare facilities now use online scheduling software? The medical industry is harnessing the power of automation to reduce the cost of no-shows and administrative overhead. In addition to the added convenience for patients, this digital capability allows doctors and healthcare professionals to better manage their hectic schedules, reducing burnout and employee turnover

2. Bars and restaurants

Online reservations are user-friendly for customers. To help them seat more guests, hosts and hostesses at many bars and restaurants use scheduling automation every day.

Through online scheduling software, eateries can help their patrons beat long waits — all while tracking their staff’s ever-changing schedules and availability. Plus, online scheduling platforms can be used to track eligibility for promotions and loyalty programs. 

3. Caterers and event planners

Businesses that provide event services or planning are responsible for organizing and tracking dozens of different schedules leading up to the big day. On paper, that’s tough if not impossible.

Online scheduling tools allow event planners to effectively manage different types of staff. They help event managers keep tabs on caterers, DJs, security personnel, and more. And many platforms have custom settings for how far in advance an event (or order) can be scheduled. 

4. Call centers

To provide stellar customer service, companies need to make contacting their reps a seamless process. With an online scheduling tool, customers can book appointments and phone calls from a widget or link in your staff’s email signatures

Given the fast-paced nature of the work, this feature is especially useful for call centers or teams dedicated to customer support. Online booking lets these businesses avoid over-scheduling while giving team members a tool for efficient time blocking and stress management.

5. Nonprofit organizations

Even nonprofits are utilizing scheduling automation to expand their mission and reach. Nonprofits have to manage a mix of volunteers, paid employees, and external stakeholders. They use appointment scheduling tools to keep schedules straight, freeing up the team to spend more time on things like donor newsletters and social media campaigns. 

6. Consultancies

Many people in professional services, such as law or finance, use scheduling software to increase the amount of face time they get with clients. Automation is particularly useful for booking initial consultations and meetings during non-core hours. A CPA during tax season might rely on an online scheduling tool to give people on the waitlist clarity around when they’ll be seen. Automation tools let them make use of every slot on their schedule. 

7. Salons and spas

With our modern, fast-paced lifestyles, it can be easy to forget appointments that are dedicated to self-care. Salons and spas that focus on beauty and wellness can decrease missed appointments with SMS and email reminders that are automatically sent from online scheduling software straight to their clients. This attention to detail only adds to the sense of luxury associated with these services, helping these companies make their customers feel like VIPs. 

8. Shipping and retail

From warehouses to supermarkets to specialty shops, companies in the B2C space see online scheduling as a game-changer. They use it to streamline shipping, receiving, and managing workers in the field.

Not only do scheduling automation platforms allow team members to share calendar access across locations, but they can be used to make out-of-office periods easier. Online scheduling systems can be configured to show certain team members as unavailable, minimizing confusion.

9. Home services

Whether a customer is experiencing an emergency plumbing issue or wants to schedule their yearly HVAC maintenance, online scheduling software provides easy access to at-home services. It also makes rescheduling or cancelling appointments easy, just in case another appointment conflicts with the initial service call. Customers can also book appointments from their mobile devices while at work or picking up the kids from school. 

10. Schools and education services

Online scheduling software is even being used to enhance the college experience. With many busy schedules among students and professors alike, scheduling automation is helpful for managing office hours, labs, library reservations, and more. Students who use scheduling tools get more out of their education, while professors and assistants can organize all their teaching commitments in one place. 

In every industry, scheduling software has value. The key is getting creative to make the most of it.

Create convenience for your customers. Simplify your employees’ lives. Minimize misunderstandings and double-bookings. There’s more than one reason to use scheduling software. What’s yours?

4 Business To-Dos to Tackle For Spring Cleaning

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Business professional sitting outside working on laptop next to spring flowers

Just as spring brings nature back to life, spring can also be a time to renew your business. Spring-cleaning your company can mean less clutter, more clients, and more time to interview prospective employees.

But unlike your home, spring-cleaning your business isn’t as simple as throwing things in the dumpster. Here’s how to be strategic about it:

1. Give your brand a fresh look. 

You know the saying: If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Although this applies in certain contexts, your company’s brand is not one of them.

Ask yourself: Is our website outdated? Does our motto still ring true? Does our product’s packaging attract attention? If you’re second guessing the success of something, chances are it should be changed. 

According to Forbes contributor Jessica Kleinman, there are five words to live by during the rebranding process: research, input, goals, support and process. 

Rebranding brings drastic changes, so you must be prepared before making any decisions. Start by meeting with your team to talk about the pros and cons of your company’s brand. Compile the feedback, and then make the final call about what’s in your budget to improve. 

When announcing your plans, explain how you expect the company to benefit from the brand changes. Support is key: If your team isn’t behind the changes, make tweaks until you all agree. Build all those details into a brand style guide. 

2. Get organized. 

Spring means it’s time to kiss the office clutter goodbye. 

Start by throwing away anything that you no longer need. This means no more stacks of papers, capless pens, and broken staplers sitting on your desk. Next, find an organizing strategy that works for you. Try out color coding, filing documents chronologically, or digitizing old records. 

Once your physical space is decluttered to your liking, shift your sights to your schedule. This is the work of becoming a better time manager: Create a master list of the tasks on your calendar, decide on what’s important, and adopt a prioritization method. 

Just like the organization of your desk, how you shift your schedule requires you to decide on a system that works for you. You could use the chunking method (blocking out specific times for uninterrupted work) or the ABCDE method (assigning a letter to a task depending on importance), for example.

3. Reflect on old goals and create new ones. 

This business to-do is similar to a New Year’s resolution — except that the chances of success are hopefully greater.

Whether you’re assessing personal or team goals, it’s important to think about previous ones. Did you achieve them, or did you forget about them? Can they be altered and improved?

Whatever the answer, one helpful approach to goal reflection or setting is the SMART method. Pin down what your goal is and then follow the break down. 

A SMART goal should be:

  1. Specific: Achieve specificity by using the 6 Ws: who, what, when, where, which and why? If the goal doesn’t answer these, narrow it more. For example, would you rather “get more clients” or “increase your account volume by 50% in eight months”? 
  2. Measurable: From minutes spent on the phone to dollar amounts, use measurable parameters to anchor your goal.
  3. Attainable: Your goals should be within your reach. It’s important to challenge yourself, but be realistic and recognize your limitations.
  4. Relevant: Any goals set should align with the company’s mission. 
  5. Timely: Create a clear timeline with action items to work toward goal achievement. 

A goal with these five components has a greater chance of becoming a reality than one without them. And when your employees understand what, exactly, you want to achieve, they’ll be more likely to buy in. 

4. Plan a getaway. 

All work and no play isn’t sustainable. If you’ve been working hard, it’s time to reward yourself with that long-awaited vacation. 

To avoid inconveniencing yourself or coworkers, avoid overlapping out-of-office periods. Also, do any work you can ahead of time. Write down deadlines or delegate tasks for anything you can’t finish before taking off. 

Do your best to minimize the amount of work you’ll have to do when you get back. Vacations are a time to kick back and relax. They give you time to clear your head in order to hit the ground running once you return. Increased productivity, less stress, and better mental health lie on the other side of your trip. 

If you’re a city person, why not spend a few days in New York City or Chicago? For seclusion, opt for a backpacking trip through the wilderness or a yoga retreat. 

Don’t let spring pass you by before planting seeds for a stronger year. Plan ahead, focus on business needs, and don’t forget to take care of yourself as a person, too. 

4 Reasons Leaders Waste Valuable Meeting Time

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4 Reasons Leaders Waste Valuable Meeting Time

The meeting that could’ve been an email: We’ve all been there. As much as we want every meeting we attend to be productive, almost every one of us has left a meeting wondering: “Was that really necessary?” 

According to a study by Harvard Business Review, 71% of senior managers in a range of industries say meetings are unproductive and inefficient. Executives spend 23 hours per week in meetings, on average, up from 10 hours in the 1960s.

Almost nobody actually enjoys meetings. So why do leaders waste so much time in them?

1. They get sidetracked.

Given how long they spend in meetings, many leaders struggle to create an agenda for each of them. Some are thinking ahead to the next one, while others try to tackle every meeting on the fly. 

Meetings should always have a defined purpose. Make that reason clear when calling the meeting, and prepare an agenda immediately after scheduling it. Give other participants a chance to comment on and contribute to it.

Setting a specific agenda ensures that you show up prepared, and it also gives your team members an idea of what to expect. Whether you prepare to use a written list or a series of slides, developing an agenda allows you to guide the discussion. 

2. They are disorganized.

Business leaders have hectic schedules as is, and meetings only add to the craziness. Staying organized is key for productive meetings.

Use scheduling software to manage your meetings. Calendar allows you to pick times and dates for your events, share your availability with others, and avoid scheduling conflicts. What’s more, Calendar’s dashboard shows where and with whom you spend your time, helping you make sure that your schedule aligns with your priorities.

Without a shareable scheduling system, it’s tough to know who’s coming to a meeting or whether someone might need to duck out part way through. Those details let leaders structure meetings in ways that make the most of everyone’s time. 

3. They have too many meetings on the calendar.

Between meetings, interviews, and training sessions the number of meetings on your calendar can add up quickly. It’s important to know when meetings are appropriate and when they are not:

  • When you should have a meeting: when you need to plan for the long term, get or give feedback on major projects, host executive-level negotiations, or deliver employee performance reviews.
  • When to keep meetings short (or not have them at all): when you need to share weekly progress updates, present revenue and expense breakdowns, brainstorm for marketing assets, or explain changes to your personal schedule.

When leaders use good judgment, they can cut out meetings that are unnecessary and focus on the ones that matter.

4. They can’t keep their employees focused.

The most wasteful type of meeting is one that attendees do not find valuable. If you want your employees’ meeting time to be spent effectively, it’s important to keep them engaged throughout.

There are multiple ways to make meetings more interesting:

  • Add visuals to presentations. Photos and videos can drive home key points. Beware, though, that adding too many visuals wastes time by distracting attendees.
  • Encourage group participation. Activities encourage buy-in from non-presenting members of the meeting. Ask people to raise their hands in response to certain questions, or request suggestions around a challenge. 
  • Keep all meetings under 50 minutes. Meetings that last for an hour or more should be split into two or more sessions. Set a timer if your meetings consistently overrun their slots.
  • Identify key takeaways at the end of each meeting. Concluding meetings with action items not only makes them more meaningful, but it provides markers for future measurement. When meetings begin with a review of the prior one’s action items, participants feel a sense of purpose and accountability.

Unproductive meetings may seem like a fact of life, but they do not need to be. Schedule only the meetings you need, always develop an agenda in advance, and keep participants engaged. Neither you nor your employees have time to waste.

How to Squeeze More Interviews Into Your Schedule

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How to Squeeze More Interviews Into Your Schedule

“There aren’t enough hours in the day,” is a phrase everyone in business has thought, if not said aloud.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, recruiter, sales leader, or another role entirely, interviews likely make up a good portion of your day. If you’re looking to make more time in your schedule, why not start with one of your biggest time commitments?

Here are some helpful hacks for fitting more interviews into your busy schedule:

1. Dig deeply into your goals.

As with any new personal or professional project, it’s important to first identify your objectives. If you’re an entrepreneur trying to find the right candidate for an open role, how long are you willing to wait to fill it? How many candidates do you want to meet before you make a decision?

Take your time with this. Hiring is not something to rush. The more narrowly defined your criteria and assumptions, the more satisfied you’ll be with the end result. Ask yourself:

  • How many rounds of interviews are required throughout the entire interview process (depending on the job position)?
  • What is the maximum number of candidates that can move forward to next-round interviews?
  • How long should interviews run to properly evaluate candidates for the position?
  • Do other executives need to be present? If so, can they fit these interviews into their schedules?

2. Determine availability digitally.

One of the most time-consuming aspects of interviewing is all the back-and-forth communication required to coordinate and confirm an available time slot for two or more parties. For internal meetings and interviews, be sure you’re using a consolidated digital calendar so you can see one another’s availability?

What about interviews with people outside the organization? Tools like Calendar simplify this by letting users embed their availability into their email messages. Calendar automatically prevents double-booking, just in case the interviewee selects a time that’s been taken. 

3. Account for interstitial time. 

Although it’s tempting to stack interviews one on top of another in order to maximize your time, avoid doing so. Allow for at least 5 minutes, and ideally 15, between each interview.

Interviews are unpredictable. You never know who will show up late or which interviews will go long. You don’t know what else might come up during the workday. Those buffer zones are a great time to catch up on email, take a break, or prepare for the next meeting. 

4. Learn to say “no.”

If you’re trying to fit more interviews into your schedule, you have to get better at refusing unnecessary meetings. Even a few meeting-happy clients can eat up hours of a workday that you may need to spend speaking with employees, candidates, or investors.

Just because you’re saying “no,” though, doesn’t mean you need to be rude about it. Do your best to help the person whose meeting you can’t take over email. Could you introduce them to someone else on the team who can handle the situation? If the client is insistent, could you suggest a shorter time slot or a different meeting time?

5. Automate what you can.

Sometimes, to have more time, you need to make more time. Besides refining your scheduling processes, it’s still a good idea to audit other tasks to see what can be handled via a digital automation tool.

Even if it’s something as simple as sending an automatic payment reminder, every little increment of saved time adds up. Email marketing, social media posting, sales follow ups, and even first-round interviews can be automated.

Interviewing takes time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t streamline the process. Use these tips to get more done, hire faster, and have more conversations. 

How Time Management Software Can Help Your Company’s Productivity

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I’m sure we can all agree that time is money when it comes to running your business and it’s daily operations. Unfortunately, in a busy office setting, it’s all too easy for time to be mismanaged or miscalculated. If you’re trying to create a better work environment where everyone can be more productive, using time-management tools and software can be the key.

Keep reading to learn how office time management software can help your company to be more productive.

Manage Paychecks with Less Hassle

Keeping track of employee paychecks is a huge undertaking for most businesses. Taking time to keep track of and record the work of every employee manually can be a tedious task. Regardless of whether you’ve got a couple of workers or a big team, office time management software will allow you to automatically track their attendance, making sure they get an accurate paycheck every time, including deducted time for missed hours or bonus pay for overtime.

Programs like Hubstaff and Gusto are perfect for automatically tracking your team member’s time and distributing timely payments. I like how users can ‘clock in’ with Hubstaff and specify which task they’re working on.

The system will take several screenshots while someone works and you can even connect your business account or debit card to pay team members automatically on designated days.

Generate Reliable Data

In addition to simplifying paychecks, conflicts concerning overtime hours or missed attendance are almost eliminated with office time management software, since there are reliable hard data to analyze against any claims.

This system safeguards both staff and employers’ interests. Having access to accurate, real-time data helps to remove the possibility of personal bias or fraudulent payroll tampering.

Time Tracking Tools For Accountability

The best way to figure out if you’re being productive or not is to track your time. Time-tracking tools and programs like Clockify make this super easy to do and provide you with extra accountability.

Sometimes, I set productivity goals or time-block my schedule and I use Clockify to help me stay on track so I’m not wasting too much time on one thing.

Tracking your time is also a good thing to do when you are just starting a project and not sure how long it will take. The more you know about how long it takes you to complete certain tasks, the better you’ll get at creating an efficient schedule.

Fill Your Team’s Calendar More Efficiently

It’s no secret that most employees aren’t 100% productive during their entire shift. This means if someone works 40 hours a week, they spend less than 40 hours actually doing productive work.

While you should encourage some breaks and downtime to ensure a better balance, time tracking and time management software can help you will everyone’s calendar more efficiently.

After a while, you can use the data you collect to how long certain tasks take and which ones are quicker to complete. When you outsource work to your team members you can fill their calendar with reasonable tasks and responsibilities.

For example, say you have an assistant who works for your business 15 hours per week. You may want to use the data you get from time management software programs overtime to help fill the assistant’s schedule with enough productive work to help you get the most for the compensation that you’re paying.

Doing this will also help ensure that team members are being challenged well enough and aren’t just sitting around bored throughout the day.

Flexibility to Use It Wherever You Are

Office time management software lets you view employee attendance, absence, productivity, and pay records, no matter where you are. Just boot up your laptop, phone, or tablet, and you’re good to go. If you’re a busy business owner who’s always on the move, this can be a real advantage over having to spend your time digging through records and sending emails back and forth.

It also ensures greater employee confidence, since they’re not wondering if you’re being left out of the loop, or if their paychecks will be late when you’re away from the office.

Boost Your Bottom Line

Wasted employee time can significantly affect your bottom line. In-house use of office time management software has been shown to increase employee productivity dramatically. Ensuring that your team gets started with work on time and has a productive day can help you get that additional little bit of efficiency every day.

A couple of minutes every now and then may not seem like a big deal. However, with time, those wasted minutes really add up to less productivity, which will have an impact on your company.

Don’t waste any of your company’s precious time. Implement it for yourself, and see how much more productive office time management software will make your business.

Do you use any time management software or time-tracking tools for your team? Why or why not?

Wake Up, Listen Up: 7 Podcasts to Kickstart Your Day

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Wake Up, Listen Up: 7 Podcasts to Kickstart Your Day

In the car, on the train, or while you walk to work: Your morning commute is an ideal time to kickstart the day with a podcast. 

Unlike articles and videos, podcasts let you keep your eyes on the road and your mind on your bigger things. Multitasking may not work in many contexts, but audio content lets you learn new things while you go through your morning routine.

What show should you choose? You probably aren’t looking for a dense, data-heavy podcast. But when you’re gearing up for work, you probably don’t want a fluff-filled talk show, either. These podcasts offer the perfect balance of educational and easy:

1. The Daily

This one’s for the news junkies out there who don’t have time to sift through multiple sources. Published each weekday by The New York Times, The Daily is a quick, 20-minute recap of the day’s biggest stories.

Think of The Daily like a first cup of coffee. Host Michael Barbaro brings New York Times reporters in to share a bite-sized version of a larger story they’re reporting. It’s sharp, thought-provoking, and over before you know it. 

2. HBR IdeaCast

If you like to start the business day thinking about business, give HBR IdeaCast a listen. Harvard Business Review’s weekly podcast features cutting-edge thinkers in business and management on subjects ranging from digital transformation to combating subconscious biases. The shows, which run between 20 and 30 minutes, invariably offer actionable ideas to help entrepreneurs grow personally or professionally. 

3. How I Built This

Have you ever wondered how big-name brands and movements came to be? In NPR’s How I Built This, host Guy Raz interviews innovators, entrepreneurs, and next-generation thinkers about how they developed their signature achievements.

Who are those entrepreneurs? The founders of Patagonia, Zappos, and Lyft have made appearances, as have the owners of “Main Street” companies like Tate’s Bake Shop and Chicken Salad Chick. If you’re looking for a place to start and like the NBC show “Shark Tank,” check out Raz’s interview with Daymond John

4. The Pitch

Speaking of “Shark Tank,” The Pitch takes the investing show’s approach to the airwaves. The Pitch’s tagline says it all: “Where real entrepreneurs pitch to real investors—for real money.” New episodes air only once a week, but they’re anything but predictable. As with “Shark Tank,” investors sometimes bite on unexpected products and pass on ones that, to the listener, seem promising. Some listeners might find it a little high-stakes for the morning, but it’s certainly a good way to wake up. 

5. TED Radio Hour

If you’re a fan of TED Talks, try the TED Radio Hour, which companies multiple Talks around a single theme. The podcast hits on everything from how to be more creative, the power of positivity, and why kindness is so important.

One thing to beware of: TED Radio Hour episodes last, as the name implies, a full hour. Be prepared to hit pause when you pull into the parking lot at work. 

6. StartUp

Think of StartUp like How I Built This but for the startup ecosystem. Gimlet Media’s Alex Blumberg hosts an eclectic lineup of leaders who fall outside the lines of traditional business. With his signature offbeat humor, Blumberg interviews personalities from cycling whistleblowers to gay country music stars. With episodes running roughly half an hour, StartUp is a great way to laugh while you explore the nooks and crannies of entrepreneurship. 

7. Planet Money

Planet Money might be best described as a podcast about money for people who hate money. Although each episode has some sort of tie to the finance world, they’re often looser than expected. The tale of the FCC taking on robocalls, the cost of free doughnuts, and the business side of choosing the color of the year are some of the more noteworthy topics the show has recently covered. Short, 15-25 minute episodes make Planet Money a great choice for commuters.

Whatever your business background and listening tastes, there’s a podcast for you. Put one on, sit back, and start your day with a good story.

6 Tips for Working Through the Winter Blues

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6 Tips for Working Through the Winter Blues

Winter is a tough time of year. Leaving the house is hard enough; running a business can feel downright impossible.

For some people, the winter blues get so bad that they’re diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder. But even if your energy levels are only a bit lower in the winter, your company could suffer. As the leader, you set the tone for your entire team.

Don’t let that happen. Take these tips to stay productive and keep your spirits up during the long, cold days:

1. Keep it warm and bright.

Studies have shown that cold, dark environments have negative effects on cognition and mood. Work is already demanding, and a chilly or dim office will make it that much more difficult. 

Don’t wait until you’re shivering to throw on those additional layers. Keep the overhead lights on, and get a lamp for your desk if you’re still struggling to make out text or other small details. Grab a cup of hot coffee or hot cocoa to sip on while you work.

2. Prioritize friends and family.

One of the most important lessons entrepreneurs can learn from holiday traditions is to stay in touch with loved ones throughout the year. They can provide motivation, someone to vent to, and a much-needed break from work. Even if you think you can tough it out, you’ll have an easier time if you stay connected.

Schedule at least one social event each week. Invite your siblings over for dinner. Go to happy hour with your former co-workers. Catch up over coffee with a friend from college.

3. Take care of yourself.

As tempting as it is to indulge in comfort foods, it’s crucial to pay attention to your health during winter. Minimize processed foods, and eat plenty of protein and healthy fats. Take a vitamin D supplement, which can ward off depression, if you do not spend much time in the sun. 

Also consider joining a gym, especially if you do not have exercise equipment at home. Exercising outside is tough in the cold and snow, and cardiovascular exercise has massive benefits for mental health. If motivation is an issue, hire a trainer to push you through your workouts. 

4. Take your time.

Although there’s nothing wrong with wanting to achieve your New Year’s resolutions, remember to pace yourself. If you’re feeling stressed, slow down. Take a 15-minute break to go on a walk, meditate, or eat a snack.

What if you can’t seem to shake the stress? Give yourself some more time away. Vacation season is over until summer for most people, meaning you’ll be able to find deals on everything from airfare to hotels. Your wellbeing is worth it. 

5. Look forward.

Setting goals is incredibly motivating, and right after the new year is a perfect time to do so. Think about what you want to achieve in 2020, and share those goals with your team.

Use the SMART goal system:

  • Specific: Don’t say you just want to grow your revenue. By how much? Over what time frame? Through what means?
  • Measurable: Be sure that you have a system for checking progress on your goals. If you can’t put a number to it, then what outcome would indicate that you’ve met your objective?
  • Achievable: Is your goal realistic? You may want to make a million dollars tomorrow, but that probably isn’t going to happen.
  • Relevant: If you’re a startup founder looking to grow your company, don’t worry about whether you can hire fifty people in a month. Focus on hiring a single great employee instead.
  • Time-bounded: Goals are just dreams if they don’t have a timeline attached to them. Remember to be realistic about the amount of time that the associated tasks take.

6. Practice gratefulness.

Do not underestimate the power of gratefulness. Research suggests that gratitude has health benefits ranging from greater life satisfaction to a stronger immune system to reduced anxiety. Keep in mind the only difference in the tested individuals was their mindset.

Be grateful for what you have and the position that you’re in. Meditate on your gifts, and share them with others. Take time each morning to journal on the positive parts of your life. 

Start the new year off with a mindset of self-care and abundance. When you surround yourself with the right people and practice healthy habits, winter doesn’t stand a chance.

6 Tips for Instilling Wellness in Your Company Culture

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6 Tips for Instilling Wellness in Your Company Culture

Wellness is more than a corporate buzzword: It’s the work of keeping employees happy, healthy, and productive.

Many leaders realize that wellness is a worthwhile investment. But what they don’t know is how to do it: The reason many programs don’t move the needle on health metrics is that companies preach wellness without building it into their culture.

To make wellness a cornerstone of your company culture:

 1. Promote breaks.

A company that does not understand the value of breaks is sure to struggle. Workers can only handle so much stress before it starts to sabotage their productivity. Letting them take 15-minute breaks periodically will help them sharpen the saw of their productivity.

Don’t dictate what workers do on their breaks. There are plenty of ways to use a spare 15 minutes well. Some people enjoy walking around. Others would rather sit, read, or do a crossword puzzle.

2. Create a calm environment.

Clutter isn’t just unsightly. According to Psychology Today, cluttered environments reduce wellbeing, cloud thinking, and impede mental health. Chaotic spaces tend to be more stressful and less productive places to work.

Think beyond the physical environment. Poor time management creates mental clutter. The result is procrastination, overextension, unpunctuality, and over time, burnout.

3. Offer healthy foods and snacks.

Food is fuel. Stocking healthy foods for the team ensures that they don’t have to reach for a candy bar or drive to a local fast-food restaurant when they get hungry.

Place bowls around the workplace with snacks like bananas, apples, and protein bars. Fill the fridge with hydrating drinks like sparkling water and Gatorade. Be sure to ask team members about allergies before introducing new foods.

4. Set up group activities.

Learn what you team members like to do outside of work, and create hobby groups for them. Go on walks together, try group yoga, or simply set up a recreational basketball league. Socializing is good for mental and physical health, and it reminds workers that they are part of a team.

If workers aren’t interested in physical activities, set up discussion groups. Current events clubs, company improvement task forces, and foreign language groups give team members a voice.

5. Invest in perks.

Gym memberships and massage therapist visits cannot create culture alone, but they do get the message across that the company cares about the health of its team members. You can even include concierge services for when workers need groceries or office supplies.

If you aren’t sure where to start, look at the tech giants. Take Google: The Alphabet subsidiary offers its employees a host of unique perks, such as decompression capsules, a full on-site medical staff, and even free cooking classes.

You may not be able to afford all of the benefits that Google offers, but you can use them for inspiration. Create a list of perks that might fit in the budget, and ask team members for feedback on which ones are most important to them.

6. Ask for feedback over and over.

In order to be happy, positive, and productive at work, employees need to feel like they have a say. Sit down with team members monthly to get their thoughts on the company’s culture and how it’s affecting their personal habits.

Reward workers for suggestions on how to improve workplace conditions. Don’t penalize people who see flaws: Providing honest feedback is not the same as complaining. If employees’ suggestions conflict, get the group together to talk about how best to proceed.

Focus particularly on areas where multiple employees may need help. If two or more members of the team want to quit smoking, set up a cessation program that includes private counseling. If weight management is an issue across the team, perhaps activity trackers might make a good quarterly gift.

Workplace wellness programs are well and good, but a culture of wellness is what actually makes a difference. Leave no stone unturned: Physical, mental, and social health all matter in the context of overall wellbeing. Give employees the tools they need to improve in all of those areas, and you’ll be surprised at just how much stronger your company’s culture becomes.

5 New Year’s Resolutions to Take Your Business to New Heights in 2020

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5 New Year’s Resolutions to Take Your Business to New Heights in 2020

New Year’s resolutions are good for more than personal growth. If you want to grow your business in 2020, now is the time to set goals for the new year. Simply putting your goals on paper makes you 42% more likely to achieve them.

Growth comes in many flavors. Whether you want to give your culture, marketing, sales, or something else entirely a facelift in 2020, consider making one or more of these New Year’s resolutions for your business:

Resolution No. 1: Extend the holiday cheer.

The holiday season makes people happy. Unfortunately, the boost to workers’ mood and motivation doesn’t always last. If leaders don’t make an effort to maintain that environment, team members quickly reacclimate. Soon, stress seeps back in.

Leaders need to promote workplace harmony to keep tensions low and spirits high. Set out a box so colleagues can make cultural suggestions without worry. Review them at an all-staff meeting, and decide together which to implement. Give gifts and encourage gratefulness year ‘round, not just around the holidays.

Resolution No. 2: Be more transparent.

If there’s one resolution every company should make, this is it. Transparency plays an underappreciated role in productivity. Workers who feel included and understand company goals are more willing and able to achieve those goals. 

Make revenue and expenses an open conversation. Map out the business strategy for everyone to see. Encourage top-down, bottom-up, and peer-to-peer feedback. Use tools like Slack and processes like weekly updates to keep people in the loop.

Resolution No. 3: Manage time methodically. 

Another great way to boost productivity is to improve your time management skills. It’s easy to get caught up in daily distractions and busy work. Ask yourself each day, week, month, and quarter: What needs to get done, and where will it fit?

Start by implementing a zero-based calendar. Fill every 15-minute block with something, even if it’s merely meditating or responding to emails. Encourage your team members to do the same, and be sure to share calendars so everyone can see what others are working on.

Resolution No. 4: Set Sales Goals.

A business is nothing without sales. If you don’t have specific targets set for 2020, take a moment to do so. Think in percentages: You might want to increase revenue by 10% compared to last year, for instance.

To get there, you need a plan. Ask salespeople about kinks in your pipeline. Interview current customers about high and low points in their sales experience. If you haven’t already, invest in sales tools to automate outreach.

Resolution No. 5: Get more attention online. 

Digital channels are how most companies get business these days. If you buy billboards or newspaper ads, shift that spend to more modern tactics. Research suggests that organic and paid search, as well as social media and email marketing, have the highest ROI of digital channels.

Social media, in particular, allows you to create virtual customer environments. Online groups and forums are nearly free to set up. Beyond their branding benefits, they allow you to provide support to customers who might not be willing to call in.

Resolutions are powerful because they help you hold yourself and your team accountable. Think about where your business needs that discipline the most, and set your 2020 goals to suit. 

How to Handle a Meeting-Happy Client

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How to Handle a Meeting-Happy Client

Saying “no” is tough for everyone, including entrepreneurs. You want to do right by your clients, but you can’t spend your whole day meeting with them.

Every moment you spend in a meeting is one you can’t spend working on your business. Don’t let meeting-happy clients pull you away from your other priorities.

Start by keeping a time log so you know exactly how you’re spending your time. If one or two accounts are responsible for a disproportionate amount of your meeting time:

1. Get to the root of the issue. 

Clients know their time is limited, too. If they keep asking to meet with you, look for common themes. Show that you’re working to solve their needs, and you should see those requests fall off.

Try this: When the client reaches out, respond by asking for more details about the reason for the meeting. In many cases, a meeting simply isn’t necessary. If it’s something that you can address yourself, do it. Report back, and ask if the client still wants to meet.

2. Delegate. 

If your client constantly asks to meet — especially if it’s for a legitimate reason — one solution might be to ask a team member to take the meetings. That way, the client feels supported, and your schedule stays open.

Be sure, though, that the client respects your employee’s time. Ask them to schedule meetings at least 48 hours in advance, and ensure meetings last no longer than an hour. 

3. Be direct and quick.

What if, despite you solving the client’s issue, he or she still wants to meet? Say no, but don’t beat around the bush.

Being decisive and clear benefits everyone. Think of it like tearing off a Band-Aid: It’s better to get through the pain quickly than let it fester. In fact, a great client will appreciate your straightforward, timely response.

4. Provide additional resources.

Just because you say “no” to a meeting doesn’t mean you can’t be a good partner. If you can’t solve the client’s issue yourself, share content about it or make a referral to someone who can.

If multiple clients have come to you about this issue, consider developing a whitepaper or similar asset around it. A robust content strategy can be a great way to bring in new business. 

5. Template your responses. 

No matter how well you handle meeting-happy clients, there will always be more. Prepare yourself for the next one by setting up templates. Make each response is decisive and inoffensive.

Start with two: For those that you see no reason to meet with, “My calendar is booked for the foreseeable future” is a good response. For the rest, say something like, “I would love to discuss this with you further, but let’s wait for our next scheduled meeting.”

Practice makes perfect: The only way you’re going to get better at saying “no” to your clients is by doing it over and over again. Own your schedule, and don’t be ashamed of it. 

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