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The 5 Habits that can Change Your Life

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Habits that can Change Your Life

Having habits and routines are essential aspects of our everyday lives. Whether you want to meet a goal, be more productive, or live a more balanced life, habits are those small changes that can add up to significant results over time.

One of my favorite books, Atomic Habits by James Clear, talks about how developing habits doesn’t have to be complicated or feel foreign. You have the power to select the habits you want that will help you make progress. If you’re not quite sure which habits to add to your daily routine, here are five key habits to start that can change your life.

1. Wake Up At a Reasonable Time

Getting up early can make a significant impact on how your day is going to shape out. Of course, this isn’t to say that you have to get up at five am each day. However, training your body to wake up earlier is an excellent habit that will provide a big reward.

Getting up early gives you the time to complete your morning to-do list and be able to craft the best routine to tackle the day. Even getting up 15-20 minutes earlier than you usually do can be a great habit to develop. It might not seem like much, but it’s a start and will add more time back into your day, so you’re not overwhelmed with your schedule.

Waking up earlier doesn’t have to mean you’re getting less sleep either. In 2019, Sleep Cycle, a free app to track sleeping routines, released a study of their three million active monthly users. They concluded the average person sleeps 7 hours and 18 minutes each night. In addition, the average bedtime was 11:39 pm, and wake-up time was 7:09 am. So Americans are getting sleep, but also not oversleeping.

Getting enough sleep but still being able to wake up early is key to starting your day on the right track. Not everybody needs an alarm to wake up, though, and that’s okay. Waking up around 7:00 am is actually something that leaders like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg practice each day. Waking up early will set you in a nice daily routine that can help you be productive.

2. Schedule Out Your Day

Scheduling out your day is another vital addition to this list of habits that can change your life. It’s important to know what you’re doing for the day to avoid getting distracted and losing focus. In addition, scheduling out your day can give you an idea of your priorities so you can accomplish what’s most important to you.

With a clear schedule, you can be productive and not overwhelmed and bogged down by all your responsibilities. But, of course, there are some things that just won’t make it into your schedule, and that’s okay. We want to have a plan but also don’t want to work ourselves to the point of exhaustion.

If your current schedule isn’t working, that’s okay; there are ways to fix it. We’ve highlighted a few tips on how you can get your schedule catered to you. Of course, some things are more important to schedule into your day than others. We’ve mentioned seven crucial components that should be included in your daily routine.

Expressing gratitude and scheduling downtime are just a few of the habits that can be added to your day. Sure, you can prioritize productivity, but you also need to be kind to yourself in mind as well. Time is our most valuable resource, and something we can’t get back once it’s gone. Having a schedule will help you successfully use those minutes and hours and help establish a good routine instead of wasting away time.

3. Give Yourself Deadlines

Giving yourself deadlines to achieve each day is one of the best habits you can develop. Most people don’t like deadlines or the pressure that comes with them, but this can actually be helpful when you change your perspective.

Having a goal in mind when a task should be completed can greatly impact your day. Instead of never having a time in mind when something should be done, give yourself that timeline with a deadline. Deadlines have helped me so much in the past because I often procrastinate. There are some things I probably never would have gotten done if I didn’t have a specific deadline.

There are a few key benefits you can gain working under a deadline. Accountability is a big one. Hold yourself accountable if your deadline comes and goes and you still don’t have the task completed. Do you have someone you can count on to be your accountability partner? If not, consider asking a trusted friend or family member to help you.

Having that accountability allows us to access why the task wasn’t finished and how we will improve by hitting a deadline in the future. Having a deadline in place can also help you build momentum. Knowing you have that completion time in mind can help you stay motivated and limit distractions.

4. Make Time For Movement

Establishing a habit of moving your body throughout the day can change your life. It’s not good for us to be sitting all day without getting up and moving. According to a Mayo Clinic 2019 study, people who sit for eight hours a day with no physical activity have the same risk of dying similar to someone who smokes or is obese. This is bad news for many Americans because sedentary jobs in America have increased more than 83% since 1953, according to the American Heart Association. According to the same survey, only 20% of Americans have physically active jobs. The average office worker actually sits 15 hours a day.

That number is even higher for people who are still commuting to the office every day. Sitting without exercise can raise our chances of many different health risks, including high blood pressure, stroke. Heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and more. What can we do to offset these health risks and work from our seat lifestyle?

Well, we need physical activity in our lives. Something as simple as using a treadmill or walking around the block can make a significant impact on your health. Make sure to take breaks and get up from your chair. Standing up as often as every 30 minutes can be huge for you. If you can even stand while doing phone calls, this can be an excellent way to move around and get your legs moving while also getting working done as well.

5. Prioritize Practicing Self Care

Believe it or not, you are your most important asset. We need to take care of ourselves above all else. Make sure you are making time daily to address your self-care. It could be something as simple as meditation, prayer, reading, journaling, or even just focusing on a non-work-related goal you have in mind. Prioritize passion projects that you have as well.

Self-care focuses on both your mental and physical health. We need to keep our health in mind and shouldn’t overwork ourselves. If your time allows scheduling a course can be good for you. It can be job-related or just in a passion that you’ve had. It’s essential to prioritize ourselves and our well-being.

Summary

There has been a shift to working from our desks that hasn’t been seen before. We can’t let our physical or mental health be affected by this way of life. Work is vital, of course, but we are our most important asset. These habits can help you prioritize yourself and improve your life in every way.

Strategies and Habits that Can Help You Reach Your Full Potential

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Strategies and Habits that Can Help You Reach Your Full Potential

This year is all about new beginnings and discovering strategies to help us reach our full potential. 2020 threw everything it had at us — and yet we overcame all of its challenges. Better yet, we grew stronger, found new opportunities, and learned more about ourselves in 2020 than we ever knew prior.

To honor those new beginnings, we should all be striving to become better versions of ourselves in 2021. It’s time to shed those quarantine pounds, budget out your dream home, and pursue your highest aspirations.

One formula that I have found to be a good resource in helping people reach their full potential is the Full Life Framework developed by Leon Ho, the founder and CEO of Lifehack. This framework is built on five steps that enable you to live your life to the absolute fullest. Let’s break them down:

Life Missions

What do you hope to get out of life? This is the question to answer in the first step of the Full Life Framework. You need to have a mission, and specific strategies to reach your goals. Without these two vital pieces in your life — you’ll end up wandering aimlessly without purpose or direction.

Some people’s mission in life is to work hard and retire with the house on the hill. For others, it’s to help people through service or a meaningful career. Others still want to pursue their passions in art, music, or travel. Any of these goals are a wonderful representation of a life well-lived and are okay, as long as your mission is deeply personal and worth dedicating your time toward.

Compromise the Method, Not the Mission

Once you’ve honed in on your life’s mission, don’t let go of your dream. Too many people let the obstacles they face in life derail them from pursuing their life’s mission. One twist in the road and some will let their entire mission be compromised. But twists and turns are a part of life — and life is difficult. Don’t put your heart and life in the rearview mirror to be left behind forever — pick yourself up — over and over again.

Let’s say your dream job is to work for NASA (SpaceX might be more likely at this point), but you get offered a comfortable desk job right out of college. While the pay and benefits are nice, you know that taking this job might dash all hopes you have of getting your dream occupation. Is anything worth the sacrifice to leave your dream behind — or should you take a new strategy that keeps your vision intact?

Adopt a Progress Mindset

There’s one thing that stands in the way of your full potential; failure. Not only failure itself but the constant fear of failure that stops you from stretching your limits and challenging yourself. In order to adopt a mindset of progress, you’ll want to cast off such fears and thoughts.

Instead of beating yourself up when you make a mistake, think to yourself, “What can I learn from this?” Learning from each error you commit makes you stronger and smarter. You’ll rarely make mistakes twice if you use each of them as a strategy to move forward.

Self-Control Systems

True progress doesn’t come overnight. Nothing worth doing comes easy — all proficiency requires hours upon hours of diligent strategies to get from where you are now to where you want to be. The learning curve kind of dedication requires a lot of work and self-control.

The truth is, few people are capable of self-control based on sheer willpower alone. Recognizing and understanding the value of this step is important because it teaches you to develop a system that makes self-control become automatic.

Managing your time and efforts to develop habits will pave the way for you to reach your full potential, rather than climbing a metaphorical mountain every single day.

Life Multipliers

Last but certainly not least are the life multipliers. These multipliers are exactly how they sound; skills and attributes that when self-applied will greatly add upon the value and experience you get out of life.

There are eight life multipliers, each of which can be deeply expounded upon. For the sake of brevity here’s an outline of each multiplier and its importance.

    • Self-Empowerment: Your goals are as far away as you make them. If you don’t take the initiative, you won’t get any closer.
    • Self-Control: As was just discussed, you need to show some self-control so that procrastination doesn’t take hold of your life.
    • Renewable Vitality: Your health is incredibly important. If you’re not physically and mentally caring for yourself, you won’t be as well equipped for life as you’d like.
    • Emotion Mastery: Life is full of trial and error, which can get frustrating at times. Don’t let your negative emotions get the best of you.
    • Conscious Communication: Rarely will anyone make it through life by themselves. Communicating with your family, friends, and colleagues will make the journey much easier and a lot more enjoyable.
    • Smart Focus: Work smarter, not harder. Definitely work hard, but try to put an emphasis on efficiency whenever possible.
    • Learning and Adaptability: Constant learning is how you will be able to reach your full potential. Applying what you learn and even relearning some topics keeps you in the driver’s seat.
    • Constructive Thinking: Brush up on your problem-solving skills. You’ll need them quite frequently on your journey to the top.

The Full Life Framework

The Full Life Framework

The Full Life Framework by Leon Ho

Fulling your life, your passions, and your dreams through The Full Life Framework is a lot to take in — but don’t sweat it.

You have a lot of life left to live; give yourself a few years to get the hang of The Full Life Framework system. It is worth every effort you determine to put into your plan.

Start working on living your life to the fullest today and you’ll always look back with no regrets.

9 Productivity Mistakes You’re Making Every Day

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9 Productivity Mistakes You’re Making Every Day

Who wouldn’t want to be more productive? I think most of us would want to accomplish the goal of higher productivity daily — which is why you’re reading this article. The thing is, sometimes, when it comes to productivity, it’s not about adding a new hack, habit, or app to your life. It’s eliminating the things that are holding you back, such as the following nine mistakes.

9 Productivity Mistakes You’re Making Every Day

1. Not making the most of your morning.

There might have been a time when you consistently hit snooze and stayed in bed until the very last second before you have to go. But, we’re creatures of habit, and a morning routine gives us that much-needed structure. In turn, you’ll be healthier and more productive.

So, how should you spend your morning? Well, that’s really up to you. But here are some suggestions you should try:

  • Wake up before everyone else so that you have time to yourself.
  • Don’t look at your phone as soon as you wake up.
  • Avoid coffee first thing, and drink a 24 oz glass of water instead.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast.
  • Read, journal, meditate, and exercise.
  • Set a daily intention.
  • Review your calendar.

Most importantly, plan the night before so that you aren’t rushing around in the morning. For example, packing your lunch and laying out your clothes. And, don’t forget to establish and stick to a regular sleep schedule.

2. Wasting the two most productive hours of the day.

“One of the saddest mistakes in time management is the propensity of people to spend the two most productive hours of their day on things that don’t require high cognitive capacity (like social media),” psychologist Dan Ariely said in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” (AMA). “If we could salvage those precious hours, most of us would be much more successful in accomplishing what we truly want.”

When asked when are these “golden hours,” Ariely responded, “Generally, people are most productive in the morning. The two hours after becoming fully awake are likely to be the best.”

At the same time, this varies from person to person. But, Stephen Borgman, in Psychology Today, says, “Everyone needs a powerful morning routine to buffer stress and maximize their days.”

Most of us have an idea of when we’re most productive and when we’re not. If you’re uncertain, track your time to get a clearer picture. After identifying your peak hours, spend that time on your most demanding and challenging tasks of the day.

3. Treating cheating as a reward.

“People often decide to treat themselves if they are doing something they find difficult, such as dieting, saving money, exercising or working,” writes Amy Johnson in Lifehack. “However, if someone treats themselves to a dress after a week of saving, this undermines the achievement they have made.” Even worse, this could ‘encourage you to ditch your plan entirely, as you’ve already been ‘bad.’”

“Try to view the act of you achieving your goals as a treat,” suggests Amy. “You wanted to improve yourself — and now you are well on your way.”

4. Allowing yourself to get mentally fatigued.

You’ll not want to waste your most productive hours on low-demand tasks. Remember, who only have so much energy and willpower in a day. So, it’s better to reserve it for essential activities. Better than just reserving your energy is to build your energy during the day.

Deep Patel gives some ways to boost your energy during the day that I’ve found to be quite successful — including getting rid of emotional contagions.

Another way to preserve — and build your energy throughout the day is to block apps and distracting noises when focused on deep work. Take frequent breaks, walk around your building — do something to recharge and recover from mental fatigue. If mental fatigue is something that you struggle with — go back to the Pomodoro Technique. It’s where you work in 25-minute blocks and then take a short break.

5. Falling into the urgency trap.

If there is one takeaway I want you to remember from this article, not everything is an emergency. I know that you’ve got a full plate. But, you won’t be able to clear it if you keep piling more on.

One way to avoid this is by creating a master list and analyzing it. Your master list is everything that you need or want to get done. Don’t worry about putting it in order just yet.

After you’ve developed your list, use the 4 D’s of time management to thin it down. The tasks that need to be done right now should be put in your calendar first. These would be things that can be completed quickly, have deadlines, or contribute to your goals.

For important tasks that aren’t urgent, defer them to a later time. Urgent but unimportant tasks can be delegated. And, anything that is neither should be deleted from your list.

6. Being afraid to say “no.”

Let’s say that you’re in the zone, and there’s a knock on your door. Your co-founder pops their head in and asks if you have a minute. Unless it’s a life or death situation, your response should be “no.”

Of course, you don’t want to come off like a jerk. You can merely tell the individual you’re busy and ask if they can come back in an hour when you’re free.

The same idea is valid to any sort of time request. You just received an invite for an unnecessary meeting? Decline it. What do you do if you’ve already committed to a party this weekend? Have it clearly in your mind that if you’ve already accepted one engagement, you can’t attend another social function.

As Derek Sivers once wrote, “If you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, say ‘no.’” When you do, you can remain focused on your priorities and avoid spreading yourself too thin.

7. Believing in the myth of multitasking.

“Multitasking might be your favorite way to forge through your daily tasks,” writes Howie Jones in an article for Calendar. “The logic is flawless. Accomplishing two things instead of one thing is always better.”

Here’s the problem, though. Multitasking is a myth. The reason? “The human brain seems to be set up to handle one task at a time,” explains Howie. “It is impossible to change the way our brains are set up, so it is better to accept reality and avoid multitasking.”

As a result, when you multitask, “you cost yourself time and efficiency that you cannot get back.” Focus on one thing at a time and then move on to your next task.

8. Focusing on time, not results.

All too often, we focus on how many hours we work and not what we’ve achieved. It’s like some strange badge of honor. Do you think that you’re any more productive by working 80 plus hours per week?

I hate to break it to you. But you’re not. In fact, according to a Stanford study, productivity begins to drop after working 50 hours per week. And, it plummets so much after working 55 hours that it’s pointless.

What’s more, research from Behance “found that placing importance on hours and physical presence over action and results leads to a culture of inefficiency (and anxiety).” Furthermore, sitting “at your desk until a specific time creates a factory-like culture that ignores a few basic laws of idea generation and human nature:

  • When the brain is tired, it doesn’t work well.
  • Idea generation happens on its own terms,
  • When you feel forced to execute beyond your capacity, you begin to hate what you are doing.

Instead, reflect and acknowledge what you’ve accomplished in a day. An easy way to do this would be creating a done list to show you how you were productive and not just busy.

9. Thinking that work-life balance is 50/50.

Perhaps the biggest misconception about work-life balance is that it’s a 50-50 split. In other words, you spend an equal amount of time at work, and the other at home.

The reality is that that’s not realistic. Work-life balance is all about doing the right thing at the right time. For example, you need to launch your app by the end of the week. That’s where a majority of your time and energy should be focused. But your child has to go to the emergency room. Well, that should take precedence over everything else.

Sometimes if you want to attain a work-life balance — you need to find something in life that is worth balancing. Do you want to run a marathon? The training will build your confidence and force you to adjust your life experiences better. Have you always wanted to learn another language besides the two that you already know? Immersion in a new language learning program will balance your life better than you may be doing currently.

“A more attainable goal than work-life balance — is work-life integration,” writes Amanda Abella in a previous Calendar article. That means integrating “your work and your life so that they complement each other instead of competing with one another.”

10 Daily Habits to Boost Your Productivity

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Have you ever wondered why some people are more productive than others? You have been told this answer for years — and it’s simple — your productivity really boils down to habits.

In fact, it’s been found that about 40 percent of people’s daily activities are performed each day in almost the same situations. Sometimes, that can be beneficial, like maintaining a wake-sleep schedule. Other times that can work against you, think unhealthy habits like perfectionism.

If you feel that your bad habits have been holding you back, I’ve got some good news for you. You can replace them with healthier habits so that you’ll be more productive. And, while some of these are obvious, I wanted to put a spotlight on 10 lesser-known daily habits that you should be embracing,

1. Don’t snooze.

What’s your first instinct when your alarm, whether if it’s your phone or old-school clock, goes off in the morning? I would assume that it would be like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. You wish that you could smash the alarm into a million little pieces.

Maybe that’s why Americans are hitting snooze twice every morning? But, considering that we’re also relying on two alarms and are waking-up groggy, it’s probably because we’re not getting enough quality sleep.

I’m not going to lecture you on the importance of prizing sleep. However, I am going to stress why you need to remove the snooze button from your morning routine.

According to Reena Mehra, M.D., M.S., Director of Sleep Disorders Research at Cleveland Clinic, this prevents our bodies from getting that much-needed restorative sleep. “Much of the latter part of our sleep cycle is comprised of REM sleep, or dream sleep, which is a restorative sleep state,” explained Dr. Mehra. “And so, if you’re hitting the snooze button, then you’re disrupting that REM sleep or dream sleep.”

Moreover, those short periods of sleep you’re getting aren’t enough to qualify as restorative sleep. The easiest solution is to make sure that you’re getting seven to eight hours of sufficient sleep. If you struggle with this, you might want to schedule a visit to your “physician to make sure there’s no undiagnosed sleep disorder,” suggests Dr. Mehra.

In addition to waking-up without hitting snooze, you’ll have more energy and stamina throughout the day. More importantly, you’ll be less stressed, more creative, and process complex information. It can even help regulate your appetite.

2. Focus on just one goal.

Despite what you may believe, multitasking isn’t possible. Similarly, the same can be said of trying to juggle multiple goals at once.

“While it might seem very difficult, focusing on one goal at a time is the most powerful way of achieving your goals,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you try to take on many goals at once, you’re spreading thin your focus and energy — the two critical components for achieving a goal.”

“What if you have 5 goals you want to achieve?” asks Leo. “Pick one to focus on first.” Next, for long-term goals, you’ll want to fragment that into a mini-goal — preferably one that you can accomplish this month.

“Keep doing this until the goal is accomplished — do an action every day, finish the mini-goal, pick the next mini-goal to work on,” Leo adds. “Then, when your One Goal is completed, focus on the next goal.”

“Some goals are ongoing ones — like blogging every day, or exercising every day,” he says. “In those cases, turn them into habits — focus exclusively on turning the goal into a habit, until the habit is ingrained.” After that, move on to the next goal.

3. Start off calm.

When you do get out of bed, start your day off on the right foot. How? By having a calm and peaceful morning.

The first way to achieve this is by waking up early enough so that you aren’t literally run out the door. You should have enough time to embark on a morning routine. While this can be whatever you’re into, like exercising, you should definitely include a little meditation.

“I often suggest my clients begin their day with a morning meditation or self-affirming exercise,” says Shelby Castile, a licensed therapist. You could also set a positive intention for the day or repeating a mantra, such as “I choose happiness.”

Benjamin Spall, the co-founder of My Morning Routine, suggests that you also use “waking up as your cue to get out of bed and start doing some light stretching.” You’ll want to follow that up with “some push-ups before transitioning into your favorite yoga pose.”

“Or you can use waking up as your cue to grab a book from your bedside table and read 10 pages before popping on the kettle and starting breakfast,” adds Spall. Personally, I also write in a gratitude journal and review my calendar to know what to expect for the rest of the day.

4. Cultivate deep work.

For the uninformed, deep work is defined by Cal Newport as “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.” In other words, these are your most demanding and important tasks. As such, they require 100% of your attention.

Of course, this is a challenge for most of us. We first have to identify what constitutes deep work. After that, we must block out time for this work. And, we also have to build up the discipline not to get distracted.

To accomplish this, Newport recommends that you take the following steps:

  • Schedule deep work. In your calendar, block out the appropriate time for deep work. Ideally, this should be when you’re at peak productivity. If that’s between 8 am and 10 am, then this is when you’ll schedule deep work.
  • Don’t be as accessible. Since you don’t want to get distracted during this time, turn off your phone. Or, at the very least, smartphone notifications. If you have an office, close your door. If not, put on a pair of headphones.
  • Know your work habits. I work best in isolation. Knowing this, when it’s time to get down to brass tacks, I’m like Superman and hiding out in my fortress of solitude. But, I have colleagues who enjoy being around others to get inspired. In short, determine how you work best and work with that as opposed to against it.
  • Keep a scoreboard. Record your deep intervals. And conduct a weekly review of your progress.

Moreover, because deep work can be taxing, you must fill your energy tank. Newport writes that you can achieve this by being lazy and embracing boredom. For example, instead of getting sucked into your smartphone during a break, stare at the window and let your mind wander.

5. Build pyramids.

Are you familiar with batching? If not, it’s quite simple. You group similar activities together, such as checking your inbox at set intervals instead of throughout the day.

While batching is a tried and true productivity technique — you may want to try pyramids. Here you would spend 15-30 minutes tackling easy batching actives. Once you’re warmed up, jump into your main goal of the day. And, finally, end your day on a high note, like organizing your workspace or evaluating your to-do-list.

6. Follow “Ramit’s Book Buying Rule.”

It’s been said that adults make about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day. The thing is, most of these are unimportant. But, they still can deplete your energy supply leading to decision fatigue.

One simple way to reduce the number of decisions you make per day is to adhere to Ramit Sethi’s book-buying rule. “If you’re thinking about buying a book, buy it, he explains. “Don’t waste five seconds debating it. Even one idea makes it more than worth the price.”

What if you can’t decide between multiple books? Buy them and read them both.

Another way to make pare down decisions would be through meal prepping or having a signature look — President Obama did this by only having gray or blue suits. Whenever possible, find ways to automate, delegate, or outsource less important or redundant tasks.

7. Listen intently.

The cornerstone of any relationship is listening to what the other person has to say. That means giving them all of your attention, asking questions, and remembering key information. As a result, this fosters trust and improves communication and collaboration.

Also, while it may not seem important, this can prevent misunderstandings. Or, it can save time since you and the other party aren’t constantly having to repeat yourself.

8. Sharpen your ax.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” Although that’s often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, which isn’t the case, that’s still an inspiring quote mainly because it highlights the importance of staying sharp.

How exactly can you do that? The most obvious starting point is constantly improving your existing skillset and learning new information. Another way would be to have contingency plans so that you’re prepared for the unexpected.

9. Be a quitter.

If you’re like me, it’s probably been drilled into your head that quitting is bad. Sometimes that’s definitely. For example, walking out on your team when they need you most.

But, I’m talking about throwing in the towel on the things that eat away at your time and productivity. That could be unsubscribing from emails to keep your inbox clutter-free. You may also want to reject new projects or meeting invites if you’re strapped for time.

Whatever you decide to give-up is totally up to you. The main takeaway here is that quit the things that aren’t worth your valuable time and energy.

10. Establish a “shutdown” ritual.

Finally, end your day with a “shutdown” ritual. These are tasks that help you transition from work to home mode while also preparing for tomorrow. Some suggestions would be:

  • Closing loops, like responding to an important email.
  • Sketching out your ideal workday tomorrow.
  • Shutting down your computer.
  • Reflecting on your accomplishments for the day.
  • Setting out tomorrow’s wardrobe.

6 Work-From-Home Habits to Kick Before Heading Back to the Office

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6 Work-From-Home Habits to Kick Before Heading Back to the Office

The day has finally arrived: After months of working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the office is about to reopen. But what will it be like going back?

Transitioning to working from home took a great deal of preparation. Similarly, you can’t expect to return to the office and thrive automatically. 

You may be thrilled to return to a more traditional work environment. Or maybe you’ve mastered working-from-home and would rather not go back. Either way, there are likely habits you’ve picked up that won’t be conducive to the office. 

What are those habits? Nip the following tendencies in the bud before heading back to the office:

1. Sleeping In

You know how tempting it is to hit the snooze button. When working from home, getting ready for work takes less time, so you may have gotten into the habit of indulging that temptation. 

When returning to the office, you can’t afford to slack. Sleeping in shortens the amount of time you have for a morning routine. Let yourself sleep in, and you’ll find yourself stressed out and off-rhythm.

 If you’re having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, try waking to light. Also, consider starting your morning routine with an activity that makes you excited to wake up. And if the problem is the amount of sleep you’re getting, turn in earlier at night. 

2. Poor Grooming and Hygiene 

When you don’t have to physically interact with people during a workday, you might have let your grooming habits lapse. When you’re the only one who has to smell yourself, that’s OK.

In the office environment, though, you’ll want to be diligent. Be sure to shave, trim, shower, shampoo, and anything else you need to look and feel your best.

Remember that others are coming back to the office as well. Make it easier for them to share a space with you. Take care of yourself so you can all focus on work.

3. Not Dressing Up

Do you work from home in your PJs? Once you’re back in the office, that won’t fly. 

Being comfortable is great, but sweatpants don’t exactly say “professional.” Be sure you look the part before and at your first in-office meeting. 

How should you get into the swing of it? Make it exciting by buying some new clothes for work. Treat it as a chance to improve your fashion game. 

4. Eating Junk Food

In the comfort of your home, it’s easy to grab a snack whenever you want. And who cares if you eat chips and queso for lunch every day?

At work, excessive snacking isn’t a smart idea. Not only is it a distraction, but you need to keep your energy levels high during the transition. Plus, unhealthy eating sets a bad precedent for others. 

Make healthy eating easier by preparing your meals in advance. If you struggle with snacking, bring an apple or a bag of carrots. Alternatively, ask your employer to buy some healthy office snacks for the team to enjoy. Single-serve packaging minimizes the risk of transmitting the virus. 

5. Bringing Your Work Home with You

The funny thing about working from home is that your work is literally home with you. This makes it more difficult to separate your work life from your personal life. And that’s not good for your productivity or your mental health. 

If your work-life boundaries have blurred together, take steps to separate them. The following steps measures can help: 

  • Set limits on your laptop so you can’t access work-related things at certain times.
  • Create an end-of-work habit, like taking a walk, that signals it’s time to stop thinking about work.
  • Repurpose your work-from-home space when you get back to the office.  
  • Ask an accountability partner, such as your spouse, to discourage you from working after hours.
  • Uninstall work apps like Slack from your mobile devices.
  • Manage your mental health with habits like meditation, exercise, and yoga.

6. Constantly Checking Your Phone

Do you find yourself mindlessly checking Facebook or Twitter when you’re bored? When you’re working from home, there’s nobody around to see you goof off. But back in the office, constantly pulling up social media isn’t a good look. 

Experts report that we pick up our phone 58 times a day on average. Most of these are not for intentional or urgent purposes. The result is aimless scrolling when we should be working. 

Don’t let your phone control you. If you’re having trouble staying on task because of your phone, put it in a different room. Turn off notifications from apps that aren’t urgent. If necessary, block yourself from accessing certain sites until you get off work each day. 

Every transition has a few bumps along the way. But if you plan ahead, you’ll make it that much easier on yourself. After all, you knew you’d have to head back sooner or later. 

5 Small Habits That Can Make or Break Your Productivity

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If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, it can feel like your whole day got turned upside down. Why? Because your first 90 minutes set the stage for the rest of your day. 

Pivotal habits, such as eating breakfast and journaling, can significantly change the trajectory of your productivity. They give you a better outlook on the day and clarify your work intentions. 

What small hacks can keep you motivated and productive throughout the day? These five are key:

 

  •  Defining your ‘why’

 

Get used to it: You won’t enjoy every task you have to do in a day. Nobody gets inspired by things like taking out the trash or sorting through emails.

That’s why you need to establish your “why.” It’s never a smart idea to rely on willpower alone to get you through menial work. 

Simon Sinek, author of “Start With Why,” suggests treating your “why” as your root. Yours might be different than someone else’s, and that’s OK. What’s important is that your goals and your tasks logically grow out of it. 

Ask yourself: What do you ultimately want out of your productivity? To enjoy leisure time? To live out your potential? 

Make your goal something greater than paying the bills. For example, you could think of it as: “providing a secure life for my family and children.” When you have a clear direction for what you’re doing, it’s easier to get through rough times. 

 

  •  Mapping out your week on Sunday 

 

If you want to be more productive, you have to plan your week out on Sunday.

There are probably a million things you would rather do on Sunday, but you only have to spend 30 minutes to plan out the rest of your week. Then you can go to the beach or catch up on your favorite television show. 

Here’s how you can map out your week on Sunday: 

  • Write everything down that needs to get done.
  • Separate main priorities from what can wait. 
  • Add main priorities to your calendar. Stick to three or fewer per day.
  • Add sub-priorities to your main priorities. If you want to landscape your yard, for example, you may need to make a trip to the hardware store. 
  • For to-do items that can wait, schedule them during leftover availability.

Now you have a weekly schedule. Review it and make sure it truly reflects what you have to get done. Also ensure that you don’t have any events conflicting with each other. You wouldn’t want to schedule a client visit the same time you have to conduct employee training. 

With your remaining time on Sunday, take care of housekeeping items. Prepare meals, do laundry, and clean up. This ensures you can keep your focus on more important things during the week than what you’ll be eating for lunch the next day. 

 

  •  Having a morning routine 

 

Is your go-to morning routine hitting snooze on your phone several times and throwing your wrinkled clothes on? Habits like that ruin the rest of your day. You set the stage for hurriedness and laziness from the moment you open your eyes. 

Some tasks you might consider including in a morning routine:

 

  • Reviewing your goals

 

Are the goals you set out for yourself on Sunday still valid. Focus on finishing those first. Once your priorities are done, work on the ones that are not as pressing. 

 

  • Making your bed 

 

Making your bed is a small task that can make you feel like you accomplished something big. It takes less than five minutes and builds your confidence.

 

  • Exercising

 

Did you know that experts say mornings are the best time to exercise? Exercise wakes you up by getting your blood flowing bright and early. 

 

  • Implementing a get-out-the-door routine 

 

Getting out the door on time helps you feel ready for work. This means having your clothes ironed and ready to put on the night before. Have essential items — like your laptop bag and lunch box — packed and in a specific spot. Place pre-planned meals in the fridge and ready to pack.  

 

  •  Decluttering your workspace 

 

Have you ever tried getting work done when your desk is full of junk: pencils that don’t work, papers you don’t use, knick knacks that are collecting dust?

It can feel impossible to work in that environment. Clutter makes it difficult for you to focus, and hard to relax. It also reminds you of all the cleaning you should have done but haven’t.

Take a few minutes to clean your workspace, starting with your desk. Put items in a box that you don’t need. Get rid of the paper agendas from old meetings. Return books that belong to another department.

Then, clean up your computer. Delete old files, and archive your emails. Organize the documents you actually need into folders.  

Finally, take care of the area around your work station. Vacuum the carpet. Clean out your filing cabinet. 

 

  •  Working smarter, not harder

 

There’s no point in discovering your why, having a schedule, morning routine, and decluttering your workspace — if you’re overworked. Why grind it out when you can find alternative ways of working?

Working smarter might mean outsourcing data entry tasks to a digital assistant. It could mean listening to your favorite podcast on your walk instead of when you’re trying to meet a deadline. 

Working smarter helps you focus on priority tasks. It also shows you the value of delegating appropriate tasks, allowing your time to be better spent elsewhere. Working smarter allows you to get tasks done quicker, which lets you use the leftover time to relax. 

To get the big things done, start small. Know what you need to get done, take care of yourself (and your workspace), and find efficiencies where you can. That’s all there is to it. 

5 Tips for Balancing Your Clients’ Calendars With Your Own

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5 Tips for Balancing Your Clients’ Calendars With Your Own

It’s easy to be the client’s yes-man: agreeing to last-minute projects and too-fast turnarounds, booking back-to-back meetings, and worrying about how you’ll complete the work you take on.

Don’t get me wrong: Clients’ needs are important. In fact, they’re the reason you see profits at the end of the quarter. But if you’re constantly reacting to client needs, when will you have time to work on all of the other things that keep your company moving forward?

Resist the urge to overload your schedule. Not only does it put you at risk of letting a client down, but it can lead to all sorts of chronic health problems. 

Balancing your client’s calendar with your own can feel like walking on a tightrope. Cut yourself some slack with these five tips:

1. Know when you work best.

When do you feel most energized? It could be in the morning right after a cup of coffee, or in mid-afternoon as the office gets quiet and your inbox traffic slows. Identify the time of day when you’re at peak productivity.

No matter what part of the day works best for you, block this time out on your schedule for focused, distraction-free work. Don’t let the whirlwind of meetings and emails keep you from spending this time on your most pressing projects. 

This is the work of setting boundaries, which benefit everyone involved: You finish projects on time, and your client gets a better outcome. Don’t feel guilty for it. 

2. Use an online scheduling tool.

Although paper planners and calendars have their benefits, working from an online calendar is the best way to stay on top of the fast-paced work environment.

To that calendar, add not just your meetings and appointments, but also those blocks of time when you want to do deep work. Set it so that your team members and, if you so choose, your clients can see your availability. 

Giving clients open access to your calendar might be nerve-wracking. But think about the advantages of such a system: Clients who can see your calendar will understand that you can’t meet at a time that you’ve already committed to someone else. Make rearranging your schedule the last resort. 

3. Build a buffer into timeline estimates.

When setting the project timeline, be realistic. Give estimates according to when you could comfortably complete the work, not when you could do it if you pushed everything else out of the way.

Sure, it’s nice to impress a client with a quick turnaround. If you do that for every client, though, you’ll quickly run out of time and energy. 

Apply the “buffer” approach to your meeting schedule as well. Give yourself small blocks of time between appointments to decompress, answer emails, and prepare for the next one. 

4. Look at the big picture.

You know what times of year are most and least profitable for your business. The same is true of your clients.

It’s likely that your clients have an idea of how their year will look and what they might need in a given season. At the start of the calendar year, ask your long-term clients what projects they anticipate needing your help with. Not only does reaching out early show that you want to maintain your relationship with them, but it lets you know well in advance what’s coming.

Go ahead and add those projects to your calendar. Set reminders to follow up with each client for details as the start dates draw closer. 

5. Get creative.

Make use of every minute of your schedule. If you find yourself squandering interstitial periods, ask whether you could use them to buy yourself time elsewhere. 

For example, you could take lunch meetings or chat with clients over happy hour. If you usually commute to appointments, could you take some of them via a videoconferencing service?

Videoconferencing is a good solution for all sorts of meetings. Not only does it keep you at your desk, but it allows you to share your screen and record the conversation.

At the end of the day, remember that you’re the captain of your calendar. It’s OK to occasionally feel overwhelmed by your workload, but it shouldn’t be the norm. Client needs are important, yes, but you should not live by their beck and call.

5 Best Practices for Controlling Your Calendar Notifications

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Small Business Owners and Social Media: How Much Time to Spend Online

Buzzes, beeps, dings, and swishes are the sounds of the workday. They’re useful, but they’re also distracting.

Constant notification noises put you in reactive mode. Working reactively is stressful, gets in the way of proactive thinking, and zaps energy you should be spending on focused work. But aside from silencing your computer or phone entirely — which may cause you to miss a call or a key appointment — what can you do to control them?

Setting boundaries is important if you want to use your time wisely. Try these five best practices to quiet the noise and boost your productivity:

1. Know your options.

The default settings in your scheduling software are not your friends. Find the settings menu, and start exploring. Keep in mind your options will differ depending on the device you’re using. 

Start with your device’s global settings. If you have an iPhone, you’ll see a notifications menu in the “Settings” app. A similar menu exists on Android devices. Here, you’ll find options for where notifications appear, how long they linger, and if your phone buzzes or dings upon receipt. 

Take the same approach on your computer. You might find an option that provides a heads up without annoying noises. For example, did you know that Microsoft Outlook can send you text notifications, summarizing your calendar for the day? Knowing your alert options is the first step in developing a system that serves you. 

2. Be selective.

Again, notifications exist to serve you, not the other way around. To regain control of your calendar notifications, choose which apps you actually want to hear from.

Say you’ve elected to receive Slack notifications on both your laptop and smartphone. Slack can notify you about every message in every channel, only on select channels, or only when you’re tagged. Those settings can be customized for each device. 

If you operate on-the-go, you might turn off all desktop alerts but opt to receive notifications from certain channels on your phone. If you stay close to your desk, you could opt for the opposite.

Personally, I prefer to turn off all notifications on my phone, except for those directly related to calls or texts. On my computer, I opt for email and Slack notifications. 

3. Use your senses.

Toggling the on/off switch isn’t the only way to control audio alerts on your devices. Your device’s notification settings allow you to adjust which apps send you vibration or audio notifications.

A favorite trick of mine is adjusting the sound alerts in Outlook. I don’t want to hear a chime every time a new email or calendar reminder occurs. Only when I receive an email directly from my team do I hear a chime. That sound signals to me that I should put down whatever else I’m working until I check whether the email is important and time-sensitive. 

4. Do more with your inbox.

Even if my email inbox is overflowing, I prefer to receive a notification there instead of on my phone. Here, I can sort, prioritize, and save messages until I’m ready to address them.

Many scheduling tools, including the one I use, allow you to send yourself reminders at appointed times. I set a monthly reminder to pay my credit card bill, so I receive an email at 9 a.m. the day before the bill is due.

I might accidentally dismiss the notification on my phone, but I can’t miss the email reminder in my inbox. Then, I mark it as important to keep it top of mind.

Try setting your calendar to email you 15 minutes before a meeting. To take it a step further, assign that email a special sound. 

5. Get focused.

Notifications are the enemy of deep work. Especially if you are about to engage in multitasking, turn your devices to “silent” and move them out of sight. Close Gmail, Slack, and any other applications that you’ve set to send you notifications.

If you need a notification to know when to stop, set a kitchen or online timer. Don’t use your phone for this because once the timer dings, you’ll be tempted to dive back into the notifications. 

Give yourself a block of uninterrupted work time — as well as one for personal time — every day. Sleep with your phone in airplane mode (or out of the bedroom entirely) so that your morning alarm doesn’t greet you with a list of notifications. Ironically, setting a calendar reminder for notification-free time can help with this. 

If you’re constantly feeling stressed out and overwhelmed, try taming your notifications. Trust your brain to remember what’s essential, and set your devices to remind you of the rest.

7 Easy Ways to Avoid Burnout at Home

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7 Easy Ways to Avoid Burnout at Home

You know that feeling when you just can’t find the will to work? It’s more than simple stress: You physically and emotionally drained; you don’t feel competent; and it’s causing you an existential crisis.

That feeling is known as burnout, and according to Mayo Clinic, it has real health implications. Burnout is associated with excessive fatigue, insomnia, alcohol abuse, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. 

But while burnout can be tough to solve, it’s relatively easy to prevent a few at-home approaches:

1. Get enough sleep.

Sleep deprivation is a risk factor for dozens of different health conditions, including burnout. Stop burnout before it starts by getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep every night. 

Give yourself enough time to prepare for sleep. Organize some of the things you’ll need in the morning so that you can sleep in peace. And be sure to stay away from screens for a couple of hours before going to bed. 

2. Exercise.

Many big-name business leaders make sure that they exercise daily. Some go to the gym early in the morning, but there are plenty of ways they get their workout in other than hitting the weights.

this doesn’t have to happen in a gym or other indoor setting, especially for those who are indoors during their working hours. The great outdoors provides ample opportunities to get physical activity. 

Take a walk in the morning, or go for a hike in the afternoon. The great outdoors provides plenty of opportunities to get physical. Stretching and calisthenic exercises are two other ways to keep your stress levels in check.  

3. Keep a journal.

Often, burnout stems from a lack of purpose. Scheduling time to journal is a great way for business leaders to release these anxieties and keep things in perspective. 

When you journal, think about the reasons that you do what you do in the first place. Consider the people you work with and how you impact their lives. Remember that regardless of what you do, you are helping people or fulfilling someone’s needs with your job. 

4. Engage in hobbies.

Another element of burnout is a sense of incompetence. That feeling can be demoralizing and significantly reduce your motivation. 

Hobbies give you a break from the work you typically do. More importantly, they allow you to do something that you enjoy without the stress of having to get things just right. 

If you don’t have a hobby, take this opportunity to find one. If you’re creative, sewing or crafting could be your cup of tea. If you’re interested in cooking, check out a book of recipes to try out. You might like to take and edit pictures on your phone. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

5. Unplug.

When there’s so much going on in the digital world, it can be overwhelming to keep up. If the constant chime of appointment notifications, emails, and news updates gets on your nerves, practice putting down your phone. 

What about while you’re working? You might not be able to change the fact that you work from a computer, but you can keep only a single tab open and turn notifications off — and if all else fails, go take a walk. 

6. Schedule breaks.

Be sure to include breaks in your calendar. Working nonstop is a surefire way to burn yourself out. Scheduling tools can help you get through your daily tasks more efficiently and place breaks at times when you tend to be the least productive. 

7. Make motivational playlists.

Sometimes, all it takes is the right song to put you in a good mood. Listening to music is proven to reduce depression, speed recovery from trauma, and sleep better.

There are plenty of playlists pre-built by streaming platforms for different moods. If you can’t come up with a specific artist or song, treat them as a starting point to find songs that motivate you. 

Playlists are the perfect way to power through household chores and workout sessions. Build one for every activity you dread or put off. 

Regardless of your career path, you’re likely to face burnout at some point. Add healthy habits into your schedule so you can avert a crisis. The best antidote to burnout, bar none, is self-care. 

How to Squeeze More Time Out of Your Busy Schedule

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How to Squeeze More Time Out of Your Busy Schedule

Entrepreneurs have it hard. Not only do they have to operate a business, but they also have to ensure that they can manage their day-to-day tasks on top of it.

Staying busy isn’t a bad thing, but many entrepreneurs find themselves trying to fit too many things into their schedules. 

If you’re an entrepreneur who is feeling overwhelmed, or the days just keep getting busier, here are a few ways you can free up your time for the most important things on your calendar:

1. Get Rid of Pointless Meetings.

Your time is valuable and deserves your respect. It might not always feel like it, but you have control of your own calendar. In order to free up your time, it’s critical to take a closer look at some of your meeting schedule.

Stop letting people put unnecessary appointments on your calendar.

Make clear to employees, clients, and vendors what constitutes a meeting and what the expectations are for that meeting. A meeting should have a defined purpose, an approximate start and end time, and a detailed agenda. 

Implement a policy that you won’t take a meeting that does not include these items. If someone feels they can’t include these items when scheduling a meeting, perhaps a phone call or email might be a better use of your time. 

Evaluate your current schedule and make changes as needed.

As a leader, it’s important to evaluate the effectiveness of your current schedule so you can make the most of your time. Are you meeting deadlines? Is your meeting schedule working each week? Do you feel the pressure of the clock? 

Answering these questions and making changes where you see fit will help clean up your calendar and free up more time in the day.

Learn to say “no.”

Although the word “no” has an inherently negative connotation, go ahead and get comfortable with it. Others will understand if you need to decline the occasional meeting. Offer to reschedule it or suggest an alternative solution. 

Leverage an online scheduling tool.

Appointment scheduling software like Calendar are incredibly helpful for calendar management. Use them to minimize email back-and-forth, avoid overbooking yourself, and getting a quick glimpse of your day’s appointments.

Go ahead and block off one day a week for deep work. A popular method is to implement a one-day-a-week no-meetings policy. Use that time to prevent or solve complex business problems. 

2. Reduce the Amount of Time Spent at Your Desk.

Entrepreneurs often feel like they are “too busy to take a break.” But that simply isn’t true.

Breaks are good for the brain, and spending 8 hours at your desk doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve had a productive day. When you find the luxury of a free, 15-minute time period, try filling it by doing something for yourself, rather than trying to cram in another task.

Options include:

  • Meditating: If you feel anxious or overly stressed during the workday, use your free time to meditate. It could significantly reduce your stress level and give you the boost you need to continue on with a productive day. Even something as simple as going into a quiet room, focusing on your breathing, and clearing every thought in your mind can make a huge difference in your day.
  • Listening to a short podcast: Podcasts can be a way to unwind, and a great learning tool. Thousands of podcasts are uploaded every day on topics like business, money, news, politics, comedy and more. Listening to a podcast that aligns with your line of work can offer inspiration on a slow day. 
  • Reading a book: A short, 15-minute break is plenty of time to catch up on a chapter of your favorite book. Whether you’re reading for business or pleasure, reading is relaxing and can heighten brain function.

Don’t be afraid to take that little bit of time for yourself. You’ll be less stressed and more productive.

3. Cut Out Busy Work.

While it’s important to fill up your free time with non-work tasks, you’ll also find that much of your schedule is filled with busy work. Identify these tasks and limit the time you spend on them. To assist with busy work, appoint your top employees to managerial roles, and don’t be afraid to delegate these tasks as you see fit. 

Cutting out busy work will free up time for business development. For example, you can focus on managing your business’ social media pages. As an entrepreneur, people want to hear what you have to say, and find your experience and opinions very valuable. By putting out thought leadership pieces or video content, you can gain your following, and next thing you know, you’re viral—and so is your business. 

You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel when you pare down your calendar. Be proactive, and don’t try to take on too much. And if you have already, make changes so you can be your best self. 

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