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10 Support Organizations for Productive Entrepreneurs

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10 Support Organizations for Entrepreneurs

I have no regrets about being an entrepreneur. Chasing my dreams and starting my own business was the best decision I ever made. That’s not to say that it’s always been easy. I’ve had businesses fail, sacrificed relationships, and had to deal with daily challenges. Handling upset customers or motivating employees are the smaller situations to deal with.

To make matters worse, on the really big things — I’ve felt that I’ve had to overcome these hurdles all by myself.

The Top 10 Support Organizations for Productive Entrepreneurs

  1. Entrepreneur’s Organization
  2. Business Network International
  3. Young Presidents Organization
  4. Small Giants Community
  5. Vistage
  6. Young Entrepreneur Council
  7. Startup Grind
  8. 8. Founder Institute
  9. 9. Baby Bathwater Institute
  10. 10. StartUp Nation

It can be lonely being an entrepreneur.

You see, it can be lonely being an entrepreneur. And when you’re going through a rough patch or need some inspiration — it’s not always available. After all, there’s not always someone around who has shared these same experiences.

The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. There is no shortage of organizations that you can join to help support you during your journey.

Here are ten of my favorite support organizations for entrepreneurs that they should join today.

1. Entrepreneur’s Organization

Since its inception in 1987, EO is regularly considered one of the best organizations for entrepreneurs to join. For starters, this peer-to-peer network connects its more than 13,000 members from across the world. From there, EO aims to guide them in expanding and strengthening their business.

Members of the Entrepreneur’s Organization also receive perks like personal mentorships, participating in forums where you can learn from the experiences of successful business owners.

These opportunities are also extended to attend exclusive global or local chapter events. EO members can also become a part of the Healthnetwork Foundation to gain VIP access to the 30 of the most highly ranked hospitals in the U.S.

The stipulation is that your company is doing at least $1 million a year in revenue or has received $2 million in venture funding.

2. Business Network International

Started by a group of friends in California in the early 1980s, BNI has become the leading referral organization in the world with over 240,000 members. In fact, in 2017 alone, BNI member referrals generated a whopping $13.6 billion in revenue for member businesses.

BNI focuses primarily on lead sharing and networking for solopreneurs through weekly meetings and exclusive resources. For example, you can have breakfast with several other solopreneurs and salespeople at a local chapter to help each other increase sales. Even if you decide to leave BNI, it’s easy to imagine that you’ll maintain those connections.

To become a member, simply complete a brief application and if approved you’ll be contacted by BNI’s Global Alliance Approval Team.

3. Young Presidents Organization

Similar to EO in terms of events and forums, the Young Presidents Organization has been connecting and empowering its more than 25,000 chief executives in 130 countries since 1950. The main differences are that you don’t have to be the founder of a business, just its current leader, and the revenue requirements are higher.

As a member, YPO will assist you in personal development, learning business practices, and how you can impact your community. Besides the exclusive events and forums — YPO achieves this mission through a series of excellent podcasts — such as the program “Ten Minute Tips from the Top.”

This is where members and experts share advice and insights.

4. Small Giants Community

Compared to the other organizations on this list, Small Giants Community is relatively new — the groundwork was laid in 2006. It’s quickly become a community where purpose-driven leaders and entrepreneurs.

As an entrepreneur, you can share your experiences and advice through podcasts, blog posts, and virtual peer groups. There are also amazing discussion-based webinars called Fishbowls to provide you with practical systems that you can apply to your business.

Small Giants Community also offers a one-year certification program to help leaders grow.

The program consists of face-to-face meetings with a learning cohort, virtual learning sessions, and event tickets to two Small Giants gatherings.

What makes this community so unique is that the members are extremely positive and helpful, as opposed to the exhausting “What can you do for me?” mentality you experience at most networking opportunities.

5. Vistage

If you’re a CEO looking for an organization that focuses on business and coaching, then Vistage is a solid choice. Like EO and YPO, this is done through monthly forum meetings with your peers.

At Vistage, a paid coach or moderator will work with you one-on-one.

Vistage, which has been around since 1957 — states that members can become better by:

  • Gaining insights by connecting you with “salient, trustworthy and applicable insights and resources.
  • Becoming better leaders by developing new skills through training.
  • Helping you make better decisions by refining your instincts, improving your judgment, and expanding your perspectives.
  • Achieving better results. In fact, it’s been found that Vistage member companies grew 2.2 times faster than average small and medium-sized U.S. businesses.

6. Young Entrepreneur Council

Founded by Scott Gerber, the Young Entrepreneur Council is recommended for founders, co-founders, and business owners. These founders generate at least one million dollars in annual revenue — or one million dollars in financing. The catch is that in order to be invited to join you must be under the age of 45.

As a member of YEC — you have access to tools, mentorship, community, and educational resources. In addition, you have the chance to partake in monthly Q&As and connect with super connecters who will support you through each stage of your business from development to growth.

To convince you to join, you can also receive discounts for select conferences and be invited to VIP experiences at exclusive art, film, music, fashion, and sporting events.

Through a series of partnerships, you can also receive discounts on travel, insurance, and HR benefits.

7. Startup Grind

Founded in 2010, Startup Grind is one of my personal favorites. It’s a global community with members in 150+ countries where each month there’s an event for you to network with your fellow entrepreneurs.

Each event also features local founders, investors, innovators, and educators who share their success stories and what they’ve learned during their journey.

Startup Grind also shares advice and insights from these successful entrepreneurs through blog posts, podcasts, and videos.

However, what’s really drawn me to this group are its values, which are believing in making friends, not contacts; giving, not taking; and helping others before helping yourself.

8. Founder Institute

The Founder Institute is an ideal organization to join if you’re in the early stages of your startup. They’ve even dubbed themselves as “ the world’s premier pre-seed accelerator.”

As a member, the Founder Institute has developed a methodology that has helped launch over 3,000 companies since 2009. This includes creating an Equity Collective for a support network and a three to five-month program to assist you in making your idea into an actual business.

Even after completing the program, you’ll receive a lifetime of support. To join, you’ll have to pay a $50 application fee, as well as a course fee of around $1,200.

9. Baby Bathwater Institute

Yes. The name is a little out-there. But, this is an excellent and active community made up of entrepreneurs from a variety of industries. What makes it stand out from other groups are the unique events.

Instead of the traditional networking event or workshop, these all-inclusive events are held in the mountains of Utah or on Baby Bathwater Island in Croatia.

I would consider this more an experience where you can go on an adventure while meeting new friends, while also gaining fresh perspectives and business solutions

10. StartUp Nation

Last, but certainly not least, there’s StartupNation.

Founded in 2002, StartupNation provides an endless amount of resources. These topics include such help as starting your business, growing your business, and managing your business through blog posts, an engaged online community, and a radio show.

You can use the forums to exchange ideas or find a mentor or business partner. StartupNation also provides the following services:

  • Logo design.
  • Website, development.
  • Copywriting.
  • Domain name registration.
  • Incorporation.
  • Business consultation.
  • Public relations.

Best of all, it’s free to join this community of more than 101,000 registered members.

10 Time Management Skills Every Person Should Cultivate

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10 Time Management Skills Every Person Should Cultivate

To be successful, everyone needs to continue to add to their skillsets. Each entrepreneur, startup, and small business will have its set of “how-tos” that are vital. Then there will be the set of skills that are the essential ones to know.  Search your business and become the best you can at your particular business space. Time management will assist you forever in getting better at performing your tasks. Here are 10 excellent time management skills every person should cultivate.

We also have essential life skills everyone should know. Examples include:

  • Housekeeping skills — basic home repairs, cleaning after yourself, and knowing how to cook at least one signature dish.
  • Survival skills — knowing how to change a tire, administrative basic first aid, and living without electronic for more than an hour.
  • Professional skills — minimum skills required; writing a resume, networking, preparing for an interview, and negotiating a raise.
  • Money management skills — being able to create and stick to a budget and calculating a tip.
  • Self-awareness and relationship skills — knowing your strengths and weaknesses, basic etiquette, being respectful, and learning how to communicate.

Those possessing these skills will get further in life — you can’t respond to life events well without some of the basics. But, they also make life more fulfilling and can give you a little self-confidence boost. However, one set of skills that often get overlooked are those related to time management.

Some of these greater and lesser skills go hand-in-hand with each other. For example, being respectful of others motivates you to arrive on-time and never keep people waiting. However, for the most part, when it comes to time management, it’s in a category on its own.

So, if you’re ready to manage your time effectively, here are the 10-time management skills every person should have.

1. Plan your day around priorities and goals.

The most successful and productive people are well aware that they must address both essential and urgent matters daily. Here’s their secret though; they how to balance the two.

It’s definitely an art to master this juggling act. But, it’s possible when you know what priorities need your attention to know and what can be dealt with at another time. To assist you with this, you can use the Eisenhower Matrix. This Matrix is where you evaluate all of your tasks and separate them as follows:

  • Urgent and vital — these you’ll do immediately since they are pushing you closer to achieving a goal.
  • Important, but not urgent — tasks that can be scheduled for later.
  • Urgent, but not important — these the things that can be delegated.
  • Neither urgent nor important — these are the tasks that can be deleted altogether.

According to Calendar’s Howie Jones, the secret behind an amazing time management strategy is able “to systematically focus on importance and suppress urgency.”

Once you’ve identified your priorities, you should schedule them when you have the most energy and focus — or, in other words, when you’re “in the zone.” For most of us, that’s in the morning. Also, completing your most important task of the day in the morning gives you the momentum to tackle the rest of the items on your to-do list. If a priority or goal is a big one, break it up into more manageable chunks.

2. Effectively use your time.

There are a couple of ways to effectively use your time. The first is being more present and giving your full attention to what deserves it at this moment. For example, you can’t be engaged in a conversation or meeting when you keep looking at your phone every time you receive a message. It’s not only disrespectful, but it could also cause you to miss an essential piece of information or not being an active participant.

The other way to effectively use your time is to get creative. Let’s say that you’re sitting in a waiting room for an appointment or meeting. There might be a TV with a talk show that you stare at because it’s there. Or, you could get sucked into mindless social media nonsense. Either way, that time you were sitting, there could have been used to catch-up on your emails or the latest industry news.

3. Schedule it, do it and forget it.

“No one can multitask, even people who pride themselves on their ability to do so,” writes Angela Ruth in a previous Calendar article. Research shows that multitasking cuts efficient and even raises risks.

“Avoid the temptation to multitask by scheduling time to handle batches of small tasks throughout the day,” suggests Angela. “For example, set one time during the morning and one time during the afternoon to answer emails, then ignore the inbox outside those windows. Schedule a couple of short breaks to avoid burnout and maintain focus.”

What’s more, you can eliminate indecisiveness “by setting deadlines on when to make final choices.” It could be as simple as making a phone call to a vendor by Friday morning or settling on a flight in the next 10 minutes. “Get into the habit of acting on available information to cut down on unnecessary balking. If the decision isn’t correct — you can pivot just as quickly.”

4. Become a master-batcher.

Speaking of multitasking, did you know that productivity decreases by 40% when we attempt to focus on more than one thing at a time? That’s because according to Peter Bregman

In a piece for The Harvard Business Review, we’re not multitasking. “We switch-task, rapidly shifting from one thing to another, interrupting ourselves unproductively, and losing time in the process.”

The most effective way around this is not just focusing on one thing at a time. It’s grouping similar tasks together and knocking them out at the same time. Instead of checking your email and social media feeds every time you receive a notification, don’t allow yourself to check more than three times a day. Check once before jumping into work, right after lunch, and at the end of your workday.

5. Pencil in time for distractions and interruptions.

Batching is also a great way to handle distractions. Turn your phone off while working and don’t worry that you’re missing something important. You’ll be confident in this action because you know you’ve planned to check your phone when it’s time. However, no matter how hard you try, distractions and interruptions are inevitable.

One way to manage these distractions is to add blocks of free time into your schedule. So, if a co-worker wants to speak with you, let them know that you currently not available to chat. But you can talk to them at one pm.

Another perk of this is if there’s an emergency. For example, you were zoned in on your work when suddenly a frantic knock on your door interrupts you. A colleague lets you know that the company network has been compromised. Something this important needs your immediate attention. Once it’s resolved, you can use that free block of time to go back to work without completely getting your schedule off-track.

6. Stop biting off more than you can chew.

There are a variety of reasons why you may be tempted to overextend yourself. At work, you pick-up extra hours or take on a new project because you want the extra money or don’t want to upset your boss. Socially, you accept every social invite because of FOMO.

The reality is that if you already have a full schedule, spreading yourself too thin could have some repercussions like scheduling conflicts or delivering subpar work. And, as previously discussed, it prevents you from focusing on your priorities.

7. Add “no” to your vocabulary.

“I honestly believe that the main reason why time is an issue for so many of us is that we can’t say ‘no’ says Howie Jones. “We can’t turn out an invite to an unproductive meeting or social event. And, we can’t tell others that we already have enough work to focus on and can’t take on any more responsibilities.”

The downside to this is that if you’re always saying “yes,” “then you’re letting other people take control of your time.”

While I get why “no” isn’t a word we like to say, you don’t want anyone to be offended; it has to become a part of your vocabulary. And, you can accomplish that, without ticking anyone off, y doing the following:

  • Be transparent and upfront. Don’t lie or make excuses. People will understand if you’ve already made a social commitment or have a full workload.
  • Don’t initially fully commit. “Let’s say someone invites you to lunch. You don’t have to accept or reject the request immediately,” adds Jones. “Tell your caller that you have to check your calendar and you’ll get back to them before the end of the day tomorrow.”
  • Offer alternative solutions. You may be booked solid for the next two weeks. If there are openings three weeks from now, ask your client to meet then, for example. If not, refer them to a colleague.
  • Always be polite and professional. “Simply saying ‘thanks’ can go a long way.”

8. Develop your emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence can be defined as “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” What does that have to do with time management? Well, EI can assist you with problem-solving, calm you down, and improve your communication skills — all of which can be applied to time management. For example, when you frustrated, it’s almost impossible to give your full attention to the task you’re currently working on.

Moreover, those with strong EI possess qualities like not being a perfectionist and being able to balance life and work. Also, EI can help you establish boundaries, maintain motivation, and be more aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are.

Overall, improving your EI can help you stay focused on completing your most productive tasks. Make sure that functions are aligned with your goals.

9. Learn how to delegate and outsource.

Remember the Eisenhower Matrix that you used to help you determine your priorities? If you recall, it also encouraged you to hand-off specific responsibilities to others. These are usually essential tasks that aren’t exactly worthy of your time.

For example, you could hire a service to clean your home or office. Spend the saved time on more productive areas like building your business or spending time with your family. If you don’t enjoy writing, but there’s an employee who does, you could ask them to take over your company’s blog.

Just keep in mind that delegation isn’t handing off all of your responsibilities to someone else. It’s assigning the right work to the right people so that you can open up sometime in your schedule.

10. Find a time management technique that works for you.

Finally, experiment with different time management techniques that work best for you. I’ve mentioned the Eisenhower Matrix several times. While that could be helpful for a lot of people, it may not be sufficient for you. Instead, approaches like the Pomodoro Technique, Getting Things Done Technique, Rapid Planning Method, or Pareto Principle may be better suited for you.

Don’t expect you to solve all of your time management issues overnight. It’s a process that involves some trial and error. And, most importantly, it’s continually working on and improving upon your skills until you get it just right.

Build Your Energy, Build Your Productivity

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Build Your Energy, Build Your Productivity

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

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

Get the best sleep ever.

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

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

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

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

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

Fight fatigue with the right diet.

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

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

Close open-loops.

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

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

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

Don’t be shady.

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

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

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

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

Take a grateful stroll.

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

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

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

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

Stop hanging out with wet rags.

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

However, not all relationships are equal.

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

Keep stress and workload at bay.

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

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

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

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

Set reminders to look away and stretch.

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

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

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

Put your records on.

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

And, he was naturally correct.

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

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

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

Get your clutter under control.

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

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

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

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

Don’t overwhelm yourself though. Take baby starts.

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

Why You Still Need an Online Calendar Even When You Use a Physical One

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Why You Still Need an Online Calendar Even When You Use a Physical One

If you already rely on a physical calendar, you might not see the need to add an online calendar to your arsenal. Your current time management system might seem to work just fine, but you’re missing out on a lot of potential by shirking additional technology.

Using a paper and digital Calendar, map, or any other hard copy is entirely up to you and beneficial in many cases. If you still need some convincing, check out the ways your daily life will benefit from implementing an online calendar to your existing system:

Online Calendars are Portable

As great as a physical calendar might be at home or in your office, you can’t expect to carry it with you everywhere. Even pocket calendars and portable planners can be burdensome at times. Worst of all, a physical calendar can be easily left behind, leaving you in the dark.

You can access your online calendar on any electronic device. All you need is a cell phone and a connection to the internet and you’ll have your calendar easily accessible. You can even adjust the settings in your Calendar to be able to view it offline.

Sharing is Caring

A lot of the events on your calendar will involve others. You’ll need to coordinate with coworkers and family members regularly, which is more difficult to do when trying to sync paper calendars. Sharing an online calendar keeps everyone on the same page with real-time updates and notifications.

You don’t have to share every detail of your online calendar with others. Choose to share individual events, or create a separate calendar that keeps your private events hidden. You can also decide if those you share with can edit events or simply view them, depending on what you’re trying to organize.

Last-Minute Changes Happen

Life is full of unexpected events. Making last-minute changes on paper calendars is messy, and sometimes impossible if you don’t have it on your person. It’s much easier to go with the flow and adjust to unforeseen circumstances when you also have an online calendar handy.

Let’s say you have a meeting with a client scheduled for 3 P.M. You come into the office and see an email in your inbox asking if the meeting can be bumped up to 2 P.M. With your online Calendar, you can adjust right then and there.

If you have your paper calendar handy, this is also possible, but lacks a certain detail. Your online calendar can also send you reminders of upcoming events. A digital reminder that your meeting was moved from 3:00 PM to 2:00 PM will help you remember the change even on a busy day when your attention is divided.

Different Calendars Have Different Uses

Physical calendars get crowded really quickly. There’s only so much room to add events and details, and the more you add, the more difficult it is to read. A better strategy is to designate your paper Calendar for one use, and your online calendar for another.

Your paper calendar, which is likely hanging on the fridge, can be reserved for family events. Your online calendar will contain your work responsibilities, daily routines, and personal events. The ability to create multiple calendars online allows for even greater organization than keeping a stack of paper calendars lying about.

Physical Calendars Can Get Lost or Damaged

No matter how careful you are, there’s a chance your physical calendar can get lost or damaged. This is especially true if you have one in reach of kids who can grab, smudge, and rip the pages from your calendar. If your paper calendar is lost or damaged, there’s no way to get back the information you lost.

Online calendars store all their information online. Some online calendars even offer cloud storage options for maximum accessibility and protection. Even if your cell phone gets lost or damaged, your Calendar information can be accessed from a different device, retaining all the details you need.

Online Calendars Have More Features

Simply put, physical calendars just don’t have the bells and whistles you can find in online calendars. You can’t drag and drop events or change color-coding on demand. One of the best features of an online Calendar is tracking your time to the minute. Time analytics really unlocks your productivity levels on a day-to-day basis.

Physical calendars have their merits, especially for those who prefer to write things down and add some calligraphy flair. However, not everyone has a legible chicken scratch, so being able to type out your event details is a helpful bonus to your online Calendar.

For frequent fliers, an online Calendar is a necessity. Thanks to the power of the internet, your Calendar will automatically adjust to changing time zones. This ensures you don’t miss that important business meeting because your paper calendar is still on Eastern Standard Time.

Both Calendars Allow for Different Time Management Techniques

For those using a Calendar to try and optimize their time, an online Calendar blows paper ones out of the water. You can implement more complex time management techniques than you could with pen and paper alone, which allows you to make more use of your time. In addition to time analytics, you can also try:

  • Timeboxing: Separate your day into blocks of time dedicated to specific tasks and activities.
  • Pomodoro method: Work in stretches of 25 minutes with a five-minute break to encourage focus and prevent burnout.
  • Eisenhower Matrix: Prioritize your tasks to get the most important stuff done, set aside nonsense, and delegate when possible.

These techniques are much more difficult to pull off with just a paper Calendar, but might work well with both. For example, drawing out your Eisenhower Matrix might help you visualize it better so you can type it out into your online calendar with more precision.

There’s nothing wrong with preferring one type of calendar over the other. Just be aware that you might be selling yourself short by not giving them both a chance to thrive together.

The 6 Reasons Most Miscommunications Occur

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The 6 Reasons Most Miscommunications Occur

Miscommunications happen frequently with most everyone I know. Technology has allowed us to communicate faster but not necessarily better. While some miscommunication is merely annoying, it’s those awful miscommunications that occur at the most inopportune moments that put unnecessary stress on us all, creating conflict and can be a disrupting influence in relationships.

While some of the root causes for miscommunication seem obvious, I’ve found others by being on the receiving end or being when I’m the guilty party. From my own experiences, here are six reasons why I believe most miscommunication occurs:

1. You know what you are thinking but it’s not actually what you say. Sometimes what you are thinking makes no sense to anyone else but you.

I’ve been on both sides of this miscommunication link and it can be confusing for all parties involved. Writing or verbalizing what we think can be challenging, especially when we’re rushing. We may be delegating while in the midst of a business event or trying to multitask when we shouldn’t.

My team suffers a lot from this because of me. I delegate a task and expect them to know what’s going on in my brain. Well… that’s not the case and will never be.

Learn to let others know everything you’re thinking, even if it’s not all the way thought out so that together you can come up with the best possible outcome. I also like to verbalize my instructions as well as write them down in a recap so others know exactly what I mean. This over the years has helped me to sound a lot less like a jerk.

2. You are saying too much and complicating the communication. This leads to more and more miscommunications.

You are the only one of you. Not everybody is going to be able to do things as fast or as perfect as you. I had to learn this the hard way with my first business partnership. I would word dump things that didn’t need to be said. This cause a lot of miscommunication and ultimately ended our working arrangement.

I especially see this with the creative types because they have a tendency to use a lot of words that ends up complicating their messages. This can be just as confusing because the main point tends to get lost in the sea of words and explanations. In this case, write down what you want to say and then start trimming it back until you can create as simple a message without losing the primary idea. You most likely don’t need adjectives or exclamatory phrases to get your point across.

3. You are using poor grammar.

While it may seem more annoying than confusing, poor grammar can dramatically change the meaning of what you are trying to say. Even a misplaced comma can alter the entire context for someone who is reading it.

In this case, you need to bookmark a grammar page and start studying how to use certain punctuation and phrasing to help you clearly communicate. It just takes practice!

If you’re still bad after this, have someone proofread everything you put out. I personally do this and it’s improved my writing and communication greatly.

4. You overthink what you are reading or writing.

In either case, it’s important not to overthink your communications. This overthinking can involve your own perceptions that may be the polar opposite of the other person involved in the communication. This leads to different opinions of what the content of a message says and means.

For example, if we are already in a bad mood, we may read something the wrong way that the other person never intended. While the person writing the message can’t necessarily control the reaction of the receiver, you can make a concerted effort to take any emotion out of a communication and keep a professional tone to all business communications.

I personally always say “You can say anything to anyone, but how you say it will dictate if you get a positive or negative reaction.”

5.You are using texting shortcuts and emojis as replacements to part of what you are saying.

While I’ve used these myself in certain situations, it is typically just a smiley face to let the person on the other end know I’m pleased with their message. However, when I start seeing texting shortcuts and emojis I’m not familiar with, I don’t know how to take what the person is saying and I certainly don’t have time to go look up their cutesy emoji.

I was angry early one day with an employee. Later on in the day we had worked on a project. I thought everything had settled down and was okay. This was until she sent me a text with a string of emoji’s of a baby, baby bottle, a hospital and a pink bow. I thought, “Oh, so the little snot is calling me a baby! She surely should know it was not wise to call the boss a baby!” Later that evening in another work conversation over the phone someone told me how happy that employee had been because she had just found out that day about my new baby daughter. My temper had been wound-up, and I had nearly fired her over a miscommunication where she was being sweet.

You should probably avoid using these types of communication tools unless it’s with your best buddies. Stick to professional language because you can’t assume everyone knows what all these new acronyms and emojis mean.

6.You make too many assumptions.

There are those times when people don’t really listen because they think they already know what the person is going to say or they are just busy preparing their own answer. The same idea applies when making assumptions on what you think a person means in their email or text message without actually really reading it for context. It could be that you are tired, emotional, or distracted, or the messages could be coming from someone at work that you don’t necessarily like.

Slow down and read a message more than once while clearing out your assumptions. Focus, reflect, and then read it again before you draw conclusions. And, if you are still not sure, ask questions to make sure you understood the message correctly. I find that people with this skill can be hidden leaders in my company.

Conclusion

Effective communication takes practice, and I know haven’t perfected it yet. However, I keep these reasons for miscommunication in mind to remind me to take more care in how I read, write, and verbalize what I want from the communication I am sending out or receiving. Now, if I become angry over something, I take a step back. I decide to give the person the benefit of the doubt. Next, I assume they mean the best in the writing and in text.

One morning I noticed an employee highlighting and deleting an entire email. I asked about it. He said that he and his girlfriend had had a big fight and she had sent him a mean email. I inquired, “What did it say?” He said, “I have no idea.” He then explained to me that if he reads some long scathing remarks he can’t forget what was said or get them out of his mind — so he simply doesn’t read it.

When he sees the person again, he feels no animosity because he doesn’t know what was said. Later in the day, in comes the girlfriend to the office. “Oh hon, I didn’t mean what I said, I hope you will forgive me.” “Of course,” he says. “You are the most forgiving person I know,” she says. He just smiled. I realized then that there are many types of miscommunications that occur — and not all of them are bad.

15 Overall Productive Habits — to Have Overall

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15 Overall Productive Habits — to Have Overall

We all know someone who has done the impossible. They bust their tails off, while somehow being able to have a life. I mean, how can someone like Dwayne Johnson have multiple projects, workout for several hours daily, and spend time with his family?

Maybe he’s an anomaly. But, for someone who doesn’t defy logic, such as The Rock, it’s conceivable to have it all. It just takes having the right habits — such as the following 15 that you should have overall.

1. Set three goals for the day.

“For some strange reason, our brain is wired to think in threes,” states Chris Bailey, author of The Productivity Project. “As kids, we grow up immersed in stories that involve threes: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the Three Blind Mice, and the Three Little Pigs,” he adds. “In high school, when we’re forced to dissect books like The Three Musketeers for English class, we break down the plot into three parts—the beginning, middle, and end.”

Even as adults, we’re still drawn to the number three. Think of the saying the “third time’s the charm.” And, during the Olympics or fantasy sports, participants are awarded either the gold, silver, or bronze medal.

“There is something oddly attractive about the number three which can help you a lot as far as productivity is concerned,” Bailey says. For example, as opposed to a to-do-list that could rival the length of a CVS receipt, create a must-do-list that only contains three items. It’s an effective way to keep you focused and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.

Best of all? It’s incredibly simple to get started.

“At the start of every morning, fast-forward to the end of the day and ask” one question. “When the day is done, what three things will I want to have accomplished?”

2. Don’t succumb to complexity.

Over the years, I’ve noticed a common thread when it comes to productivity; it has to be extremely regimented and complex. Examples that spring to mind are bullet journals and the zero-based calendar.

I’m not saying that these can’t be effective—case in point, bullet journals. If you need a creative outlet and help to identify important and urgent tasks, it can be an effective tool. At the same time, they’re extremely time-consuming and intimidating.

I’d even say that for a lot of us, they’re unnecessary. You’re probably better off with a planner, calendar, or stick-it notes. In fact, research shows that we’ll stick with habits when they’re simple and doable.

3. Skip what you don’t know.

“This is a tip I don’t see often enough,” writes Ericson Ay Mires over at Lifehack. “If you hit a snag in your work, then come back to it later as you learn how to not get distracted.” And, in the meantime, aim your “attention on what you can do to keep working ‘mindlessly’ at all costs.”

In short, tackle the easy parts first and build-up momentum.

“Eventually, you can come back to the more difficult parts,” adds Ericson. And, “hopefully by then, it’ll have come to you, or you’ll have built up enough momentum that it won’t break your focus if you work on it.”

What if you’re still stuck? Get help from an expert who can teach you. Or, delegate the right tasks to the right individuals.

4. Don’t feel guilty about taking shortcuts.

I’m sure that we’ve all heard “there are no shortcuts to success.” While that’s true when it comes to learning a new skill or achieving a large goal, there’s nothing wrong with taking the easy route for simple tasks.

One example would be learning keyboard shortcuts for your calendar. You can also follow the 2-minute rule, using automation for redundant tasks, or using voice dictation.

5. Have a contingency plan.

According to Murphy’s Law, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

While it’s unreasonable to expect someone to have a back-up plan for everything, you’ll be able to put out “fires” if you;

  • Prepare and plan your ideal week in-advance.
  • Implement a triage system to identify where your priorities should be at the moment.
  • Surround yourself with good company who can help pick up the slack.
  • Hire a virtual assistant to be your calendar’s gatekeeper.
  • Allow yourself more time needed for tasks. And, leave blocks of time in your calendar blank so that you can shuffle your schedule when something comes up.

6. Stop aiming for perfection.

I would like to think that we all give it our best, as opposed to phoning it in. But, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to be perfect. That’s just how the cookie crumbles.

As Salvador Dali once said, “Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” It’s true. Perfection is something that you’ve constructed in your own mind. Constantly trying to pursue it will only cause anxiety, procrastination, and falling behind.

It takes practice and self-discipline. But, change your mindset to “done is good enough” if you’re a perfectionist. If there’s a serious error, you can always go back and fix it.

7. Declutter…everything.

A little bit of clutter? No problem. Studies have found that a messy desk can encourage a creative mind.

For the majority of us, though? Too much clutter in our lives doesn’t just hinder productivity. It also increases stress, sleep problems and makes it more difficult to unwind.

Overall, too much clutter is just trouble for your health and performance.

With that said, block out a chunk of time to declutter everything. I’m talking about your calendar, workspace, home, and relationships. Also, since it takes 66 days to build new habits, only focus on the ones that are meaningful to you.

I know that that might induce a panic attack. But, take a deep breath. You don’t have to do all this in one shoot.

Rather than overwhelming yourself, take baby steps. Maybe during a break from work, you spend 5-minutes straightening-up your desk. If you don’t have concrete plans this weekend, clean out your bedroom closet.

8. Become a creature of habit.

There’s nothing wrong with occasionally shaking things up or being spontaneous. On a day-to-day basis, though? Humans are creatures of habit.

What exactly does that mean? Well, establish a consistent sleep schedule — preferably based on your circadian rhythms. Try to work, eat, and exercise at the same time each day. And, implement morning and evening rituals that prime you for success.

Having structure makes it easier to plan how we spend our time. It also makes it easier to say no and promotes healthy habits. Routines also provide structure in an uncertain world.

9. Manage your energy, not your time.

“Whenever someone says they need to get more done during the day, the answer is always to improve time management,” writes Choncé Maddox in a previous Calendar article. “The amount of time you have will never change,” explains Choncé. “What you do with your time can change, but it is heavily dependent on your motivation and energy levels.”

With that in mind, “it’s much more important to manage your energy over managing time,” she suggests. “All the buzz about time management hacks can be helpful to a certain point, but ultimately, you need to start by managing your energy first if you want to be more efficient and have a better-balanced schedule.”

Some pointers to get started, stop trying to be perfect and re-using previous materials. Take care of your wellbeing to avoid emotional exhaustion, keep information overload in-check, and develop new skills.

10. Weed out the non-important.

Productive people are extremely protective of their calendars. After all, time is your most valuable and finite resource. As such, they aren’t afraid to reject time requests if it doesn’t serve a purpose.

As an example, they get invited to a status-update meeting that’s going to be an hour long. They immediately know that this is a waste of time. As such, they decline the invite, but will also offer an alternative, such as a 10-minute phone call.

11. An active body equals an active mind.

“We all know exercise is good for our physical and mental health,” says Dr. Kristin Hillman, who lead researcher on a study regarding this topic at the University of Otago. “But these data suggest that regular exercise may also help make us more productive when it comes to getting tasks accomplished each day.”

The study found that “rats that ran 20 minutes a day for five days a week outperformed their non-exercised counterparts across the board.” These were in areas like problem-solving, persistence, and being able to complete tasks more quickly.

I know that this has been a struggle throughout COVID. But, you can work out and stay active from anywhere — even when working from home. For instance, as a part of your morning, do some cardio to get the blood flowing, and at night do yoga to relax.

Other suggestions include;

  • Setting alarms to remind you to stretch and move throughout the day.
  • Creating a “commute,” like taking a walk before diving into work.
  • Keep workout equipment and accessories visible.
  • Use technology like apps and “smart” fitness machines to keep you accountable.
  • Swap-out your old desk for a standing desk.
  • During calls, stand or walk.
  • Incorporate movement throughout the day, such as doing heal-raises or push-ups on the counter while the coffee is brewing.
  • Get outside and play as much as possible.
  • Partake in fitness challenges with colleagues, friends, or family.

12. Start a procrastination journal.

Procrastination is severely misunderstood. Sure, there are negative consequences like missing deadlines. But, procrastinating can be used to help you remove the unnecessary from your life.

But, that’s not all. If you actually dig deeper, you may discover what’s really causing you to drag your feet. Maybe it’s because you’re a perfectionist, lack self-confidence, or disorganized. Or, perhaps you’ve set unrealistic expectations.

The only way to get to the bottom of this? Start a procrastination journal. Record everything that you do, as well as what you don’t. Take note of when you get distracted, how long tasks have been on your to-do-list, and how you feel about them.

It may seem like a lot of work. But, if you do this for a couple of days, you should have a better understanding of what’s causing you to procrastinate.

13. Set clearly defined goals.

Clearly defined goals prevent you from falling into the “busyness trap.” Moreover, they can guide you in developing a plan of action and track your progress to keep you motivated.

A tried and true technique for goal setting? Use the SMART formula, which is short for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.

14. Rest your eyes.

Eye strain is a serious concern these days. In fact, since the pandemic, we spend 19 hours and 6 minutes per day between our phone, laptop, TV, and gaming devices. In turn, this can impact your productivity due to symptoms like dry eyes, mental fatigue, and headaches.

To counter this, take frequent screen breaks to give your eyes a much-needed break. One strategy you can try is the 20-20-20 Rule. Every 20-minutes, you look at something that’s 20-feet away for 20-seconds.

15. Learn from failures and move on.

“From a distance, failure seems noble,” writes Tracy Brower, Ph.D., MM, MCRw. “But in reality, it’s painful and messy.”

It’s true. If you’ve ever experienced failure, you’re well aware of how painful it is. You might feel anger and sadness. I couldn’t blame you if you also wanted to crawl into a hole and never reappear.

“It can also cost money and time (like the new suit you bought for the interview or the move you made to the city for the job that didn’t last),” adds Brower. “It can cause you to course correct (the meeting went sideways, and now you need to rethink the project).” And, it “can make you question yourself—who you are and what you’re good at. This is what makes it messiest of all.”

In short, failing is the worst. But, it can still be valuable.

  • Remind yourself that this has nothing to do with you as a person.
  • “Failure provides you with the opportunity to learn and consider how you can strengthen your game for the next go, even if it’s under unfavorable conditions,” says Brower.
  • Take into account that “the work you did as an investment in your process.”
  • Share your pain with others, whether if it’s opening up to a mentor or writing a blog post about your experience.
  • “What doesn’t break you makes you stronger is another tried-and-true mantra about failure,” Brower adds. “If you’re doing it right, you’ll gain resourcefulness, resilience, and perseverance from failure.”
  • Finally, take a step back, reflect, and then focus on the future using the lessons you learned.

How 15-Minute Meetings Can Keep Freelancers and Solopreneurs on Track

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How 15-Minute Meetings Can Keep Freelancers and Solopreneurs on Track

We’ve all probably heard that meetings may not be best for productivity. In fact, Harvard Business Review found that 65% of the senior managers they interviewed said that meetings kept them from completing their own work.

While most people can agree that poorly-run unproductive meetings can be a waste of time, I’d argue that short, focused, and intentional meetings can be very effective. With virtual meeting technology advancing, shorter meetings will save time and are proven to help most workers become more productive.

If you’re a freelancer or solopreneur working from home, short 15-minute meetings can help you too. Here’s how and why you should consider giving meetings another chance if you’re still struggling with productivity, efficiency, and overall focus during your workweek.

15-Minute Meetings Can Be Great Braindump and Planning Sessions

I’m a very type A person and a planner, but sometimes taking too long to plan something out results in a major delay in terms of what I’m able to produce. I’ve found that short 15-minute meetings are great opportunities for me to brainstorm and plan with clients and other team members.

If you’re a freelancer with a client who is planning a big project, short meetings can help you set deadlines, divvy up responsibilities and go in with a game plan. Plus, it can eliminate lots of long email chains that could result in you missing out on some important information.

As someone who’s also a solopreneur, I run my own financial education company and hop on short meetings with companies and other clients to discuss speaking opportunities, upcoming content, and more. Even if the meeting is short, it’s important to have a clear agenda and desired outcome so you can stay focused and leave the meeting with more clarity and direction than what you had coming in.

Get to Know Your Clients Better

Working from home has its perks, but the constant isolation can be a real disservice to your business and mental health. Brief 15-minute meetings can also be a great way to get to know your clients better and humanize yourself as well as the other people you send emails to regularly.

As a freelance writer, I find that it can be so easy to just get lost in the shuffle with some of my editors. Whenever I get a new editor, I like to go the extra mile and propose a quick call or meeting to learn a little more about them, their goals for content, and the ways that I can help. This helps me avoid becoming just another email address that could be easy to forget when sending out writing assignments for the month.

While I don’t think it’s necessary to have virtual happy hours with your clients each week, sometimes jumping on a quick call to ask a question or gain clarity can be helpful and allow you to build a better professional relationship with the people you work with.

Short Meetings Help You Get on the Same Page With Team Members

If you work with larger teams, short 15-minute check-in meetings can be a great way to make sure you get on the same page. Plus, again, it allows you to feel like you’re part of an actual team or community when working from home. I have one client who likes to have monthly meetings and while they’re effective, they don’t last too long.

It just opens up the floor to share any new announcements, check in with deadlines and make sure that everyone is on the same page with the workflow. Sometimes, if there’s not much to discuss, the meetings don’t last for longer than 10 minutes.

As a solopreneur, I also hire a few virtual assistants so I can delegate tasks. Over time I noticed that one of my VAs was often late turning things in or would message me during times when I wasn’t working and it slowed down a lot of my processes. I didn’t want to delay certain projects due to a lack of timely communication so we decided to start having weekly or bi-weekly 15-minute check-in meetings.

This allowed us to touch base, adjust deadlines, discuss questions and become more efficient with the workflow overall. After committing to regular quick meetings, I noticed an uptick in productivity for both of us all around and more tasks were able to get accomplished. This also helped me get more value for the money I was paying to outsource as well.

It’s Easy to Schedule and Automate Short Meetings

Almost everyone has a 15-minute time block available in their daily schedule. This means it will be much easier for you to propose a short meeting to clients and team members in order to boost productivity. People don’t want to lose an hour of work for an unproductive meeting – and luckily they don’t have to.

Schedule your 15-minute meetings through your online calendar and even consider recording them so people can review them later if needed. So long as you record audio from a meeting, you can even get this audio transcribed so it can be even easier for team members to digest if they need to catch up and stay in the loop.

Summary

Fifteen minutes can really fly by, but it has been so helpful in several areas of my business. If you’re a freelancer or solopreneur, realize that short and intentional meetings can really help boost your productivity and help you stay accountable for certain deadlines and goals.

Have you tried 15-minute meetings in your business yet? Why or why not?

How Your Calendar Can Save the World

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How Your Calendar Can Save the World

Is it ambitious to want to save the world? Sure. But, as Eddie Vedder sings on one of my all-time favorite Pearl Jam tunes, “Sometimes.”

Seek my part, devote myself

My small self

Like a book amongst the many on a shelf

Whatever you truly care about, spending any amount of time championing it can make the world a better place — even if it’s just in your small pocket of the world. After all, if we all made a little effort, we could have the power to impact our little third rock from the Sun positively.

Of course, time restraints are always holding us back from making a difference. But, thanks to your trusted calendar, that’s no longer an excuse. In fact, thanks to the calendar, we can all participate in saving the world in our own unique ways.

1. Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

“In the event of a sudden drop in pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from above. Secure your own mask first before assisting others.”

If you’ve ever flown, then you’re familiar with that announcement. But, why? It’s straightforward.

If you don’t put your oxygen mask on first, then how can you assist those who can not? After all, the lack of oxygen will cause you to pass out. As such, this will leave others in a precarious situation.

The same is true in your daily life. If you don’t carve out time to attend to your own health and wellbeing, then you aren’t in the best spot to make a positive impact. For example, if you’re too burned out from work, then you aren’t going to have the energy to help struggling employees or volunteer in the community.

What’s the best way to help yourself first? By adding self-care to your calendar.

Self-care, as explained  in a previous Calendar article, “is when you regularly engage in activities and practices that make you feel calm and re-energized.”

“Some might consider this being on the selfish side,” adds Deanna. “But, self-care is a proven way to reduce stress. It’s also key in maintaining our own mental, emotional, and even physical health.” Because of this, self-care is “vital in protecting and enhancing our short- and long-term health and wellbeing.”

While you may think that you don’t have the time for self-care, you can use your calendar to make this possible by:

  • Following a routine that at least “encourages a consistent sleep-wake cycle, meal schedule, and workflow. If possible, try to base these around your circadian rhythms,” Deanna states.
  • “Regularly scheduling 2-3 nutrient-rich meals per day.” To make this easier, schedule deliveries from companies like Misfits Market or SnackNation.
  • Blocking out periods of time for physical activity and setting reminders to stand up and stretch.
  • Setting office hours so that you can actually unplug and detach from work. You should also share your calendar with others so that they know when you’re available and when you’re not.
  • Scheduling social activities.
  • Reducing screen. Instead of being glued to your phone, replace that with other activities like walking or reading a book.
  • Penciling in alone-time so that you can reflect and engage in self-talk.
  • Leave blank spaces in your calendar so that you can spend that time however you please.

2. Cultivate Gratitude

Looking for an uncomplicated activity that can lower stress, improve sleep, and strengthen your relationship ships. Look no further than practicing gratitude. In particular, try the GIFT Technique, as suggested by Anna Hennings, MA, a mental performance coach in sport psychology:

  • Growth: personal growth, such as learning a new skill
  • Inspiration: whatever has inspired you
  • Friends/family: those who are supportive and enrich your life
  • Tranquility: those small and meaningful moments, like sipping on your morning tea
  • Surprise: acknowledging unexpected surprises

Keep that acronym when identifying what you’re grateful for. After that, jot these items down in your journal during your morning or evening routine.

In addition to writing in a gratitude journal, actually show others how much you appreciate them. Examples include greeting your employees when they come into work or sending handwritten “thank you” cards. Other recommendations would be to publicly acknowledge others, offering thoughtful gifts/rewards, and being respectful of their time.

3. Volunteer Your Time

“When you volunteer your time, you are helping others in need while also spending your time in an excellent way,” note the folks over at Wheels For Wishes. “Not only are you making others happy, but you will also feel great about yourself.” However, since there are so many organizations where you could volunteer, where can you start?

Thankfully, the Wheels For Wishes put together the following list to help you get on your way:

  • Walk dogs at an animal shelter
  • Adopt or foster a pet
  • Volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation
  • Give blood
  • Serve food at a soup kitchen
  • Organize a fundraising event
  • Volunteer at a children’s summer camp
  • Donate your hair
  • Adopt a highway and keep it clean
  • Pick up trash in your neighborhood
  • Spend time at a nursing home
  • Organize a food or coat drive
  • Tutor or mentor
  • Run errands for the elderly
  • Knit hats for those going through chemotherapy

Go through your calendar to check your availability. For example, since my calendar is wide open next weekend, and the weather is supposed to be pleasant, I’m going to collect the trash along the side of my road. By adding this to my calendar, I’m committing to it and not letting anything else take its place.

4. Offer Your Services

What skills or knowledge do you possess? Put them to good use by offering them up for free.

For instance, if you’re a doctor, you could spend your downtime at a free clinic. Are you a lawyer or accountant? Offer free advice at community or senior centers when needed, like right before tax season. Do you know how to code? Build or update the website for a nonprofit.

5. Make a Donation

Don’t have the availability to volunteer or offer your services? No problem. You can still give back to others through donations. For instance, you could go through your kitchen and donate perishable food items. Go through your closet and donate blankets, coats, or hats you no longer wear.

But, what’s there’s more! Animal shelters could use old towels, cleaning supplies, or unopened pet food and treats. Nurseries could take baby blankets off your hands, while daycares might be interested in books or art supplies.

You could also donate your vehicle. And, you can never go wrong with a cash donation.

6. Commit to a Regular Contribution

Is there a cause that you’re passionate about? Then why not become a regular contributor? It’s pretty setting-and-forgetting your contributions. For instance, you could make an automated monthly donation to NPR or The Adventure Project — just put a reminder in your calendar so that you keep your bank account in good order.

$10 a month may not be much to you. But, it can truly make all the difference in the world for those in need.

7. Be Informed

What are you passionate about? Whatever it is, learn as much about the topic as possible during your downtime.

Let’s say that this is climate change. You should keep informed via sources like Nature Climate Change; the “Ask NASA” website, CleanTechnica. You could also listen to podcasts, watch TED Talks, or attend online events.

The more you know, the more you can educate others or find ways to make a difference.

8. Get Involved Politically

No matter your political affiliation, always go out and vote both locally and naturally. I would search for election dates in your neck of the woods so that you can mark your calendar to prevent forgetting. Remember, there are way more elections out there than the Presidential Election that takes place every four years.

But, there’s more you can do besides casting your ballot. You could volunteer for a campaign, like phone banking, knocking on doors, or registering new voters. And, keep politicians accountable by contacting them or attending town hall events.

9. Use Your Voice

Do you disagree with how a brand treats its employees? Send them an email voicing your concerns. Is a company polluting the environment or abusing animals? Let others know through social media and in-person conversations.

You might think that this is time-consuming. These are all actions you could take when batching tasks like cleaning out your inbox or updating your social channels.

10. Conduct an Energy Audit

An energy audit is pretty self-explanatory. It’s when you go through your home or workplace to find out where it’s losing energy so that you can correct this problem. While there are professionals who can do this, you can schedule to do this on your own by:

  • Finding and sealing air leaks coming through doors, windows, or gaps along the baseboard.
  • Checking insulation levels in the ceiling and walls.
  • Annually inspecting heating and cooling equipment.
  • Estimating the energy use of your appliances.
  • Switching to more energy-efficient appliances.
  • Replacing your old bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

11. Create Reminders to Power Down

“All things plugged in will bleed some energy,” writes Vanessa Vadim for Treehugger. “Called ‘standby’ electricity loss because it’s so often associated with electronics in standby or idle mode, it’s also known as ‘phantom’ or ‘vampire” electricity.’”

But, what if you turn off all of your appliances. Doesn’t matter. They’re still drawing power.

“The Natural Resources Defense Council says the cost of plugged-in but not used devices is about $165 per household or $19 billion across the U.S.,” adds Vadim. “That amounts to about 44 million tons of carbon dioxide, or 4.6% of the country’s total residential electricity generation, points out The New York Times.”

One way to resolve this would be powering down and unplugging the electronics you use at work before leaving. If you usually “clock-out” by 5 p.m., then spend the last 30-minutes organizing your workspace and flipping off your power strip. And, you can do the same thing before bed in your home.

Suppose you know that you won’t be home or in the office for an extended period, add a calendar reminder. For instance, if you’re leaving at 9 a.m., then receive a reminder 15-minutes before so that you can turn off the lights and unplug unnecessary appliances.

12. Set the Ideal Temperature

Thermostat wars are fairly commonplace at both home and the workplace. However, constantly fiddling with the temperature doesn’t just cause rifts between family members and colleagues. It can also impact everything from your sleep to productivity. And, it’s also detrimental to the environment.

The answer? Install an automatic thermostat and set it at the right temperature at the right time. For example, the Helsinki University of Technology’s Laboratory for Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning state that the ideal temperature for the “typical” office is around 71.6 F. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), however, recommends keeping the thermostat between 68 and 76 F.

Regardless of your exact preference, keep the workplace comfortable so that you aren’t shivering or sweating. At the end of the day, though, crank down the heat or turn up the air so that you aren’t wasting energy when no one is around.

Better yet? Invest in a smart thermostat. It will learn your patterns and adjust accordingly. You can also sync these devices with your calendar. For instance, you can connect your Google Calendar with Google Home/Nest to control the temperature of your residence or workplace from anywhere.

Moreover, Project Drawdown anticipates that “smart thermostats could grow from 3 percent to 58-63 percent of households with Internet access by 2050.” If so, this means “1,453-1,589 million homes would have them,” and it could avoid 7.0-7.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions.

13. Reduce Unnecessary Mail

41 pounds. That’s how much junk mail the average American receives each year. In order to produce that much requires the cutting down of between 80 and 100 million trees annually!

Besides the environmental impact, junk mail is annoying and sometimes time-consuming if you happen to the type of person who reads every correspondence they receive. To stop this, you can:

  • Opt-out of credit card and insurance offers via OptOutPrescreen.com.
  • To stop receiving unwanted direct mail, register on the National Do Not Mail List.
  • Opt-out of catalogs and magazine subscriptions by contacting Catalog Choice, CoxTarget, or Publishers Clearing House (800.645.9242 or [email protected]) and Readers Digest (800.310.6261).
  • Directly ask for your name to be removed from the mailing lists of companies or nonprofits.
  • Download the PaperKarma app. Just snap a pic of the piece of mail, select the name or address you want removed, and press unsubscribe. Easy peasy.

And, even though it’s not junk mail, make sure that you go paperless. As opposed to receiving monthly statements and mailing payments, you can do all of this online.

14. Prepare Your Meals

“Today, an estimated one-third of all the food produced in the world goes to waste,” notes the World Wildlife Fund. “That’s equal to about 1.3 billion tons of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, seafood, and grains that either never leave the farm, get lost or spoiled during distribution, or are thrown away in hotels, grocery stores, restaurants, schools, or home kitchens.” That’s “enough calories to feed every undernourished person on the planet.”

“But wasted food isn’t just a social or humanitarian concern—it’s an environmental one,” adds the WWF. “When we waste food, we also waste all the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it. And if food goes to the landfill and rots, it produces methane—a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide.”

It’s actually estimated that roughly “11% of all the greenhouse gas emissions that come from the food system could be reduced if we stop wasting food. In the US alone, the production of lost or wasted food generates the equivalent of 37 million cars’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions.”

To prevent food waste, plan your meal ahead. For example, you could spend Sundaymorning coming up with a menu for the week. When you go to the store, this ensures that you’ll only buy what you need. And, then you can actually prepare your meals.

I’ve gotten into the habit of this. And, I’m a fan. It’s a type of batching where I don’t have to do much cooking throughout the week. Even though I enjoy cooking, this saves me time, money and even has reduced the packing waste.

As for leftovers? I either freeze them or get creative. For instance, if I’m on day three of veggie chili, I make chili quesadillas out of them to have something different. The rest is in my freezer, ready to be thawed on one of those cold and dreary days we tend to have in the Northeast during the winter.

Bonus points if you make a weekly trip to a local farmer’s market. If that’s not an option, most markets are seasonal around me, look into produce subscription boxes like Misfits Market, Imperfect Foods, Farm Fresh to You, Farmbox Direct, and Farm to People.

15. Regularly Eat Together as a Family (or Team)

Growing up, my family ate together—6 o’clock sharp. No exceptions. As we got older, this became less frequent. But, we still had Sunday dinner.

As a kid, this might have been frustrating. Why would I want to sit down to eat when I could be playing outside or hanging out with my friends. Little did I know, eating together as a family was key in keeping us connected.

It turns out that throughout the years, research backs this assertion up.

While it doesn’t have to be dinner, having meals together is beneficial as it:

  • Teaches children better eating habits. In fact, teens ate more fruits and veggies, and less fast food and sugary beverages, if they ate with their family.
  • It can prevent psychosocial issues. These include eating disorders, substance abuse, and depression.
  • Curtails weight problems later in life. Even just gathering once or twice a week can help protect children from weight problems as adults.
  • Improves children’s self-esteem. During meals, children can talk about themselves, which in turn, makes them feel more self-confident.
  • Bolsters communication skills. Between socialization and conversations, children can become better communicators.
  • It helps kids bounce back from cyberbullying. With more guidance from their parents, kids experience setbacks from cyberbullying like anxiety.
  • It can be used to supplement family therapy. If a family is seeing a therapist, meals provide an opportunity to share the lessons learned.

Before it gets filled up, schedule regular mealtimes with your family in your calendar. It’s a surefire way to avoid conflicts. Plus, it makes planning easier since you can build your schedule around family time.

Moreover, if you’re leading a team, try to have regular lunches together — even if they’re virtual. Studies have found that groups who have lunches together have higher morale and productivity.

16. Shop Locally

What happens when you shop locally? Well, here are 10 positive outcomes courtesy of Independent We Stand:

  • “For every $100 you spend at locally owned businesses, $68 will stay in the community.” That’s only $43 at a national chain.
  • You’re embracing what makes your community unique.
  • You’re creating “jobs for teachers, firemen, police officers, and many other essential professions.”
  • “Buying from a locally owned business conserves energy and resources in the form of less fuel for transportation and less packaging.”
  • It nurtures the community since it’s been found that “local businesses donate to community causes at more than twice the rate of chains.”
  • You’re reinvesting your tax-dollars back into the community.
  • There are more products and services geared for your specific area.
  • You can actually get friendly, expert advice.
  • You’re supporting local entrepreneurship.
  • It helps make your community become a destination.

Where’ your calendar come into play? Well, you could mark it for dates like Small Business Saturday or when there will be sales events throughout the year. Or, you could build this into your schedule. If your farmer’s market is only open on the weekend, then do all of your local shopping on Saturday or Sunday.

17. Run Errands At Once

Piggybacking off that last point, reduce your carbon footprint by doing all of your errands in one shot. Let’s say that you have Tuesday afternoon wide open. Since you have the availability, block that timeframe out so that you can buy groceries, pick-up your dry cleaning, or fill your car up with gas — as opposed to running back-and-forth throughout the week.

As an additional perk, you’ll also save valuable time. And, this could be a chance to spend quality time with a family member or friend — which can help you achieve work-life integration.

18. Walk or Bike

Getting outside and getting the blood pumping is a win-win for your overall health and wellbeing. But, if you have spare time and the weather is cooperating, leave your car at home when running errands. While not always possible if you have a car full of groceries, if you need to pick-up items at a farm stand, this is beneficial for you, the local economy, and the environment.

19. Extend the Life of Your Lithium Battery

“One of the biggest environmental problems caused by our endless hunger for the latest and smartest devices is a growing mineral crisis, particularly those needed to make our batteries,” Christina Valimaki, an analyst at Elsevier, told Wired. Consequently, mining operations are impacting local communities, such as those who grow quinoa and herd llamas in Chile.

What’s more, this process can “scar the landscape” and cause toxic chemicals to bleed into water supplies. As if that weren’t bad enough, some mining operations rely on child labor.

Since it’s futile to give-up our lithium battery addiction, we can at least extend the life of our current batteries so that we aren’t constantly replacing them. The easiest way? Not letting your battery completely drain.

“Try to keep batteries charged at an average 50% or above most of the time — at the very least somewhere between 40% and 80% — to preserve an optimal life span,” suggests Jackie Dove and Paula Beaton for Digital Trends. “Even though your charger can control electronic input to prevent damage, you should unplug the phone when power hits 100% and, if possible, avoid overnight charging.”

You can achieve this by putting your phone on airplane mode when you’re working, eating, or sleeping. Other recommendations are keeping your apps up-to-date, removing apps/widgets you don’t use, dimming your screen, using dark wallpaper, and disabling location services.

20. Frequently Check-In With Others

During your morning or evening routine, check-in with a family member, friend, or colleague. It doesn’t have to be much. It could be a simple text message or a quick phone call letting them know that they’re on your mind.

Just checking in on others strengthens relationships, improves your health, and can help you become more comfortable opening up. Most importantly, this can help them overcome any issues that they’re struggling with. Or, at the very least, it can provide a healthy distraction.

The good people over at I Don’t Mind have ten questions you should ask during your check-in. And, after you’ve opened up the lines of communication, schedule a video call and put it in your calendar for a more in-depth convo.

21. Take a Vacation

Vacations are a proven way to improve your life satisfaction, productivity, and both your mental and physical health. It can spark creativity, give you new perspectives, and allows you to bond with others.

While that’s great for you and your relationships, traveling could also support local economies — especially those that have suffered from events like natural disasters. You could also volunteer while abroad. And, there are even options from companies like Responsible Travel that support communities and preserve nature.

If you can’t get away because of COVID or your schedule won’t allow it, plan a staycation. It may not be the same. But, this still gives you a chance to unwind, spend time with those closest to you, and back to your local community.

22. Add Holidays and Observances

Finally, open up your calendar and add lesser-known holidays and observations. Why? Because this allows you to observe and spread awareness on worthwhile causes thoughtfully. Some suggestions are:

Beware of Toxic Productivity

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Beware of Toxic Productivity

It may seem like a modern concept — but we’ve been striving for productivity for centuries. For example, one of the earliest mentions of productivity can be found in the classic economics text Wealth of Nations, written by Adam Smith in 1776.

What’s more, Benjamin Franklin came up with the first to-do-list in 1791. Even the day planner has been around since 1850. But, in the 21st Century, technology has almost made us obsessed with productivity.

Don’t believe me? Google “productivity” for the heck of it. You’ll get around 561,000,000 results!

On a daily basis, we’re bombarded with tools and hacks that promise to make us more productive. The problem is that eventually, we get burned out.

Then, the pandemic hit. For many of us, that meant we had “extra” time on our hands. With a scrapped daily commute, blank social calendar, and nothing else to do, we could be even more productive.

To make matters worse, this is what we were advised to by experts. Our social feeds were filled to the brim with people who suddenly became bakers, musicians, or contractors. There was no longer an excuse not to get things done.

What is toxic productivity?

“It’s tough enough to be productive in the best of times, let alone when we’re in a global crisis,” Chris Bailey, a productivity consultant and the author of “Hyperfocus: How to Manage Your Attention in a World of Distraction.” told The New York Times.

“The idea that we have so much time available during the day now is fantastic, but these days it’s the opposite of luxury,” he said. “We’re home because we have to be home, and we have much less attention because we’re living through so much.”

Next thing you know, you have new responsibilities and obligations. Eventually, you feel so overwhelmed that it’s like your underwater. And, you actually have less time to kick back and relax.

Even worse? You might have felt like a failure if you weren’t making the most of every minute in lockdown.

“It’s called toxic productivity,” explains expert nurse Emma Selby, clinical lead at health & fitness brand Results Wellness Lifestyle. “It can be defined as an obsession with radical self-improvement above all else.”

“Ultimately, it’s an unachievable goal,” adds Selby. Regardless “matter how productive you are, the result you are left with is a feeling of guilt for not having done ‘more.’”

Obviously, that’s counterproductive. More concerning is that this can impact your health and wellbeing during these uncertain times.

The signs of toxic productivity.

Not all productivity is toxic. Throughout the pandemic, a lot of us figured out how to get more done in less time. How so? By finally identifying our priorities and not dealing with distractions like in-person meetings.

A study from Prodoscore actually found that calendar time had dropped almost 23% vs. the year prior. However, from May to August 2020, productivity levels were up 5% when compared to 2019.

The downside? People were working through the weekend. The study reports that “year over year from May through August, employees are working 42% more on Saturdays and 24% more on Sundays in 2020 than in 2019.”

And, the latter is an example of toxic productivity. But, since this is different for everyone, here are some common red flags to determine if your productivity is toxic.

  • It’s impacted your mental health. You feel more anxious, depressed, or restless.
  • You’ve forgotten obligations and personal responsibilities. Examples include not remembering a family member’s birthday or skipping your workout, a healthy meal, or a good night’s sleep.
  • Your relationships have become stained. Are you not fully “present” when interacting with others? Have you been told that you’re working too much? Have you alienated those closest to you, like not responding to texts or making time for them?
  • You have unrealistic expectations. For instance, putting in a normal 8-day for work when you also have to homeschool your kids.
  • Feeling like you’re on the verge of burnout. Usually, this involves feeling less energetic and focused.
  • Attaching self-worth to hours worked. Just because you worked for 8-hours doesn’t mean you were productive. In fact, if you work more than 55 hours per week, productivity begins to drop sharply.

How to avoid toxic productivity.

Have you noticed any of the toxic productivity signs listed above? If you answered yes, don’t fret. There are simple ways to put a stop to toxic productivity before it interferes with your health, work performance, and relationships.

1. Don’t be productive, be smart.

Productivity is focusing on things that matter most to you. It’s those baby steps you’re taking to reach a goal. And, certainly not trying to keep with what you’re friends are posting on social media.

In short, don’t be productive just for the sake of being productive. Instead, be smarter and do more in less time by;

  • Scheduling your most important work about your internal clock.
  • Use Parkinson’s Law to your advantage, like cutting deadlines in half or gamifying tasks.
  • Follow the 80/20 rule so that you’re focusing on the vital few.
  • Manage your energy, not your time.
  • Stop chasing perfection and think done.
  • Re-use previous materials.
  • Keep tabs on your emotional exhaustion.
  • Keep your saw sharp by taking breaks and enhancing your skills.
  • Set your ideal schedule and then work backward.

2. Adjust your goals and expectations.

I’ve enjoyed working from home — and for some people, they’re actually mote productive without commuting, meetings, and talkative co-workers.

At the same time, there also days when you aren’t going to get as much done at home. You may have children to take care of or catch-up on household chores. There will be certain tasks that you literally can not do at home since you don’t have the right tools or equipment.

Additionally, there’s only so much you can actually do in one day. Don’t overcommit yourself. And, be honest about what you can realistically accomplish.

3. Redefine what breaks are.

Taking breaks doesn’t mean that slacking off. These are vital if you want to stay fresh and rejuvenated. Besides, there are perks to being lazy every now and then.

Besides taking frequent breaks throughout the day, disconnect on the weekend. And, if you feel like you need a personal day, go ahead and take it.

4. Embrace simplicity.

“Whether you call it minimalism, Kondo-ing, or simple living, there are certainly benefits to this type of lifestyle,” writes Calendar Co-Founder John Hall. “Mainly, saving time and money. But, it’s also good for your health and productivity.”

Rather than adding more to your life, scale things back. When you do, you’ll enjoy the following perks;

  • Having blank spots in your calendar allows time for self-reflection.
  • You’ll reduce decision fatigue.
  • You’ll finally have the chance to engage in self-care.
  • There will be fewer misplaced items.
  • It removes friction and conflicts from your life.
  • It strengthens relationships, focus, and effectiveness.
  • You’ll have a clean and organized home and workspace.

5. Establish clearly defined boundaries.

It’s not always possible. But, try to stick to a routine where you have a clear working and non-working hours. Even if your schedule is flexible or changing, leave work at work when you’re done.

Of course, this is a challenge. However, it’s not impossible. You could designate tech-free zones in your home, put your phone on “do not disturb,” set time limits on email, or ask a family member to hold you accountable.

6. Focus on positive self-talk.

“Do you define your sense of self-worth by how productive you are?” asks Dr. Therese Mascardo, Founder of the L.A. Digital Nomads, and CEO and founder of Exploring Therapy. “If so, you may find yourself caught in a cycle of chasing accomplishments that give you a temporary sense of worth until that wears off and you need yet another accomplishment to make you feel valuable.”

“To heal your self-talk, start seeing that your value is not in what you produce or accomplish, but in who you are,” advises Dr. Mascardo.

“Ask yourself, ‘Would I have these same expectations for someone I care for deeply?’” No? “Then you shouldn’t have these expectations for yourself, either.”

In fact, get into the habit of talking to yourself like you would a friend. And, if you’re really struggling with self-talk, get support from a therapist. They can help “you heal toxic narratives that have kept you stuck in a cycle of addiction to productivity.”

7. Don’t compare yourselves to others.

Social media is always a two-edged weapon,” writes business analyst Man To Ip. “On one hand, social media like LinkedIn allow us to explore opportunities like never before. With the help of these tools, it is way easier nowadays to expand our network and get the latest information from companies.”

On the other hand? “These platforms promote a kind of competition among peers or even among strangers.”

“During this lockdown period, it is common to see that many people posting what online courses they have finished, what skills they have picked up, or generally ‘how they have used this period wisely,’” he adds. “Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying that we should not equip ourselves with various skills or we should not give advice to other people.”

“Overall, these feeds have no problem at all, but toxic productivity comes in when we over-compare ourselves with others because of this information. It is, of course, good to have done five online courses in a month, but by no means you are a ‘loser’ simply because you have just done three courses instead of five.”

15 Life Rules to Inspire Motivation

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15 Life Rules to Inspire Motivation

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. – Lou Holtz

Without motivation it’s kind of tough to reach your full potential. Of course, there are moments in your life where motivation is non-existent. When that happens, you should follow these 15 life rules to keep inspiring motivation day-in and day-out.

1. Trust yourself.

During his 2009 USC Commencement Speech, Arnold Schwarzenegger shared his “rules of success.” This included his epic first rule; trust yourself.

And what I mean by that is, so many young people are getting so much advice from their parents and from their teachers and from everyone. But what is most important is that you have to dig deep down, dig deep down and ask yourselves, who do you want to be? Not what, but who.

And I’m talking about not what your parents and teachers want you to be, but you. I’m talking about figuring out for yourselves what makes you happy, no matter how crazy it may sound to other people.

I was lucky growing up because I did not have television or didn’t have telephones, I didn’t have the computers and the iPods. And, of course, Twitter was then something that birds did outside the window. I didn’t have all these distractions and all this.

I spent a lot of time by myself, so I could figure out and listen to what is inside my heart and inside my head.

And I recognized very quickly that inside my head and heart were a burning desire to leave my small village in Austria — not that there was something wrong with Austria, it’s a beautiful country.

But I wanted to leave that little place and I wanted to be part of something big, the United States of America, a powerful nation, the place where dreams can come true.

I knew when I came over here I could realize my dreams. And I decided that the best way for me to come to America was to become a bodybuilding champion, because I knew that was ticket the instant that I saw a magazine cover of my idol, Reg Park. He was Mr. Universe, he was starring in Hercules movies, he looked strong and powerful, he was so confident.

So when I found out how he got that way I became obsessed, and I went home and I said to my family, “I want to be a bodybuilding champion.”

Now, you can imagine how that went over in my home in Austria. My parents, they couldn’t believe it. They would have been just happy if I would have become a police officer like my father, or married someone like Heidi, had a bunch of kids and ran around like the von Trapp family in Sound of Music.

That’s what my family had in mind for me, but something else burned inside me. Something burned inside me. I wanted to be different; I’m determined to be unique. I was driven to think big and to dream big.

Everyone else thought that I was crazy. My friends said, “If you want to be a champion in a sport, why don’t you go and become a bicycle champion or a skiing champion or a soccer champion? Those are the Austrian sports.”

But I didn’t care. I wanted to be a bodybuilding champion and use that to come to America, and use that to go into the movies and make millions of dollars.

So, of course, for extra motivation I read books on strongmen and on bodybuilding and looked at magazines. And one of the things I did was, I decorated my bedroom wall.

Right next to my bed there was this big wall that I decorated all with pictures. I hung up pictures of strongmen and bodybuilders and wrestlers and boxers and so on. 

I was so excited about this great decoration that I took my mother to the bedroom and I showed her. And she shook her head. She was absolutely in shock and tears started running down her eyes.

She [my mother] called the doctor, she called our house doctor and she brought him in and she explained to him, “There’s something wrong here.” She looked at the wall with the doctor and she said, “Where did I go wrong? I mean, all of Arnold’s friends have pictures on the wall of girls, and Arnold has all these men.

But it’s not just men, they’re half naked and they’re oiled up with baby oil. What is going on here? Where did I go wrong?” So you can imagine, the doctor shook his head and he said, “There’s nothing wrong. At this age you have idols and you go and have those — this is just quite normal.”

So this is rule number one. I wanted to become a champion; I was on a mission. So rule number one is, of course, trust yourself, no matter how and what anyone else thinks.

2. The KISS principle.

If you’re like, you had a father who liked to throw around the phrase “Keep it simple, stupid.” In case you were curious, there’s a perfectly good explanation for this. It was a design principle popularized by the US Navy around 1960.

For those who are unfamiliar with the “keep it simple stupid” (KISS) principle, it simply that states that systems perform best when they have simple designs instead of complex ones.

Personally, I use this principle almost daily.

For example, when I have to tackle a large project I break it up into smaller, more manageable tasks. This makes completing the project simpler since I can chip away at specific goals, instead of worrying about completing everything at once.

3. Follow the Goldilocks Rule.

Do you remember the fairy tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? It wasn’t just a memorable bedtime story. It also inspired the aptly-named Goldilocks Rule.

“The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities,” explains James Clear. “Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right.”

According to Clear, the Goldilocks Rule is actually backed by science. That’s because even though we love challenges, we prefer them to be within an optimal zone of difficulty.

Clear uses an analogy of playing tennis. If you played against a child, you would get bored because the match was too easy. But, if you played against a pro like Serena Williams, you’ll find yourself demotivated because the match was too difficult.

4. Embrace change.

People don’t like change. In fact, we resist it as much as possible. One study found that the reason for this is because the longer something is thought to exist, the better it’s evaluated.

Change is inevitable.

The fact of the matter is that change is inevitable throughout life. So instead of fighting it, learn how to embrace it. Start by taking baby steps and just going with the flow.

And, also keep in mind that change is good for you. It helps you grow and learn, as well gain new ideas and perspectives. That can open a whole new world of possibilities.

5. Choose possibilities, not problems.

“With personal power you possess the deep belief there are available solutions for problems. When you approach challenges from a solutions-focused perspective it engages the creative process of examining and architecting alternate routes in lieu of staying stuck in false beliefs of why things cannot be done,” writes Sherrie Campbell in Entrepreneur.

“If you cannot find a solution, open your thoughts to others, seek their ideas and suggestions. Solution-focused minds reward and inspire each other. When solutions are the focus you learn to fail and adapt, moving away from the fixing and failing approach.”

6. Measure twice and cut once.

Here’s another lesson I’ve learned from my old man; measure twice and cut once. This meant when cutting a piece of wood, you would measure it twice to make sure that you don’t make any mistakes. He would often tell me this when he noticed me rushing through something I didn’t care about.

I use this principle to guide me in almost everything I do today.

Let’s say I want to write a blog post. If I’m not feeling the topic, I may write a sub-par article that’s going to get rejected.

Instead of wasting everyone’s time, I would rather discuss a topic that I’m passionate about. When I do, the article isn’t just well-written, it has less errors and is faster for me to compose.

7. ASK.

This is an acronym for always seek knowledge. And this could be one of the greatest life rules I’ve learned. That’s because obtaining knowledge improves our lives by empowering us.

Think about it. You just read a leadership book or took an online course to learn a new skill. You most likely took that newly acquired knowledge and eagerly put it to use. As a result, you become a more well-rounded individual.

8. Be truly fulfilled.

“Michael Gerber, the guy that wrote The E-Myth, talks about why so many businesses, young businesses fail. One of the things he says is most people are not really entrepreneurs, but they think that’s what they should be. They think that’s the sexy thing, that’s the most attractive thing, that’s the best answer,” says Tony Robbins.

“What I say to you is you’ve got to separate the vehicle from the outcome. Is it going to truly fulfill you? What is it that’s going to give you that extraordinary life? What’s going to make things magnificent, on your terms, not somebody else’s terms, not your father, your mother, your background? What is that, really?”

“Separate the vehicle. There are many ways to get to that vehicle, but I’m saying, sometimes you have to reevaluate what’s going to really make you fulfilled.”

You can find this answer by asking yourself questions like:

  • What is your gift?
  • Are you an artist?
  • Are you the talent that can produce something no one else produces as a skill, a product, a service or some impact?
  • You incredibly good at management; you really know how to manage or lead people?
  • Are you an extraordinary entrepreneur that can take that gigantic gut-load of risk, create the vision, attract the talent that you need, the managers and leaders?

“You may have all three abilities, but which one really fulfills you the most, is going to be the critical question. We tend to want to do them all, especially in a room like this, because you’re all overachievers; right?”

“Me, too. You say, ‘Well, I can do all these.’ Yes, you can, but what will it do to your quality of life? See, again, the secret is going to be this. What is an extraordinary life, on your terms, today?”

9. Obey the Golden Rule.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I don’t know how many times my mom beat that into my head. And I’m glad she did. It’s helped guide me throughout life.

Take my business, for example. I treat my employees like I want to be treated. As a result, I have a highly motivated team – even though most are remote workers.

My team feels valued, respected, and delivers top-notch work on a consistent basis. That wouldn’t be possible if I mistreated them.

Besides my team, I also treat my customers with respect by delivering outstanding customer service. When I hear how my business helped a customer I want to keep that up. It’s almost like a video game, I want to keep playing until I get the highest score.

10. Give more than you take.

It’s true. Those who give, receive.

Whether if it’s through volunteering or sharing your wealth or knowledge, when you give more then you take, you’ll be rewarded. What kind of reward? It could be anything from developing new skills, gaining new experiences, or meeting new connections.

And who knows where these rewards can take you. Maybe you learned a new skill while volunteering that you can now use to enhance your business.

As an added perk, it feels pretty good too.

11. Try new things.

Here’s why we don’t try new things; we’re afraid.

The thing is, by letting that fear control us, we’re depriving ourselves from expanding our minds and experiencing new perspectives. Also, those who try new things are more likely to retain positive emotions.

So, stop being afraid and just do it. It’s better than living with could have, might have, and should have.

12. Smile.

You wake-up in the morning in a foul mood. How motivated do you think you’ll be for the rest of the day?

It’s no secret that our mood influences motivation. And one quick fix is to smile. Yep, it’s that simple.

It’s been found that smiling can instantly lift your spirits, boost your immune system, and relieves stress. As an added perk, smiling is contagious.

13. Take action.

Jim Rohn once said, “What we know and how we feel merely determine our potential for achievement. Whether we actually achieve our goals is ultimately determined by our activity.”

According to Rohn, there are two rules of activity:

  1. Do what you can. Ask yourself the following question, “What simple thing could I do, which I’m not doing, which could increase my health and/or my wealth?”
  2. Do the best that you can. Follow this philosophy from Ecclesiastes 9:10 — “Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might.”

14. Work to live; don’t live to work.

Close your eyes for a second and reflect about your life so far. Are you more satisfied about the time you spent working or the time you had living? Hopefully it’s the latter.

Remember, life isn’t about work. It’s about building relationships and how you made an impact in the world. That should keep you motivated during even the most of trying times.

15. Inspire Motivation and Keep dreaming.

Never stop dreaming. No matter your age.

Dreams help you discover yourself. They help you reach your goals. And they ensure that you don’t live a life full of regrets.

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