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Leadership Shows the Way for Productivity

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Leadership Shows the Way for Productivity

In order for the company to achieve its goals, everyone from top to bottom must be productive. Additionally, productivity will motivate employees, increase morale, and promote a more positive work environment. All of these, by the way, is essential if you want you and your team to get excited about work following COVID.

As you know, you must become an effective leader to improve your team’s productivity. But, that’s often easier said than done. Thankfully, you can improve your leadership skills using the following strategies. In turn, this will pave the way for productivity.

1. Don’t be a boss.

Initially, this may sound like a contradiction. But, as Theodore Roosevelt once said, “People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.” As it turns out, the Bull Moose was 100% right.

As Building Champions notes, the key differences between a boss and a leader are;

  • Leaders focus on sustainable solutions, while bosses prefer quick fixes. Leaders show subordinates how and why to do things, while managers cultivate a micromanaged environment.
  • Unlike bosses, leaders are more emotionally intelligent. In contrast to subject matter experts, leaders are emotionally and people-savvy. Great leaders are empathetic, but also very capable of controlling their emotions.
  • Leaders manage people while bosses manage work. Leaders motivate people to achieve specific goals, while bosses control them. Influential leaders influence, inspire, and encourage others to make an organization successful.
  • Unlike a boss, a leader is someone who listens and speaks. Subordinates are expected to listen and obey their bosses when they deliver orders. Regardless of the title of the individual, leaders listen to everyone’s opinions.
  • Leaders encourage rather than criticize. Even though constructive criticism is healthy, excessive and constant criticism can be discouraging. An outstanding leader strikes the right balance between constructive criticism and rewarding employees when they excel.
  • Leaders create more leaders, not just circles of power. It’s considered a form of competition by the boss to hog all the power and authority. Instead, through delegation, education, and providing the right resources, a leader creates other leaders.

2. Effective communicators.

Communication is one of the most crucial aspects of increasing productivity among your team. Overall, members of your team should feel comfortable talking to you about challenges they are facing. But, if you want this to happen, you need to provide ample time to meet with them. And, you also need to make sure that you actually listen to them without judgment.

If this is an area that needs work, encourage your team to speak up during meetings. You can also put them more at ease by informally chatting with them, like during lunch. Other suggestions you can practice would be;

  • Make sure everyone is kept in the loop. Always keep the lines of communication open. Teams are more motivated when leaders are transparent and keep them informed.
  • Listen with empathy. Communication is a two-way street. As such, you must listen attentively to your employees. The more you listen to their concerns and implement changes, the more you will display respect as well as improve productivity and work processes.
  • Be careful about the medium you choose. Cooperation and healthy work culture will be enhanced with a suitable communication medium or tool. Examples include email, Slack, and Zoom.

3. Walk the talk.

Leading by example is a simple and effective way to increase your team’s productivity. If you do this frequently, your team will eventually become more productive. For instance, if you want your team members to show up to team meetings on time, you must make it a point to arrive early.

By setting the bar for productivity, your employees will most likely follow suit. After all, leadership is about influencing others to be more efficient.

4. Grant ownership.

Ownership is a powerful business principle understood by the best leaders. The best way to give ownership to team members? Let them make their own decisions and hold them accountable for those decisions.

You can induce a sense of responsibility in your team members when they’re held accountable for their work. As a result, it becomes apparent to them that their decisions can directly impact the performance of everyone else.

There are several different ways to take ownership of a project. For example, one employee could be a project manager, while another focuses on research. Regardless of the exact responsibility, this builds their self-confidence. How? Because it shows that you trust them to get the job done on time.

5. Bring more humanity into the workplace.

“As a leader, you can be the one to ignite more humanity at work,” write Debbie Cohen and Kate Roeske-Zummer in Fast Company. “Take time to pause and reflect on how you may be contributing to a work environment where people are disengaged.”

“Your people are watching you all the time, taking cues from what you do and say,” they add. “What is your impact? Are you helping their work feel deeper and more connected? When you do, people will give more of themselves, and business wins.”

In other words, without humanity, your employees will continue to suffer a toxic burnout. But, thanks to the following five practices, you can successfully bring more humanity into the workplace.

  • Creating safety. Having a sense of belonging allows individuals to feel safe, fully express themselves, and know what they have to offer.
  • Working together. Establish and work towards achieving a common goal. Also, “be sure every team member feels heard and knows their contributions are valued,” they advise.
  • Claiming values. Clarity and intentionality come from knowing what you stand for. It’s your job as a leader to help your employees learn about their values and to understand why they do what they do.
  • Owning your impact. “When you take responsibility for your impact, it creates personal accountability; your words and your actions align,” add Cohen and Roeske-Zummer. In order to own your impact, you have to be personally responsible for the work you do and the culture you create.
  • Daring not to know. Leaders who show they are human, vulnerable, and do not know all the answers, allow others to step up. The strength of an organization depends on not knowing. You can take charge by saying, “I don’t have the answer for that, what do you think?”

6. Encourage learning opportunities.

Companies offering extensive training have 218% higher income per employee than companies with no formal training, according to the Association for Talent Development (ATD). Moreover, these companies have 24% higher profit margins than those who haven’t invested as much in training.

As if that weren’t enough, employing training and development encourages engagement and retains your top talent. Whether if it’s paying for in-person/online classes, bringing in speakers, or attending workshops, everyone in your organization, including yourself, should be enhancing and learning new skills.

7. Offer incentives.

Research conducted by Genesis Associates in 2018 found that 85% of the employees surveyed felt highly motivated to perform their best when there was an incentive. Why? One reason is that when we feel appreciated, we’re encouraged to repeat the behaviors and habits that made us productive in the first place.

It is essential to consider the employee’s individual needs or preferences when deciding how to reward them. For example, some might prefer public recognition depending on your employees, while others would rather have privately expressed thanks. Besides simple words of appreciation, you can also consider the following incentives:

  • A handwritten note. By sending them a handwritten note, you show your appreciation and that you care enough to take the time to thank them personally.
  • Take them out to lunch. This is also an excellent way to get to them better. If they’re working remotely, you could have food delivered to their home.
  • PTO. If you don’t wish to give your employees a bonus or raise, you can offer paid time off in lieu of vacation and sick days.
  • Introducing a wellness program. You can reduce your company’s health insurance costs and sick days by implementing a workplace wellness program.
  • Lazy Monday/Friday Coupons. Employees can use these coupons to arrive late on Monday mornings or leave early on Fridays.

8. Reduce phantom workload.

Introduced by Marilyn Paul, Ph. D., and David Peter Stroh, phantom workload “is the unintentional work created when people either take expedient but ineffective shortcuts or avoid taking on such as essential.”

Examples include complex tasks like:

  • Clarifying mission, vision, and values
  • Asking questions that challenge what is ambiguous or unrealistic
  • Identifying and resolving conflicts
  • Clarifying and streamlining decision-making processes
  • Providing candid, constructive feedback
  • Differentiating people with sanctions and rewards
  • Launching innovative projects
  • Making decisions that require disinvestment in programs or projects

“When not addressed, the phantom workload leads to a variety of consequences such as rework, unproductive meetings, organizational conflicts, and fractured relationships,” explains Deanna Ritchie in a previous Calendar article. In addition, it wastes time since we keep working on “the same problem over and over again.” Eventually, phantom workload “leads to greater stress and a further reluctance or inability to engage in difficult tasks.”

The good news? You can rescue phantom workload through tactics, such as;

  • Setting a limited amount of realistic goals for you and your team.
  • Changing your behavior by identifying why you want to change.
  • Planning out your day and protecting your time.
  • Asking others for help.
  • Using rewards or inspirational resources like Ted Talks for motivation.
  • Overcoming procrastination through mindfulness or working on the most challenging task first.

And “experiment with different time management and strategies,” Deanna suggests. “There will be some trial and error involved. But, it’s the only way that you’ll discover what works best for you.”

9. Give each other feedback.

Introducing a team feedback process is the final but most important item on the list. When employees aren’t aware they are being inefficient, then how can they improve their performance?

With that in mind, that’s why performance reviews and constructive feedback are essential and not a nuisance. It’s a proven way to guide employees in strengthening their weaknesses.

Additionally, don’t forget to ask them how you could help them improve after giving them the feedback. For example, maybe a little bit more guidance would be useful on specific tasks. Or perhaps that could use a little more creative freedom. And, to further encourage a culture of trust and open dialogue, ask them where you can improve to become a better leader.

Fall Back Into Productivity: 100 Quotes to Get More Done

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Fall Back Into Productivity: 100 Quotes to Get More Done

It may not seem like it. But, a lot is going on in the autumn. Between getting back to a routine after your summer vacay to getting the kids back to school and adjusting to the end of daylight saving time (which happened on Sunday, November 7th), now you’ll have to finalize business plans for the holiday season. It’s easy for your productivity to get derailed.

The good news? If you find that you’re struggling with productivity this fall, use the following quotes to get you back on track.

Planning Quotes

If there is one secret to being productive — it’s planning.

You’re more likely to operate at peak productivity when you plan how you’re going to spend your time in advance. The alternative is taking things as they come and without a plan.

In turn, this almost guarantees both low efficiency and productivity. It’s also a chaotic way to live when you have a full plate.

1. “By Failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

2. “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”– Paul J. Meyer

3. “Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem

4. “Long-range planning works best in the short term.”– Doug Evelyn

5. “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

6. “You’ve got to get up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction.”– George Lorimer

7. “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra

8. “You don’t need a new plan for next year. You need a commitment.”– Seth Godin

9. “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” – John F. Kennedy

10. “Your daily choices and actions should be rational and productive.”– Sunday Adelaja

11. “The more time you spend contemplating what you should have done…you lose valuable time planning what you can and will do.” – Lil Wayne

12. “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”– Dwight D. Eisenhower

13. “A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door.” – Confucius

14. “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” – Alexander Graham Bell

15. “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” – Pablo Picasso

16. “Unless you have definite, precise, clearly set goals, you are not going to realize the maximum potential that lies within you.” – Zig Ziglar

17. “Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.” – Tom Landry

18. “Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” – Richard Cushing

19. “To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” – Leonard Bernstein

20. “Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.” – Thomas Edison

Priority Quotes

The definition of productivity means being more than just busy. Being productive requires that you remain focused on achieving all of your goals in the most accurate and efficient way possible. And, that’s only possible when you do the right things at the right time.

21. “Life is short. Focus on what really matters most; you should change your priorities over time.” – Roy T. Bennett

22. “When my company started really growing, I didn’t have any help in my house at all. I had the upkeep of my daily life, I had a one-year-old and a three-year-old, and I had my house. So I had to prioritize.” – Julie Aigner Clark

23. “It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”– Henry David Thoreau

24. “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” – Albert Einstein

25. “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” – Stephen R. Covey

26. “Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.”– Leo Babauta

27. “Set aside time to plan how you will spend your time. Think about what’s most important. Then do those things first.” – Frank Bettger

28. “Our greatest danger in life is in permitting the urgent things to crowd out the important.” – Charles E. Hummel

29. “The necessary has never been man’s top priority. The passionate pursuit of the nonessential and the extravagant is one of the chief traits of human uniqueness.” – Eric Hoffer

30. “Learn how to separate the majors and the minors. A lot of people don’t do well simply because they major in minor things.” – Jim Rohn

31. “Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions.” – Dallin H. Oaks

32. “Instead of saying ‘I don’t have time’ try saying ‘it’s not a priority and see how that feels.” – Laura Vanderkam

33. “When you have too many top priorities, you effectively have no top priorities.” – Stephen Covey

34. “Let us reflect on what is truly of value in life, what gives meaning to our lives, and set our priorities on the basis of that.” – Dalai Lama

35. “When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar.” – Victoria Moran

36. “Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work.” – H. L. Hunt

37. “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” – Russian Proverb

38. “Think of priorities, not in terms of what activities you do, but when you do them. Timing is everything.” – Dan Millman

39. “The Principe of Priority states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and (b) you must do what’s important first.” – Steven Pressfield

40. “Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want.” – Kristin Armstrong

Quotes to Help You Eliminate Obstacles and Adversity

No matter what task you try to accomplish, and how the amount of planning you did, there are always going to be obstacles in the way. These challenges aren’t just frustrating; they can also interfere with focus and flow state. In some cases, they may cause procrastination.

41. “If you have time to whine, then you have time to find a solution.”– Dee Dee Artner

42. “When someone tells me “no,” it doesn’t mean I can’t do it, it simply means I can’t do it with them.”– Karen E. Quinones Miller

43. “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”– Winston Churchill

44. “Sometimes, things may not go your way, but the effort should be there every single night.” – Michael Jordan

45. “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”– Earl Nightingale

46. “One who conquers the sea today is ready to conquer the ocean tomorrow.”– Matshona Dhliwayo

47. “We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”– Barbara De Angelis

48. “A challenge only becomes an obstacle when you bow to it.”– Ray Davis

49. “Sometimes you don’t realize your own strength until you come face to face with your greatest weakness.”– Susan Gale

50. “The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.”– Jean-Baptiste Poqeulin (Moliere)

51. “And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”– Haruki Murakami

52. “Because some people see a wall, and assume that’s the end of their journey. Others see it, and decide it’s just the beginning.”-  Angeline Trevena

53. “There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.”– Malcolm X

54. “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”– Christopher Reeve

55. “If you are facing a new challenge or being asked to do something that you have never done before, don’t be afraid to step out. You have more capability than you think you do, but you will never see it unless you place a demand on yourself for more.”– Joyce Meyer

56. “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you’re doing the impossible.”– Francis of Assisi

57. “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”– Robert Kennedy

58. “The individual who says it is not possible should move out of the way of those doing it.”– Tricia Cunningham

59. “You can’t get much done in life if you only work on days when you feel good.”– Jerry West

60. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”– Wayne Gretzky

Quotes to Inspire, Motivate, and Take Action

Need a shot in the arm? Use the following quotes to get you inspired, motivated, and take action.

61. “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” – Thomas Jefferson

62. “Dream big, start small, but most of all, start.” – Simon Sinek

63. “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

64. “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” – Zig Ziglar

65. “An idea not coupled with action will never get any bigger than the brain cell it occupied.” – Arnold Glasow

66. “Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot, but make it hot by striking.” – William B. Sprague

67. “Be content to act, and leave the talking to others.” – Baltasar Gracian

68. “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes but don’t quit.” – Conrad Hilton

69. “People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do.” – Lewis Cass

70. “Many great ideas go unexecuted, and many great executioners are without ideas. One without the other is worthless.” – Tim Blixseth

71. “Let your performance do the thinking.” – Charlotte Brontë

72. “Take action! An inch of movement will bring you closer to your goals than a mile of action.” – Steve Maraboli

73. “Well done is better than well said.”- Benjamin Franklin

74. “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden

75. “Action is the antidote to despair.” – Joan Baez

76. “Doing nothing gets you nothing.” – Sean Reichle

77. “Stay focused and don’t allow distractions to fill your mind or derail you from taking continued action.” – Byron Pulsifer

78. “You cannot score a goal when you are sitting on the bench. To do so, you have to dress up and enter the game.” – Israelmore Ayivor

79. “You’re a doer, because you’re prepared to make the necessary effort to translate your dream into action.” – Paul McCabe

80. “There is only one proof of ability—action.” – Marie Ebner-Eschenbach

81. “Nothing is impossible; the word itself says ‘I’m possible!’” – Audrey Hepburn

82. “The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today.” – Nolan Bushnell

83. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney

84. “Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.” – Franz Kafka

85. Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence. – Vince Lombardi

86. “You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” – Zig Ziglar

87. “Time is at once the most valuable and the most perishable of all our possessions” – John Randolph

88. “Both good and bad days should end with productivity. Your mood affairs should never influence your work.” – Greg Evans

89. “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers, you cannot be successful or happy.” – Norman Vincent Peale

90. “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure, or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.” – Thomas Watson

91. “If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.” – David Allen

92. “Action is the foundational key to all success.” – Picasso

93. “If you commit to giving more time than you have to spend, you will constantly be running from time debt collectors.” – Elizabeth Grace Saunders

94. “You don’t actually do a project; you can only do action steps related to it. When enough of the right action steps have been taken, some situation will have been created that matches your initial picture of the outcome closely enough that you can call it ‘done.’” – David Allen

95. “Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn’t have the power to say yes.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

96. “The path to success is to take massive, determined actions.” – Tony Robbins

97. “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” – Japanese Proverb

98. “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

99. “Use the word PERHAPS to change your negative beliefs to possibilities that invite ACTION and, ultimately, to positive beliefs and probabilities.” – Anita Foley

100. “If you spend time getting ready to be perfect and do not start out to accomplish your dreams, you will find out later that you could have accomplished your dream if you had just acted.” – David DeNotaris

How to Recognize and Destroy Time Wasters

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They are everywhere. Time wasters. Chronological cat burglars. Minute moochers. Is there any way to stop them? You bet your sundial there is!

There are chronological criminals among us. So here is some lighthearted advice to take or not as you see fit.

Time is an interesting concept. Babies don’t know anything about it. Children bend it to suit their own selfish needs. Teenagers can be big-time wasters, as long as it makes their parents mad. Adults become enslaved by it. Seniors are threatened by it. And, of course, the deceased don’t worry about it anymore. That’s why you see so many sundials on graves. They’re laughing at the rest of us.

So what does time really mean to us? The living. The working. The anxious. The serfs. All you rich people who might be reading this article at the moment can go hop on your private jets and fly to Bermuda because you don’t care about time one way or the other, do you?

But for the average Joe Timex, time is a nagging presence that hovers over us — giving an evil chuckle from time to time when our schedules go awry. And what makes our schedules go awry? Time wasters!

Now when you’re at home or away from the office, you can deal with time wasters any way you want, legal or otherwise. But, right now, we are dealing with those insidious time wasters in the office, on the factory floor, who keep you from finishing your work.

Time is money, and you’re already in debt!

Let’s start in the home office. Many poor deluded souls believe working at home saves them time. But, of course, that might be true for the lucky few who don’t have spouses, children, neighbors, or pets just waiting to bushwhack them their schedule.

Take children, for instance. They have a built-in radar that knows precisely when you are in a Zoom conference with your manager. When they sense this opportunity, they go into action. Cereal is spilled. Knees are cut. Fights break out. In other words, all hell breaks loose. And for some strange reason, you are the one they expect to take charge of the situation.

By the time you get things settled, your boss has gone off to happy hour, and you wish you could too.

Here’s what to do . . .

  • When your spouse doesn’t respect your work schedule at home, try divorce. If that’s too expensive or emotional, try earplugs.
  • Perchance earplugs are too itchy for you — use that golden question: “Can we talk about this when I take you out to dinner tonight?”
  • If worst comes to worst, prepare a hidey-hole in your home office where you can secret yourself from the tender attentions of your spouse.
  • For pesky neighbors, the best recourse is a vicious dog. One that would bite the leg off of the Dalai Lama.
  • The only exception to this rule would be if your neighbors bring you good things to eat. If that’s the case, use land mines. So they have a sporting chance to get through.
  • Children should be treated with kindness and consideration. They are unaware of the awful burden you bear as a slave in the salt mines. So when they come to you with their petty squabbles and tears, do not turn them away. Just give them lots of candy and lead them to the TV. You’ll never be bothered by them again.
  • (The ASPCA has approved the following recommendations.) Cats should be sedated with catnip. Dogs should be given the biggest bone the butcher has. Birds should be let out of their cages into the great outdoors. Lizards and snakes, which don’t make any noise anyway, should be donated to the local zoo. You don’t have time to take care of them properly.

In the office . . .

time thief may be your own boss. If that’s the case, just grit your dentures and suck it up. It might help to daydream about the beaches of Thailand while your boss is bloviating. On the other hand, if it’s a coworker who constantly purloins your need to count the bottle caps in your desk drawer, then the answer is just put some cotton dipped in red food coloring in your ears.  And if a colleague still attempts to take your time, just point to your ears and shake your head. If this doesn’t discourage them, then try a piteous groan or two. They should take the hint.

In conclusion . . .

Although this has been a lighthearted look at time wasters — and maybe, perchance a time waster to read — the problem of time wasters is real and it is serious. The best way to keep busy and uninterrupted is to look extraordinarily harried and busy and like you will not stand for any interruption. That’s all you really need to know. That will keep most time parasites away.

Increase Your Energy for a Happier Life Balance

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Increase Your Energy for a Happier Life Balance

It wasn’t all that long ago that the term “work-life balance” was all the rage. But, how exactly did the business world view the concept?

For many, it’s recognizing that an employee’s work experience is only one aspect of their lives? The other consisted of family, friends, hobbies, and overall health. The objective of work-life balance is to ensure that work doesn’t interfere with life outside of work too much. When this goal is met, employees will be happier and more productive.

“Work-life balance” may seem like a relatively new concept, but it first became popular during the 1970s and 1980s. It was actually stressed by baby boomers who attempted to achieve a balance between work, family, and other areas of their lives. The changing experiences of generational groups, however, have led HR leaders to reassess the term. Generation X, according to Forbes, has placed a high emphasis on achieving a balance between work and family. It also uses PTO to focus on family life and non-work activities.

But, as millennials have entered the workforce with gusto, Forbes adds that “they are more interested in finding a career path that will support their’ lifestyle,’ which in this context means their life outside of work.” In other words, younger age groups have focused on pursuing jobs and employers that support the lifestyle they desire. Rather than securing a job and then creating a life around its hours, income, and other aspects, this approach inverts the conventional approach more associated with Boomers.

As a consequence, concepts like “work-life integration” have become increasingly popular. But, maybe we’re overthinking this. “Rather, we simply must manage our energy,” asserts Gila Vadnai-Tolub for McKinsey.

“We must learn critical skills to balance our energy levels to ensure we alternate high-performance periods with resourcing times,” adds Vadnai-Tolub. “Athletes do this by alternating training with resourcing activities, and we must do the same via activities that give us energy.”

The Primary Types of Energy

“There are four primary types of energy: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual,” states Vadnai-Tolu.

  • Physical energy. Most of us are familiar with this type. Generally speaking, it provides us with an indication of how tired we feel and how well our bodies feel. It’s for this reason that we understand we need to walk occasionally. However, it is not only long-term fitness plans that matter, but also daily refreshment moments.
  • Mental energy. This is often obtained from tasks that require analytical and cognitive abilities. For example, you may be physically fine but mentally exhausted after spending a long time concentrating. Each of us has specific mental tasks that drain or lift us.
  • Emotional energy. To achieve this, one must have connections with others – from giving and receiving love to helping a friend or colleague deal with a problem. Consequently, negative emotions such as fear, frustration, and anger drain energy and damage performance, she says.
  • Spiritual energy. When we do something we love, something that speaks to our spirit, we receive wisdom, compassion, integrity, joy, love, creativity, or peace as a result. For instance, it’s a common experience to become mentally and physically tired while working on a project. Nevertheless, we’re able to keep going because it is something of fundamental importance.

Being aware of these can help you better manage your energy throughout the day. For example, when you recognize that you’re physically or mentally zapped, you would take a break to recharge.

What’s more, you can find ways to give yourself an energy boost. For example, let’s say that you’re frustrated with how long a project has taken you to complete. Reminding yourself of the meaning behind your work or collaborating with a supportive college could reduce those negative feelings and give you a jot.

Why It’s Important to Manage Your Energy

You may be thinking that managing your energy isn’t all that big of a deal. After all, you can just brew a pot of coffee to wake yourself up. While that might give you a temporary boost to wrap up a tedious task, truly managing your energy has the following benefits, according to Karen Kallie R.N., M.A.C.P;

  • Accelerated change. Working energetically gets at the root of problems, makes them easier to resolve, and empowers you to provide positive, quick, and practical solutions, really a change from within.
  • Diminished resistance. Often, our attempts to change are stymied by the struggle, thereby impeding the flow of change. Energy work can aid in eliminating that struggle. When using energy, we can experience ease and grace instead of force and willpower.
  • The discipline of the mind. A more focused mind helps us channel our energy more efficiently towards our goals and fulfill our desires.
  • Enhanced clarity. As a result of eliminating emotional turmoil, negative attitudes, and exhausting thought patterns, one can perceive reality more clearly, oneself and others.
  • Improved intuition, creativity, and spiritual experience. By strengthening and removing old memories, beliefs, and maladaptive patterns from the overall energy system, the entire system functions better, enabling higher levels of function to expand.
  • Clearing energy blocks from our systems creates an opening for positive growth. To prevent ourselves from getting sucked into repetitive cycles filled with what we do not want, we create more of what we want in life. When our minds and bodies are relaxed, we become more open to allowing greater flow, which also helps us to quiet our ego and recognize other energies.

How you Can Increase Your Energy for Happier and More Balance Life

Establish fixed schedules for work.

When will your workday begin and end? Ideally, this should be based around when you’re most productive, aka your biological prime time. While not always possible, when you can establish a work schedule, you can avoid energy-depleting distractions, like emails or office visitors.

“Use technology to your advantage by using the various apps and digital reminders that make it more difficult for you to break your own rules and access things outside of work time,” advises Dr. Beurkens. “Although technology can feel like it’s taking over our lives and infringing on our work-life balance, we can actually use it to our benefit in helping us stick to the boundaries we know are healthy for us.” For example, you may choose to set time limits, turn off your active status, or even set up an auto-responder to let others know you won’t respond outside your regular working hours.

You should also share your calendar with others. Of course, this doesn’t have to be everyone on your contact list. But, letting your co-workers or family members know when you’re on and off the clock prevents work-life lines from getting blurred.

Eat, drink, and be merry.

No, this isn’t a DMB plug. But, if “Tripping Billies” lifts your mood and energy, then go for it. So, instead, this covers the basics of increasing your energy.

You are what you eat.

With the proper diet, you can keep your body healthy, feel energized, and stay optimistic. Plus, healthy food can be tasty. And, personally, I enjoy learning and preparing new recipes.

Additionally, cooking healthy doesn’t have to be a time-consuming endeavor if you try the following;

  • Get your hands on a cookbook featuring quick and tasty dishes, or look for health-conscious recipes online.
  • Take advantage of ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables.
  • You’ll find it easier to resist the temptation to order a pizza f you prepare a weekly menu and freeze meals in advance.

But, what exactly should you eat? As per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, an optimal energy diet should include fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains.

You should also consume various foods from various food groups to get the proper nutrients to help you stay energized throughout the day. You should eat fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, especially dark, leafy vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, which are high in nutrients. For healthy protein options, fish and legumes are available in a variety of forms. In addition, eat three servings of whole-grain cereal, bread, rice, or pasta each day.

Stay hydrated.

Another benefit of eating healthy? You may be consuming water-rich fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes, oranges, and strawberries. That’s a simple way to ensure that you stay hydrated throughout the day.

In addition to water, green tea, Yerba maté, and coffee are also drinks that can stimulate energy. Just be careful not to overdo it with the caffeine. When the body withdraws from caffeine after consuming too much coffee, as an example, it can result in energy loss.

Also, it’s alright to have the occasional alcoholic beverage. “Moderate drinking seems to be good for the heart and circulatory system, and probably protects against type 2 diabetes and gallstones,” states the Harvard School of Public Health.

Promote happiness and creativity.

Having a positive attitude toward life enables you to tackle your tasks more effectively. Alternatively, stress can be exhausting and negatively affect your health. In addition, research shows stress can hinder creativity.

You can relieve stress by taking care of yourself and choosing creative outlets that you enjoy;

  • Each week, dedicate some time to de-stressing and relaxing.
  • If possible, enjoy some quiet time in the morning.
  • Consider learning a new hobby or taking art classes if you’ve always wanted to take one.
  • Decrease your exposure to negativity, like avoiding news overdose or hanging out with toxic people.
  • Practice gratitude and do something meaningful daily.
  • Enjoy everyday tasks. Some ideas would be making an ethnic meal for dinner, singing in the shower, learning a language during your commute, or gamification at work.
  • Take walks outside — without your phone.
  • Find ways to laugh, like watching funny videos or playing with your dog.

Get your body moving.

Feeling lethargic by the middle of the day? Have you ever felt exhausted by simple everyday tasks, such as grocery shopping or chores around the house?

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, getting 150 minutes of physical activity each week can add to your energy instead of taking it away. Why? When you exercise, you relieve stress and tension, strengthen your muscles, and boost your endurance, which improves your ability to perform other physical activities more efficiently.

Restrict your sleep.

“If you think you may be sleep-deprived, try getting less sleep,” states Harvard Health Publishing. “This advice may sound odd, but determining how much sleep you actually need can reduce the time you spend in bed not sleeping.”

Sleeping with this process facilitates easier sleep and results in a more restful night’s sleep. And, here’s how you can do it;

  • During the day, do not nap. If you do, keep it short and sweet, preferably under 20-minutes.
  • Try going to bed a little later the first night and getting four hours of sleep.
  • If you feel you slept well during the previous four hours, you may want to add another 15–30 minutes of sleep the following night.
  • Continue to add little by little, as long as you are sleeping soundly on successive nights.

Enter the dream world.

“Dreams play a crucial role in some of our most important emotional and cognitive systems, helping us form memories, solve problems and maintain our psychological health,” writes Alice Robb, in “Why We Dream.” Dreaming has the power to make us fitter, happier, and smarter.

However, how can we harness the power of dreams?

Just remembering can be a huge help to keep your dreams alive. “Reminding yourself of your intention as you fall asleep can yield a bounty of memories in the morning,” Robb writes.

A dream journal, she suggests, should also be kept nearby. Then, upon waking, pause for a few seconds before writing down what you dreamed.

While dreams often affect us automatically, Robb argues that they are amplified when we experience them directly.

It’s possible to improve the quality of our sleep in subtle ways as well, such as avoiding alcohol close to bedtime, exercising regularly, waking up naturally, and limiting screen time. You can also stay in deep sleep mode by meditating before bed and keeping your room cold (between 60 and 68 degrees).

And, we should treat dreams “like the real and profound experiences they are,” Robb writes. “Let’s give them their rightful place in the world.”

Overcome negative bias.

“The negative bias is our tendency not only to register negative stimuli more readily but also to dwell on these events,” explains Kendra Cherry for Verywell Mind. “Also known as positive-negative asymmetry, this negativity bias means that we feel the sting of a rebuke more powerfully than we feel the joy of praise.”

For example, on the way to work, you get into a spat with your significant other. You then dwell on this for the entire day. Consequently, you get short with your co-workers, make poor decisions, or can’t focus on the task at hand.

Our ancient ancestors had to pay “attention to bad, dangerous, and negative threats in the world was literally a matter of life and death,” adds Cherry. “Those who were more attuned to danger and who paid more attention to the bad things around them were more likely to survive.” Today, however, this can strain relationships, harm your reputation, and make it difficult to be optimistic.

The good news? You can overcome the negative bias by;

  • Stop the negative self-talk. Instead of dwelling on past mistakes, you cannot change; consider what you have learned and what you will apply to the future.
  • Reframe the situation. Find a way to reframe the events in a more positive light when you interpret something negatively.
  • Establish new patterns. If you find yourself dwelling on negative things, try to distract yourself with an uplifting activity like listening to uplifting music or going for a walk.
  • Savior positive moments. Take a moment to appreciate the good things that happen in your life. Think about the wonderful feelings the memory evokes several times in your head.

Make work a series of sprints.

Unable to think clearly? You’re overloaded and have the fragmented attention of a distracted person. So how can you remedy this? Sprint into your most essential tasks selectively.

This idea comes from engagement consultant Tony Schwartz. In the New York Times, Schwartz argues that since quality work helps you concentrate, and you can only focus for a short time, you should be aware of how and when you focus on doing your best work.

“… it’s better to work highly focused for short periods of time, with breaks in between, than to be partially focused for long periods of time. Think of it as a sprint, rather than a marathon. You can push yourself to your limits for short periods of time, so long as you have a clear stopping point. And after a rest, you can sprint again.”

That last night is crucial. As a renewable resource, your mental energy does not replenish on its own. You must be responsible for maintaining it. FYI, using your phone isn’t “taking a break,” either. Instead, go for a stroll, daydream, or talk to a colleague,

Take the day off.

Do you have unused vacation time from your job? If so, make sure to take use them up!

The benefit of taking days off regularly is that stress can be reduced, and burnout can be avoided. This will give you a chance to clear your head, reflect, and recharge. It may even be beneficial to take a mental health day where you do nothing except cater to your health and wellbeing — even if it’s just spending the day reading in your PJs.

Reach out for help.

As opposed to neglecting or suppressing negative thoughts or memories, address them by talking to someone. By expressing your feelings out loud to an understanding person, you’ll be able to release what’s unspoken. What’s more, the other party, whether it’s your spouse, co-worker, mentor, or therapist, can help you develop solutions to your problems.

Image credit: Anna Tarazevich; Pexels; Thank you!

How to Run an Efficient Team With Fewer People

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How to Run an Efficient Team With Fewer People

A quick glance at the Fortune 500 will show you some well-oiled corporate machines that dominate their respective industries. Small companies and startups will try to emulate those same business models with varying degrees of success. Is it possible for a small organization to run as efficiently as a business behemoth?

The answer is yes, but you might have to customize your approach to fit your specific team. Running a small-scale team is a much more intimate and detail-oriented matter, but when done correctly, it can be just as efficient as any company you compare yourself to.

This article will help you and your team increase your efficiency and help your small business find great success even with fewer people on deck.

Lean on Automation

When operating with a small team, look for ways to automate basic tasks that take up a lot of time when performed manually. This frees up your team members and allows them to focus their attention elsewhere, getting much more done in a regular day. 

Take online appointment software, for example. With this solution in place, customers can book their own appointments, check future availability, and even make payments without the help of a customer representative. You’ll no longer need to have a team member on the phones all day helping customers do those things.

You can automate a whole bunch of tasks — outreach emails, invoice reminders, social media posts — if you have the right tools for it. Look for solutions that will take control of basic tasks so that your team can focus on more complex assignments. 

Focus on Communication

You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it once again. Communication is absolutely vital for teams of all shapes and sizes. Even one miscommunication can be quite disruptive.

Improving team communication doesn’t have to be complicated. Try using project management software or an instant messaging platform to keep everyone on the same page. Hold consistent meetings and touch base with your employees on a regular basis. Ultimately, successful communication comes down to the effort you put into it, so don’t let a day go by where you’re not communicating with your team in some way. 

Another important aspect of communication is gathering feedback. Ask your team about what’s working and what’s not working, then use that information to change your workflows. Few things will improve your team’s efficiency more than listening to their process improvement ideas and putting them into practice. 

Manage Workloads

Some miscommunications are worse than others. One side effect of bad communication is poor workload management. With a small team, especially in a startup, there’s a chance that some members are taking on far more tasks than their peers, which creates a distinct disparity between co-workers. If the imbalance persists, it can begin to breed resentment.

You might appreciate that your hardest-working employee is taking on as many assignments as possible, but the truth is that they’re likely experiencing some diminishing returns on their productivity. If they’re biting off more than they can chew, it won’t be long before errors occur or something has to be pushed aside.

By managing the workload over your entire team, projects can be distributed more evenly. This will likely result in tasks being completed much faster than if a single person was trying to do everything on their own. 

Build a Positive Culture

Company culture might seem superficial, but employees are valuing culture more now than ever. A positive company culture will draw in better employee prospects, which will naturally increase your efficiency by introducing more good workers into the mix.

In addition, your culture will directly affect team morale on a daily basis. If your team enjoys coming to work every day and mingling with their co-workers, they’ll work harder and more efficiently together. A poor culture will cause team members to drag their feet and potentially even look for a different employer.

How do you build a positive culture? There are a number of different approaches, and the ones you choose will depend on your team’s values. Casual wear, a revamped break room, team lunches, and after-work activities are all possibilities to consider. 

Promote Autonomy

As a leader, it’s important to be hands-on with your team. However, you need to avoid becoming a micromanager. Going too far in the “helping” direction can actually hurt productivity and efficiency. 

While remaining involved, promote autonomy throughout your team. Make yourself available for questions and guidance, but don’t stick your nose in when you’re not needed. This might be difficult to achieve if you’re an entrepreneur working on your startup, but it’ll pay off in the long run.

If you want to measure how these tips are working for your team, start tracking some key metrics (hours worked per process, cost of goods/services sold, etc.) that you can compare over time. As you see those numbers improve, you’ll know you’re turning your small team into an efficiency powerhouse. 

The 5 Habits that can Change Your Life

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Habits that can Change Your Life

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

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

1. Wake Up At a Reasonable Time

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

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

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

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

2. Schedule Out Your Day

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

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

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

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

3. Give Yourself Deadlines

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

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

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

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

4. Make Time For Movement

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

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

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

5. Prioritize Practicing Self Care

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

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

Summary

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

5 Industries Benefiting from Improved Productivity and Efficiency

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5 Industries Benefiting from Improved Productivity and Efficiency

Over the past few centuries, society has undergone several Industrial Revolutions where improved productivity was the main focus. Each one introduced different kinds of innovations like mechanized fabric making, product standardization, and digital communications. Certainly, they were different in terms of what they brought to the societal table. Yet, they all had one thing in common: They enabled exciting methods of workforce efficiency on unparalleled scales.

Today, we’re nestled somewhere around the Fourth or Fifth Industrial Revolution. As a result, efficiency and its cousin, productivity, have arisen as hallmarks of successful companies. Indeed, top organizations like Apple and Microsoft do things better, faster, and cheaper than competitors.

As a result, these companies are frequently used as examples in business school curricula. When have you heard of “the greats” without hearing of Apple and Microsoft? Moreover, these businesses’ efficiencies continue to keep them in leading positions worldwide and force other organizations to keep up — or get left behind.

For instance, Amazon has mastered what is coined McDonaldization. That is, Amazon’s workplace engine runs like that of a fast-food chain. How so? People get exactly what they want when they want it at an affordable price.

No matter where an individual is under Amazon’s reach, they can expect the same level of service. The system is efficiency-in-action — and it turns consumers into loyalists. The Amazon example provides other businesses with the inspiration and impetus to boost their own company productivity ratings.

Leaning into efficiency — even when it’s a tough sell

Of course, becoming efficient isn’t simple and doesn’t come without growing pains. If it did, every startup or enterprise would run like clockwork without minimal amounts of time, human resources, or financial waste.

Efficiency takes tremendous planning, work, and dedication, right down to the individual level, which is why some sectors historically have lagged behind. Not anymore, though. Plenty of industries are finally embracing the realization that efficiency will bring myriad opportunities.

At the same time, business leaders have realized that an efficient culture doesn’t have to be robotic. Productivity can be fun and rewarding. Workers don’t necessarily disengage just because their employer values productivity. Instead, they can start to see themselves as part of the solution. Plus, if they can help cut out waste, they may see personal gains like a shorter workweek.

Improved productivity in industries not known for productivity

So which industries are becoming known for adopting more efficient processes? The following five are finding and testing exciting ways to boost productivity.

Industry #1. Media and entertainment

Video game development may be a thriving field. Nonetheless, companies have had trouble finding workers to fill roles. Part of the problem is that the technologies needed to produce games evolve rapidly. Consequently, job candidates who graduated a few years ago may not have impressive resumes or appropriate credentials.

Credentials within each market have to be updated, and some workers have not taken that opportunity — leading to problems with efficiency within video game developing companies. Why? The companies are struggling to put workers into positions.

Fortunately, the industry has found a workaround that’s both efficient and effective. As Gearbox Entertainment president Randy Pitchford has explained while on the speaking circuit, “hiring for aptitude could transform this industry.” Pitchford has seen how recruiting people with the right cultural fit, determination, and spatial skills can have more bottom-line effects than hiring someone for background alone.

Understanding gaming industry needs and the unique way of sourcing tomorrow’s gaming performers has allowed Gearbox and other entities to get projects to market (and consumers hungry for entertainment) faster than ever before.

Industry #2. Education

Although education has experienced improved productivity with the advent of technologies like the computer and the Internet, it’s still antiquated. Still, it’s undergone a bit of metamorphosis during Covid due to the rise in online learning. And that’s opened the door for education advocates, administrators, educators, and parents to discuss revamping the educational process.

Take grading systems, for instance. Instructure, the maker behind Canvas, conducted a research study during the pandemic. The study showed that about half of educational setting stakeholders felt that students were falling behind. At the same time, plenty of respondents felt the way to help kids and teens recovery shouldn’t include high-stakes testing.

Instead, 76% of teachers felt that formative assessments were better to determine if students were progressing. So if formative assessments become mainstream, they may help teachers more efficiently bring all students to a standard level.

Industry #3. Healthcare

Medicine, in general, hasn’t always been the pinnacle of productivity. How many stories have we all heard about long waits to get from the lobby to the exam room? Or the inability to schedule an appointment within three months, especially with a specialist?

These hiccups have made healthcare a place fraught with frustrations for all parties. In other words, it’s the perfect zone for a focus on improved productivity.

Healthcare has enjoyed an efficiency renaissance recently thanks to integrated healthcare portals. Many of the larger hospitals and healthcare systems are creating centralized places for records, communication, billing, insurance, and more.

By streamlining all documentation and giving patients more immediate access, providers are improving their service. They’re also putting power in the hands of patients who can schedule emotional wellness telemedicine visits and pay their bills online.

Industry #4. Retail

Consumers fell out of favor with brick-and-mortar shopping during Covid. Instead, they tended to do most of their purchasing online through sites and apps. Though they’ve returned to their favorite retailers now that they can, they’ve altered their buying behaviors.

More than ever, they value efficient interchanges — and don’t necessarily want to spend hours browsing or waiting in lines. Instead, they want the speed that can only come from highly efficient workflows.

To satisfy the public’s needs, retailers have made several efficiency changes. For one, lots have added self-service kiosk checkouts. Others have bumped up their digital spaces, adding buy-now, pick-up-in-store choices.

More retail companies are promising curbside delivery with prepayment. Not surprisingly, shoppers are taking advantage of these current opportunities to get what they want faster.

Industry #5. Real Estate

Who would have thought that real estate would take off during and after the pandemic? It happened, though. Even during the strictest lockdown periods, people found ways to connect with realtors and virtually visit properties. As soon as they could, they snatched up residential and commercial deals–sending Zestimates soaring sky-high.

Until the middle of 2021, the housing market kept going up and up. The higher prices delighted everyone, from agents to sellers to investors. But, at the same time, it highlighted the need for improved productivity with so many people clamoring to enter into the real estate market.

Even though buyers and sellers can once again meet in person, they’re not stuck doing real estate the same way. Realtors and realty companies have begun to use the web more effectively. They’re exploring ways to ramp up efficiency from streamlining documentation through online e-signature portals to showcasing even luxury properties online.

Some are even testing the waters with augmented and virtual reality. The more they can get a potential buyer to connect with available properties, the faster they can close a sale.

Some experts say that we’ve entered into the Fifth Industrial Revolution. Others say we’re only on its cusp. A few are looking forward to predicting the Sixth Industrial Revolution, which could be a combination of AI and biotech.

Regardless of which Industrial Revolution is upon us, all organizations and industries can benefit from an upsurge of innovation, adaptability, and efficiency.

Being Cold Can Hurt Your Productivity

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Being Cold Can Hurt Your Productivity

These final months of the year keep getting colder and colder. Of course, some people love the cold, especially after a blazing hot summer. However, no matter how you feel about the cold, it’s essential to understand that being cold can actually hurt your productivity.

When you’re cold, your body expends more energy trying to keep warm. Unfortunately, this can make it difficult to focus and maintain energy and power throughout a long shift. Cornell University performed a study that showed that employees committed 44% more errors in their work in a cold setting instead of a warmer one.

Here are some tips for warming up your body and your brain so that cooler weather doesn’t compromise your seasonal productivity:

Grab a Space Heater

It’s understandable if you don’t want to crank up the heat throughout the entire building if you’re just a little bit chilly. Not only might this inconvenience others, but it can also run your utility up considerably. A small space heater can do the trick in this scenario.

Space heaters can be set to target temperatures so that they aren’t constantly running but will quickly flip on when things get chilly. However, leaving a space heater on for too long or unattended can be a fire hazard, so be sure to unplug it when you leave the room. Additionally, keep the surrounding area around it clear, and you won’t experience any problems.

If you want a more focused heating experience, try a heated blanket. You can wrap the “blankie” around your legs or shoulders to warm up key areas of your body. Just make sure the heat and comfort don’t make you drowsy, causing you to lose productivity.

Bundle Up

Shorts are so comfortable, but you’re going to need to start bundling up a little bit more. Just look on the bright side; winter layers offer many more opportunities to show off your style and fashion sense. Besides, you can always peel off extra layers when you’re feeling too warm. You can’t conjure up a jacket if you leave it at home.

For at-home workers, bundling up presents an interesting dilemma. The outfit of choice during the latter half of the year often includes a pair of cozy sweatpants. While it’s essential to keep warm, make sure your clothing isn’t putting you in the wrong state of mind for a productive day.

If you get cold hands but need to type all day, try on a pair of fingerless gloves. There are all kinds of typing gloves on the market to keep your digits warm while retaining dexterity.

Do Some Exercise

If you feel the cold making it difficult to focus, get up and do some light exercise. A few small exercises will get your blood pumping to warm up your body and reactivate your mind. Of course, there’s no need to hop on the treadmill to warm up; just do something simple at your desk.

For example, you can set a recurring reminder in your Calendar to stand up and do 15 jumping jacks every hour. The people in our office do all kinds of exercise during work. Jumping jacks, situps, running in place, or going up and down the stairs in the building, stretching, and a variety of other activities to keep the blood flowing and the mind awake.

These short activities won’t make for much of a weight-loss routine, but they will help keep you warm and active during the fall and winter months. In addition, coworkers can join in on exercise fun, leading to a fun office tradition.

Watch What You Eat

What you put into your body can help regulate your temperature or make matters worse. You might love ice cream more than anything in the world, but that’s certainly not going to help you focus on productivity on a chilly day. Your best bet is to try something warmer. Coffee, a little green tea, hot chocolate — there are many options.

Coffee and tea are popular drinks, especially at this time of year. Sipping on a hot drink will warm you inside and out. Not to mention that these drinks also contain properties that are designed to perk you up even on the earliest and chilliest of mornings.

Be wary of the effects of these drinks — and watch to see if they’re helping more than hurting. For example, some people are sensitive to caffeine, so while you might enjoy getting warmed up and energized, your hyperactivity might make it difficult to concentrate on project details. You also need to stay hydrated even when it’s cold, so be wary of drinking too much of something that’s not doing the job.

Get Some Sun

Not only does the sun help warm you up, but it’s also an important ward against seasonal depression. Sometimes the cold and dark affects you more mentally and emotionally than it does physically. Shining some extra light in your life will help on both counts.

During times and regions where the sun doesn’t shine in too often, look at compensating with some artificial light. For example, a small desk lamp can be strategically placed to light up your workspace when outside is nothing but dark and gloomy. You can even alarm clocks that simulate the rising sun, helping you start each morning on a more positive note during the colder months.

Spend Time With Others

Time spend with other people isn’t a suggestion to huddle together with your coworkers like penguins. Instead, try to make time for healthy social interactions. Sharing a laugh with others is a great way to keep seasonal depression at bay and warm up your emotional state.

Different challenges such as Covid-19, remote work, and even social anxiety make this challenging for some. So get to your Zoom calls a minute early and chat with your team or join online groups with people sharing similar interests. A little social interaction can go a long way when the winter woes are pulling you down.

Baby, it’s cold outside,– but that doesn’t mean your productivity has to freeze over. Instead, keep yourself nice and warm, and you won’t have a problem making the next months just as purposeful as the rest of the year.

How a ‘Back to School’ Mindset Can Boost Your Team’s Motivation

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How a ‘Back to School’ Mindset Can Boost Your Team’s Motivation

Fall means going back to school, as you’re sure to have noticed with all the August and September sales that took place at retail stores across the country. Those first couple of months back can be exciting for kids as they move up a grade or even change schools entirely. 

Now that we’re further into the academic year, some of that excitement may have faded, but that doesn’t make school any less important. Maintaining that excitement throughout the school year often leads to better grades, a fuller social life, and less stress. 

There are a lot of parallels between the classroom and the workplace. We can get excited when starting a new job or getting a promotion, but that enthusiasm can quickly fade into a case of the Mondays. These feelings can really bog a team down, so here’s why and how a “back to school” mindset can kickstart your team’s motivation.

Starting Fresh

Entering a new school year is all about starting fresh. Unless you’re beginning a new job, getting that feeling at work is a little more challenging. However, there are still ways you can bring that fresh-start vibe to your workplace and reenergize even your longest-tenured employees. 

Getting a renewed start might be as simple as rearranging seating in the office, adding some different amenities, or giving everyone a potted plant for their desk. Small changes like these can make a considerable impact on productivity just by injecting novel elements into the regular routine.

Try not to get too carried away and change everything up, though. A complete revamp of your office space or work approach introduces a lot of variables that can be unpredictable. It’s often better to begin with one thing at a time to see how your team responds to each change. 

Looking to Learn

Some people outgrow the learning mindset they developed during their school years. Even though there are no homework assignments or lectures to stay on top of, learning should remain an integral part of your life. It will help you become better at your job or even open up new career opportunities. 

Encourage your employees to keep learning and enable them to do so. Some companies offer tuition reimbursements to their workers who want to take college or grad school courses. While you don’t have to go as far as paying off student loans, you should at least look for ways to help your team continue to learn and grow.

For example, you can pay your team members’ way to a conference in your industry. They’ll get some great new ideas from industry experts, network with other professionals, and bond together as a squad. Assisting team members in obtaining new certifications is another way to help them and your business grow simultaneously. 

Making New Friends

A new school year means new friends to meet in classes, at lunch, and on sports teams. Camaraderie with teammates sure makes school more enjoyable, and the same can be said for the office. After all, you spend a significant percentage of your time among co-workers, so it makes sense that being friends with them would make the workplace a more pleasant place to be. 

Team-building activities will help even longtime co-workers share a laugh and learn something new about each other. Take your team out for dinner, host a poker tournament in the break room, or make time for some speed meeting (i.e., workplace speed dating) during lunchtime. Teams that play hard together work even harder together.

These activities are just as important for remote teams. Employees who work from home often feel detached from their team, which can cause motivation and company identity to deteriorate. Start planning biweekly Zoom happy hours to bring your virtual team together and give remote workers something to look forward to. 

Pay Attention to Deadlines

School is all about juggling different class schedules and making sure you don’t miss a single due date. At work, deadlines are still an important factor in maintaining productivity and motivation. When deadlines loom, people naturally tend to work harder to get things done.

Talk with your team about how to implement more effective deadlines and use them to boost motivation. They might be feeling overwhelmed by the number of deadlines you set and need you to cut back a little. Other individuals might ask for more granular deadlines to help them focus their attention on intermediate checkpoints.

A rewards system is also worth considering. Schools have used incentives for many years, be they end-of-year pizza parties or upcoming field trips for students who turn in all their assignments on time. You can use a similar approach to give your team members the motivation they need even on the most difficult of days. 

Just as a teacher is responsible for making learning effective and enjoyable, as a leader, you are expected to keep team motivation high all year round. So follow these tips to rekindle the back-to-school flame in your team. The results will speak for themselves as your newly motivated team moves your business further forward. 

How to Boost Your Productivity (Without Apps)

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How to Boost Your Productivity (Without Apps)

Did you know that we spend over four hours a day in apps? While we can thank the pandemic for this surge, which skyrocketed by up to 80% in selected markets between Q1 2019 and Q1 2021, we’ve become extremely reliant on applications. Can you imagine life without WhatsApp, YouTube, Uber, Netflix, or Google Maps?

Yeah. That would be a challenge. But, we also depend on apps to make us productive. For starters, they can help you manage your time, calendar, and schedule. Moreover, we use apps to keep track of daily tasks, to-do lists, and collaborate with others on big projects.

As if that weren’t enough, we benefit from communication apps that can help us maintain our focus. And, we lean on these tools to generate and share content, track our progress, and make that upcoming travel trip a breeze.

In short, productivity apps just rock. Without them, life would be chaotic and ineffective.

Why productivity apps are problematic.

Despite these benefits, there’s also a dark side to productivity apps.

  • There is an overabundance of choices. How do you decide which app to use? After all, the majority of them do everything the same. But which is most likely to fit your unique needs? You don’t want to spend a lot of time searching and sifting through hundreds of applications — unless you want to ignore your priorities, waste time, and get overwhelmed.
  • Learning how apps work takes time. It may still be confusing if you are not as comfortable using technology, even when you find the perfect app that fits your brain and workflow. Although you may be attracted to technology, you may end up spending more time learning how to use it as opposed to getting things done.
  • Sometimes the developer disappears. You will find that app developers often update your favorite apps with new features and improvements. Using the new systems and features will likely require a learning curve. Occasionally, some developers will leave without a trace. Because of this, an app that you use regularly won’t get further support. As a result, you’ll need to download a new replacement app.

Apps lead to information overload.

“Our lives and work are increasingly digital,” Almuth McDowall, professor of organizational psychology at Birkbeck, University of London, told the BBC. “But it’s a complex world, and there is an information overload.”

“Good apps, well used, can help us to negotiate this,” McDowall states. “But there is still a question of whether we’re really interested in becoming more productive, or simply ‘doing more to seem effective’.”

There is definitely evidence to suggest that employees are overloaded with software. A study conducted in 2018 found that the average operational support worker switched between 35 different applications 1,100 times during the course of their shift. Despite the availability of these apps and tools, productivity has declined in most highly industrialized countries, while burnout has risen.

“Evidence shows that working hours and the time that we spend in online meetings is increasing, so it may be that we are working harder, not smarter,” suggests McDowall. “Why are we not getting better at managing the quality of our output?”

The good news? It’s still possible to boost your productivity without apps.

Don’t follow a “normal” schedule.

Traditionally, we assume there’s a ‘normal’ schedule we should follow. And, that would be the traditional 9 to 5.

However, each of us has our own prime time where we are the most productive and alert. As such, it’s counterproductive to follow arbitrary and antiquated rules. For example, proclaiming “I should finish my daily writing before 9 am, or else I won’t get to it.” Or, “It’s already past 7 pm, so it’s time to call it a day.”

The problem here is that following a “normal” schedule not only goes against your circadian rhythms, it also interrupts your state of flow. As a consequence, it will take you longer to complete tasks with diminishing returns.

Is there another option? Consider blocks, instead of hours.

When you work in timed, focused sprints, you do more than just minimize distractions. You will create a new unit of measurement and rhythm to follow. As a result, this will help you set clear boundaries without losing your flexibility, while also tracking your progress effectively.

Work in layers, not silos.

“Our days tend to be a blend of different projects, software, and conversations,” writes content marketer Jimmy Daly. “These layers make up our work, but we don’t often extract as much value from them as we could.”

For example, we tend to do research in silos, but we can do it as a layer. Throughout the workday, you can pick up useful tidbits as you jump between projects and talk to coworkers, he says. You’ll find that you have more ideas when you need them when your mind is a dragnet for good ones.

For writers, this is especially useful. Keep your eyes open for interesting articles, ideas, graphics, and quotes. “Save them, tag, categorize them,” Daly advises. “Even the ones that seem entirely unrelated to your current work can be useful in the future.”

Your taste develops as you collect ideas. Having this database also provides you with a wealth of inspiration, since it’s regularly updated.

Evaluate and reduce your to-do list.

It can be really helpful to organize your mind and tasks you have to accomplish at work with to-do lists. Having too much on your plate, however, can also lead to stress and feeling overwhelmed.

The most likely reason is that you have added too many items to your to-do list and that you can’t possibly complete them all in a day. If you overpack your day, you might believe you will be more productive and finish everything in time. But believing that you’re going to finish everything can be a costly mistake.

You can reduce stress, work smarter, and maximize your productivity by accepting that you won’t get everything done. After all, you are but one person with a limited workload. To rectify this, clear a few things off your list. Your brain will automatically choose the task that has the lowest priority if you force yourself to do it once a day.

The second reason for limiting your daily to-dos, even if it’s only by one — is because of task debt. Task debt occurs when you never cross-off items and they sit on your list for a long time — whether it’s a paper list or online board.

You should consider reducing and prioritizing your to-do list if you constantly find yourself overwhelmed by it. After your mind has been cleansed, it will be easier for your brain to determine what tasks to prioritize.

Give yourself a break.

There’s no need to feel guilty if you check your messages, the news, or social media notifications every now and then — or even if you check them a lot. The benefits of giving yourself a break have been known for a while — but, sometimes we all need this reminder.

As a matter of fact, scientists have found that you’ve been increasing your focus when taking these brief mental breaks.

Research has shown that well-timed breaks spent on non-related activities improve performance. The reason? The brain will switch off after prolonged exposure to the same stimulus, such as staring at spreadsheets all day.

In order to avoid becoming overburdened, you need to maintain a balance between these two activities. So don’t wait too long before taking a break to stretch or go for a walk.

Best of all? You don’t need an app for this. An hourglass or old-fashioned kitchen timer will suffice if you want to implement something like the Pomodoro Technique.

Build your energy.

Just like PB&J, energy and productivity go hand in hand. After all, the less energy you have, the less you will be able to accomplish. And, you can gain energy through the following app-free practices.

  • Get the best sleep ever by following a sleep schedule based on your circadian rhythms. Also, avoid blue light at least an hour before bed. And, keep your bedroom cool, dark, and silent.
  • Improve your diet. Suggestions would be having carbohydrate-rich breakfast foods, lean meats, and plenty of fruits and veggies. And, drink lots of water.
  • Close open-loops, like making that dentist appointment or trip to the post office.
  • Get outside and bask in the sun.
  • Go for a daily gratitude walk.
  • Spend more time with positive and supportive people.
  • Say “no” to time-wasters.
  • Keep your workspace clean and organized.

Train yourself to innovate.

Finally, thinking about innovation may not be top of mind. But, innovation encourages continuous growth and improvement, while keeping you relevant. It can also assist you in developing resourcefulness and overcome your fear of failure.

And, you can also train yourself to innovate sans applications. Examples would be reading actual books and reciting back what you read. You could change up your routine or seek out experiences that put your talents to good use. And, while brushing your teeth, you should use your non-dominant hand to utilize your left and right brain.

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