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6 Tips for Working Through the Winter Blues

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6 Tips for Working Through the Winter Blues

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

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

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

1. Keep it warm and bright.

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

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

2. Prioritize friends and family.

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

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

3. Take care of yourself.

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

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

4. Take your time.

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

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

5. Look forward.

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

Use the SMART goal system:

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

6. Practice gratefulness.

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

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

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

Stumped By High Turnover? 4 Steps to Find Out Why It’s Happening

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Stumped By High Turnover? 4 Steps to Find Out Why It's Happening

In a strong economy, employees know they have options. Sooner or later, workers who aren’t satisfied with their jobs start searching for opportunities with other companies. 

Although this is good news for employees, it can be a problem for employers that are unaccustomed to an employee-driven market. 

Companies that do not understand (or are unwilling to make) the necessary adjustments inevitably pay the price in turnover. According to one study, employee turnover in 2018 cost US companies $615 billion. Of that, an estimated $469 billion was voluntary turnover that could’ve been avoided.

How Turnover Happens

Although inadequate salary or benefits are common reasons for leaving a company, they aren’t the only ones. Other reasons include:

  • Unclear or unreasonable job duties: Turnover is a two-way street. Employers who don’t provide accurate job descriptions, hire over- or under qualified candidates, or put too many obligations on their employees’ plates set themselves up to lose talent.
  • Unpleasant work environment: Bad management is a big reason behind turnover. Aside from poor leadership, companies with outdated equipment, poor morale, or office tensions set themselves up for retention issues. 
  • Inadequate career development: More than nine in 10 employees say they’d stay longer at a company if it invested in their careers. Workers need to feel like they’re advancing in their professional lives, or they’ll go somewhere that they do. 
  • Work-life imbalance: Nobody can work all the time. Employers who insist that workers put in more hours than they agreed to, provide little or no time off for family events, or give minimal vacation time won’t keep workers around for long.

Turnover happens for all sorts of reasons. Whatever the cause, there are a few steps you can take to reduce it.

Solving Steep Turnover

To boost your company’s retention rate:

1. Ask for (and listen to) feedback.

Talk to employees who are leaving your company as well as those who intend to stay. Keep an ear out for trends: Are the leavers all upset about your company’s vacation policy? Do the people who are staying love your office environment? Make clear that there are no wrong answers, and thank the respondents for their honesty. 

2. Get HR and management on the same page. 

Once you’ve learned what’s pushing people away from your company, take that information to your HR and management teams. Schedule a meeting with each group to chat through it: Chances are, they have questions about your findings. Suggest action steps as well as affordable ways to reward employees for their work. 

3. Decide how aggressively to fight it. 

Your HR leaders and managers know turnover is an issue, and you’ve given them some ideas about how to handle it. The next step is to decide together how much disruption you’re willing to put up with.

Say you’ve heard a couple of names come up again and again in those exit interviews. You could fire the people who are bringing down the office culture, or you could put them on a performance improvement plan. Every situation is unique, so use your best judgment based on the gravity of the issue and the individuals involved. 

4. Keep it up. 

Turnover issues are not solved overnight. As an employer, you have to commit to the people you hire. Give team members ways to talk about issues before they boil over: Set up an anonymous comment box, and read submissions publicly.

Make retention a regular topic at leadership meetings. Measure month-by-month changes to your turnover rate, checking whether investments in retention result in dips or spikes.

Rarely does turnover happen for just one reason. The sooner you get to the root of those reasons — and the more seriously you take them — the better. 

Time Management Secrets from Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and 5 Other Highly Successful People

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Managing and maximizing your time is no easy task. However, who better to turn to than some of today’s most successful people for guidance. By taking a look at some of the tips and tricks that people like Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett have come up with, your one step closer to better time management and higher productivity. However, the time management concepts that some of the world’s highest achievers have created were based on their own schedules and needs. So taking ideas from some of these people is great for inspiration, yet your best bet might be figuring out your own strategies that work best for you and your time. Just take it from Amazon’s Bezos who has his very own meeting philosophy called the “two pizza rule,” which means he won’t attend any meeting that’s too big and that two pizzas can’t feed. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh came up with his own email management method called, “Yesterbox,” where he only responds to emails from the day before. To learn more about these quirky time-saving tricks, here are seven time management secrets from the world’s most successful people.

1. Zappos CEO’s “Yesterbox”

Today, email alone can feel like it’s sucking up most of the work day. And even after responding, deleting and archiving, the idea of “inbox zero” is still far-fetched. When Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh felt this way, he came up with a solution, which he coined “Yesterbox.” Yesterbox is Hsieh’s very own email management system, where instead of trying to tackle everything in his inbox at once, Hsieh only responds to his list of messages from the day before. Unless they are urgent, the rule of thumb is that Hsieh never responds to any of the actual day’s emails.

2. Richard Branson’s “social sweep”

After waking up at 5 a.m. and starting his day with some kitesurfing or tennis playing, Virgin Group billionaire Richard Branson finishes up his morning with a major “social sweep,” where he logs onto his Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts and catches up on news as well as addresses any messages and other activities. “Social media has opened up the world, and given the public the power to really have a say — it’s a wonderful thing,” Branson says. Another great perk of a social sweep, is you take care of it all at once, instead on constantly logging on and off of social media all day long, and becoming distracted.

3. Warren Buffett’s simple approach

Famous billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s approach to time management is as simple as it gets: say “no.” He’s not far off either, because letting yourself get overloaded with work by constantly saying “yes” to new projects and assignments will lead you straight to burnout. According to Entrepreneur, Buffett once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”

4. Jeff Bezos’ “two pizza rule”

The richest man in the world doesn’t have time to waste in meetings. That’s why he has his own meeting philosophy to make sure he maximizes his time. Calling it the “two pizza rule,” Bezos refuses to go to meetings if they are too big. How does he measure this? If two pizzas can’t feed the amount of people that are supposed to go to a meeting, then it’s too big.

5. Basecamp CEO’s 32-hour workweek

Jason Fried, the CEO of Basecamp, offers employees 32-hour workweeks during the summer. “You can get plenty of stuff done in 32 and 40 hours if you cut out all the stuff that’s taking up your time,” Fried explained to CNBC. However, other than summer, employees are required 40-hour workweeks during the rest of the year. Fried also shared to CNBC that his company does not require that any meeting be mandatory, so people can pick and choose the meetings they think they need to attend.

6. Microsoft executive’s laziness approach

Julia Larson-Green, Microsoft’s Chief Experience Officer, admits she’s lazy. In fact, Larson-Green has found a way to use laziness to her advantage. In an interview with Fast Company, Larson-Green explained, “Being lazy makes me more efficient, because I try to find ways that I can do the best work in the most minimal amount of time. I also know that I need pressure to perform, and procrastination is one of the levers for creating that pressure.”

7. Airbnb exec depends on Apple Notes

Airbnb’s Chief Business Affairs and Legal Officer Belinda Johnson attributes Apple Notes to much of her productivity successes. In an article by Fast Company, Johnson explains how Apple Notes help her stay organized and on top of things: “I use it all day long. As I’m going through my email, I’m either taking care of things in the moment or making [an entry] in Apple Notes that I need to deal with it later. At the end of the day, I go through all my notes and make sure I’ve addressed everything.”  


Originally published here.

How to Schedule Your Week for Both Personal and Business Success

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Achieving proper work life balance is no simple task. Nowadays as the gig economy grows and thousands of individuals pursue entrepreneurial careers, it’s tough to plan around a consistent life. This is why it’s very common for entrepreneurs to lose grasp of what it means to truly balance your work and life. Business success is great, but if you’re struggling to make ends meet in your personal life have you really succeeded? Here’s how you can schedule your week for success in both business and your personal life.

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