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Our Collective Loss of What’s Normal

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Our Collective Loss of What’s Normal

While it was certainly an adjustment, overall, I felt like I came out of COVID-19 unscathed. I’m certainly not trying to brag. I was, and still am, fortunate to work from home when I need or want to — and most of our employees are able to do the same. I was really grateful for the quality time with my family, finally getting around to projects that I’d been putting off, and it even enhanced my business savvy.

Our Collective Loss of What’s Normal

With so many other people suffering and trying to get back to work — and the economy is struggling — I don’t take it for granted that I’m grateful every morning when I wake-up. I do, however, long for the good-ole-days.

I’m certainly not the only one. Anecdotally, when I catch up with friends, family, and colleagues — some still want to meet virtually — I can hardly tolerant virtual meetings anymore. And now, the numbers have started going up in many areas of the country because of non-vaxxers.

In short, we all started to miss what we considered “normal.” According to David Kessler, author and grieving expert, that’s because we started feeling different types of grief.

Why we’re grieving — All of these things happened in Covid — and some still feel it.

“We feel the world has changed, and it has,” Kessler told HBR. “We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different.”

“The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection,” he adds. All of these are “hitting us, and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.”

Additionally, we’re also dealing with anticipatory grief — like when the numbers started going up about a week ago — what if we have to do this all over again? We will go through anticipatory grief when we’re uncertain about the future. “Usually, it centers on death,” he says. “We feel it when someone gets a dire diagnosis or when we have the normal thought that we’ll lose a parent someday.”

“Anticipatory grief is also more broadly imagined futures,” he says. “There is a storm coming. There’s something bad out there. With a virus, this kind of grief is so confusing for people.”

The reason for this is because our primitive minds realize that “something bad is happening. However since you can’t see it, “our sense of safety” is broken, he adds. “We’re feeling that loss of safety.”

“I don’t think we’ve collectively lost our sense of general safety like this,” Kessler says. “Individually or as smaller groups, people have felt this. But all together, this is new. We are grieving on a micro and a macro level.”

If there’s any silver lining, though, it’s that there are simple and effective ways to cope. For starters, Kessler recommends understanding the stages of grief and learning calming techniques. But, you should also try these nine other strategies to help you accept and manage your feelings.

1. Don’t get stuck.

“I see a lot of jokes on social media about drinking at 10 a.m. and sharing ‘quarantinis’ over video chats, almost to the point of normalizing these self-medicating behaviors,” writes Megan Seidman, a primary therapist at Caron Renaissance. “People are cut off from their usual methods of coping, and many are turning to unhealthy ways of immediate gratification to numb their discomfort.”

It should go without saying that not only is that dangerous in the short term, but it could have long-term implications. Besides putting your health and wellness in jeopardy, being funny about the consequences of much sadness may give people ideas who are on a different level of pain — and could lead to substance abuse.

Some people never allowed themselves to grieve, and now they think we might be back in the same problems that happened a year ago. They “haven’t allowed themselves to feel the loss, fear, and grief they have,” they may experience “complicated grief and post-event trauma.”

“Complicated grief becomes all-encompassing, making it difficult for people to think about anything else,” explains Seidman. “They cannot accept the reality of the losses they’ve experienced and therefore fail to adjust to the new reality.”

What’s more, it’s going to be more challenging for these individuals to get “back into their former routines.” Seidman warns that we could “see issues in ongoing relationships, divorces, rumination over losses, and difficulty sleeping. Once the social distancing is alleviated, if people haven’t worked through this process, they’re going to have a harder time reconnecting with others.”

2. Add predictability.

You may have never thought about this until your routine was broken due to the pandemic. But they’re incredibly important. First, Northwestern Medicine notes, “offer a way to promote health and wellness through structure and organization.”

Now we’ve headed back to the office — but maybe you haven’t committed to going into the office every day as before. Maybe you don’t have a routine yet — this can make you suffer from stress, unhealthy eating, and insomnia.

If you gained a few (or a lot) of the Covid-pounds — you may have gotten yourself in poor physical condition. And, you may be ineffectively using your time and feeling non-productive.

To counter the above, add some predictability to your life. Personally, I’ve started a new routine. It took some trial and error. But I set a routine of when I will be in the office and when I will work from home. I also had all of the employees commit to a determined schedule. It helps all of us to know what is going on and when.

If you’re struggling with this, here are some pointers to get you on your way:

  • Build your resistance. Don’t waste your energy fighting against change. Instead, accept it, practice some self-care, and focus on your current priorities.
  • Follow your usual patterns. If you wake up at 5 am, start work at 9 am, and eat dinner at 6 pm, try to keep that schedule. You may need to be flexible, but sticking to your previous schedule as close as possible gives you a sense of normalcy.
  • Schedule your habits in your calendar — schedule healthy habits like exercise or writing so that you’ll follow through. Physical activity is a proven way to reduce anxiety and depression.
  • Create an optimal environment. If you’re working from home, create a dedicated space reserved only for work. Don’t forget to keep it cleaned and organized as well.
  • Ask for help if you’re struggling — reach out to your support systems like a mentor or friend.
  • Take a reset day. Sometimes you need to take the day off and get things in order. But don’t squander this opportunity. Instead, use it to clean your house, review your goals, or tie up any loose ends.
  • Be the tortoise. A new routine won’t happen overnight. So be patient and work your way back into a routine.

3. Connect with others.

Last year — all the stay-at-home orders, quarantine, and social distancing took a toll on your mental health. Why? According to Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology and neuroscience and director of the Social Connections and Health Research Laboratory at Brigham Young University, it’s because “being socially connected in meaningful ways is actually key to human health and survival.”

While this was a concern before the pandemic, it does highlight the importance of connecting with others. So if you are still in some kind of a funk since Covid — make it a point to connect more completely with your loved ones. Just do it — pick up the phone — you are free to meet with people for now. Take advantage of that.

4. Practice gratitude.

Realize that the glass is not still empty — practice gratitude to put things into perspective.

Furthermore, gratitude can make you happier and improve your relationships. It may even help reduce physical ailments. These include headaches, gastrointestinal problems, and respiratory infections.

And, when it comes to being grateful — there are several ways to go about it. The most obvious would be writing in a daily gratitude journal. But, you could also send someone a ‘thank you,’ paying compliments to others and viewing each day as a new opportunity. Going for a walk outside and reflect for a moment at the end of the day and write down your wins.

5. Make time to play.

Your “play” doesn’t have to be like when you were a kid in school literally. But, scheduling time to play can give you that much-needed mental boost since it reduces stress hormones and releases endorphins. Additionally, it can make you more creative by encouraging problem-solving.

What counts as play? Anything. Board and video games, kicking a soccer ball around the backyard, puzzles, coloring, and singing are considered to play. If you can call someone to come over — do it. Our office has started to play pickleball every day at lunch and for an afternoon break. We invite other offices to join in our “tournaments.” It has been so refreshing. After such a long quarantine, sometimes we forget to get other people to come. If this is you — mark it on your Calendar or set an alarm.

6. Reduce screen time.

Now that the pandemic is over — determine to limit your screen time. Get outside and do stuff, especially since it’s summer and we can. Make a list and go do everything you dreamed about when you couldn’t get out. It is amazing how many great things are out there that are free or of little cost. But you can’t get out and do extra things if you are glued to the TV.

I’ve also established tech-free zones in the house. And, before listening to podcasts before bed — go back to reading books. You’ll be amazed at how well you sleep.

7. Focus on what you can control.

How to let go of control is no easy feat — especially for entrepreneurs. But, if there has been one key takeaway from the coronavirus, it’s that no matter how much you demand it — there are plenty of things in life that are out of your hands.

Right now, you can do things like getting on a plane, host a party and even go to a concert or sporting event. So go do each of those things. It is amazing how quickly you will perk up and be more productive.

If you are back at the office — go out and get some plants (all our office plants died). So we all went out and picked plants for the office together at a nursery — because we could. Also, get some new pillows for the office couch out front.

8. Stop worrying about being productive.

We live in a world where we obsess about being productive. And that can be problematic. Being “on” 24/7 and trying to maximize every minute of your day can make you anxious and exhausted. So to be productive and motivated — keep yourself fresh with new ideas and thoughts and do something fun.

If you feel up to getting things done, go for it, work fast and do it. On the other hand, if you are lagging in your new “back to the office” zone, give yourself a break — you’ve been through a lot.

9. Be aware of red flags.

Finally, pay attention to your grief if you have it. Don’t swallow! But pay attention to the red flags. Has your alcohol consumption increased? Are your sleeping or eating patterns different? Do you feel hopeless? If any of these things are still bugging you since the end of covid — look for a way to pull yourself out of it. It sounds cliché — but eat right, sing, dance and exercise. Ask around what others are doing, or if someone feels the same way you do.

If you answered yes to any of the above, then please seek help immediately. You can start by talking to your spouse, partner or best friend. But, you may need to reach out to a mental health professional. Please do this sooner than later so that you can move forward.

9 Pro Tips for Conducting a Hybrid Meeting

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9 Pro Tips for Conducting a Hybrid Meeting

As companies return to having employees in the office, they may realize hybrid operations are a must. 

Now instead of having meetings with everyone in person or everyone online, you need a hybrid solution. However, this solution creates a new set of meeting challenges to overcome. 

Here are a few smart tips for including video attendees in important in-person meetings without making it awkward for everyone.

1. Share the Agenda

Meetings run smoother when you have an agenda and stick to it during the meeting—sharing it before the session helps attendees prepare. It also helps keeps remote workers connected so they know what is going on and meeting expectations. Add any online references or links to resources that everyone will need. The central information center will help keep the entire team in sync.

2. Use the Most Current Technology

If your conference room equipment hasn’t been updated in a while, now is the time to do it. After a year of everyone being on video conferencing, people expect to see and hear everything clearly. As a result, old conference room telephone systems and outdated audio need to be replaced to keep remote participants engaged.

Don’t forget to check for software updates too. For example, platforms are adding emoji options to give video participants ways to react and share feedback without disrupting the meeting. Some providers are also developing new tools so participants in the room can use chat along with online members. 

3. Show Everyone’s Face if Possible

Remind online participants to keep their videos running and show their faces. If that isn’t possible, encourage them to use a professional headshot for their off-video setting. You also want to have cameras set up in the conference room to capture people’s faces in the room. 

It also helps if you can use a big screen to show the gallery view of participants. Helping everyone be able to see each other’s faces and expressions builds a connection with online participants. In addition, it helps remind speakers to make eye contact with people not in the room by looking at the camera as another person in the room.

4. Start the Video Before the Meeting Starts

Assign someone to start the online meeting room before the official start of the meeting. This can serve a couple of purposes. First, it’s a good time to troubleshoot any technical issues. Second, it gives you a chance to ensure video and audio are working so you can save the meeting time for the agenda.

Finally, it also gives online participants a chance to accomplish a tech check of their own. They’ll be more engaged and less stressed if they aren’t trying to fix their tech issues after the meeting has started.

As a bonus, they’ll be able to take part in the informal conversations and watercooler talk that happens between in-person attendees while they are waiting for meetings to start.

5. Discourage Side Conversations

Online members can’t hear what’s being said clearly when more than one person is talking. Microphones will pick up the side conversations, even whispered sounds. It’s a sign of respect to your video participants to make sure only one person is talking. That way, everyone can hear and participate.

Sometimes the conversation may get exciting, and people try to talk over each other. You may want to add a touch of humor and a trick to moderate this by using a physical “talking stick.” The only person allowed to talk is the person with the stick. When they are finished, they can pass the stick to the next person. The meeting leader should proactively make sure that online members get a virtual stick and a chance to speak too. 

6. Be Deliberate to Include Online Members

It’s easy to overlook people who aren’t in the room. To keep them connected and engaged, be deliberate about making sure to include them. For example, when the meeting starts, greet them by name and ask them to recap their weekend. Giving them a chance to share helps people in the room connect with the virtual audience as well.

As the meeting occurs, don’t forget to ask those on video if they have questions or comments. And remember, silence can be your friend here. It may take people a moment to come off mute, so don’t be in a rush to fill the quiet.  

At the end of the meeting, go around and ask everyone for their takeaway from the meeting. And start with those online. That guarantees members have a chance for any final questions or comments they needed to add. 

7. Plan Facilitation Help

Meeting leaders may find it helpful to ask a co-worker in the room to act as a facilitator. Their role here is to watch the online participants for indications they need to add a comment. For example, virtual members may turn off mute or use the raise hand function to indicate they want to speak. If members in the room don’t notice, the facilitator should mention it to the room so the online members can share. 

8. Use Group Collaboration Tools

Many times, meetings include whiteboard activities. Most platforms have added virtual whiteboards that video participants can also see. If the virtual whiteboard isn’t an option, make sure you have a way of showing the papers in the room on camera so that everyone can read them.

Another good practice is to use polling software that can consolidate responses from people in the room and online. That may mean employees in the room also need to have an online device with them in the meeting. Let them know this ahead of the meeting to have their device with them and the app installed.

9. Get Feedback

As people start returning to offices and in-person meetings, hybrid meeting practices will grow and evolve. Seek feedback from meeting attendees. Ask them to rate the meeting and provide suggestions for how to improve the experience. It may also help to make sure facilitators occasionally attend hybrid meetings virtually. This first-hand experience will help them get a feel for the online experience and what can be done better.

Conclusion

A recent survey conducted by McKinsey shows that nine out of ten executives expect to have hybrid work. Moreover, as people return to in-person operations, most people expect more remote work than before the pandemic.

The tips above can help make sure your hybrid meeting runs smoothly and keep everyone engaged wherever they happen to be located.

Life’s a Beach: 6 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Summer

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Life’s a Beach: 6 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Summer

Life’s a beach is a light-hearted phrase that reminds us that there is still so much good in the world to be enjoyed. Slip into complacency, and you’ll miss out on a lot of opportunities for both fun and personal progression.

With your Calendar, you can take advantage of both the productivity and fun these summer months have to offer. All you need to do is consciously manage your time to make sure that every day contains a moment to remember before the season ends:

1. Plan a Trip

Summer is prime time for vacation, especially for families with children who don’t have school to worry about. The wonderful weather also enables various pleasant trips, from weekend camping trips and day hikes to a week-long vacation on a tropical beach.

Don’t feel pressured if you can’t fit a big family vacation into your budget every year. You can make just as many memories and have a lot of fun doing something smaller. For example, plan a campout in the backyard or take a day trip to the lake as your summer trip. You’ll be glad you did something, no matter how small.

2. Chase Down Some Goals

Not sure how to spend all of your summer downtimes? Set some goals to pursue during the season. These goals will give you something to work toward instead of spending every afternoon in a backyard hammock (which is perfectly fine every once in a while, it’s important to rest).

The beauty of a summer goal is that it can be anything you want it to be. Want to learn a new skill? Schedule some classes and practice time in your online calendar. Want to tackle some home improvement? Your online calendar will help you work out some time to build that new deck or repaint the basement.

It’s important to note that summer is short, typically containing fewer than the 104 days Phineas and Ferb get to enjoy. With that being said, set realistic goals that are within your limits. You’ll only have a few months to complete a summer goal, and setting your sights too high can leave you feeling discouraged when fall arrives and your goal is left incomplete.

3. Get Your Tan On

The sunlight is oh so good for you, and it will do you well to catch some rays throughout the summer. Sunlight is known for helping people stay healthier and more positive. But, unfortunately, not getting enough rays is part of why seasonal depression is so prevalent; the cold weather and shorter days make it more difficult to get sunshine in your life.

Just 15 minutes of sunlight can have a positive impact on your day. If you spend all day in an office, you can squeeze in a little outdoor time during your lunch break. Filling your online calendar with outdoor activities over the weekend will also get plenty of Vitamin D into your schedule.

Of course, there’s always the concern that too much sun can be a bad thing. Just be sure that you have on some sunscreen and some covering to reduce your risk of skin cancer and sunburns. This is especially important for kids with more sensitive skin.

4. Attend Every Event

When kids don’t have classes to attend, parents will often fill their schedules with other activities to don’t spend every day glued to their electronic devices. So whether they’re participating in sports, dance classes, or music lessons, make time to attend every one of the events.

Even if your kids decide they don’t want to participate in whatever extracurricular activities they’re pursuing, they’ll be happy that you were always there to support them. So add any recital or match into your online calendar, and do your best not to miss a single event supporting your family.

5. Limit Your TV Time

We get it; electronics are awesome. Sometimes there’s nothing better than watching your favorite TV show at night or playing video games all weekend. However, if you’re not careful, those electronics can take away your entire summer and leave you wishing you did a little more.

To make sure you don’t waste your summer on the internet, use your online calendar to monitor your screen time. You can designate specific blocks of time to try a new video game or set a consistent bedtime, so you don’t stay up all night binge-watching movies, messing up your entire routine.

Helping your kids stay off of electronics will be quite the challenge as well. When schedules and routines fall short, a few incentives might do the trick. Have them spend some time outside or doing some chores to earn their screen time. Looking back on their summer, they’ll be glad that they were able to experience more than just their electronics.

6. Get Involved in the Community

Your town or city will be putting on a number of activities and events this summer. Getting involved in your local community will be one of the best decisions you make this summer. Besides, it won’t take a lot of planning to fill up your online calendar when you import the city calendar over.

Few experiences will be as memorable as a Fourth of July parade, a summer reading program, and outdoor theater nights at the park. You’ll be able to meet new friends, visit new places in your town, and try a lot of new things that can become traditions for years to come.

Summer is almost over, so get started today to make sure you have no regrets once fall arrives. Then, start making plans for next summer to make it even bigger and better than the last.

How to Use Appointment Planning to Secure Required Resources

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How to Use Appointment Planning to Secure Required Resources

When planning a meeting, setting the date and time is the easy part. The more difficult logistical challenge is making a list of everything else you need and checking it twice. Having the materials you need — or not — can make or break a meeting really quickly.

Once you’ve sent out appointment invitations to all of your guests, it’s time to iron out the nitty-gritty details. Different people will have intertwined responsibilities to keep track of. Room reservations, technology needs, even refreshments all need to be planned, prepared for, and executed. 

Sounds like a handful, doesn’t it? Now you can see why party planners get paid so handsomely! Fear not, using online appointment software can make sure you secure all the resources you need without breaking a sweat.

Set Deadlines for Confirmation

You often expect a guest to RSVP if they plan on attending an event. You should do that and more for attendees who also need to arrive to a work event with the required resources. They should have a deadline set before the gathering in question to report to you, or whoever is leading the event, that they are set to bring whatever they are responsible for.

Let’s say you’re planning a work conference that relies on Steven from accounting bringing a projector from home. Not only should he have an appointment reminder for the training itself, but he should have an additional one confirming that he will or already has brought the projector to work. This way you won’t have to stress until the moment it arrives, hoping that he and the projector show up on the same day. 

Secure Your Venue

Certain meetings and events require a venue that isn’t in your possession. In fact, you might not have even picked a site yet. You’ll need to set up some appointments to tour a couple of venues before you come to a decision

Once you’ve visited your locations of choice, you’ll only have so long to book them before someone else claims the dates you’re aiming for. Use your online appointment software to make sure you don’t miss the cut. Appointment reminders will help you stay on top of things.

Even if you own the venue in question, you might need to coordinate times with other parties who might want to use the space. A shared appointment schedule will ensure there are no double bookings when claiming conference rooms for meetings and more. 

Plan a Practice Run

Sometimes you won’t realize what you need until it’s already too late. This is a presenter’s and event planner’s worst nightmare. To prevent such an omission from spoiling your event, plan a practice run at least a day before the set date.

You can send a few attendees appointment reminders to attend your practice run so they can give you their perspective on how things went. This can include how well the chosen technology performed its function or whether the seating arrangement could use some rethinking. 

A simple meeting will likely only need a test run of the technology needed to direct the agenda. Larger events such as full-blown conferences might require more run-through, as there will doubtless be more moving parts. Be sure to take these varying time commitments into consideration when setting these appointments. 

Get Your Supplies Delivered

Running out of notepads for employees to take notes during a training session or copy paper to print out new manuals? You’ll need to schedule an order from your office supply vendor. You can use appointment planning to make sure you’re always stocked up no matter what’s on your calendar.

Most, if not all, retail businesses offer some sort of pick-up or delivery system. Using appointment planning, you can set recurring dates for supplies to be shipped. A monthly delivery can be easily planned and organized, and you’ll never have to worry about being short of materials again. 

Tune Up Your Systems

Not all of your required resources are tangible, so to speak. Take Wi-Fi, for example. Your entire business likely relies on a stable internet connection to function. So, too, will many of your meetings. You’ll want to be assured that your Wi-Fi and any other needed resource are in working order when your event rolls around.

If your infrastructure operations are ever in doubt, set an appointment with a professional who can give your system a check-up. You won’t always need someone to come in and check your Wi-Fi connection before a big meeting, but if you’ve been experiencing problems recently, it certainly wouldn’t hurt. 

Organize Your Staffing

Last but certainly not least is your staffing. For many events, you’ll need some bodies to help set everything up. Whether this is to help unload a trailer full of folding chairs or to clean up a venue after the meeting has adjourned, you need to get everyone’s watches synchronized.

Use online appointment software to coordinate your manpower. You can dictate when and where you want everyone to be with a simple shared schedule. With confirmation, you won’t have to worry about putting together your set-up and clean-up crews while you’re elbows deep in the event at hand.

Take a deep breath and get ready to nail down all the resources you need for your next meeting or event. Seeing it show up on your schedule will no longer bring a sense of dread now that you’ve used appointment planning to ensure there’s nothing left but smooth sailing. 

Ensuring You Have Stamina Throughout the Summer Months

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Ensuring You Have Stamina Throughout the Summer Months

Are you experiencing “summer slacker syndrome?” Don’t beat yourself up over it. The warmer months of the year trigger this phenomenon — even among the most motivated individuals.

Why does this happen? There are actually several reasons. For starters, we tend to be more tired during the summer because we’re acclimating to the heat, and our metabolism has slowed down. In addition, if you’re a parent, you want to spend time with your kids while they’re on summer vacation. And, there are a ton of summer activities that are pulling you away from work — why stay cooped up inside when you could be sipping a cold beverage on the beach?

Regardless of the exact reason, it’s not uncommon for us to drag during the summer. But, if you still need to get things done, here are 9 ways to ensure that you have stamina throughout the summer months.

1. Stay hydrated.

If you’re dragging this summer, there’s most likely a simple culprit. You’re dehydrated.

“In the heat, one byproduct of the increased temperature could be dehydration,” Jonathan Cane, exercise physiologist, and co-owner of City Coach Multisport,” told Aaptiv. “If not in a clinical sense, certainly in the low-level, chronic, less-than-optimal hydration sense.”

“Dehydration is a critical component that often leads to excessive fatigue and lack of energy when it comes to how individuals handle the heat,” adds Dr. Joel Seedman, neuromuscular physiologist, performance specialist, and owner of Advanced Human Performance. “In hotter climates, individuals are more likely to become dehydrated due to the body’s adaptive mechanism of perspiration and sweating.”

Even if you feel like you’re drinking enough water, we’re sweating more often to keep cool. As a consequence, our bodies are losing water faster than usual. “This can lead to electrolyte imbalances and a number of physiological consequences that can promote lack of energy and even physical ailments if not properly attended to,” Seedman says.

To make sure that you’re hydrated, try;

  • Chugging a glass of water as soon as you wake up.
  • Keeping a pitcher of water in the fridge and/or having a water bottle in sight.
  • Setting a timer or using an app Waterlogged to remind you to drink take a swig.
  • Infusing your water with fruits or herbs, so it’s not as boring.
  • Replacing soda with seltzer water, smoothies, or juices.

2. Snack on water-rich fruits and vegetables and spicy foods.

I know on those scorching dog days of summer, I don’t have much of an appetite. But, you need food to keep running. It’s just like filling your car with gas when it’s approaching empty.

The smart move to keep your energy up is to eat lightly throughout the day. Specifically, eating fruits and veggies like celery, green peppers, oranges, and watermelon. Besides being loaded with nutrients, they also contain lots of H20.

“Make sure you pair them with a protein, to keep your blood sugar levels stable,” advises Elisah Tashjian, a holistic nutrition consultant in Prevention Magazine.

What else should you chow down on this summer? Spicy foods. That may sound counterproductive, but it’s worth it.

Curry and chili can stimulate heat receptors in the mouth, which enhance circulation and cause sweating, in turn helping to cool the body down,” says Donald Deblock, a nurse practitioner with Rutgers University Health Services in Newark, NJ.

3. Don’t skimp on the z’s.

Are you having difficulty sleeping in the summer? You’re not alone. It happens to the best of us. And, there’s a valid reason.

“The longer daylight hours and the higher, sometimes humid, temperatures make it difficult to sleep well,” says Kat Lederle, Ph.D., MSc. “Your body clock, which is located in your brain, uses light and darkness as signals for day and night,” she says. “The longer we ‘see’ light, the longer the body clock will tell the body it’s daytime and it needs to stay awake.”

Also, with longer days, comes lifestyle changes. For example, you might be staying out later with friends or family. There’s also a chance that you’re eating dinner once it gets dark. And the alcohol might be flowing more liberally.

Still, you need to get a solid 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night. To make this possible, stick with a consistent sleep-wake schedule. Have a wind-down ritual, like reading, when it approaches bedtime. And, make sure that you keep your bedroom dark and cold.

Personally, I like white noise when I sleep. So, I actually sleep better when there’s a running fan or AC unit. Plus, it keeps my room nice and cool throughout the night.

4. Rethink your exercise routine.

“Exercising or performing physical activity in the heat actually burns more calories than other climate conditions,” says Dr. Seedman. “Our bodies tend to fatigue more rapidly, involving a relatively higher heart rate response, and thus require more ATP (or energy) expenditure to maintain physical activity levels.”

At the same time, physical activity is a proven way to build up our stamina and maintain our energy. It’s also one of the best things that we can do for ourselves physically and mentally. So, what can be done?

Well, go ahead and work up a sweat. Just don’t overexert yourself. For example, instead of running or cycling, go swimming or paddleboarding. Swap out cardio for exercises that work out large muscle groups, like lifting weights. You could also try team sports like beach volleyball or pickleball.

If you want to run or cycle, try first thing in the morning or during the evening. Or, stay indoors and get on a treadmill or stationary bike.

5. Get your wrists wet.

Who doesn’t enjoy jumping into a pool, lake, or the ocean on a blustering, sunny day? But, sometimes, you just can’t go for a refreshing swim. Sure, a shower might work. But, what if you’re stuck inside working?

The answer? Running cold water over your wrists.

“Arterial pulse points are the areas in which the arterial blood vessels come closest to the surface of the skin,” explains Deblock. “Arterial blood flows away from the heart, so if you cool it with cold water, it will circulate the cooler blood throughout your body and ultimately lower your core temperature.”

And, this trick also works if the heat and humidity are making it difficult to fall asleep. “Rinse your wrists or your feet with cold water before you hit the hay, and it will help you drift off,” he says.

6. Schedule your priorities.

I get it. I would much rather enjoy the summer than being chained behind a desk, even though I enjoy the work that I do. But, there’s more to life than all work and not play.

At the same time, I have bills to pay. More importantly, I have work responsibilities that I still need to attend to. Thankfully, there is a way to find a happy place.

Rather than focus on everything you think has to get done, hone in on your priorities. That’s not always the easiest feat to accomplish. But, in a previous article, Calendar co-founder John Hall says it’s possible if you;

    • Determine your “big three.” These are your three most important tasks that must be completed. No exception.
    • Enhance your time management skills. Some recommendations would be to work when you’re most energetic, keeping a time log, and following the two-minute rule. Also, don’t forget to reduce distractions, cluster smaller tasks, and avoid the “urgency trap.”
    • Feel in-balance. This is possible “by maximizing your time at work, stop overcommitting, and not bringing work at home,” says Hall. “You should also establish boundaries. For example, if you’re spending time with friends or family on a Saturday night, then don’t respond to any work-related correspondence.”
    • Innovate, learn, and grow. Brainstorm ideas to improve a product, service, or product. Take a class or attend industry events. And stay on top of the latest trends.
    • Get to know the people in your neighborhood. By this, I mean fostering relationships with customers, business partners, investors, and employees. Outside of work, spend quality time with friends and family.
    • Grow your network. Find mentors, mingle with potential employers, or just attend a local meetup or virtual conference.

After identifying your priorities, add them to your calendar so that there aren’t any conflicts.

7. Work in sprints.

Your mileage may vary on this, but I’ve found this to be an effective strategy.

If possible, kick into high gear for a couple of days. For example, you could put in 10 or 12 hour days. But, only for three or four days. Then, with your priorities out of the way, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor the rest of the week.

8. Prioritize fun.

In addition to prioritizing your work, also pencil in time for fun. You don’t need to squeeze in everything. But, if there’s a ballgame, concert, or backyard activities that you really want to attend, go for it. After all, you only have a small window of time to enjoy your favorite summer activities!

Besides, having fun reduces stress, strengthens relationships, and sparks creativity. It also recharges your batteries. And, when it’s time to get back to work, you’ll be more productive since you’re refreshed.

9. Encourage vacation.

According to Time Off’s latest State of American Vacation 2018 report, on average, employees receive 11 days of paid time off per year. However, employees only use 5 of those days. And, since there was a pandemic in 2020, most of us haven’t gone on a vacation in quite some time.

Why’s that a problem? Because vacations are good for you physically and mentally. What’s more, vacations help prevent burnout and increase happiness. But, how can you realistically take a vacation?

In another Calendar piece, Angela Ruth recommends;

  • Getting ahead of your work priorities. “You’ll feel a lot less stressed if you can clear some deadlines on the days directly following your vacation,” writes Angela. “In addition, using time management techniques in your online calendar, such as time blocking, can help you focus and get more done in the same amount of time.”
  • Bring some work with you. “This is a tricky one, but it might be worth your time to take some work with you on the road,” she adds. “Just be sure not to let it take over your entire vacation. Otherwise, you’re just paying way too much for a remote workspace.
  • Plan in advance. “Grab your online calendar and start planning when you want to take your next vacation,” advises Angela. “This way, you can weigh the pros, cons, and prices of different dates and locations. Then, leading up to your departure, you can spread out all of the tasks you need to complete before you embark with plenty of time to spare.”

How to Stay Productive During the Summer Slowdown

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How to Stay Productive During the Summer Slowdown

When warm, summer days arrive, work may be the last place you and your team want to be.

It’s the time of year when many businesses experience significant decreases in productivity. Your employees could be on vacation or taking a personal day. Or they may need time off to care for children who are now home because schools are closed. 

All of these factors can make your workplace look like a legit ghost town during the summer. 

It’s no wonder that workplace productivity usually drops 20% during the hottest days of the year, according to a Captivate Office Pulse study. 

So how can you transform the annual office work slump into a productivity jump? Here are six ways you and your staff can stay productive all summer long.

1. Emphasize Exercise 

It’s no secret that an active body equals an active mind. Studies have shown that there are tons of connections between exercise and productivity.

Along with all the physical benefits exercise brings, it also improves memory, cognitive skills, and mood. All these are factors that can make your employees healthier, happier, and way more productive at the workplace.

So how can you reap these benefits for yourself and your team during the slow, summer months? 

If your office has (or is near) a gym, encourage your employees to get in a quick workout during the day. Or take some brief time out to do a fitness class like yoga, spin, or Zumba. You and your team will appreciate the extra energy boost and glow that a good workout can bring.  

2. Encourage a Growth Mindset 

The workplace should always be a place that encourages growth for everyone. Many businesses experience sales lulls in the summer as clients go on vacation and responses slow to a trickle. That dip in activity makes summer a perfect time for you and your team to update knowledge or learn new skills you need in the workplace.

By focusing on growing your knowledge, you and your team members will be prepared to provide solutions that the company needs. For example, you can organize summer training for skills such as web design, social media marketing, communication, or leadership. You can also offer e-learning courses that allow employees to study at their own pace, away from the office.

3. Conduct an Office Clean-Up

With many of your employees out on summer vacation, why not seize the opportunity to organize the office? Organizing your office setup may not seem exciting, but it plays a big part in keeping productivity levels up at the workplace. A clutter-free space contributes to clutter-free minds.

A summer cleanup can be as simple as sorting and putting items where everyone can find them. Clear filing cabinets of outdated documents and tidy shelves. Do an inventory check of office supplies and restock any that are needed. Buy desk organizers, whiteboards, or any stationery that you think will help life at work go as smoothly as possible.

4. Embrace Flexible Work Arrangements

Who wants to slog away in an office while warm weather and endless sunshine beckon outside?

It may seem counter-productive, but if you want your team to get more work done during summer, consider reducing work hours. You can experiment with a four-day workweek in the office or have reduced hours on certain days.

For example, Iceland saw productivity rates go up when workers participated in trials where they worked a four-day week. It was considered an “overwhelming success.” Now around 85% of workers there can choose to work a four-day week with the same pay. 

Recent studies have also shown that employees are more productive when they work from home. Because of COVID-19, many companies have already adopted remote working. For your employees whose children are on summer vacation, it’s a solution that lets them work and be with their families. Because workers feel like they have more freedom and control over their work, they ultimately get more work done.

5. Take Time to Get to Know Each Other

Between WFH arrangements and employee vacations, summer can make your workplace look like it’s perpetually in the midst of mass exodus. The last time you counted, it was just you, a few colleagues, and the office fish left behind. 

Although engaging with this depleted group may not sound tempting, this is a good time to get to know whom you’re working with. If you make time to interact with your staff, it almost always results in better communication and increased productivity. Those who might feel stuck in the office while their peers are off recreating will appreciate your overtures.

You can make interaction easier for introverts and extroverts alike by organizing work lunches away from the office. It’s a nice way for everyone to get to know each other outside of the work environment. It is also an opportunity for you to get feedback from your employees on company or personal issues they may face.

Team-building activities are another fun way to get people talking with each other. A group hike or family picnic can go a long way toward creating positive feelings among your employees.  These positive vibes often lead to stepped-up productivity when employees get back to the office.

6. Process Vacation Requests in Advance 

According to a study by Healthline Media, 50% of Americans plan to take a summer vacation this year. This could mean that half of your staff would be unavailable at some point during summer if vacations aren’t planned in advance. Productivity will take an instant hit just because there are not many people working.

Having employees submit vacation requests before summer starts is key to ensuring that there are always enough people at the office to keep work flowing. In addition, it allows your HR department to find fair ways to deal with those who have conflicting vacation times. They can also make plans to hire temporary staff if needed.  

Summers Don’t Have to Mean a Productivity Slowdown

If you plan ahead, summer months don’t have to mean reduced productivity for you and your team. Less office work and extra time mean everyone is able to spend more time on personal and professional growth. You can also use this time to recharge your mind and body for busier days that will come.

Your Calendar Will Help Make Your Camping Trip a Success

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Your Calendar Will Help Make Your Camping Trip a Success

Remember going camping as a kid? Even if it was only a few times growing up, camping trips make for enjoyable summer memories for the whole family. So invite friends and family — and have a blast!

Your Calendar Will Help Make Your Camping Trip a Success

Unfortunately, many people don’t have great memories of camping — but everyone needs to say they’ve camped at least once in their lives. I call it “life lessons and learning.” And, yes, I laugh when I say that. But, whether the former camping trip was boring, got rained on, or someone was eaten alive by mosquitos — some things can get in the way of a good time. Prevent catastrophe from striking your camping trip by organizing your efforts with your Calendar. Here’s how:

Choosing Dates

Hey, you only have about six weeks before the kids are back in school — so get cracking! First things first, you must select the dates of your camping trip in advance. Very rarely will an impromptu trip work out well, especially for larger families and all of their different schedules. However, some of our impromptu trips ended up the best ever —  so don’t discount that possibility.

Using your Calendar allows you to view all of these conflicting schedules and find free days for everyone. Then, once the date is chosen — create a Calendar event and share it with everyone who plans to attend so that they don’t end up booking something for the dates selected.

Remembering to Pack

Nothing is worse than arriving at your location and realizing you forgot to pack something important. Don’t let that happen to you by setting one or several reminders in your online Calendar. I, for one, always have camping specifics in a packed bag so I can just look through the items and make sure they aren’t out of date.

You can set a reminder for virtually anything you think you might forget. For example, a Calendar notification will help you get out the door at the right time. Another event will remind you to make a trip to the store to get all the snacks and supplies you need.

You will also find it useful to set a reminder to make sure you double-check your home, set the lock, turn the camera on, check the auto sprinklers, let the neighbor know to pick up mail. I keep this same list for trips on my Calendar, so I don’t have to write a new list each time we go somewhere. That puts everything in order before leaving town for a few days. I also have a “before you go cleaning list” to not be overwhelmed when I return home.

Planning the Road Trip

The best camping spots are usually a long-distance away. Those drives can get pretty grueling, especially for young kids and big families. Your Calendar will come in handy for planning the upcoming road trip and making it as painless as possible.

Most National Parks have a number you can call and select your date and reserve your spot. You have to be there by a certain time (usually 6:00 PM) or give them a late check-in time. If you aren’t there on time — the park will give away your spot.

Looking for a spot to camp at midnight, especially if you’ve brought a baby along, is not a pretty sight. And sleeping in the car because you lost your camping spot tends to be the memory that sticks with your fam and friends forever.

Thanks to GPS technology, you don’t have to plan your route as extensively as in generations past. However, it may be worth your time to plan some stops along the way. For example, optimize your bathroom and lunch breaks or scope out some roadside attractions that are worth checking out.

Plan these out in advance, and you can make the drive more enjoyable while still making it to your campsite at a reasonable hour.

Creating an Itinerary

Camping is so much more than sleeping in a tent on the hard ground. What makes camping worth it is all the activities you plan throughout the day. Your Calendar will help you create the perfect itinerary to fill your days with plenty of activities.

Do you want to go on a family hike? You want to plan water activities when it’s the warmest and plan everything else around it. We like to take our bikes and have a big long bike trip around the lake early while it’s still cool and then have lake time to cool off around noon or 1:00 PM. You could also check to see if the park rents bikes, paddle boats, or canoes. That way you don’t have to bring your own. But all these types of activities and questions can be answered by making an itinerary for your trip.

There’s also some merit in making time to do nothing but relax and get lost in your surroundings. Feel free to include your personal “away” time on your Calendar as well. Especially if it’s a high priority to you. If you’re an adventurous type, you can also freestyle the trip and see where it takes you.

As a footnote, your Calendar doesn’t always have to be online in order to be helpful. While traveling, you can still access the itinerary in offline mode. Thankfully there are fewer places where you won’t have cell service. But be aware no cell service does occur. Sometimes I take a screenshot of my Calendar so I have it in my photos if cell service is not to be had.

Getting Work Done

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean the work has stopped. If you’re taking a weekday trip, you’ll need to ask for time off and might need to get some extra work done before you embark. Even a weekend outing can be a little stressful if you get home late Sunday night and need to get things ready to go to the office the following morning.

This is the perfect opportunity to use your Calendar for what it does best; time management. Leading up to your trip, try using time blocking or experiment with the Pomodoro Technique to get as much work done as possible so that you can take a camping trip without stressing about missing work.

Your Calendar will help you make a seamless return as well. You can organize all of your meetings and deadlines ahead of time to arrange your entire schedule before you even leave for your trip. Then, once you make it back home, all you have to do is check your Calendar for everything that needs to be done next.

Recording Memories

Just as was mentioned from the start, the goal of a camping trip is to have fun and make memories. Therefore, every event and note you add to your Calendar will serve as a reminder of the fun you had even long after the trip has finished.

You can also use your online Calendar to plan out a scrapbook or photo album of all the camping trips you ever take. This is a more visual and organized way to preserve memories for a very long time.

You can have a lot of fun roughing it if you come prepared. Before you leave to come home from a trip (camping or otherwise), get everyone to share photos from your phones. I put a reminder in my Calendar because sharing photos has become such a staple of our adventures and the highlight of our trips now.

How to Show Up to Video Meetings on Time and on Point

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How to Show Up to Video Meetings on Time and on Point

It happens to the best of us. It’s 10:20 a.m., and you realize you forgot that the morning video meeting started at 10. After scrambling onto the call and making a quick apology, you struggle to catch up with the rest of the team. 

Luckily, there are several tools and strategies to prevent these videoconferencing snafus. The tips below will help you knock every video meeting out of the park. 

Schedule Some Breathing Room 

Whether you’re the meeting planner or just an attendee, plan for video meetings to take longer than they are scheduled for. Block out an additional 10 minutes on either side of the allotted time to give yourself some leeway. That way, if a call runs long, you’re less likely to be late to the next one. If the meeting runs short, you’ll have extra time to take a break, grab some water, or answer emails.

Adding at least a 10-minute buffer around meetings also helps to ensure that you have time to wrap things up before your next commitment. If you need to follow up individually with a member of the team after the group meeting ends, you’ll have time to do so without throwing off the whole day’s schedule. 

Use the Right Meeting Software

Enlist technology to keep you on time and in the know. While some people prefer written calendars, digital calendars excel in making sure that nothing slips through the cracks. The straightforward design and layout of these tools make them incredibly user-friendly. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find a paper planner that can send you pop-up notifications of your upcoming commitments! 

When you use scheduling software, you can set it to give you a 10-minute reminder before any scheduled video meeting. This way, you have enough time to get set up, settle in, and resolve any technological problems that may arise. In today’s Zoom world, bad Wi-Fi is no longer a valid excuse for missing a meeting. 

Some scheduling software, like Calendar, allows you to sync calendars from Google and Outlook together. You can combine important personal, work, and family schedules into one main calendar. This way, you never accidentally set up a phone call with a customer at the same time as a team meeting — or your daughter’s soccer game. Nothing gets overlooked when everything is synced together. 

Business scheduling apps also ensure that the calendar event has the link to the call, the meeting agenda, and everything else you need for the video meeting. There’s no more last-minute searching through old emails looking for the link. 

Be Prepared For Every Meeting

Being punctual is only one factor in excelling in online meetings. Being on point and making strong contributions are critical as well. 

Before any meeting, jot down at least two thoughts, ideas, or suggestions and two questions. These notes can focus on the nitty-gritty specific or be more big-picture. Your questions and comments don’t have to be ground-breaking; they just have to be relevant and helpful. When someone asks you, “Well, what do you think?” you’ll be ready. 

If the meeting centers on an ongoing project or issue, take a few minutes before the meeting to review relevant files and notes on the subject. You’ll re-familiarize yourself with the matters at hand and ensure you don’t get lost or caught off guard in the meeting. This is especially helpful if this is the first meeting about a project in weeks. 

If you are leading the meeting, be sure to have an agenda to follow and provide it to attendees beforehand. Attach it to your calendar invite along with the videoconferencing link so everyone will have it at the ready. 

While it is important to be flexible and allow other discussion topics to come up naturally, sticking to an agenda keeps the team on task. You also show yourself to be a capable leader who values your co-workers’ time. 

Create a Professional Setup

The last key element to making an impact in your company’s digital meetings is the space around you. 

When working from home, have a designated work space or desk that you intentionally leave clear of anything but the essentials: laptop, relevant documents, etc. This will help prevent clutter from distracting other attendees from you and your ideas. Be sure that the space behind you is neat and clean as well. 

If video meetings are commonplace in your work, consider upgrading your microphone and using high-quality headphones. If your connection is poor, increasing the internet speed or changing to a different provider is worthwhile. While small improvements, these updates will ensure that everyone can clearly and easily understand you. 

When it comes to time management and personal performance, video meetings can pose challenges. But with the right tools, strategies, and setup, you can ensure that you are a valuable part of any online meeting.

Should You Bring Work On Your Vacation?

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Should You Bring Work On Your Vacation?

Summertime is a popular time for vacation-goers. Sometimes when I’m headed on vacation with friends, it’s easier to get off work at other times during the year. But when you want to head out of town with the kids, summer is the best time because they are out of school for the next few months.

Parents still have to take time off work, which can be a bit of a logistical problem at times. For this reason, many working parents debate on whether or not they should take some work with them on vacation.

The obvious answer to some might be no, that ruins the point of a vacation. However, there is some merit to taking a little work with you on a trip if you play your cards right. This article will dissect both the pros and cons of such a decision for your upcoming family trip:

Why You Should Take Work on Vacation

There are some scenarios when bringing work on vacation with you can actually be a good idea. For those who really struggle with the stress of taking off work, bringing a few assignments along may provide an ideal balance:

Take More Time Off

When you take work on the road, you might be able to squeeze in some more time off. In addition, the ability to take on a few tasks and assignments even when you’re out of the office means that you’re not needed back as quickly, buying you some more vacation time.

Let’s say there’s a simple project that you need to get done by the end of the week. By picking up that task and taking it with you, you can fulfill an obligation with work without the need to show up at the office. In addition, with this project getting done, you can feel better about the time you’re spending away from the company.

Keep Up With Deadlines

What happens when you want to take a vacation, but you have some deadlines coming up? Trying to jam them all into your online calendar before your trip is extremely stressful and can really damage the quality of your work. On the other end of the spectrum, pushing all of your deadlines back until you get home from your trip can fill your entire vacation with dread.

Instead of trying to alter your schedule too much, just plan around your vacation to include a few deadlines throughout the duration of your trip. A deadline or two sprinkled into your online calendar won’t take up too much time and will help ease your concerns about missing work for an extended period.

Stay Fulfilled

There are a lot of people in the world that work hard every day. Sometimes people do extra work because they crave the sense of fulfillment they get from a job well done. Taking a week off to relax, however beneficial for them, can be a challenge when they’re not checking off boxes or turning in assignments.

If you’re one of these people that gets a little antsy without your work — taking a bit of work with you on vacation can provide the relief you want. Whether it’s the fulfillment you need, or something else, you don’t need to feel guilty about bringing along your diversion. You also don’t need to worry about kicking back.

This concept also applies to anyone trying to pursue some lofty goals this summer that are work-related. Completing some tasks even while on vacation helps ensure you stay on the right track toward completing the goals you set for yourself, like qualifying for a promotion or a pay raise.

Why You Shouldn’t Bring Your Work Along

While we applaud productivity here, oftentimes, a vacation needs to be just that. Trips are to explore the world, experience new things, and take a break from your daily stress and responsibilities. Bringing work along can end up being counterproductive in that sense. But you can slowly work toward the goal of working less and less on vacations until you hit your best compromise.

Lose Time With Family

When you’re on a family vacation, your highest priority should be spending quality time with your loved ones. Nothing should get in the way of that, especially not work. So what’s the point of even taking a trip with your family if you’re not going to be participating in the trip with them?

If you plan to bring work with you on a trip, use your online Calendar to make sure it doesn’t get in the way of quality time with family. Block off time, specifically very early morning or later at night when vacation activities aren’t scheduled, and people are in bed. In this way, you’re not missing out on the family fun. Correct scheduling is the way you can have the best of both worlds.

Builds Up Stress

Vacations are meant for relaxing. It’s a chance to forget about work and relish in a life free of worries. So why bring work into the mix when it can easily mess up that chemistry?

Of course, not bringing work with you might be the source of your stress. Stress can eat away at you, especially if you have just started your business or are a true entrepreneur.

Until things are set up in certain ways, maybe with a few more employees, it may only be you who can make the business running smoothly when while. You’re on vacation.

Whatever the case is for you — if you have a team, just make sure you set your team up right and only respond to emergencies as needed. Then, they’ll be able to do the heavy lifting while you take a much-needed break away from it all.

Increases Burnout

Taking a break from work is meant to reduce the risk of burnout. However, when burnout strikes, it strips you of motivation and drive, leading to a sharp decline in productivity and quality of work. This can be costly when it comes to staying in good standing with your current job.

If you truly feel like you need to take some time off to forget about work, make your number one priority. Let your company know that you need this time so you can return an invigorated and energized employee. If they start sending you calendar notifications for meetings and assignments, let it be known that you plan to decline every single one of them until you return.

In the end, it’s up to you whether or not you bring work with you on vacation. Consider what you hope to accomplish and let the pros and cons help you make the right decision.

How to Use Appointments to Improve Your Decision-Making

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How to Use Appointments to Improve Your Decision-Making

Snap decisions often cause regrettable damage to our finances, relationships, and overall well-being. When confronted with a difficult decision, especially one that evokes an emotional response, it’s important to take your time and think through it from several angles. Try to let the emotional side take a back seat and consider your decision objectively.

This can be admittedly difficult to do. These decisions and the stress they cause can weigh on your mind and consume your time. How can you think about work or other important matters when such big decisions loom?

Sometimes, putting a placeholder on your calendar can relieve immediate stress and help you assess a wide range of situations more dispassionately. Doing so can also allow you to put the decision out of your mind so you can focus on tasks at hand. Your calendar placeholder ensures you won’t forget to revisit the decision, meaning you don’t have to fret it about in the meantime. That alone will give you some peace of mind.

Block Out Time for Projects and Decisions

Sometimes we have so much to do it’s hard to sit down and concentrate. Scheduling our time through our online calendars and apps can help us get important things accomplished. 

Look at everything you need to get done for the day. Then schedule out blocks of time for each task. This will enable you to really focus on one thing at a time and boost your productivity. 

Doing this also helps declutter your mind. Keeping all your tasks for your professional and personal life in your head can add to your stress and anxiety. Getting it all down in your calendar enables you to clear your mind so you can actually complete your to-dos.

You schedule appointments to get things done at work all the time. Why not do the same for your personal life? Add in your haircut or your kid’s soccer game. The less you have to keep in your head, the freer you are to be fully present. 

Adding appointments for time to reflect or do research will facilitate your decision-making as well. You might schedule time to pore over your budget to see if you can buy the SUV you’ve been eyeing. You might also set aside time to compare various models and the dealer incentives different brands are offering. Taking this prep time lets you keep your purchase a priority but prevents you from recklessly signing on the dotted line at the urging of a smooth-talking sales rep.

Assess How You Use Your Time

As you begin to schedule time for decision-making purposes, you might feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done. How can you decide on the best uses of your time? Start by learning exactly what takes up your time at work and at home.

Calendar analytics can show you what you’ve been up to and inform your decisions about how you spend your time. Are you in meetings all day? Do you devote lots of travel time getting to a shared work space? Do all your kids’ sports have you on the road several days a week? With calendar analytics, you can learn the distribution of your calendar appointment types and see the locations of your meetings. 

With this information, you can re-evaluate and make necessary changes so you can make the most of your limited hours. If you need to schedule a time for decision-making purposes, it can open your eyes to the best days and times available.

Use Dead Time for Productive Purposes

After reviewing your calendar analytics, you might discover blocks of wasted or dead time. You might find yourself waiting at the doctor’s office or when picking your kids up. Maybe you have a 30-minute gap between meetings or a long commute. You can make better decisions about how you spend this time, too. These little blocks of time can really add up!

You can leverage this time to learn a new skill or catch up on an enriching podcast. These solo moments could also be a good time to come to a decision on an issue at the office or at home. When you see that gap, go ahead and add an appointment to your calendar. For example, “Reflect on ways to save money this month.”

Improve Your Time Management

When deciding on the best use of your limited hours, it all comes down to time management. Effective time management will increase your productivity and help you stay on top of your obligations both at work and at home. If you find yourself routinely completing work tasks at the last minute or paying your rent late, you’ll need to find ways to be more organized.

After all, disorganization can spill over into those big life decisions as well. Poor time management can cause you to have to make a quick, last-minute choice that you’ll regret later. 

When it comes to big decisions, giving yourself plenty of time to make informed, cool-headed  choices is key. Setting calendar reminders for these moments can give you the space and mental clarity you need to to set yourself up for a great life.

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