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9 Best Life Hack Sites That Will Super Boost Your Productivity

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productivity hacks

Everyone is looking to make the most out of their time these days and one of the best ways is through life hacks. People are so passionate about these that there are several sites available that document and provide useful pointers on life hacks.

Below I’ve compiled a short list of some of the best sites that can supercharge your productivity if you apply the lessons they offer.

1. Lifehack

As the name suggests, Lifehack is loaded with all kinds of practical tips to help you “hack” your life. It doesn’t just focus on productivity but also tried and true methods including the Full Life Framework to enhance relationships, improve health, and help you live a balanced, fulfilling and successful life.

What’s also nice about this site is unlike others, the design of the site makes it easier to read. It’s comforting and convenient, making it one of the best life hack sites around!

2. Digital Inspiration

Digital Inspiration houses all kinds of helpful – and inspiring – things that are in the tech world. They cover things like website tools, blogging, tech news, computer help, provide online guides and much more. Their premise is to provide you with digital inspiration and practical tips to solve problems that we could run into when doing those things. It’s all around a handy site.

3. MakeUseOf

A self-explanatory name for the site, MakeUseOf is about leveraging items that enhance your productivity. Where it differs from other life hack sites is that it focuses on digital productivity.

We all use digital products in our lives. Being suggested other digital gear or getting tips on technology can help us. Especially if they all help us in being more productive than before.

4. Productivity501

Productivity501 exists to remind us that there are different kinds of productivity. Yes, all productivity works towards the same purpose – results, comfort, and happiness. However, this site breaks down and shows how even the simplest of tasks can be done in a more productive way.

For example, one productivity trope that’s used often is how we can be doing more by simply doing more. Productivity501 provides gentle reminders how things like learning how to prioritize tasks is a much better way to get things done rather than trying to do everything all at once.

5. Dumb Little Man: Tips For Life

Immediately with the name it’s intriguing. The last thing you’d expect is for DumbLittleMan to be another one of the best life hack sites around. But it’s the truth. It’s overflowing with smartness and several useful tips on life.

Even though the site focuses on general happiness, success, and wealth, it’s still a good productivity site. The advice that it offers is short and to the point about what you need to know. It’s not rambling on for minutes about what are the best strategies. This gives you more time to go and apply the things they mention so you can see the results for yourself.

6. HowStuffWorks

As the name suggests, HowStuffWorks is able to cover a wide array of things and explain how it all works. How this ties into productivity is simple. In order to make the most out of certain tactics, it helps to know how things work. Everything from beef jerky to how we are specifically impacting climate change, understanding how these things work allows us to better address those issues.

Paired with the fact the site covers things like adventure, auto, lifestyle, science, tech, culture and many more, it’s a site that comes in handy if you want to figure out how stuff works.

7. How-To Geek

Being a geek these days isn’t that big of a problem compared to what it was like a few decades ago. At this point, most people have embraced this lifestyle, though haven’t leveraged it. Case and point: How-To Geek is a site created by geeks for geeks that share all kinds of useful tidbits of information like how VPNs work or how to number or label equations in Microsoft Word.

While it’s a tech magazine first and foremost, a geek lifestyle is something more than being interested in technology or gaming as this site suggests.

8. Gizmodo

This site has been recommended many times over from all kinds of other productivity sites so naturally this site makes the list. Gizmodo focuses on technology with more emphasis on gadgets and devices as well as overall technology.

If you’re looking for insider tips on coping with technology today and leveraging it, check out the site.

9. AddictiveTips

The last of the best life hack sites to show off is AddictiveTips. This is not just another tech blog, this site leans more towards free and simple solutions to everyday problems. For example, the site talks about shortcuts in Gmail and what torrent sites are still working.

On top of that, the tips and tricks they mention are true to their name in that they’re highly addictive. They’re addictive due to their simple application and makes you feel like you should be doing these for the rest of your life. There is a surprising number of tips mentioned in the site that can be applied to the world at large.

Final Thoughts

The best life hack sites around are meant to make our lives easier and these sites do live up to that expectation. They cover a wide array of topics and the advice and tips offered are simple to apply and quick to read through and uncover.

If you have some downtime and want to make the most of it, check out any of these sites and see what they have to say about certain aspects.

5 Reasons Appointment Software Is Thriving Right Now

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5 Reasons Appointment Software Is Thriving Right Now

Not too long ago, in order to book an appointment, you had to call your optometrist’s office or hair stylist during regular business hours and speak with a representative. Hold times, conflicting schedules, and the occasional bad case of the Mondays often made this process a grueling one. 

Luckily, appointment software has rapidly grown and is providing quality booking solutions to businesses and their customers all across the world. There are so many reasons why online appointment software is in such a good place.

Let’s take a look at why this appointment software trend is here to stay:

1. Rise in Automation

Taking the path of least resistance with regard to appointment scheduling doesn’t make you a lazy entrepreneur or standoffish business owner. On the contrary, looking for the most efficient solutions to all of your needs is just good business sense. You free up more time to focus on other aspects of your business to create a better organization from top to bottom. 

When you implement online appointment software, your employees need to spend much less time manning the phones. With that extra time, they can focus more of their attention on taking care of on-premises customers as well as a host of other tasks that might get left on the back burner.

This concept of using automation to streamline workflows is already widespread. The online appointment space is continuing to grow in its efficiency while still remaining an effective form of booking. 

2. Self-Service Over Customer Service

The modern consumer prefers self-service over speaking with a customer representative. In fact, a survey conducted by Nuance Enterprise found that 75% of consumers believed self-service solutions were more convenient and even superior. While customer service skills are still important, businesses are transitioning toward more self-service options.

Online appointment software is the ultimate self-service tool. Clients can look at availability and pricing without ever having to encounter a customer service representative. Not only is this a dream come true for the introverts of the world, but it’s also much faster for them to book their own appointment rather than wait for an employee to key it in. 

Many research studies have also shown a growing trend of consumers using mobile devices to book appointments and make purchases. By making online appointment software easily accessible on all devices, you make it incredibly easy for anyone to schedule an appointment no matter where they are. 

3. Incredible Convenience

Speaking of making the appointment-booking process easier, there are two other aspects of online appointment software that are worth noting. 

The first is that with an online platform, customer information can be stored and accessed upon a return visit. This means that repeat customers can book return appointments almost instantaneously, creating an even faster booking process. For businesses, important notes and details about each customer can be stored and accessed again and again with very little effort.

The second convenience that appointment software offers is its 24/7 availability. If someone is looking to book an appointment at 10 p.m., they no longer have to wait until the following morning to place a phone call. On the business side, booking slots can be filled all day long, helping to boost revenue with more customers making appointments. 

4. Increase in Virtual Appointments

For years and years, appointment software has been used to enable businesses to cater to the needs of on-premises customers. While this is still true, a new aspect of the appointment experience has boomed in recent years. Virtual appointments are becoming more common, which will increase the demand businesses have for quality appointment software.

Since virtual appointments happen online, it only makes sense to put a digital focus on the entire customer experience. Being able to book and attend an appointment online is convenient for busy parents, workers on break, or the three-quarters surveyed who prefer the self-service options. 

At the moment, virtual appointments can primarily be found in the medical field. During the height of COVID-19, this approach enabled doctors to speak with their patients or consult with new ones about the virus. As new industries start breaking into the virtual appointment space, the demand for online appointment software will continue to grow. 

5. The Value of Data

Almost anything can be made digital these days. If you can digitize an encounter, you can generate and collect data about it. Modern businesses have come to realize how valuable data is for optimizing their operations, and online appointment software becomes invaluable for that reason. 

Every time a customer books an appointment through your online software, there is data you can collect. Demographic data, high traffic times, and the number of days in between booking a time and the actual appointment are all pieces of information you can use to fine-tune your business. Without this information, your efforts to innovate your operations may resemble playing darts blindfolded and hoping you hit your target.

Let’s consider how your business might use appointment data to its advantage. By analyzing all your appointment data from the past three months, you might notice that most of your no-shows involve new customers. With this information, you can craft a strategy to help new clients commit to their appointments and increase both your conversion and retention rates. 

Online appointment software is helping businesses and consumers save time and get more out of their booking experiences. It’s no wonder these tools are thriving now and will continue to be used for a long time to come. 

Why Every Gig Worker Needs an Online Calendar

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Why Every Gig Worker Needs an Online Calendar

The spotlight was shined on the gig economy during the heat of Covid-19 as thousands of workers looked to earn paychecks as businesses closed around them. While most of the world has since reopened, the gig economy is still alive and well. There are a lot of positive aspects of being a gig worker that has kept people around for the long haul.

Several skills are helpful when becoming a gig worker, but none are as important as that of time management. When you’re not being paid by the hour, time is extremely valuable to you. That’s why every gig worker should have an online calendar. Let’s dissect the reasons why:

Managing Your Workload

Not having direct supervision as a gig worker is both a blessing and a curse. On the positive side, you get a lot more freedom and flexibility than you would by working on a salary. On the opposing end, though gig work is exciting and much more interesting — becoming a successful gig worker requires a lot of drive and initiative to get moving.

You also need to be careful about biting off more than you can chew. By tracking projects in your online Calendar, you can see if you’re getting a little overloaded and need to stop taking on new projects for a short time. For example, it’s better to complete three projects in a week with time to spare than to take on five and need to push back deadlines and endure some stressful, sleepless nights.

Meeting Deadlines

As a gig worker, the most essential aspect of your job will be to meet a plethora of deadlines. If you miss deadlines, you don’t get paid, and you’ll quickly lose customers. You want to be known as a reliable worker so that the request and recommendations continue to roll in.

What do you need to do in order to meet deadlines? Perhaps you need project management software to break down your projects into manageable pieces. On the other hand, maybe an endless stream of reminders and notifications is what you need to stay on track. Find out what methods work best for you and put them to work using your online Calendar.

Balancing Work and Home

A lot of gig workers are actually able to work from home. For these individuals, the lines between work and home can sometimes blend together. If you’re not careful, work can overtake your personal life entirely, which can be dangerously unhealthy.

With your Calendar in hand, make a proactive effort to dedicate time to family, friends, and hobbies. Learning where and how to use your time might feel forced at first, but it will help you learn how to prioritize the various aspects of your life and create time for everything. Of course, if that means you have to schedule in your family dinner in your Calendar — so be it.

A great way to tell how your work-life balance is faring, turn to Calendar analytics. This page of your Calendar will display the usage data of your time for accurate comparison. For example, if you’re noticing a very low percentage of your planned activities are geared toward family, you’ll know it’s time to plan some more activities in this area.

Scheduling helps you make sure that your created life pans out according to your dreams and the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Connecting With Clients

Your customer and client meetings are essential to both schedule and master to provide the best results to customers. Using your Calendar, you can start every meeting off on the right foot by being punctual every single time. Showing up late to your own meeting is never ideal for a first impression.

Using an online calendar will also help your clients be more timely with proposed meetings. It’s mighty frustrating to waste idle time for a customer to show up for a preplanned meeting. Reminders will often come in the clutch, and the ability to share video conferencing links directly in event invitations for any digital meetings you have.

Handling Money

Many contracted workers in the gig economy have found that there is more money to be made by being your own boss. However, paychecks can be inconsistent, and company benefits are no longer available. Therefore, you need to be smart with your finances if you want this to be a viable long-term commitment.

While online Calendars are known for their ability to help you manage your time, they are also helpful when it comes to budgeting. For example, you can set recurring reminders to set aside money for taxes, contribute to a savings account, or stay on top of bills. When you stay on top of your bills, it will help your finances feel consistent even when your paychecks aren’t.

Marketing

Gig workers are basically just miniature versions of entrepreneurs. Instead of running an entire business, they operate through a personal brand. With that being said, how you market yourself is incredibly important.

Depending on your line of work, there might be umbrella companies that can help you with marketing and advertising or eliminate the need entirely. Ridesharing or food delivery, for example, typically run through apps that customers use without requesting a specific driver. In addition, gig worker sites such as Fiverr provide a platform for all sorts of different contracted projects to increase visibility.

Other gig workers might need to use other means to draw attention to their services. Social media is an excellent example. Let’s say you’re an independent plumber working under your own name. A simple social media page can have contact information, pricing, and examples of your work to help increase customer acquisition.

If you want to see if the gig economy is right for you, pick up a few projects in your downtime to ease into the transition. If you decide to make the complete switch, keep these tips in mind so your new lifestyle can be a successful one.

Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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Are You Addicted to Productivity?

“It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013 — “Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools. And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

“The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post. “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

This is my mantra:

I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

Addiction to Productivity is Real

Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

“A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC. “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

“It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

“A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

“There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today. “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

“For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

  • Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”
  • Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”
  • Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

  • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
  • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
  • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
  • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
  • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
  • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
  • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

1. Set limits.

Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

2. Create a not-to-do list.

Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

3. Be vulnerable.

By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with this, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

4. Understand why you procrastinate.

Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.

There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

5. Don’t be a copycat.

Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

6. Say yes to less.

Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

7. Stop focusing on what’s next.

“In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack.

“That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

  • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
  • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
  • Establish realistic goals.
  • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
  • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
  • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

8. Simplify.

Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

9. Learn how to relax.

“Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

“But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

“And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

  • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
  • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
  • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
  • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try.
  • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
  • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
  • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
  • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
  • Visit a massage therapist.
  • Just breathe.

“Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

It’s great to create and push forward —  just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus,  put in big time and then relax.

5 Needs Appointment Software Can Meet for Your Business

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5 Needs Appointment Software Can Meet for Your Business

Every business has needs. Even though specific brands and industries will differ in a lot of ways, many needs are universal. Though some companies may try to disrupt the status quo, at the end of the day, your business will probably need to fulfill these needs to stay afloat. 

Business owners are always looking for the best solutions to keep their entrepreneurial dreams alive and serve as many customers as possible. When it comes to meeting business needs, few tools are as versatile as online appointment software

While a single program might seem one-dimensional at first glance, it can actually fill a number of roles in your business. Here are just five common business needs you can knock out by implementing appointment software into your business model:

1. Timely Supply Delivery

Even appointment-based businesses require materials to run. A dentist’s office will need periodic deliveries of fluoride rinse; a hair salon will have to re-up its shampoo supplies. This means working with suppliers to manage shipments that are both timely and cost-effective.

With appointment software, you can schedule shipments more accurately. You’ll be able to minimize the risk of materials coming in late and interrupting service to your customers. 

On the other end is gauging demand for various products. By tracking the different kinds of appointments (cleanings vs. extractions, haircuts vs. colorings), you’ll be better able to anticipate which supplies you’ll need to have delivered and when. Appointment software will help you fine-tune your process so that there are no kinks in the system. 

2. Social Media Strategy

What’s the easiest way to connect with customers? Those same social media sites probably fill up a lot of your break time. Social media platforms are free to use and can help businesses reach thousands of new and existing customers creatively in real-time. 

Finding success through social media requires consistency. Using appointment software, set up a content calendar that prompts you and your team to create and post content on a consistent basis. By posting actively, you will have more data to use for improving your social media strategy over time. 

Besides keeping a social media calendar, use your appointment scheduling tool to make time for social media audits and game planning. Put that data to use and regularly make adjustments to your content so that you’re always heading in the direction you want with social media. 

3. Scheduling and Employee Management

Every employee has an obligation to come to work on their assigned days. In that sense, they’re maintaining an appointment scheduled with your business. Using appointment software will help both sides stay accountable to their time commitments. 

Employee scheduling mishaps can be a nightmare if you depend on team members to arrive punctually every day. Some creative roles can be more flexible, even working from home without direct supervision, but customer-facing roles don’t have that luxury. Appointment software will help keep everyone on time so your customers aren’t kept waiting. 

Managers benefit from using appointment software by being able to better connect with employees. If an employee needs to speak with their manager about a certain issue, they can check their availability via the appointment software. This ensures that communication always happens at a good time and as soon as possible. 

4. Customer Acquisition

For businesses, customer acquisition is an endless battle. Every business has some level of turnover rate, and that must be combated by introducing new consumers to the brand. 

How does appointment software help with customer acquisition? For starters, it’s a user-friendly tool that works in conjunction with your website to bring customers to your physical location. Accessibility to appointment-booking online is a huge selling point for many customers who want to make the appointment process as painless as possible. 

Online appointment software also provides your target audience with the perfect call to action. A link to your scheduling platform can be placed in social media posts, blog entries, and even email advertisements. You can expect a healthy click-through rate for this CTA thanks to the ease and convenience of online appointment scheduling. 

5. Customer Retention

You’re selling your business short if you don’t prioritize customer retention just as much as you do an acquisition. Gaining new customers is certainly important, but it’s more expensive and time-consuming for businesses. By focusing on retaining existing customers, you’ll keep revenue high by reducing turnover. 

Online appointment software makes it easy for customers to keep coming back for more. Booking an appointment online can be done in a few clicks, eliminating the need for phone calls or walk-ins. Keep improving your user experience, and you’ll be able to cater to your customers’ every need. 

Appointment software also opens up a new world of retention-focused communication. You can use appointment reminders and notifications to help customers arrive on time and urge them to make return appointments. 

If you’re encountering some problems with your business, ask yourself how online appointment software can help. You’ll be surprised to see just how multifaceted this tool can be and how many holes it can fill. 

22 Ways You Can Power Up for Productivity

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22 Ways You Can Power Up for Productivity

What would you rate your level of productivity on a 1-10 scale? I know — sometimes you feel like you don’t want to keep thinking about productivity. But you have to keep thinking about productivity for the renewable energy in yourself.

You can power up for productivity by thinking about it differently — think of productivity as your power source. Productivity is your PERSONAL RENEWABLE POWER SOURCE.

Start rethinking your thoughts about productivity and make it your best friend. Train your brain to have positivity about productivity and work if you want to keep going strong.

Even if your current level of productivity is high, there’s always room to improve.

Since I’m very results-oriented, I’ve been on a seemingly never-ending quest to boost my productivity. As such, I frequently experiment with different approaches and systems. If I find one that has helped me achieve my goals, I keep it. For the techniques that don’t work, I throw them out like yesterday’s trash. Ultimately, this ensures that I’m only using the best of the best.

With that in mind, here are 22 strategies that I’ve found to be the most useful for powering up my productivity. So, without further ado, let’s get ready to level up your productivity.

1. Choose your own prioritization method.

I’ve been a baseball fan all my life. And, I’ve always been fascinated with batting stances and swings. Sure. There are the sweet ones like Ken Griffey Jr. and Ted William. But, I always enjoyed the more unique stances from players like Gary Sheffield and Kevin Youkilis.

While Junior had the most beautiful swing in baseball, it didn’t work for everyone, especially players like Sheffield and Youkilis. The same is also true with prioritization methods.

Learn everywhere and from anyone you can. I’ve learned a lot from former President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the popular Eisenhower Matrix.

“The Eisenhower Matrix works by dividing tasks into four quadrants,” writes Max Palmer in a previous Calendar article. “The rows and columns help you determine which tasks should go where.

The columns represent urgent and non-urgent tasks, while the accompanying rows indicate essential and non-important tasks. Combined together, you get these unique quadrants:

  • First Quadrant: Do
  • Second Quadrant: Decide
  • Third Quadrant: Delegate
  • Fourth Quadrant: Disregard

But, just because this works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you. As such, you should experiment with various prioritization methods until you find a swing that works best for you. Some suggestions, besides the Eisenhower Matrix, include:

Two Big Traps

“Be sure to watch out for ‘decibel prioritization,’ in which the loudest voice heard gets top priority, and ‘threat prioritization,’ in which stakeholders holding the most political power always get what they demand,” writes Karl Wiegers in a Medium post. “These traps can skew the process away from addressing your true business objectives.”

In or Out

“The simplest method is for a group of stakeholders to work down a list of requirements and decide for each if it’s in or it’s out,” states Wiegers. Using the project’s business objectives as a guide, pare down each task to the absolute minimum required for the first release.

“When that iteration is underway, you can go back to the previously ‘out’ requirements and repeat the process for the next cycle,” he adds. “This is a simple approach to managing an agile backlog of user stories, provided the list of pending requirements isn’t too enormous.”

Pairwise Comparison and Rank Ordering

Priority sequence numbers are sometimes assigned to requirements. Rank ordering involves comparing all the needs pairwise to see which one is more important. Over a few dozen criteria, however, this becomes cumbersome. As a whole, it might not cover all the requirements for a system of this size, but it may work for granularity.

“Rank ordering all requirements by priority is overkill, as you won’t be releasing them all individually,” explains Wiegers. Instead, it’s best to organize them by release or development iteration. The dividing of requirements into features, or into small groups of conditions that share the same priority or need to be implemented together, is sufficient in most cases.

Three-Level Scale

“A common approach groups requirements into three priority categories,” he writes. When you use three categories, you will have high, medium, and low priorities. They are typically subjective and imprecise. Each level in the scale must represent a specific outcome that the stakeholders can agree on.

“I like to consider the two dimensions of importance and urgency,” Wiegers suggests. “Every requirement can be considered as being either important to achieving business objectives or not so important and as being either urgent or not so urgent.” It’s a relative assessment of a set of requirements, not an absolute comparison.

MoSCoW

A MoSCoW priority scheme is divided into four different categories indicated by capital letters:

  • Must: The requirement must be met for the solution to be deemed successful.
  • Should: The requirement is crucial to success, but it is not essential.
  • The capability is desirable, but it can be delayed or eliminated. If resources and time permit, implement it.
  • Won’t: A requirement that won’t be implemented at present may be implemented in a later version.

“The MoSCoW scheme changes the three-level scale — high, medium, and low — into a four-level scale,” clarifies Wieger. “It doesn’t offer any rationale for deciding how to rate the priority of a given requirement compared to others.”

MOSCoW leaves room for ambiguity, especially regarding the “Won’t” rating: does it mean “not in the next release” or “not ever?” This scale takes urgency and importance into account and focuses specifically on the forthcoming release or iteration.

2. Break the procrastination and perfectionism loop.

If you haven’t received the memo, procrastination and perfectionism reduce productivity. Mainly this is because they can cause anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Moreover, they impede innovation, limits opportunities, and make you reluctant to make decisions.

If you want to break free from the destructive procrastination and perfectionism loop, Deanna Ritchie in another Calendar piece, recommends:

  • Lowering your standards and expectations — You don’t have to be perfect! Just get ‘er done — and done is way better than not done.”
  • Keeping your tasks bite-sized.
  • Focusing on one thing at a time.
  • Practicing self-compassion.
  • Surrounding yourself with positive support.
  • Incorporating mindfulness.
  • Reducing your commitments.
  • Rewarding yourself.
  • Tracking your time.

3. Get your body moving.

No surprise here. If you feel sluggish all of the time, then you aren’t going to have the energy and stamina to make it through a full day of work.

While you could hit the gym before or after work, go for an afternoon stroll when you take a break at work. Sit and stretch at your desk — some of us may feel strapped for time, and we use it as an excuse not to move our bodies — don’t get in this mentality.

The good news? You can work out and stay active from anywhere. For example, you could switch to a standing desk, have walking meetings, playing your kids or dog, or launch a fitness challenge. You could also get creative, like doing heel-raises while making coffee or squats while folding the laundry.

The point is what? Just do something — absolutely anything to raise your body moving quotient.

4. Master your skills for productivity.

Your skills must be mastered before you can do your work efficiently and well. Gamers refer to this as leveling up. Practice the skills you do most often. Make sure you don’t have to look up a YouTube on a how-to-do part of your job you should have memorized.

Photographers, for example, cannot take the highest-quality photos unless they master their tools and photography skills. You can improve your skillset through training, learning, and reading tutorials specific to your core responsibilities.

5. Dilute micro-distractions.

“We are an over-connected society which is addicted to our devices and a slave to our notifications, “writes resilence keynote speaker Heidi Dening. “In open-plan workplaces that are poorly designed with no opportunity to do distraction-free work, we take longer to get our work done and we make more errors.”

The reason for this phenomenon? Because humans are wired to not switch tasks like that, we cannot focus if we’re being interrupted constantly by beeps, tweets, pop-up windows, and other interruptions.

“The number one adjustment you can make that has MASSIVE impacts to your productivity is to turn off the sounds and notifications on your devices,” suggests Dening. “Now, if this statement has scared you because you realize you are addicted to being notified when someone likes, comments, re-tweets, or contacts you, then take it one step at a time.”

  • For the first week, turn off the sounds on your devices.
  • Then turn your email pop-up off for the following week.
  • Once that is done, turn your social media feeds off for the following week.

“If you take little steps, it won’t seem so overwhelming, and you can test the impact these small modifications have on your productivity, she adds.

6. Try intelligent planning.

When you plan intelligently, you will learn how to be productive while switching between various activities throughout the day — or staying fresh while working on larger responsibilities.

Researchers have found that you should work in sprints that last no more than 90 minutes. More importantly, you need to take frequent breaks.

The reason? You need breaks to rest, recharge, and clear your mind. Overall, this keeps your concentration and performance high.

Furthermore, breaks can be beneficial for your physical and mental health as well. You might consider a short gym session or yoga during your workday if you feel your energy is waning. Increased workplace productivity, a boost in metabolism, more efficient brain function, and a positive attitude will follow.

7. Suck it up and ask for help.

There’s no shame in asking others for help. In fact, it’s not a sign of weakness. Rather it’s a strength as this is a surefire way to gain new perspectives and insights.

Furthermore, various research shows that this develops resilience, relationships, and is a sign of high performers. It can also improve your mental health. Additionally, it’s been found that sitting next to hard workers boosts one’s work ethic.

8. Create a productivity playlist.

Depending on the type of music, this is another effective way to power up your productivity. So, as you create your super-awesome-productivity playlist, focus on the following genres:

  • Classical. In 2001, a literature review stated that listening to music by Mozart improved short-term spatial-temporal reasoning. However, it didn’t affect general intelligence.
  • Coffee shop sounds. According to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research in 2012, medium levels of ambient noise increased creativity. But, low or high levels decreased it.
  • Ambient music. Spotify surveyed 4,000 adults from the U.S. and UK in 2021, and 69% of them said ambient music works best for study, with 67% saying slower beats are essential. Thankfully, there are already ambient playlists waiting for you in Spotify, such as Lofi Beats, Deep Focus, and Chill Lofi Study Beats.
  • Upbeat tracks. Listening to high-tempo music (170-190 bpm) enhanced athletic performance, according to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2020. Does this translate to productivity? 180BPM Instrumental music may be able to give you a productivity boost.
  • Nature sounds. According to a study by the Acoustical Society of America, in an open-plan office, the sound of a flowing mountain stream significantly increased workers’ mood and productivity. However, only 12 participants were included in the study.
  • Pink and white noise. One study published in Scientific Reports in 2017 found that listening to white noise while learning new words resulted in greater recall than listening to silence. White noise may enhance the acquisition of new words, according to the researchers.

9. Go on a productivity purge.

A productivity purge is “a simple strategy for coming as close as possible to satisfying the principle without giving up a quest for the unexpected next big thing.” The concept was popularized by Cal Newport and based on the Einstein Principle.

Newport points out that Einstein’s primary focus from 1912 to 1915 was his theory of relativity. But despite sacrifices, Einstein produced one of history’s most significant scientific works.

“We are most productive when we focus on a very small number of projects on which we can devote a large amount of attention,” explains Newport. “Achievements worth achieving require hard work. There is no shortcut here.”

Thankfully, going in a productivity purge isn’t as complicated as trying to explain Einstein’s theory of relativity.

  • Create three columns on a sheet of paper or word document; professional, extracurricular, and personal. In the “professional” column, you list all of the major projects you’re currently working on. Beneath “extracurricular,” include your side projects. Finally, under “personal,” have all self-improvement projects.
  • Then, under each list, “select one or two projects which, at this point in your life, are the most important and seem like they would yield the greatest returns,” Newport adds. “Put a star by these projects.”
  • Next, identify anything you can “stop working on right away with no serious consequences. Cross these out.”
  • If any projects remain unmarked, “come up with a 1-3 week plan for finalizing and dispatching them,” suggests Newport. “Many of these will be projects for which you owe someone something before you can stop working on them.” In that case, develop “a crunch plan for the near future for shutting these down as quickly as possible.”
  • By the time you’ve “completed your crunch plan, you’ll be left with only a small number of important projects. In other words, you have “purged your schedule of all but a few contenders to be your next Theory of Relativity.”

In his final tip, Newport emphasizes the importance of security. “Try to go at least one month without starting any new projects. Keep all commitments to a minimum during this month.” Rather, target “with an Einsteinian intensity, on your select list.”

10. Rethink what you eat.

Which is going to give you more energy to finish strong through the afternoon, a bacon cheeseburger or a salmon salad? Junk food affects more than just your weight. In addition, it can cause energy crashes and decreased productivity.

As such, be sure to keep healthy snacks at your office so that you can remain productive throughout the day.

11. Identify your productivity ebb and flows.

Everybody has times when they are more productive than others. Identify these times via a productivity journal or time tracker and plan your most challenging tasks around them. Then, in the other times, just complete the tasks that are simpler or of lower difficulty.

For instance, if you’re more productive in the morning, that’s when you should tackle your most important task of the day. In the afternoon, schedule meetings or mapping out your content for the next week.

12. Improve your work environment.

Don’t neglect your workplace. After all, this has a significant impact on your productivity. With that in mind, start by keeping your workspace clean and organized. You also might want to spruce it up with a standing desk and plants.

Also, maintain a comfortable temperature in the office. You will be distracted if the working environment is too hot or too cold. Ideally, the temperature should be between 68 and 70° F.

13. Move on.

Jobs in the creative industries can be extremely frustrating, especially during those gray days when nothing is inspiring to do. By repeatedly focusing on the same problem, you will create even more obstacles to your productivity — it’s like spinning your wheels when stuck in the mud.

As a result of frustrations like these, you begin to doubt your abilities or procrastinate. To avoid this, move on to an unrelated task. This way, you still get things done while calming down since your attention is elsewhere. And, with a clear head, and maybe even fresh ideas, you may be able to return to the original task with gusto.

14. Focus on meaningful work.

Several studies indicate that individuals who find meaning in their work are more motivated, engaged, empowered, and have greater career fulfillment and job satisfaction. In addition to being productive, meaningful work can help boost performance and engagement.

How can you find meaningful work? One suggestion would be doing what you love. Or, at least you are passionate about aspects of your job, like helping others or having an unlimited vacation.

Other recommendations would be seeking autonomy or asking others, “What’s the purpose of my work?” Or, you could amend your job description, aka job crafting, so that it’s more meaningful.

15. Become a master-batcher for productivity.

Did you know that focusing on more than one thing at a time reduces productivity by 40%? Peter Bregman explains why in a piece for The Harvard Business Review. See, we’re not really multitasking. Instead, “We switch-task, rapidly shifting from one thing to another, interrupting ourselves unproductively, and losing time in the process.”

Rather than focusing on one thing at a time, it’s best not to isolate. In other words, group together similar tasks and complete them all at once. As an example, instead of checking your inbox every time you receive a notification, you would check your emails three times a day, like in the morning, after lunch, or before you quit for the day.

16. Eliminate limiting beliefs.

Are you concerned about some hypothetical situation that has yet to happen? Negative thoughts weighing on your mind? Put an end to these negative habits and beliefs by deleting your thoughts. After all, you don’t want these things to prevent you from achieving your goals.

If you want to remove negative thoughts and instill empowering ones, one suggestion is referring to Day 26 and 27 of Be a Better Me in 30 Days Program.

17. Be optimistic for productivity.

“Rescue—if people are facing a daunting task, and their instinct is to avoid it, you’ve got to break down the task. Shrink the change. Make the change small enough that they can’t help but score a victory,” Chip and Dan Heath write in Switch.

Breaking down challenging tasks and boosting your self-confidence can help you feel more optimistic about completing them, even if you’ve avoided them for some time. Then, celebrate your progress as your sub-tasks are completed.

According to experts, keeping optimism alive during a project’s completion is possible by acknowledging progress instead of dwelling on setbacks.

18. Listen to your body.

If your body is screaming for nutrients, your mind cannot be productive. The problem is that unhealthy drinks containing energizing ingredients and junk food are favored by people seeking short-term energy boosts.

Coffee and Tea aren’t my thing — however (gag, my friends, if you must), sometimes a Red Bull is in order. But experiment with what works for you.

Also, unless it’s imperative that you’re available if you’re exhausted, go for a walk or take a catnap. It’s often a better solution than fighting against your tiredness.

19. Use a productivity “blast-off” method.

It’s rare for us to have enough time to finish everything on our plates in a single day. Especially if the task is relatively simple and we aren’t inspired to do it. As a result, we procrastinate. But, this is most true on the things that we aren’t looking forward to doing.

The Five-Second Rule is a method that says you should count down 5-4-3-2-1 before starting a challenging task. Developed by entrepreneur Mel Robbins, this allows you to be more in control.

You can also succeed in any task by following the Five Second Rule. And, your sense of accomplishment will be palpable, and you’ll be inspired to keep going.

20. Challenge your mind.

The troubling lack of inspiration mentioned earlier shouldn’t keep you from starting your day on the right foot. Rather than allowing others to deal with that problem for you, take matters into your own hands by challenging yourself with intellectual challenges like Sudoku or crossword puzzles.

Fortunately, there are plenty of these games available online, and you can pick the one that suits you best.

21. Delegate like a boss.

Are you ever unsure of how you’ll possibly accomplish all the tasks on your to-do list?

Most of those low-value tasks can be outsourced, I’m sure. However, all of these activities will consume the precious hours of your day that you have to get work done. They include data entry, document formatting, and running errands.

Thanks to the internet, you can outsource these tedious tasks so that you spend more time on what’s truly important. Find out what you could outsource by checking out TaskRabbit, Fiverr, or Upwork.

22. Chronicle your development and achievements.

You could do this at the end of every day. But if that’s too laborious, doing this weekly could be an alternative. Regardless of how often you do this activity, the idea is the same. Take a couple of minutes and take note of your specific accomplishments.

It sounds simple. But, this is an effective way to acknowledge what you’re good at, as well as your progress. In turn, this will make you more self-confident and keep the motivation train rolling.

Great Shared Calendar Apps for Startups

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Great Shared Calendar Apps for Startups

app It may not be at the top of your priorities, but sharing a Calendar with the rest of the folks in your startup is a must. After all, it’s the best way to keep everyone on the same page. It also boosts productivity and prevents precious time from being wasted. But, creating and managing your team’s calendar starts and ends with the right calendar app. And, here are ten of the best options for startups.

1. Calendar

Calendar is a time management and scheduling tool that eliminates those lengthy back-and-forth communications when setting up an event. Instead, share the app’s scheduling link, and it does the rest of the work for you. It’s not magic, if you’re wondering. Instead, Calendar relies on machine learning so that it will make smart suggestions on how to schedule your next meeting.

But, that’s just scratching the surface. Calendar also uses machine learning so that you can add new events quickly. It’s also time zone friendly, meaning that it takes care of availability for you — as opposed to you attempting to figure this when traveling or scheduling meetings with remote teams. Finally, Calendar integrates with your Apple, Google, and Office 365 calendars so that you have one real-time view of your life.

2. Google Calendar

Is this an obvious choice? Sure. But, Google Calendar has proven to be one of the best online calendars on the market. Mainly this is because it’s easy to use and comes packed with features that allow you to get the most out of it, such as color-coding and sharing your calendar via email or embedded link.

Google Calendar also allows you to add your team’s calendars, create out-of-office messages, and add events with natural language. Also, because it’s part of the Google suite of tools, your events from Gmail are automatically added to your calendar. And, you can share and collaborate on docs, spreadsheets, Keep, and Jamboard.

Even if you can’t use the free version, this is still an affordable option. Business plans start at just $5 per month.

3. Any.do

Any.do is more than just a calendar app. It’s one of the best tools to house your agenda, to-dos, and goals. As a result, it’s arguably one of the best options to keep you and your team organized and productive.

There are also some pretty cool features within the app. For example, there are location-based reminders and the option to receive your agenda every morning. In addition, the color-coded dots for all of the events in your calendar make it easy to identify what you have on the docket for the day.

Any.do does have a free version. However, for teams, you may want to switch to the premium plan, which starts at $2.99 per month.

4. Teamup

This tool was designed specifically with groups in mind. As a result, you can schedule assignments, track progress in real-time, and share calendars with everyone on your team. And, you can organize all of this information by using color-coded sub-calendars.

One of my favorite things about Teamup is that you don’t need an account to access your calendar. That means anyone you share your calendar with a view without having to waste time logging in. Best of all, for small teams, it’s free. For larger one’s plans start at just $8/month,

5. Calendly

Calendly is another calendar app that makes scheduling a whole lot less stressful. Less stress because it reviews your existing calendars, and checks your availability. You then share your availability with others, and they pick a time when they’re free.

You can then set buffers between meetings and block last-minute meetings requests. There’s also time zone detection, and it works with a wide range of apps like Zapier, Salesforce, GoToMeeting, and Stripe.

The basic plan is free. But, if your startup has various event types planned each month, you’ll need to get with a paid plan. The premium version is $8 per user/per month.

6. Float

Float is a scheduling and planning tool. It provides real-time scheduling updates and the ability to edit events through drop-and-drag. You can also create recurring events and receive reports to help you improve your efforts.

There are also features like time-off tracking and overtime alerts for your full-time staff. But, if you’re working with contractors, you add short-term gigs. It also plays nice with iOS, Android, Slack, and Zapier. And, there’s a flat fee of $5 per person scheduled per month.

7. Plan

Described as part calendar and part project manager, Plan goes beyond creating and sharing a team calendar. There’s the ability to create agendas and a working timeline. The team feed can be useful when working together on a project since you can see what’s been completed and solicit ideas.

Plan organizes all of the data you have stored in your calendar, email, Salesforce, Zendesk, and Github. Doing so means that all relevant projects and scheduling information are in one convenient location. Because of this, teams report that they save 15 hours per week.

The plan is free if your startup has no more than four users. For larger groups, the premium plan is $6.67 per user per month.

8. Woven

Woven is an intelligent calendar app that uses a visual graph for scheduling and planning. As a result, you can see how you’re spending your time so that you can better manage your days. The app also comes with a virtual assistant that handles all of your scheduling for you.

It also lets your team collaborate on any upcoming events. You can share your schedule via email, text, and Slack to speed up the scheduling process. As of now, Woven syncs seamlessly with Google and G Suite calendars. However, the free tool is working on Office 365 integration.

9. Teamweek

Teamweek is another tool designed with teams in mind. It also takes a more visual approach to planning and scheduling the projects within your startup. Teamweek lets you see what everyone is working on, as well as their progress so that you can hit the goals you’ve set.

Additional features include project roadmaps and timelines for your team. There’s a free plan if you have fewer than five people. But, for larger teams, you’ll have to select a paid plan for $39/month.

10. Trello

Trello is a project management tool. Because of this, it’s ideal for assigning and keeping tabs on tasks and projects. But, what sets it apart from other similar tools is that it uses digital boards.

How does this work exactly? Well, let’s say that you handed off an assignment to someone. You would place a card on the board. Now, when switching to the calendar view, you can see when the task is due. Additionally, you’ll be able to see all due dates on that specific day, week, or month.

Getting Back to Peak Productivity After Your Summer Break

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Getting Back to Peak Productivity After Your Summer Break

It’s been a long time since we’ve celebrated the 4th of July fireworks. The laundry room is full of damp towels and bathing suits. And, the BBQs, outdoor concerts, and visits to the ballpark are winding down.

It’s a drag. And, while it was fun while it lasted, it’s time to get back to reality. But, of course, returning from your summer break is no easy feat. Thankfully, you can use the following nine tips to help you refocus and get back to peak productivity after your summer of sun.

1. Add a buffer day.

Flying back on a red-eye flight when you’re supposed to work the following day is rarely a good idea. You aren’t traveling across time zones? It’s still advised that you give yourself one buffer day between when you return from vacay and get back to work. The exception to the rule is if you are on a staycation.

How should you spend this day? Some suggestions would be to unpack, do laundry, get your home back in shape — run errands, and review your calendar. I’ve found that laying out my clothes for work puts my mind back in the zone.  You should also try to reinstate your routines, like going to bed at your normal time or resuming your workout regimen.

You’ll have a much easier transition from vacation to work when you take this extra day off. However, if you don’t have that time — don’t give yourself an excuse — just do what you have to and get back to work.

2. Clean and declutter.

Even if you left your workspace is nice and neat, spend your first couple of minutes cleaning, decluttering, and organizing. Examples would be removing desktop clutter, going through your drawers, and filing paperwork.

This may sound elementary. But, organizing your workspace unlocks the power of a “tidy desk, tidy mind” mindset. More importantly, this simple activity can help you build up momentum to tackle your priorities.

3. Make a list of active projects.

To get back on track, try to get a clear idea of what you left on hold while on vacation. In addition to helping you pick up the pace, this will prevent you from getting discouraged.

To get started, list all your active tasks and decide which steps need to be taken to resume them as soon as possible. If you really want to make this effective, start with the project that you enjoy most.

At the same time, don’t get too carried away. Rather, try to limit yourself to no more than three manageable tasks. You don’t necessarily have to focus on big goals. But, they should be achievable so that you’re making progress.

4. Get caught up.

Ryan Kahn, founder of The Hired Group and author of “Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad,” recommends taking a step back before diving back into individual emails and projects.

“Figure out if there were any major events or changes that occurred,” he said. “This way, you’ll generally be up to speed before diving in deep into the day-to-day details of your work.”

Whether it’s through an informal team meeting or coffee chat one-on-one, this also gives you the opportunity to reconnect with your team. And, this may even assist you in getting back into work mode.

5. Keep distractions at bay.

Your inbox, Slack messages, and other notifications await your attention once you return to work. So, go ahead and catch up on these messages. After you’re all caught up, eliminate these distractions.

After all, how can you focus on more important tasks when communications are constantly pinging you from all fronts? The simple solution? Put your phone out of sight, close all nonessential apps, and inform others that you’re unavailable. You can accomplish the latter by blocking out your calendar or just closing your office door.

I’d also suggest that you schedule times to check your communications. Maybe during the first couple of days back, you could do this each hour or whenever you’ve completed a task. Answer any important messages you receive when you spot them. And, as for the messages that can wait, schedule a time to reply.

6. Take a five.

The human brain is incapable of focusing on a single task for an extended period of time. And, this especially after a long break like a summer vacation. So, as a result, your mind might wander, which will definitely hinder your productivity.

How can we avoid this? First, take short breaks throughout the day. That may sound counterproductive. But, these 2 to 5 minutes are needed if you want to reset your brain.

Consider setting a timer to alert you when you should take a few minutes to rest and recharge. Try deep breathing, stretching, or walking around your office.

7. Shake the rust off.

“During my years as a coach, when players enter into the preseason, they tend to have rustiness in two specific areas that stand out to me,” said Sharman White, head coach, Pace Academy (Ga.). “Those areas are ball handling and shooting. Those two skills tend to require the purest development when it comes to fundamentals and are easily detected when we evaluate our players early in the preseason.”

“To sharpen the skill of ball handling, we like to work on drills that require two-ball ball handling as well as weak-hand development drills,” adds White. “These drills help restore muscle memory as well as a keen sense of comfort with the basketball, which is needed as the competitive play nears.”

Obviously, I’m not talking about athletes like basketball players here. But, the concept is the same. If you’ve been away from work for a while, then it’s going to take some time to get back into a rhythm.

Go ahead and pace yourself. Take frequent breaks. And, give yourself time. You need time to reacquaint yourself with your environment and finding out what you missed.

And, don’t beat yourself up if you’re not working as fast as you normally do. Just like a basketball player entering preseason, you’re rusty. So, give yourself more time than you need to work on tasks until you’re back to game condition.

8. Perspective is key.

“Coming back from vacation is a great thing because you’ve had valuable time away to look at your working landscape differently,” states Carina Parry-Stevens for Productivityist. “When you return from vacation, you’re likely full of ideas.”

Instead of tossing them aside, “Take note of those little changes you would like to see that could improve the business,” she recommends.

9. Plan your next getaway.

You may have just gotten back to work. However, planning your next vacation can help alleviate the post-vacation blues. After all, having something to look forward to makes working a whole lot easier.

Best of all? It doesn’t need to be a long vacation either. It could be a day trip or a weekend excursion. But, again, the idea is to give you something else to look forward to if you’re struggling to get back into the swing of things.

8 Rainy-Day Initiatives to Add to Your Online Calendar

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Rainy-Day Activities for Your Online Calendar

There’s no need to wish for the rain to go away — especially right now — we need it so desperately right now. Not only is any precipitation great for the planet — but it gives you an excuse to tackle some indoor projects. The sun will be back soon, and you’ll have plenty of time for those outdoor activities. Unsure of what to do with your rainy days? If you look around, you’ll always find something. It’s just a matter of finding a spot in your online Calendar.

I like to have a rainy day list, so there is no decision to be made — just grab out your list, and you’re in business. Get your list ready now — have your tools in a to-go tote or to-go book bag — and you’ll be excited and ready to grab your supplies (which are always on hand) and go to work.

BTW — I also have a Windy and Snowy day Calendar list. It’s not that you’re stuck indoors, exactly — it’s that you can take a moment to think differently on your Rainy, Windy and Snowy days. You can vary your thinking process to keep your life interesting and supple — and add some deep joy on Rainy, Windy, and Snowy Days.

Rainy Day Ideas for Your Online Calendar

These eight indoor projects are great additions to your Calendar when rain is in the forecast:

1. Clean Up the House

No matter how hard you try, your home will never be entirely clean. So a rainy day is the perfect opportunity to catch up on house cleaning.

Plan a “spring cleaning” (or fall cleaning) in your online Calendar for the next rainy day in the forecast. Clean the countertops, dust the furniture, move the furniture and vacuum the carpets — and generally give your whole home a polish.

Home improvement projects are also great for a rainy day. Take this opportunity to do some painting or remodeling inside with the time you might’ve spent out in the yard.

2. Read a Book

Is there a book you’ve sworn to read that’s collecting dust on your shelf? Now’s your chance to finally crack it open. For one — if you really want to read a book, read it — don’t wait for a rainy day. But sometimes I find something wonderful in a book — and I save it for this type of opportunity.

There are so many great reads out there to choose from, from creative fiction novels to inspiring self-help books. Scheduling reading time in your online Calendar will make sure you capitalize on a rainy day opportunity.

Reading isn’t just an enjoyable pastime; it’s also incredibly beneficial for your health. Regular reading strengthens your mind, reduces stress, and may even help you live longer. That’s not to mention the lessons we can learn from the greatest minds around the world.

3. Have Some DIY Fun

Taking charge of a project and seeing it to completion can be incredibly gratifying. In addition, tackling a do-it-yourself (DIY) project allows you to develop your skills, discover new hobbies, and refresh your home.

There are countless DIY projects you can tackle. I like to watch for these projects at the quilt store and the hardware store — like watch for some crazy, wild creative pursuit. One time I took pieces of scrap metal (I cut it up) and threw the metal pieces against a piece of pine — then glued the metal on the board where it would have stuck in if I’d tossed hard enough.

It was a blast. When else would I feel I could just relax and do something free like that? Not with the hustle of work — no way — but a rainy day weekend was great. Perhaps you want to try your hand at woodworking to add some handmade decor to the house, or maybe you want to put together a craft to do with your kids. The possibilities are endless.

4. Prepare Next Week’s Meals

Meal preparation helps you eat better throughout the week. Put together a grocery list, put meals on the Calendar, and prepare them as a batch. With meal planning, you can control everything you eat, limiting the amount of fast food, snacks, and junk food you put into your body.

Not only will meal planning improve your health, but it will also save you money. Cooking from home is less expensive than eating out, although it does take some more time and effort. That’s why those rainy days are the perfect time to buckle down and get it done. Having meals ready for the rest of the week is worth it.

While you’re thinking about it, you can clean out the kitchen drawers and under the sink. If you’re low on sponges and disinfecting sprays, be sure you make a note on your grocery list.

4. Hold a Planning Marathon

This is where your online Calendar really comes in handy. When a rainy day disrupts your plans, take the time to make some new ones.

Your weekly and monthly plans can be as detailed as you’d like. When you hold a planning session, you’re able to fit more into your Calendar earlier so that other non-essentials take over your essentials. If you struggle with balancing your activities and responsibilities, then this is the perfect rainy day project for you

5. Clean Out Your Inbox

Managing your email can take a lot of time. If you run a business or work at one that relies heavily on email communication, you’ve experienced the overload and unanswered emails firsthand.

When a rainy day slows things down, take the time to clean out your inbox. Respond to all necessary emails and delete anything that’s not needed. You can even create some folders, such as “read” and “responded to,” to keep your inbox more organized for the future.

6. Make All Your Calls

Got a list of people you’ve needed to talk to? Give them a call while the rain pours down. You can reach out to partners or clients, but don’t forget to give grandma a call as well.

To avoid dropping in without warning on those who wouldn’t appreciate it, you can send scheduling links asking them if they are available for a call that day. Professionals like salespeople and investors can’t always take calls on a whim. You can schedule calls and get many people contacted, as you blast through your home cleaning if you put people on a Calendar schedule and keep calls to about 30 minutes.

7. Purge Your Paperwork.

If your filing system is full of old bank statements and mailers, take a rainy day and toss the junk. Keeping things organized saves you a lot of time and effort in the long run.

When the rain hits, block off time in your Calendar to go through your documents. Remember to save tax forms for at least three years. Shred or burn anything sensitive, so the information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Conclusion

You may not be able to take off work on a rainy day — but learn to appreciate rainy days as your friend. If you live by the ocean — it looks overcast every day, and it’s not rainy. You can get so much done during a rainy day if you put your mind to it. To hold yourself accountable, schedule your activities in your online Calendar.

I also have a windy day schedule and a snowy day schedule on my Calendar. Windy and Snowy days look somewhat like my Rainy day schedule. I used to sell paintings — but I don’t anymore (It’s hard to make a living in visual arts). On Snowy days, I pull out my artwork tools and force myself to begin a new piece. Maybe this piece will be for someone for the holidays or for a client. On Windy days — I try to write a piece of music or practice the piano in a deeper way.

The main point is — use these days as a reminder: rainy, windy, snowy — and catapult your beloved work to a new level. You’ll be amazed at how much richer your life will be — and how much you can accomplish in a few hours spent differently on those days.

Moving? Make it Easier With an Online Calendar

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Moving? Make It Easier With an Online Calendar

Moving to a new city can be equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking. It can also be a logistical nightmare if you’re not prepared for the challenge. There’s no need to make moving harder than it already is. You will likely move many times in your life for a variety of reasons. Learn how to make the best of the moving process. To make moving as easy as possible, leverage your online calendar.

An online calendar is a wonderful time management tool will help you break down the project at hand, so it’s more easily managed. Check out these 7 online calendar tips for your upcoming move:

Go on a Shopping Trip

What kind of materials do you need to accomplish your move? In most cases, this means acquiring an absurd number of boxes and bags to store your belongings. However, if you don’t have enough, make a trip to get everything you need.

An online calendar can help you plan the most efficient shopping trip ever. Track the best times to miss crowds and traffic, and organize your to-buy list, so you don’t forget a thing.

Hold a Yard Sale

Getting rid of some clutter makes packing up a lot more manageable. Of course, you could throw some stuff away, but you might as well try and land some extra cash by holding a yard sale. Use your online calendar to plan your sale days in advance, leaving enough time to advertise it to the community.

For anything you’re unable to sell, consider donating it to a local charity. This will be one final act of goodwill before you pack up and leave the place you’ve called home for so long. If you have family and close friends around, you can send some gifts to them as well. Many young families will jump at hand-me-down clothes or baby toys.

Organize Your Packing With Your Calendar

Once your move is in the works, you’ll need to start packing up your belongings. This will take a lot of time, and isn’t a task you want to put off until the last minute. To ensure it’s all done promptly, organize your efforts with an online calendar.

With this planning tool, you can set aside time every day to chip away at your packing. This way, you can log continuous progress up until the day of the move. Then, stick to your packing schedule, and there will be little to do once that day arrives, saving you a lot of stress and headache.

To further organize your packing, you can break down your time and where you concentrate your efforts. Your schedule can look a little something like this:

  • Monday – Pack any kitchen appliances and dishes you won’t be needing
  • Tuesday – Clear out and box up storage closets and bathroom cupboards
  • Wednesday – Pack the basement and deep clean
  • Thursday – Bubble wrap and box up pictures, wall decor, memory albums, books, and any fragile household items
  • Friday – Pack up guest and laundry rooms as deep clean

Of course, the days and tasks are totally up to you. The important thing here is that focusing on singular tasks will help you be more effective than just chipping away at random little things.

Plan the Trip Using Your Online Calendar

Does your move include a cross-country drive hauling a trailer of belongings? If you don’t have the necessary moving equipment, you’ll need to rent some. Moving companies typically charge by the day, so planning an efficient trip can prevent the costs from piling up.

Your online calendar will not only make your drive more efficient but more enjoyable as well. Plan hotel stays and stopping points along your drive, and you’ll make the trip in a timely manner. This will help you get some needed rest and make memories along the way.

Enlist Some Help

On the day your moving truck arrives, there will be a lot of packing and lifting to be done. To get this done as quickly as possible, you can enlist the help of family, friends, and neighbors.

To organize volunteering efforts, make an event in your online calendar. You can share this event with others to collect RSVPs and get all of the work done in a single time period. This will get all hands on deck to complete the project instead of a little bit of help trickling in here and there. You might even whip up a batch of cookies the night before to thank your helpers.

Execute Your Arrival Using Your Online Calendar

The move doesn’t end when you arrive at your destination. There will be just as much unpacking to do as there was packing. Everything you did to depart will need to be replicated for your arrival.

You can plan these efforts the same way you organized your leaving. Enlist help, have cleaning supplies handy, set time for unboxing, and make a plan to follow in your online calendar. This will help make it less of a chore and allow you to better settle into your new home.

Get Familiar With Your New Home

Unless you’re moving back to a previous residence, there will be a lot of unknowns in your new hometown. You will need to get familiarized with key locations such as gas stations, schools, and grocery stores. You’ll also be interested in hitting up local sites like movie theaters and parks for entertainment.

Schedule times to hit the town in your online calendar. This way, you can see as much as possible in the shortest amount of time. In addition, the more comfortable you get with your new surroundings, the sooner you can call it home.

Leaving one place in favor of another is a challenge in itself. There are so many things to get accustomed to, and the difficulty of moving shouldn’t stop you from making the transition as positive as possible. Use these tips and your online calendar to make moving a cinch, and get down to business in your new home.

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