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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.

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.

Is WFH Making You Miserable?

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7 Easy Ways to Avoid Burnout at Home

For years those who were fortunate enough to work remotely praised its benefits from the rooftops. In fact, numerous research backed-up these claims. For example, Owl Labs found in its 2019 State of Remote Work Reportthe following:

  • 83% of survey respondents agree that the ability to work remotely would make them happier.
  • 82% of respondents agree with the statement that working remotely would make them feel more trusted at work.
  • 81% of respondents agree that working remotely would make them better able to manage work-life conflict.
  • 81% of survey respondents agreed that working remotely would make them more likely to recommend their company to a friend.
  • 80% of all survey respondents agreed that the ability to work remotely would make them less stressed.
  • 80% of respondents agree that working remotely would make them feel like their employer cares.
  • 74% of survey respondents agree that working remotely would make them less likely to leave their employer.

In short, remorse workers are happier, productive, and loyal. Reasons include autonomy, flexibility, and fewer workplace distractions. In turn, this is beneficial for their careers and well-being, as well as the bottom line.

Then the global pandemic yet. Suddenly people who had always dreamed of working from home who thrust into this new way of life. Some thrived, others didn’t.

You can’t fault them. A lot of folks just aren’t cut out for the WFH-life. Furthermore, there’s a dark side that’s making people downright miserable.

Why working from home is making people miserable?

“Working from home entails some degree of isolation,” explains business consultant Larry Alton. “If you live by yourself, you may go an entire day without seeing or talking to anybody.” But, even if this isn’t so, “you might customarily shut yourself away in a separate office.”

Why’s this such a big deal? Various research shows that social contact is paramount when it comes to our mental and physical health. Interacting with others can also calm and soothe us.

“Across multiple studies, controlling for factors like income, geographic regions, and even genetics, the single most important ingredient for long-term happiness appears to be how and how often we connect with other people,” adds Alton. “Loneliness, especially on a chronic basis, can subject you to depression, frustration, and career burnout.”

As if that weren’t bad enough, it’s tempting to fall into unhealthy habits. For instance, during your routine, you might tell yourself that you’re only going to catch-up with the local news. Next thing you know, you’re playing along with The Price Is Right.

It may also be easier to sleep-in, make frequent trips to the fridge, and get less physical activity. If you have children, it’s a struggle trying to homeschool them while trying to get your work done. It’s more challenging to leave work at work — I mean, you are essentially living at work.

When you’re working by yourself, there isn’t an opportunity to take advantage of Equity Theory. According to Alton, “This is a sociological phenomenon in which individuals gauge their own performance and sense of belonging against the habits and actions of others. When there are no coworkers around to help you measure your own performance, you might develop a constant, nagging feeling that something is not right.”

The good news? If working remotely has gotten you down, there are ways to turn that frown upside down. And you can start by trying out the following.

Overcome detachment.

In a pre-COVID world, this really wasn’t much of a problem. You could set-up a shop at your favorite cafe. You could join a shared workspace or actually go into work a couple of days per week.

Outside of work, you could socialize with friends or family. I’ve even taken breaks from work to chat with my neighbor. And you could attend local networking events.

While you might be able to do some of the above, it’s definitely more difficult living in a pandemic. If you’re uncomfortable being around others or can’t safely practice social distancing, you can still connect with others.

Obviously, the most popular way is via video calls using a platform like Zoom. Whether it’s meeting with your team or catching up with a friend, this has been a lifesaver. Just be cautious not to overdo it so that you miss a case of Zoom-fatigue.

Also, there’s nothing wrong with just picking up the phone and making a call. If you feel isolated, give your best friend or mentor a ring.

Set rituals, routines, and boundaries.

When you went to the office daily, you had a routine. That structure made it easier to schedule your time. More importantly, it helped you establish boundaries between work and home.

Does this mean you have to follow the exact same routine? Not exactly. The beauty of working from home is that you can set your schedule to fit your productivity peaks and personal obligations.

For example, if you’re a morning bird, you could wake-up before everyone else in your house. While it’s quiet and you have the energy, you can work on your most important task for the day. During your breaks, you could spend time with your family and get some exercise in.

Regardless of how you schedule your day, be consistent. And find ways to transition between your personal and professional lives. It could be something as simple as turning off your computer to changing your clothes.

Create a home “office” space.

I know it’s tempting to work from the comfort of your bed or couch. But, remember, you need separation between where you get things done and chillax. As such, you need a dedicated space that you associate with work.

Ideally, it should be somewhere quiet. A spare bedroom, basement, garage, or even closet would suffice. Additionally, it should also have the right tools and equipment — think desk, high-speed internet, and whatever else you need to work.

But, those are just the basics. Brighten your workspace with natural light, plants, and colors that match your work. For instance, if your job requires a ton of focus, surround yourself with the color blue.

And, go ahead and personalize your workspace by throwing in personal items like photos or memento from a past trip. Most importantly, keep this area clean and organized.

Use your breaks to get a dose of joy.

It’s no secret that frequent breaks throughout the day can boost productivity. The key is to use these breaks to rest and recharge and do something fun.

For me, that’s taking my dog for a walk after lunch — san phone. It’s been found multiple times that spending time outside can reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. But, you could try anything that makes you happy, such as phoning a friend, drawing, or dancing.

Take advantage of working from home.

While there are disadvantages of remote work, look on the bright side. You don’t have to put up with a daily commute. As a result, you’re saving more time and money — which can be spent on something more fulfilling.

Also, you might be able to have your dog be by your side all day. Or, you get to spend more quality time with your kids. And, unless you have a video meeting, every day is casual Friday.

Accept your negative feelings.

Finally, embrace any negative feelings that you’re experiencing. It’s a proven way to help you work them. Besides, constantly seeking happiness can backfire.

“Any time you’re setting a standard for your mood when you don’t meet that standard, it’s painful,” said Brett Ford, a psychologist who studies emotions at the University of Toronto. “You’re basically adding pain on top of a lack of happiness.”

“We can’t be happy all the time, but we can be OK with whatever emotions we are having,” says Dr. Judson Brewer, a psychiatrist who studies behavioral change. “And in that sense, there’s a level of contentment that comes with that.”

“I’m content that I’m happy,” says Brewer. “I’m content that I’m not happy. Whatever emotion is here is here.”

Determine Whether Working With a Friend is a Good Idea

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What to Do if Appointments Keep Running Long

There’s no way to sugarcoat this; starting a business is no easy task. You wear multiple hats; you’re continually building clients, don’t forget networking. If you’ve built many businesses, as an entrepreneur — you understand the very real possibility of failure. But how do you determine whether working with a friend is a good idea?

Indeed, it’s a wonder that anyone would ever contemplate starting their own business. But, as Jimmy Dungan said in A League of Their Own, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it weren’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”

There are plenty of entrepreneurs who have decided to make this journey just a little bit easier — by teaming up with someone else. For example, Bill Gates had Paul Allen, and Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak. The reason? Each partner brings something different to the table — whether that be different skill sets, lessening the workload, or having additional access to funding.

Maybe you want someone to gripe to, or someone to run your ideas past and have a second set of eyes on a project.

But, instead of approaching a stranger or acquaintance, why not just go ahead and start a business with a friend? After all, it worked for Gates and Allen and Jobs and Wozniak. There have been many famous entrepreneurial teams. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, and William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson — so why can’t it work for you and your friend?

Well, before you and your best friend get too far ahead of yourselves, you both should take a close look at the good and bad of working side-by-side with a friend.

Why You Should Start a Business With a Friend

You have a co-founder that you know and trust.

After spending years being acquainted with your friend, you know what their belief systems are, how they react to specific situations, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. You also know how to get under each other’s skin, so hopefully, you’ll avoid triggering those emotions while in the workplace.

More importantly, they are someone you trust entirely — and know that they would never intentionally do you any harm. What more do you want of a co-founder or colleague?

As Stephen Covey said, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”

You can speak freely and comfortably.

When you have a trusting and honest friendship, you can pretty much say whatever’s on your mind freely and comfortably. Sure. There will be times when they’ll say something that you don’t want to hear — or that you don’t agree with — but you know what they’re saying is genuine and sincere.

As a result, you can keep each other in-check since you’re calling each other on your BS and ultimately do what’s best for the business.

Creates a positive work environment.

Having friends at work can be extremely beneficial. 70 percent of employees believe having office friends is the “most crucial” aspect of obtaining a fulfilling work life. What’s more, office friendships lead to higher engagement and productivity and a stronger connection to the company.

You have someone to bear your burdens.

Starting a business on your own, as already mentioned above, it no easy task. It can also be incredibly lonely.

But, when you have a friend by your side, you eliminate this loneliness. More important, you have someone to share your burdens with your — whether that be financial or completing tasks on-time. And, because they’re going through everything you are, you can vent to each, celebrate accomplishments, and even throw a couple of drinks back after a particularly challenging week.

You share the same vision.

Friends tend to think alike — that’s likely why you became friends in the first place. You and your friend being able to think alike is actually a great asset for your business.

You likely have the same goals, values, and vision for your business. Thinking alike can come in useful when you’re pitching an idea or your business to a client, prospective customer, or interested investors. If you know what your partner-in-crime is going to say next, then you can set them up seamlessly.

Decisions are easier to make.

As I just mentioned, friends tend to think alike and have a similar vision and belief system. That can make it easier to agree on business decisions — even if you have a different opinion personally.

Remember, spending too much time making a decision isn’t just time-consuming, it can also drain you mentally. You want to save that energy for more important decisions.

They accept your strengths and weaknesses.

Let’s say that public speaking isn’t your thing, but you’re one heck of a coder. But, your friend is charismatic and loves speaking. Instead of them asking you to pitch your business to an investor or at a conference, they would instead ask you to make a killer website to impress others. They also wouldn’t get upset or frustrated in areas that you’re weak — and vice versa.

Simply put, you accept each for you are. As a result, you can leverage each other’s strengths and improve on your weaknesses.

More friend time.

When you work with a friend, it sometimes doesn’t feel like work at all. You get to shoot the breeze, have fun, and create memories. As a result, going to work becomes more enjoyable and relieves stress.

Why You Should Not Work With a Friend

It can be hard to distinguish between work and play.

At the same time, chatting and hanging out all day isn’t always great for productivity. Instead of focusing on work, you’re busy talking about a movie you watched over the weekend. On the flip side, when you’re outside of the office, you may start talking shop instead of just enjoying each other’s company.

No matter how much you love your business, you both need to set boundaries and separate work from play.

Also, you may let workplace difference spill over into your personal lives. For example, if you and your friend are disagreeing on the direction of the business, and it becomes heated, that could make your social life a bit awkward.

Familiarity breeds contempt.

As friends, you probably know a lot about each other. But, knowing too much of others can erode respect.

For example, if you don’t agree with the lifestyle your friend is living, you may feel that they’re someone you shouldn’t work with. Even despite the fact they’ve shown up to work every day bringing their A-game.

Who’s the boss?

Even if you’ve agreed on established roles, it can still be tough to take orders from your friend — and they probably feel the same. As a result, there may be a power struggle.

You must compartmentalize relationship issues.

Friends fight. But, you can’t let those little personal squabbles interfere with the business. No matter how ticked you are at each other — you must remain professional and discuss any disagreements calmly and rationally.

In other words, you need to learn how to compartmentalize any relationship issues you have. Just because you’re at odds personally doesn’t mean that you’re currently at odds with your business partner.

Performance issues can be awkward to address.

When an employee isn’t delivering the results you expect, the conversation isn’t complicated. You have a conversation with them, determine what the problem is, and discuss the ways that they can be more productive.

That conversation isn’t so straightforward with your friend. You may be too empathetic, or they’ll take what you’re saying too personal. It may be an awkward conversation, but it’s necessary if you want your business to thrive.

Friendships don’t always translate to business compatibility.

Sure. You and your friend may share similar values and philosophies. But, you may have completely different approaches to completing various business tasks. That can lead to conflict and when trying to build your business model and company culture.

You know the same people.

Networking is critical when starting a business. But, how much networking can you do when you and your partner know the same people?

Networking may be a greater challenge, but knowing how to find and establish new connections may not be challenging.

A failed business can lead to a failed friendship.

If you fail in this business venture — it can be the absolute worst-case scenario.

Let’s say the business fails, and you blame each other for the failure. You didn’t just lose business; you also lost your friend.

If you’re still on the fence about working with a friend, here are some questions you should ask yourself. Determinations will become more apparent with questions.

  • Do you share the same business goals and values?
  • Do your work habits and schedules align?
  • Can you complement each other’s skills and talents?
  • What roles and responsibilities should each partner take-on?
  • How will you resolve conflicts?
  • Are your personal lives stable?
  • How long have you known each other?

Just make sure that you cover all of the topics to do with your business that you can think of. A first business venture is usually the one that friends get together in. You want the best from your first business venture. Take the time to set up all of the parameters so that you and your friend can remain great partners through thick and thin.

8 End-of-Summer Services to Schedule for Your Business

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7 Ways to Optimize Your 2021 Appointment Schedule

Work doesn’t stop in the summer, but fall still feels like a reset. As the hottest season of the year winds down, it’s time to prepare for what’s ahead.

Internally, this means brainstorming and strategizing for your business. But getting ready for the fall also involves accomplishing some back-burner tasks. These are items that we tend to put off until the last minute. 

Many of these items are more urgent than we might think. Accomplishing them can avert future crises and keep customers happy. Luckily, they also tend to be services that people outside your company can do. 

Why not get ahead this year? Before summer ends, set up appointments to handle these tasks:

1. Deep-cleaning the office

Especially as COVID-19 rages on, keeping the office clean is an ongoing task. But once in a while, it’s necessary to do a deeper clean than usual. 

Think about the spaces in your office that receive less attention. Grime can build up and attract pests over time. So before the fall, hire a company to clean every nook and cranny. 

Treat this as an office reset. Encourage everyone to take home old trinkets, snacks, and other possessions they don’t need to do their jobs. 

2. Repainting

Your walls might need a new coat of paint before the summer ends. Small marks and scrapes build up, especially if you regularly have kids in the office.

Repainting is an opportunity to rethink your office color palette. Choose wisely to make the space more relaxing for customers and employees. Earthy tones can help you cultivate an atmosphere that is both inviting and productive. 

3. Cleaning the gutters

It’s easy to forget, but getting your gutters cleaned is a critical part of protecting your office.You need to clear them at least once a year to protect your roof, your foundation, and your landscape from excessive rainwater. 

Make sure the professional you hire is insured. Accidents happen, especially when people are on a roof. 

4. Checking your heating system

As fall approaches, the weather is going to start cooling down. It’ll be a nice respite from the summer heat at first, but it won’t be long before the chill sets in.

Don’t wait until your heater fails to get it serviced. Before the mercury drops below freezing, make sure it’s ready to handle the colder months. Your customers won’t want to sit in the cold as they wait for their appointment. 

5. Scheduling a group counseling session

Unlike the prior suggestions, this service is not for your building. But it could transform the dynamics of your team members for the better. 

As people buckle down and vacation season ends, getting the team together for a heart to heart is a great idea. Scheduling a group counseling session can let people air grievances and bond in ways that an all-staff meeting simply can’t. 

Unless you’re trained, don’t try to facilitate this yourself. To make group counseling work for your team:

  • Explain how you think counseling would help the team.
  • Coordinate everyone’s schedule to find the right time.
  • Ask a licensed professional counselor to come to your office — or to chat with everyone on Zoom.
  • Prepare your employees for what to expect beforehand.
  • Conduct a retrospective by asking each attendee’s takeaways.

6. Prepping Q3 taxes

Tax day is coming on September 15, but don’t panic: There’s still time to sit down with your CPA. Still, you don’t want to find yourself scrambling to get all of your paperwork together at the last minute.

If you don’t have an in-house accountant, reach out to local accounting services. Determine who has capacity to squeeze you in. Before deciding on one, ask around: Have other entrepreneurs in your area had a good or bad experience with any of them?

7. Redesigning your website

Has it been a while since your company website got an update? Hopefully, it’s updated with your company’s information. But a full-scale redesign might also be in order

Redesigning your website is a good way to revitalize your brand and roll out something special this fall. You can also make navigation more user friendly so that customers can more easily book appointments and make purchases. 

Bring a web designer in, and brainstorm ideas that they can work with. The right person can take what you give them to another level.

8. Servicing company vehicles

If your company relies on vehicles, make sure that they’re running smoothly before the fall. Get an oil change, rotate the tires, check the battery, and make sure the antifreeze is in good condition. You don’t want a nasty surprise, such as a vehicle not starting, when a member of your team is heading out to an appointment. 

The sooner you get these back-burner tasks done, the better you’ll be able to focus on what your business does best. End the summer with these preparatory tasks, and you’ll set your business up for an even better fall. 

It’s Okay Not to Be Okay —You Can Still Work

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50 Top Productivity Quotes For Work and Life

In addition to your existing responsibilities, you’re probably also worried about the COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest, and the uncertainty of the future. It’s fair to say that feeling overwhelmed is the new normal. But, it’s okay not to be okay. You can still work.

Obviously, “not being okay right now” is going to interfere with your work. And, here’s where it becomes a vicious cycle. You can’t focus and fall behind — then it’s A LOT worse — and you’re even more anxious.

Here’s the thing though. It’s okay to not be okay right now. There’s a lot going in the world and you have every right to feel this way. At the same time, you can still be productive — even if it’s not at the level you’re accustomed to.

Clear your calendar.

When you have a minute, pull up your calendar and give it a look. Are there any tasks that could be delegated or deleted? Any upcoming meetings that could be rescheduled or replaced with a quick phone call? What about recurring events or commitments that no don’t fit into your schedule?

The point of this exercise is to clear the clutter from your calendar so that only your priorities are booked. The reason why this can be effective is that your day may not seem as overwhelming since there isn’t much left on your plate.

And, whatever is left can then be broken down into more manageable pieces. That makes getting started a whole lot easier.

Meet in the middle.

Sometimes we tend to get stuck in the linear trap. What exactly does this mean? Well, take writing a blog as an example. If you’re generating a top ten list you start with one and follow the sequence until ten.

But, sometimes when you’re stuck, that can be overwhelming. That’s why a writer friend suggested to Therese Borchard to start in the middle.

“There is less pressure in the middle,” explains Borchard in an Everyday Health article. “The beginning and the end are too weighted.”

“I’ve been using this wisdom not only when I am stuck as a writer,” Borchard adds. “But also when I’m paralyzed by the laundry, when the dishes chase me, when my cluttered desk scowls at me, when I can’t concentrate at work, when socializing is less enjoyable than a dental cleaning.” And, you can even apply it “to larger things, too: choosing a career, navigating a stagnant relationship, figuring how I’m supposed to parent.”

Why is this effective? Because life isn’t always linear. “As much as I want to place it between bookends, it’s messy and confusing, absurd and irrational,” states Borchard. “It lacks a beginning and an end, a straightforward path with an explanation” and is “full of questions with few answers.”

Lean into the wind.

Raymond DePaulo, M.D., author of Understanding Depression has a phrase to use whenever you’re trying to work while depressed: “You have to lean into the wind.”

What on Earth does this mean? Well, there are several ways to interrupt this phrase. But, personally, I think it’s about reminding yourself that this is temporary. And, more importantly, using these changing patterns to your advantage.

For example, when you’re in a good place and feeling uber-productive, get as much work out of the way. If you do happen to fall into a slump again, you’ll be ahead so that you won’t have that anxiety of falling behind.

On the flip side, when you’re feeling down, use that time to attend to yourself. Maybe engage in a little self-care, recite positive affirmations, or just take the day off.

Spruce up your workspace.

When was the last time you cleaned and organized your workspace? If you can’t recall, then right now is a great time to do so. After all, a tidy workspace saves you time, reduces stress, and can even fuel creativity.

And, while you’re at it, decorate and personalize your workspace as well. A study in The Journal of Environmental Psychology discovered that this can increase productivity and overall energy. Additionally, you may want to invest in a standing desk and ergonomic furniture.

Deactivate the “Me” centers of your brain through meditation.

What exactly is a “Me” center? Well, according to Rebecca Gladding M.D., this is “the part of the brain that constantly references back to you, your perspective and experiences.” It’s referred to this “because it processes information related to you, including when you are daydreaming, thinking about the future, reflecting on yourself, engaging in social interactions, inferring other people’s state of mind or feeling empathy for others.”

Since this is the default mode network (DMN) that’s responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts we want to turn this off. After all, it’s been found that mind-wandering is associated with being less happy, ruminating, and worrying about both the past and future.

Thankfully, meditation can deactivate these “Me” centers. As a result, this will help pull you back into the present and encourage you to focus on the task at hand.

Don’t believe the 8-hour workday lie.

Prior to social reformer Robert Owen calling for “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, and eight hours rest,” factory workers put in a brutal 12 to 14 hours. While that’s definitely progress, this remains that standard for employees well over a century later. And, that’s not conducive to most modern gigs today.

“It’s all but impossible to actually work for eight hours a day in the jobs so many of us now have,” writes Lizzie Wade opines over at Wired. “Like most people writing hot takes and think pieces about productivity, I’m focusing on knowledge workers here—those of us who work at desks, mostly in front of computers, in offices or from home.”

Wade is right on. According to a study from Stanford, working long hours doesn’t make you more productive. In fact, once you’ve clocked in 55 hours per week, productivity plummets so much that it’s pointless to work any more.

So, I propose that you change that mindset. If you’re able to knock out your top priority for the day, some administrative work, and a video meeting in around 4-hours, I would say that you had a productive day. In other words, focus more on the quality of what you’re doing instead of the hours you’ve put in.

Phone a friend.

If you have someone that you trust a friend, family member, or colleague, call them up when you’re not at 100%. Mainly this is because talking can lead to catharsis. In turn, you feel a sense of relief and have cleared your head so that you can focus.

What’s more, talking to someone else gives you the opportunity to spitball ideas or solve a problem together. Even if you aren’t using these ideas at the moment, you can use them to steer you in the right direction. For example, if you’re struggling with fresh content for your business, you and a co-worker could at least develop a list of ideas to work from. They may not be developed just yet, but it’s a starting point.

Cut yourself some slack.

I can’t stress this enough if there was ever a time to be kind to yourself, it’s now. So what if you only worked for 4-hours or took an hour-long walk outside? Is it really the end of the world if you didn’t respond to an email today or cross-off all the items on your to-do list?

Give yourself a break here and do the best you can. Giving yourself a break may mean admitting that you’re not perfect. It’s about making yourself a priority and practicing self-kindness. And, it’s the perfect time to reevaluate your goals to make sure that they’re reasonable.

But like David Kessler says — “You don’t have to find a meaning.” Sometimes you just have to go through this “meaningful moment.” (I just watched David Kessler at a grief conference – Open to Hope. Amazing.)

Stop chasing productivity.

“Every waking moment of your life does not need to be optimized to make you a better, more profitable you,” says career coach Meghan Duffy. “Pandemic or otherwise, you have worth outside of your output.”

Personally, I’ve found that between the pandemic, social issues, and a lot more time to myself, that being included in the 48% of Americans who considered ourselves “workaholics” was no longer a priority. There are just more important things in life besides work.

In fact, I’ve cherished the moments of literally doing nothing as of late.

“Sometimes doing nothing, lounging on the couch and relaxing are great forms of self-care,” explains Elizabeth Beecroft, LMSW. That may sound counterproductive. But, having disconnecting and unplugging have done wonders for the mind, body, and soul.

Ask for help.

Finally, if you are truly struggling then please meet with a mental health professional. Since many of them provide online or phone sessions, it’s never been easier to fit a session into your busy schedule. Most importantly, you have someone to talk to and they can offer strategies to help you cope and manage your anxiety or stress.

Some of your productivity right now, in this current moment, may be taking care of yourself. Taking care of yourself will mean that you can get back to your work.

 

Thrive in the Remote World

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Even before COVID-19 changed the world as we know it, remote work was having its moment. In fact, according to Global Workplace Analytics, “Regular work-at-home has grown 173% since 2005, 11% faster than the rest of the workforce (which grew 15%) and nearly 47x faster than the self-employed population (which grew by 4%).”

Will this trend continue following the pandemic? Well, Global Workplace Analytics anticipates “that 25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.”

While that exact estimate could change, I feel comfortable in predicting that remote work isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s just going to become the norm.

So, whether you’re new to the game or a seasoned veteran, it’s imperative that you learn how to thrive in the remote world.

Build the right toolkit.

Have you ever started a project, like putting together a piece of furniture or an elaborate dish for dinner, only to be dismissed that you don’t have everything needed to finish what you started? It’s almost like a punch to the gut as it just takes the wind out of you.

The same idea is true with remote work. If you don’t have everything you need to get your job done, then it’s impossible to succeed, let alone thrive.

Depending on your exact work, this will be different for everyone. But, at the minimum, you should have the right hardware and software. For most of us, that means:

  • Reliable internet connection.
  • Computer/laptop — ideally with a mic and camera for virtual meetings.
  • Apps for communicating and collaborating with others like Google Drive, Slack, Zoom, and Trello.
  • Security solutions like VPNs.

Create a dedicated workspace.

You may have noticed that in the previous section, I left out a dedicated workspace. It wasn’t something that I forgot and added later. It’s just that this can play a huge role in your productivity if working from home.

If possible, have a dedicated area solely reserved for work. For instance, you could turn a spare bedroom or garage into an inspiring home office. I know that there are a lot of amazing ideas you can find online. But, you really just need a surface to work on, ergonomic furniture, and a quiet space free of distractions.

You can, however, make space your own by adding personal touches like pictures, plants, and knick-knacks. That’s all up to you. The key is to keep your work area clean, clutter-free and has the room for you to get work done. For example, if you need to look at blueprints, then you need a desk or table large enough to accommodate this.

What if you don’t have space for a home office? Any location in your home could work — just as long as it has the fewest distractions and temptation.

Plan to manage your time better.

Having autonomy is pretty sweet. You can set your own schedule and work however you prefer without someone questioning your every move. At the same time, if you’re new to the game, it may be challenging to adjust to not having as much structure.

For some, that means getting sidetracked by distractions like household chores or streaming services. Others have the problem of not knowing when turn-off work mode.

Regardless of which camp you’re in, if you work remotely, then you must learn how to manage your time more effectively.

While there a variety of techniques worth trying, Choncé Maddox, in a previous Calendar article, has used the following ways to improve her time management:

  • Track your time. “To plan a schedule that’s realistic and productive, you have to give yourself a good idea of how you spend your time,” writes Choncé. “Plus, you’ll want to know how much time it takes you to complete specific tasks.”
  • Plan a realistic schedule in advance. Next, plan out a daily schedule that’s not only realistic, but also takes into account breaks, lunch, physical activity, and household chores.
  • Plan around your energy levels. We all have energy highs and lows during the day. Find out when these are so that you can plan accordingly. For example, if you’re a morning person, then that’s when you would tackle your most important task of the day.
  • Avoid irreverent meetings. Don’t accept meeting invites unless it serves a clear purpose. Instead, consider alternatives like a quick phone call or email.
  • Create caps on your calendar. “Schedule gaps in your calendar to accommodate anything that might pop up or just to give yourself a much-needed break,” recommends Choncé.

Separate work and personal.

The biggest drawback to working remotely is that there aren’t boundaries to separate your work and personal lives. Having a home office is a start as this establishes a physical boundary. But, even then, it’s hard to forget about work when you’re still thinking about a project or checking your notifications round the clock.

Eventually, without these boundaries, your work bleeds into your personal life and vice versa. As a result, you become stressed and ultimately burned out. To avoid this, have set “business hours” and reduce your screen time. For example, on the weekend, leave your phone inside if you’re during yard work.

You can also try some mental tricky. For instance, taking a shower in the morning could be your transition into work mode, while shutting down your computer signals the end of your workday.

Schedule “lazy” time.

“Don’t make the entire day about work. I know, it sounds counterintuitive,” writes Colleen Trinkaus. “But often regular remote workers find themselves letting work creep into evenings and weekends.”

As mentioned above, remote workers tend to work more. That’s because they don’t have to deal with a daily commute or work “later into the evening because they aren’t seeing their colleagues leave for the day.”

To avoid this, “monitor your daily workload – and if you realize you’re putting in overtime, sprinkle in some free time throughout the day to do what you please,” suggests Trinkaus. Ideas could be grabbing lunch with a friend, taking your dog to the park, or reading. In turn, these “breaks will help reset your mind and prevent burnout.”

Focus on results, not your hours.

“The eight-hour workday is an outdated and ineffective approach to work,” explains Dr. Travis Bradberry. “If you want to be as productive as possible, you need to let go of this relic and find a new approach.”

Even though the eight-hour workday is antiquated, so many of us continue to fall into this trap. We convenience ourselves that if we don’t put in a set amount of time at work, we haven’t had a productive day.

The truth is that “the length of the workday didn’t matter much,” adds Bradberry. It’s how we structure our days. Ideally, this would be working for around an hour and then taking about 15 minutes off to rest. More importantly, it’s how we spend that hour working.

Take email as an example. You may spend 60-minutes cleaning out your inbox and responding to messages. But, is that a priority when you have a deadline to meet? No. It just means that you’re busy and not productive.

How can you determine what your priorities are? Well, you’ll want your priorities to be what’s most important to you, your leaders, and the organization. A straightforward way to identify these would be to “write down all of the tasks that are tied to your professionally for the next month,” recommends Calendar Co-Founder John Hall. Next, trim down this list by focusing on only the three items that account for 90% of your value to your business.

If you knock-out the “big three” during your workday, then it’s been fruitful — regardless of how many hours it took to complete them.

Maintain your mental health.

Remote workers often experience symptoms of anxiety and depression at a higher rate than people commuting into traditional office spaces,” reports Dr. Amy Cirbus, Ph.D., LMHC, LPC, and Manager of Clinical Quality at Talkspace. “Specifically, they report feelings of isolation and loneliness and high rates of worry about job performance and stability. Insomnia and sleep disturbance are common, along with increased fatigue, irritation, sadness, and feelings of disconnection.”

“Remote workers report a lack of concentration and focus that can compound and exacerbate these mental health challenges,” adds Dr. Cirbus. “It can lead to a loss of self-worth and a questioning of one’s abilities.” When combined, “these symptoms can have a significant impact on job performance, job satisfaction, and the efficiency of productive work.”

Because of this, it’s necessary for you to maintain your mental health when residing in a remote world.

There are several ways to achieve this. Going back to the previous point, take frequent breaks is a start. However, you should spend doing healthy activities like practicing gratitude, going outside, meditating, or any other type of physical activity that will release endorphins.

You should also spend your downtime, like during the evening or weekend, to do the things that you enjoy. It could be a hobby, hanging out with friends, enjoying a little self-care, or learning something new.

And, there’s also no shame in seeking out help when needed. It could be calling a family to vent or working with a mental health professional.

Keep things fresh and fun.

As someone who has worked from home for some time now, I can tell you that I wouldn’t change it for the world. At the same time, it can get redundant. If this isn’t addressed, it can be challenging to stay motivated. And, it may even put you in a slump.

That’s why I try to keep things fresh and fun. For example, I challenge myself to complete a task by a specific time. It’s like a video game where I’m trying to beat my previous score. My reward? Going for a walk or treating myself to a cappuccino at my favorite cafe. Although, I also cherish turning in projects before a deadline and getting a sincere “thank you” from my colleagues.

It’s also been essential to socialize with others. It could be a weekly team meeting, virtual lunch, or team building activity that makes me feel like a key part of the team. And, if I have the capacity, I’m always willing to take on new responsibilities or change-up my scenery.

Don’t neglect your professional development.

There’s a misconception that just because you live in a remote world, you’re going to get overlooked for career advancement opportunities. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Grab the bull by the horns and take an online course to earn a certification. Stay up to date on the latest industry news and trends. Attend webinars, workshops, and conferences. And, expand your professional network, both in-person and online.

Even if this doesn’t land you a promotion, it can make you a valuable asset for someone else.

Add a “done list” to your to-do-list.

According to research for her book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, Laura Vanderkam “found that dieters who keep daily diaries tracking what they ate tend to lose more weight.” Why? Melissa Dahl explains over at The Cut that the “act of writing it all down allows people to honestly reflect on their food choices, and to notice patterns and identify trends that they can then change, if necessary.”

“Plus, it’s a nice little pat-on-the-back — proof that even if you didn’t get everything on your ‘official’ to-do list done, you did make some progress on something,” adds Dahl.

Vanderkam believes that this same concept can be applied to productivity since it keeps us focused on your priorities. More importantly, it allows us to acknowledge and celebrate our accomplishments.

Maintain your professionalism.

Finally, just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be taken seriously. However, to prove that you should:

  • Clean up your online presence, like update your LinkedIn profile and not post questionable content on social media.
  • Actually get dressed and not work all day in your pajamas.
  • Be respectful of other’s time, such as meeting deadlines and arriving early for video calls.
  • Following virtual meeting etiquette. Besides being on-time, consider your background, muting your mic when not speaking, and not multitasking.
  • Not responding to your co-workers in a timely manner.
  • Messaging or calling others at an inappropriate time, like late at night or during the weekends.

Final words of advice.

Even if you didn’t believe that you were cut out for remote work, the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures probably haven’t given you much choice. Regardless if things ever go back to resembling some sort of normalcy — it’s likely that remote work is here to stay for a while. And, if you want to thrive, then you need to perfect the advice listed above.

6 Tips to Improve Your Posture at Work

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It may not be back-breaking labor, but office work can take a toll on your body. Sitting for long periods has serious health consequences.

The good news is, most of them can be avoided or improved with better posture. Sitting upright can boost your energy levels, fight anxiety, and reduce back pain. Mental and physical wellness are valuable in and of themselves, but they can also benefit your job performance. 

Don’t wait to worry about your posture until something goes wrong. Chiropractors aren’t cheap. Get ahead of misalignment issues with these simple steps:

1. Exercise your core muscles. 

Regular exercise is a critical part of your daily routine. And if you want to improve your posture, core exercises are a must. 

When you hear “core,” you might think about your abs. But the core also covers your midsection and trunk, including your lower back and glutes. Those muscles are directly connected to your spine, so they affect your posture. 

Your core workout regimen might look something like:

  • Leg extensions: 2-3 sets of 12-16 reps
  • Sit-ups: 2-3 sets of 12-16 reps
  • Planks: 3 sets, each sustained for one minute 
  • Crunches: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Superman: 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps 
  • Back extensions: 1-2 sets of 6-8 reps, each sustained for 15 seconds

If that workout routine looks like a lot, don’t sweat it: Start with a single set of each, and work your way up. 

2. Mind how you sit.

Your biggest obstacle to better posture? How you sit while you work.  

What’s good sitting posture? Practice it by:

  • Sitting on the edge of your seat. 
  • Putting your feet flat on the floor so that you can bend your legs at a 90-degree angle to the ground. 
  • Sitting up as tall as you can without arching your back. 
  • Broadening your chest and pulling your shoulders back. 

Hold that position for as long as you can. Even if it’s uncomfortable, resist the temptation to slouch or use your chair’s backrest. 

3. Adjust your work setup. 

Once sitting properly becomes second-nature, you can tweak your workspace to suit. An ergonomic desk setup will boost your productivity while reminding you to sit upright. 

First, invest in a good chair. Look for one that’s cushioned but not plush, and make sure its height can be adjusted so you can keep your feet firmly planted.

Once you settle on the right chair, think about your equipment:

  • Adjust your chair so that your computer monitor is eye-level. 
  • Keep your keyboard in a comfortable position so that you don’t have to completely extend or bend your elbows to type. 
  • Place your mouse, water bottle, and frequently used items within reach.
  • Situate your printer, fax machine, and infrequently used tools so that you have to get up to use them.

4. Stand up while working.

Who says you have to sit down while working? Standing encourages upright posture, burns more calories than sitting, reduces the risk of heart disease, and keeps you more alert at work.

Invest in a desk that lets you alternate between sitting and standing. You’ll eventually get tired of either position, and many of the health benefits of a standing desk stem from switching between the two.

5. Take breaks frequently.

When you start to feel sore or jittery, don’t soldier on; instead, get up and move around. Take a walk outside, stretch your back, or just go grab a coffee refill. 

Aside from improving your posture, breaks benefit your productivity in other ways. Getting some space from your work can heighten your focus, fight burnout, and refuel your creativity. When you come back, you might see a simple solution to that problem you couldn’t solve earlier.

Try the Pomodoro Method: Work for 25 minutes, do something else for 5 minutes, and then do it again. Taking smaller breaks more often keeps your blood moving and your mind fresh. 

6. Use gadgets as a last resort. 

Start with exercise, a better chair, and a standing desk. If those don’t work, consider a back brace or other posture-correcting gear.

Why shouldn’t you reach straight for medical devices? Because they can also cause harm. Get a doctor’s opinion before you put anything on your body, and avoid wearing it all the time. Otherwise, your back could become used to the extra support, resulting in weaker core muscles.

What’s more, posture-correcting equipment can be embarrassing. Although your co-workers should understand that you’re trying to improve your health, you don’t need the extra distraction. 

Worry first about your own posture, but don’t underestimate the value of better posture across your team. Instead of commanding your team to sit a certain way, however, be a model: Sit up straight, feel better, and share how you did it. Taking better care of yourself has a way of spreading to those around you. 

Working While Home-Schooling: 5 Tips for Parents

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Motivation Secrets of Productive People

Being a parent is a full-time job. But with schools closed amid this coronavirus pandemic, you suddenly have a second full-time role: teacher. On top of that, of course, is your actually full-time job.

Working from home while home-schooling your kids is a lot to ask. Tackling what is, in effect, three full-time jobs can seem downright impossible. It’s understandable that some parents have decided to give up on home schooling altogether.

But in times like these, you have to step up. Your household needs an income, and your kids need an education. Here’s how to balance both worlds without losing your sanity:

1. Revamp your schedule.

Any time you take on a new role, whether at work or in your personal life, you need to give your schedule a second look. Even if you were home-schooling your kids previously, the pandemic has almost certainly shaken up your life. 

Between tutoring your kids, completing work tasks, and taking care of household chores, you almost certainly won’t be working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Your kids probably won’t be doing school work on their normal 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. schedule, either. Sync your personal and professional calendars to help you make use of the whole day.

If your typical routine isn’t doing it for you, experiment with alternatives. You might:

  • Alternate between school days and workdays.
  • Designate blocks of time for teaching and work. 
  • Trade teaching days with your spouse.
  • Work fewer hours but more days per week.
  • Designate a day for just housework

Readjust your schedule based on what works for you, not what you feel like you should be doing. Be mindful of your prime productivity hours so that you can schedule your toughest tasks for when you have the most energy. 

2. Get your kids on board.

Your new schedule could be bulletproof in terms of work, but you won’t be able to balance it with home schooling unless you get your kids on the same page. 

Your kids need to understand that this isn’t a vacation from school. However, you also don’t want them interrupting you with homework questions while you’re working either. Be sure to set boundaries of space and time so that you don’t have to worry about them invading your Zoom calls.

Don’t try to make all the rules, though. Involve your kids in the process of planning your schedule. Incorporate some of their ideas: If they want to try a four-day school week, let them.

If they have trouble with motivation, come up with a reward system for accomplishing work. Perhaps you can all get takeout for dinner on Friday if they do their homework every day of the week.

3. Coordinate with your spouse.

If you have a spouse or significant other who’s working from home, consider yourself fortunate. Especially if you have kids in multiple grades, you’ll need a teacher’s aide.

Together, decide who will be home-schooling and working when. If one of you works better in the morning, that person can home-school during the afternoon. 

Another good way to divide up the work is by subjects. If one of you loves to write but can’t do algebra, perhaps one person should take English and the other math. Play to your strengths. Teaching, like parenting, is all about teamwork.

4. Stay motivated.

There may be times when you feel like you can’t handle the work. When that happens, it’s easy to lose motivation. But getting down on yourself or letting responsibilities go undone will only make you more stressed.

Instead, take some time to reconnect with your passions. Remember that you’re working toward something that is worth the effort. Your best is always enough: at home, at your job, and with your kids.

Easy, inexpensive ways to rediscover your “why” include:

  • Journaling 
  • Meditating
  • Taking walks
  • Reciting affirmations
  • Practicing gratitude

5. Don’t forget to have fun.

Between housework, home schooling, and regular work, the responsibilities can feel crushing. The solution isn’t to grind yourself into the ground; it’s to enjoy the little things in life. 

Involve your kids and spouse, who are likely feeling the strain as well. This could be a great opportunity to establish traditions like movie nights or game nights. Bonding with your kids will also reduce discipline problems and boost their own motivation. 

That doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t also enjoy time to yourself. At least once a week, enjoy a good book. Go for a run, tend your garden, or call up your best friend from college. 

Staying on top of your many roles right now is about perseverance. Be strong, and keep at it. And remember, there will come a day when you can drop your kids off at school again. Then, you’ll only have two full-time jobs to worry about. Doesn’t that sound nice right now?

Why Are Remote Workers More Productive?

By | Business Tips | No Comments

Did you know that, on the average day, 8 million people in the U.S. work remotely? That’s 5.2% of the population.

During the COVID crisis, the number of people working from home may be ten- or twenty-fold greater than the usual figure. But is working in pajamas from the comfort of your home actually productive?

Sure, it’s easy to get distracted by disgruntled pets or your roommate’s blaring music. But studies  show that working from home actually increases productivity. Here’s why:

1. Flexibility 

When you work from home, you have more control over your schedule. If you’re tackling a long-term project, you can dig into it at your own pace. What matters is that you finish by the deadline. 

If you work on a team, it’s important to indicate those preferences on your calendar. Some people work better at the last minute, while others prefer to work ahead. Use time-blocking to tell your team when you’ll be working on each project.

2. Independence  

Nobody likes to be micromanaged. Big brother looking over your shoulder all the time makes most people self-conscious. 

While working remote, take advantage of your independence. You don’t have to report to the office, so you can get started working earlier. Your work space can be as messy or as clean as you like. You don’t even have to work at a desk. 

Most importantly, working from home allows you to take breaks on your schedule. Try the Pomodoro Technique. With this technique, you focus intently on one task for 25 minutes or so, followed by a 5 minute break.

3. No commute

You know what it’s like to wake up late: You grab the clothes nearest to you and throw them on. You run out of the house with coffee in hand, heading for a 45 minute commute. By the time you get to work, you realize you forgot your lunch. There’s another half hour gone to find food out.

When you work from home, there’s no commute. All your food is but a room away. And working a little late isn’t a big deal because there’s no rush hour traffic to worry about.

When you save time, you can work on new projects and further your career. Take a free HubSpot course on content marketing. Learn how to code. Read a book on personal development. 

4. More free time

When you work from home, you have more free time. People who have more free time tend to be happier, and happy people are more productive. 

Try scheduling a little fun in the middle of the work day. Watch a TV show, take a walk, or exercise during your lunch break.

If you decide to try time blocking, it’s important to block out your entire day. Relaxation and family time are important, too. Blocking out your entire day might look like this: 

5–6 a.m.: Morning routine 

6–7 a.m.: Eat breakfast

7–7:30 a.m.: Email & social media

7:30–9 a.m.: Deep work

9–9:30 a.m.: Break

9–10 a.m.: Conference call meeting

10 a.m.–Noon: Lunch and exercise

Noon–1 p.m.: Lunch

1–1:30 p.m.: Email

1:30–2:30 p.m.: Remote team meeting 

2:30–3:30 p.m.: Available for phone calls 

3:30–4 p.m.: Email

4–5 p.m.: Personal development

5–9 p.m.: Quality time with friends & family

9–10 p.m.: Wind down for bed

5. No Office Distractions

With remote work, you can say goodbye to office distractions. You don’t have to worry about your deskmate asking you every question under the sun when a deadline is looming. Your work friend won’t randomly stop by to chat. You won’t freak out when the break room is out of your favorite coffee.

Fewer distractions means more productivity. But it’s still important to be an effective remote team member

  • Keeping up to date with company culture
  • Looking into coworking memberships 
  • Keeping communication simple 
  • Complimenting your coworkers  
  • Keeping information security front of mind 

Not every worker is more productive while remote, but many are. It’s all about choices: Choose to use saved time to better yourself. Keep distractions out of your home office. Enjoy — but be responsible with — your flexibility and independence.

 

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