The holidays are coming quickly, and it is a busy time for many. Before the holiday rush sets in, we have some ideas to help you relax and destress.
1 – Take “me time”
Take a minute for yourself to reflect, unwind and relax. This can be anything from setting aside some time to meditate, read a novel, or enjoy a relaxing bath. Pull out your favorite bubble bath, bath pillow and candles, and kick back and relax. Me time is a great way to destress anytime of year. Consider an aromatherapy diffuser with some essential oils or a salt lamp to add an extra layer of ambience for me time.
2 – Exercise
Exercise can help you detach from the overwhelming to do list. Get out and go for a run, take a bike ride, do yoga, or work out. All are great ways to help relax and reset your mind and body.
3 – Connect with nature
Going for a walk in the woods is a great way to reset. Be sure to turn your phone off, and take your time to observe the natural world around you.
4 – Prepare for the holidays ahead of time
Plan ahead for everything from Christmas shopping, to holiday baking. Making a timeline can dramatically reduce your stress level heading into the holiday season. Knowing who you need to shop for, and getting it done early gives you more time to enjoy the season. Planning your baking and cooking ensures you block out the time in the kitchen, and allows you to get all your ingredients well in advance.
5 – Unplug
Social media and the internet have dramatically changed our daily routines. It can add to your stress level by eating up your time, and taking away from the things you should be doing. Seeing everyone else holiday ready can also add to your anxiety about your preparation. Set limits on your screen time, or plan unplugged periods where you disconnect from your devices.
Hopefully these tips helped you relax.
Shop early and avoid the rush. Penny Wise has a wide selection of gift ideas, along with free delivery so that you can avoid traffic and waiting in long lines: www.penny-wise.com
In today’s fast-paced world, where time seems to slip through our fingers like sand, staying organized and efficient is crucial. One powerful tool that can help you achieve this is a calendar. Whether in digital or physical form, a calendar provides a visual representation of your commitments and tasks, helping you manage your time effectively. Lets explore five compelling reasons why having a calendar is essential for a well-organized and productive life.
Effective Time Management:
Time is a precious resource, and managing it wisely is key to success. A calendar allows you to plan and allocate your time effectively. By scheduling your tasks, appointments, and events, you gain a clear overview of your commitments and deadlines. It helps you prioritize tasks, avoid conflicts, and make the most of your available time. With a calendar, you can allocate specific time slots for important activities, ensuring that they receive the attention they deserve.
We all strive to be more productive, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed by a seemingly endless to-do list. A calendar comes to the rescue by providing structure and organization. It helps you create a routine and set specific goals for each day, week, or month. By visualizing your objectives and breaking them down into actionable steps, you can maintain focus, stay motivated, and track your progress. With a calendar as your ally, you can avoid procrastination, stay on track, and accomplish more in less time.
Keeping track of important events, meetings, and deadlines can be a daunting task. A calendar serves as a centralized hub to store and retrieve information about upcoming events, birthdays, anniversaries, and other significant dates. You can easily add new entries and set reminders to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Furthermore, leveraging features like color coding or categorization helps you distinguish between different types of activities or tasks, adding an extra layer of organization to your life.
Efficient Planning and Scheduling:
Imagine trying to juggle multiple commitments without a clear picture of your schedule. A calendar empowers you to plan efficiently by allowing you to see your schedule at a glance. You can identify available time slots, plan meetings, and schedule tasks accordingly. By having a visual representation of your commitments, you minimize the risk of overbooking or double-booking yourself. With a well-planned calendar, you can navigate your days with ease, reducing stress and ensuring that you show up prepared and punctually for all your engagements.
Reduced Stress and Improved Mental Well-being:
The feeling of being overwhelmed by a chaotic schedule or forgetting important events can lead to significant stress and anxiety. A well-organized calendar serves as a stress-reducing tool. It provides you with a sense of control over your time and commitments. By having a clear overview of your schedule and managing your time effectively, you can experience a greater sense of accomplishment and peace of mind. A calendar allows you to stay on top of your responsibilities, reducing the chances of missed appointments or conflicting commitments. It empowers you to make intentional choices and align your actions with your goals, ultimately contributing to improved mental well-being.
In a world filled with distractions and ever-increasing demands on our time, having a calendar is more important than ever. It acts as a powerful tool for effective time management, increased productivity, enhanced organization, efficient planning, and reduced stress. By incorporating a calendar into your life, you can take control of your schedule, stay organized, and make the most of every precious moment. So, embrace the power of a calendar and unlock a world of possibilities for a well-organized and fulfilling life.
Contact Penny Wise Office Products for a large selection of 2024 Calendars and Planners. We’re here to help and look forward to serving your calendar needs this year. Call 1-800-942-3311 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This month’s blog comes to us from Christopher Littlefield. Christopher is an International/TEDx speaker specializing in employee appreciation and the founder of Beyond Thank You. This blog is about focusing on gratitude, and we are grateful for his wisdom.
Taking care of our mental health during a pandemic isn’t easy. Since the outbreak began, we’ve all been feeling — understandably — a lot more stressed. One study found that 57% of people are experiencing greater anxiety, and 53% of us are more emotionally exhausted. These kinds of emotions tend to arise when we lose some form of stability in our lives. Right now, we just don’t know what comes next. Living in a constant state of uncertainty can feel like running a race with no finish line or completing a puzzle without a reference picture. Everything seems unclear, and the worst seems possible.
Of course, this not a fun state of mind to be in. So what can we possibly do to help minimize the impacts of uncertainty on our wellbeing? While it may not address the root cause, research shows that gratitude can help balance us out.
“Gratitude is an emotion that grounds us and is a great way to balance out the negative mindset that uncertainty engenders,” said Dr. Guy Winch, author of the book Emotional First Aid. When we express gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin — two hormones that make us feel lighter and happier inside. If we want to take care of our minds during this pandemic, understanding how to trigger this feeling is an important tool to have at our disposal.
Before you can trigger it, let’s understand why gratitude is so important. We experience gratitude when we shift our focus from what we don’t have to what we do, and when we take time to appreciate and be thankful for those who have contributed to the abundance in our lives. Nearly a decade of research by Dr. Robert Emmons — the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude — and others has found that people who have regular gratitude practices are healthier, happier, and have better relationships. Further research suggests that gratitude is also key in helping individuals and teams persevere in challenging tasks.
Think of your mind like your digestive system — what you put in it impacts how you feel. When you flood your mind with a constant flow of worry, envy, resentment, and self-criticism (compounded by a barrage of news and other media) it negatively impacts your mental wellbeing. A gratitude practice is like a workout and a healthy eating plan for your mind.
In his article Why Gratitude is Good, Dr. Emmons shares, “You can’t feel envious and grateful at the same time. They’re incompatible feelings, because if you’re grateful, you can’t resent someone for owning things you don’t.” He goes on to share that his research found that people with high levels of gratitude have low levels of resentment and envy. When we take time to focus on what we are grateful for, we choose positive emotions over negative, thus we take steps to nurture our mental health and wellbeing.
How do we trigger gratitude in ourselves? It’s simple. We take time to shift our focus.
How to Trigger Gratitude in Ourselves
Have you ever noticed that when you are looking to buy a new phone or a jacket all of a sudden everyone around you has it? That’s because, consciously or unconsciously, whatever we are focused on is what we see. If we want to trigger gratitude in ourselves, we need to intentionally shift our focus to that which we are grateful for. The simplest way to do this is through questions and prompts and a few daily rituals.
Pause and reflect
When you find yourself stuck in a constant state of worry, or hyper focused on what is not working around you, try to pause for a second and ask yourself one or two of the following questions.
1. What have I gotten to learn recently that has helped me grow? 2. What opportunities do I currently have that I am grateful for? 3. What physical abilities do I have but take for granted? 4. What did I see today or over the last month that was beautiful? 5. Who at work am I happy to see each day and why? 6. Who is a person that I don’t speak to often, but, if I lost them tomorrow, it would be devastating? (Take this as a cue to reach out today!) 7. What am I better at today than I was a year ago? 8. What material object do I use every day that I am thankful for having? 9. What has someone done for me recently that I am grateful for? 10. What are the three things I am grateful for right now?
By taking time to write down our answers, we consciously redirect our attention to that which we are grateful for. It’s also a great way to look back and realize what we may have thought of as insignificant was actually the things that brought us joy.
Write a gratitude journal
One common practice is to keep a daily gratitude journal. Jae Ellard, the founder of mindful-based consulting company Simple Intentions, recommends book-ending your day with thoughts of gratitude. She recommends carving out a few minutes at the beginning of the day and end of the day for reflection. Maybe it is the fresh pomegranate you had with your yogurt or gratitude for the health of one’s families. Dr. Winch suggests starting the practice of “writing one paragraph every day about one thing for which we’re truly grateful and why that thing is meaningful to us.” He says, “This introduces positive thoughts and feelings into an emotional climate that is tipped too much toward the negative.” We can also focus our gratitude exercise toward the meaningful things in our lives of which we are certain, such as our friendships, passions, or family, thereby reminding ourselves that while uncertainty exists in some aspects of our lives, certainty still prevails in many others.
Build it in like a routine
Since the start of the pandemic, my wife, our four-year-old daughter, and I start every meal by going around the table and sharing one thing we are grateful for. It may be our health, the food on our table, or getting to play with Legos for an hour earlier that day. Although my daughter resisted the practice at first, she is the first one to remind us if we now eat a bite without sharing our thoughts.
I recently came across someone who has taken on the practice of sharing one picture a day on LinkedIn of something he is grateful for and tells his audience the reason behind it. His daily practice not only helps him focus on the positive but inspires others to do the same.
Another way to create a ritual around gratitude is to start or end each virtual meeting or co-study session with a grateful minute. Pick any one or two questions outlined above and invite a few team members or friends to share their answers.
If we want to be able to keep running in this race with no clear finish line, we need to learn to take better care of the runner. Although there is no one solution, learning to trigger gratitude may help us cope along the way.
Penny Wise Office Products carries a wide variety of journals to begin your own Gratitude Journal: www.penny-wise.com
•Christopher Littlefield is an International/TEDx speaker specializing in employee appreciation and the founder of Beyond Thank You. He has trained thousands of leaders across six continents to create cultures where people feel valued every day. He is the author of 75+ Team Building Activities for Remote Teams—Simple Ways to Build Trust, Strengthen Communication, and Laugh Together from Afar. You can follow his work through his weekly mailing The Nudge.
The beginning of a new school year can be challenging for many kids – adapting to new classmates, a new teacher and, likely, a new environment altogether. Though initially exciting for some students, there are those who require a bit more time adjusting to back-to-school season, and the new physical and social situations that come with it.
There are steps you, as parents, can take within the home to help facilitate this transition using a variety of simple tools and products…some of which you may already have lying around. Discover a world of opportunities for introducing some much-needed positivity and year-round optimism back into your kids’ lives without breaking a sweat or breaking the bank. Here are our five best tips for bringing positivity into the house.
One of the most surefire ways to instill positive thinking in your child is by encouraging them to manifest gratitude. While that might sound like a tall order, it doesn’t have to be – sometimes, it can be as simple as jotting down a few words each day.
There is considerable power in writing out what’s on one’s mind. By creating a gratitude mural with the Post-it® Flex Write Surface in your house (somewhere communal, like the kitchen), you and your child can transcribe one or two things you both are grateful for at that moment. Once those moments are living in print, they become easier to remember and reference when life gets a little overwhelming. You can use dry erase AND permanent markers with the Post-it® Flex Write Surface, permanent marker wipes away with just water.
Back-to-school stressors are unbelievably common – for both students and parents. One of the most effective methods of easing your anxious child into a new school year is also one of the simplest: write an uplifting message on Post-it® Super Sticky Notes and put it in their lunchbox. It could be a funny joke, a charming family anecdote, or a simple “I love you”.
Or make things even more personal by laminating a favorite photograph of one of your child’s fondest memories with the Scotch® PRO Thermal Laminator. A simple gesture that takes no more than five minutes can leave a lasting impression on how your child thinks and adapts to their school day.
Make meaningful lists
Keeping kids busy, active and engaged throughout the weekend helps promote the stimulation and creativity needed to prepare them for the school week ahead! And, what a better time to start than on Saturday morning? By using some basic planning tools, you can help produce a different, more positive kind of day – one that encompasses your child’s physical and emotional needs.
Using organization products like Scotch® Double-Sided Tape to help secure motivational images or stickers, and Post-it® Super Sticky Easel Pads to safely stick to walls where you can see all of your work in action, you can create a calendar of daily tasks to help motivate your kids once they’re awake and ready to face the day. For example, “Morning Meditation from 9:00 am – 9:15 am” followed by “Breakfast Clean-Up at 10:30 am”. Meaningful tasks not only teach kids responsibility, but they also keep them busy. And staying “the right kind of busy” helps bolter moods and encourages overall positivity.
Use your head
A playful home is a positive home, and you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on the latest board games or handheld gaming consoles to get together as a family and create lasting memories. Sometimes, impromptu play can be the best kind.
One of our favorites involves a piece of construction paper, a marker, some Scotch® Double-Sided Tape and a pad of Post-it® Super Sticky Notes from the new Summer Joy Collection: simply cut a long strip from the construction paper and wrap it around your child’s head (like you’re fitting him or her for a crown). Once the strip fits snugly on their head, fasten the ends together with a piece of tape. Then, write a word or phrase on the note, stick it onto their construction paper headband, and, using only hand actions, have your child act out the clue until the right answer is guessed. Alternate back and forth and make a night of it!
Say it loud
At home, kids can benefit from learning how to train their minds to recognize their own positive traits. One of the best ways to aid in this self-training is by writing and reciting daily affirmations.
Using Post-it® Super Sticky Notes, encourage your kids to form their own self-affirmations and write them down. Then, stick these notes on their bedroom desks or on the bathroom mirror so that they can recite them aloud while getting ready for school. Simple, yet effective ways of manifesting positivity.
We hope you enjoyed these creative tips for bringing positivity into the home. Discover more products for encouraging year-round optimism that your kids can take with them back to school – and beyond!
Today’s blog comes to us from renowned organizer, Julie Morgenstern. Her best-selling book, “Organizing From the Inside Out” is one of our favorites.
Here’s an interesting challenge: How do you structure your time when you are not tied to an outside schedule? A reader inspired us with this note:
“I am retired and struggling to accomplish the important things because I get so bogged down in daily must-dos. I’d like help with overwhelm and staying on track to fulfill the big life purpose stuff.”
Whether you crave retirement or dread it (because you don’t know how you would fill all that free time), it’s astonishing how days can suddenly slip through your fingers when the routine of the workday is gone. The most mundane tasks (shopping, laundry, or researching a new cell phone plan) can suddenly take over your entire day, leaving you exhausted and drifting in a sea of unsatisfying drudgery.
It’s not just retirement that can put us in this situation. Sudden job loss, illness, or choosing to stay home to raise kids all remove the external structure generated by our work lives. As much as we may sometimes feel slaves to our work schedules, the structure is also powerful and grounding as an organizing principle for our lives.
So, how do you organize your days to be meaningful and fulfilling when you are not tied to an outside schedule? Here are three strategies that can help
1. Preserve the structure of the work day.
When you think about it, the structure of our workdays is an extension of the structure of our school days, a routine that has been with us since we started kindergarten. That predictable, reliable architecture subdivides our days into smaller blocks of time. You wake up, get ready and leave the house. There’s a morning activity, lunchtime, followed by an afternoon activity. Then dinner time, an evening activity, and bedtime. It is a helpful infrastructure in that it is easier (and arguably more interesting) to organize 2 or 3 hours at a time rather than 24 amorphous hours.
2. Fill the structure with activities you choose.
Once you embrace the built-in structure that is at your fingertips, the only question becomes what you pour into that structure. When you are in charge of the routine, you get to choose what activities you will assign to the morning, afternoon, and evening blocks. Choose activities you find meaningful, fulfilling, and fun. It might take some experimentation, but the good news is–you have the freedom to explore and find the things that bring you energy and satisfaction.
3. Assign themes to time blocks:
I have noticed certain patterns of what people crave time for when they are too busy with work. We all tend to crave time for Physical health (exercise, body care); Learning (expanding your knowledge through reading, adventures, classes, etc); and Relationships (spending time connecting with and expressing love for the important people in our lives). You can take these themes and assign them to different time blocks in the day (like being your own camp director). For example, perhaps mornings are for physical health, afternoons are for learning, and evenings are for relationships. Of course, you may occasionally need to spend time during the week or weekend for life’s drudgery stuff, but it can be contained to just one or two blocks, as needed. That still preserves plenty of time blocks for more fulfilling activities.
When you have the gift of freedom to organize your own schedule as you wish, the goal is to fill it with what’s most important to you. Stick to the beautiful architecture that you’ve had your whole life, but embrace the opportunity to fill that architecture with activities of your own choosing. Things that really ignite your spirit and allow you to explore all of who you are in your best self.
Our last blog of the year comes from Christopher Littlefield of BeyondThankYou.com. Christopher has lots of thoughtful questions to ask yourself as the year comes to a close, and the New Year unfolds.
Answer These 5 Questions Before Wrapping Up Your Year!
Do you ever find that no matter how hard you work or how much you accomplish, you end up focusing on everything you didn’t do? No matter if your last year was the best or worst yet, before you mentally and emotionally reset and establish goals and resolutions for the year ahead, invest thirty minutes to an hour to reflect, learn from, and celebrate the last twelve months. In my latest article in Forbes, I share a simple, personal reflection activity to support you in this process. You can read the full article on Forbes, and I have included the questions below.
1. What were my most interesting moments and unique experiences over the last year?
Did you attend a conference, start a new job, or get to sit in on a meeting with the boss? Did you attend a cool concert or a friend’s wedding or pick up a new sport? What moments or experiences defined your last year and why?
2. What challenges did I face in the last year, personally and professionally? How did I grow from these?
Did you start a new position that required more responsibilities? Did you or a loved one face a health issue? Did you go through a breakup or start a new relationship? How did you deal with these challenges and what did you learn in the process?
3. What new skills did I develop/improve last year?
Did you learn how to code, give presentations, or start learning a new language? Did you improve your ability to run meetings, coach employees, or increase the speed at which you write reports?
4. What have I learned about myself, how I work, and what I need to be at my best?
Did you develop any personal routines/processes that support you in and outside of work? Did you learn anything about the types of projects or topics you enjoy working on most/least? Did you learn anything about the types of people or work environments you enjoy most/least? Did you learn about what impacts your physical or mental health the most?
5. What am I most proud of?
After answering the above questions, reflect on what you are most proud of yourself for over the last year.
After, take a minute to reread and celebrate all that happened over the last 365 days. When you are done, schedule time to brainstorm what you want to make happen in the year ahead!
This month’s blog comes to us from author Pamela Bump and our friends at HUBSpot. They have a huge selection of resources to help balance your work and personal life.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “If you love your job, you’ll never have to work again.”?
Well, that myth is both false and incredibly misleading. In fact, research shows that the more passionate you are about a job, the more work you’ll actually do.
The truth is a successful career takes time, initiative, and hours of hard work. And, while some companies enable employees to successfully execute on their roles within 40 hours each week, you’ll occasionally need to work later or longer to excel at other organizations
When you think you have the perfect job, you might tell yourself, “I clock in 70 hours a week because I’m doing what I love,” or “The family dinners I’m missing will be worth it in the long run.” But, while your role might not “feel” like a job, working long hours without making time for yourself eventually takes a major toll.
In fact, research shows that throwing yourself into work too heavily could cause stress, burnout, and — commonly — a lonely personal life.
Yes — Managers value employees who take initiative and put in extra effort when needed. However, your personal life is important to your
physical, psychological, and emotional well-being
So, how do you continue to excel in your career while making time for yourself and your loved ones?
The truth is there’s no simple trick to achieving an ideal work-life balance. But luckily, there are a handful of strategies that can get you pretty close.
To help you juggle your work and personal life, even if you work remotely, here are six tips that I collected from a few highly motivated HubSpot marketing managers.
While the tips below work well for in-office employees, these can be especially helpful if you’re working remotely and finding it hard to separate your work life from your personal life.
6 Tips for Achieving Work-Life Balance
1. Set hard-stops for each workday.
Despite the thought that successful employees will work late into the night, studies show that you’re least productive at night. Additionally, working late hours can make you tired in times of peak productivity during the day.
If your role revolves around large projects or long to-do lists, you might be tempted to work late or on weekends to get more done. However, our marketing managers suggest setting hard stops so you don’t overexert yourself.
“When working on a long-term project, it’s very easy to keep going into the night thinking, ‘I can get the whole thing done today,’ which was obviously bad for work-life balance,” says Joe Mayall, an associate product marketing manager at HubSpot. “Setting hard stops for myself in the evening really helped me balance things out.”
“Set (and abide by) your own boundaries and accept that a task is usually not THAT important that it can’t wait until tomorrow,” advises Lisa Toner
To prevent any tasks that you can’t plausibly complete in normal work hours, Toner says, “You should manage expectations with your manager about how much can actually be done during business hours.”
When you’re working remotely, setting hard stops can be even more import.
My blog colleague Christina Perricone explained that knowing when to stop working is a common struggle of remote employees who usually work where they live.
“Since you miss out on the social cues to head out for lunch or end the workday that are inherent in in-office settings, you have to create them,” says Perricone. “Set calendar appointments for lunch or a walk or a midday workout. Otherwise, you might find yourself sitting in front of your computer for 10+ hours a day.”
2. Make time for self-care and breaks each day.
Whether you’re working remotely or in an office, you can take steps towards managing your personal life without getting distracted from work. If your schedule allows, one way to do this is by blocking time for breaks or short self-care activities, such as taking a walk, on your calendar.
“Schedule personal things in your calendar like workouts, phone calls with family or friends, or coffee breaks. Then honor those commitments. This will force you to take a break in your workday and do the things that will recharge and fulfill you,” says Jennifer Stefancik, a marketing manager in our acquisitions department.
“When I get back to work after doing something personally fulfilling, like going on a run, I always feel more focused and energized.” Stefancik shares.
3. Be transparent with your manager and colleagues about your personal-life boundaries.
While you need to set work-life balance boundaries for yourself, you should also be transparent about boundaries you’ve set with your team or manager.
One way to do this is by noting your work and off-work hours on your company’s internal calendar. Additionally, you should also talk to your manager to come up with a schedule that enables you to experience and manage important moments in your personal life.
One HubSpot manager who’s transparent with his team and creates a public schedule to embrace his life as a parent is Victor Pan, HubSpot’s Head of Technical SEO.
“I cherish the small talk I do when I drop off my daughter at school and with other parents. To do this, I talked to my manager about blocking out time in my work calendar — which is shared externally to my peers and colleagues,” Pan explains.
However, Pan notes that establishing a flexible schedule with managers won’t always be doable at other companies.
“Being able to engage in work-life design is a privilege for teams with safe spaces, but it’s also something someone engaged in part-time work can consciously control,” says Pan. “At the end of the day, we’re here to make the most out of the time we have given to us.”
4. Prioritize and audit your to-do list.
Along with establishing a transparent schedule that fits in both time for life and work, you can prevent yourself from instances where you’ll need to work overtime by taking on prioritization tactics and auditing your to-do list to ensure that you’re working efficiently.
“So many of us get bogged down by never-ending to-do lists and as you check off one item, three more gets added. In today’s world, it’s more important than ever to focus on the high impact activities and reduce or cease the activities that do not drive significant results,” says Toner.
To help her prioritize her tasks so that the most important items fit smoothly into her work hours, she draws out an “Impact/Effort Matrix”: a four-by-four chart where you list all your tasks on scales related to the effort needed to complete them and the impact they’ll create.
Once she’s done filling out her matrix, Toner follows these steps:
• Review the activities in the high effort low impact bucket and assess if you can simply stop doing them — these are usually not worth your time.
• Take the activities in the low impact, low effort bucket. Determine if you need to keep doing them or if they can be delegated to someone else.
• Look at the high impact, high effort bucket and research more efficient ways to achieve the same results. If so, move those items into the high impact, low effort square.
When you’re done using the matrix, “you should have one to two items remaining in the high effort, high impact bucket that you continue to work on over a longer period of time,” says Toner.
“Everything in the low effort, high impact bucket should be the work you prioritize,” Toner adds. “By doing this exercise regularly you can learn if your to-do list is actually worth the time it takes to do it. Then, you can decide if you should stop, delegate, improve efficiency, or keep going.”
5. Schedule time off as needed.
In a recent blog post where HubSpot marketers revealed how they prevent burnout, Irina Nica, a community and influencer relations manager, noted that taking time off can help you eliminate stress while also adhering to your personal life.
“I was one of those people who would rarely take any time off because ‘there are so many things to be done,'” Nica said. “Even when I did, I still let some work slip into my day, even if that meant only checking my emails.”
“Over time, I’ve changed my views on time off and it’s been great for my productivity,” Nica explained, adding, “I learned to disconnect in the evenings and during weekends. Now, aside from the regular summer and winter holidays, I take long weekends off every now and then. That helps me relax and refreshes my perspective.”
Taking time off doesn’t necessarily need to be devoted to vacations or travel. For example, if you live with family, time off can be used for staycations, where you stay in and spend time with loved ones. Or, if you live alone, you could simply take a few days off to relax, video call friends, binge some TV, and perform self-care.
6. Physically separate work from your personal life.
If you occasionally or regularly work from home, the lines between work and life can get incredibly blurry. Because of this, you might find yourself working too late or thinking about work when you try to relax in your home. Luckily, one strategy that can help with this is creating a workspace for yourself.
“Try to designate a space in your home exclusively for work,” Perricone advised. “Taking calls from your bed or writing memos in front of your TV likely won’t be very effective. You need a space that allows you to focus and be productive. That way, you can keep your work and home life as separate as possible.”
Finding a Good Balance
While the five tips were all slightly different, they all followed just a few major themes that you can keep in mind when aiming to achieve a work-life balance:
• Time off: Everyone needs breaks or time to disconnect from work. Even if you work remotely, be realistic with yourself about when you’ll need a break from work and schedule break times in your day or longer PTO accordingly.
• Setting boundaries: Schedule hard stops and breaks for yourself, while also setting boundaries related to your work hours with your team and manager.
• Prioritization: Recognize the tasks you can save until tomorrow and how to complete your weekly to-do list more efficiently.
• Separate work from life at home: When you work from home, the lines between work and life can get blurry. Be sure to use the tips above to help separate your work life from your personal life at home.
Is “Inbox Zero”—the clean slate with every email handled—an impossibility at your workdesk? Whether you work in the office or remotely, archiving, keeping tabs, delegating, and crafting the right responses to every important email you receive is probably becoming another job in itself.
There is an epidemic of email overload, and virtual work has led to serious stress for many professionals. According to a 2021 Superhuman survey, email fatigue is the leading cause of distraction at work and a major cause of rising dissatisfaction with remote work. It’s such a pain point that 22% of remote workers want to leave their current job because of the volume of email they receive.
While your flood of email can’t be stopped, here are some efficient ways to handle overload so that you can minimize interruptions, decrease mistakes, and gain back more of your time for productive pursuits:
Email Strategy #1: Set clear expectations for email use with your team
Harvard Business Report reveals that 57% of employees report not being given clear direction, and 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees. Set communication guidelines with your team, accounting for the following points:
• When email is the appropriate communication platform and when it is not • When direct messaging, phone, or in-person discussions should be used • When a “reply all” is necessary and when it is not • Which team members certain types of requests and communications can be delegated to, as needed • The importance of being concise and getting to the point immediately
Email Strategy #2: Answer emails at designated times
Set up 3-4 blocks of 15-30 minutes per day, depending on your email volume, to respond to emails, so that you can maintain your workflow at all other times. Communicate this to your team so that no one expects immediate responses, and provide an alternate channel for urgent messages such as direct messaging.
Email Strategy #3: Turn off email notifications
With your time block system in place, you won’t have a need to receive distracting notifications. Notifications can be stress-inducing and overwhelming themselves.
Email Strategy #4: Delete, do, delegate, or defer
Go through your inbox during the designated time slots and organize emails in folders by using the 4 Ds model. You’ll notice an immediate feeling of relief when you see how many emails can be deleted, delegated, and deferred. This habit will enable you to take timely action on the emails that matter most, and still effectively handle other communications as your priorities require. You may want to add a fifth option—a “waiting” folder for action-pending emails that require others to respond before you can do anything.
Email Strategy #5: Create subfolders, if necessary
If step 4 still leaves you with too many emails in the “do” category, create subfolders and group together important emails and email chains according to key topics. This archiving method will make it much easier to find what you need when you do have time to respond. Outlook and other email applications can automate this step once you set up rules to categorize or filter emails into subfolders and prioritize based on the sender.
Email Strategy #6: Add follow-up reminders to your calendar
For messages that require a follow-up action that you have designated to defer, put a reminder on your calendar including the folder location and date when a follow-up is required.
Email Strategy #7: Unsubscribe from unwanted email
Do you receive industry newsletters and marketing communications in your work email? Remove yourself from these lists by using the unsubscribe button. For those communications you still want to receive, change your email to a non-work address that you can review by choice during your personal time. Mark all unwanted communications as “spam”, so that you won’t continue to receive more of the same from these sources.
“Inbox Zero” may be an unrealistic pipe dream, but with these strategies, you should be able to conquer your inbox without feeling overloaded. Let us know how these tips are working for you!
Why are successful people so often the most effective time managers? Because they do three things better than everyone else: 1. They are continually aware that time is a very limited resource. 2. They learn and apply critical skills to arrange their schedules efficiently. 3. They monitor their use of time and adapt effectively as variables change.
You wouldn’t be here if you had time to waste, so follow these five rules to become the best time manager you can be and get back hours you never knew you were wasting each day.
Time Management Rule #1: Delegate work that others can do 75% as well as you
If you are a manager or executive, consider what you’re doing that others could do almost as well, and free up your valuable time in the process. Because we’re all biased toward the way we do things, make a list of all of the projects and tasks that you’re confident someone you could delegate to would do 75% as well. Then clear your plate for what really matters.
Time Management Rule #2: Organize your day around SMART goals
What makes a goal worth scheduling? It should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound). Specific goals are clearly defined, down to the nitty-gritty details. Measurable goals can be tracked or even quantified. Achievable goals are realistic and attainable. Relevant means there is a real purpose or benefit to getting something done, and Time-bound means the goal has a specific deadline. If your goal is MART or SMA but not fully SMART, it isn’t worth scheduling.
Time Management Rule #3: Stop falling prey to time-wasters
If you’re like most people, you could save an hour a day or more each day by following this rule alone. According to Salary.com, 89% of people waste time every day at work, and 69% of men and 62% of women use the internet for personal reasons. To squeeze more time out of your day, every non-essential activity or task that isn’t getting you closer to your SMART goals has to go. This includes surfing the internet, posting on Facebook, and getting a haircut during the day (not every time-waster is digital).
Time Management Rule #4: Prioritize, schedule, and monitor your time
“Spontaneous” is a word for time-wasters. If you can avoid it, make sure you account for all your time in your daily schedule. Create a task list and prioritize the times, first according to deadlines and second to importance. If a task seems complex, break it down into more easily Achievable components. Record how much time you allocate each item in a calendar, and then monitor your time to see when you’ve gone into overtime. Review at the end of each day and week to modify your estimating process and your efficiency for each task.
Time Management Rule #5: Set aside a block of time for reading and responding to emails
U.S. workers now spend an average of 3.2 hours per day checking work emails and more than 90 minutes per day recovering from email interruptions. This is a serious crisis and An excellent first step to take is to set aside a block of time each day to read and respond to emails and let your collaborators know you’ll be reachable and responsive during that time.
Try these tips and share them with your team. Then tell us on Facebook how many hours per day and per week after week one you’ve saved by implementing them!
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