Remote Work Digest: January 30, 2021

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

Top Work From Home Essentials For Small Business | Daniel Atkinson, Londondailypost.com

To ensure a productive work from home experience that helps in increasing revenue, here’s a list of some important elements that are necessary for small businesses to incorporate in their work lifestyle:

Remote Meeting Software:

Business owners and managers need effective means of conducting virtual meetings with employees to discuss work and collaborate on various assignments.

A remote meeting software not only allows you to host business discussions without any travel expenses, but also allows everyone to be on the same page about important work information.

Time tracking app:

To keep schedules organized, time tracking apps are an ideal way to understand how much time is being spent on a given activity. It not only helps you be more aware of your work progress but also highlights your low-productivity and high-productivity hours.

High speed internet connection:

A high speed internet connection is integral for connecting with clients, sharing important documents with colleagues and communicating work progress to managers.

A dedicated workstation:

To work efficiently, a distraction free zone with comfortable seating arrangements is a must. Business owners must provide employees an allowance to invest in a comfortable chair, an adjustable desk and a monitor.

A storage system:

Remote work requires an organized file storage space at home that will ensure you do not end up losing important documents. You can invest in a sturdy filing cabinet or utilize some furniture at home to store important documents.

Conclusion:

With the help of above-mentioned information, small businesses can build a productive work environment for successful results.

How to Motivate Fatigued and Stressed Employees in the New Year | Lisa Rabasca Roepe, Shrm.org

It’s been nearly a full year since employees started working from home or following COVID-19 protocols in the workplace.

Even if staff took some extra time off to unwind during the holidays, most employees probably haven’t returned to work with the renewed sense of purpose that is typically associated with starting a new year. Instead, the first quarter of 2021 will likely feel like more of the same – endless Zoom meetings, no clear end to the pandemic, and home and work lives thoroughly enmeshed.

Here are four ways managers can help motivate employees in 2021.

Have an honest, one-on-one conversation. Even though managers may have conducted a performance evaluation for work done in 2020, now is a good time to have a different type of one-on-one conversation with employees. “Rather than focusing on work, focus on their family, mental health and how they are doing personally,” Halpern said. Ask open-ended questions and, if they say everything is fine, encourage them to be honest by sharing your own concerns and challenges, Halpern said. “If you’re vulnerable and candid, they will respond in kind.”

The purpose is to understand each employee’s current state of mind and what he or she needs to succeed, said Kym Harris-Lee, an executive coach in Atlanta. Consider asking, “As you think about this new year, what are your goals, what do you want to accomplish, how can I help you?”

Encourage employees to think strategically. One lesson most managers learned from 2020 is that employees don’t appreciate back-to-back virtual meetings, because it doesn’t give them much time to think or get actual work done, Harris-Lee said.

She recommended that managers give employees permission to decline one to two meetings a week during the first quarter of 2021, provided they use the time they aren’t in a meeting to reflect on their work.

Create easy wins. Rather than setting long-term quarterly or mid-year goals, set monthly goals that focus on actions staff can control, Halpern said.

Be gentle with feedback. “For the first half of 2021, be selective and intentional with feedback,” Halpern said. “Focus on trends and patterns versus one incident. If you see someone [making a mistake] once, let it go.” Rather than giving an employee feedback on what she did wrong, suggest a way that you can help her succeed.

Time is money: 8 time management tips to help you work smarter | Fool.co.uk

To help you make the most of your workday, here are eight simple time management tips.

  1. Plan your day

Start the day with a clear idea of what you plan to achieve. Write a to-do list the night before so you can get started right away the next day. Set specific, measurable and realistic goals.

2. Turn off distractions

Don’t let messages distract you from the workday, even if you’re working from home.

3. Designate a workspace

Whether it’s the kitchen table or an office, it’s important to label a certain area as your workspace. Over time, your brain associates that space with work and mental focus, so it’s easier to concentrate and get work done.

4. Prioritise tasks

Prioritise tasks based on how important and urgent they are rather than how easy they are to achieve. For example, if something’s both important and urgent, make this the first job on your to-do list.

5. Set time limits

Set clear time limits for each task and stick to them. Otherwise, you could end up spending much longer on a job than is strictly necessary.

6. Track your time

Wonder where your time’s going during the workday? Start tracking it. Set a timer and check how long it takes you to complete specific tasks.

7. Know when you’re most productive

While some of us can be through multiple tasks first thing in the morning, others prefer burning the midnight oil. Don’t fight these natural tendencies – embrace them instead.

8. Take regular breaks

Whether you go for a (socially distanced) walk around your local park or curl up with a book, don’t forget to step away from your work from time to time. Regular breaks give your mind a chance to ‘recharge’.

Time management is crucial to feeling in control of your workday, whether you run your own business or you’re working from home right now. The best part? It’s something everyone can learn, and you can start right away.

Begin with small changes to your daily routine, build on the improvements you make, and find out what productivity hacks work best for you. 

The basics of culture-building in a new hybrid workplace | Sonal Jain, Peoplematters.in

Reshaping culture in a partial or a completely hybrid workplace does not have to be a mammoth task. Keeping the workforce’s needs and lived experiences at the center of management decisions is the first step. Then come the four unassuming, but significant changes that leaders should make to ensure culture becomes a catalyst for success in the new normal –

Be intentional about communication – Create guidelines around how you communicate, how often you communicate and think about ways in which you can avoid the ‘Zoom fatigue’ from kicking in.

Keep traditions alive – Everything that once drove formal and informal culture in the physical workplace needs to be reformatted to ensure inclusivity and connection between the physical and virtual workforces. This includes team-building activities, wellness sessions, happy hours and milestone celebrations, that allow members of a team to preserve social attachments with each other.

Don’t forget D&I – Pivoting policies, ensuring equal access to technology for all employees, and digitizing the work of Employee Resource Groups are some ways in which companies can maintain a shared collaborative and cultural mindset even with a staggered workforce.

Get workplace culture right can be advantageous all around. The shared experience of adapting to the same extraordinary circumstances makes culture more important than ever. And thoughts can only translate to actions with constant reflection, deliberation and collaboration to thrive in this new reality.

Remote Work Digest: November 29, 2020

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

How to be more productive working from home: 9 rules for the “now normal” | Jonathan Thompson, Atlassian.com

A major new global study into remote working, conducted by Paper Giant for Atlassian, found that 40% of respondents felt that working from home translated to significantly longer hours.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. As we move away from traditional office spaces, there are a number of hacks and tricks you can deploy to boost your own productivity. The goal? To hit all of your targets without impinging on your wellness or work-life balance whatsoever. Read on for our nine science-backed, expert-approved principles of self-productivity.

1. Master desk-scaping

First, try “zoning” your home office, by creating separate spaces for reference materials, supplies, and long-term projects, before assigning discard dates to as many as possible. Then clear your desk itself and only replace items that are essential for daily use.

Finally, add pops of color wherever you can – from a picture on the wall, to a screensaver or even your choice of mug. Color can have a major impact on mood, with greens and blues particularly proven to increase productivity, so reach for that ocean vista or add a leafy plant to the proceedings. 

2. Embrace mono-tasking

The brutal truth is that very, very few of us can efficiently multi-task. In fact, it’s roughly 2% of the population, according to Professor David Strayer of the University of Utah, an expert in cognitive distraction. The problem is that when we bounce from task to task, we aren’t actually getting more done. Instead, we’re forcing our brains to constantly switch speeds, steering through tasks more erratically and burning out our internal gearboxes. The answer is to slay the multi-tasking monster, and embrace mono-tasking.

3. Plan tomorrow, tonight

The Paper Giant study discovered that 44% of workers believe it’s now more important to know how to motivate themselves apart from the parameters of office life. One of the best ways to do that is with a to-do list – and the best time to make that list is the night before.  

4. Make a not-to-do list

You’ve made your to-do list now, but if you want to be truly productive, you’ll need the opposite, too. A not-to-do list should be a permanent addition to your workspace, featuring all of the time-wasters that are obstructing your daily goals – from checking social media, to clicking on cat videos, to wandering into the kitchen to wash the dishes.

5. Block out your flow times

Your “flow” time is when you’re most efficient: a period of hyper-focus when you work most smoothly. For some people it’s early in the morning, for others it’s the afternoons or evenings. Once you’ve identified yours, block out 90 minutes in that window each day for pure, deep work on your biggest tasks. 

6. Prioritise Pareto and Pomodoros

Named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, the Pareto Principle (also known as the 80-20 Rule) states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions, and vice versa. In other words, to become more productive, you must identify the 20% of your work that is having that 80% impact, and always prioritise it. 

Next, you should maximise your minutes spent working on this crucial 20% via the Pomodoro Technique – a series of 25 minute focused “sprints” on a task, followed by a complete five minute break each time.

7. Learn to nap like a pro

The secret is to harness your body’s natural circadian rhythm and employ a 20 minute power nap (sometimes called a Stage 2 Nap) in the mid-afternoon, to boost your memory, cognitive skills, and creativity.

By restricting yourself to just 20 minutes, you reap the aforementioned benefits without falling into deeper REM sleep, which will leave you feeling groggy and disoriented. To maximize your energy, drink a cup of coffee immediately before your power nap. Researchers have found that caffeine takes about 20 minutes to show its physiological effect, so it will kick in just as you’re waking.

8. Dress for success

When you’re working from home, it doesn’t really matter how you dress – or even if you dress at all below the waist. But not making a sartorial effort is a major mistake when it comes to your productivity levels. The act of preparing for the day ahead, including the selection of slightly smarter clothes, sends a message to your brain that it’s game time – and that sparks more mental energy.

9. Set up a “force quit” to your work day

“Overworking can lead to stress and burnout, harming not only your productivity but also your overall mental health and wellbeing,” says Graham. “Instead, set a firm time to bring your work day to a close and stick to it at all costs.” If you struggle with this, find an accountability partner – a colleague, friend or manager – and set up a call to officially end the day. A hard finish not only means a softer start to the following morning after a good rest, it also means you’ll work faster and more efficiently each day, knowing that your finish time is non-negotiable.

Put these tips to work right now

Want to get the most out of the advice in this article? Pick two tips and implement them right now.
And then, if it happens to be the end of the day where you are, call it a night and start fresh in the morning. Tip #9 makes good sense, right?

Five things to consider when organizing a remote work Christmas party | Kate Palmer, Globalbankingandfinance.com

Things will have to be a little different this year due to the ongoing disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. While the easiest, and cheapest, option for employers is to not go ahead with their annual festive plans, in the spirit of keeping Christmas alive some may choose to organize a remote party.

Some important things that employers should be aware of.

  1. Even with something that can be considered a ‘treat’ for employees, people who are working carers, have been struggling with work-related stresses, may not want to partake in a Christmas party this year, however well-intentioned it may be on the employer’s part. It is therefore advisable that remote parties should be optional and not constrained to a certain timeframe in which staff must be in attendance.
  2. Employers should ensure that those in attendance do not feel excluded from any activities during the party. For example, if an employee does not drink alcohol and a virtual wine tasting activity makes up the bulk of the event, such a person would not be able to contribute to the fun and may therefore feel left out.
  3. When attendees and potential attendees, have been established and the activities have been finalized, it is in the best interest of the company to send out emails to them. It should detail what is expected of them at the event and highlight that the same conduct is expected of them at a remote party as it would be at an in-person event.
  4. Similarly, employees should be made aware that the same grievance produce applies – to ensure that if company rules are broken by an employee or a grievance with the company itself, the affected employee will be able to raise this with the company.
  5. Finally, while employees can use their social media accounts in their own personal time, including at work social gatherings, employers must ensure that the use of social media should be done in a manner that does not adversely affect the company’s reputation.

Remote parties are the perfect way to ensure that social distancing rules are adhered to and that employees are rewarded for their efforts, there should be a mutual sense of responsibility on the part of the company and its employees.

Remote work and self-care: The place you work and live | Sima Baldisserri, Iamexpat.nl

How can you manage to work remotely while creating the healthiest environment for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being? Here are a few self-care tips that may help to create your flexible workspace:

Your office at home

Create a space that is as separate from the rest of the house as possible.

No matter how small your living space is, do not work everywhere, because this will make you work beyond work hours. Instead, you want to maintain a distinct mental separation of your home and associate each room or corner of your living place with its own function.

Brighten your day

Choose a corner in a well-lit room and if you could place your desk near a window that would be perfect!

Having a well-illuminated office/desk by natural light produces several positive effects on your well-being: better quality and duration of sleep, greater predisposition to physical activity, prevent eyestrain and, in general, increased quality of life.

Life is in the air

Increase ventilation by opening doors and windows at least three times a day for 10-15 minutes. This is also the best practice to protect from viruses and bacteria. Living in a healthier and more comfortable environment improves mood and quality of life and reduces the risk of complaints, such as headaches, eyestrain, and feeling of tiredness or drop in concentration.

Declutter your workspace as often as possible

It is much better to manage the little space you have effectively as a home and office than to completely turn your whole living space into an office, a clean and clear workspace can reduce your stress, help you focus, and also keep work from interfering with your home/personal life.

Sense of smell

When working remotely, some of the most common complaints are decreased attention and performance, as well as mood swings, which often have an effect on the quality of sleep. The ability to smell comes from the olfactory sensory neurons, these cells connect directly to the brain. This is a reason why essential oils can be a very valid help: it is sufficient to have a diffuser where you add from 5 to 7 drops of chosen essence.

A better work-life balance

These self-care tips for remote working can apply to anyone looking for better ways to manage their lives, time and have a better work-life balance. Your home and workspace is an extension of your energy field, by taking care of it, you are a step further away from physical and mental complaints, and a step closer to your well-being, and when you feel good, your relationships and work benefit from it.

6 Best Employee Appreciation Ideas your Staff will Love | Sofia Peterson, Thehackpost.com

If a company wants to grow, it must ensure that its employees are working efficiently as well as effectively.

But how can you manage the work of your employees? How can you know if they are dedicated or not? These questions can be answered by providing employee motivation or employee awards. These are some ways in which you can show your staff that you care –

1.The employee of the month.

If you start selecting an employee of the month based on employees to work performance and give them any hike in salary or prize for this, the employees will work harder due to increased competition and desire to win.

2. Certificates of appreciation

If you provide every employee with certificates whenever they perform a task marvelously, their pride will increase, and they will feel motivated to perform more such tasks as everyone wants pride, self-esteem, and respect.

3. Company journals or magazines

Whenever any employee performs an exceptional task, you can mention his name in the company’s journals or magazines. This will make him feel attached to the work, and their pride will be enhanced. Nothing is the biggest motivator than self-esteem.

4. Small get together or celebrations

Many times employees have to make lots of efforts for a particular task which makes them feel that the work is tedious and their efficiency reduces. To avoid such situation, you can organize small get-togethers or small celebrations after every radius task. It will ignite the fire of motivation in employees.

5. Monetary incentives.

Suppose an employee has become the reason for earning unrealistic profits, you can give him a share in profits. Similarly, if employees are working on festivals or doing night shifts for meeting the deadline, you can provide them with a bonus.

6. Performance-based pay.

Suppose there are workers in a manufacturing unit, you can give them pay according to their performance. For example, if a worker makes eight units, he will get 50 rupees per day, but if a worker makes 12 units per day, he will get 70 rupees per day. It will motivate workers to work more so that they can earn more.

Financial incentives can be bonuses, free transport, gifts, etc., while non-monetary ones include more respect, pride, and recognition in the company. Once employees start to feel themselves to be a part of the company, they will work in a much better way. Just motivate your employees and make your company touch the sky.

Remote Work Digest: July 28, 2020

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

Feeling lonely despite lockdown lifting? Here are 8 practical hacks to help | Bianca London, Glamourmagazine.co.uk

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Claire Chamberlain, the author of UnLonely, share 8 practical hacks for beating loneliness. From improving self-care to cultivating relationships, she offers practical advice for looking after your mental and physical wellbeing, which is more important than ever before.

Embracing alone time

Sometimes, by turning your attention inward – to your own needs and passions – you can learn to form a deeper and more meaningful connection with yourself, helping to transform your loneliness into a productive and far less frightening state: solitude. By using your time alone to pursue creative, fulfilling, enjoyable and fruitful activities, you may find that the deeper connection you were seeking was within you all along.

Prioritise your wellbeing

In order to remain (or return to feeling) positive, looking after yourself is important. Simple things like taking a hot shower each morning and using your favourite shower gel, picking an outfit that makes you feel good, enjoying a hot cup of tea, doing a spot of mindful colouring, getting out for some exercise and cooking yourself a tasty dinner each evening can go a long way to boosting your mood and your self-esteem.

Consider your diet

Taking the time to look after yourself includes fuelling both your body and mind well, so that you have the energy and strength to maintain a positive mindset and feel physically great. Eating a good balance of lean protein (such as tofu, pulses, beans or lean meat), wholegrain carbohydrates (such as wholemeal pasta and bread) and healthy fats (such as avocados and oily fish), plus plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables, will keep you feeling energised all day. And, of course, the occasional treat doesn’t go amiss either. Eat mindfully, eat with joy and eat for happiness!

Be more mindful

Spending time focusing on your surroundings can help to ground you in the here and now, taking you firmly into the physical world and away from thoughts, worries and anxieties. Reconnecting in this way can help you feel more at one with the world. To get started, begin to notice your surroundings or your bodily sensations. If a thought arises that takes your mind away from “now”, acknowledge it without judgement, then draw your attention back to the present moment.

Get some fresh air (every day)

There are so many reasons why stepping outside into the fresh air each day is good for your mind, body and soul. Research has shown that regular walking can boost both your mood and self-esteem, while also easing feelings of anxiety and depression, and reducing stress levels.

Lose yourself in a good book

Reading can help you forget any worries or loneliness you may be feeling, allowing you to enter and inhabit a completely different world. What’s more, reading does not have to be reserved for your home: carry a book with you, so you can dip into it when you’re out and about, perhaps in your local park or while you’re waiting in a queue.

Cook from scratch

There is so much joy to be had in flicking through recipe books, discovering mouth-watering dishes, buying fresh ingredients and taking your time preparing a delicious meal. Making the effort to cook properly at least a few times a week can feel so rewarding, and it is a fabulous way to show yourself a little love.

Express gratitude

Taking time each day to think about all that you have to be grateful for in your life has been proven to have a positive impact on almost all areas of life, including enhancing self-esteem, increasing optimism, boosting energy, deepening relaxation, promoting feelings of kindness, improving sleep quality and – crucially – strengthening social bonds.

4 skill you can add to your resume that your’ve learned from working remotely during the pandemic | Hayden Field, HerMoney, Businessinsider.com

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In cover letters, job interviews, or conversations with your current employer, emphasize the skills you’ve built during the pandemic that can help advance your career, says Megan Fasules, a research economist at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Be honest about your experience. Few people will want to hear that you handled everything perfectly during these challenging times, but many will want to hear how you handled it and emerged with strengths that you’re proud of, says Amanda Bates, a career services director at NC State University and career coach with The Muse.

Here’s a rundown of actionable career skills you may have reinforced over the past few months.

Communication

“Communication is king,” said Fasules. “That tends to be the number-one competency overall regardless of a pandemic, but it’s even more so now.” Since most workers aren’t able to interact in person during this time, they’ve had to hone communication skills in other areas, such as email response time and Zoom call etiquette. In an office, communication looks different, says Bates — you can see people, read people, walk up to someone, and share information. In the age of COVID-19, verbal and written communication skills are paramount.

And it’s not just about communicating with coworkers — those in client-facing professions have had to get creative in finding ways to connect and be persuasive without typical communication strategies. These skills are “transferable across all occupations,” said Fasules. For example, many health care professionals have pivoted to all-virtual visits via phone or video chat, and that can require additional expertise in communicating, says Bates.

Time management

During a global pandemic — and the stress, anxiety, and uncertainty that comes along with it — many have found time management much more difficult than usual. If that’s you (and you’re not alone), there are ways to turn what you’ve learned into successful takeaways for your career.

Think about the way in which you’ve approached your daily schedule, listened to yourself, and attempted to work smarter rather than harder, says Fasules — when you were in “work mode,” how did you focus, and in “home mode,” how did you separate yourself from email and Slack pings? “Many of us were in sink-or-swim mode for so long we didn’t actually realize we were building that muscle,” said Bates.

Productivity

In your next cover letter, interview, or review session, describe how you figured out your own work-from-home “rhythm” — how to set the priority levels of different projects, separate professional and personal time, double as your own manager, solve your own day-to-day problems — and how you’re going to apply those skills in your career, says Bates. For example, she says, in a cover letter, interview, or raise conversation, you could point out that during the pandemic, you learned how to meet the goals of an organization regardless of where you are and how to do it in an efficient way, using specific skills.

Conscientiousness

“You get hired for extraversion, and then you get raises for conscientiousness,” said Fasules. She cites research published in 2016, which suggests a correlation between extraversion and starting salary (but not salary growth), while on the other hand, “conscientiousness was unrelated to starting salary growth but significantly so to salary growth.” During a job interview, for instance, warmth and high energy often associated with extraversion could help a candidate’s odds of selection, but researchers suggest those qualities won’t necessarily propel a career forward as much as the intrinsic motivation and organization often associated with conscientiousness. “Figuring out how to prove you are a conscientious worker at the start is tricky and would be very beneficial,” said Fasules.

Try to break down the idea of being “conscientious” — in your view, what makes up that quality? It could incorporate empathy, focus, respect, efficiency, or determination, for example. So in your cover letter or interview, instead of saying you’re conscientious, you can show it with examples or by talking about the things that matter to you. For example, if you see empathy as a key ingredient in being conscientious, you could point out how during COVID-19, you threw out typical email jargon and replaced it with genuine phrasing, aiming to check in on the people you correspond with — clients, fellow employees — in a way that shows you truly care how they’re doing.

Don’t Procrastinate: Teach Your Kids Time Management Skills | John Rampton, Entrepreneur.com

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How can you teach your kids these basic time-management skills? Here are ten ways to accomplish that feat with some ideas that will stick throughout life.

The sooner, the better.

It may seem like over-parenting, but you can begin teaching basic time management skills to toddlers. Preschoolers are even capable of completing small tasks in short time blocks, such as brushing their teeth or putting away their toys.

Establish a routine and stick to it.

As your children get older, however, you’ll want to help them establish a daily routine. The reason? It lets them know “what is going to happen and who is going to be there, it allows them to think and feel more independently, and feel more safe and secure,” says Dr. Myers. “A disrupted routine can set a child off and cause them to feel insecure and irritable.”

In addition to some much-needed structure, this can help them become more accountable. And it gives you the opportunity to spend quality time with them.

Some obvious places to start setting simple time goals would be:

  • A morning routine, like eating breakfast and getting ready for school.
  • An after school routine, such as chores and homework.
  • An evening routine that could include dinner, brushing their teeth and reading before bed.

Have them make their own calendars.

Whether if it’s a DIY, old paper calendar, or an app like Cozi, get them involved in the calendar creating process. As a family, list your commitments and add them to the calendar. To prevent any confusion, use color-coding so that everyone has their own color for their own schedule. Most importantly, keep this in a location that’s easy to access and review.

Set priorities.

It’s essential kids learn to differentiate between ‘have-tos’ and ‘want-tos’ and learn to prioritize and self-monitor,” Marcia Grosswald, an upper-elementary resource teacher, told Scholastic. Grosswald uses the popular rock, pebble and water analogy, where students’ duties are represented by the rocks and pebbles.

The rocks, however, signify their most essential tasks, like school and sleep. The pebbles represent extracurricular commitments. And, the water stands in for want-to-dos, such as hanging out with friends.

I use a jar to represent a day,” says Grosswald. “The rocks go in first because they are things you have to do whether you like it or not. Next, come the pebbles. But there’s still some room in the jar, so we pour water until our jar — and the day is full.”

Help them measure time.

In order to make a realistic schedule, you need a good sense of how long things take,” says Grosswald. “I give them a chart that breaks the afternoon and evening hours into 15-minute intervals,” she explains. “Each time slot is followed by three columns: what kids plans to do, what they actually did and reflection.”

Make it fun.

As an adult, it’s hard to imagine how something like time management can be fun. But, it is possible by making it a game. Heck, you may even use gamification yourself to boost your productivity.

As for kids, I suggest you explore the Timex Time Machines app. In a partnership with Scholastic, there are interactive games, lesson plans and activities to teach children in Grades 1 through 3 core time-telling concepts.

Stop being a helicopter parent.

Let’s say that they just started a new school year. Because they have a new routine and teacher, which means new expectations and rules, they may be anxious. Instead of telling them how to handle this situation, let them voice their concerns and develop solutions to this problem.

When they’re older, let them create their own routine, and let them be flexible with their schedules so that they have free time. Your role, then, would be to coach and reward them as opposed to dictating every minute of their time.

Don’t over-schedule your kids.

What happens when you overcommit and pack your calendar too tightly? You probably feel like you’re always on the go. More troublesome, you may feel like you’re always behind. And, you don’t have the wiggle room to address the unexpected.

Designate a study zone.

If you’ve ever worked from home, then you know how important it is to have a dedicated workspace. I’d even go as far as to say that this should be a top priority when it comes to time management.

The reason? It lets you block out distractions like the TV or noisy family members, and it helps you distinguish between your work and personal lives.

The same idea is true when it comes to children. They should have a designated study area that’s quiet and free of distractions so that they can focus on their homework.

Be a role model.

Finally, the best way to help your kids get a better grasp of time management is to set a good example. As psychologist Eileen Kennedy-Moore explains, “Good modeling doesn’t guarantee that children will do what we want them to do, but telling children ‘do as I say, not as I do’ definitely won’t work.”

You’ll want to keep your own goals under control, meaning that if you’ve been emphasizing the importance of a schedule, and you’re failing at time management, they’ll pick-up on this inauthenticity.

5 ways to transform employee experience during the Covid-19 crisis | Yogita Tulsiani, Indianexpress.com

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The crisis is disrupting the work culture, helping companies induce new ways of working and communicating with employees. There are several different ways in which the management and leadership are driving an impeccable employee experience during the ongoing crisis.

Becoming a full-time leader in building trust

At this time, employees want to hear the words of encouragement from influencers in the company. The leaders are taking a bigger role in rebuilding trust and reconciling employee communication. By creating a clear plan of communication and connection with employees, engaging them to share their opinions and concerns during the crisis can help them bring sustainability and credibility at the workplace.

Focusing on employee’s resilience and well-being

To improve employee experience, companies must stay strong with their employees than having them left in the dark during the crisis. A clear understanding of challenges and their emotional and financial condition can help them reshape their experience. The main focus of leadership and talent management teams is to keep their employees well-informed, safe and positive during the time of uncertainty.

Embed relationship-building strategies

To build strong relationship strategies, managers can take potential actions in developing employee to employee relationships and make them come together to listen, talk and work on tasks like never before. Moreover, they can also embed the ideas of virtual talent shows and peer-recognition sessions to strengthen professional relationships.

Maintaining employee productivity and engagement

The Covid-19 crisis has made the companies worry about the employees’ productivity and efficiency. The better way to go is to make them understand the company’s vision and business goals. The visibility of a clear vision makes the employees be more productive and pay more attention to their designated tasks. For larger organisations, making the right use of communication technology can help in delivering the required message at the right time.

Nurturing growth through online learning

Companies should make a comprehensive plan for learning offerings for employees. They can build a team of talent managers, IT, and learning delivery partners for remote training of employees. Once the clear view of learning is in place, managers can prioritise what needs to be built.

To get a clear picture of how employee experience is going to create long-term sustainability for the company, establish a list of effective employee communication strategies. Powerful analytics can assist talent managers to have a better sense of employee experience. Besides, making effective use of technology can enable them to make the employees stay informed and productive while being more transparent and open to their managers. Evaluating different assumptions and understanding their implications on business post-COVID-19 is the key to improved employee experience.

Remote Work Digest: February 28, 2020

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

10 Reasons Why Time Management is Important | Mark Pettit, Thriveglobal.com

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The ability to manage your time effectively is important if you want to have more time for the people that matter and to reach your goals quicker.

Effective time management leads to improved productivity, quicker results and more success in business and life.

Understanding the importance of time management can create more time, more opportunities, less stress and the achievement of bigger goals.

Here are 10 time management tips to help you manage time and reach your goals quicker:

  1. Create a time audit

Time audit will help you identify activities to eliminate and activities to invest more time on. Simply list all of the activities do you in a week and time spent on each. Then ask yourself if that time investment is the best use of time.

Eliminate activities where appropriate and spend more time on the activites that will help you reach your goals quicker.

Focus on results not time spent.

  1. Become a planning master

If you’re clear on your goals, lay out clear plans to achieve those goals. This should include quarterly planning, monthly planning, weekly planning and daily planning. If you have no direction or focus for your day or week then you can easily become distracted and waste time.

  1. Focus time on your most important activity

Multi-tasking can waste hours of time every day. Choose the one thing and use time blocking to remove distractions. This will help mind and body stay focused and energised.

  1. Use the Pareto Principle to manage time

Use the Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80:20 rule, to prioritise your time and energy. This rule suggests that 20% of something produces 80% of the results. Using the Pareto Principle look at how you can focus less time to produce a bigger result.

The Pareto Principle is all about leveraging a small amount of time and effort to deliver bigger results.

  1. Don’t worry about being perfect

Perfectionists think that nothing will ever be perfect so they spend too much time tweaking and amending to ensure that a project is perfect. Nothing will ever be perfect. Use your best capabilities to start a project and then work with someone else or delegate the rest.

  1. Prioritise your time

By focusing, and staying away from low value work you can achieve more by working less. This focus comes from being clear on your goals and an ability to prioritise and work on projects in blocks of time until completed. If you can free up an extra hour of time a day think how much more productive you’ll be.

  1. Celebrate progress

There are always things to celebrate and achievements made in every day. At the end of each day list three you’ve achieved. This will ensure you end your day feeling motivated and energised.

  1. Achieve goals faster

Many people have big goals that they don’t achieve. But without understanding the importance of time management, you may always big goals that you don’t achieve.

The reason. Too short deadlines.

If you want to achieve goals faster, set bigger goals with longer deadlines and smaller goals with shorter deadlines.

Every goal achievements build progress and momentum so make it easy on youself to achieve your goals.

  1. Increase energy by freeing up time

The answer is to take more time our of your business and life for rest and rejuvenation. This could be taken just for you or to spend with the people in your life that are most important.

More time out increases energy and motivation.

  1. Create time to do more of what you love

In business focus more of your time on the activities that you’re great at and love to do.

When you spend more time doing things you’re passionate about with people you want to work with, you creat a much bigger impact.

In your life, spending more time doing the things that you love is exciting and motivating.

What to Look For in a CV When Hiring a Remote Candidate | Andrew Fennell, Theundercoverrecruiter.com

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Hiring a remote candidate is a little different from hiring someone to work in-office or on-premises. Remote workers have certain attributes that make them awesome at working independently and as any recruiter knows, there will be little “tells” hidden and sometimes not so hidden in a remote candidate’s CV.

What should a recruiter look for in a remote worker’s CV?

Commitment

A remote worker has to be committed and dedicated to getting their job done. If you can find that perfect level of commitment in a candidate, you can be sure that despite any of the comforts or distractions of working from home, and with the trust of working unsupervised, they will get their job done, and well.

Self-discipline

Self-discipline could be seen as the ability to consistently achieve or to regularly perform an activity, by using willpower to overcome distractions or hurdles.

Enthusiasm and passion

A remote worker doesn’t have a team to bounce ideas off or someone they can look to for words of encouragement. Their willingness to complete their tasks and do so well needs to come mostly from within themselves. This takes the form of enthusiasm and passion for what they do and who they do it for. If a remote worker doesn’t enjoy what they do, they won’t do it well.

Organization and time management

A remote worker’s CV should either visibly demonstrate or infer that the candidate is organized. If a remote worker loses focus or gets behind in their task, the impact for a business may be greater as it might not be noticed immediately.

Attention to detail

Remote workers are usually expected to submit completed work of one kind or another or perform duties that might not be checked by another employee. It’s mistakes in particular that will be costly to employers especially errors that aren’t picked up, perhaps until a customer is impacted.

Communication skills

Although they might not need to communicate, or even report in all the time, it is expected that when they do that communication is accurate and concise. A remote worker needs to be able to convey, perhaps even in an email or by telephone, if they are having problems or need a task carried out by a colleague.

Positions of trust

If you can see a remote working candidate has held a position of trust, this illustrates they were relied upon by another business to get their job done, effectively. And, it doesn’t have to be a remote position of trust. A supervisory or management role indicates a candidate had less supervision and was expected to be self-disciplined as well as making sure others performed their roles effectively.

An aptitude for technology

Technology is empowering remote working; employees can work as seamlessly remotely as they could in the same building with colleagues and on-premise technology. Remote workers need to use, sometimes multiple, communication and collaboration platforms.

Problem-solving skills

When working alone they’ll need to be resourceful when facing a challenge, as they may not be able to contact another employee or a manager immediately for assistance. Equally, a remote worker can’t be on the phone to a head-office or senior every five minutes.

Ability to work independently

A remote worker is unlikely to be successful if their personality is such that they excel only in a team environment. Look for jobs that show a remote working candidate has worked predominantly alone and enjoyed it.

Remote working experience

With the number of remote working jobs growing daily, the pool of available and experienced remote workers is falling, especially those with plenty of experience. As such, it’s the soft skills and attributes above, and others, either innate or gained during other work experience that will indicate if a candidate has what it takes to be a high-performing remote worker.

5 Breathtaking Ways to Inspire Your Employees in 2020 | Jacklyne Kweyu, Thriveglobal.com

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Here are some tricks that you can use to keep your employees inspired.

  1. Respect your employees

Always treat an employee, the same way you would want someone else to treat you. Be courteous, polite, and kind while dealing with them. Put in mind the voice tone that you use and body language displays; matters too. Whenever an employee speaks to you, learn to listen first before reacting. By doing so, you inspire your employees; they have no reason to look for work elsewhere.

  1. Invest in your Employees

Experts say that investing in your employees is synonymous with investing in your company’s future. If you do not invest in them, turnover will be high, hampering your success.

You can have individual development plans for all your employees. Have them set and write down both their short term and long term goals. Do a follow up in cooperating one-on-one coaching if need be to help them achieve these goals.

Another way to invest in your employees is by organizing team building activities. Not only will they make work to be fun, but they will also create friendship and encourage teamwork.

  1. Be Transparent

Be open about what’s happening within your business that employees have a right to know. In a working environment, transparency inspires your employees and creates positivism by eliminating fear. Moreover, it makes employees open up about their achievements and shortcomings.

  1. Give Incentives

Always strive to inspire your employees by giving them an incentive whenever they do a good job. This is among the oldest known psychological principals of inspiring employees.

Create monthly awards and recognition events where people who worked exceptionally well get to be recognized and rewarded. You can give them a promotion if a vacancy is available or a handwritten thank you note. This will create healthy competition that business needs.

Inspiring your employees is all that it takes. Always recognize them whenever they do a good job, be open with information. Give them price incentives and above all respect them.

Once you perfect these motivation strategies, you will create a perfect working environment, and your result will definitely be superior dedication and optimistic perception of the company’s future. On top of it, your employees will be happy and your turnarounds will be minimal.

10 remote leadership jobs for virtual workers | Esther Shein, Techrepublic.com

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The 10 remote leadership jobs listed by FlexJobs all offer some type of remote work arrangement, ranging from partial remote work to 100% remote, the company said. The positions include average salary information from PayScale, which may slightly differ depending on location, FlexJobs said.

Some common executive-level remote job titles include director, executive director, vice president, medical director, and various C-level jobs such as COO, CFO, and CEO.

Chief Marketing Officer

The CMO oversees developing marketing plans that help companies gain brand recognition and customers. The CMO needs to understand the company’s marketplace position and heavily rely upon performance analytics to develop detailed strategies in this remote leadership job.

Chief Technology Officer

A CTO is in charge of the technological needs of a company or organization. The role finds and implements technology solutions to help a company succeed and leads the development and maintenance of a technology road map.

Director of Communications

Communications directors help create a positive image of a company to the public by overseeing strategy and messaging. They may act as a spokesperson and contact for journalists and also monitor the public perception of the company.

Director of Content Strategy

In this remote leadership job, typically more than 10 years of experience in marketing, communications, or publishing can qualify you for this role. Common duties include determining a company’s content strategy based on the company’s and users’ needs, managing writers, creating an editorial calendar, and conducting SEO research.

Sales Director

Sales directors lead sales teams by providing vision and guidance. Approving sales projections and budgets, hiring sales managers, and working with marketing and logistics teams are some typical tasks.

Vice President of Business Development

This executive-level role develops and executes an organization’s sales and marketing plans. Creating new client relationships, writing proposals, managing a sales team, and setting team and company-wide goals are tasks of this job.

Vice President of Engineering

A VP of engineering will manage a team to get products completed. This role has a big-picture view of what stakeholders or clients need and the route to meet these needs. Many times, seven to 12 years of experience are needed to qualify for this executive-level job.

Vice President of Operations

An operations VP most often works with the company president to assist with daily operations. With a thorough understanding of company operations, this role will provide business performance leadership, monitor finances, and evaluate operational procedures.

Vice President of Project Management

This role provides direction and leadership on project management tasks. A project management VP handles developing road maps, prioritizing projects, communicating with key stakeholders, and creating best practices.

Remote Work Digest: December 31, 2019

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

The Importance of Regular Feedback | Rob Press, Business2community.com

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With the increased expansion of the gig economy, and when remote work is slowly becoming more and more common everyday (with 16 percent of U.S. companies fully remote), we need to find ways to make our teams, both in-house and remote, engaged and motivated to stay for the long run.

Let’s dive right in and explore how you should embrace feedback and make it a part of your company culture.

Why is feedback important for employees?

In order to motivate your team and increase their productivity and motivation, feedback is crucial.

There are companies out there that are only looking to get the most of their employees and don’t actually care about their wellbeing and motivation. There are also companies that want their employees to feel valued and thrive.

The moral of the the story is this: no matter which category of employee/employer you fall into, regulare feedback will improve your work life, in one way or another, as it:

  • Boosts employee engagement and productivity
  • Provides clear goals and milestones
  • Allows employees to recognize their strengths and work on their weakest points
  • Improves connections between employees and managers

Why is feedback important for managers and leaders?

When you are looking to improve employee performance, you should never forget about optimizing yourself as the manager.

You may be trapped in a feeling of “providing feedback takes time and effort, and I’m not quite sure what to say”. While all of this might truly represent how you feel, when you look at the benefits you as a manager and team leader will tap into, you might want to reconsider the ROI of your time and effort put into feedback:

  • You will know where each employee stands in terms of performance and goals
  • You will be able to help your employees overcome the hard stuff
  • You will have insider knowledge for future hires

Knowing your team this well makes it easier to understand your team’s culture and hire strong fits.

How will company culture change when you start providing regular feedback?

Once you start listening and providing regular feeback, several things will happen across your organization:

Feedback is a great tool for combating the inevitable snags in the road every business will face in its lifetime.

What kinds of feedback do you need to establish?

There is more than one kind of feedback you need to incorporate into your company culture:

  • Manageer to team member
  • Team member to team member
  • Team member to manager
  • Top level manager to lower level managers

Don’t make the mistake of thinking ‘feedback’ means telling your employees what they are doing well, and what they are doing wrong. Feedback should operate on multiple plains if you are to reap its fullest benefits.

Team members also need to provide feedback to their fellow team members. This will establish better communication between them, help them get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and provide a whole new perspective on their work.

Never forget that you also need to ask for feedback from your team: and they need to feel they can be completely honest. Never make them feel bad or let alone punish them for criticizing any aspect of your work. You want to build trust with your employees and you can do so by 1) listening to their feedback and 2) taking action.

Finally, top level management should also provide feedback to the lower levels of management and let them know how their work is affecting the big picture.

How to deliver positive feedback

Below are some quick tips on how to effectively deliver positive feedback:

  • Be specific, so the person knows exactly what you are talking about
  • Explain how the well done fits into the bigger picture
  • Make it know to more than just the person you are praising and give company-wide recognition
  • Deliver feedback in real-time and as close to the time of achievement as possible
  • Personalize your message and be thoughtful
  • Mean it!

Once you grasp a clear understanding of what motivates your team and how often they would prefer to receive and five feedback, you can come up with a system that works specifically for your workforce.

How to deliver negative feedback

  • Never do it in public
  • Never do it over email if you can prevent it
  • Do not pile it on
  • Start with something positive
  • Be precise and always give examples of how to improve
  • Listen before you speak
  • Never use it as a way to vent or punish someone
  • Be prepared to be proved wrong and accept it
  • Never let your emotions run away and remain calm
  • Follow up

Establishing a regular feedback routine will take time, effort, a lot of dedication, and getting used to. Expect some initial shock and even resistance from your employees. But onve it becomes the norm, expect to see all of the positive side effects of feedback we have been discussing above. Good luck!

50 Work-Life Balance Jobs for Anyone Who Wants to Leave Work at Work | Leigh Weingus, Parade.com

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If you want to pick a job or career that will get you off on the right foot, there are surprisingly a lot of them. Don’t believe us? Here are 50 best work-life balance jobs in various categories.

Best work-life balance jobs in tech:

  1. UX designer. If you’ve got tech tech skills and a solid sense of design, considering applying for a position as a UX designer.
  2. Data scientist. Are you a stats and data nerd? With a median salary of $112,000 a year, you’ll be paid well.
  3. Mobile developer. Have you alwayd dreamed of creating an app?
  4. Social media manager. If you have a knack for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc., a position as a social media manager may just be perfect for you.
  5. DevOps engineer. It’s no secret that engineers are in high demand and make a good salary, but it turns out they have great work-life balance, too.
  6. Research engineer. If you’re great at interpreting and analyzing research and have engineering skills, this may be for you.
  7. SEO manager. If keywords and work-life balance are both of interest to you, consider a job as an SEO manager.
  8. UI designer. UI designers are responsible for making sure mobile devices, computers, and more have a positive user experience.
  9. Technical account manager. If your tech skills are top-notch and you crave a good work-life balance, this may just be the job for you.
  10. Front end developer. If design and technology are both your strong suits, front end development will be, too.
  11. Game designer. The masterminds behind some of your favorite iPhone and video games have great work-life balance, too. Why not become one of them?

Best work-life balance jobs in communications:

  1. Corporate recruiter. Corporate recruiters are responsible for finding talented people to fill positions at large and small companies.
  2. Talent acquisition specialist. Talent acquisition specialists are experts at both assessing and analyzing the staffing needs of a company and finding good talent.
  3. HR manager. If your whole job is to help out employees, having a good work-life balance is pretty much your job.
  4. Strategy manager. This job requires fewer people skills, but it does require an ability to think long and hard about all the elements a company needs to succeed and grow.
  5. Creative manager. Advertising and promotions managers are skilled in finding smart ways to generate interest in a product or company.
  6. Marketing coordinator. Marketing coordinators have a knack for what sells and develop, implement, and coordinate marketing and advertising campaigns.
  7. Marketing assistant. Not at coordinator level just yet? Marketing assistant jobs have solid work-life balance, too.
  8. Content manager. Ever wonder who does all the writing, editing, and uploading of content to some of your favorite websites?
  9. Scrum master. A scrum master manages the process for how information is exchanged and helps a team self-organize and make changes quickly.
  10. Real estate agent. Most real estate agents are self-employed, meaning they can create their own schedule. The result? All the work-life balance they want.
  11. Tour guide. Got a lot of knowledge about your hometown or city and some great people skills?
  12. Project manager. Project managers usually have the option to work from home and have predictable, reasonable hours.

Best work-life balance service jobs:

  1. Substitute teacher. The hours may be unpredictable, but substitute teachers have a great sense of work-life balance.
  2. Hairdresser. Hairdressers don’t always have a typical Monday through Friday schedule, but they do have set hours and don’t bring their work home with them.
  3. Dental hygienist. Cleaning teeth for a living may not be the most glamorous job, but you’ll be able to leave it behind as soon as you walk out the door of your office.
  4. Civil engineer. Engineering jobs don’t just have to be mean software—civil engineers deal with design, construction and maintenance of bridges, roads, canals and more.
  5. Fitness instructor. Although you may have to work nights and weekends as a fitness instructor, it will give you a lot of flexibility. As a nice bonus, you’ll probably get a free gym membership and built-in workouts out of it.
  6. Office support. Whether it’s a secretarial job of office manager, most office suport jobs have a good work-life balance.
  7. Logistician. Although occasional overtime work is required of logisticians—who handle the oversight of bringing products and services to a customer—for the most part, the work-life balance offered is great.
  8. Research technician. It’s not the job for everyone—but if you have these skills and want to maintain work-life balance, this may just be the job for you.
  9. Registered nurse. While there’s no question that the job of a nurse is incredibly demanding, you usually have a set number of hours that allow you to leave work behind when you walk out the door.
  10. Medical assistant. Medical assistants, who provide a variety of administrative and clinical work, have much more flexible hours than a lot of people think.
  11. Home health aide. Home health aides can hand-pick their patients for the hours that fit their schedule.
  12. Medical coder. Medical coding jobs, which are crucial to large hospitals and medical centers, have set hours and great work-life balance.
  13. Sports coach. Whether it’s coaching kids at a school or a high-level coaching gig, this type of has flexible hours and good balance.
  14. Massage therapist. The job of a massage therapist is demanding, but it pays well and you can make your own hours.
  15. Bookkeeper. You have to be detail-oriented to be a bookkeeper, but the job is a straightforward one and allows for great work-life balance.
  16. Optician. Opticians have great flexibility, low stress level, and are paid well.
  17. Law Clerk. While law clerks have to work long hours at times, a lot of them can be done at home.
  18. Firefighter. Yes, firefighting is a stressful career, and it can entail night, weekend, and holiday work. Hours can be flexible, though, and firefighters often end up with a lot of free time during the day.
  19. Curriculum developer. Ever wonder who comes up with the curriculums that are handed to teachers?
  20. Speech pathologist. Whether you work for yourself or someone else, a career in speech pathology is a great way to make an impact and leave work at work.

Best work-life balance jobs in finance:

  1. Economist. People who work in finance aren’t exactly famous for having great work-life balance. But if you work as an economist, you’re in good shape.
  2. Financial cleark. Financial clerks are responsible for making sure financial transactions are on track at at banks, doctors offices, government agencies, and more.
  3. Personal financial advisor. Stocks, bonds, retirement funds, ETFs! If these are terms you’re familiar with and you’re certified to advise people on them, you’ll be in a good position to leave work at work at the end of the day.
  4. Accountant. Helping people or companies out with their taxes, budget, finance reports and more is a great way to make a living while keeping a solid sense of work-life balance.
  5. Risk analyst. Risk analysts look at a firm’s investment portfolios and help them decide where they should take risks and where they should be more conservative.
  6. Investment advisors. These are the people who make sure individuals’ portfolios are in the best possible shape.
  7. Online tax advisor. As an online tax advisor, you can help people file their taxes without leaving your home.

5 Things To Ask Your Boss In The New Year | Avery Blank, Forbes.com

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Consider this your nudge. This is your push to ask for what you want in the New Year. Here are five things to consider asking for from your boss next year:

  1. Business goals.

If you do not understand why you are doing the work you are doing, it is difficult to understand the purpose of your work.

Ask your manager, “What are this year’s goals for the organization?” “What are your upcoming priorities?” The answers to these questions will help you understand how your role plays a part in reaching your company’s goals and helps to ensure that your efforts continue to meet goals.

  1. Expectations

To avoid confusion or misunderstanding, ask your manager what is expected of you. When you are clear about what people expect from you, you will increase your chances of meeting or exceeding expectations.

  1. Flexibility

If you think some form of flexibility would help you be more productive with work, inquire about it. Communicate how the change will help you with your work. If you are already demonstrating solid work, it will be easier for you to ask for more flexibility.

  1. Money

If you want a raise, ask for it. If you need more resources for a project, ask for it. Assuming you are producing quality work, ask for what you need to continue to be the best professional that you can be and produce great work.

  1. A promotion

If you continue to prove your worth, consider asking your manager for a promotion. Don’t run the risk of not asking and build up resentment that may undermine your work product and impact your relationships with colleagues.

A successful career is built on years of experience and climbing the ladder. The higher you go on the ladder, the move opportunity you will have to ask for what you want.
When you demonstrate your worth, you have the leverage to ask for things like flexibility, a raise or a promotion. Questions have answers. Ask the questions to know the answers and see the road that will help you reach your goals.

Want More Value Out of Your Day? Focus on Creating Time Blocks | Bruce Eckfeldt, Inc.com

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If you’re struggling to find the time to work on long-term strategy, try these steps to create more focused time for these important, but not urgent, tasks.

  1. Determine your allocations

Figure out how much time you ideally need to spend each week. Note if you need one big block of time or if you need to do a little each day. If you keep a good calendar, look back over previous weeks to catch things you may have missed on your list.

  1. Identify your peak times

Our hours vary wildly in terms of quality and focus. Before you plan your schedule, it’s important to know what time of day you should be working on which types of tasks.

If you’re a morning person, your best hours might be right after breakfast or even when you first wake up. For others, it might be after dinner when you can focus for longer stretches of time and be more creative. To identify your peak times, create a journal and make notes for a few days on the times you feel like you have the greatest mental focus and clarity.

  1. Allocate your time blocks

Once you have your prioritized task list and your peak times have been identified, you can begin mapping out your week. Start with the big blocks of time you need for focused, uninterrupted work. This could be each day, or this could just be one or two days a week. Better to start with too many than too few.

  1. Defend your schedule

When someone calls you for a meeting, make sure to offer them the box you had allocated for that activity. If you forgot to plan for it, give them one of your buffer blocks. But don’t move your other blocks! This is the key to this strategy. Make other people adjust to your plan.

  1. Adjust and optimize

Force yourself to shift things around to keep your blocks together as much as possible. Even if you need to move blocks between days and reschedule other meetings.

If you run out of time in a day, move blocks between days. And if you absolutely need to drop something, make sure you’re dropping the block that is the least important of all of your tasks. Don’t just delete the block that has the conflict; move things around to optimize your schedule.

Adopting this strategy can be hard at first. It will take time to figure out your most important tasks, optimal block size and timing, and your natural energy flow during the day. But once you dial it in, you’ll find yourself not only getting more done but getting more of the right things done to accomplish your biggest goals.

Remote Work Digest: October 29, 2019

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

5 Ways Natural Light Improves Productivity | Henry Martin, Thebossmagazine.com

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While companies all over the world are implementing a range of innovative perks, the overriding benefit on employees’ wish lists is quite simply: natural light.

Here are five ways natural light can improve productivity:

1. Improves sleep

Research carried out by Northwestern University of Chicago showed that employees who worked in an office with windows slept for an average of 46 minutes more every night than those who worked in offices with no windows.

Those who have a better night’s sleep are generally more productive at work, because being well-rested means your attentiveness and concentration improves.

2. Enhances mood

Exposure to natural light can not only improve mental health, but it will also have benefits on employee morale on the whole. With a sunny disposition, staff will exhibit keenness and an increased willingness to work.

3. Supports vision

With natural light, eye health can be properly sustained. This means a decrease in strain on the eyes at work, and therefore more comfort whle being in front of a screen.

4. Improves Vitamin D levels

Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones because it facilitates the absorption of calcium and phosphates. These minerals help strengthen bones, teeth, and muscles, which of course go hand in hand with overall health.

5. Encourages creativity

With more natural light streaming into your office space, you could inspire your employees and encourage the generation of new ideas and lateral thinking.

The evidence offers a number of significant reasons to opt for natural light rather than artificial, not forgetting the financial advantages too. Consider installing generously sized windows to improve the overall morale and productivity of your workforce.

8 Ways to Boost Productivity in a Start-up | Sam Dolbel, Entrepreneur.com

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Entrepreneurs, businessmen, and women worldwide come across many challenges daily. Funding, finding the right talent and time management are only some of the issues they are faced with on a daily basis.

Here are eight tips on how to increase productivity as a start-up:

Be as efficient as possible

Do you ever come out of a meeting and think “gosh, this could have been an email!” While I agree with that, a lot of the time I actually find that a quick face-to-face conversation allows us to get things done more efficiently.

Of course there are other alternatives which use technology, allowing us to minimize face-to-face meetings – options like Microsoft Teams for example, can be used to call, text and share files with team members at a much faster pace than an email would.

Be as digitally-savvy as possible

In today’s fast-moving environment there are many other business tasks that can be completely digitalized. My two cents: Find which tasks your company wastes too much time on, there’s probably an app for them.

Join an Accelerator

Don’t underestimate the power of joining an accelerator. These specialized organizations can expand your growth by offering access to investment, office space and mentorship from industry leaders.

Location, Location, Location

For your start-up, it’s critical you understand your criteria, what exactly is it that what you want to do, and which location will best help serve your needs. Ultimately, you need to understand the specific tools you need to put in pace for your idea to flourish, and location is a key component in that. Also, don’t feel limited by geographies, go out and find the right place.

Create structure

Having defined roles and tasks gives the team a sense for responsibility and promotes accountability, both of which are crucial to any start-up’s success.

Invest in the culture

Early on in your journey, you need to find out exactly what kind of culture and values will your start-up stand for, and how do you plan to communicate that to both your team and your customers.

Invest in marketing smartly

Identify your targets and what channels and tools would help you effectively and efficiently drive your message through. Don’t be afraid of thinking outside the box – what works for one company may not work for another.

Encourage autonomy, don’t micromanage

The best way to encourage productivity and creativity in your team is for the manages (and founders!) to step back. Let your team manage their tasks freely and independently; you trusted them enough to join your start-up, so you should be able to give them a task and let the fly with it. This increases motivation, and you’ll find that the more ownership someone is able to take of their role, the better job they will do at it.

Everyday Routines To Help The Remote Worker Stay Active (And Stay Sane) | Darcy Cudmore, Thriveglobal.com

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Working remotely is not as easy  as many people think and many employees notice harmful changes to their mental physical health after only a short time. It’s important to stay in a healthy and productive routine, and many people can adopt bad habits that have serious side effects on their life.

1. Exercising at home

Many remote workers regularly get outside and walk around the neighborhood in the morning before their shift, or as needed – but when the Winter weather hits, this can become difficult.

If you purchase one of the best home treadmills or indoor cycling bikes, you don’t have to rely on the weather. You can get exercise in whenever you want, at any time during the day as you work from home.

2. Communicate with Coworkers or Other Remote Workers

Whether it’s setting up a communication software where you can regularly communicate with coworkers and managers, or scheduling a time every week to catch up with them, you should plan out a process. A meaningful conversation will keep your mind stimulated and your neural skills in operation.

3. Set Time Limits

It’s important to set up time restraints for when you are going to work and stick with them religiously.  Make sure you don’t push the limits too often or your work (and life) will begin to suffer.

4. Clean Yourself Up

Waking up, jumping in the shower, and getting dressed is an important human routine to keep up with, even when you are continuously working from home.

5. Get Out of the House

I recommend heading to a coffee shop or co-working space every now so often to change up your scenery and work space. By changing your work space, you’ll inject some excitement into your day just when things are getting a little stale.

Working from home is comfortable and dangerous. Heading out the door in the morning might be just what you need to keep things fresh every few days.

Creating A Conscious Business: Simple Practice to Help Implement A Business That Feels Good | Tasnlem Titus, Forbes.com

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People are always evolving and changing, and for this reason, they want to work for organizations that do the same and exist to make a difference. A conscious business is, according to author and leadership development at Google Fred Kofman, Ph.D., how organizations build value through values.

This illustrates the shift of organizations toward a value-based, conscious business model that benefits both the employees and the environment. For leaders aiming for this, here are a few simple practices.

1. Create a culture of health and wellness. 

There is no activity that brings people together and emits positive energy, good endorphins and the right chemicals better than sports withing a workplace. It is a bonding activity that provides healthy competition and enables people to connect and come together.

2. Connect in a collaboration room. 

Collaboration rooms are fun spaces where people connect and play. It is in these rooms whre co-workers can switch off and build social connections with each other. The better the connection and collaboration-building, the better people work with each other.

3. Connect through food and sharing experiences.

Every quarter, my company celebrates with a potluck where we choose different themes and people share parts of their cultures and memories with us through the bonding experience of food. They bring dishes according to their cultures and explain what the dishes mean to them. This enables connection, and at the same time, we share our recognition awards.

4. Give back to charities, and do good in the community.

Whether it id by donation money to a worthy cause or collecting donations to feed the hungry, a business that places charity and paying it forward as a priority is usually a conscious business. It sends out a message that community is important. We cannot exist alone and in isolation; our community is a part of us.

5. Do business with other conscious businesses.

Who we spend our time with is important, and this shows that we take our business seriously – and it is not only about profits.

6. Spend time on mindfulness. 

Building time within the day for people to be mindful and breathe is important. Thinking and “just being” more helps enhance thinking patterns and brain waves for creativity. Known benefits of meditation and mindfulness include less stress, less reactivity, more creativity and improved focus, to mention a few.

7. Develop a culture of learning and curiosity.

Creating a culture of learning and curiosity makes it possible for us to learn from our mistakes, ask questions that are important for our business and ourselves and learn what to do differently with our practices toward our customer, each other and ourselves. This deep inquiry shifts people toward willingness to learn from each other.

8. Make meetings productive. 

Before each meeting, ask, “What is our intention together? What are the key things we want to achieve?” Send out agendas beforehand so people can prepare. Meetings should be creative generation think tanks and short spaces to determine whether we have implemented what we needed.

Remote Work Digest: March 21, 2019

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

Can’t Concentrate? 5 Insidious Ways Your Office Design Can Make You Less Productive | Monica Torres, Huffpost.com

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Office design can influence how much productive work you get done in a day. If you regularly find yourself listlessly staring at your work, you may want to consider whether the following environmental factors and work space design choices are holding you back from your full potential:

1. The Stale Office Air You Breathe
If you work in an office, most of your time is likely spent indoors. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the majority of Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors. And the air you are breathing in these enclosed spaces could be impairing your cognitive function.

Bringing more fresh air inside, or having a good ventilation system, is linked to better employee performance, according to a 2017 study by researchers at Harvard University, Syracuse University and SUNY Upstate Medical.

2. The Poor Lighting You Endure
Being close to natural sunlight can make or break an employee’s experience. Employees prioritize natural lighting so much that in a 2018 poll by research firm Future Workplace, they picked it as the top office perk over having a cafeteria, a fitness center, or on-site child care.

And no wonder: A lack of natural sunlight can take a physical toll on our bodies, according to a study on 313 office employees led by Alan Hedge, a professor in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell University. Employees exposed to more natural light reported fewer instances of eyestrain and headaches.

3. The Colleagues You Sit With
Office seating plans may not take into account how proximity to certain types of colleagues can influence your work. In a 2016 Harvard Business School study that analyzed the speed and quality of 2,000 workers’ performance at a tech firm, researchers found that sitting within a 25-foot radius of a high performer could positively boost the performance of colleagues by 15 percent.

But bad habits can be contagious, too. The study found that sitting close to a toxic neighbor — defined as someone who was fired — increased nearby employees’ risk of being fired. “Once a toxic person shows up next to you, your risk of becoming toxic yourself has gone up,” said Dylan Minor, one of the authors of the study.

4. The Temperatures Your Colleagues Can’t Agree On
In a CareerBuilder survey of 3,321 employees, 53 percent said they were less productive when it was too cold, and 71 percent said productivity suffered when they were too warm.

Even researchers have different conclusions on the ideal workplace temperature. One 2006 study from researchers at Helsinki University of Technology and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Environmental Energy Technologies Division found that employees’ productivity peaked at around 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit, while a separate Cornell University study found that a warmer 77 degrees Fahrenheit was the optimal temperature at which workers would make fewer typing errors and produce more work.

5. An Office With No Plants Nearby
Natural greenery in your line of sight is not just good company ―it can also help people concentrate, research on attention restoration theory has found. The theory holds that you can rejuvenate your attention capacity by looking at nature because when we enjoy nature, we are using effortless attention.

Before you even sit down at your desk and get started on the day’s work, there are a multitude of visible and invisible ways your productivity is being affected by your environment. You can probably add a plant to your desk, but you may not be able to switch to a seat with a high-performer nearby or to a desk near natural light. If you notice your workspace environment is less than ideal, speak up about it to your manager or human resources.

You spend more than 2,000 hours a year at work. It is best for everyone to make those hours count for you.

How managers can prevent developer burnout: 10 Tips | Alison DeNisco Rayome, Techrepublic.com

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Burnout is a common phenomenon in the tech industry, particularly for developers: Close to 60% of developers report suffering from burnout, according to Blind, for reasons including poor leadership and unclear direction, work overload, and toxic work cultures.

Here are 10 ways that managers can help prevent their developers from burning out.

1. Allow remote work and flexible scheduling
Particularly in areas where most workers have a long commute, allowing at least part-time work from home can make a huge difference in reducing stress and burnout. If possible, no meetings should be scheduled on work from home days, to allow developers time to focus on their work, said Cristian Rennella, CTO and co-founder of elMejorTrato.com.

Flexible scheduling can also reduce stress, said Paul Wallenberg, senior manager of technology services at LaSalle Network. “Can they start earlier and leave earlier, start later and leave later, can they maybe condense their work week and work 10 hour days for four days, or even work remotely and still engage successfully in your standups? If the answer is yes, give them the autonomy to do so and create a schedule that works for them,” Wallenberg said.

2. Encourage vacations
This may require some cajoling, said Mark Runyon, a senior consultant with Improving technology management and consulting firm. “This can seem strange, but as developers we often get so wrapped up our projects and tight delivery deadlines that we feel it’s never a good time to take our much needed PTO,” Runyon said. “It’s essential to get away, clear your mind and relax so you can come back with a fresh perspective. If you always push vacation away for another day, you’ll continue to wear yourself down, and be less effective in your job.”

3. Set realistic deadlines
Some startups take pride in the “let’s be bold” mindset by setting unrealistic deadlines for developers—a sure way to burn out your team, said Flo Defontis, founder and CTO of Air360.

“Even if we all like some adrenaline sometimes, there’s so much one can take,” Defontis said. “For developers who take pride in their work, being forced to write code in a hurry (which usually results in bad code) is just horrible. Especially also because they also share responsibility when something breaks and customers are impacted.”

4. Create a culture of recognition
“What’s worse than having too much work to complete is the lack of appreciation for the work that is done just to keep up with demand,” Shanks said. “Burnout can manifest from a lack of a reward or even just appreciation for their efforts.”

5. Encourage physical activity and wellness
Allowing time for physical activity, even just taking a walk, during the workday can help avoid hitting blocks in coding, Runyon said. A physical break from the computer can help clear a developer’s head and allow them to see new solutions or facets of the problem they are solving, he added.

6. Build variety into the schedule
Managers must create the right combination of business-driven work and more challenging, creative work, said Megan Power, Agile Scrum Master at Salt Lending Holdings. “Working in a business environment means that certain types of more ‘grunt work’ are sometimes unavoidable to meet business objectives,” Power said. “But if a developer is given only this type of work, they are likely to burn out faster than if they have some more challenging and creative work mixed in.”

Developers need to work on new projects over time, rather getting stuck on one with a long timeline, to keep the work feeling exciting and fresh, said Kristen Youngs, co-founder of Coaching No Code Apps.

7. Offer professional development and training
Allowing developers to learn new things beyond their current job can keep their work more interesting, said Clare Watson, operations director at Zolv. “When you work with the same software or language every single day, it can be easy to, eventually, burn out,” Watson said. “Look to learn a new method of accomplishing your current responsibilities. Learning a new coding system, for example, is a great fix for keeping things fresh.”

8. Keep the team balanced
As teams grow over time, their tasks will change, which means managers must constantly reassess and realign talents and responsibilities, Orser said. “If that means new roles open on a team, a manager can modify the way the group is operating, allowing higher performers to take on new responsibility and try leadership roles,” Orser added. “They can then backfill the roles people have outgrown or add in skills and specializations from new hires to fill identified gaps.”

9. Clearly define roles and goals
Clearly defined roles and objectives alleviate stress in that developers are not left uncertain or guessing what their responsibilities are, Cooper said.

While some projects need developers to burn the midnight oil close to a deadline, “as managers, our responsibility is to set clear goals for our team so they can avoid the firedrills which can be 100% prevented,” said Nancy Wang, senior manager of product management at Amazon Web Services (AWS). “Make sure to plan out your sprints and milestones, and give your team enough buffer time in case a Sprint takes longer than it should.”

10. Communicate the business purpose (and in general)
Regular one-on-one meetings between managers and developers can help ensure both receive constant feedback and make changes if needed, Power said. Considering a team member’s input and implementing it where needed will also help them feel more engaged and motivated, she added.

Lacking a support system to talk through ideas or struggles can lead to developer burnout, Youngs said. “Communicating regularly with developers that their work is helpful and appreciated can make a significant difference,” Youngs said. “It helps assure them in their job role and also gives them satisfaction over the work they’ve done. I also like to have a completely open-door policy and ongoing dialogue about any issues with work. It can be a huge relief just to talk through a problem out loud with someone who understands the situation.”

4 Essential Mental Health Tips For Freelance And Remote Workers | Abdullahi Muhammed, Forbes.com

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A remote work arrangement often enables you to establish better work/life balance; spend more time with family and reduce the pressure/distractions of working in large open offices. But freelancing also comes with an emotional toll. Stress and on-the-job burnouts are no strangers to the independent worker.

Per recent survey conducted by Epson in the U.K., 48% of freelancers working from home admitted that they find their tenure to be “lonely” at times and 46% claim freelancing is “isolating.” Indeed, freelancing can aggravate your mental health issues unless you invest in establishing healthy routines. Here are four essential tips to help you work in that direction.

1. Learn how to negotiate with yourself
Learn how to negotiate with that critic sitting inside you. Get better at creating more realistic daily to do lists; celebrate your accomplishments every day and practice gratitude. Cognitive scientists say that people who regularly do the “three good things” exercise — name three good moments or things that happened during the day — witness considerable improvements in mental health and overall happiness. So give it a try as well!

2. Socialize beyond your niche
Socialization and networking are often prescribed as the best recipe for dealing with the “lonely freelancer” syndrome. “Regularly interacting with other people is utterly important for those working solo,” said Cynthia Telles, Director, UCLA Hispanic Neuropsychiatric Center of Excellence. “However, despite the common line of advice, freelancers should stop seeking company of other freelancers. When the people you see the most experience the same woes and deal with the same anxieties, you can find yourself trapped into a feedback loop of pressure and stress, aggravated by the experience of your peers.”

3. Budget for more expensive forms of self-care
Investing in better things for yourself — a more comfortable chair, a better laptop, warmer socks — means investing in your business. The better you feel on a daily basis, the more motivated you are to do the work and earn more money.

4. Learn how to handle rejection
Fear of rejection and criticism is one of the common issues holding people back from becoming freelancers. Working for yourself means that every negative comment will land right in front of you. A lot choose gig or freelancing work as a better way to channel their passion for design, writing or coding. And that’s why rejection and criticism for freelancers often feels more personal than for corporate employees.

Beverly Flaxington suggests trying the following techniques:

  • Practice reframing. Change the narrative from, “I’m talentless, no one will hire me!” to a more positive statement, “Finding the first freelance job is hard for everyone. I’m no different.”
  • Channel your self-confidence. Make a daily list of things that you’ve done well. Regularly review your achievement and celebrate them.

But here’s some good news as well: learning how to deal with rejection strengthens your mental health. A stronger mental health means that you can resist other daily downers and remain productive and contemporary with your line of work.

How to Make Money Working from Home in 2019 | Brian O’Connell, Thestreet.com

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With the advent of digital technology, it’s relatively simple to not just make extra cash working at home, but make a good chunk of money doing so.

Plus, there’s no commute, you’re your own boss, and nobody is calling you into a snooze-inducing two-hour meeting where nothing is resolved and no action taken.

Who needs that when you can set up shop in the comfort of your own home and make a decent amount of cash in the process?

Intrigued? Ok – let’s get your work-at-home campaign started with a full menu of great ways to earn money at home, where you’re the CEO, and where corporate America can’t bother you.

Great Ways to Make Money from Home

1. Start With Work-at-Home Job Sites
Zip Recruiter and Flex Jobs are great places to start. Pop in your areas of specialty and both sites will send you job opening alerts when they arise.

2. Handle Data Entry or Bookkeeping Online
You really don’t need a degree in accounting to handle basic office tasks like data entry, payroll or bookkeeping. Just study up online and leverage your digital skills to full advantage. Good digital office help can easily earn $25 or more per hour.

3. Be a Good Neighbor
You can earn good money by accepting shipments from delivery companies like Fed Ex (FDX – Get Report) , UPS (UPS – Get Report) , and the U.S. Post Office for your neighbors, who may be at work or traveling. Just sign up at the site and start accepting your neighbor’s packages – at your house. You can earn about $3.50 for each delivery.

4. Drive Your Car
Sign up with ride-sharing sites like Uber and Lyft and make hundreds of dollars per week, driving folks around on your schedule. It’s not uncommon for drivers to make more than $500 per week on ride-sharing drives. If you’re comfortable behind the wheel, this gig could be for you.

5. Rent Out Your Home
That’s the idea behind home rentals like Airbnb.com, which enable homeowners to rent out their properties to travelers for a night or more. You’ll need to provide basic amenities, like towels and sheets, and must respond to potential renters within 24 hours. Airbnb hosts who rent out their homes regularly can make up to $30,000 annually.

6. Be a Babysitter
If you love children and have the time, you can open up your home as a babysitting service. Child care sites like Care.com and SitterCity will hire you (after you pass a background check.) The pay is good, depending on your experience – experienced baby sitters can make over $25 per hour.

7. Be a Virtual Assistant
Experienced virtual assistants can earn well over $50 per-hour, and can often set their own schedules. Sites like TaskRabbit can help you find virtual assistant gigs.

8. Be a Professional Tutor
Do you specialize in a particular academic category, like math, science or writing? Put that knowledge to work as an at-home (or online) tutor. The best path is to be certified by the National Tutoring Association. Once you do that, you can take training sessions, search jobs, and swap tips and educational strategies with other professional tutors.

9. Participate in Surveys
There’s a growing demand for professional survey takers, and there’s decent money in doing so. Professional survey sites like Swagbucks, Paid Surveys or Survey Junkie and earn up to $250 per month, or earn survey swag like gift cards and new products just for participating in free-to-take surveys.

10. Be a Web Site Reviewer
You don’t need any professional certification to do so – just be computer efficient, be diligent, take instructions well, and be good at writing up your thoughts on a given web site. Plenty of Fortune 500 companies partner with UserTesting, and regular web site reviewers can make up to $30 per hour.

11. Be a Freelance Writer
Sites like Freelance Success, Indeed.com, Contena, and LinkedIn regularly cater to freelance writers, offering job leads, advice, and even access to editors and content providers who hire freelance writers. Good freelance writers can earn over $100,000 annually if they specialize, and market their abilities to the right clients. Sites like Upwork and Guru.com also offer job leads, but the pay is often poor and you’re competing with loads of other writers for the best gigs.

12. Work With Focus Groups
Sites like Harris Poll Online, 2020 Panel, Brand Institute, and Engage will pay you cash or gift cards for an hour or two of your time participating in a focus group. You’ll study a product or a service, answer specific questions, and partner with focus group companies on market research campaigns.

13. Be a Digital Travel Agent
If you have the gift of passport wanderlust and know your way around an airline and hotel itinerary, becoming an online travel agent can be a profitable pastime. You’ll be working with excited clients who are passionate about their travel. Get started by partnering with travel agent hosting companies like the Airlines Reporting Corporation or the International Airlines Travel Agents Network, where you can get access to gigs, learn the craft, and earn hefty commissions helping people set up their travel plans.

14. Channel Your Inner Pet Sitter
Pet sitters are in high demand, as families who travel and business professionals who work late hours need someone to walk, fee and otherwise take care of their pets. Sites like Care.com, Rover and DogVacay can get you started. Before you know it, you can be making $20 or more hour for taking care of Fido.

15. Rent Your Vehicle
Sites like RelayRides, Turo and GetAround will advertise your vehicle to potential renters (you’ll need to keep your auto in pristine condition) and you can earn about 65% of the total ride cost by renting out your vehicle. Or, you can rent your vehicle out to Uber drivers at HyreCar and earn up to $12,000 annually for doing so, according to the company’s web site.

Remote Work Digest: June 16, 2018

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

How to Overcome the 5 Top Challenges of Remote Freelance Work | Andrew Medal, Entrepreneur.com

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Working remotely can feel isolated and lonely. You are no longer operating in your area of expertise and are constantly challenged by the burden of self-promotion and the struggles inherent in time management, travel between clients, invoicing and chasing after payments, to name just a few.

Here are some solutions to five of the top challenges I myself have faced:

The burden of self-promotion

Marketing doesn’t come naturally to many freelancers, yet a business cannot continue to grow without it. This means that a freelance cake decorator, dog groomer and technical writer all need to worry about ways to advertise their services.

The solution if this applies to you? Start creating content, whether it be video, audio (podcast) or written. Content is the key to showcasing your expertise. Content will allow people to discover you, and content will help solidify your expertise.

Follow contributors who write about topics you’re looking to provide your expertise on, and reach out on social platforms like Twitter or Instagram (Instagram DM still being the absolute best way to reach someone you’re hoping to connect with).

Working in a lonely solo void

While the freedom in remote freelance work may appeal to many, working in solitude may not, as FastCompany documented in a recent article. Human nature requires support and interaction, and constant isolation can wear you down. Our bodies only work at an optimal level for approximately 90 minutes at a time, so take your laptop and head to the nearest cafe for some company.

Co-working spaces are also all the rage these days, Harvard Business Review reported, as freelancers and small business owners are often looking to become part of a community. A well-designed work environment combined with a well-curated work experience enables coworkers to thrive in a way that office-based employees cannot.

Struggling with your calendar

I like to follow the Pomodoro rule for completing tasks. This technique can help you power through distractions, keep you hyper-focused and help you get things done in short bursts while taking frequent breaks to clean your brain and refocus. It’s sort of like short high-intensity weight training, versus long, slow cardio. The Pomodoro Technique consists of short bursts of work followed by a short rest break. You:

1. Create your list of tasks.
2. Prioritize the list.
3. Set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro in this context being a timer).
4. Work on the task until the timer rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper.
5. Take a short break (5 minutes is recommended, but play around with what’s best for you).
6. After every fourth Pomodoro, take a longer break (like 20 to 30 minutes).

The goal is to accomplish your tasks in short bursts. Ideally, each task can be done in one to two Pomodoros. The goal is to hold a limit to how many Pomodoros you do per day. Then, repeat the cycle the next day. I’ve found that my productivity shoots up under this technique. Here’s a great web app to track your progress called the Pomodoro Tracker.

Scope creep

What is scope creep? Scope creep describes those extra little client requests here and there. The need that that website you just created suddenly has for extra pages at the time of delivery. That graphic-design gig you took on that keeps accruing more and more changes …

Sometimes the creep is subtle, and sometimes it’s massive. But, if you let the scope creep once, it will never stop creeping.

The best, most obvious way to deal with scope creep is a thorough contract which clearly states that any additional work will be billed accordingly. I love BidSketch for quick, effective, template-rich contracts. If you create a contract once, you can save it and reuse it.

Chasing clients for payment

Payments are undoubtedly the most aggravating and awkward part of freelance work. So, protect yourself: Ensure a contract is in place for every job, and stipulate that you charge interest for late payments. Set up automated email reminders upon invoicing.

A software like Invoicely can help you with invoicing, with reminders to make sure you are on top of your finances. Invoicely works well because it allows you to set up late fees for invoices that are paid late or not at all. This is another tactic to help make sure clients pay on time.

The best tip I have learned is that you should always wait to deliver the final project until you have the final invoice paid. That way you retain ownership of the work before a client can run off without paying.

Remote freelancing presents as many challenges as it does benefits, despite the allure of flexibility. But, if being a freelancer brings you one step closer to fulfilling your dreams, then don’t allow any obstacles to deter you. If you’re the type of person who dreams of working for yourself, you will have what it takes to make it. Stay focused, stay inspired and stay hungry — to learn and grow.

Convert Your Office Job To A Work-From-Home Arrangement | Manon DeFelice, Forbes.com

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A recent survey of over 5,000 workers by FlexJobs found that telecommuting 100% of the time is the most desired type of flexible work arrangement among job seekers. Such arrangements appeal strongly to working parents and others seeking better work-life balance.

Before you ask to switch to a telecommuting arrangement with your boss, consider the following tried-and-true tips.

1. Build your case with solid research. Instead of just listing all the personal reasons why you want to work from home, present your boss with a face-based presentation on how remote work arrangements can be a benefit to the company.

2. Offer examples of other companies’ flex policies. When you show your employer that other companies are going flex, he or she might be more inspired to implement a flexibility policy at your workplace. Present your boss or manager with sample flexibility policies, such as the nine examples included in this article from 1MFWF.

3. Try working flex once a week on a trial basis. If your manager needs convincing, let her test-drive your telecommuting capabilities one day a week to see how it goes. If your boss goes for it, use that day as an opportunity to show just how productive you can be when you work from home.

4. Be a communication whiz. Convince your boss how easy it is to stay closely in touch with you, no matter where you are. A wealth of technology can help teams stay connected around the world, from Skype and Google Chat to Basecamp, Slack and many more.

5. Offer to take a salary cut. Many people feel that working from home is a reward in itself, saving you the hassle of commuting and increasing your quality of life. You can assign a monetary value to it, and suggest a pay savings for the company by letting you telecommute.

6. Get another flexible job offer, and let your boss match it. A job offer from another company can be very motivating for your boss to let you switch to a work-from-home arrangement.

What if your boss can’t match the competing offer? Then maybe it’s time to make the move to a more forward-thinking company—and start living the work-from-home lifestyle that you envision for yourself.

4 Entry-Level Jobs That Will Prep You for Entrepreneural Success | Deep Patel, Entrepreneur.com

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If you crave the life of an entrepreneur, don’t let the barriers to entry get you down. Take one of the following entry-level jobs and use your time in the workforce to get the experience you need to launch your own business.

1. Sales
A job in sales will teach you to stop trying to convince people that they need what you have and start listening to what they want. Once you recognize that the market dictates what you sell, and not the other way around, you’ll be prepared to run a successful startup.

2. Human Resources
HR pros keep businesses running. If you work as one, you will quickly learn how much things like timely payment, accurate sick-day counts and health insurance matter to workers. To keep your team happy, you’ll need to know what employees consider to be important. What better way to learn that than to take a job where they let you know?

3. Customer service
Customers range from the kindest people you will ever meet to those who become enraged when they can’t double their coupons. As an entrepreneur, you and your team will deal with all of them. Learn how to respond to customer complaints on someone else’s dime, so that when it’s your turn to do so, your learning experiences won’t have a negative impact on your bottom line.

4. Leadership
To be a truly successful entrepreneur, you must learn how to lead a team. Leaders invariably learn some tough lessons at the helm, but if you wait until you are running the whole operation, those lessons could cost you some of your best workers.

These positions and skill sets provide invaluable lessons for entrepreneurs, but they’re hardly the only ones. Reporters, insurance adjusters, accountants, teachers and consultants — these jobs and many others are full of learning opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.

If you have to work for someone else before you found your own company, don’t treat the opportunity with disdain. Learn everything you can on the job, so that when your time comes you can use those lessons to lead your company to success.

8 effective time management tips for entrepreneurs working from home | Toby Nwazor, e27.co

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If you are working from home, you will understand how challenging it can feel at times to manage your time effectively so as to increase your productivity. Below are eight points that can help you do that.

1. Prepare your to-do list every night before you sleep
If you really want to manage your time effectively, then you should wake up with tasks on your mind. And the best way to do this is to make a list of the next day’s tasks at night before you go to bed. That way, you can maximise your morning hours and achieve a lot more before the rest of the world get to work.

2. Prioritise your tasks
It is not enough to prepare a to-do list, you need to prioritise your goals. Divide your tasks according to what you must do, what you should do, what you want to do just because it’s nice, what another person can do for you, and what must not be done.

3. Work out a schedule, and maintain it
Assuming you had to go to work, what would your schedule look like? Duplicate it for the house. If you decide to work from 7 am to 4 pm, so be it. Make the people you live with understand it. This means that there will be no running of errands around that time, neither would you decide to hang out with a friend that just came into town.

4. Define and own your workspace
A few weeks ago, I hired someone to redesign my office. I told him I wanted to have an ‘office feeling’ whenever I entered that particular room, and he did it. After that, I noticed that I work faster when I get into the office and focus on a particular task.
You should do likewise. This will help you more if you live with a someone. In that case, let them know that unless it is very important, your office is where you work and there should be no distractions.

5. Work when you are the most productive
Although you work at home, you need to find out when you are the most productive. The secret is to schedule your most important tasks at that period. That way, you will accomplish more in less time.

6. Cut off distractions
Cut off every distraction. This could entail telling your family, or the people you live with not to disturb you when you are at work. Make them understand your schedule.

7. Avoid clutter
Don’t allow your workspace to be cluttered. This includes arranging your system files and folders and managing your email better too.

8. Take brain breaks regularly
You must try to avoid having burnouts at all costs. This is especially important if your job requires creativity. Work at a stretch for some time, but make sure to schedule breaks into your plan. This is the time you get to rejuvenate, listen to music, call a friend, or maybe just read a novel.

When you do this, you will come back rejuvenated and ready to take on more tasks.

 

41 Things You Should Say “No” To To Become The Person You Want To Be In Life And Business

This article was written by Danny Forest, founder of Power Level Studios, an Ontario-based independent video game development company. With him (and his team) being full-time, remote workers currently creating the studio’s flagship game titled “Soul Reaper: Rise of the Unreaps” and “Soul Reaper: Unreap Commander,” he has seen his fair share of productivity and motivational issues. Find out how he combats these problems and how you can too with these tips.

Bonus: Say “No” to scrolling through photos of cute puppies on the internet.


A lot of people think “success” is about saying “yes” to the right stuff. Well, that’s one side of a coin. There are many things we say “yes” to that we really should be saying “no” to.

I do many things in life, and all that started with the 3 skills I learn every month. If you read the story, you would think I’m a “yes” man, but truth be told, I’m a professional “no” man.


Personality

1. Mediocrity

You’re almost always better than you think you are.

“I’d rather choke on greatness than nibble on mediocracy” — https://boldomatic.com/p/SRmdTA/i-d-rather-choke-on-greatness-than-nibble-on-mediocracy

2. Procrastination

Stop thinking, start doing.

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” — Marcus Aurelius

3. Talking Shit About Yourself

Be positive. Don’t seek loathing, seek improvement.

“Don’t wish it was easier wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge wish for more wisdom.” — Jim Rohn

“Just remember; someone loves everything you hate about yourself” — Frank Ocean

4. Selfishness

Be a giver. Be happier.

“Selfish people end up having only their self.” — http://www.lovequotesmessages.com/selfish-quotes/

5. Perfection

Don’t waste time on perfection. Great is good enough.

6. Excuses

Ask why three times and you’ll know the real reason.

“Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses” — George Washington Carver

7. Always Comparing To Others

Spend time on self-improvement over fascination over competitors.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” — Theodore Roosevelt

8. Impulsive Decisions

Think deeper.

“Impulsiveness is the enemy of deep thinking” — https://www.askideas.com/60-best-thinking-quotes-and-sayings/


Health & Sleep

9. Unhealthy Food

The more you eat healthy, the tastier the food gets.

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live in.” — http://www.quotesofdaily.com/quote-on-eating-healthy/quote-on-eating-healthy-nice-and-funny-food-quotes/

10. Skipping A Meal

Your brain needs all the good nutrients it can get to function optimally. Eat better, not less.

11. Taking The Car

The grocery store is 15 minutes walk away? Walk to it!

12. The Snooze Button

Be so focused on achieving your goals and set tight deadlines and you won’t ever think about snoozing anymore!

“You Snooze, You Lose” — smart people

13. Partying Every Night

Enjoy a party, but don’t forget your goals, and resting of course!

“Everything in moderation, including moderation.” — Oscar Wilde

14. Stimulants Before Bed

Don’t get in the way of a good sleep.

“Sleep is the best meditation” — Dalai Lama


Productivity

15. Long Commute

Waste as little time as possible on non-productive activities.

16. Distractions

When comes time to be productive. Shut any distractions down.

“You can’t do big things if you’re distracted by small things” — http://www.picturequotes.com/distraction-quotes

17. Blockers Of Personal Progress

Bad friend? Block. Netflix? Block. Video Games? Block. Unblock when comes time to unwind.

18. Reading Things You Don’t Enjoy

Seriously. You don’t have to finish everything you start! The author won’t know. Stop reading shit things, there’s too much great stuff out there!

19. Completing Useless Things

Plan things. Organize priorities. Do the ones that matter.

“Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” ~ Peter Drucker

20. Planning Things That Don’t Need Planning

Planning is great and all, but don’t forget to execute!

“Just do it!” — Nike


Relationships

21. Takers

Say “yes” to givers. Give yourself.

“Know the difference between those who stay to feed the soil and those who come to grab the fruit.” — https://www.pinterest.com/explore/takers-quotes/

22. Social Media

Uninstall the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram apps from your phone. BAM! I gave you back an hour of your day!

23. Talking Shit About Others

Always be honest. Don’t be a hater.

“Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.” — unknown

24. Listening To Complaints About Others

Gossiping is poisonous. Avoid people who spread it.

“Who gossips to you will gossip of you” — Turkish Proverb

25. Naysayers

If someone doesn’t have time for you, don’t find time for them. Relationships are mutual.


Work-Life Balance

26. Bad Routines

Don’t get stuck in a non-productive routine. You can change things around.

27. Meetings Without An Agenda

These tend to last too long and have no focus. No sense of direction. Avoid them.

28. Overly Long Team Meetings

Bring people back on track or leave. Seems rude, but in the long run, people will thank you for it.

29. Bad Clients

To hell with the good money. If a client is not good to you, focus your energy on the good clients.

“It is better to starve than get a bad client.” — Massimo Vignelli

30. Good

Say “yes” to great.

“Good is the enemy of great” — Jim Collins

31. Cluttered Environment

Have a clean workspace, both physically, mentally and on your computer.

32. Responding To Messages Ad-hoc

As much as possible set blocks of times to answer messages.

33. Doing Life Stuff At Work

Give your full attention to your work, it won’t go unnoticed.

34. Doing Work Stuff At Home

Give you full attention to your family, it won’t go unnoticed.

“When you work, work. When you play, play. Don’t mix the two.” — Jim Rohn

35. Doing Things You Can Delegate

Find your superpower, delegate the stuff that’s outside of it.

36. A Bad Business Partner

Communication is key. Work things out or walk away.

“I can’t control your behavior; nor do I want that burden… but I will not apologize for refusing to be disrespected, to be lied to, or to be mistreated. I have standards; step up or step out.” — Steve Maraboli


Other

37. Your TV And Couch

Make your environment uncomfortable so you can focus on the things that matter.

38. Waiting For Things You Don’t Need To

Coffee machine? A traffic light when there are other options? A file upload? Just do something else!

39. Things That Don’t Work Towards Your Goals

Question the things you do. Better yet, question it before you start it.

“If it’s not a Hell Yeah!, it’s a no” — Derek Sivers

40. Comparing Apples To Oranges

Don’t waste time comparing things that don’t compare. It’s it’s quantified or qualified using a different set of attributes, it’s not the same thing!

41. Your Cellphone

Top productive people set their phones on Airplane mode for most of the day. For me, it has become a brick of sorts.

“Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.” — Steven Spielberg


Conclusion

Feel like saying “no” now?

You can start right away!

Learning to say “no” is a skill. Practice it. Master it. Become who you want to become.

You can do this!

Remote Work Digest: February 19, 2018

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

Working From Home? Use These 5 Tips to Stay Comfortable and Productive | Ronald Stanford, Classycareergirl.com

Working from home comes with certain challenges, especially for employees accustomed to working in an office environment. Read on to discover a few helpful tips for working from home, including ideas on how you can stay productive and comfortable so you can thrive at your job.

9361efca19911999dbde6b779ac4341e_SSS-Light-Blue-Office-6-814-363-cImage from Classycareergirl.com

1. Pin Down Your Work Habits
If you’re working from home, you may be setting your own schedule, and that means you need to learn to pay attention to how you manage your time.

Give yourself a few minutes before you start your day to make sure you have everything you’ll need, from a notepad and pens to a pair of headphones and a cup of coffee. Set specific times for breaks, including a lunch break, during which you should take the time to stretch your legs and get some fresh air.

2. Create a Schedule
Set an alarm and wake up at the same time every day. Eat a healthy breakfast and go about your morning routine as if you were heading into the office. Set up in an office or bedroom where you can close the door and concentrate.

3. Be Comfortable, But Not Too Comfortable
One of the most common mistakes made by at-home employees who ultimately find themselves lacking in productivity is that they attempt to work in their pajamas from their beds.

Get up, get dressed, put on shoes, and sit upright at a desk or table. Studies have shown that this has a psychological effect for many people, putting them in a productive state of mind that helps to increase focus and improve results.

4. Get Rid of Those Distractions
Your smartphone can be a huge source of distraction, especially if you don’t have a supervisor hanging out over your shoulder. If you need to leave your smartphone on, turn it upside down on your desk and turn off all push notifications. Use apps specifically designed to block social media during set hours.

5. Remember to Eat Lunch
Forgetting to eat can you to lose motivation, get tired, and even become combative when you don’t need to be. Just remember to give yourself half an hour to an hour of lunch time.

Follow these tips, stay focused and energized, and you’ll have everything you need to be a model remote employee!

Why Offering Paid Leave Is Good For Your Business | Adam Uzialko, Business.com

Yes, paid leave policies represent an additional cost, but the benefits they provide pay for themselves and some.

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Image from Business.com

Researchers have demonstrated that offering paid leave results in higher productivity, greater employee morale, and a net cost savings for companies in the long run. So, while budgetary-minded business owners might initially be wary of the additional expenses added to the balance sheet, the numbers show that paid leave more than covers itself in the end.

Family and medical leave
In some states, paid family leave is offered through state-backed Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) programs, meaning employees pay into the system but, generally, employers do not. In states without a TDI program, however, the only mandated requirement is that companies extend 12 weeks of job-protected leave – without pay – to employees under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Paid sick leave, on the other hand, is generally an employer-sponsored plan not mandated or supported by the government in any way. It’s important to note this distinction when discussing the types of paid leave policies and who is funding them. Each offers important benefits, though, to both companies and workers.

Greater productivity
In terms of paid sick leave, workers who would otherwise come into work sick – either because of a need to make money or fear of losing their position – are free to stay home, thereby protecting the rest of the workplace from infection. The spread of communicable disease has a devastating effect on productivity; for example, a New Jersey restaurant was forced to shut down for more than a week after a sick worker caused a mumps outbreak.

“Presenteeism is when people go to work sick and cause public health issues,” White said, “and the fact is that if people were able to take the time to stay at home and take care of themselves [with pay], this would not happen as often.”

On the family leave side, many employers already offer family leave, even if they are not required to do so by law. However, many small businesses do not or cannot extend paid leave to their employees. When workers have the security of knowing they won’t miss out on pay due to caring for a newborn or a family member, they tend to be less stressed in the workplace and more focused on their assigned tasks, reducing mistakes and increasing overall productivity.

“A happy, more satisfied employee who is not stressed out about family care issues is much more able to focus on doing a better job,” White said.

Heightened employee morale
Paid leave policies also have the impact of boosting employee morale, which leads to improved retention rates and better talent acquisition. By offering paid leave, companies are promoting a healthier work-life balance, which also contributes to the aforementioned stress reduction that translates into better day-to-day productivity.

“We did research on women in law firms, and what we found was that law firms invest an enormous amount of time and resources in hiring and training new attorneys, but if they don’t provide paid family leave, when female attorneys go off on maternity leave, they are less likely to return,” White said. “So off goes all those training dollars, time, and resources invested in that person.”

By offering a paid leave program and boosting retention rates, companies can avoid losing workers they’ve already substantially invested in and who know the way the workplace operates.

The case for paid leave
Paid leave, particularly family and medical leave, offers tangible business benefits that not only improve workplace morale but can help boost profitability in the long-term. From improved employee retention to heightened productivity, business owners reap the rewards of offering their employees what they need.

As Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Records has said, putting your staff first translates into success for your customers, your shareholders, and your overall business. Paid leave isn’t just a cost, it’s an investment in your staff, and it pays big dividends.

9 Time-Saving Life Hacks For Extremely Busy Working Women | Sonali Kokra, Swirlster.ndtv.com

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Image from Swirlster.ndtv.com

In the fast-paced, hectic and chaotic world we live in today, there are always too many things to do, too many places to be and too little time to do it all in. Fortunately, there exist life hacks that can make the ride a little bit smoother, by saving you little pockets of time on days when pulling off the balancing act between professional, personal and health commitments successfully can seem like an impossible dream. Here are nine life hacks that can help you in little ways every single day.

Learn to say ‘no’
Learning how to say no – politely, but firmly – is the single most important life skill to save time and be able to prioritise what’s truly important.

Buy a portable charger, already
It’s a pain in the posterior when your phone decides to blink with the annoying sign of a low battery at the precise minute you’re supposed to be on your way to keep an appointment. Save yourself some serious heartache by investing in a powerful battery pack for your phone.

Flip your mattress every three months
Flipping your mattress every few months will even it out and prevent it from sagging, which, in turn, will save you from a world of pain in the form of poor posture and backaches. Flipping your mattress will take a couple of minutes, but a hurting back will take a whole lot longer to deal with.

Keep snacking
If you take very long breaks between meals, your body will start tiring due to lack of glucose and productivity will dip. Snacking every couple of hours is not only good for your metabolism, but will also keep your energy levels high, enabling you to work at your optimum.

Keep salt, pepper, etc. in your drawer at work
You never know when you might need them and there’s nothing that can sour one’s mood faster than having to eat a bland meal because there was no time to run to the cafeteria for basic supplies.

Don’t incessantly check emails
Stopping what you’re doing to check every new email can distract you and make you lose focus on the current task. So allot specific times in the day to check and respond to emails – perhaps once when you start work, once before lunch and one before you wrap up for the day.

Unsubscribe from useless lists
Take 10 minutes every fortnight or so to unsubscribe from mailing lists you have no use for, especially e-commerce websites. They’ll draw you in with a product you never intended to buy and before you know it, you will have spent a lot of easily-saved time and money on the site.

Park your car a few lanes away
Force yourself to walk at least a little by parking your car a few lanes away from work. In addition to giving your body some physical exercise, it will give you time to think, which in turn increases productivity.

Keep wrist/ankle weights in your drawer at work
You may not have the time to go to the gym and do weight training, but there’s really nothing that is stopping you from stocking up from ankle and wrist weights at work and using them to tone and stretch your muscles a little. Use them while taking calls or during a brain-storming session with your peers to relax stiff muscles and get the blood flowing.

4 Common Sources of Job Frustration – and How to Cope with Them | Maurie Backman, Host.madison.com

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Image from Host.madison.com

Though no job is perfect, there comes a point when all of the negative feelings about one can really come to a head. If you’ve been down on your job lately, here’s how to get past some of the aggravation sources you might be dealing with.

1. Being micromanaged
Dealing with a micromanaging boss is never fun, especially if that person not only annoys you, but actually causes you to waste valuable time by constantly butting in and demanding updates on the work you’re doing. If you have the misfortune of reporting to a micromanager, your best bet is to figure out why your boss is constantly at your back. Is it a function of his or her personality, or is it something you did?

2. Having a packed meeting schedule
Be more judicious in the meeting invites you accept. Before you agree to attend a meeting, review its agenda and make sure your presence is truly required. If you can free up even an hour or two of time per week by saying no here and there, it’ll make a difference in your workload.

3. Your constant barrage of emails
Carve out a chunk of time each day to respond to emails, and ignore them otherwise. This way, you’ll be less likely to get distracted while working on important tasks.

Furthermore, having a set amount of time to address messages might enable you to vet them more properly.

4. Too much work and too little time
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your workload, your best bet is to set priorities and arrange your schedule around them, if possible. This is something you can do on either a weekly or daily basis, depending on which works best for you. Knowing what items you really need to tackle will help you stay focused and avoid getting sidetracked by minor tasks that can wait.

We all go through bouts of frustration at work, but if you’re looking to improve your experience at the office, it pays to address those issues at the source rather than let them fester. Follow these tips, and with any luck, you’ll soon come to be more content and less disgruntled.