Archive | January, 2019

10 Ways Working Parents Can Get More Sleep

January 31, 2019

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Life as a working parent is not easy. And there’s one complaint all parents have: I’m tired. So what’s the solution? Get more sleep, obviously. HA! Right? But there are a few steps you can take to ensure that you get a bit more sleep than you do right now. It all starts with prioritizing that sacred sleep time knowing that you’ll be a better parent and a better employee when you’re well rested.

  1. Prepare for the next day the night before. You’ll be able to sleep better knowing that you set yourself up for success tomorrow morning. That might mean packing lunches, picking out clothes, or just mentally going through the day’s schedule.
  2. Cut the caffeine in the early afternoon. (And try cutting back on it overall if you can. You’ll wake up more rested and without a caffeine headache.)
  3. Consider purchasing an alarm clock instead of having your phone sit next to your bed, tempting you to pick it up.
  4. Set an alarm each night for 30 minutes before your bedtime. At that time, put everything away, head to the bedroom, and start your evening routine. No excuses.
  5. What evening routine? You have a bedtime routine for your kids, why not yourself? Start a process that calms you down from drinking decaf tea to taking a shower to reading a book.
  6. Get some help. Perhaps you can hire someone to clean your house, do your laundry, or deliver your groceries, which can give precious time back to your sleep schedule.
  7. Invest in some sleep aides like a white noise machine, a weighted blanket, or room darkening curtains. These investments will pay off big!
  8. Avoid the blue light before bed. That means no TV, no phone, and careful on the e-reader.
  9. If you have a baby monitor, consider turning off the video feed and only keeping on the audio so the light doesn’t distract you as you sleep.
  10. Dress appropriately. That means yourself and your bed! Upgrade your pajamas, socks, and bedding so that you’re comfortable and warm–or cool if that’s what you’re looking for! Set yourself up for success.

Image via Stewart Baird/Flickr.

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How to Make Sure Your Coworkers Don’t Hate Your Meetings

January 29, 2019

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Ugh. Meetings. We can all agree that there are too many of them! It’s hard to, you know, get your work done when your day is filled with back-to-back engagements. In fact, too many meetings suffocate productivity and morale. It’s no fun to show up to a meeting and feel like your time would have been better spent elsewhere. Make sure that the meetings you host aren’t a cause of dread or stress for those who attend.

  1. State the purpose of the meeting.
    Open your meeting by describing why you’ve all gathered here at this moment. Why are you here, what will you be talking about, and, most importantly, why did you ask each of these people to attend? Describe whether you’re looking for feedback, approval, or ideas.
  2. Start–and end–the meeting on time.
    Respect everyone’s time by holding your meeting within the designated time frame. That means arriving on time and ending on time. Your coworkers have other commitments. Even when a topic may need more discussion, it’s best to give everyone the respect they deserve.
  3. Know when to call it. Don’t be afraid call a meeting short or schedule a follow-up when necessary. Some meetings are really effective and you’ve discussed a topic enough and can end early. Other times, you find yourself in the deep end. Instead of going over your scheduled time, set up a follow-up meeting.
  4. Don’t be afraid to cancel. If you have a standing weekly meeting, assess whether it’s really necessary today. Perhaps a quick email chain can suffice this week. Again know that everyone is pressed for time and your coworkers will much appreciate an additional 30 minutes added to their schedule.

Image via Gabriel Garcia Marengo/Flickr.

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Are You Mentally Strong?

January 25, 2019

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When things don’t go your way, is your first instinct to get angry? When something bad happens, do you dwell on the negativity? Do you often blame others before taking responsibility for your own life? Your answers to these questions may give you insight into how mentally strong you are. But what exactly does it mean to be mentally strong?

According to psychotherapist and author Amy Morin, mentally strong people “know how to regulate their emotions.” Even in the worst case scenario, “they can control their feelings well enough that they can move forward.” Self pity is thrown to the wayside. There’s no time to dwell on the problems because that takes time away from looking for solutions, which is another important characteristic of mentally strong individuals.

The ability to take positive action and identify concrete steps that will lead to success and happiness is imperative. They also know how to regulate their thoughts, Morin adds. They’re aware when their thoughts are overly exaggerated or negative and they can shift their minds to fix that thought process.

Morin recommends identifying your worst mental habit, whether it’s comparing yourself to others, dwelling on the past, being too hard on yourself, or forgetting to look on the bright side. After identifying this bad habit, work slowly on a daily basis to fix it. Become more self aware when your mind shifts to a bad place. Good habits like practicing gratitude, hanging out with friends, and exercising are also a key component to becoming mentally strong.

Watch the full video on CNBC here.

Image via Hey Paul Studios/Flickr.

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How Travel Can Help Your Career

January 23, 2019

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If you think “vacation” anytime someone says the word “travel,” think again. Travel is about exploration, adventure, and discovering. And the rewards this pursuit can bring are far and wide. In fact, they may even help you advance in your career. Here are a few ways travel can help you find more success at work.

You’re trying new things. Travel inspires us to get out of our comfort zone and do things that may not have done in the comfort of our daily routines and home life. Pushing your boundaries can teach you new things about yourself, increase your confidence, and maybe inspire you to make a change back at home.

You’re problem solving and making decisions on the fly. If there is one thing you can guarantee while traveling it’s that things won’t always go as planned. Learning how to deal with the unexpected is a life skill that’s worth mastering. You’ll learn how to temper your emotions and come up with the best solution in a less than ideal situation. You’ll have to trust your gut and make decisions that are best for you right now.

You’re making new friends fast. Whether you’re traveling alone, with family or friends, or as part of a tour group, you’ll absolutely stumble across new faces while traveling. Despite any language barriers and vast differences in backgrounds, you’ll communicate and thrive in order to survive. Getting along with all kinds of people is a skill that’s a necessity in the workplace.

You’re gaining a new outlook. Whether you’ve taken a relaxing vacation close to home or a taxing adventure far away, you’ll come out of it a changed person. Maybe it was a nice reminder to sit down and breathe every once in a while. Or perhaps it was a reminder of how great your life back at home really is.

Image via Hernán Piñera/Flickr.

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Is This the Ultimate Key to Work-Life Balance?

January 17, 2019

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The Harvard Business Review may have uncovered the key to work-life balance. Ready for it? Get a hobby. It turns out that a hobby is the one thing that allows successful CEOs to completely check out and recharge, which is good for their work life and their home life.

In “Why CEOs Devote So Much Time to Their Hobbies,” the Harvard Business Review identified and analyzed 50+ S&P 500 CEOs who seriously pursue a leisure activity in their free time. These leisure activities range from hobbies like training for a marathon or learning how to fly a plane to passion projects like volunteering for a meaningful cause.

You can probably already tell that these hobbies are no small commitment. (Getting a pilot’s license?! Running a marathon?!) It almost sounds like these activities would bring on more stress! But they actually do the opposite, according to interviews with some of these ambitious CEOs. The hobby provides total detachment from the workplace which is exactly what an overwhelmed employee needs at the end of the day. It’s safe to say that learning to fly would require your full and complete attention! No time to think about your remaining to-do list back at work.

A hobby is also a good practice in personal development. With time and commitment, you get better and better. It’s good inspiration and motivation to take back to your workplace. But it also provides the opposite learning opportunity: sometimes you suck at something. And that’s ok. You can’t be good at everything, which is a humbling experience for any leader or employee.

Read the rest of the article over at the Harvard Business Review.

Image via christoph habel/Flickr.

 

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How to Manage Your Energy Instead of Your Time

January 15, 2019

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You probably spend a lot of time obsessing over your phone’s battery during the day. I’m running low on juice, I need a charge stat! But when was the last time you focused on your own depleting energy? Time is a finite resource–there are only 24 hours in a day. But so is your energy, and it’s much harder to measure.

The only way to guarantee that you’ll have enough fuel to power you through the day–and let’s face it, the whole work week–is to incorporate activities into your life that reenergize you. These rituals and behaviors will become part of a new self-care routine that can propel your productivity, your happiness, and your career success forward.

Here are some ideas to reenergize your mind, your body, and your spirit:

  • Walk away from your desk and take a 30 minute lunch break either alone (if that feels most fulfilling to you) or with someone else (if you feed off other’s energy).
  • Cut out habits that interrupt your sleep cycle like drinking caffeine, reading on your phone in bed, or working out too close to your bed time.
  • Start volunteering for an organization that means a lot to you.
  • Sign up for an exciting learning opportunity at work or outside of work that will increase your skills or knowledge.
  • Take a vacation day mid-week.
  • Get up 30 minutes earlier so you can prepare and eat a fulfilling breakfast.
  • Set an earlier bedtime.
  • Take an afternoon walk: outside, inside, on a treadmill, wherever! Just get moving during the afternoon slump.
  • Set a meal plan for the week (including breakfasts, lunches, and healthy snacks!) so your grocery shopping trip can be more efficient and purposeful, and you won’t be grabbing unhealthy food on the go.
  • Mentor a younger coworker or ask someone to become your mentor.
  • Book a much-needed vacation and completely unplug.

What makes you feel recharged? Comment below!

Image via Paralog/Flickr.

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How to Add a Bit of Personality to Your LinkedIn Profile

January 10, 2019

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These days, applying to job applications online and networking via LinkedIn can make the whole job search experience feel cold. How can one truly connect human-to-human if all we’re doing is clicking and reading? It’s possible, and the effort it takes is well worth your time. Not only will you stand out from the rest, but you’ll leave people wanting more… which means they’ll just have to meet you in person!

  1. Your profile photo. Look at the camera directly as if you’re staring confidently into the eyes of someone you just met for the first time. It’s ok to smile, laugh, and show a bit of personality with a colorful top, an interesting background, or an outdoors setting. If possible, ask a friend with a high quality camera to capture a well-lit shot. Quick photo tip: avoid direct mid-day sun that creates harsh shadows.
  2. Your writing style. If you met someone for the first time, would you talk about your background in the third person? Write using the first person, using words like “I” and “my,” in a conversational and friendly tone. Pretend you’re sitting in a job interview. What would you want the interviewer to know about you?
  3. Your personal life. Weave in a few interesting bits of information about yourself. Whether it’s a sentence at the end of your bio that gives a glimpse into who you are after work or a fun fact dropped within a position description, this information will help people connect with you on a human level. Make them want to meet you.

Image via @rawpixel/Unsplash. 

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What’s More Important: Experience, Education, or Network?

January 8, 2019

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Ask ten different people this question and you’ll likely get ten different answers. That’s because education, experience, and your network are all valuable assets to everyone’s career success. But are they weighted equally? That’s what’s up for debate.

According to the 70-20-10 model, which was created in the 1980s by three researchers, the “optimal sources of learning” can be broken down as such: 70% from your work experiences, 20% from your “interactions with others”, and 10% from your formal education. So day-to-day hands-on learning by far is the best way to improve your skills and therefore up your career potential.

But don’t dismiss interacting with others. That includes anything from networking to career mentors to insight from coworkers. We can always learn a lot from others. Anyone who’s looking to grow in their careers and progress in their field should be dedicating time to this pursuit.

When it comes to professional development, just 10 percent should be coming from formal training and education. It turns out we just tend to retain information better from hands-on learning on the job. It makes sense because we tend to get feedback–both good and bad–which means we can learn even more and drastically improve our skills. Not bad!

How do you think these three variables have affected your career success? Comment below!

Image via Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash.

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Do You Manage Yourself?

January 4, 2019

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Maybe you’re a manager. Or maybe you’re managed by someone else. But have you really considering how you manage yourself? Say what?

Sure, there’s likely someone you report into who is guiding your career in some shape or form. That person may be giving you an annual review or keeping track of your weekly or monthly goals. However, truly successful people don’t let others take the reins–they manage themselves.

It’s up to you to manage your day-to-day schedule from your wake-up call to your bedtime. It’s up to you to consider how you will best get your work done today, this week, and this month. And it’s up to you to take a look at your career trajectory and decide which step is next.

So, how would you say you’re doing? Are you a good manager? Give yourself the same amount of respect and attention that you believe you deserve from someone else. These not-urgent-but-important tasks like learning new skills, getting your life organized, and prioritizing your goals easily get pushed to the wayside. But a good manager carves out time for the things that will yield big results. So what are you waiting for?

Image via Laurenz Kleinheider/Unsplash.

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Forget the To-Do List. Get More Productive with This Trick.

January 2, 2019

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You know those not-urgent-but-super-important tasks on your to-do list? They likely have sat on your to-do list for, well, an eternity. They’re constantly overshadowed by the urgent-but-not-important tasks as well as whatever easy tasks can get crossed off quickly. Because when we cross things off our to-do lists, well, we feel productive! Yet somehow we’re still behind on life and not achieving our goals. What gives?

Perhaps the issue is the time-old to-do list. Maybe it just doesn’t work the way we want it to, at least that’s what the Harvard Business Review suggests. But thankfully they have a solution, and it’s called time-boxing. It’s essentially migrating your to-do list to your calendar. You calculate how much time you need for a task and then you schedule it into your calendar. Hour by hour. Box by box. Day by day. Week by week.

There are a lot of reasons why this practice will make you more productive. For one, you’ll have a record of your time (no more “Where did the time go?” excuse!). When you plan ahead like this, there’s little chance of majorly missing a big deadline. And we all know that we tend to drag out work to fit within the time that is available to us instead of the time we really need. (Which can be both good and bad!) Giving yourself a limit and a restraint can help you stay focused and dedicate the proper amount of time to our projects.

Interested in learning more? Read about time boxing at the Harvard Business Review.

Image via @rawpixel.

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