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We hear it in yoga all the time, to set an intention for your practice. And if you haven’t done yoga before, consider yourself warned! However, setting an intention for your practice, can apply to your day, too. Some folks try doing these each morning when they wake up, but for this week you could try just setting an intention for your day. Something that can help set it is writing it down. Maybe you want to focus on your breath today, or maybe you want to simply focus on being today. By writing it down (or saying it to yourself), you’re giving yourself a bit of a guiding light to focus your energy and efforts for the day. It’s a nice way to keep perspective.

Enjoy setting an intention!

After all that burnout talk, we’re switching gears a bit to talk about happiness. Happiness can feel like an incredibly elusive goal and the journey to “get” more happiness in our lives can seem pretty absurd. It’s not even quite clear how you can “get” happiness. With science to the rescue though, there are some science-supported tips on how you can be happier. So read on, get happy, share happy!

  1. Practice (Body) Self-Care: Eat well, exercise, and get some sleep. By taking care of your body, you’re automatically setting yourself up for an rush of happy endorphins.
  2. Practice (Mind) Self-Care: Meditate, meditate and maybe practice some more meditation. All the science out there on wellbeing and happiness gives a quick nod to meditation.
  3. Be Grateful: Focusing on what makes you grateful each day, and telling people just how much they mean to you can give you a bright boost of good vibes. Try writing down at the end of the day what makes your grateful, or even what brought you joy today. Writing down and reminding yourself of joyful, grateful and positive things can massage your brain in a nice way.
  4. Spend Quality Time with Others: Making an effort to see friends, family and cultural events can make you happier. Get on out there and see a movie, play or have a cup of coffee with a friend. If you really want to supercharge it, the next time you want to buy yourself something, instead, try buying a gift for someone else or spending that money on an experience you can share with someone.
  5. Volunteer: Giving yourself up to a cause and focusing on helping others can make you feel happier. If you’re looking for ideas to get started on volunteering, check out: VolunteerMatch.org, Idealist.org, allforgood.org and createthegood.org
  6. Focus on Hope: By setting specific goals, thinking about the future and planning for it you can increase your happiness. Giving more energy to hopeful activities in the future can deliver an optimistic view. Maybe set some straightforward goals (how about working out regularly from step 1?!) or start planning a trip. Putting energy in the good things to come can reduce stress and get you pumped about what’s next.
  7. Get Outside: Boy oh boy the good that nature can do. Going for a quick walk, hike, camping, eating lunch outside, exploring a new neighborhood, anything outside will have a positive effect. Even a daily stroll around the block or deciding to take that cup of coffee to go sit on a park bench can do wonders.

And don’t forget: we all get happier as we age, so there’s simply more good stuff to come!

What works for you to get a fun happy boost?

Credits:
http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/10-scientifically-proven-ways-to-be-incredibly-happy-wed.html
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/pressure-proof/201504/want-less-stress-and-more-happiness-try-hope
http://www.businessinsider.com/science-backed-things-that-make-you-happier-2015-6

Vacationing for Brain Space (2)

Hi All! I was busy celebrating my friend’s wedding but I have one post for you this week about vacationing. Then I’m going to GO on vacation! I’ll be back in a couple of weeks, but hopefully ya’ll will enjoy reading past posts while I’m out.

In an article from Forbes about employees taking vacation, they found, “Only 25% said they use all their paid days each year and 61% said that while they’re on vacation, they continue to work. A quarter of respondents said that a colleague got in touch about work while they were on vacation and 20% heard from their boss.”

Ouch. So what  are some reasons why they aren’t taking vacation? 33% are concerned about coverage, 28% are too scared to fall behind and 17% are worried they will lose their jobs. Holy smokes, with those kinds of numbers I’d be nervous to go, too!

But! Party people have no fear because so far what I’ve found is that vacation is uber important. Especially when we see statistics like 80% of employees feel stress at work or 70% of healthcare visits are stress-related.

Here are some things an unplugged (i’m talking auto-responder on and no sneaky emailing) vacation can do for you:

  • Boosts creativity
  • Lowers burnout
  • Increases quality of work
  • Improves productivity
  • Helps renew and regenerate
  • Reduces stress and anxiety, now, and for the future

Nervous about a full vacation? Here are some compromises! Maybe try just one of them, not all of them. A two-day staycation where you check email isn’t vacation. It’s a weekend that you worked through.

  • Staycations still count if you’re trying to save money – maybe you can reorganize that closet you’ve been eyeing, or go eat brunch on a random Wednesday morning
  • If you’re concerned about falling behind / coverage try short bursts of availability – tell your team the exact times you’ll be in your hotel checking email, and let them know the types of emails and questions they should be sending. That way, if there’s anything truly severe, they can reach you, and you’ll feel on top of stuff.
  • Avoid the guilt – Encourage other coworkers to take vacations and promote a positive environment that encourages full breaks to recharge. Maybe try to avoid emailing while people are out unless it’s urgent.
  • No time? Take a mini-break! – short, quick breaks are good for you, too. So yes, go take a look at that puppy video!

And in the meantime, check out this cute tip list from Boston College Carroll School of Management: tip sheet: the importance of taking a “work-free” vacation

 

See ya’ll on the flipside!

 

Credits: HuffingtonPost, PsychologyToday, About, abcnews, @iconmonstr

Improve by Nabbing Effective Feedback

For a company or manager, feedback can be one of your best tools to encourage strong employee engagement. (Personal feedback is essential as well, but today, I’m just focusing on company/manager feedback.)

By getting feedback often, you’re offering your colleagues to keep you informed of any negative behavior, and give you ample time to make changes. Here are some tips below for obtaining productive feedback:

  1. Ask for it. Often. – Feedback is frequently overlooked as a valuable tool, but by making feedback a consistent aspect of your time, you’ll get constant great ideas from your employees.
  2. Make Anytime Feedback Time – by having an open-door to new ideas or issues within the company, your employees will realize that you’re interested in hearing their feedback. Try having weekly office hours, or 1x1s with individuals.
  3. Focus on process, not people – Ask questions about the company, processes and items that can be controlled. Steer clear of personality questions.
  4. Follow-up and make good on your promises – It’s important to follow-up with your employees. That way, they’ll know you take their feedback seriously. By making good on your promises, they’ll know you also take action on their feedback. Both of these items will result in them sharing more often.
  5. Make it comfortable – You want to hear from everyone, so start to take notice of who speaks when. People may need to meet 1×1, small groups, or go completely anonymously to deliver straightforward, honest feedback. Make it clear that you’re interested in what they have to say, and value their opinions. Avoid challenging their issues, but rather, challenge them to offer solutions.

Here are some great sample questions to get the conversations flowing:

  • Why do you work for this company? Why do you stay?
  • In your current role do you feel that you make a difference?
  • Does your supervisor provide on-going feedback?
  • How have we thanked you for your service in the past six months?
  • Do we support you in your professional development? How does this line up with your personal development?
  • What’s the one thing you desire to see improved within our organization? How would you fix it?
  • If you were in my shoes and could make all the decisions, what would you do and why?
  • Who is our number-one competitor in our industry?
  • What are people saying about our company?
  • Do you know what our mission and core beliefs are?
  • How do you and your team typically receive company-wide information?
  • Did you have the tools and resources you needed to effectively do your job?
  • Would you recommend this as a great place for a friend to work?

Happy feedback-hunting!

 

 

Credits: themuse, entrepreneur, entrepreneur2, betterworks, Chat designed by Alberto Guerra Quintanilla from the Noun Project

 

ask these questions before signing on the dotted line-2

So you got into the final rounds of that interview. Congratulations! It’s an exciting, overwhelming time when you’re interviewing and entertaining offers. Being the popular gal at the party can feel pretty great, but before you sign on the dotted line, Business Insider has some ideas of what you should be asking to be sure this is the right place for you.

  1. Does this employer or job align with my values? If not, you may want to think again. Or, decide if the economic benefits outweigh the need to be passionately happy in your job.
  2. Is this the right kind of culture for me? We talked about that earlier, this nebulous “culture”, but you should start asking about it in your interviews. Ask about how people work together, is there trust, what happens when things go wrong?
  3. What’s the word on the street about this company? Check glassdoor, employees you know, friends of friends, friends that work for competing companies. People talk about their work, and by listening carefully you’ll pick up interesting bits and pieces.
  4. Will this let me use my best skills? You should think about how much of your day will be filled with the work you like to do, and how much will be the work that you may be good at, but isn’t quite right for you. Each new job is an opportunity to hone your favorite skills.
  5. Does this company support my long-term goals? This depends on how long you plan on being there. If you want to be there a while, find out how long others stay, and how the company encourages people to succeed within the ranks.
  6. How much autonomy will I have? This is a huge one, as I’ve been reading about how people need time to work in their “flow” in order to be happy.
  7. Will I like my new boss? If you haven’t met them through the interview process, that’s a problem. Ask to meet with their other direct reports or people they work with daily so you can ask what their management style is right from the source.
  8. What’s the physical environment? Can you hear a pin drop, or is it so bustling you can’t think straight? Either way, figure out what work environment works best for you.
  9. How will this role affect my personal life? Long hours, crazy demands, people who like to party on the weekends. Find out the work style, and make sure it works with your style.
  10. How’s the commute? Living in NYC the commute just comes with the territory, but if you’re a driving person, make sure the distance won’t drive you crazy. And consider books on tape.
  11. How is this job different than my last job? No job is perfect, and you’ll find things you don’t like about this place, too. But, it should be a fix on the things that pushed you to look for a new job.
  12. Trust your gut. Your gut is pretty smart. If you’re feeling YES YES YES, take it! If there’s something giving you pause, sleep on it for a few days, or meet with more people.

Happy hunting!

 

Credits: Make a Friend designed by Matt Brooks from the Noun Project

Dear Coworker, Please Stop Emailing Me

Hi All! I had a really wonderful brunch this past weekend and we got into the topic of when/how we prefer emails/chats/etc in the workplace. (And in dating, but that’s for a different type of blog 😉 ). It also fell in line with a Monster article that was published last week on how we should communicate on our various platforms. Let me start off to just explain. I hate email. I’m a senior project manager for graphic design and branding firm and the number of emails I receive a day simply lends itself to items being lost in the shuffle of life. I worked out a system for myself, and have worked diligently with my teams as well on some of what I outline below. This way, as a team, we’re all greatly reducing our email overload and our jobs are moving past an email-only world. Now we even understand the value of gasp, getting up and just talking to each other! I wanted to share some of the rules I follow in order to maintain sanity in my day-to-day life.

Email is Good for:

  • Bulleted lists of questions or needs
  • Meeting recaps with next steps
  • Task-oriented emails (with people called out in bold)
  • Project recaps, or “What You Missed Last Week”
  • Consensus emails, i.e. “The team agreed on x, y, z”

Email is Bad for:

  • Long-winded emails filled with questions/concerns and lack of action
  • Cc’ing people just so they are “aware”
  • Back-and-forth call and responses
  • Multiple subjects in one email, or, multiple email chains for one subject

Chat is Good for:

  • Quick questions
  • Follow-up on specific needs
  • Finding consensus on a topic
  • Chatting about fun stuff

Chat is Bad for:

  • Bulleted lists of questions or needs
  • Task-oriented notes
  • Project recaps
  • Multiple subjects
  • Long-winded comments/notes
  • Trash-talking (but you knew that, right?)

Phone/In-Person is Good for:

  • Professional or quick check-ins
  • Finding people who work in “flow”mode and rarely check email or chat systems
  • Consensus building
  • Off-color conversations, aka mild trash talking
  • Emergencies
  • Pleasant conversations and rapport building

Phone/In-Person is Bad for:

  • Multiple needs
  • Confusing requests
  • Items that require more than one person to weigh in

Curious how other people make their lives a little less-email-heavy, but this is what I do!

 

Credits: Headache designed by Ed Harrison from the Noun Project, @iconmonstr

employee engagement

Guys, I’m still on this crazy Gallup kick. It’s been really wonderful reading a report that has fantastic data and ideas to help focus my search for ways to be happier at work.

When I first started out, I wanted to make sure that focusing on employees’ happiness, wellbeing and engagement encouraged business results as well, and everything Gallup tells me, is that it does:

When organizations successfully engage their customers and their employees, they experience a 240% boost in performance-related business outcomes compared with an organization with neither engaged employees nor engaged customers.

Holy smokes. 240% increase? I think we can agree that 240% is pretty good. So how do we engage for the customer experience?

Recognize that every employee plays a key role – it’s not just sales team, it’s also administration, I/T and everyone else in the organization. All of your employees help your customers in their own way. Take time to understand how the work they do connects ultimately to the customer. Make sure everyone knows how their role impacts customers, even if they aren’t customer-facing.

Build your brand – make sure your company’s core elements are clear in the workplace. Learn how to communicate as your company’s brand identity, and build on your purpose. Ask your company for feedback and ways to improve the brand and its communication.

Share your brand – make it simple to understand your company’s brand purpose and identity. Create wallet cards that outline what your brand stands for. Set up quick meetings to share information around the brand and check-in, making sure employees understand what your brand stands for.

Build brand ambassadors – you love your company, but it’s good to make sure not only your sales team, but everyone loves your company and knows what it stands for. That way, they’re still an ambassador outside of work, on the weekends, at a networking event. Make sure your employees:

  • Know what your company stands for and what makes you different than your competitors
  • Understand your company’s brand promise and are able to explain the most important elements of the brand identity to others
  • Are empowered to deliver on the brand promise

By focusing on your company’s brand, and making sure everyone can speak to it, they’re already more engaged in the work that you do and can believe in it and speak to it. Or, you could always try opening your financial books, too.  It can be super effective.

 

Credits: @iconmonstr

 

 

mindfulness

Continuing along the thread of meditation, mindfulness and “Me” time, there was a great article on Inc about finding mental space.

  1. Schedule meetings for 45 minutes instead of one hour to build in time to synthesize your thoughts in-between meetings, and don’t forget to find out what the purpose of the meeting is.
  2. Create a recurring, weekly meeting with yourself, to reflect on your thoughts about yourself, your team and your goals. You can also try writing down at the end of each day what you accomplished. It’s shown to boost productivity and can help you stay focused at work and prepare for your reviews.
  3. Try a silent commute once a week to give your brain some time to think and debrief.
  4. Take a walk.  In the morning to prepare for your day; after lunch to get fresh air and re-energize; in the evening to unwind and reflect on your day.
  5. Disconnect from all forms of technology for one hour a week to get back in touch with things and people who are right in front of you. (i.e., experience real life vs. virtual life)
  6. Practice mindfulness by truly focusing on what you’re doing, the sounds, feeling, motions, etc.
  7. Do nothing for two minutes to give your brain a break

It’s nice to take a break.

 

Credits: Meditation designed by Matt Brooks from the Noun Project, @iconmonstr

email overload

While we work out how to find our own focus and purpose in the workplace, we all know that cell phones, instant messages and email can bring all that focus to a stop. Here are some tricks to get you out of email overload. You can also check out here, here and here.

  1. Only check your inbox at specific times – this can be hard for some of us, but by setting “work times” and minimizing your email window, you’d be surprised how much you can get done without distractions
  2. Set up an auto reply – great for when you’re heading into a meeting or a call so that people know when you’ll get back to them
  3. Turn off notifications – guys. this is the best thing i’ve ever done on my cell phone. not only does it save battery, it means I only get emails when I’m ready to get in the work-zone
  4. Use an email client – there are several. try: inky, sanebox or mailbox
  5. Unsubscribe – unroll.me can help you filter out unnecessary emails, and it actually keeps me from spending money (avoiding the SALE emails really helps)
  6. Don’t always email – phones, they’re a thing. walk on over to your coworker and hash things out quickly rather than a string of emails going back and forth forever
  7. Write emails in bullet-point format – clear, concise, to the point. you’re more likely to get the answers you need and your point of view across
  8. Set curfews – remember that your time off of work, is just that, time off of work. it doesn’t count if you’re answering emails at 1am and 5am
  9. Keep your inbox at zero – there are different opinions on this, but personally, I know keeping emails unread makes me feel a little anxious
  10. Reply all – only use this when all parties need to know, and be sure to highlight when you expect someone to answer you specifically (otherwise we all glaze over during those long-running threads, don’t we?)

I’m sure there are more tips on how to avoid email overload, but it sure takes up a lot of my day, and some of these tips have really helped me.

 

Credits: @iconmonstr

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