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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

So if last week that description of burnout felt all too familiar, we’ll focus on some action steps you can take to steer yourself on a healthier path. Here are three tips to try out to reduce burnout.

  1. Slow down – a lot of burnout stems from working long hours on too many things and not giving yourself a moment to breath. Find some ways to pace yourself. It could be as simple as finding time to work out, eating healthy, stepping away from your desk for a few moments or take up meditation and mindfulness techniques. Rather than shooting off emails immediately, take a moment between each one to have a sip of water, and think about how you’d like to respond. Taking that extra moment let’s you avoid being reactionary and you may catch some spelling mistakes.
  2. Switch it up – sometimes what you need is a change of pace. Try asking for a different responsibility at work, and it could be one that doesn’t even relate to your daily role. Learn a new skill outside of work that’s totally different than what you do each day. It could be something that would further your career or help open doors into exciting opportunities. Even in your daily routine you could try to break up the monotony by doing things a little differently. If you always start with emails and finish with reports, switch the order to give your brain a little jump.
  3. Cut the fat – keep track of the items in your role that really frustrate or dull you. Review them, and think about ways you could slice them out a bit. Even better? Review the things that really get you going at work and see if you can tip the scale towards more of that. Consider talking to your superior about some responsibilities you’d like to take on and try to craft the role that you’d like to be playing at your company. It may not happen immediately, but just having something as a goal in the long run can give your brain a happy boost.

Overall, burnout is really scary, and if you’re feeling really low, consider talking to a professional about it. Either a career counselor or a regular counselor can help you analyze what’s going on and give you a safe space to talk through exactly how you’re feeling now, and what changes you could make for the future – all while staying involved weekly on your progress. Good luck!

Credits:
http://lifehacker.com/5674007/burnout-and-how-to-deal-with-it
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/30/your-money/a-solution-to-burnout-that-doesnt-mean-less-work.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
http://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2014/11/07/how-to-cure-your-burnout-without-quitting-your-job/2/

Hi hi! Just a quick blurb on a fun product I’ve been trying out called Happify. The app can be used on your phone or computer (I’ve been using my computer more often as it’s a nice mid-day break). An awesome product to help you think positively and refocus a bit. NYtimes just covered the product last week and I was pretty excited to read how much they liked it, too! It’s easy to use and they say it’s backed by science, which, makes it feel pretty damn official.

They wrote about a couple other products too, check out the review here.

Sidebar: I don’t work for Happify or anything, I just have been using their product for the past few months!

surprising employee engagement tactics

Hi Guys!

Employee Engagement. Hot topic, per usual. I found a couple articles talking about interesting ways to encourage employee engagement, overall employee happiness while reducing burnout. Without further ado…

  1. Pay people to take a vacation – no seriously. People need breaks, and with the number of Americans who don’t take their full vacation time each year, this is a really good way to ensure your employees don’t burnout. By offering funding to take a vacation, or giving them a bonus, they’ll be much more likely to take one. And come back to the office bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!
  2. No desks! – shut down your office, f’reals. You probably read about the Amsterdam office that turns into an event space at night, but this is a nice way to encourage people to go home. One of the easiest ways to get your office to shut down is for the higher-ups to go home. That’s it. Just send the bosses home. Deal with it tomorrow. It will still be there. Unless you’re performing open heart surgery. Then please stay and wrap that up.
  3. Enforce a “rest” period – one reason why people don’t like to take vacations is they’re nervous they’ll miss something. Well, if the whole company shuts down, there’s nothing to miss! TED and Quirky both take weeks off throughout the year where they shut everything down, forcing people to go away and take a load off.
  4. Email 40/wk – it’s hard to get away from emails if you need to be “on” all the time, but for those of us who can step away, consider setting personal “no email” times. I for one will not email after I’ve left the office unless it’s absolutely urgent. Also, if I’m sending an email on the later side I’ll clarify if it requires a response or can wait til the next day. That way, I’m making sure people know they don’t need to be glued to their devices.
  5. Create a culture committee – select people to meet with your employees and get a feel for what they’re looking for as events. Also, they can help plan birthday parties, holiday parties and basically make work awesome. And they can find cool events in the area to attend that are related to your business to learn more about your industry.
  6. Purpose Day – encourage your employees to give back by giving them paid days to go help out. After they do, try having them write about their experience and share with the whole company so people can hear about it! Bonus points? Create a volunteer-board or partner with a specific volunteer organization to make volunteering easy.
  7. Pay people to quit – Zappos and Amazon both will pay people to quit. I love this idea as it makes sure that the people that you employ actually want to be there. By paying people to quit you’re not only giving them a cushion to decide what’s next, but protecting your bottom line. People who don’t want to be at work are generally less productive than those who do!
  8. Let people WFH – just sometimes, let people WFH. Surprisingly, they may get more work done working from home and can take a little mental break from the daily grind.
  9. Useful perks – talk to your employees and find out what they are looking for. Consider things for their health, i.e. gym memberships, yoga classes, a meditation room, onsite flu-shots. Or think about things that will make their life easier, i.e. dry-cleaning service, home-cleaning service, partnerships with a food delivery service or restaurants in the area. Maybe even onsite childcare.
  10. Reviews & 1x1s – we know it’s important to have annual reviews, but those weekly/bi-weekly reviews help, too. It gives everyone a chance to make sure they’re fulfilling their goals, being utilized properly and are generally pleased with life at your company.


Credits: Washington Post, Inc, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Desk designed by Nathan Thomson from the Noun Project, @iconmonstr

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

 

The Busy Trap

You know that mug, “You have as many hours in the day as Beyonce”? I love that mug. (Available for pre-order here). I love it not because it reminds me that I have not yet found my flawless diva fame, but instead, it’s a reminder that in order to do that, I better start prioritizing what’s actually important to me.

As a society, between smart phones, text messages and constant communication, whenever you ask someone how they’re doing, or how work is, it’s “busy.” Everyone is busy. Very very busy. It’s why we show up late to dinners, or not at all. It’s why we never emailed you back, or forgot your birthday. We also kind of love showing off just how busy we are, and it can make us feel super important. And I understand that. But after missing one too many invitations, I went hunting for some ideas to move away from The Busy Trap, and I found an article from Lifehacker on becoming an Essentialist taken from the Harvard Business Review and their Humblebrag article. Here are some tips below!

 

  • Schedule a personal quarterly off site Take some time to really think about yourself, your goals, and what’s important to you. Every three months, write down what you want to accomplish coming up. Not only will it give you some strong focus, it could also help you on ensuring that you’re finding Purpose in your daily life.
  • Rest well to excel  Arianna Huffington for making sleep a priority, and we should, too. Seriously. If you’re not sleeping enough, you’re practically working drunk, and, your ability to make decisions diminishes drastically. If you know you’ll have a late night coming up, plan ahead and see how you can proactively think about where you can sneak in more rest.
  • Add expiration dates to activities – Maybe you wanted to learn Spanish this year or guitar. Don’t push yourself to sign up for a full year of guitar lessons, instead, create a schedule and smaller milestones to reach. One trick can be to reward yourself when you’ve reached a specific goal and how you’d like to extend that activity. Such as, if you think you’d like to become a marathon runner, start with a goal to run two times a week for a month. Once you wrap the month, you can reassess how you feel about the activity and if it’s something you’d like to continue, or adapt.
  • Say no to a good opportunity every week – We are full of excitement to try the latest restaurant or see a new band that’s playing in town. However, it’s essential to figure out when you need to recharge, and, the types of activities that truly nourish you. So, this week you might say no thanks to that restaurant date and instead, ask if they’d like to come over and learn how to cook Ina’s latest recipes. Either way, give yourself the space to say no to things that carve time away from what you enjoy doing.

These four tips helped me start considering how to make more time for myself. I schedule my gym times, and I don’t cancel on plans anymore. Or at least, as much as I used to. I also follow the Two Minute Rule by James Clear: if emailing you back, or sending a funny birthday e-card is only going to take two minutes, I do it. Right now. Immediately. If I bumped into you on the street and said, “hey, let’s hang out!” I’m going to email you the next moment I’m sitting at a computer to let you know I meant it.

 

Credits: @iconmonstr

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