7 Hacks That Will Improve Your Life

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Do you ever feel overwhelmed at work, like you don’t know why you’re there because you just can’t seem to accomplish anything? You’ve tried every trick in the book, you’ve scoured the web for tips on getting more organized, but the idea of becoming more productive just makes you dizzy.

Well we’ve compiled a few fresh ideas that’ll trick your brain into being better, faster, stronger with little to no effort!

1. Think Positive. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the more positively you think about yourself and your work, the more productive and accomplished you’ll actually become! Never underestimate the power of self-validation. The more you believe that what you’re doing makes an impact, the faster it will manifest into truth. If you think of yourself as unproductive, you will become unproductive.

2. Eat Smart…foods! You are what you eat: eat junk, work like junk. Eat strong, work like a beast! Foods that have high levels of caffeine and processed sugar are terrible for brain activity. That grande latte with an extra shot of espresso or that canned energy drink might give you a jolt of energy and make you feel like you’re awake and getting a lot done, but in reality, you’re just experiencing an overwhelming rush of adrenaline and that always wears off. Instead, try boosting your brain cells with magnesium and fiber packed foods like pumpkin and sunflower seeds, nuts, blueberries, fish, tomatoes, dark green vegetables, avocado and chocolate…oh, yes we did! Just make sure it’s at least 70% dark chocolate or even a handful of cocoa nibs mixed in with some Greek yogurt or sugar-free oatmeal.

3. Get Smelly. Aromatherapy has been used for centuries for several purposes. The olfactory bulbs are little nuggets of nerves connected to the parts of the brain that control processing learning, memory and emotions. The best scents for boosting productivity are lemon and other citrus fruits as well as cinnamon. Lavender, peppermint and rosemary are all very calming, which can help you relax and focus on work, but you risk your workspace smelling like Grandmother’s cottage. You can boost the effect by drinking hot tea with lemon or keeping lemon and orange infused water in a bottle on your desk.

4. Pump It! Get the blood flowing and oxygen circulating by working out while you work. Check out some of our previous posts on getting a little exercise at work for some ideas. In general, just walking around while making your phone calls, or hand-delivering your memos instead of texting them gets your heart rate up and your brain functioning at top performance!

5. Do Puzzles. Exercise your brain, too, by keeping some puzzles at hand. Crosswords, a Rubik’s cube, Sudoku, and other brain teasers are a great way to take a mental break from work, but exercise cognition and problem solving skills.

6. Be a Dictator…to your computer. Programs and software like Dragon are great. Load them onto your computer and you can just verbalize any file you’re searching for, rather than doing it manually and working longer on one thing. Plus, by vocalizing tasks, you are able to focus more intensely on them rather than getting derailed by another train of thought. The riptide of the stream of consciousness is a hazard that no lifeguard can save you from!…wait…what were we just saying…?

7. Last but not least, take a nap! You hated naps as a kid, you abused them throughout college, and now you secretly plan to bring your blanket and pillow for a secret cat nap under your desk every day. Well don’t feel bad. A shocking number of Americans are coming to work sleep-deprived, which makes them sloppy and slow about their work. Falling asleep at your desk is considered humiliating and lazy. However, in countries like Japan, if an employee falls asleep at their desk for a few minutes, they are considered to be dedicated workers and are left alone! A short 20 minute snooze can reset your break, enhance awareness and creativity, and of course, boost your mood! Have a tricky problem to solve at work? Sleep on it! Take a few minutes to close your eyes and the answer will be clear once you’re ready to work again. Several modern companies have facilities on site where employees are encouraged to nap, but that’s not in everyone’s budget. During your lunch break, go out to your car or a seat outside and just relax for a bit and see what a difference it makes!

Well, there you have it. Put a few of these life hacks in place and try to measure just how much more productive your life becomes over the next week of two. We’re confident that any number of these will add up to a much happier, healthier, and more productive you!

Motivated Mentality is Mostly in the Mind

It’s the start of a new week, and while the weather is finally on the upswing again, that doesn’t stop us from thinking that once again the weekend is a long way away. That said, how do you stay motivated when all seems lost? There are only so many quotes you can read, only so many cheerful little desk ornaments you can buy, only so many cheerful co-workers with the pasted-on smiles you can take.

The answer, young paduan, lies within you.

With your mind in the right place, you can motivate yourself easily and carry those tools for success and positivity every day. The best part is, because these tools are all metaphorical, they don’t clutter your desk!

First, make a personal commitment to yourself. Relax: we’re not asking you to put a ring on it. Just make a promise to yourself that you’ll do the absolute best you can and stick to it! By promising yourself to follow through, you’re promising not to disappoint yourself. We are our biggest critics, and we all know how it feels to fall short. Commit yourself to never feeling that way again and day by day, it’ll get easier to follow through. People will look to you as someone who is determined and focused and that, in turn, will get you the respect and recognition you deserve. Instead of working with gaining respect in mind, work with the purpose of being motivated.

As cheesy as it sounds, remind yourself of your strong points. Remember way back when you applied for the job and you were asked in the interview “What do you feel are your strengths?” Hopefully, you didn’t just blurt out the first cliche that came to mind. Instead, focus on something that actually makes you stand out from the rest of the workplace. Every day when you look at yourself in the mirror or the reflective edge of your desktop computer, remind yourself of why you’re so awesome. The validation will come after you tell yourself the same thing over and over. It’s like brainwashing, but the socially acceptable kind: the kind that will result in confidence.

Think of yourself as unstoppable. Use it as your code word,…heck, use it as a password! Reminding yourself that you can overcome challenges will make you believe that you can do anything you want and that no matter how unmotivated you may feel, you have it within yourself to see things through.

Finally, reward yourself! Give yourself the praise and reward you deserve. Your efforts should go rewarded, even if you just take yourself out for a treat or buy a little gift for yourself. People who work themselves to the bone but forget to reward their efforts often burn out and lose motivation. Like a mouse receiving a piece of cheese for pushing a button, motivation is a learned behavior. You have to subconsciously learn that you’ll get something out of following through with your plans and working harder than before.

Keep upping your game this week and see how you feel. We bet you’ll feel pretty good and even more motivated to come back to work the next week!

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One Thing to Keep in Mind at Your Holiday Party

The holiday season is in full swing, and everyone from the Fortune 500 businesses to your local post office are throwing holiday parties. In a modern and educated society, it’s important to recognize that there are several diverse holidays this time of year. It’s also important to remember that not everyone celebrates any holiday in particular.

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So what’s a party planning committee to do?

Huffington Post recommends remembering to keep the party inclusive and light on any one cultural influence. One of the biggest problems with holiday parties is that they are often inundated with Christmas imagery or games like Secret Santa that alienate employees who don’t feel any connection to the Christmas holiday. But that doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy a Festivus pole. Instead, use the party as more of an opportunity to build team spirit and draw people together.

Gift exchanges can still be done, that party platter of treats and finger foods is,  of course, more than welcome! The event doesn’t have to be sterilized of everything festive: decorations are okay! You don’t have to be “PC” until it hurts. But keeping the focus off one culture when several others in the room might feel excluded will keep things enjoyable for everyone. Celebrate a successful year and share how much you’re all looking forward to the next one.

That said, there are a few things to keep in mind when you attend your company’s holiday party.

 

For the employees, be sure to read the invitation carefully for notes on dress codes, the time the party starts and finishes and any other unique details. It’s also important to be clear on the company’s policy regarding guests. Companies are given limited budgets for parties, so if your “plus one” turns into “plus five,” you’re creating a problem. You’ll also want to monitor how much you are drinking so that you do not embarrass yourself or your company and so that you remember having a great time!

For the employers, be very specific in your invitations. Cover all the bases so that there is no confusion later on. Set the limits on the number of drinks your guests are allowed and the number of people they may bring. Making sure everyone has a relaxing and fun time is important, but maintaining control is important, too. And finally, ensure that everyone is safe. The venue should be nice, but you should also make sure everyone has a way to get home safely whether that’s arranging for a taxi service at the end of the night or organizing a carpool and designated drivers.

Overall, it’s the season to relax, have fun and celebrate with those you work with. You see your co-workers and employees on a nearly daily basis. They are your team. They are what make your business a success. Don’t be afraid to spread the cheer and make sure that everyone is just as merry and bright as you!hparty

 

How to Use Improvisation in Business

When you think of improv, you probably picture a group of people in khaki pants on an empty stage pantomiming a wild west stick-up while one person shouts at the others do perform acrobatic tricks. It seems like nonsense, but the rules of improvisation are keystones in the world of business.

The business of marketing is about collaboration and communication. You must be able to work efficiently with others to seamlessly communicate your ideas in a compelling way that will get your audience on its feet ready to follow you wherever you take them! The Second City, one of the world’s leading authorities on comedic theatre and improv has been a powerhouse for decades churning out headliners like Tina Fey, Steve Carrell, John Candy and Amy Poehler. What makes them exceptional is they have taken the principles of improv and focused those skills on entrepreneurial enterprises like directing, writing, and producing.

The Second City now has a new division called Second City Communications which hosts seminars for businesses that want to expand their reach and be more influential to their target audience. The seminars focus on everything from sales effectiveness to talent development to marketing and content!

Tom Yorton, CEO of Second City Communications says, “Working without a script, creating something out of nothing, working in teams, co-creating solutions with input from the marketplace – all that’s improvising.”

So where does business come in? The number one rule of improv is “Always say yes,” closely followed by “Always say yes…and!…”

“Yes…and!…” Whether you are in a meeting with co-workers or giving a presentation in tandem with a partner, use what the other person is saying and keep moving forward. If someone asks you if you can change something and you say, “No,” the whole thing comes to a screeching halt. You sound argumentative and the audience has nothing to go off of. Negotiations halt, money is lost and time is wasted. But if you say, “Yes, and…” you’re progressing. Contribute ideas, use what the other person is saying and you will appear confident and the collective world you have created becomes real to your audience.

The world is full of obstacles. In business, you’re challenged with connecting with your customers, engaging and motivating your employees, coping with change be it big or small, innovating new campaigns, moving into new markets and on and on! There’s no script, there’s no plan, there’s just a goal: get our message across! You have to be willing to improvise a little to work your way around, over, under and through these obstacles.

Embrace the “Yes…and!” rule and lean to listen intently so you don’t miss a single idea. When you yourself are actively engaged in what is happening, people can’t help but meet your enthusiasm. “Yes…and!” is even effective in workplace conflict resolution. By saying “Yes…and” and following where the conversation goes, you destroy barriers and create open and honest communication.

So the next time you give a presentation or hold a meeting, use “Yes…and” and see what it can do for you. Before long, your audience will be on its feet and you’ll be taking a bow!How to Succeed in Business Without Trying*credit: “How to Succeed in Business Without Trying” musical cast