6 Apps That Will Make Work-Life Balance a Reality

by Kelli Smith – @kellimicheles

Spot Issues

TimeTune for Android and ATracker iOS follow your routines and give you data on them so that you can analyze how you actually spend your days. Then you’ll be ready to work out how you can shift toward a more realistic ratio of working to relaxing.

Control Connectivity

BreakFree gives you the tools to control your digital life by understanding how tied you are to your phone. It monitors which apps you use and for how long, then it pings you if you spend too much with any of them.

Manage Stress

life and work balance

Pacifica aims to ease your mind so you can be your best on the job or at home. The app offers easy-to-use mood monitoring, meditation and relaxation, journaling, and wellness tracking.

Keep in Touch

The Connect app makes getting together as simple as a few clicks. It puts you in touch with your contacts from your phone, email addresses, or social media accounts, shows you when someone is visiting nearby, and lets you quickly make plans for the evening.

Stay Organized

Cozi cuts out your distracted concerns (did I put out the recycling?) by putting all your personal information in one place. It includes a calendar, to-do list, shopping list, journal, and even a recipe manager.

Plan Your Time

Weekly Planner for Android or Week Plan for iOS pushes you to plan out your week so that you make sure you have time for what matters.

7 Ways Strong Leaders Build Trust in a Team

by Samuel Edwards – @samuel_quincy

Patience: It’s tempting to want to rush things as much as possible, especially if your business is new or young, but that level of impetuousness creates an uncomfortable environment for you team. Take your time in your thoughts and actions, and express understanding when things go wrong.

Calm: You’re going to face some emotionally challenging moments as a leader, and often as a direct result of your team’s actions. The minute you fly off the handle at anything, whether it’s a team member or circumstances beyond any of your control, your team will start to see you as unstable. They’ll be afraid to come to you with negative information or criticism.

Transparency: If you make yourself vulnerable and express something in confidence to your team, they’ll be more or less inclined to reciprocate. Remain as transparent as possible in your actions as a leader, letting your team know what you’re thinking, the motivations behind your direction, and any doubts or concerns you may have.

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Openness: Establish an open environment, where all team members are encouraged to express their thoughts and opinions. Facilitate conversation by allowing every team member to speak, and make sure all your other team members show respect and listen to each other.

Flexibility: When workers feel more comfortable in the workplace, they’ll treat it almost as a second home, and they’ll treat their coworkers a bit like family members. You can allow more time for personal breaks, establish flexible hours or remote work days, or offer negotiable deadlines on certain projects and tasks.

Mutual feedback: When you give your workers honest feedback (positive or negative, so long as it’s constructive), it shows that you’re genuinely invested in their development. When workers give you feedback and you sincerely listen to it, they’ll feel more empowered, and more secure in their positions.

Ongoing team exercises: Your teammates need to get to know each other on a personal level, at least to some degree, if they’re going to trust and support one another. Every team member is unique, and they’ll need to engage with the group to account for one another’s strengths and weaknesses.

11 Best Productivity Tips for Working From Home

By Jeff Haden – @jeff_haden

Tell people your schedule—and then “enforce” your schedule.

Interruptions are productivity killers, and when you work from home, your family and friends can be the most frequent sources of interruption. So be proactive. Share your schedule. Provide visual cues like shutting your door to let people know that you shouldn’t be interrupted.

Buy a great chair.

Working from home implicitly means you’re a knowledge worker. That means you spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer. So no matter what else you do, invest in the most comfortable and ergonomically-correct chair you can find. If you aren’t comfortable, you can’t stay focused and you can’t stay productive.

Ruthlessly set limits.

Generally speaking, we can focus on any given task for 90 to 120 minutes. After that, we need a break so we can recharge. Split your day into 90-minute windows. That way, you’ll be able to work much more efficiently.

Include breaks in your schedule.

Your calendar should include scheduled break periods. Otherwise, your day will get away from you, and so will your opportunities to recharge. Never forget that the best recovery is active recovery.

Turn off your notifications.

Turning off alerts on your computer and phone will greatly improve your ability to focus on projects. When you need to get something done, turn off anything that might interrupt you, and then when you’re done, pop your head back up and see what you might have missed.

Adopt a productivity system.

Maybe one of the things you like best about working from home is the lack of enforced structure. That’s great, but unless you create your own structure, you’ll fritter away much of your day bouncing from task to task and mistaking things that seem urgent for things that truly important. Create a system that will work for you.

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De-clutter at least once a week.

Purge, purge, and purge some more. Your workspace needs to look productive in order to be productive.

Create a nighttime routine.

Make a list. Make a few notes. Review information. Prime yourself to hit the ground running the next day. Knocking out an important task first thing in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Create a morning routine.

Don’t dawdle, don’t ease your way into your morning, and don’t make sure you get some “me” time. Get up, clean up, fuel up, and start rolling.

Create a happy shelf.

When you surround yourself with things that make you happy, you will do better work.

Make your home office your home court advantage.

See your ability to conveniently do what you need to do when you need to do it as your home court advantage: if you want, you can leverage the efficiency to be more responsible and flexible than anyone else, and that can be a significant competitive advantage.

Work Life Balance

by Dorianne St. Fleur

Lie Number 1: The Less Hours You Work, The Happier You Will Be

The first thing most people think of when trying to organize their home and work lives is to decrease the hours spent at the office or negotiate a flexible work arrangement. This can work in the short term but won’t ultimately rebalance your life. There are too many other factors, and there are just as many unhappy people in jobs working 15 hours a week as there are in jobs working 50.

Lie Number 2: The Perfect 50/50 Split is Possible Between Work and Life

life and work balance

(iStockphoto) 3SECRET-030216-iStock life and work balance

Perfection does not exist. Your goal should be to take a holistic view when it comes to your commitments at work and home. There will be times when work spills into home life and vice versa.

Lie Number 3: What Works for Me Will Also Work for You

The real key here is to figure out what the ideal balance set-up looks like specifically for you and your goals, and then work toward them. No one else can tell you how to manage the time in your life because no one else gets your life the way you do.

Lie Number 4: The Boss Has It Better Than Everyone Else

Everyone has to manage work and life demands no matter their level. Getting promoted to that corner office isn’t going to automatically solve all of your issues with harmonizing your worlds.

Lie Number 5: You’re the Only One Who Feels Unbalanced

Having a perfectly balanced work and home life is a complex process that truthfully never ends.

The Best Way to Get a Response to Your Emails

by Tess Townsend – @Tess_Townsend

Boomerang CEO Alex Moore has compiled lessons from the machine learning technology behind his company’s email plug-in that tells users how likely their email is to get a reply by scoring characteristics of its content.

Keep the language simple.

Pick the two-syllable word over the five-syllable word, the short sentence with simple syntax over one that’s cut in half by a semicolon. Basically, aim for a third-grade reading level.

laptop-2Politeness may not matter that much.

Moore says algorithms indicate politeness has the lowest correlation with outcome.

Don’t be neutral.

You probably want to steer clear of the middle ground. People want to respond to emotion.

Take an individual approach.

Recognize that your communication style is not the gold standard. Ascertain what you can about how a person communicates. You should try to meet in the middle and adapt.

Say what you need to say.

You’re better off saying your piece and then editing and tweaking your message and format.

Productive Meetings Can Help You Build a Better Business

by Young Entrepreneur Council – @yec

SMEs 2

We’ve all been there – sitting in a last minute all-hands meeting that was only scheduled to discuss another upcoming meeting. There’s no real agenda, items have been delegated to thin air, and two hours later, no one has any idea what they’re doing there in the first place.

Here’s how you can reclaim your meetings with five productive steps:

Make Someone Directly Responsible for Specific Tasks

This way, you can be certain that it will get done. The person you assign the project to should be someone who understands the message clearly, and who is able to delegate organized instructions and follow up with their team as the project progresses.

 Create an Agenda and Circulate it 24 Hours Prior to Meeting

Team members will benefit from staying on track, and will better understand the priorities of each task.

Set Strict Meeting Times, and Stick to Them

Meetings should last 30 minutes maximum, but if it needs to go on longer, take an intermission for team members to regroup and refresh before diving back in.

Ask Your Team to Recap During the Last Two Minutes

To ensure everyone is on the same page, use the last two minutes of the allotted meeting time to have each delegated member provide a 15-20 second summary of what they are responsible for.

Trends That Will Forever Change the Way We Work

by Elizabeth Dukes – @iOfficeCorp

Here are three trends that are sure to shape your future workplace – if they haven’t started to already.

Extremely flexible work arrangements.

The rise of technology and flexible work through the on-demand economy is putting pressure on companies to offer more appealing options when it comes to flexibility. Some companies have large percentages of employees telecommute regularly, or work four days a week.

Required tech skills for roles not traditionally related to tech.

Technology is at the heart of any rapidly changing business or industry. This is why software skills, or even just software experience, has become a key requirement for roles in nearly every industry. Even jobs previously seen as relatively low skill or entry level often require specialized software experience.

Disappearing and emerging jobs.

Research may suggest that nearly half of US jobs are at risk of disappearing due to automation, but this should inspire business leaders to think about what will come next. Right now it’s looking like virtual reality and 5G are gaining momentum. No one can deny the workplace is changing, but keeping ahead of these trends can help position your company for success tomorrow and beyond.

Leave Work at a Reasonable Hour

by Caroline Liu

The Free Tool That Will Make it Way Easier for You to Leave Work at a Reasonable Hour:

A free program called Toggl is designed to give you more clarity and insight into the breakdown of your day so you can be even more conscientious and efficient. Its main purpose is simple: to record exactly how many minutes go into every task you do.

Keeping track of your time usage could completely open your eyes to what does and doesn’t work for you. And if being a stronger asset for your company doesn’t help your blood pressure settle, then having a few more hours of leeway each week certainly will.

11 Public Speaking Tips From the Best TED Talks Speakers

by Geoffrey James – @Sales_Source

Tip Number 1: Use self-deprecating humor to lower barriers.

By puncturing your own balloon, he makes everyone feel more comfortable and more sympathetic to what he has to say.

Tip Number 2: Tie your experience to the shared experience.

Relate your personal experience at the conference to that of the attendees. It helps humanize you and bring you into the community of the audience.

Tip Number 3: Get the audience to take an immediate action.

The point of all public speaking is to convince the audience to make a decision, which means convincing them to move (conceptually) from wherever they are to where you want them to be. Getting the audience to do something physical gives you that momentum.

Tip Number 4: Create a sense of suspense.

If you give the audience something to look forward to in your speech, they will be more likely to pay attention lest they miss the promised nugget of wisdom.

Tip Number 5: Express passion for your subject matter.

The passion you feel for your material will shine through in your demeanor. Be energetic and focused, and that energy will give a boost to the audience.

Tip Number 6: Set appropriate expectations.

Deconstruct the preconceptions of the audience while simultaneously focusing their attention on what they can potentially learn from him.

Tip Number 7: Begin with a relevant anecdote.

Stories have power because human beings are genetically programmed to arrange thoughts into narratives. Choose an anecdote that is relevant to both yourself and your message.

Tip Number 8: Use body language to signal a segue.

Change your expression and stance to communicate to the audience that the topics are changing tone. These visual cues help the audience make sense of the material, much like punctuation in a sentence.

Tip Number 9: Start with a startling fact or statistic.

Startling facts grab the attention of both sides of the brain. The neurons in your left brain signal “Yay, here’s a fact to remember!” while the neurons in your right brain signal “wow, that’s really weird!”

Tip Number 10: Use visually arresting graphics.

Choose graphics that successfully convey information and also emotionally stimulate and you can completely capture the imagination and interest of the audience.

Tip Number 11: Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Harder said than done, but simplify without being simplistic. Work on reducing complex ideas into easily understood chunks of content.

 

 

Leadership Traits That Span the Generation Gap

Marcel Schwantes for inc.com

While there are countless ways to provide exceptional leadership in whatever role you’re in, the best leaders cannot do it without consistently acting on these four things.

They envision the future and get others to do the same.

Inspiration in its most authentic form appeals on an emotional level. A true and honest servant leader will put great importance on their tribe and inspire each person to see the vision like they do.

They take initiative and act.

The best leaders won’t sit on decisions waiting for urgency to come knocking. They take risks and create urgency with intent and purpose, driving the bus closer toward the mission. They are driven and want results, but not at the expense of their people.

They clarify goals and expectations.

Great leaders provide leadership by communicating consistently about where the bus is headed. One of the top five reasons, according to a Gallup research study, that employees are disengaged and companies have high turnover is because of a lack of clear goals and expectations.

They communicate with their mouths and ears.

Intentionally spend time with your tribe members to learn more about them and to discover their strengths and interests. You do so by listening intently, and in doing so you may also identify opportunities where they could contribute more to other projects. The best form of communication is still done the old-fashion way: through one-on-one meetings.