Productivity: One Step At A Time

We live in a busy world, where productivity can be hard to come by. Simply walk into any coffee shop, and you’ll notice the hustle and bustle from the person catching up with a friend while also checking email from the person finishing up a proposal during another phone call. The art of multitasking seems to be prevailing now more than ever. But did you know that only two percent of us are actually capable of successful multitasking?

The real question lays in how we are supposed to be productive when multiple projects come our way. Here are some simple ways that can help you can focus on one item at a time while still being productive:

  1. Put down the iPhone, tablet, laptop, etc. I know it can be difficult, but simply turning off these electronics can eliminate distractions and allow for more productivity.
  2. Set a routine. How many times do you set aside time to do something and find yourself on social media or another website instead? Creating a schedule for your to-do list will set an expectation for the day and will lessen the temptation of other distractions. (Pro Tip: Outline goals for the day, too, and you’ll have a roadmap for even greater success.)
  3. Eat a well-rounded breakfast. We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so this should be no surprise. Study after study says that productivity increases when you eat a healthy, protein-filled breakfast.
  4. Meditate, meditate, meditate. Meditation for 20 minutes every day is proven to help relieve stress. When multitasking seems to be too overwhelming, set aside time to relax and breathe.
  5. Organize your life. From file folders to planners to a tidy desk, organization is key to avoiding distractions and maximizing productivity.

Still having trouble multitasking? Read here for more ways on staying focused and for a calmer lifestyle.

-Penny Kokkinides

Tips for Working While Traveling

As our workplaces become more and more dependent on technology, our business contacts increasingly expect us to always be productive no matter the circumstance – even while 30,000 feet in the air. Thanks to technology, we can continually be connected at the touch of a few buttons. There are almost always inconveniences that occur when working remotely, however. From my experience, I have gained some insight on how to increase productivity despite these inconveniences.

Here are three simple ways to make sure that you are prepared for any travel situation that comes your way:

·         Pack and Plan – Looking ahead at your next business trip, plan for those situations when you are waiting to board the airplane or waiting on your hotel to be available.  During these simple gap periods, you’d be surprised at how much you can accomplish. With these gap periods in mind, package together what you think you might need for different tasks.  Will you need an iPad and a notebook on the plane? Do you need to catch up on the professional development book you’ve been needing to read? Plan ahead and pack for these small but crucial situations. 

·         Prepare for no Wi-Fi and no power – Technology glitches are bound to happen.  And if you are like me, they tend to happen when you need technology the most. Plan for these moments and save a few key documents to your desktop instead of relying on Dropbox or Google Drive. You might also find it helpful to print out a few copies of documents also, just in case you find yourself without the luxury of Wi-Fi.

·         Find ideal work and food locations – Research ahead of time nearby coffee shops and local food spots with free Wi-Fi.  It’s much easier having places already mapped out by the time you arrive with tasty snacks readily available to make your work a little more enjoyable. 

Lastly, don’t expect to get everything you need done accomplished.  Working remotely can be time consuming.  Be mindful of that, and you will already be ahead of the game when you the business trip is booked for the near future.

    – Penny Kokkinides

 

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Improving email etiquette in the workplace

If you’re like me, there is never a dull moment in your work email inbox.  From notifying your colleague who sits just down the hall about lunch plans or connecting with other professionals across the globe, email seems to be the main source of communication in the workplace – and one of the main time sucks.

With the loss of the spoken word and the increase in technology, it has come to my attention that we may need a quick refresher on email etiquette. Below are some helpful tips to increase your email’s readability and overall communication professionalism:

  1. Put yourself in the mindset of the recipient. Before you press the send button, be sure to re-read the email for relevant context and any errors. If you are ever uncertain about your message, ask for another set of eyes for review before pressing send.
  2. Take caution of the reply-all. We’ve all been in an email chain that is not relevant to us.  Take note of who is receiving the email and also be aware of who is “CC’ed” on the email as well.
  3. Summarize forwarded messages. Reading a forwarded message can often feel like you are in unknown territory and can be difficult to put the pieces together. By summarizing the forwarded email, your recipient will be able to gather more information and better understand the matter at hand.
  4. Be courteous.The content in emails can sometimes get lost in translation and the tone of a message can sound different when reading it. Manners still go a long way.

Still want more steps to freshen up your email etiquette? Read here on how to “wow” your colleagues and get the attention of your peers.

  • Penny Kokkinides

Social Media Sadness

Thanks to social media, we are surrounded by a constant influx of information about others. Millions of Americans communicate with ‘friends’ on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram almost every day. Millions of Americans let these into their lives to show them pictures of lunch of their newest outfit, yet many still feel lonely.

If you find yourself in this situation, here are a few reasons  you might consider unplugging:

  1. Powering-down helps remove unhealthy feelings of jealousy, envy, and loneliness. Researchers recently discovered that one in three people felt worse after visiting Facebook and more dissatisfied with their lives. From family happiness to body image to vacation destinations to the silly birthday greetings on a Facebook wall, the opportunity for envy presents itself often on social media. Powering-down for a period of time provides opportunity to reset and refocus appreciation and gratitude for the lives we have been given.
  1. Powering-down combats FOMO. Scientifically speaking, the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) has been recognized as a recently emerging psychological disorder brought on by the advance of technology. The premise is simple. Our social media streams are ever-filled with everything happening all around us. Nowadays, we even see the plates of food our friends are enjoying. Within this constant stream of notification, our fear of being left out continues to grow.
  1. Solitude is harder to find in an always-connected world. Solitude grounds us to the world around us. In our always connected world, it becomes increasingly more difficult to develop self-awareness. You’ll always seek to be like others, instead of being like yourself.

    – Penny Kokkinides

sleep-deprivation

Can sleep deprivation kill?

Sleep deprivation is an issue affecting millions of people across the globe. We consistently put work and school priorities over our bodies’ most essential activity. And most of us are so used to being sleep deprived that we remain oblivious to how impaired we really are.

In actuality, long-term sleep deprivation can wreck both physical and mental health. Here are just a few reasons why you should always try to hit the hay for the right amount of time:

Stroke risk quadruples: Research suggests that getting fewer than six hours a night can elevate stroke risk for middle and older-aged people.

Heart disease risk increases: Harvard Health Publications reports that chronic sleep deprivation has been associated with high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (or cholesterol-clogged arteries), heart failure and heart attack.

More likely to catch a cold: Proper rest is one of the building blocks of a healthy immune system. In fact, one Carnegie Mellon University study found that sleeping fewer than seven hours a night was associated with a tripled risk of coming down with a cold.

More likely to have an accident: Getting six or fewer hours of shut-eye a night triples your risk of drowsy driving-related accidents, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s Drowsydriving.org. 

Less focused and memory problems: Can’t remember where you placed your cell phone? Exhaustion may be to blame. In addition, exhaustion destroys the focus you’ll need to properly complete those important tasks at work.

 – Penny Kokkinides

Misconceptions of the Flu Shot

The leaves are starting to change colors and the air feels a bit cooler. Winter is almost upon us, and whether we like it or not, we will soon be pulling out our parkas, scraping our windshields and regretting that we ever prayed for cooler weather.

This cold weather, though, also means that we better prepare our immune systems for yet another flu season. The flu shot, although sometimes not as effective as it should be, comes with some misconceptions: Can’t the flu vaccine actually give me the flu? If I haven’t received the flu this season, shouldn’t I wait to get vaccinated to strengthen my immunity? The following addresses some of these common questions to set straight what is fact from fiction:

  • Fact: While flu vaccines can be made with a flu virus, this virus is “inactivated” meaning that it is not infectious.  This can sometimes cause misconceptions of believing that the flu shot actually causes a person to have the flu. 
  • Fiction:  If I haven’t received the flu shot this season and still have not become infected, I should hold off on getting the flu shot to strengthen my immunity. Flu activity typically peaks between December and February and can sometimes last until May. Even if you haven’t contracted the flu yet, the CDC still advises getting the vaccine. It’s recommended to get the flu shot in October, but receiving the vaccine in January or February can still protect against infection if the virus is still lurking around.
  • Fact: Those who are six months and older should be vaccinated every year. According to the CDC, a person’s immunity from the flu tends to decline over time. It is recommended that vaccinations should occur every year for optimal protection.

Still not sure if you should get vaccinated? Visit the CDC’s website for more answers to your flu vaccine questions.

– Penny Kokkinides

2016: Year of the Podcasts

It may have taken a while, but podcasts are finally taking off.

Though their roots go back to the 1980s, podcasts got their big debut via Apple in 2004. When Apple started supplying podcasts, many thought that they weren’t for them. Today, they offer something for everyone, with more than 100,000 podcasts being offered in the English language alone. Here are some recommendations for those looking to enter the podcast game:

  • Movie buffs and those simply bored with Hollywood’s recent movie remakes can get their kick by listening to The Blacklist Table Reads. It offers ear movies for some of the best unmade screenplays.
  • Millennial offers tips for managing your 20s and 30s. Everyday problems and doubts, as well as life-changing decisions can be made a bit easier by listening to this advice podcast that navigates the new society that surrounds us all. It can also be helpful for parents with adult children to get a better understanding of the struggles and challenges they face, or parents with younger children that way to get an understanding of what their children might face in the future.
  • To get a peak inside the heads of some of your idols and pop culture icons, The Nerdist is worth a listen. This unscripted ‘cast lets the guest take the lead and talk about their interests. Quentin Tarantino and Paul McCartney have made appearances.
  • If you’re feeling starved for information, IQ2 lets you listen to intelligent people debate a variety of different topics. In turn, it could leave a little smarter and with something more to offer at upcoming dinner parties.
  • Do you have a friend who always shares random facts? Are you the friend always sharing random facts and need more for your inventory? Stuff You Should Know could be your secret weapon. It offers little tidbits of information that are sure to impress.

If these aren’t for you, don’t lose faith! As mentioned above, there are thousands of podcasts on many topics that are being offered: comedy, romance, politics – whatever your interest.

Veganism: More Than a Fad

More than a simple diet, veganism is a lifestyle – and, in fact, it’s one that can significantly improve health and extend lifespan. The misconceptions (and, admittedly, stereotypes) of a plant-based diet have led the public to overlook the many health benefits.

Here are a few examples of how a vegan diet may help improve health:

1.      Anti-inflammatory: Disease, infection and chronic pain can all be caused by uncontrolled levels of inflammation throughout the body. A meat-based diet is highly inflammatory, while a plant-based diet is naturally alkaline-forming. The high levels of alkaline in the blood can prevent inflammation and protect you from a plethora of ailments.

2.      Better digestion: Red meat, dairy and eggs can all linger in your digestive tract for up to a week, while most plant-based foods are fully digested within hours. For the millions of Americans suffering from constipation, a vegan diet may serve as a better alternative to stool softeners and laxatives.

3.      Weight loss: One of the greatest benefits of a vegan diet is the potential for weight loss. The amount of fiber in plants allows the body to feel full for a longer period of time without a heavy serving of calories and fat. And, there are so many different ways to cook plants, you don’t have to worry about bored!

 

How to become an early riser

We’ve all heard someone say, “The early bird gets the worm.”

It’s a cliche, sure, but it may be onto something. Company executives around the world are emulating this phrase and tout the benefits of waking up early. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, wakes up every morning at 3:45 a.m. to start his day, and the Wall Street Journal recently wrote an article on how 4 a.m. is the most productive hour of the day. Advocates of early mornings say it helps them jump start their day, and get ahead of the chaos.

Here are some simple tips for becoming an early riser:

1)      Go to bed early. Night owls typically don’t make great early risers. Make sure you stop drinking caffeine early in the day and try reading a book in bed to fall asleep.

2)      Slowly transition into the routine. If your morning typically starts at 7 a.m. it isn’t realistic to think that habit will change overnight. Start setting your alarm 10-15 minutes earlier, and work your way up to the goal.

3)      Plan your morning the night before. Having an outfit set out and breakfast prepared the night before will help you ease into your morning routine without added stress.

4)      Don’t hit snooze. As tempting as the snooze button can be, it interrupts your body from REM sleep. Set your alarm and stick to it, once you’re awake and out of bed you’ll be glad you resisted the urge to snooze.

Five Tips for LinkedIn Success

With over 400 million users, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. LinkedIn is primarily used by employers, employees and job-seekers as a business-networking social media platform. LinkedIn connects like-minded professionals all over the world, so whether you’re actively seeking a job or using the site to keep tabs on people in your industry, it’s important to keep your profile in tip-top shape.

Here are five tips for maintaining and enhancing your LinkedIn presence:

  1. Use a professional picture. Having a picture on your profile makes it 14 times more likely to be viewed. Your photograph should be professional, well-lit and you should be wearing what you would typically wear to work.
  2. Customize your URL. Customizing your public profile URL increases your chances of appearing in search results and makes it easy for people to find you.
  3. Write a meaningful summary. The summary section of your profile receives the most prominent spot on the page, and allows you to tell your story and provide context for how you plan to use the site.
  4. Post status updates.  Engage with your network in the form of status updates, which can be a comment or a question followed by a video, interesting article or website. It’s important to remember, though, LinkedIn is for professional use and the content you post should match that tone.
  5. Join relevant groups. LinkedIn Groups provide a way for professionals in the same industry to share content, answers questions and makes contacts. Once you join a group in your industry, start engaging with the group members by sharing relevant content and contributing to the discussion.