14 Things You Should Do at the Start of Every Work Day

The first few hours of the work day can have a significant effect on your level of productivity over the following eight—so it’s important you have a morning routine that sets you up for success.

“Having a good start to the day where you have greater control is critical in achieving better results, and ultimately greater career success,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant. “How you begin your morning often sets the tone and your attitude for the day. It can also derail or direct your focus. If you remain committed to good morning work habits, you won’t fall prey to feeling unproductive and distracted at the end of the day or week.”

Here is a list of 14 things all workers should do when they get to work each morning.

Arrive on time. This may be obvious to most people—but some don’t realize that showing up late can not only leave a bad impression, but also throw off your entire day. “Getting in on time or a little early helps your mindset for the day and helps promote a feeling of accomplishment,” Taylor says.

Take a deep breath. “Literally,” says Michael Kerr, an international business speaker, author and president of Humor at Work. “And do something to focus in on the here and now.”  Many people come into work harried because they don’t leave enough time at home to deal with “home stuff,” he says, “and then they’ve barely survived another horrendously stressful commute, and then they dive into the madness.” Slowing down, taking a moment to pause, and creating a routine around centering yourself can work wonders, he adds.

Take five. After the deep breath, give yourself five minutes to get settled in, says Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD, organizational psychologist and author of The YOU Plan. “This is a good way to set the tone of the day. Don’t allow yourself to be bum rushed by frantic co-workers lost in their own confusion.” It’s not unusual to wake up to a long backlog of e-mails just screaming for your attention, he adds. “The challenge is taking a moment for yourself before diving head first into your day.”

Start each day with a clean slate. You may have to attend to projects or discussions that rolled over from the previous afternoon—but try to treat each day as a fresh one, says David Shindler, an employability specialist and author of Learning to Leap. “Leave any crap from yesterday behind, tap into what’s happening at the outset of the day, get organized and ready or hit the ground running, if that’s what is needed,” he says.

Don’t be moody. You’ll want to pay attention to your mood and be aware of its effect on others. “First and last thing in the day is when emotional intelligence can have the greatest impact,” Shindler says. So if you’re not a “morning person,” try to suck it up and have a positive attitude when you arrive at the office. Grab a second or third cup of coffee, if that’s what it takes.

Kerr agrees. “Your first hour at work can set your ‘attitude barometer’ for the rest of the day, so from a purely emotional point of view, I think it’s an important part of the day,” he says. “One morning grump can infect an entire team and put everyone on the wrong footing.”

Organize your day. The first hour of the work day is the best time to assess priorities and to focus on what you absolutely need to accomplish, Kerr says. “Too many people get distracted first thing in the morning with unimportant activities such as diving right into their morass of e-mail, when there may be a whole host of more important issues that need dealing with.” Make a to-do list, or update the one you made the previous day, and try to stick to it. However, if your boss has an urgent need, then it’s OK re-shuffle your priorities within reason, Taylor adds.

Anita Attridge, a career and executive coach with the Five O’Clock Club, a career coaching organization, says when you prepare your morning to-do list, determine what must be done today and what can be completed tomorrow, and prioritize accordingly. “Also determine your peak working time and plan your schedule accordingly,” she says. “Use your peak time each morning to do the most important tasks.”

Be present. Even if you’re not a morning person, you need to be awake when you get the office. Especially if you’re in a leadership position, it’s critical to be present, mentally and physically, and to communicate. “One of the biggest office pet peeves I hear from employees is about how their immediate supervisor just blows by them in the morning without so much as a smile,” Kerr says. “Taking the time to connect with your team members is essential, and doing the seemingly small things–making eye contact,  smiling, asking them about their night,  and checking in on what they may need help with–helps you as a leader take the pulse of the team, and helps set the tone for all the employees.”

Check in with your colleagues. “A quick 5 to 10 minute team huddle can also be an effective way for many people to start their day,” Kerr says. Make it a short meeting, with no chairs, have everyone share their top goal for the day, and share any critical information the rest of the team absolutely needs to know, he says. “Doing the huddles helps people focus and more importantly, connects everyone with the team. And by sharing your goals for the day publicly, the odds of achieving them rise substantially.”

Ensure that your workspace is organized. Clearing off the desk and creating a neat workspace sets a tone for the rest of the day, says Alexandra Levit, the author of Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You Can’t Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success.

It can also help avoid confusion. “While most communications are through e-mails and texts, if your boss or co-worker stopped by looking for you and left a sticky note about a last-minute meeting occurring in ten minutes, and it’s sitting on a mound of mail or papers, you’re already behind the eight ball,” Taylor says. “Also, for many, it’s difficult to think clearly, easy to forget important reminders, and just plain stressful if you feel you’re fighting the battle and the tornado of mail or paper is winning.” Ideally, you’d clear whatever you can out the night before so you can have a fresh start before you even turn on your computer in the morning. But if not, make sure clearing your desk takes precedence over things like checking e-mails and chatting with co-workers in the morning.

Don’t be distracted by your inbox. This one is difficult for most people—but the experts agree that you shouldn’t check your e-mail first thing in the morning. If you do, only read and respond to messages that are urgent. “Priority-scan your inbox,” Taylor says. “Not all e-mails were created equal. Hone your ability to quickly sift the wheat from the chaff and address what must be answered on an urgent basis.”

Attridge agrees. “Only respond immediately to the urgent messages so that you control your morning activities.” There will be time during the day to respond to the less urgent e-mails.

Why must you put off checking e-mails? “For far too many people, e-mail and the web can serve as huge time-wasters and distracters, particularly in the morning,” Kerr says. “Once you start checking e-mails, it’s a click away from watching the funny video someone forwarded you, which then sucks you into the abyss: checking the sports scores on line, the news headlines, the stocks, et cetera, and before you know it you’ve been watching a cat play the drums for twenty minutes and, like a poorly planned Oscars ceremony, your entire schedule is already thrown off before you’ve even begun your day.”

Listen to your voice mail. Most people jump on the computer and ignore their phone. “While office voice mail is indeed becoming antiquated as people rely more on personal cell phones, Blackberrys and e-mail, some people do leave voice messages, and if you ignore them, you could miss something important,” Levit says.

Place important calls and send urgent e-mails. If you know you need to get in touch with someone that day, place the call or send the e-mail first thing in the morning. If you wait until midday, there’s a greater chance you won’t hear back before you leave the office. “There’s nothing more frustrating that trying to complete something and not having access or answers from people you need because your day time hours were lost on other matters,” Taylor says. “If you have your questions ready and your e-mails fired off during early peak hours, by the end of the day you should have what you need.”

Take advantage of your cleared head. “Many people feel that their brains function best in the morning, and that morning is when they are most creative and productive,” Kerr says. “Consider whether you are making the best use of your brainpower and plan ‘high brain’ activities in the morning.”

Plan a mid-morning break. “This is the time to assess where you and take time to revitalize yourself so that you can keep your momentum going,” Attridge says.

If you’re stuck in a routine that doesn’t include these must-dos, it may be worthwhile to re-examine your habits and make some changes for enhanced career development, Taylor says.

“Habits are created out of having regular cues that prompt a routine, which then eventually become our habits,” Kerr adds. The morning is the perfect time to create some critical habits that will, over time, become routine and help you be more focused and productive.

“I know my morning routines are critically important. They help me focus and build momentum,” he says. “I’m a big believer in thinking about the start of your day the night before.”

SOURCE: FORBES

20 Office Etiquette Rules Every Person Should Follow

A clean office is one thing. Making sure your desk is tidy, and no crumbs are left for little  critters to enjoy, can be great for the overall office morale. But, whether or not you are capable of getting along with your coworkers should matter just as much, if not more!

Some days it may feel like you spend more time at your desk than you do at home, but it’s important to remember that work isn’t a place to let loose and forget your manners. “As a general rule of thumb, I always advise people to be extra conscious in any workspace that requires you to share it,” says etiquette expert Myka Meier. “Having good etiquette at work mostly simply means to be considerate and respectful of everyone around you.”

With that in mind, here are Meier’s top 20 etiquette faux pas to avoid in the office.

1. If you have a door, close it if you take personal calls. If you don’t have a door or are in an open plan space, keep private calls short by saying you’ll call the person back on your next break, or walk to an area that is more conducive to personal calls like a lounge area or even outside. If you work in an open office space and professional phone calls distract you, remember that it’s probably not the person’s intention to bother you. Try to be understanding of the situation and keep a good pair of headphones nearby.

2. Keep your computer and phone muted or on silent, so that every time you get an email or message it does not alert everyone on your floor.

3. Do not use a conference room to take long personal calls or treat it as your personal office. Squatting is for the gym—not the workplace.

4. In addition to doing your part to keep the bathroom clean, do not use the restroom to socialize, whether you need to call your mom or catch up on the latest office news. It’s called water cooler chat for a reason.

6. Unless everyone is in on the joke, keep loud conversation to a minimum. There might be a distraction but you don’t want to become one.

7. While eating lunch away from our desks is a luxury these days, remember those sitting around you. Try to avoid foods that splatter or slurp or have a lingering smell in a shared office space. As much as you may love steamed fish, the rest of your team will probably won’t.

8. Remember that others need to use the communal kitchen too. If someone continues to prep their lunch in front of the communal microwave after heating up their food, it’s okay to politely bring attention to the fact that they’re taking up the space by saying something like, “Looks yummy! Do you mind if I pop my bowl in?”

9. If someone is nice enough to bring in food to share with the rest of the office, don’t leave the cleanup all to them. If you take the last slice of cake, wash the dish it came on and make sure it gets back to them.

10. If you’re sick and contagious, you shouldn’t be at work, otherwise you risk getting the entire office ill.

11. Think before you hit reply-all. Does everyone need to take the time out of their day to read your note?

12. Email tone is very hard to read, so be sure you’re using language that helps the recipient understand it. And despite what your middle school English teacher may have told you, exclamation points are almost required these days. A simple line like “Really appreciate your help! Thank you, Michael” is better than “Thanks. Michael”

13. Don’t block the elevator door. If the elevator’s full when someone tries to get out, and you’re in the way, simply exit the elevator altogether and then re-enter.

14. When it comes to opening doors, only go in front of someone who opened the door if they motion you through. Same rules apply to whoever swiped their card to access the door—wait until the first person has walked through before you follow.

15. Etiquette in general is becoming more gender neutral, so when it comes to opening doors and getting in and out of elevators, what matters more is showing respect to people who are more senior to you in your office. If you’re entering your floor or the elevator at the same time as your boss—or your boss’s boss—be sure to hold the door open for them and let them enter first.

16. While it’s impossible to always be on time, it’s important to let people know you’re running late. For every minute you think you’ll be late, give two minutes warning. So if you think you’ll be 10 minutes late for the call, email 20 minutes ahead so your colleague or client can adjust their schedule accordingly.

17. You might love your gardenia-bomb perfume, but the office is a place to keep scent subtle. If you choose to put on fragrance, remember it’s meant to go on pulse points only and not clothing—it can permeate the whole room.

18. When it comes to throwing out trash and recycling, be considerate of everyone’s space as much as possible. If you go to put your box or recycle in the designated area and see that it’s overflowing into someone’s work space, think of your colleague and hold off on piling more on. You never know where your next desk will be.

19. In the age of social media, remember that nothing is “private” anymore. Don’t complain about your colleagues or work on Facebook or Twitter. Even if your account is private, it could get back to them.

20. Even if you’re friendly with your colleagues, be aware of crossing boundaries. Over-sharing details of your personal life is unprofessional no matter how close you are with your team.

For more information on Meier visit beumontetiquette.com or follow her tips on Instagram.

SOURCE: TOWN&COUNTRY

How to Stay Cool at Work

It’s hot out there and, even with these random showers, it doesn’t seem to be getting cooler. Plus, it’s hard to get work done when you’re sweating bullets.

So we’ve gathered some simple tips to help you stay cool:

Wear light clothes

In the summer, both lightweight and light-coloured clothes are best for surviving the heat. Natural fabrics such as cotton, linen and silk are best because they absorb sweat, and its evaporation will help you stay cool. Artificial fabrics such as polyester and rayon tend to be heavier and aren’t so absorbent.

While dark colours absorb light and heat, lighter colours reflect it. If you must wear a suit, try one that’s white or light grey instead of black or navy blue. The same goes for shirts and blouses.

Cover up

It may sound counter-intuitive, but wearing more clothing can actually help keep you cool. Many people living in the hottest regions of the world will cover themselves from head to toe as it keeps their skin shaded and protects them from the sun. Make sure you wear loose clothes to allow air to circulate.

Close the window

While a breeze is always nice, all you’re doing by opening the window is letting in hot air, unless it’s significantly cooler outside. Even worse, if you’re in an air-conditioned office then you’re letting the cool air out. Drawing the blind to keep the sun out can also help to lower temperatures indoors.

Stay hydrated

When it’s hot outside, you sweat more and lose fluids. Drinking water will keep you healthy and cool.

There are other ways that water can ease the heat. A few cool drops on your wrists and the back of your neck can help lower your body temperature. Alternatively, keep a spray bottle on hand and give yourself a nice mist every hour.

Follow the sun

If you’re going to be on site, or you know you have to do something physically strenuous, try to schedule it for first thing in the morning while it’s still a bit cooler. The longer the sun is up the hotter it gets, and so it becomes more likely you’ll overheat. If you can, avoid going out between 10am and 3pm, when it’s hottest. And if you’re outside, don’t forget the sunscreen.

Stay down

Heat rises, so the lower you go the cooler it gets. If your building has a basement, grab a laptop and work down there. Even going one floor down can make a big difference.

Eat small meals

That nice warm feeling that comes after a big meal isn’t just in your head. When you eat a large meal, your body must work harder to digest it, pushing your metabolism into overdrive. Try to have small snacks throughout the day instead of larger meals and you’ll feel much cooler.

Avoid caffeine

While many simply can’t function without their daily fix, forgoing your morning tea or coffee can help you stay cool. Caffeine increases your heart rate and blood flow and speeds up your metabolism, all of which raises your body temperature. The same goes for beverages with a high sugar content, which can have similar effects.

Frozen treats

So what snacks are best for keeping you cool? Ice cream and ice lollies certainly work, but frozen fruit is a much healthier choice. Pop some watermelon or pineapple slices or some grapes into the freezer and a few hours later you’ll have a sweet, cold and healthy treat. Frozen lemon and lime slices are also great for keeping your drinks cool and refreshing.

Avoid hot devices

Phones, tablets, laptops and other devices are all made of metal, which absorbs heat. Worse than that, portable devices all have batteries that can overheat, especially in the summer. Try to keep your devices in bags, away from your skin and out of your pockets. If you work on a laptop, try using an external keyboard. Otherwise, the components most likely to overheat will be right under your fingertips.

SOURCE: RISCRECRUIT

15 Ways to Enjoy the Summer When You’re Trapped in an Office

As you’ve probably noticed, the good weather has arrived! And we’re sure you’ve also noticed that your office is still operating as if it’s not beautiful outside. You’re stuck inside, staring at a stock image of a beach as your desktop background while your social media feeds get filled with photos of tropical getaways, Summer Friday activities, and tan lines.

While you can definitely continue daydreaming of your next escape, you can also take matters into your own hands and learn to enjoy the season from indoors. While my tips and tricks won’t land you that summer glow, they’ll definitely help you scroll through Instagram without feeling (quite so) jealous.

1. Make Fruit-Infused Water
One of the best parts of it being sunny out is having the excuse to down fun drinks without feeling silly. And we’re not just talking poolside cocktails!

To make a summery (SFW drink), all you need to do is check out these DIY recipes that you can make at home and leave in the office fridge.

2. Switch Up Your Playlist
’Tis the season to make a new playlist with all your favorite summer hits. Maybe it’s a classic like “Summer” by Calvin Harris, or perhaps it’s a song that no one else relates to summer but reminds you of your family’s annual beach trip. Or, maybe it’s just a compilation of every “song of the summer” from the past 20 years from Spotify.

Get everyone (else stuck) in the office involved by asking for suggestions. If you’re still feeling stumped, start with these recommendations.

3. Brighten Your Desk
It’s no secret that colors affect our mood, environment, and work ethic. So, why not incorporate the colors of the beach into your workspace?

4. Plan a Frozen Treat Happy Hour
If your office doesn’t participate in Summer Fridays, suggest starting an (alcohol-free) happy hour on Fridays to enjoy some ice cream sundaes (or slightly less-messy ice cream sandwiches).

The only thing that doesn’t work for this? Bringing your guilt! Taking an hour away from work will actually make you more productive. So, put down your computer, and pick up a scoop.

5. Lighten Up
Whether you bring a new lamp to your desk or purchase a “happy light,” brightening up your workspace is a simple trick to feeling more like you’re outdoors. Especially when you’re trapped in a cubicle craving some sunshine.

6. Play With Your Wardrobe
Nothing notes a season change more than switching out your closet. If your most beloved part of summer is a sundress or bright shorts, find ways to incorporate your summer pieces into your wardrobe.

Obviously, keep your company’s dress code in mind, and be sure that all attire is work-appropriate. But, there’s no reason you should still be wearing what you wore when it was snowing out.

7. Switch Up Your Lunch
BBQs are great for the summer, so leave the boring old sandwiches at home and grab a hot dog or burger for lunch. If that sounds ridiculous to you, take it down a notch and just bring in a few sides—like cole slaw, beans, or potato saad.

8. Get Outside Every Day
A little fresh air can do your mind and body wonders, so step outside for some breaks during the day. It’s a simple trick that’ll score you some Vitamin D and improve your efficiency. Can you say win-win?

9. Bring Popsicles for Your Office
Stock your office freezer full of popsicles and snack on one when you’re craving a treat—or, better yet, make some friends by offering them up to your co-workers.

Have a few extra minutes? Grab one and go sit outside while you eat it.

10. Buy a Plant
Bring the outdoors (and some fresh O2) to your cubicle with some small plants. Even if you can’t physically be outside, you’ll feel a little better if you can actually see some green. Personally, I love this one—and not just because it’s called a Donkey’s Tail.

11. Make Your Schedule More Summer-Friendly
If possible, start coming in an hour earlier so you can actually head out at a reasonable hour and enjoy the late night sunshine. (Because it wasn’t so long ago that it was dark at 4 PM.)

Or, put the bulk of your work or meetings on your schedule earlier in the week to allow you to duck out on Friday afternoons without missing anything important.

12. Use Your Lunch Breaks Differently
Eat outside instead of at your desk, bring your lunch so that you can use your break to get a quick mani-pedi, or spend those 30 minutes reading a book (outside if you can).

Feeling more ambitious? Go for a walk—even a short one—science says it’ll only make you better at your job.

13. Make Summer Friday Friends
Also known as all of those other people who have to work on Fridays, too. Try to make a routine to grab lunch together at your favorite outdoor restaurant. Or, at the very least, know who will be around to chat when the rest of the world goes quiet at 2 PM.

14. Change Up Your Commute
If you usually drive to work or take the train, give yourself extra time in the mornings to walk or bike to work. If that’s not an option, try to take a different route. Switching up your daily routine (especially if it’s been daily for years) will feel more exciting than you even realize.

15. Get Sporty
Bring summer sports to your office! While I don’t recommend throwing a frisbee around computers, there’s no reason you can’t take 10 minutes to toss one around with your co-worker outside in the parking lot.

Or, if your office has the spare room (and your co-workers understand the difference between tossing a beanbag and torpedo-ing it), you can easily play a quick game of cornhole.

SOURCE: THE MUSE

10 Ways to Celebrate Father’s Day in the Workplace

Last month we talked about how to celebrate Moms in the workplace. This month, let’s take care of the dads!

When your employee shows up to work, you expect them to leave everything at the door, focus on work, and make the most of their time on-the-clock. What you probably don’t often see or discuss is the sacrifices they make by being a working father. Father’s Day is the perfect opportunity to recognize and thank the hard-working dads for putting in an honest day’s effort regardless of circumstances, sleep-deprived and all.

Here are ten great ways to celebrate the fathers in your workplace: 

1. Pass out nice gift frames to the fathers in your office so they can display photos of their children. It’s a great personal gesture that allows them to celebrate fatherhood 365 days a year. Try googling Father’s Day Photo Frame or Photo Gift for some classic and elegant ideas.

2. Treat the office to lunch. Whether you choose to get catering or opt for delivery, serving food is a great way to break bread with your employees and allow them to relax over good food. If you’re feeling particularly enthused, taking the whole office out is another idea.

3. Announce a communal potluck and give your employees ample time to prepare their favorite dish for the big day. Honor the fathers by asking them to bring in a photo of their children and ask them to say one interesting thing about them. Set aside time during the work day for your employees to hunker down, bond with their colleagues, and dine together.

4. If you’ve got the room in your budget, give each dad a small monetary gift, like movie tickets or tickets to the zoo. Providing an experience on the company allows your employee to create family memories that will last long after Father’s Day is over.

5. Nobody says no to ice cream. Surprise your employees by hosting an ice cream social in the afternoon! If your sights are set on delivering the wow factor, surprise your employees by having an ice cream truck pull up to your workplace and serve unlimited ice cream.

6. Have a picnic for your employees’ families and ask the managers to grill hot dogs and burgers. No better way to demonstrate your appreciation than reversing the pecking order and having management serve the staff.

7. Plan a company excursion, such as to a local sporting event or a fun group activity like bowling. Not only will this boost morale, it allows employees to socialize and build relationships.

8. If you’d like to go all out, host a full-fledged family day of fun with carnival activities, contests and games, such as relay races, a treasure hunt, a bouncy house, and more. Consider preparing snacks like mini bags of popcorn, cotton candy, chicken shish kebabs, etc. Take lots of photos and post them on the office bulletin board to commemorate the occasion.

9. Have a cupcake decorating party and invite your employees to create some beautiful Father’s Day-themed treats they can proudly take home to share with their family. If you’re unsure of where to start, Pinterest has some great ideas.

10. Create gift bags for the children of the dads in your workplace. Some great ideas include coloring books, crayons, markers, activity books, bubbles, stickers, and tattoos. Write a handwritten note about how much you appreciate each dad’s hard work, and pass along the gift bag for their children. (Bonus: consider including a fun Father’s Day-themed worksheet the kids can fill out and give their dad to tell him the little ways he matters.)

Taking the effort to recognize and celebrate Father’s Day is just one way to develop a positive staff culture that will ensure your employees feel happy, respected, and acknowledged.

SOURCE: FINGERCHECK, LLC

Recognize Workplace Moms This Time of the Year

We know that being a parent is tough stuff. Being a working parent … now that’s a different story. But fact of the matter is, parents are amazing. Since it’s Mother’s Day, we’re giving a shout-out to the working woman who graciously juggles both her career and family.

So for the mom who squeezes in our soccer games despite being crazy busy, the mom who works magic with meals regardless of how tired she is, or the mom who offers encouraging words even when she’s down — here are three employee recognition ideas you can use for the hard-working moms:

Pack a Picnic

Nothing beats a home-cooked meal by Mom. So give them a break by ordering a catered lunch or packing a picnic for the moms at your workplace.

This allows them to take a mental break from the work they do. And of course, gives them a chance to socialize and mingle with other moms. We bet there will be no shortage of sharing kids’ photos too.

Take a Half Day

Between completing work tasks, running personal errands, and trucking kids from appointment to appointment, moms are insanely busy.

Let them take the afternoon off to pamper themselves. Or they can use it to spend some leisurely time with their families. Moms will truly appreciate that you don’t only value their time as work, but also their time outside of the office.

Flexible Hours

This is more long-term, but offering flexible hours will do wonders for a working mom’s productivity. She can slip out to drive Jimmy to soccer practice and take care of her workload afterwards.

This way, she doesn’t have to sacrifice her career or her family. After all, technology now allows people to work from anywhere at any time.

Bring Your Mom to Work Day

We’ve all heard of “bring your kid to work today.” How about letting people bring their moms? People want to make their moms proud, so this is an ideal opportunity for your employees to show off how they’re contributing to your organization’s success.

Mothers put in a ton of effort at the workplace and at home — they’re basically working 24/7. Use this day to really show them how much they’re valued and appreciated.

SOURCE: TINYPULSE

5 Ways To Build Healthier Habits at Work

A huge portion of our lives revolves around our professions. Therefore when it comes to being the healthiest version of ourselves, creating healthy habits around the office is an integral piece of the puzzle.

Unfortunately, with many places, the workplace is often a place filled with temptations that make it hard to stick to the best of routines.

When it comes to improving your office, drastic steps aren’t needed. Instead, small changes in behaviors and the environment are more than enough to start reaping the benefits. No need to wait until 5 p.m. to think about making healthier decisions. Start with these five healthy habits.

1. Start a committed relationship with water
Seems absurdly simple and like a no brainer. But yet, there’s a huge percentage of men and women walking around on a daily basis that aren’t properly hydrated. Water is one of the big pillars to  track because it affects every aspect of our lives.

Afternoon hunger cravings, random headaches, and general feelings of fogginess can be attributed to dehydration. However, staying hydrated improves your rate of weight loss, your mood, your brain functioning, and your energy levels.

2. Replace the candy bowl for a fruit and nuts bowl
You can have the best intentions to avoid those 2 p.m. round of cookies and snacks. But, after a stressful few hours of calls and emails, resisting those foods aren’t as likely due to your willpower being drained from decision fatigue.

Instead of fighting with your natural behaviors of impulsivity (we’re humans after all), it’s better to design an environment that is set up to help you succeed despite those impulsive behaviors.

You’re going to snack regardless. Therefore, you can prep for this by having your own stash of healthy snacks around. Instead of impulsively reaching for the nearest foods (often the snack bowl full of junk food), you’ll instead reach for your fruit and nuts bowl.

Snacking on fruits and nuts will provide your body with quality nutrients and an assortment of vitamins and minerals along with providing energy to help you get through the day.

3. Implement standing and small activity breaks
Productivity is a big topic at any company and sometimes it’s tough to step away from the monitor and decompress, but your body needs breaks to recharge. Sitting for excessive periods leads you to be more sedentary which can increase your risk for diabetes and heart diseases while potentially causing back pain.

A simple strategy is to stand every 30 minutes, even if you’re in the same area. This break (5 minutes is plenty), helps your back, shoulders, hips, and neck, but also decreases your sitting time. During this break, take a stretch, or use a lacrosse ball to loosen the tension in your feet (especially important to women who wear heels consistently).

A few more ideas to get more standing & activity in is to take the stairs when possible, park further away, have walking meetings, and walk to lunch if possible.

4. Pay attention to your posture
“Sit up straight” were words many of us heard from our parents growing up. And like most things, our parents were right. Your posture makes a difference on the quality of your day.

Having less-than-ideal posture affects your mood, reduces your lung functioning leading to less oxygenated blood to the brain (this equals not being as mentally sharp), GI issues, and neck pains (hello heavy smartphone users).

When you do have ideal posture, you’re helping your confidence, energy levels, and reducing stress while becoming more productive at work.

5. Add positive elements to your office
Whether it’s an annoying co-worker or just a busy and stressful day, using positive imagery and elements can help turn this potential stressful environment into a peaceful one.

To improve your environment, decorate your area with positive affirmations, have some sticky notes or messages with reminders about why you’re pursuing your various goals. These positive reminders keep you on the right track as you’re growing in your life.

Another unique option is to add an indoor plant, which has been shown to help productivity by 12 percent.

Bonus tip: Unplug from work when you get home
Taking work to your home is becoming more and more common, but it’s important to set boundaries to prevent burnout from occurring.

Habitually checking email or mindlessly scrolling through reports or the next day’s tasks before bed not only takes you away from being present with your family, friends, and others, but it also mentally exhausts you before the next day even arrives.

SOURCE: INC.com

Moving: 4 Tips on Adjusting to a New Climate

All the mental and financial stress associated with moving can make the process painful. But despite the anxiety, you find yourself excited. Whether you’re getting a new job, starting married life, or retiring after years of hard work, moving opens new and intriguing doors.

In the midst of the excitement and packing your belongings – have you stopped to consider how to adjust to a change in weather? Of course, if you plan to move only a couple hours away, you have no need to fear. But what about moving across the country or even across the world?

You want to acclimate as easily as you can to new, unfamiliar, or extreme climates. If a mild or static climate is familiar to you, prepare to experience all four seasons in full force. Read the following list of tips and tricks on how to adjust to moving from a hotter climate to a colder climate and vice versa.

From Hot to Cold

1. Gear Up

Do you plan to move from the absurdly perfect temperatures of Southern California to the frigid Midwest? You might find a shocking change emotionally and physically.

When you make a move like this, avoid the temptation of buying all your coats, gloves, shoes, and scarves at a beach shop or an outdoor mall. Sure, you might find some stylish jackets, but you probably won’t find what you really need. Instead, wait until after you move to buy warm and cozy clothing.

2. Prep Your Car and Your Driving Skills

One of the most drastic changes to take into account is winter weather’s effect on your car. You may drive in icy rain or whitewashed snowfall, so remember to drive extra carefully. Consider investing in snow tires or even snow chains in case snow and ice cover the roads.

When you move from a warmer area, you might not realize that mornings sometimes require you to scrape ice off your windshield and windows. Plan ahead so you avoid late days at work. In the worst case scenario, your vehicle might get stuck in bad conditions. Remember that you may need to walk or use public transportation during severe winter storms.

From Cold to Hot

3. It’s All About Air Conditioning

If you live in a seasonally mild or consistently cold area, you’ve probably never relied on air conditioning. But if your big move takes you to somewhere like Arizona, get ready to value an AC unit more than ever before. A cool home really acts as an oasis amid scorching heat.

All kinds of AC systems exist-central, split system, window, wall, portable, and more. Find out what approach works best for your new home, and don’t wait to get it installed, especially if your move occurs during the summer. And in order to cut down on potentially costly energy bills, use your home’s natural ventilation to your advantage by opening windows during the nighttime.

4. Eat and Drink Well

You might not think food and water have anything to do with hot temperatures. However, you can adjust more quickly to heat depending on what you do or do not consume. Most importantly, you want to drink plenty of water at consistent intervals. Dehydration presents a threat if you have an active or busy day with temperatures in the 90s or 100s.

Stay away from hot drinks like coffee, hot chocolate, and tea. Consuming hot beverages will amplify your body’s internal temperature. Avoid eating anything too spicy as well. You may need to wait on that mouthwatering chili burrito until a cooler evening.

With these simple tips, you can prepare to brave mild or even extreme weather changes in the next chapter of your life. Remember to apply this advice to make your adjustment less jarring and more comfortable.

SOURCE: WHEATON WORDLWIDE MOVING

Five Ideas for an Exciting Valentine’s Day Workplace

While Valentine’s Day is primarily known as a romantic holiday for celebrating sweethearts, it can also be a blast to celebrate at work. This Valentine’s Day, liven up your workplace celebration with some passion (work-appropriate, of course!) by trying the ideas below.

  1. Host a red party.
    Host a red party for lunch. Use only red decorations and encourage attendees to wear only red clothing and accessories, or bring red pot luck dishes. Get creative and award prizes for the most festive red outfit, most unexpected red food, the tastiest dish, etc. You can also host a “red” elephant gift exchange, with only red gifts! Match your tunes by making a playlist of songs that all have “love” or “red” in the title. Include a “Guess the Kisses” jar (with red Hershey’s Kisses, of course!) and award the winner with the kisses jar and a prize like movie tickets for two or an extra afternoon off. Don’t forget to set up a Valentine’s Day photo booth corner with red boas, wax lips, red hats, etc.!
  2. Have a “heart to heart” conversation contest.
    A day or two ahead of time, download and print our easy conversation heart contest Microsoft Word template and customize for your workplace. Print one sheet for every five people and cut out the words. Then, give each participant a stack of words and a box of conversation hearts, and instruct them to write a sentence that uses at least three conversation hearts! Award prizes for longest sentence, most applicable to your workplace, funniest, sweetest, etc.
  3. Play Valentine-themed Pictionary or charades.
    Bring paper and pens and ask participants to submit titles of (again, work-appropriate!) love-related movies, songs, etc. Then play Pictionary or charades, awarding a prize to the winning team.
  4. Focus on the real heart.
    Since February is American Heart Month, Valentine’s Day is a great reminder to focus on heart health. Get active by taking the team roller skating or hiking, or forming a company softball team. Start a healthy recipe exchange Pinterest board or invite a local nutritionist to come in and provide a seminar on cooking healthy foods. Don’t forget to promote any health-related benefits you offer, like gym membership discounts or fitness classes.
  5. Spread the love in your community.
    Valentine’s Day is the perfect time of year to show love to not just your sweetie, but also to people in need. Get involved with a local charity to spread the love! For extra teambuilding, plan an activity where most of the team can participate. Hold a month-long penny drive (try setting up a competition between departments), or put together bikes to donate to a local children’s charity. Try to offer more than one way to get involved so people have the option to donate time or funds.

With these tips, this Valentine’s Day will be one to remember!

SOURCE: NELSONJOBS

10 New Year Resolutions That Will Help You Win at Work

Another year, another chance to fix the mistakes from last, and to improve on oneself. Let’s talk about New Years resolutions!

Write out your New Year’s resolutions, to make them real, and you will restore, revitalize and renew your spirit to take advantage of all the possibilities of the new year.

May your New Year’s resolutions help you make this year your best year ever.

10 New Year’s Resolutions

Do something you love to do, and that you do best every single day. In their landmark book, “First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently.” Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman of the Gallup organization discovered this critical factor in interviews with 80,000 managers. For their interviews, they narrowed down the questions asked to the twelve that most clearly appeared to define happy, motivating, productive workplaces.

These were the first three:

  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
  3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?

People who could affirmatively answer these questions were more likely to be happy and productive at work. Get passionate about your work. Do something you do best every day.

Do something just for you every single day. As a manager or business professional, you can get caught up in doing for others during every minute of your workday.

If you have family members who occupy the off-work hours, this problem is compounded.

Resolve to set time aside for yourself every day to exercise, relax, reflect, meditate, cook a gourmet dinner, eat ice cream, write in a journal, garden, walk your pet or do any other activity that takes your fancy. Just make sure that the activity is different from what you already do all day long. You will feel as if you have a life—because you will have a life.

Give yourself credit and a pat on the back when you deserve it. In the Gallup study cited earlier, this question defined the most productive workplaces. People who had received praise or recognition for their work in the past seven days were more happy and productive.

In this era of empowered employees and broad spans of managerial control, you are less likely to have frequent interaction with your boss. Thus, it is important that you recognize yourself for excellent efforts. One way to do this is to keep a file of positive notes, thank you letters and reminders of successful ventures.

Online links to recognition deserve a bookmark, too. You can call this file “Recognition” or  “Neat Things” or another name that is near and dear to you. Stop to assess your success after each project you complete.

Strive to learn something new every single day. It is easy to get bogged down in the same old, same old. Read an article; discuss a new approach with a colleague; research what other organizations are doing on the web. The opportunities for learning are multiplying every day in this information age.

Read voraciously to continue to learn and grow. Aim to read a couple of business books a month plus periodicals, online journals and the “Wall Street Journal” daily. You may not always reach that goal, but it’s always there to challenge you to learn and continue to grow.

Try to read widely and broadly. Get out of the business books once in awhile to see how other subjects enhance your point of view. The “Black Swan” is an example, “Freakonomics” is another. “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” is a third such choice.

You can even schedule a book club around a book that you and your department want to read. Sharing the concepts learned with colleagues and applying them to your department or organization cements the learning. Oldies but goodies include Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, “First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently”, or you can choose newer books such as “Victory Through Organization: Why the War for Talent is Failing Your Company and What You Can Do About It” by Dr. Dave Ulrich.

Make professional contacts and network. Look up colleagues with whom you have lost touch. Make sure that you attend at least one professional meeting each month. You will benefit from the friendships and relationships you develop from active participation in networking. It is not enough to join—you need to show up and join in.

You need to participate in reaping the rewards from professional collaboration. Read “Dig the Well Before You’re Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You’ll Ever Need” by Harvey McKay, the king of networking. When you dig past the surface glitz, there are terrific ideas about constantly and rewardingly networking in this book.

Practice professional courage by stepping out of your comfort zone. You know when you are in your comfort zone. An issue occurs. You hear yourself making up excuses in your mind about why you don’t need to speak, or why taking a stand on an issue will get you in trouble.

Just once, when you find yourself in this situation, state what you are actually thinking. After the shock wears off, coworkers will admire you. It is so important that organization members provide honest feedback and participate in needed conflict to improve your products or services for customers.

Once you have begun breaking through your self-imposed barriers, you will find that stating your mind gets easier and easier. Why? Because you will find, you survived the experience. In fact, your career may thrive as a result of you leaving your comfortable home.

Most people who practice professional courage expected the worst but found they were rewarded for their new stance. If you find yourself getting beaten up instead, perhaps it’s time to look for different employment. After all, wouldn’t you rather work where you can safely speak your mind?

Listen more than you talk. The adage about one mouth and two ears is true. As a manager, you spend much of your time in problem-solving activities and efforts. Plan this year, to listen to all that your coworkers are saying; they may want a sounding board, not advice or problem solving.

You may find you don’t have to take the monkeys on your back. Your listening may empower them to solve their problems. When they feel completely heard out and listened to, they are more likely to move from stuck to action. In Stephen Covey’s words, seek first to understand, and then to be understood.

Develop a method to track your life goals, your daily engagements, and your to-do list. Using a planner, whether in Microsoft Office Outlook, Google Calendar or on your smartphone, allows you to empty much of the daily detail from your mind.

The Fitbit or another personal exercise tracker can help you keep track of steps, calories consumed, weight, sleep, and exercise. This is handy for tracking your more personal goals.

Dumping the information into a tracker gives your mind room for more critical thinking. Whether you choose a paper method or an electronic method, tracking your daily activities against your most important goals is critical. You do want to ensure you accomplish your most important priorities. Right?

Take up a new hobby or activity this year. Maybe this is the year you begin your collection. A coworker recently renewed his interest in amateur radio. (Unfortunately, he told his wife, “We don’t have enough antennas—big antennas!) Several other colleagues write cooking websites.

If something has always intrigued you and piqued your interest, resolve to take the first steps in participating this year. You’ll add a new dimension to your world. It will positively interact with your business success.

If you wait until next year to pursue your interest, next year will come on schedule and you’ll find that you’re not a single step closer. Do it now.

Take yourself a little less seriously. As you strive for business success, you can get bogged down in serious deliberation, advising and problem solving. Take time to laugh. Take time to smell cookies and bread baking. Make sure that you laugh about something every single day.

Smile when you hear stories about what all of your crazy employees are doing; you don’t need to be the mom or dad all of the time. Enjoy them for all their little quirks and differences. Appreciate the different strengths, skills, and experiences they bring to work. You can warmly appreciate their contributions at any time of the year.

You are warmly wished a happy, healthy, prosperous, outstanding new year as you adopt these New Year’s resolutions and add a few more of your own.

SOURCE: THE BALANCE