The Habits That Are Destroying Your Productivity + What To Do Instead

We are all creatures of habit. Once we get used to doing something a certain way or using a particular product, it can be very difficult to change. Routine is good for our productivity, but it can be burden if you’ve latched onto some bad habits. Here’s how to get out of them quickly.

1. Don’t multitask.

Instead, try focusing on one thing at a time.

Multitasking can often make us feel as though we’re getting more done, which is what makes it so difficult to stop. In reality, though, when your focus is spread over so many activities, it’s a lot harder to concentrate. You probably won’t save any time, and the quality of your work will be greatly diminished. I do recommend grouping like tasks together, such as paying bills, but try to focus on the individual task at hand until it’s complete.

2. Don’t procrastinate.

Instead, try creating fake deadlines and rewarding yourself for meeting them.

I’m a master procrastinator. It’s probably my worst habit. In fact, as I was writing this paragraph, I checked my email two times and took a few swipes through Facebook. To counteract my natural inclination to put things off, I give everything a deadline.

For bigger projects that already have a deadline. I break those down into smaller chunks, each with their own mini-deadline. I also like to give myself little rewards, like a snack or a call with a friend, to stay motivated.

3. Don’t obsess over email.

Instead, try checking your email only once an hour.

Emails are a huge source of distraction in the workplace. Especially as we’ve created an almost compulsive need to check our inboxes every five minutes. (I just did it a few seconds ago!) Remember almost every email can wait — nothing is that urgent!

Set a timer to help you space out the time between emails and close out the window until it’s time to check.

4. Don’t stress yourself out.

Instead, try to give yourself time to work it out.

When the pressure is on, the obvious first move is to dive right in. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to take a moment and come up with a plan first. Rushing can lead to missing vital information and overlooking simpler methods or opportunities to outsource.

5. Don’t say yes automatically.

Instead, try to consider your options.

Saying yes is probably the easiest part of any task, but when you actually have to carry it out you might regret your eagerness to agree. Before you say yes to something, think about what the task entails. If you feel like you’re saying yes because you have to, you’ll end up feeling overbooked and under appreciated.

6. Don’t overdo it.

Instead, try being kind to yourself.

We all know someone who boasts about all the projects they currently have or how they only slept for three hours because they’re “so busy.” They may seem like they’re on their way to big things, but they’re going to burn out pretty quickly.

Don’t feel guilty for taking the occasional break, or sleeping your seven to eight hours. The way you treat yourself can have a huge impact on your work.  Try taking something off your plate — it feels so good to be nice to yourself.

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Is Your Business Ready for 2016?

 

As the end of the year approaches, it’s a natural time to reflect on how this past year went. Yet, so often, we steamroll right into the next year with New Year’s resolutions we’ve posted on Facebook.

The same is true in your business, where one year after the next can feel like —when the same frustrations, challenges, and stagnation keeps repeating as if you’re in a perpetual time-loop.

Promises and resolutions are not enough. They’re a start in admitting that something is not how you want it to be. But inspiration alone doesn’t pay the bills.

So how do you build an Business Plan for the upcoming year that actually works? Here are the steps to creating a practical and executable plan.

  • Create time to strategize. With all of the last-minute sales, holiday plans and typical overwhelm, now is the time to carve-out your strategic hours to work ON your business and create a plan. The technician inside of you will most likely procrastinate on this first step until it’s too late, and you’re back to the grind of the next year.
  • Create Your 3 Year Company Vision. Do you know where you are driving the vehicle of your business? If there’s not a larger context for where and why you’re going in the direction you intend, it makes it quite difficult to have a yearly action plan that can spell out the steps necessary to build toward your goals.
  • Take an honest assessment of where your business is today. Get out a piece of paper (or an electronic doc) and make note of what you need to:
    • Start doing
    • Stop doing
    • Continue doing based on last year’s results

    What’s not working in your marketing activities? Where are you dropping the ball with customers? How can you improve your profit margin? This one step alone will make a huge difference in creating new strategies and action steps for the coming year.

  • Prioritization. What comes first: purchasing that new CRM or getting your budget in-place for the coming year? Should you update your website, or do you need to hire a new staff member to free yourself up with more time? Assess which action steps will have the most positive impact on your business and place them in order. And then double-check to see if that’s really true.
  • Breaking it down into bite-sized steps. This is the critical step that often gets missed. It’s one thing to declare lofty or even practical goals for your business. It’s another thing to then roll-up your sleeves to look at how to break these down into smaller steps over time, and establish project plans for each initiative in the new year. This may seem time-consuming, but I guarantee you the time you take to work ON your plan will bring huge rewards in having a clear, detailed strategy for leading into the new year.
  • Calendar your plan. Now that you have a sense of your top priorities, how are you going to space them out over the course of the next year? Does the order still look right when it’s down on paper? Don’t try to do everything in January—that’s not going to happen. So what is a realistic pace to achieve your goals?
  • Accountability. Who’s going to be accountable for the various steps that you’ve declared? How will you create feedback loops and project management meetings to stay on top of progress? What’s your protocol if projects are running behind schedule?

As the old saying goes, you can’t have different results if you don’t have a different approach. This is your best opportunity right now to make the year to come your best year yet. Are you truly ready to lead your business? The first step is waiting.

Create a successful business by focusing on what you need to do and let me take care of the administrative tasks

The Right Way to Fail

We do stuff that doesn’t quite work out all the time.

(A few particularly embarrassing aerial yoga classes come to mind.)

And that’s okay! Contrary to some of the notes we received on middle school report cards, failing at something isn’t a problem in and of itself. It’s how you address that failure – and particularly, whether you take it as a sign to cut your losses and move on.

When you’re faced with a failure or setback, it’s tempting to want to completely drop the thing you’ve been trying. But does that actually work better, or does it just feel better in the moment?

There can be something liberating about failing at something and cutting it out of your routine – after all, it’s one less thing you have to do! Can’t run more than a quarter mile without gasping for air like a fish out of water? Then canceling your gym membership and sparing yourself the discomfort can feel pretty darn good!

But quitting doesn’t actually solve the problem.

Instead, it just allows you to pretend that there isn’t a solution at all – so why bother looking for one, right?

And that can be a dangerous line of thinking.

Canceling plans

Failing doesn’t tell you to quit something – it tells you to change something.

Here’s an example we hear small business owners mention a lot.

Say you have a blog on your website. You know that blogging is important for driving traffic, and you’re committed to writing for it, but…nobody’s reading.

Like, ever.

The tempting solution is to say that blogging just isn’t going to work. Sure, maybe it works for the other guys, but it’s just not for you. So you stop writing.

One less thing to worry about!

That’s easier. But it isn’t smarter.

If you aren’t getting visitors to your blog, that doesn’t mean you’ve straight up failed at blogging – it means it’s time to try new ways of driving traffic, like focusing on your email list. It might mean it’s time to rethink what you write about, or how you write about it.

Getting visitors on your website, but nobody’s opting in? That doesn’t mean you should give up on building a list – it means you should rethink what you’re offering, and how people are getting there.

All too often, we write off our failures as a sign to stop doing something instead of as a sign to improve.

This is why A/B testing is even a thing at all – and why it should be part of your strategy, even if you think it sounds like some next-level nonsense you don’t need in your life. The teensiest of adjustments can make a massive difference, so why scrap an entire idea instead of making a tweak? Why throw out your entire sales page when all you had to do was change one or two words?

Think of when you go to the doctor and they write you a prescription. If that particular medication doesn’t quite do the trick, the doctor doesn’t say, “Well, apparently medicine won’t work for you” – they prescribe something else, and you give that thing a try!

 

This is why we ask ourselves three very specific questions about every major thing we do here at Edgar – whether that task went well, or feels like it was a dud. Just like few things ever go 100% perfectly, few things ever go 100% wrong – which means throwing out your hard work and your attempted ideas wholesale is a mistake.

Instead, ask yourself these questions when you feel like what you’re doing isn’t working:

  • What exactly am I failing to accomplish?
  • What can I change about how I’m attempting this?
  • Which change(s) do I want to implement first?

Use a scalpel to refine your strategy – not a chainsaw. Almost nothing you do can’t go from a dud to a success with the right nipping and tucking! You just have to be patient, and willing to look at a failed attempt as an opportunity, rather than a total loss.

So don’t pull the kill switch on a disappointing project just yet.

Sure, setbacks are a drag. And it’s okay to be disappointed when you try something and it doesn’t turn out quite the way you’d hoped!

Just don’t take it as a sign you should stop what you’re doing, or that there’s no solution to the problem you want to solve. Think about doing things differently instead of giving up on them entirely – you might find that the solution you were hoping for is a lot closer than you’d realized!

How to stay organized

Staying organized is not for sissies! Unlike getting organized it requires a commitment to DAILY ACTION to maintain the order you created when you got organized. That means, you must do the same actions day after day after day after day after day . . . in order to avoid the trauma of having to reorganize chaos all over again!

So what? What’s the big deal? All you have to do every day is pick up things, put them away, throw them away or give them away. That’s the simple answer for how to stay organized. No big deal!

The actions you must take are not difficult. In fact, they are pretty easy once you have established an initial order. But, they are boring and repetitive. For those folks who are creative, fun-loving and who crave variety and stimulation, the repetitive actions required to stay organized can seem deadly. But, they must be done if you want to stay organized and have a peaceful life free of chaos.

Here are 8 steps to learn how to STAY ORGANIZED:

1. Watch your behavior to identify actions that contribute to the problem of being disorganized and commit to changing problem behaviors.

Common problem behaviors include: dropping, plopping (choosing couch potato mode before taking care of business), avoiding and procrastinating.
2. Identify specific places in your schedule for daily organizing activities.

Work and school schedules create a structure around which to arrange routine organizing tasks. For example, there is usually a small window in the morning before leaving for the day that can be used for loading the dishwasher, putting in a load of wash, and cleaning up breakfast dishes. And, there is a window in the evening upon returning home where mail can be processed, voice mail checked, etc. There is also another window before bedtime for a final pickup of clothes and other items used during the day. People who are retired or self-employed sometimes have difficulty staying organized because they don’t have the structure provided by work and school schedules. It is even more important for them to consciously commit to specific times for getting routine maintenance chores done.

3. Incorporate the most important organizing tasks into routines.

Routines create a structure within which specific activities can happen. Repeating routines over and over again will make actions automatic rather than dreaded daily events. A morning routine might include getting up, showering, hanging up wet towels, getting dressed, eating breakfast, cleaning up after breakfast, checking email, leaving for work/school. An evening routine might include putting away any items you bring into the house (groceries, shopping bags, etc.), processing mail, checking voice mail, making dinner, cleaning up after dinner, helping children with homework and cleaning up afterwards.

4. Reward yourself for changed behavior.

Commit to a new organizing behavior that you know will help you stay organized. Then repeat the behavior 21 days in a row. It takes repeating a new behavior 21 days in a row before it becomes a habit. Beware, you will resist new behaviors. You may have to start over again several times if you find yourself sliding back into old messy habits. When you reach the 21st day, reward yourself with something you enjoy, a special meal or purchase. Use email, TV or a phone call to a friend as a reward for finishing your evening chores.

5. Be willing to pay to get help if you haven’t been successful in your efforts to stay organized by a certain date.

Professional organizers and professional coaches can provide the structure necessary to hold you accountable to your goals to stay organized. (Admit it; you’d pay for help if you couldn’t get your car to start.

6. Hire others to do the things you hate the most and/or have the hardest time doing.

Consider paying for a cleaning service, a professional organizer, a person to pay your bills, a lawn service or a person to do your laundry/ironing. I pay to have my bills paid because I hate doing it, I’m prone to math errors and I want it done right. I also pay to have my house cleaned every two weeks. Again, I hate cleaning. And, it always gets done better than I’d do it. Having someone clean my house also gives me a deadline to pick up my house so I can get the most out of the cleaning!

7. Make staying organized a family commitment.

Invite family members to participate in the process of maintaining an organized, comfortable place to live. If you have a husband or wife, start with him/her. It is always easier to encourage children to participate if you and your spouse both consider staying organized a priority. Teach children early that picking up after themselves and participating in on-going organizing efforts is not optional; it is essential to having a rewarding, comfortable life.

It should be introduced to them as a normal part of life as soon as they are capable of throwing toys into open tubs. Be sure to reward them with praise for their on-going efforts even though they are expected to do them. Never use getting or staying organized as a punishment. And, remember, they will be watching what you do. You are a model for behaviors they need to learn like cleaning up after themselves and regularly getting rid of things they no longer love or use.

8. Have realistic expectations for the level of organization you can maintain.

It is fairly common for women to believe that they should keep a perfectly organized and clean house, even though they may work outside the home and/or have several children running around. That is an old standard that probably has NEVER been attainable without regular outside help. If you have children, especially under the age of 10, cut yourself some slack and shoot for relative order. As long as you keep picking up daily, regularly get rid of stuff, and you have all family members doing their part in the process, you probably can function without any major organizing challenges.

As your life changes, so too will the level of intensity of your daily organizing efforts. Efforts should intensify when raising children and become less intense when children leave home (if you haven’t replaced the obligations as a parent with other commitments). When you reach retirement, initially, you will have much more time to get organized and stay organized. But, you will also lose the structure provided by a work schedule. Resist the urge to drop helpful routines at retirement. Those who do find their homes in chaos and wonder what happened!

You will be rewarded for your daily organizing efforts with the ability to think clearly and accomplish your goals more easily, improved relationships and greater peace of mind. A few minutes every day is not a great price to pay for an improved life!

Office Christmas Party Games

The game show Minute to Win It gave us all kinds of fun games that we can play at home, and their special Christmas series of episodes offered up a holiday theme for a bunch of these games. They’re perfect for Christmas parties, school games to play in the classroom, office parties, or any other holiday gathering. Here’s how to play all of the Minute to Win It Christmas games. Once you’ve browsed the games, get tips for hosting a Minute to Win It Christmas party too. Remember, all of these games must be completed in one minute or less.

minute to win it christmas - courtesy NBC
courtesy NBC

1.  Christmas Ball

Christmas Ball is based on the regular Minute to Win It game called Egg Roll. To play, you must use a gift-wrapped box (about the size of a shirt box) as a fan to move a round Christmas ornament across the floor and into a marked square. The box must not touch the ornament while the game is in play. You can vary the distance that the ornament must be fanned depending on the age of the people playing.

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2.  Christmas Ball Conveyor

Christmas Ball Conveyor is played with two people. They stand, facing each other, at a distance to be determined by how difficult you wish the challenge to be. A ribbon is wrapped around both players’ waists, creating a loop surrounding them both. The first player has a bowl with Christmas ornaments on hooks as well as a small Christmas tree beside him. To play the game, the first player hooks an ornament on the ribbon. The two players must then spin in tandem in order to move the ornament all the way around the ribbon, ending up back with the first player, who must then hang it on the tree. Make the game more difficult by requiring more ornaments to be transferred around the “conveyor.”

3.  Christmas Cliffhanger

Set up Christmas Cliffhanger by placing ten open Christmas cards in a row on a table, close to the edge. Stand cards horizontally so they look like little tents. Then, stand at the opposite side of the table. The object of the game is to blow on the cards, across the table, to move them to the very edge of the table so that one of them is left hanging over the edge without falling off. You have one minute and ten attempts to accomplish your task.

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4.  Christmas in the Balance

Christmas in the Balance is played in pairs. Place an empty wrapping paper tube on a table or on the floor, and balance a yardstick on top of the tube. Each of the two players has five Christmas tree ornaments of equal size and weight. Standing on opposite sides of the yardstick, players must work together to hang all five ornaments on their side of the yardstick without toppling the structure. If the structure falls the game is over. We recommend plastic ornaments to avoid a mess.

5.  Christmas Jingle

Based on the game Spoon Tune, Christmas Jingle requires a bit of prep work before playing. 11 glasses must be filled with varying amounts of water, tuned so that they play the notes of the first line of the Christmas song Jingle Bells when tapped with a metal spoon. Place the prepared glasses in random order on a table. To play the game, the contestant must rearrange the glasses in the proper order to play the song.

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6.  Deck the Balls

Deck the Balls is another game for teams of two. Using an empty wrapping paper tube, the first player uses suction from his mouth to lift an ornament with the tube, and transfer it to the second player. The second player must receive the ornament in the same fashion (with a wrapping paper tube and suction), and then hang it on an awaiting string (hung in a clothesline fashion). To win this game, players must hang three ornaments using this method in a minute or less.

do you hear what i hear game - Courtesy NBC
Courtesy NBC

7.  Do You Hear What I Hear?

To set up Do You Hear What I Hear, take seven gift-wrapped boxes of the same size and place small jingle bells in each of them. Boxes should contain the following number of bells: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 35. Place the closed boxes on a table. To play the game, the contestant must arrange the boxes in order by the number of bells they contain, from smallest to largest. Contestants can pick up and shake the boxes, but they must not look inside.

8.  Extreme Christmas Nutstacker

Extreme Christmas Nutstacker is a difficult game – even tougher than the original Nutstacker game that it’s based on. Players must use a candy cane to scoop up eight hexagonal metal nuts and stack them, one by one, to make a tower of the nuts on a plate. The candy cane and nuts are presented on a tray, which the player then uses to loop the nuts onto the candy cane. The plate is held in the players’ hand while he tries to make the tower by sliding the nuts gently off the candy cane, one by one, on top of each other. The nuts must be stacked standing on one side (so that the hole is visible when you view it straight-on), not flat. If the tower tips, the game is done.

9.  Face the Gingerbread Man

Face the Gingerbread Man is played exactly like Face the Cookie, using a gingerbread man in place of the Oreo. Sit down and lean your head back; place the cookie on your forehead and move it to your mouth using only the muscles in your face. Don’t touch the cookie with your hands! The best part about this game is that, if you’re successful, the prize is already built in.

10.  Holiday Hustle

Holiday Hustle is played with two people. Each person has a yardstick attached to her waist at the back (this can be tricky to set up, but the easiest way to do it is to use strong glue and attach the yardsticks to old leather belts). Wrap a length of ribbon around the end of one of the yardsticks – the length can vary depending on how difficult you want the game to be. Attach the end of the ribbon to the end of the other yardstick. To play, the players stand facing each other with enough distance between them so that the ends of their yardsticks meet up. Using only their hips, they must wind the ribbon from one yardstick to the other.

Why holidays are healthy

Your long-awaited holiday is just around the corner and you are looking forward to a good rest and a chance to let your hair down. But a holiday break offers more health benefits than meets the eye.It’s the ideal opportunity to get in shape and discover new experiences that can be integrated into your life back home.

According to sports dieticians it’s possible to lose two pounds a week with a small amount of daily exercise on holiday.

And, tasting new dishes could expand your cooking repertoire and become the start of a healthier lifestyle. Although sunlight can cause skin cancer, there is some evidence to suggest that its rays can actually help prevent some illnesses.

Here, we look at why holidays are good for your mind and body

Food

According to nutritionists variety really is the spice of life. Research from Japan concludes that if you increase the variety of food you eat on a typical day, you’re more

likely to meet the recommended amount of vitamins and minerals (five portions of fresh, canned, frozen or dried fruit and veg a day) needed to fight disease and maintain healthy bones and organs.Spending time in a hot country means you can indulge in plenty of salads, fresh fruit and juices.

‘Mediterranean cuisine tends to contain a wide variety of seasonal vegetables and many tropical countries offer an abundance of exotic fruit. If you enjoy new food, you’re more likely to continue eating it once you get home. And by recreating your favourite dishes, you can pretend you are on holiday at home.’

But, she warns, it can take several days for your stomach to adapt to a new diet.

‘If you notice more bloating than usual, caused by fibre absorbing water in the gut, don’t panic. This means your stomach is simply adapting to new food,’ she says.

Sun

The message that sunlight can cause skin cancer is loud and clear. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. Around 50,000 people are diagnosed with the illness each year. Of these, more than 2,000 are likely to die from the condition.

However, evidence suggests that sunlight can help prevent some conditions. Lack of sunlight is thought to trigger seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – a depressive condition experienced in the winter months. So if you suffer from bouts of sadness, going on holiday may help to alleviate symptoms of depression.

Research also shows blood levels of vitamin D are lowest in winter months when the sun is rarely out. When exposed to sunlight, the body has the ability to convert vitamin A from the sun into vitamin D. This helps strengthen the immune system and is needed to bind calcium to bones and generates teeth development.

Sleep

Holidays provide the perfect opportunity to catch up on sleep. Sleep deprivation through stress or work can lead to poor mental performance, premature ageing and even illness.

While we are asleep our bodies undergo certain important processes – from repair and renewal to energy restoration. According to scientists, deep sleep – rather than length of sleep – is the time when the brain recharges itself so we can function effectively during the day.

Sleep is also important for our immune system – the part of the body that is responsible for fighting infection. Some scientists believe that during sleep we secrete higher levels of cortisol – the hormone secreted by the pituitary gland that protects the immune system – than during the day.

Exercise

With more time to spare on holiday, take the opportunity to walk or cycle – rather than taking the car.

‘An ideal way to lose weight is to jog along the beach at sunrise or sunset. Jogging on sand makes you work harder because all your lower leg and ankle muscles are helping to keep you balanced.’

Water aerobics is a good all-round exercise. Working against the water provides cardiovascular exercise – where the heart beat is raised – and also tones the major muscle groups.

For a more gentle work out, several laps in the swimming pool or sea can help you keep in shape. Because your body is supported in the water, you are unlikely to strain any muscles, but swimming is a great way to stretch your body and keep it supple.

Social games including beach volley ball, badminton and tennis – or even using a pedallo – can all encourage the body to burn up fat without even noticing it!

Sea water

Research shows that listening to water alters wave patterns in the brain – in the same way that meditation does. This means hearing the sound of lapping waves or cascading waterfalls on holiday can help rejuvenate the mind and body.

The movement of water also has a positive effect on our minds. The purifying nature of water helps spring clean the body because it encourages our bodies to connect with their natural flow – or rhythm. This contrasts with struggling up stream when dealing with our daily lives.’

Salt water from the ocean also has the added benefit of containing detoxifying properties. Salt is known to draw out the body’s impurities leaving you feeling clean and rejuvenated.

Once back at home, you can maintain your detox and recreate a sense of the ocean by bathing in epsom salts. Alternatively, treat yourself to a flotation tank session – a sound-insulated tank containing a shallow saline pool kept at body temperature. It is said one hour in a flotation tank is the equivalent to a day’s holiday!

Memories

Holidays often evoke happy memories. Harnessing memories can be used as an effective relaxation aid to alter wave patterns in the brain – similar to meditation. This is the stage when the brain moves into alpha waves – the stage just before sleep when your body is calm and relaxed.

‘Thinking back to your holiday relaxes the mind because mental imagery releases endorphins -natural feel-good hormones released by the brain. This image can be useful to call up before a nerve-racking experience – for example public speaking or visiting the dentist.’

Laughter

If you’re enjoying yourself on holiday, you’re more likely to laugh. And laughter really is the best medicine, according to recent research. A good belly laugh can strengthen the immune system by releasing endorphins, the body’s natural ‘feel-good’ chemicals. This can help reduce the risk of disease – from heart conditions to allergic reactions and arthritis.

Studies have shown that watching stand-up comedy has a significant effect on depression. Cardiac patients who watched funny videos during recovery were less likely to suffer a second heart attack than those who did not.

Laughter is the best medicine.

20 Motivational Business Quotes to Read Every Morning


“Out there in some garage is an entrepreneur who’s forging a bullet
with your company’s name on it.”
Gary Hamel, Business Writer

“If you don’t make mistakes, you aren’t really trying.”
Coleman Hawkins, Jazz Musician

“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable
combination for success.”
Napoleon Hill, Author

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that
which should not be done at all.”
Peter Drucker

“I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for
failure, which is: Try to please everybody.”
Herbert B. Swope, American Journalist

“If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.”
Charles Kettering, Engineer

“I am a man of fixed and unbending principles, the first of which is to be
flexible at all times.”
Everett Dirksen

“Without customers, you don’t have a business. You have a hobby.”
Don Peppers & Martha Rogers, Return on Customer


“Judge a man by his questions, not by his answers.”
Voltaire

“The minute you’re satisfied with where you are, you aren’t there anymore.”
Tony Gwynn, Hall of Fame Baseball player

“Speed is useful only if you are running in the right direction.”
Joel Barker, Future Edge


“They always say time changes things,
but you actually have to change them yourself.”
Andy Warhol

“An organization becomes bewildered rather than energized
when it’s asked to do too much at once.”
Michael Hammer & James Champy, Reengineering The Corporation


“If you try to do something and fail, you are vastly better off
than if you had tried nothing and succeeded.”
The Back of a Sugar Packet (Anonymous)

Ways to Keep Employees Motivated and Productive During the Holidays

So what can employers and managers do to keep employees motivated and working toward year-end goals from late November through early January? Here are eight suggestions, provided by business owners and managers as well as HR experts.
1. Recognize employees — with thank-you notes and/or small gifts. When employees are thanked for a job well done, they are motivated and inspired to do great work; they are driven to surpass company goals; and they are happier and more committed to their employer. 86 percent of employees say that being recognized motivates them in their job. So thank your employees for a job well done — and not just this holiday season but every day, year-round. The positive effect will be palpable.”

The time it takes to sit down and write a personalized note says a lot in and of itself. By expressing appreciation in a personal note, the recipient will feel appreciated by the effort and motivated to continue to go above and beyond.

Whether it’s a gift card to their favorite restaurant, a day or two of extra vacation time or the latest tech gadget, pairing a meaningful reward with recognition enhances the emotional connection employees share with the company. Whether you have a big budget or a small one, “find rewards that will have value and be meaningful” to employees, which will “create an even stronger connection between the individual, the company and its goals.”

2. Organize an Employee Appreciation Day or outing. There is no better time to show your employees that you appreciate them than during the festive holiday season.  Have a company-wide meeting to review the achievements of the year and discuss goals for the new year. And as a reward for their achievements, “treat your employees to a breakfast or lunch.” Or “if your company has extra money in the budget, consider taking your employees on an off-site excursion to work on additional team building and strategic planning.”

3. Give out awards. This will encourage employees to continue to work hard and will motivate them to go to the office to see if they are an award recipient

4. Provide free food. Never underestimate the power of food, especially when it’s free! The holidays are an opportunity for organizations to showcase that  And one way to do this is by offering perks like food in the office. Workplace survey found that 57 percent of respondents said food-based perks make them feel more valued and appreciated by their employers, and 50 percent said food in the office makes them feel more satisfied with their employers.”

5. Sponsor a volunteer day. “Give the team a day or half-day off to volunteer at a charity of their choice or as a company. It will promote fellowship and good will.

6. Pamper your employees. Consider bringing in a yoga and/or meditation specialist into the office. The need to “de-stress” becomes especially important around the holidays when stress levels become higher. Having someone come to the office makes it very easy for employees to take a break from their busy schedules and find a moment to relax.

7. Have staff engage in friendly competitions.  Start a healthy walking competition amongst the teams with step counters. The winner will receive a year-long gym membership to kick off a healthy and happy 2016.

8. Offer flexible hours. It has been proven that by offering flexible scheduling, employees will be more productive when they are in the office. This is especially important during the holidays, when workers are personally busy.

 

5 Unique Workplace Activities for the Holidays

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An important part of any workplace culture is how you celebrate the holidays. Don’t just buy a bunch of red cups and have an office party – get into the season. That means creativity and sharing. A good holiday activity can bring your team closer and make your community a better place.

Here are five festive workplace activities you and your team can try.

Holiday Cookie Contest

This one is pretty straight-forward: everything is better when cookies are involved. It’s also a great way to learn which of your coworkers has been harbouring a secret talent for baking.

Team members are encouraged to bake a batch of cookies for the staff. After a team-wide taste test (yes, this is where you get to eat cookies), a winner is crowned. Since your in-house bakers have done all the work, be sure to get creative with prizes: anything from a new set of cookie sheets to a mixer will say thanks and – hint, hint – keep the cookies coming.

Charitable Team-Building

Aside from cookies, the holiday season is really about giving. Research has shown that compared to our American counterparts, Canadians give far less to charity. Get into the spirit and prove these statistics wrong by volunteering for a great cause with your co-workers. Find out if your local soup kitchen is looking for help or organize a fundraiser. Ask the most community-minded member of your staff if there are any great local initiatives in need of support. Seeing each other in a different light and doing something constructive will bring your team together like nothing else.

Gingerbread House Contest

This one is pure fun. Grab some supplies at your local supermarket – either a pre-fab kit or just the raw materials if you’re a master-builder – and get building. Divide your team into three or four groups (space permitting). You can add color or ingredient challenges if you want to get really serious, then ask an independent judge to choose a winner. For major bonus points, get the whole team together and build a replica of your office space… then devour it as a group. Nothing tastes better.

Toy Drive Secret Santa

A twist on your typical secret Santa gift exchange and a great way to give and receive gifts while also giving back to the community. After drawing names out of a hat   each team member will buy a toy that they would have loved as a child. It’s the thought that counts. After the exchange, all the toys will be donated to a local toy drive, just in time for Christmas. Everybody wins.

DIY Team Advent Calendar

Around the beginning of December, every staff member will bring in a small gift that can be shared amongst the whole team – chocolates, a game, anything fun that benefits the office.  the team will open one gift per day and enjoy it together. The frequency and duration of the calendar can be adjusted depending on the size of your team.

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Hopefully these ideas will make your office a little more festive this holiday season. You can tweak any of them to suit the culture and size of your office. You can also invite colleagues of various cultures to share their traditions with the team – another great way to get to know the people you work with.

Whatever you do, have fun – and remember to be generous to those less fortunate than yourself in whatever way you can.