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7 Signs You Need a Security Operations Center 26 Nov 2020, 8:00 am

Traditionally, startups and small to mid-sized businesses haven’t formed security operations centers (SOCs). Yet many cyber threats are happening on a daily basis to organizations of all sizes. Consequently, plenty of leaders have begun looking into the possibility of adding an internal SOC or partnering with an SOC-as-a-service provider.

To be sure, this isn’t a fast decision; it requires consideration. SOCs cost money to staff and maintain. Even outsourcing an SOC will require an annual budgetary commitment. And the SOC team, whether in-house or outsourced, will need to work seamlessly with current staffers. 

Despite these monetary concerns, many companies feel that the risks imposed by vulnerability far outweigh any temporary SOC creation hurdles. After all, the average data breach costs organizations more than $3.8 million. In other words, an SOC can quickly pay for itself.

Are you interested in closing cyber security gaps with an SOC but unsure if the timing is right to proceed? If you’re experiencing any of the following indicators, you’ll want to move forward with SOC plans sooner rather than later.

1. Your team is constantly targeted by cyber attackers.

Phishing attempts. Malware. Ransomware. Hackers aren’t holding back on their creativity in trying to get into your systems any way they can. In fact, you may only know about a few bigger attacks. Smaller ones may have breached your firewalls or infected your systems without detection, causing operational issues if not a full-blown security risk.

Statistics show that more than 7,000 breaches happened in 2019 alone; they’re the ones we know about, not the 53% of ones we don’t. Sure, you can install software and hope it slows down intruders. However, without a dedicated SOC made up of professional analysts and tech-savvy engineers, you’ll remain vulnerable. On the other hand, SOC personnel will be able to keep your company a step ahead with proactive, not just reactive, responses.

2. Your company’s taking too long to respond to threats.

Do you continuously find out about cyber attacks too long after they happen to do anything? This is more than frustrating; it puts your operations at risk again and again. It can also lead to a major data breach of your proprietary data or private customer information. 

SOCs know that hackers and attackers count on businesses being slow on the draw, with the average breach taking nearly 300 days to address. Delays give criminals time to get in, get desired data, and leave without being shut down. When you have an SOC in place, your SOC experts can mobilize efforts from a centralized point. Expect your SOC team to lean on historical cyber attack clues and digital “fingerprints” to quickly tamp down on events in real time. 

3. You have moved into the e-commerce sector.

Amid concerns over doing business the traditional way during the pandemic, many businesses have begun to dabble in e-commerce. While e-commerce platforms can make selling products and even services more convenient, they can also open doors for data breaches and related issues. 

An SOC will be able to consider all the ways attackers might try to invade or exploit your e-commerce platform to steal data. Knowing that your site is monitored 24/7 will help lessen worries that you’ll wake up in the morning to bad news. Remember: Consumers love e-commerce, but they don’t love it when their identities have been stolen.

4. Your people are telecommuting all or most of the time.

Many people now work from home and the trend is expected to continue into 2021. From a logistical standpoint, remote work can be a cost-effective way to keep operations humming along. Nevertheless, remote working cloud-based systems and platforms may suffer from vulnerabilities.

What’s the answer to this problem? Your SOC and IT teams can work in tandem. Together, they’ll reduce the chances of cyber attacks on your telecommuting employees, amassing logs of incidents and responses. Over time, your company should be able to sidestep foreseeable issues thanks to proactivity from the SOC.

5. You’ve managed cybersecurity in a piecemeal way.

When your organization was in its infancy, you may have assigned cybersecurity duties to one or two people. Over time, those people may have kept those initial responsibilities and added to them. Yet that doesn’t mean you have an actual SOC. Instead, you have parts of an SOC, but not the complete SOC advantage.

A true SOC includes people whose only job is to focus on cybersecurity. They’re not engaged in cybersecurity some of the time—their commitment is devoted to protecting your network and systems from attacks. Now, this isn’t to say that some employees currently involved in cybersecurity won’t be interested in moving to an SOC role. They might. But you need to establish the SOC team first.

6.  You’re handling customer needs 24/7.

Consumers appreciate being able to engage with preferred brands 24/7. Though that’s terrific for business, it opens the door for cyber threats to happen during “off” hours. 

SOCs can work round-the-clock. For instance, you may have a large enough company to require SOC employees to stagger themselves with shift work. Or, you may use an SOC-as-a-service provider to enable 24/7 monitoring. Either way, you’ll reduce the chances of being surprised by a breach attempt that happens overnight.

7. You would like to attract more high-quality talent.

The most talented job seekers are looking for companies that have stellar reputations and leverage modern processes and equipment. What better way to show top-notch candidates that you take risk management seriously than to tout your SOC?

Talk about your commitment to forming an SOC during interviews, and explain how it benefits everyone in the workforce. You’ll come across as leading edge and high-tech. Who knows? This could be the key differentiator that makes a strong applicant say “yes” to your offer over one from your competitor.

 At the end of the day, don’t think about SOC as a burden on your budget. Rather, look at SOCs as a viable way to save money by protecting your brand, employees, and customers from cyber threats and their fallout.

The post 7 Signs You Need a Security Operations Center appeared first on KillerStartups.

12 Ways to Avoid Self-Sabotaging Your Productivity 24 Nov 2020, 8:00 am

I don’t think that’s it’s always deliberate. But, when it comes to productivity, we’re sometimes our own worst enemy. For example, you did your due diligence by adding your most important tasks to your calendar. But, you didn’t schedule them around when you’re most productive. Here are 12 ways to avoid self-sabotaging your productivity.

That may sound inconsequential. But, since you didn’t plan your day around productivity peaks, you may be working on an essential task during an energy dip. As a result, it may take you longer since you don’t have the energy and focus.

But, that’s just one example of how you may be self-sabotaging your productivity? If you want to avoid participating in this self-destructive behavior, then here are 12 ways you can do so.

1. Manage your attention.

Maura Thomas is an award-winning speaker, trainer, and author of several books, including “Attention Management.” According to Thomas, if you want to avoid self-sabotaging your productivity, then you should first pay attention to your attention.

“We have framed our efforts around productivity and efficiency as ‘time management’ for way too long, all the while knowing that no one can actually ‘manage time,” Thomas told Forbes. “It passes, no matter what we do. We can’t slow it down or create more of it, and we all have the same amount.”

In other words, not having enough time isn’t the culprit when it comes to productivity. “It’s a distraction and misplaced attention that interferes with our ability to achieve the results that are most significant to us,” argues Thomas. The solution? Attention management.

Thomas defines attention management as “the practice of controlling your attention.” While not necessarily a new concept, this idea can be traced back to William James in the 1800s, Thomas believes that this “is an essential productivity skill of the 21st century.”

At its core, attention management is about being proactive and not reactive. It’s deciding where we want our attention to go. And, it’s identifying and changing the bad habits that prevent us from being productive.

To get you started, Thomas suggests:

  • Either put your phone away or put it in do not disturb mode.
  • When on your computer, work offline or close distracting websites.
  • Allocate specific times to focus on less important tasks like email.
  • Declutter your workspace.
  • For uninterrupted work, find a quiet space where you aren’t distracted by others.

Most importantly, “plan, organize, and make thoughtful choices about what gets our attention.” Ideally, this should be based around your priorities.

2. Don’t get too comfortable.

“The critical inner voice likes to keep us in a box, pigeonholed by an identity assigned to us and not necessarily one we earned,” writes Lisa Firestone Ph.D. “It can be tricky and flood us with thoughts that are seemingly self-soothing. After all, it’s much easier “to recognize an internal enemy when it’s yelling at you that you’re stupid or a failure.”

However, most of us struggle with identifying those thoughts that encourage us to engage in unhealthy habits. For example, when you’re exhausted after a hectic week, you may tell yourself that you’ve earned the right to eat junk food and veg out on the couch all weekend.

“Listening to this voice may feel comfortable at first,” adds Dr. Firestone. But, “once we give in to bad habits or avoid going after what we want, our inner critic starts in with the self-punishing thoughts,” such as “You’ll never amount to anything.”

Definitely — make (and schedule) time to rest and celebrate your accomplishments. But, at the same, don’t get too cozy. Keep looking for ways to learn, grow, and get out of your comfort zone. When you do, you’ll embark on more productive and healthy habits. It’s also a great way to silence that pesky inner critic.

3. Create a Pavolian reinforcement system.

We all have those days when we don’t feel like doing squat. As a consequence, we end up procrastinating. Next thing we know, your productivity has taken a hit. More worrisome, this could screw up your entire schedule for the day or even week. And, you may also put your business in jeopardy by failing to meet deadlines.

The good news is that you can use some good old classical conditioning to address this problem. It’s a simple way to trick you into doing anything that you don’t want to. For example, I was having difficulty getting in the zone this week. But, I promised myself that as soon as I completed my work, I would treat myself to a trip to the movie theater. It was simple, but it worked.

The key here is to find a reward system that works best for you. If you don’t want to go to the movies, then treat yourself to a healthy snack, having lunch with a friend, or purchasing a new book.

4. Get over your preconceived notions.

I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of forming an opinion about someone or something before meeting or experiencing them. For example, you may skip a party or networking event because you assume that it will be a waste of time. Other times you won’t try new food, tool, or business process since you’ve already told yourself that you won’t like it.

Sure. There will be times when your preconception was right. But, if you always listen to this bias, then you aren’t opening the door to new experiences, ideas, and perspectives. What’s more, by refusing to try out new things, you’re potentially missing out on an improved routine or system that can boost your output.

5. Working through breaks.

In theory, it’s understandable why we do this. You’ve got a million things to do, or you’ve fallen behind on a project. To resolve these problems, you don’t take any breaks throughout the day. You even work straight through your lunch break, subsisting on a Snickers bar — or two.

You begin to believe that it’s counterproductive to stop what you’re doing merely to take a breath — a breather, or eat a healthy lunch. But, breaks are essential to productivity. We need these intermissions to decompress, rest, and recharge. We can also use these lulls to process everything that’s going around us. And, they give us a chance to refuel so that we have the stamina and mental energy to get through the remainder of the day.

6. Making decisions — quickly.

As a leader, you’re expected to make tough decisions daily. Because some of these decisions are important, you should take your time so that you can weigh the advantages and drawbacks.

But what about less essential choices? You should be able to make them quickly. If not, we’ll spend a portion of your day ruminating over something insignificant.

Author and former clinical psychologist Alice Boyes use picking a hotel as an example. Instead of doing extensive research each time you search for a room, you should have five criteria points that you look for. If the hotel meets your requirements, then book it.

“This helps me de-prioritize marginally productive behaviors, like spending 30 mins returning an unsatisfactory low-value item to a store when I could be doing something much more productive,” Boyes writes for Harvard Business Review.

7. Avoid comparing yourself to others.

“How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

It’s so easy to fall into this trap. Between conducting market research or just scrolling through social media, you’re tempted to compare yourself to others. Whether it’s sizing up your competition or seeing which tropical location a college friend is currently at, comparing yourself to others isn’t just a waste of time. It also sabotages your productivity because you’re more worried about others are doing than how you can improve yourself personally and professionally.

8. Don’t fear change.

Change is a part of life. But, that doesn’t mean that it comes easy. Most of us resist change because we’re petrified of the unknown. Others are just creatures of habit and don’t want to shake things up.

Whatever the exact reason, change is confusing and frightening. But, by embracing change, you can evolve into a more well-rounded, knowledgeable, and productive individual.

Some ways that you can fight back against this resistance is to seek out different perspectives and try something new. For example, if you’ve never had Indian cuisine, make visiting that new Thai restaurant in town a part of your date night agenda. And, make sure that you ask lots of questions.

9. Seek out inspiration.

Although often attributed to C.S. Lewis, it’s most likely Les Brown, one of my favorite quotes is, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” The reason? It encourages me to chase my dreams and find new sources of inspiration constantly.

If you feel like you haven’t felt excited in quite some time, then everything from motivation, residence, and productivity will stifle. Eventually, like The Boss, you’ll get stuck in the mud somewhere in the swamps of Jersey.

Thankfully, there’s an inspiration all around you. Books, podcasts, exploring your city, or taking in the arts are all simple ways to give you an inspiration spark when you need it.

10. Lower your standards.

Obviously, you don’t want to ditch your high standards when it comes to your work or the products and services you offer. You should also expect your team to deliver quality work. But, it’s unreasonable and not possible to demand perfection.

Perfectionism prevents you from improving, discovering new opportunities, and wrecks your productivity. To avoid this cycle, lower standards just a little — a smidgen won’t kill you or anyone else. Try:

11. Delay gratification.

Our brains prioritize instant gratification. The main reason for this is because of the emotional part of the brain that responds positively to immediate rewards.

“Our emotional brain has a hard time imagining the future, even though our logical brain clearly sees the future consequences of our current actions,” says David Laibson at Harvard University. “Our emotional brain wants to max out the credit card, order dessert and smoke a cigarette. Our logical brain knows we should save for retirement, go for a jog and quit smoking.”

While you should savor the moment, you also need to find the right balance. If you stay up all night drinking, then how productive are you going to be the next day? If you keep neglecting your health, then you aren’t going to have the energy and focus to power through your to-dos.

So, definitely have fun. But, it should be within reason. And, more importantly, don’t immediately reward yourself. Save it for later so that you’ll make a better choice.

12. Embrace failure.

Finally, don’t fear failure. You should welcome it.

I know that it isn’t fun and wasn’t your intention. But, failing is one of the best ways to learn and grow. You can take that painful experience and use it to your advantage so that you can become a smarter and stronger entrepreneur. It may even make you a better person overall.

This article was was originally published on Calendar by .

The post 12 Ways to Avoid Self-Sabotaging Your Productivity appeared first on KillerStartups.

What are the 4 D’s of Negligence in Time Management? 19 Nov 2020, 8:00 am

I’ve experimented with various time management hacks over the years. The time management hack I’ve found to be most practical and useful is the 4Ds of time management. People will continue to get better and better at their jobs and productivity, yet time management will continue to be an issue in business. We’ll look at the 4D’s of time management first, but what are the 4D’s of negligent time management?

The 4D’s of Time Management

If you’re not familiar with this technique, the 4Ds of time management are: delete, delegate, defer, and do.

  • Delete is where you remove unnecessary time-wasters from your schedule, such as projects you never complete or unproductive meetings.
  • Delegate is taking tasks that are important but can be assigned to someone else.
  • Defer means, essential tasks that don’t need to be handled right now. Schedule these jobs when you have the availability.
  • Do is for the jobs (or anything) that take a couple of minutes to finish quickly. Don’t let these micro-tasks pile-up — get them done and over with, now. But, do also means diving directly into a task, building up your momentum and working on a bigger job to get it done.

Personally, using the 4Ds of time management has increased my productivity. How? Using the principle has encouraged me to focus on what truly matters. Also, because this has reduced the number of activities I need to worry about, I’m not cluttering my calendar. The 4D’s have helped prevent decision fatigue, which gives me more mental energy throughout the day.

What’s interesting, however, is that different industries have their variation of the 4D’s. Case in point, the medical industry has the 4Ds of medical negligence. These (negligent areas) are duty, dereliction, direct causation, and damages.

The 4D’s of Medical Negligence.

Recently, I had to visit urgent care. Nothing serious. While waiting to see the doctor, I saw a parallel between the 4Ds of time management and negligence.

I know. That probably shouldn’t have been my main concern. But what can I say? I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve time management. I think the 4D’s of negligence can be helpful in the Calendar, business, and productivity space.

Duty

No matter the exact field of expertise — doctors must adhere to strict rules, guidelines, and protocols. Drs listen to the patient and are respectful of their views.

The same system of confidentiality should be practiced in businesses, with customers and client’s financials and other information. A physician must also practice confidentiality. How confidential are we with our clients and customers data, requests, sales, and so forth? In short, Doctors must always provide the best care possible for all of their patients. Do we do the same in business?

Additionally, if the doctor believes that they can not help a patient — they must refer them to someone else. For example, if you have a rotator cuff tear, then your primary physician wouldn’t attempt to do surgery. Instead, your primary care doctor will refer you to physical therapy, and then to an orthopedic surgeon.

How duty relates to time management.

To begin with, whenever you accept a time request, you have a duty to follow through with the job. If you accept a meeting invite — then you need to block that timeframe in your calendar to prevent scheduling conflicts. You will follow through with the meetings set up on your schedule.

Ditching-out on your scheduled appointments at the last minute isn’t done unless there is an emergency. Your doctor doesn’t cancel appointments for no reason. It wouldn’t be very professional for your doctor to visit with two patients in the same room at the same time, either.

You have a responsibility to arrive on-time for your appointments and end the event as scheduled.

Not only is this respectful to the other attendees, but it also protects your time. Have you planned a meeting for thirty minutes, and the meeting ends up being an hour? The lax in protocols change your plans for the day — and creates conflict in everyone’s schedule.

Similarly to the medical duty of time management — if you don’t have the availability — then be honest about this upfront. If your Calendar is packed for the next month, don’t take on any new responsibilities. Don’t keep adding to your duties or accept any meeting invites until you have more time.

Finally, like doctors, if you aren’t an expert — then send your clients and customers to someone who is an expert. Obviously, for those in the medical field — it’s for legal purposes. But, for most of us, this is a simple way to avoid wasting time.

For instance, I just repaired a couple of things at my home. These weren’t difficult, but because I had never done them before — I spent hours on the project. It may have been expensive to hire a maintenance specialist — but I would have saved a ton of time. Next time I’ll call the repairman. I’ll stick with what I am an expert at — for the sake of my business.

Dereliction

Whenever a doctor doesn’t meet expectations or overstepped boundaries, this is called dereliction negligence. Examples would be not providing a clean and safe environment, misdiagnosis, missing a diagnosis, doing unnecessary procedures. Dereliction also includes surgical errors or prescribing the wrong medication.

How dereliction relates to time management.

Did you commit to a new work assignment? If so, that should be your priority. You should also allocate the right amount of time to performing the jobs you said you would accomplish. By Calendaring your tasks and meetings you’ll be sure to meet the deadlines. If you don’t have the time or skills for this exact task, just as a doctor would do, the job should be handed off to someone else whose expert.

Furthermore, dereliction is defined as “the state of being abandoned.”

And, as it just so happens, finishing what you started is one of the best ways to manipulate time to your advantage.

“It’s very common for tasks to get interrupted or delayed throughout your day.” Renzo Costarella wrote previously for Calendar. “Often, it’s best to finish the task at hand before starting new ones.” If you visited your doctor to get stitches, you would expect the doc to finish the job — not leave you half-stitched.

“However, other things may take priority,” adds Renzo. “For example, if a customer needs immediate assistance, it’s probably best to serve them right away.” But, “you need to make a point to return and finish your unfinished duties” after handling the current crisis.

“Again, this sounds simple enough, but it’s common for individuals to get distracted and leave loose ends.”

Direct Causation

If there was a dereliction of duty, then it must be proven that the healthcare provider was at fault. Usually, this is straightforward. I’ll give you an example of my personal life. My grandfather went in for simple cataract surgery. But, the doctor operated on the wrong eye. As a consequence, he began to experience vision problems in the wrong eye and he still had a cataract on the original eye.

In this case, the error was obvious. But, other times, errors and mistakes are not so black and white. Let’s say that a patient had a broken arm that didn’t heal properly. Maybe the patient will claim that the error was because the orthopedist did not apply the correct methods to the fractured arm correctly.

However, in the background, we may find out that the patient fell while the cast was on — which was the real causation of further injury. If the patient doesn’t admit the actual error or mistake — it could be challenging to prove that it wasn’t the surgeon’s fault. Dishonesty from the patient causes problems for us all.

How direct causation relates to time management.

Causation and time management fit together like a glove. If you don’t manage your time effectively by holding yourself accountable, there will be negative consequences. You may want to pin the blame on others — but, ultimately, the buck stops with you.

The surgeon who operated on my grandfather’s eye blamed the nurse who prepped my grandpop. But, the doctor should have double-checked the information himself before operating. When it comes to your responsibilities, you can say that you were late for a meeting because your other event ran late. However, if you had built-in a buffer between these meetings, this issue wouldn’t have occurred.

Another example of direct causation is not focusing on meaningful work because you’re getting distracted.

The solution? Identify these distractions and eliminate them. If your phone is the primary causation of your time management lag, then turn it off or put it on do not disturb mode. Behind on your priorities because you’re devoting too much time on unnecessary things? Drop those time-sucks from your to-do-list for the time being.

There are times when you aren’t at fault in business. One way around the vast majority of excuse ridden situations is to schedule white space in your calendar. Leave a block of time blank to catch up and in-between meeting. Leave buffer times in your schedules. If you don’t have anything scheduled use that time to address the unexpected events that occur.

Damages

Businesses have a lot of issues that appear as damages. But nothing could be worse than the current medical malpractice issues. Doctors respond to the question, “did the patient suffer physically, mentally, emotionally, or financially?”

The patient is entitled to a monetary amount that would help cover wage losses or medical bills. Damages would also take care of any pain or suffering or emotional distress that the patient has experienced.

How damages relate to business time management.

Poor time management affects every area of your life. Let’s say that you’re aren’t punctual or always rushing from Point A to B. Not only is this stressful, it also puts a strain on your relationships. If you miss a deadline, for instance, you might lose a client. If you are arriving late at home each night — you don’t have a chance to spend quality time with your family.

Other symptoms of poor time management would be procrastination, inability to set goals, and decreased quality of work. Poor time management causes damage in many areas of your business — and certainly in your life.

You’ll find poor time management causes you, your family and your clients and customers to suffer physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. Unhealthy habits, like eating fast food, not exercising, and getting burned out can be attributed to poor time management.

In other words, poor time management will definitely lead to physical, mental, emotional, and financial distress — and there is no one to blame but ourselves. You aren’t going to recover any monetary amount for slacking on the job and causing yourself and your family pain and suffering. But you can recover monetary setbacks through better time management.

When you feel pain and suffering in business — look to time management for the cure.

The post What are the 4 D’s of Negligence in Time Management? appeared first on KillerStartups.

4 Ways to Maximize Your Time Between Thanksgiving and Christmas 17 Nov 2020, 8:00 am

The holidays are a time for relaxation and reflection, but that doesn’t mean you can afford to ease up on the gas. Some people will take a turkey nap until the new year. Others will keep their noses to the grindstone — and reap the rewards while everyone else nurses a holiday hangover.

CBS News reports that 61 percent of employees admit feeling distracted by the holiday season as early as November first.

Founders can’t take that kind of break. Follow these tips to keep your company growing through the end of the year:

1. Push harder and reward more.

Your employees might be ready to slack off, but that doesn’t mean you should let them. If you push too hard, though, they will resent your leadership. Enjoy the best of both worlds by giving employees extra time off during the holidays and asking more of them in the weeks leading up to the break.

The Olson Group argues that employers should give employees longer periods of vacation time for a variety of reasons.

Not only do longer vacations make employees more productive, but they also make employees feel more motivated to contribute to the success of the company. For startups, where every employee needs to pull a lot of weight, buy-in is essential. Tell employees about the extra paid time off, then use that as motivation to keep them working harder, earlier, in the meantime.

When employees know they won’t have to worry about work for a whole week, they are less likely to spend the middle of December idly shopping for last-minute gifts.

2. Start every day hard.

The longer you put it off, the more difficult it becomes. Rather than stroll into the office at 8:30 and tackle a few easy tasks before lunch, commit to get to work a little earlier during the holiday season. Once you arrive, tackle the hardest thing on your plate first.

Many successful people disagree on this subject. Michael Hyatt starts with the easy stuff and works his way up.

However, I have found that by tackling my hardest project first thing in the morning, I am better able to respond to the emergencies that pop up later in the day. I can also attend meetings and brainstorm without that nagging feeling that something else requires my attention.

3. Plan time to handle personal errands.

Your business is important, but you still have friends and family who will expect gifts, cards and other reminders that you exist during the holidays.

Don’t be that person who waits until the last minute. Research from Needlefound that shopping is now the biggest stressor during the holiday season, ahead of other factors like familial obligations and travel. Stress negatively impacts productivity in a big way, so take precautions to minimize the damage.

Take an afternoon off during one week in December to get all (or at least most) of your shopping out of the way. If you absolutely can’t miss work, put a weekend morning on your calendar and keep that appointment. Make time to take care of the personal stuff so you don’t end up trying to multitask and harm the quality of your work.

4. Leave when it’s time to leave.

Even if you work on Christmas to give your team the day off, take some time around the holidays for your own vacation. Make it last at least a week — not just for your benefit, but for your team’s.

Startup teams look to their founders for guidance. If the founder works all through the holiday without a break, team members will feel like they must either follow that example or be perceived as selfish.

Aron Ain, CEO of Kronos, moved his company from a PTO-based vacation policy to an unlimited one to keep more talented workers. During the transition, he discovered that his managers were reluctant to give new recruits as much PTO as they had at their old jobs.

Even though they were allowed to do so, they didn’t want to be the first to break the mold. Only when the executive team set the example did the dynamic change.

Time has a habit of moving quickly after Thanksgiving. Rather than admit defeat and go into hibernation until the new year, use these tips to buckle down and get more done without losing the respect of your team in the process.

The post 4 Ways to Maximize Your Time Between Thanksgiving and Christmas appeared first on KillerStartups.

4 Areas to Invest in During COVID-19 12 Nov 2020, 8:00 am

Investing usually involves leveraging historical data. You check prior reports, evaluate spreadsheets, and come to a satisfactory conclusion. Piece of cake. But, what happens when you’re trying to figure out where to put your money during COVID-19? Pandemics happen infrequently, which is a good thing. However, it also means you have little information to gauge whether areas to invest in during COVID-19 make sense or not.

Areas to Invest in During COVID-19

If you’re scratching your head trying to figure out how to make money grow in the current climate, you don’t have to poke around in the dark. In fact, a few areas have risen as strong platforms to spread your wealth pragmatically. Below are four areas to invest in during COVID-19 where you can put your disposable income before a second potential wave of coronavirus.

1. Shift money into your home.

For most people, buying a home is the single biggest investment they’ll make. If you own property, now is the right time to start building equity in it. According to late October 2020 figures collected by Realtor.com, the Housing Recovery Marketing Index continues to soar beyond early 2020 levels. Even if you aren’t planning to sell anytime soon, you may want to improve the perceived and real value of your house with a few tweaks.

Where should you start? Think low-hanging fruit: Tackle those nagging repairs and upgrades. Energy efficient windows, improved HVAC equipment, and modern roofing can instantly raise a home’s net worth. So can a tricked-out home office perfect for telecommuting and wired for success.

Yes, upgrades cost money, even if you’ve already paid for the best home warranty you could find based on participation of local providers. The cash you put back into sprucing up a primary residence isn’t lost, though. It’s a way to get more from home ownership than merely a place to live.

2. Accumulate products with a shelf life.

No one knows if sheltering in place regulations will occur again. In November 2020, the United Kingdom went back into lock down mode due to rising cases of COVID-19. To be sure, any country could follow suit throughout the prime cold and flu season.

If you have extra cash in your pocketbook, consider shopping for shelf-stable supplies that can support quarantine-style living. It’s like free money down the road. Remember how difficult it was to find the simplest paper products like bath tissue, facial tissues, and paper towels for the first few months of the pandemic? Though you don’t want to become a hoarder, you also don’t want to be without necessities like cleaning solutions and over-the-counter medications.

Other items worth paying for now instead of hoping they’re available later relate to work-from-home life. Already, computers and printers below a certain price point are hard to come by. Another surge of coronavirus could render them virtually impossible to purchase, even through online retailers and wholesalers. Get them now and reduce the stress of sheltering in place.

3. Enter into the stock market.

If you’re interested in jumping into the stock market, consider this one of the areas to invest in during COVID-19. pharmaceutical companies are looking fairly strong. As Motley Fool’s team notes, giants like Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson continue to post attractive revenue jumps and possibilities. Why? One reason is that many healthcare companies are competing to bring the first viable COVID-19 vaccine to market.

Of course, pharmaceutical stocks aren’t your only choice if you’re focused on building out your investment portfolio. Tech has gotten a serious boost with the pandemic, and innovation seems to be the name of the game for entrepreneurs. Therefore, tech stocks could be hot. Or you might even want to poke around crowdfunding sites to explore novel inventions to support.

Word to the wise: Playing around with stocks can be stressful unless you know what you’re doing. Talk to your financial advisor before making major decisions about where to put your dollars or whether to move them from a safe to a riskier vehicle. If you dislike risk, try an annuity or pension.

4. Load up on wellness items.

A surprising effect happened when people were forced to remain at home most of the time: They took their wellness more seriously. Some exercised to deal with their anxieties. Others tried tasty, healthy dishes and turned their kitchens into veritable world cuisine cafes. Plenty embraced “family board game night” as a way to ward off lock down ennui.

Have you considered buying new athletic gear to keep you warm this winter in case you’re confined to working out at home or in your neighborhood? Hit the “buy” button soon. Otherwise, you’re courting the possibility that the most popular apparel, footwear, and equipment will be out of stock once the holidays hit.

Investing in exercise equipment and even hobby materials like knitting and crocheting kits helps you maintain a stronger physical and mental health. As long as you use what you buy, you’ll get a serious return on investment. You may even snag some ridiculously low end-of-year deals on retiring apparel and equipment models, allowing you to stretch your budget more.

COVID-19 has made us more thoughtful about different aspects of our lives, including where, how, and when we spend our funds. You don’t have to stockpile your cash, though. Instead, spend it intentionally and with an eye to getting something back in these areas to invest in during COVID-19.

4 Areas to Invest in During COVID-19 was originally published on Due.

The post 4 Areas to Invest in During COVID-19 appeared first on KillerStartups.

6 Perks That Will Help You Attract Tech Talent 12 Nov 2020, 8:00 am

Covid-19 has thrown millions out of work, but there’s one sector of the economy where job seekers still have the upper hand: tech. Whether they’re combating the pandemic’s increase in cyberattacks or supporting the videoconferencing platforms we increasingly depend on, tech experts are in high demand. 

If you’re looking to hire top tech candidates, you’ll need to offer the right perks. Ping-pong tables are so eight years ago, and nap pods aren’t exactly Covid-appropriate. Here are six meaningful benefits your company can start providing instead to attract top tech talent. 

1. Health and wellness benefits

Today’s top tech recruits see workplace health programs as a competitive benefit. Their minds might be working hard all day, but they need physical activity, too. Offering health and wellness programs will help you attract more top tech candidates. Whether you bring in a personal trainer or offer discounts on home fitness equipment, employees will appreciate your efforts to keep them healthy.

One way to benefit your employees’ health — and reduce your company’s carbon footprint — is to facilitate commuting via electric bicycle. Invest in a fleet of Tower electric bikes, and watch your tech talent clamor to check them out. Pedaling on the straightaways will give employees a boost of day-starting energy, while the bikes’ powerful hill-climbing capabilities will ensure they arrive refreshed. The extra sunshine and fresh air they’ll be getting will improve their mental health, too. 

2. Remote work options

When Stack Overflow asked developers what they valued most when considering a new job, 53.3% said remote work was a top priority. And that was in 2017! Now that we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, remote work isn’t just a perk — it’s increasingly becoming the norm.

Tech candidates know better than anyone that remote work is completely possible, so of course they value it. They’ll be comfortable with the communications tools you use to stay in touch and the project management software that keeps tasks moving forward.

Companies that haven’t already made the remote work shift must adapt quickly if they want to recruit top tech talent. Provide state-of-the art laptops so that it’s easy for your tech stars to take work home. 

3. Flexible schedules

Employees in the tech industry work long, hard hours. That’s why flexible schedules are considered a top workplace perk in the tech industry. Flexible schedules go hand-in-hand with remote work. Many big tech companies have already implemented a policy that allows both and have seen huge success.

Dell embraced flexible work culture in 2009 and hasn’t looked back since. After learning how much employees valued flexible work, the company made flexible scheduling its mission.

Tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams enable Dell’s team members to do their best work regardless of where and when. And the advantages of the arrangement aren’t all on the employees’ side. Since 2014, Dell has saved $12 million due to having fewer people in the office every day. 

4. Their choice of technology

Tech employees are obviously some of the most digitally savvy people out there, so they know their preferences. When it comes to the technologies your employees use, give them the freedom to choose. At the very minimum, offer both PCs and Macs. Beyond that, you could give tablets to employees so they can easily roam the office and work from anywhere comfortably.

While you don’t want to create a technological Tower of Babel, give tech workers a say in the tools and coding languages they use. If you’re about to adopt a new project management system, say, solicit their input during the selection process. Not only will your tech employees appreciate the freedom of choice, they will likely work more efficiently on technology they like. 

5. Personalized workspaces

Odd as it may sound, sitting at a desk all day can be exhausting. Tech employees know they’ll be doing a lot of looking at screens, but there are ways to make this easier on the body. Companies can stand out to potential recruits by providing comfortable, functional workspaces. 

It doesn’t get much more comfortable and functional than an office chair that doubles as a lounger and a charging station. When employees lie back to take a brain break, the chair’s built-in USB ports can be charging all of their devices.

Standing desks are another healthful option, but you can do them one better. If you want to offer a respite to employees who are tired of sitting, consider installing treadmill desks. Walking will really get their creative juices flowing, and your employees will love them. 

6. Professional development opportunities

In a tech-driven world, things change quickly. Employees constantly have to be learning if they want to continuously develop new skills and stay ahead of the curve.

Not only do professional development opportunities help ensure that you have the best and brightest employees, but top talent will see them as an attractive benefit. Employees want opportunities to learn new skills and advance in their careers. There are so many ways to offer professional development in the workplace: conferences, regular training, and one-on-one coaching, to name just a few. 

An easy way to provide professional development opportunities is through the use of a learning management system (LMS), such as SAP Litmos. Litmos allows your company to present prepackaged courses to your employees, enabling them to get instant access to training and learn new things at their convenience. It even has different solutions by industry: nonprofit, retail, hospitality, healthcare, and — you guessed it — technology.

LMSs are generally quick to set up, easy to manage, and fun to use. All of this makes them ideal for companies looking to expand their professional development opportunities.

The tech industry is booming. If you want to be an attractive choice for top tech recruits, you need to provide meaningful benefits. If you don’t, employees will find another company that better fits the mold of their ideal workplace.

Offer not only benefits that are important to tech candidates, but unique benefits that no other company will have. You’ll thank yourself later when you start seeing the applications flooding in.

Image credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels

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5 Aspects of Business to Re-evaluate to Save Money 10 Nov 2020, 8:00 am

Cutting costs, pivoting hard, and staying optimistic have become the guiding mantras for COVID-hit businesses around the nation. According to Wells Fargo Small Business Index’s third quarter results, around a third of owners think they’ll need at least a year to financially recover. Here are five aspects of business to re-evaluate to save money.

The owners who responded to Wells Fargo were surprisingly positive: Forty-eight percent predict they’ll see a boost in income by this time next year. Nevertheless, predictions are just guesses. And, coronavirus has proven that if it’s anything, it’s unpredictable. Consequently, organizations of all sizes need to re-evaluate to save money, getting frugal and taking the lean route.

Perhaps you’ve already asked your team where they think you could scale back and save dollars. Regardless, you may not have considered how you could trim the fat from the following areas of your business.

Aspects of Business to Re-evaluate to Save Money

1. Procurement

You can’t get around buying things for your office. But do you have to pay top dollar for everything from recycled printer cartridges to ergonomically correct chairs? Maybe not.

A huge benefit of being in a fluctuating global marketplace is that buyers naturally have decent negotiating power. Use yours wisely. Negotiate everything you can while being fair to your vendors. Be sure to investigate ways to engage in collaborative alliances with like-minded businesses such as joining a group purchasing organization (GPO).

GPOs allow you to enjoy deeper discounts on items you’re using anyway. Plus, some don’t require any membership fees. All you get are bulk rates and less of a monthly cash outlay.

2. Daily workflow

The work-from-home revolution has only begun. Although you may have been thrown for a loop at first by telecommuting’s surprising business benefits. For example, some organizations have decided to cut ties with their landlords and move all their operations remote.

Even if you can’t allow everyone to telework, consider which positions could. You’ll spend much less on paying for commercial space. Plus, when you need to replace staffers or hire new ones, you won’t be limited to talent in your geographic location.

Sound like a good way to stretch your budget? Just make sure that your leaders learn how to manage successfully when they’re not in a traditional office setting. Invest in remote management training today to ensure a solid working team tomorrow.

3. Marketing

Have you ever been part of a startup experience? The marketing methods used by emerging, nimble companies tend to be disruptive, innovative, and maybe even slightly unorthodox. Now is the time for your marketers to behave likewise.

That doesn’t mean you should jettison your digital ads, though, especially if they’re more than paying for themselves. However, why not mix up your marketing with some guerrilla-style tactics? For example, you could create partnerships with allied organizations, build in-roads with nano and micro social media influencers, and test all your content like crazy.

marketing your small business

Pulling back on marketing entirely shouldn’t necessarily be on the table. That could put your brand in an unappealing position. But there’s nothing wrong with getting a little scrappy to re-evaluate to save money.

4. Recruitment and Hiring

It goes without saying that the pandemic led many businesses to put on hiring freezes. Today, some of those companies are finally ready to bring aboard strong candidates. Your firm might be among them.

Before you pop up an ad on Indeed or Glassdoor, reconsider. Why? You may be able to get away without hiring employees and still benefiting from a robust team of superstores.

What’s one way to get the help you need without committing to onboarding part-time or full-time personnel? Consider working with independent contractors to fulfill some of your team’s auxiliary responsibilities. You won’t have to worry about paying payroll taxes, and you’ll only have to pay contractors for the time they work or the projects they finish.

Another way to get terrific help without overpaying is to offer on-the-job learning opportunities to local university interns. Many college students are looking for ways to differentiate themselves on their resumes. Though you’ll probably pay them a stipend, you’ll get your money’s worth and then some. Kinda like free money.

5. Sales

Your sales team converts leads and brings money into the organization. Consequently, be sure to keep all your sellers happy. At the same time, think about ways to save on your sales strategies and salaries.

One creative solution could be to shelve promotions for this year but raise commissions. This idea allows you to reward your best salespeople. In fact, your top performers may earn more than they would have without the incentive. Another answer might be to cut back on travel budgets in lieu of conducting most client calls over Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

Above all else, be fair with your sales team. Don’t take away their base pay or reduce it; otherwise, you could lose fantastic employees. Rather, brainstorm win-win ways for them to work more efficiently and effectively without requiring additional money.

Spending too much is never a good thing in business, and it’s downright risky in today’s uncertain economic climate. Give some thoughtful consideration to all the small and large ways you can cut down on unnecessary expenses. You’ll put your company on better footing to survive and perhaps even thrive in 2021.

5 Aspects of Business to Re-evaluate to Save Money was originally published on Due.

The post 5 Aspects of Business to Re-evaluate to Save Money appeared first on KillerStartups.

Don’t Stifle Your Progress by Making These 4 PPC Ad Mistakes 10 Nov 2020, 8:00 am

Pay Per Click, or PPC, ads are a form of paid advertising, and it’s a profitable investment with an average return rate of 200%. PPC ads also generate 50% more conversions over organic traffic. 

These statistics make sense considering PPC ads are far more targeted than organic traffic. For instance, you can put PPC ads in front of specific demographics and narrow your audience down further by what websites they’ve visited in the last 30 days. If your landing page is well-designed, you’ll get conversions.

Although PPC ads provide a good return, they’re not infallible. In fact, if you’re not careful, the following four mistakes can thwart your PPC ad success.

1. Launching a DIY PPC ad campaign

You can learn marketing techniques online for free, but that won’t make you a good marketer. Knowing how to reach a specific audience isn’t the same as knowing how to determine what audience to reach in the first place. 

A DIY PPC ad campaign won’t get the same level of success you’d see from a professional marketing agency for several reasons. First, creating strategies, managing, and optimizing a Google Ads campaign is literally a full-time job. You can’t work on your PPC ads on the side and expect massive results. 

Second, you need to be trained in marketing theory to identify your target market. Target markets aren’t always obvious. For instance, many products designed for men are actually purchased by women. Your ads need to appeal to the person opening their wallet.

Last, your landing pages will determine how well your ads convert. Ads are just the first step. Your landing pages need to be designed to generate conversions.

If you want to fast-track results and avoid failure, you need a Google Ads agency to run your PPC ad campaign.

2. Not split testing

Not split testing your PPC ads is one of the worst mistakes you can possibly make. If you skip split testing, you’ll know your ads are getting conversions, but is your conversion rate optimal? Could you do better? There’s no way to know unless you’re running at least two different versions of your ad.

Split testing isn’t hard, but you need to know how to run a split test properly. You can’t just run two different ads and see which does better. Split testing is designed to help you identify specific ad elements that contribute to an ad’s success. 

Running two entirely different ads will tell you which ad performs better overall, but it won’t tell you how to tweak your ad elements to improve each ad. For example, running two ads with slightly different titles that are otherwise identical will tell you the better way to phrase your title. Perhaps the ad title written in first person gets more clicks than the title written in third person.

If you’re ready to optimize conversions, read this guide from Optinmonster to learn the basics of split testing, also referred to as “A/B testing.” 

3. Not using negative keywords

A negative keyword list is a list of words you want your PPC ad platform to ignore. When users search for a phrase containing one of your negative keywords, your ads will not show up for that user. This is by far the best way to filter out irrelevant searches.

Creating a negative keyword list will save you money and is critical for reaching your target market. Especially when your industry shares keywords with unrelated industries. For example, if you’re a historian advertising expeditions on Mount Everest, you would add the words ‘academy’ and ‘high school’ to your negative keyword list. You don’t want your ads to show up in searches performed by users looking for educational institutions.

4. Not bidding on your own brand

Marketing expert Neil Patel recommends bidding on your branded search terms before your competitors have a chance to gain traction. By bidding on your own branded keywords, you can dominate the search results much easier. Say you’re number one on Google, but you didn’t bid on your brand, so the ad above your number one spot is a competitor. 

Start bidding on your branded keywords to make sure you get placement in the ads and the SERPs.

Keep learning from your mistakes

No PPC ad campaign is free from mistakes. The key is to learn the lessons and then integrate those lessons going forward.

Image credit: Vojtech Okenka; Pexels

The post Don’t Stifle Your Progress by Making These 4 PPC Ad Mistakes appeared first on KillerStartups.

Organize Your Projects With TeamHQ 9 Nov 2020, 10:26 am

Work projects typically include a lot of moving parts and require contributions from many different people. Each team member may have a task that’s their top priority, but soon, other people start to add tasks to their plate. Before long, team members have multiple tasks on their to do lists from different people, are unsure of which task is actually the top priority, and nothing is getting done. Sound familiar? You could keep managing projects with spreadsheets and emails, or you could try TeamHQ.

TeamHQ is a project management system that helps you take back control of your work. By helping you organize your tasks and effectively decide what to do next, TeamHQ improves your team’s ability to rapidly adapt to changing work demands.

With TeamHQ, you can organize your work into projects, tasks and subtasks to get a clearer look at the steps you need to take to complete a project. You can also discuss your project with the team and assign tasks to different team members.

With the project broken down into clear steps, you can decide which tasks need to get done this week and which can get done at a later time. TeamHQ enables users to plan the work and evaluate the effort being put into completing the project.

Additionally, when you receive an urgent task through email, you can send it to TeamHQ and keep working. TeamHQ is designed to increase productivity, help you innovate quicker, and improve your bottom line.

Features

  • Projects: Work can be organized into different projects, then further broken down into tasks and subtasks.
  • Boards: Boards are used to display work from different projects to help you make decisions about the work that needs to get done.
  • Sprints: Sprints allow you to organize work based on what’s most important during a specific time frame.
  • Insights: Insights provide a deeper understanding of how you and your team work. It includes information like which projects are getting the most attention and what’s falling behind.
  • Calendar: The calendar allows you to see all tasks and meeting in one place. You can export the calendar to Google, Microsoft, or iCal calendars.
  • Discussions: Conveniently keep notes and discussions about your projects in one place.

Interested?
TeamHQ offers three plans: Solo, Team, and Company. The Solo plan is free and is designed for one user. It allows the user to have unlimited projects, unlimited boards, insights, and access to the help center. The Team plan costs $15 per user per month for up to 20 team members. The plan allows unlimited projects, unlimited boards, advanced insights, help center access, and email support. The Company plan costs $25 per user per month and allows an unlimited number of users. The plan also offers a multi-workspace dashboard, company-wide insights, phone and email support, and help center access.

TeamHQ is allowing users to try the team plan free for 30 days, after which point you can either use the free plan or upgrade to a paid plan to continue using the premium features.

Learn more about TeamHQ and try it for yourself at teamhq.app.

Photos
TeamHQ

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Is WFH Making You Miserable? 5 Nov 2020, 8:00 am

For years those who were fortunate enough to work remotely praised its benefits from the rooftops. In fact, numerous research backed-up these claims. For example, Owl Labs found in its 2019 State of Remote Work Report the following:

  • 83% of survey respondents agree that the ability to work remotely would make them happier.
  • 82% of respondents agree with the statement that working remotely would make them feel more trusted at work.
  • 81% of respondents agree that working remotely would make them better able to manage work-life conflict.
  • 81% of survey respondents agreed that working remotely would make them more likely to recommend their company to a friend.
  • 80% of all survey respondents agreed that the ability to work remotely would make them less stressed.
  • 80% of respondents agree that working remotely would make them feel like their employer cares.
  • 74% of survey respondents agree that working remotely would make them less likely to leave their employer.

In short, remorse workers are happier, productive, and loyal. Reasons include autonomy, flexibility, and fewer workplace distractions. In turn, this is beneficial for their careers and well-being, as well as the bottom line.

Then the global pandemic yet. Suddenly people who had always dreamed of working from home who thrust into this new way of life. Some thrived, others didn’t.

You can’t fault them. A lot of folks just aren’t cut out for the WFH-life. Furthermore, there’s a dark side that’s making people downright miserable.

Why working from home is making people miserable?

“Working from home entails some degree of isolation,” explainsbusiness consultant Larry Alton. “If you live by yourself, you may go an entire day without seeing or talking to anybody.” But, even if this isn’t so, “you might customarily shut yourself away in a separate office.”

Why’s this such a big deal? Various research shows that social contact is paramount when it comes to our mental and physical health. Interacting with others can also calm and soothe us.

“Across multiple studies, controlling for factors like income, geographic regions, and even genetics, the single most important ingredient for long-term happiness appears to be how and how often we connect with other people,” adds Alton. “Loneliness, especially on a chronic basis, can subject you to depression, frustration, and career burnout.”

As if that weren’t bad enough, it’s tempting to fall into unhealthy habits. For instance, during your routine, you might tell yourself that you’re only going to catch-up with the local news. Next thing you know, you’re playing along with The Price Is Right.

It may also be easier to sleep-in, make frequent trips to the fridge, and get less physical activity. If you have children, it’s a struggle trying to homeschool them while trying to get your work done. It’s more challenging to leave work at work — I mean, you are essentially living at work.

When you’re working by yourself, there isn’t an opportunity to take advantage of Equity Theory. According to Alton, “This is a sociological phenomenon in which individuals gauge their own performance and sense of belonging against the habits and actions of others. When there are no coworkers around to help you measure your own performance, you might develop a constant, nagging feeling that something is not right.”

The good news? If working remotely has gotten you down, there are ways to turn that frown upside down. And you can start by trying out the following.

Overcome detachment.

In a pre-COVID world, this really wasn’t much of a problem. You could set-up a shop at your favorite cafe. You could join a shared workspace or actually go into work a couple of days per week.

Outside of work, you could socialize with friends or family. I’ve even taken breaks from work to chat with my neighbor. And you could attend local networking events.

While you might be able to do some of the above, it’s definitely more difficult living in a pandemic. If you’re uncomfortable being around others or can’t safely practice social distancing, you can still connect with others.

Obviously, the most popular way is via video calls using a platform like Zoom. Whether it’s meeting with your team or catching up with a friend, this has been a lifesaver. Just be cautious not to overdo it so that you miss a case of Zoom-fatigue.

Also, there’s nothing wrong with just picking up the phone and making a call. If you feel isolated, give your best friend or mentor a ring.

Set rituals, routines, and boundaries.

When you went to the office daily, you had a routine. That structure made it easier to schedule your time. More importantly, it helped you establish boundaries between work and home.

Does this mean you have to follow the exact same routine? Not exactly. The beauty of working from home is that you can set your schedule to fit your productivity peaks and personal obligations.

For example, if you’re a morning bird, you could wake-up before everyone else in your house. While it’s quiet and you have the energy, you can work on your most important task for the day. During your breaks, you could spend time with your family and get some exercise in.

Regardless of how you schedule your day, be consistent. And find ways to transition between your personal and professional lives. It could be something as simple as turning off your computer to changing your clothes.

Create a home “office” space.

I know it’s tempting to work from the comfort of your bed or couch. But, remember, you need separation between where you get things done and chillax. As such, you need a dedicated space that you associate with work.

Ideally, it should be somewhere quiet. A spare bedroom, basement, garage, or even closet would suffice. Additionally, it should also have the right tools and equipment — think desk, high-speed internet, and whatever else you need to work.

But, those are just the basics. Brighten your workspace with natural light, plants, and colors that match your work. For instance, if your job requires a ton of focus, surround yourself with the color blue.

And, go ahead and personalize your workspace by throwing in personal items like photos or memento from a past trip. Most importantly, keep this area clean and organized.

Use your breaks to get a dose of joy.

It’s no secret that frequent breaks throughout the day can boost productivity. The key is to use these breaks to rest and recharge and do something fun.

For me, that’s taking my dog for a walk after lunch — san phone. It’s been found multiple times that spending time outside can reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. But, you could try anything that makes you happy, such as phoning a friend, drawing, or dancing.

Take advantage of working from home.

While there are disadvantages of remote work, look on the bright side. You don’t have to put up with a daily commute. As a result, you’re saving more time and money — which can be spent on something more fulfilling.

Also, you might be able to have your dog be by your side all day. Or, you get to spend more quality time with your kids. And, unless you have a video meeting, every day is casual Friday.

Accept your negative feelings.

Finally, embrace any negative feelings that you’re experiencing. It’s a proven way to help you work them. Besides, constantly seeking happiness can backfire.

“Any time you’re setting a standard for your mood when you don’t meet that standard, it’s painful,” said Brett Ford, a psychologist who studies emotions at the University of Toronto. “You’re basically adding pain on top of a lack of happiness.”

“We can’t be happy all the time, but we can be OK with whatever emotions we are having,” says Dr. Judson Brewer, a psychiatrist who studies behavioral change. “And in that sense, there’s a level of contentment that comes with that.”

“I’m content that I’m happy,” says Brewer. “I’m content that I’m not happy. Whatever emotion is here is here.”

Is WFH Making You Miserable? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

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Plan for a Fun Spring and Summer with Canoff, the Flying Disc Game 4 Nov 2020, 11:07 am

As winter quickly approaches, it can be helpful to have something fun to look forward to in the spring or summer. Do you know what your outdoor game of choice will be? How about something that’s portable, easy to set up, and fun? Canoff just might do the trick.

Canoff is an outdoor flying disc game designed for two to four players. Each team has a pole with a can resting on top, and the goal is to score points by using a flying disc to knock the opponent’s can to the ground. Two points are earned for hitting the can clean off of the pole. One point is earned for hitting the pole and causing the can to fall off. The first team to reach 10 points wins.

While the game is simple in concept, there are rules that make it trickier than it sounds. For example, if the can falls off but the other team catches it, that team is awarded a point. If you knock your own can off, your team loses a point. A bad throw or a dropped catch results in a penalty, which is decided by the players. Additionally, each player must have one hand behind their back or a drink in one of their hands during gameplay.

Canoff is an outdoor game designed for players of all ages to enjoy. It’s compact for portability, is easy to assemble, and it works in a variety of settings, from a grassy yard to a sandy beach to a stone park.

Features
Each Canoff game comes with one flying disc, two poles, two bases, two can mounts, and one travel bag. While the can mount is designed to fit all can sizes, players will also be able to purchase official Canoff cans.

Travel bag: The travel bag makes it easy to store and transport the game. It’s made of a waterproof fabric and also has drawstrings.

Bases: Bases are 250mm in diameter and provide stable support for the poles on all surfaces.

Mounts: Universal mounts are attached to the tops of the poles. They are designed to fit cans of any size, including bottles and cups.

Poles: Each pole is made of three individual parts that clip together.

Custom disc: The Canoff disc is made from a semi-hard rubber and is designed specifically for short-range gameplay.

Canoff cans: Canoff cans come with a thicker aluminum gauge that helps them withstand more impact and have a longer life than regular cans. Their shape is based on a standard 330ml can. The cans are available separately from the rest of the game kit.

Works with multiple surfaces: Designed to go anywhere outdoors, Canoff works in grass, sand and stone.

Compact kit: The mounts and flying disc fit conveniently into the base for compact storage.

Interested?
Sound like fun? You can help make Canoff a reality by backing the project on Kickstarter. Visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/canoff/canoff-a-flying-disc-game to learn more.

The post Plan for a Fun Spring and Summer with Canoff, the Flying Disc Game appeared first on KillerStartups.

Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive: 10 Ways to Get There 3 Nov 2020, 8:00 am

It’s no secret that positive work cultures are more productive. That’s because these types of environments lead to more creative, happy, and collaborative employees. Research has even found that happy employees work harder and smarter. If positive work cultures are more productive, how can you establish a more positive work environment? Well, here are ten ways to get started today.

1. Develop a set of core values and priorities.

The development of a set of core values and priorities will vary from one business to another. A foundation of any positive workplace culture starts with clearly defined values and priorities. Establishing these items give your work meaning and guides you in how you treat your team and customers. Knowing these goals will help you find the right personalities for your startup and aligns everyone towards a common goal.

What’s interesting, however, is that these core values can be whatever you want. “One of the exciting things I found from the research is that it doesn’t matter what your values are. What matters is that you have them and that you align the organization around them,” said Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.

“And the power comes from the alignment, not from the actual values,” he added. “We’re not out there telling people [that they should adopt the Zappos values] and culture because that would probably not work in most cases. Our message is more ‘you should figure out what your values are and then align the entire organization around them.”

2. Greet your team.

“A little hello goes a long way in the workplace,” Ashely Alt writes on the SnackNation blog. “Your team members want to feel and be happy, so give them a little nudge in the morning with a big old smile that says, ‘I’m happy you are here, and I want you to love your job.’”

Additionally, make it a point to get out of your office and walk around the office. Do a quick pop in to check on your team and ask them if there’s anything you can help them with. If they’re taking a short break, go ahead, and chit chat with them so that you can both get to know each other better personally.

While it may sound simple, kicking the day off on positive note with a smile and a “Good morning!” sets the tone for the day. It can even turn that crummy morning into an awesome day. “Being upbeat and genuine in your approach boosts your team’s self-esteem, causing them to be more motivated and reminds them that working with you is pretty great,” adds Ashley.

3. Enhance your emotional intelligence.

There has been a lot of emphasis on emotional intelligence over the years. And, for a good reason. Those with high EI are more productive, successful, and effective leaders. In a nutshell, this is because of what EI can do for an individual.

  • Strengthens our self-awareness so that we know what our strengths and weaknesses are.
  • Helps us self-regulate our emotions.
  • Encourages us to be more self-motivated.
  • Increases our empathy.
  • Using the methods of emotional intelligence will help you develop stronger interpersonal skills like active listening and conflict resolution.

As you can see, when you sharpen your EI, you’ll be better suited to communicate with your team, as well as handle how you to respond to them. After you’ve worked on improving your emotional intelligence, provide opportunities for your team to strengthen their own.

4. Show your gratitude.

Think about how you feel when someone thanks you or acknowledges your hard work. Even if you have an ego that’s in check, it still makes you feel great about yourself. So, imagine how your team feels when you show your gratitude.

The best thing about this is that there are a variety of ways to achieve this. For example, you could give an employee a shoutout at the beginning of a team meeting. You could send them a handwritten note. Or, you could engage in random acts of kindness like buying them lunch or surprising them with a gift, raise, or new perk like flexible hours.

5. Grant employees autonomy.

A tried and true way of cultivating a more positive and productive work environment is to stop micromanaging. Instead, offer your team autonomy. Micromanaging makes your team ineffective and nervous. Independence in work conditions means giving them the freedom to work however and whenever they like — within reason of course. It also encourages them to share their opinions and feedback.

On your end, however, this involves learning how to delegate more effectively. You also have to hold your team accountable, frequent feedback, and making sure that your team has the tools to succeed.

6. Improve the physical workplace.

It’s almost impossible for you to be in a good mood and productive when you’re not comfortable. As such, you may want to look into making your office more comfortable. Some great places to start is by keeping the office at a steady temperature, letting in as much natural light as possible, and filling the office with plants.

Additionally, provide your team with ergonomic furniture and encourage them to take frequent breaks throughout the day. Also, keep the workplace clean so that germs aren’t spreading like wildfire. And, don’t be afraid to let your staff personalize their own workspaces.

7. Be respectful of everyone else’s time.

Time is the most valuable resource we have. Because of this, if you aren’t respectful of everyone else’s time, then it shows your team that this is a less then ideal culture. After all, if you can’t be respectful of other people’s time, then how can you be trusted in other areas?

There’s no one way to do this. But, here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Don’t leave for vacation or business trip without debriefing your team. They should know what to do while you’re away.
  • Always start and end the meeting on time.
  • Do not annoy your employees during their “off-hours,” like nights and weekends.
  • If your employees are at full capacity, then do not add to their workload.
  • Clearly define any guidelines and expectations so that they do not always have to redo their work.
  • Create and share a team calendar so that everyone knows what’s going on.

8. Encourage fun.

Your team is working their tails off for you. Help them blow off some steam while showing your appreciation by having a little fun. Recognition and fun could be as simple as celebrating milestones or even events like birthdays. You could also take everyone out of the office and go on a retreat or volunteer in the community.

As an added perk, this could be an excellent way to strengthen relationships and encourage collaboration among your team. It can also boost morale.

9. Prioritize your team’s well-being.

There’s a strong correlation between your well-being and productivity. I mean, how can you have the energy and focus on getting work done when you’re stressed, sleep-deprived, and feel like garbage because of your diet?

While it’s not always your responsibility to improve other’s health, you can at least encourage a healthier lifestyle at work. You could fill the healthy with healthier snack options instead of the standard vending machine options. You could offer gym memberships, hold more standing meetings, or provide weekly meditation sessions.

10. Don’t use fear.

Mistakes will happen. So, instead of freaking out on your team whenever they slip up, use that as a learning opportunity. The last thing that you want is to have your team be afraid of you. That’s not a healthy work environment for anyone to work at. And, fear is not an effective way to motivate your team.

Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive: 10 Ways to Get There was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

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Discover Local Food Through Personalized Recommendations with Famished. 29 Oct 2020, 9:27 am

You know that feeling when you’re SO hungry that you need your food to be here, like, right now? However, when you start to look up meal options, you’re quickly overwhelmed by just how many options are out there. The fact that the listed menu items are pretty vague doesn’t help, either. You could scroll through endless lists of restaurants and picture-less menu items, or you could try Famished.

Famished is a mobile app designed to help people discover delicious local food through a personalized experience. Their goal is to help you spend more time enjoying your next meal and less time looking for it.

Did you know that people waste approximately 240 hours per year looking for food? With hundreds of menu items to choose from, the choice paralysis is real. Additionally, the price for the dish can vary by 20% depending on the app you use to order, even though it’s the exact same dish from the exact same restaurant.

Current food ordering platforms also feature only basic search functionality and little to no personalization. Menus are boring, photos and videos are missing, and there’s inadequate information to help you make a decision.

Famished, on the other hand, shows you vegan and vegetarian meals from top-rated restaurants in Los Angeles based on your food preferences and more. It also includes high-quality photos or videos to help make your decision even easier.

Features
Famished includes a variety of helpful features that make the app easy to use and help you decide what to order.

AI-based food recommendations: Famished uses artificial intelligence that gets smarter over time in order to recommend the food you’re most likely to enjoy. The app takes into consideration your dietary restrictions, taste profiles, past orders, what your friends like and even the weather outside to provide recommendations of local food.

Photos and videos: Famished includes high-quality photos and/or videos in their recommendations of individual dishes so you get a better understanding of the menu item.

Meal information: The app also includes key information about each menu item, such as the ingredients, price, and whether it’s vegan or vegetarian. (However, you can easily skip through the info if you’d rather just look at the pictures).

Healthy food: Famished currently focuses on vegan and vegetarian dishes from the top-rated restaurants in Los Angeles, but people without dietary restrictions are welcome to use the app, too.

Beta: Famished is currently in beta and is looking for new users. Early adopters will be able to provide feedback, vote on the features they’re most interested in, and generally shape the final product before it officially launches.

Interested?
Having a lot of food options is great, but having personalized recommendations with high-quality visuals and helpful information is even better. Stop scrolling through your food ordering platform wondering, “what even exactly am I looking at?” Instead, turn to Famished to find local food you’re going to love. Want to try Famished for yourself? Visit famished.io to sign up for their beta version.

Photos
Famished

The post Discover Local Food Through Personalized Recommendations with Famished. appeared first on KillerStartups.

Why Business Leaders Should Talk About Their Mental Health 29 Oct 2020, 8:00 am

For those of a certain age, I’m sure that being transparent about your mental health was taboo. Take my friends’ father, who’s a boomer, as an example. He never opened up about how he was feeling until one day he lost it. The stress, and the emotional and physical toll it took on him, finally came to head. And, he just started crying. I was floored. I mean I was always told that boys don’t cry. Here is why business leaders should talk about their mental health.

There’s been a sea of change when talking about mental health, and we can all learn from the shift.

Take Gen Z. They are more likely to seek help then other generations. Unfortunately, that figure is still low with only 37% reporting that they’ve received help from a psychologist or mental health professional.

Considering that some 450 million people suffer from a mental disorder, we still have a long way to go. And, this is particularly true for those in a leadership role.

For starters, as noted by the World Health Organization, “mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.” As a consequence, this can affect people’s behaviorally, emotionally, and physically, such as:

The Link Between Mental Health and Work

Economically, mental health costs the global economy $ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity! Aetna Behavioral Health has also found that employee mental health costs rise twice as fast as other medical costs.

More specifically, mental health can be negatively affected by businesses:

What’s more, via the CDC, “Depression interferes with a person’s ability to complete physical job tasks about 20% of the time and reduces cognitive performance about 35% of the time.”

Besides impacting your bottom line, there’s another reason why you need to prioritize mental health at your company; employees demand it.

One study has found that 62% of employees want leadership to speak openly about mental health. But, other research has found this to be higher.

“Mental health is becoming the next frontier of diversity and inclusion, and employees want their companies to address it, write Kelly Greenwood, Vivek Bapat, and Mike Maughan over at HBR. “Eighty-six percent of our respondents thought that a company’s culture should support mental health.” However, it “was even higher for Millennials and Gen Zers, who have higher turnover rates and are the largest demographic in the workforce.”

“Half of Millennials and 75% of Gen Zers had left roles in the past for mental health reasons, both voluntarily and involuntarily, compared with 34% of respondents overall — a finding that speaks to a generational shift in awareness,” add the authors. “It is not surprising then that providing employees with the support they need improves not only engagement but also recruitment and retention, whereas doing nothing reinforces an outdated and damaging stigma.”

How to Promote Mental Health Wellness in Your Workplace

So, yeah. Mental health needs to become a priority for your business. By being transparent and removing the stigma around mental health, you’ll improve every facet of your organization. And, to get started, here are the steps you should take.

Change the culture.

Changing the culture is a top-down process,” writes Greenwood, Bapat, and Maughan. “It starts with transforming leaders into allies. Encourage executive teams, managers, and senior employees to share their experiences (or those of close family members or friends) at all-staff meetings or in other interactions with their teams.”

“Modeling disclosure and vulnerability as strengths, not weaknesses, goes a long way toward reducing the stigma and setting the tone for transparency,” they add.

Considering that almost half of entrepreneurs have experienced at least one form of mental health condition during their lifetime, you probably already have first-hand knowledge of this struggle. The challenge is to be open up about your experience. Once you do, this will help remove the stigma and encourage others to be more open about their struggles.

Additionally, if you want to change the culture, then you need to walk the walk. That means setting an example by showing others that you are addressing your well-being. For example, take breaks throughout the day and eat a healthy lunch. Most importantly, offer suggestions on how you addressed your mental health. If you spoke with a counselor, then refer an employee to that mental health professional.

Create an employee wellness program.

If you’re unfamiliar, an employee wellness program simply encourages healthy habits within the workplace. More importantly, it helps create a culture where health and wellness is a top priority.

To get started though, Howie Jones in a previous Calendar piece suggests using a Health Risk Appraisal (HRA) to assess your needs. “This is a questionnaire that reviews lifestyle practices like smoking and exercise,” explains Howie. “You could also conduct an interest survey and have your team rank what they would want the program to include.”

With this information, you can then design a program that works best for your company. For example, if a majority of your employees have admitted to dealing with a mental illness, then you may want to select a health insurance plan that covers mental health. You could also offer gym memberships, support services, or training to help them combat stress.

Focus on early intervention/prevention.

Let’s say that your bathroom faucet has a drip. You keep ignoring it thinking that it’s no big deal. Eventually, you may have to replace your sink because of water stains. Leaky faucets may also deteriorate caulk, grout, and damage ceilings and floorboards.

In short, don’t wait to solve this problem before it gets any worse.

The same is true with mental health. Educate your team on how they can cope with stress and anxiety. Provide support services, even if it’s paying for an app like Headspace. And, don’t punish them if they need to take a mental health day or leave early to speak with a therapist.

Enforce working hours.

Promote a healthy work-life balance by establishing boundaries. For instance, limit communication outside of office hours. That means not emailing an employee at midnight asking them a question that could wait until the morning.

You should also encourage them to set an out-of-office message in their calendar. Google and Outlook calendars have this feature. And, it’s a simple way to automatically reject event invites when you’re not available.

Cultivate a healthy and positive work environment.

Besides boosting productivity, healthy and positive work environments can improve morale and decrease turnover. Best of all, it’s not all that complicated to implement if you do the following:

  • Establish organizational guidelines that prevent bullying and harassment.
  • Show your gratitude and appreciation to your team members by recognizing their hard work.
  • Invest in your team’s well-being by investing in ergonomic furniture, providing healthy snacks, and placing plants throughout the workplace.
  • Help your employees curb vices and unhealthy habits.
  • Never motivate your team using fear.
  • Celebrate milestones and have fun through games and volunteering.

Frequently check-in with your employees.

Yes. You’ve got a million things to do. But, spend quality time with each team member. Get to know them better and ask how they’re doing. You don’t want to pry into their personal lives. But, checking-in with them builds trust. That means if they do have a mental health concern, they won’t be afraid to come to you for assistance.

Grant autonomy and flexible schedules.

Don’t micromanage your employees. Even better, provide flexible schedules and working arrangements so that they have opportunities to attend to their well-being.

Help them solve their time management problems.

Finally, help your team members improve their time management. That may not sound like much. But, if they’re struggling in this area, then don’t have the time to attend to their mental health. For example, help them prioritize their time so that they aren’t taking their work home with them. In turn, they’ll have more availability to work with a mental health professional or engage in healthy habits like exercising or meditating.

Why Business Leaders Should Talk About Their Mental Health was originally published on Calendar by .

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What Kids’ Phones Can Teach You About Product Design 29 Oct 2020, 8:00 am

Some of the coolest gadgets on the market today are smartphones. Devices designed for kids are particularly impressive. Not only do they fit sensitive components in a small-yet-sturdy package, but they tailor an “adult” product to a niche audience.

Product designers can learn a lesson or two from these devices. Even outside of the tech sector, designers are always looking for ways to differentiate their products, make them more durable, and deliver functionality without feature-bloat. 

Before putting together your next product, take note. These six tips inspired by cell phones for kids are anything but child’s play:

1. Put a premium on safety.

If a product isn’t safe to use, it doesn’t matter what other features it has. Spending money on something that puts you or others at risk simply doesn’t make sense. 

The designers behind Gabb Wireless’s Z2 kids phone made safety their starting point. Because kids are experts at bypassing or disabling restrictions, the Z2 takes away the need for parental controls. 

While the Z2 can call and send texts, it can’t access the internet, social media, or app stores. Kids can still take photos and listen to music on the Z2, but there’s no need to worry about them seeing dangerous content online or developing a social media addiction. And without internet access, there’s less risk of cyberbullying or child predators.

When designing your product, approach it the same way. Before worrying about the bells and whistles, make sure the core product doesn’t put the user at risk. 

2. Question norms around form. 

Who says a cell phone has to be rectangular? Who says it even needs a screen? While there are reasons for these design choices, the point is that innovative designers question assumptions about the shape, look, and feel of the product. 

The Relay Kids Phone is a gadget that breaks the rules. This screen-free walkie talkie lets kids leave their family and friends voice messages, which they receive immediately. 

Your product shouldn’t look like a carbon copy of its competitors. Design something different: It just might be the next big hit. 

3. Make it easy to use.

There’s a reason most apps for children are designed for tablets and not phones. Because their motor skills are still developing, not all kids can navigate something as small as a phone screen.

Although the Jitterbug Flip is often marketed to seniors, it also makes a great phone for kids because of its easy-to-use design. With large buttons and no touch screen, this device makes it easy to text, call, and take photos. Plus, it doesn’t connect to the internet — another feature parents love. 

Easy-to-use products aren’t always the coolest ones on the market. But what’s even less cool is a product that is difficult or unpleasant to use. Put usability before pizzazz when designing your own product. 

4. Go back to basics.

Some of the best designs are out of sight, out of mind. Think about your home’s HVAC system: You wouldn’t want it making noise or needing adjustment all the time, right? You’re probably happiest with it when it heats and cools your home without extra fuss.  

The designers behind the Light Phone II took this same approach. With it, you can call, text, set alarms, play music, and listen to podcasts — and that’s it. There are no social media apps, ads, email, or news feeds. 

Basic doesn’t have to mean boring. This phone’s sleek look and simple design are similar to the iPhone. Unlike the iPhone, however, the Light II isn’t packed with distracting or unnecessary features. 

5. Consider the “fun” factor.

The best products aren’t addictive, but they do keep users coming back for more. In your design, look for ways to help users have fun. It could be as simple as a color-changing screen, or as complex as a built-in game. 

Preloaded with 44 games, the VTech KidiBuzz is the perfect example of this design principle. While it does allow calling and texting, parents control the contact list and which websites and applications are accessible. That way, even younger kids can enjoy it safely. 

With this design tip, balance is key. You don’t want to add so many fun features that your product becomes unusable, but you should find small ways to make it engaging. 

6. Don’t forget about durability.

There’s nothing worse than spending a fortune on something, only to have it break six hours later.  Especially if your product is used outdoors, on job sites, or by children, make sure it can withstand a few bumps and bruises. 

Famous for their durability are Nokia phones. A great choice for kids is the Nokia 6.1, which features an all-metal build milled from a single block of series 6000 aluminum. It’s water-resistant, and it features a Gorilla Glass screen that is unlikely to crack or shatter. Users appreciate the long-lasting battery, which is often one of the first things in a phone to go bad. 

Your product doesn’t need to be bulletproof, but it should be well built. When in doubt, check in with your users: How do they plan to use the product? How long do they hope to own it? If they’ve owned similar products in the past, at what point did they need to be replaced?

Designing a great product is difficult. You have to get the form and function right, but there are dozens of deeper considerations as well. Is it built to last? Is it fun and easy to use? Does every feature add something to the core product?

When it comes to their design, kids’ phones are anything but child’s play. For your next design session, ask your son or daughter to borrow their device. It just might be the inspiration your product team needs.

Image credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels

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Smidge Simplifies Customer Interviews with Instant 1:1 Video Chats 27 Oct 2020, 9:45 am

When it comes to product research, customer interviews are crucial to the success of your business. They not only give you clearer insight into how customers actually feel about your business and products, they help you understand the strengths of your solutions as well as determine areas you may need to improve. However, emails to customers often go unanswered, trying to set up a calendar invite at a time that’s convenient for both parties to talk can be tricky, and customer surveys just aren’t as effective as they could to be. Instead of trying to reach customers the old fashioned way, try Smidge.

Smidge is a video chat tool that sits in your web app. It allows you to talk with people when they are already online, so you can conduct product research and customer interviews instantly rather than waiting around on survey responses or scheduling user interviews.

The ability to segment users makes it easy to immediately chat with the people you’re most interested in talking to at any given time. By chatting in your app, you can skip the emails, calendar invites, chatbots and surveys and instead have a face-to-face conversation that leads to real human connection and adds real value to your company and users.

To start using Smidge, simply install the widget on your web app and let Smidge gather some helpful metadata. Next, you’ll segment the users you’d like to talk to and press the chat button to start the conversation. Customers will receive a call with a preview of your face, name and title so they know who the call is coming from. Smidge lets you conveniently chat with people from within your web browser.

Features
Smidge offers a variety of features to help you make the most of the app and your conversations with customers.

1-to-1 private video chat: This ensures your communication takes place in your app or webpage rather than getting sent to a customer’s spam folder.

Customizable messaging: Creating personalized messages tells customers you’re a real person, not a robot, and gives you the ability to add context to your call.

Push communication: Your communication is sent directly to users. There’s no need for them to first download a third-party app and spend time trying to figure out how it works.

Face-to-face connection: Putting a human face to your company helps customers build a connection to you and encourages relationships through conversation.

No more scheduling meetings or waiting on email replies: Smidge lets you find users who are currently active.

User segmentation: You can group users together to ensure you’re talking to the right people about the right product features.

Call log and dashboard: These tools help you save time and keep track of your efforts.

More chats: By spending just 5 minutes per day talking to customers via Smidge, you can talk directly to more than 250 people per year.

Interested?
Product research and customer interviews are important, but it’s also helpful for them to be convenient. Want to learn more about how Smidge can improve your customer interviews through one-on-one video chats? Visit smidge.app.

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Operations Team Productivity: What They Do (and How to Build and Improve Yours) 27 Oct 2020, 8:00 am

Even with the most competitive offerings or the most capable people representing them, it’s almost impossible for companies to achieve great things without reliable operations.

Not all small and mid-sized businesses have dedicated operations support, of course. Until they grow more sustainable, smaller companies might integrate operations into other divisions instead. But the danger there is allowing your teams to work in silos. And “by denying the opportunity to collaborate and cross-pollinate ideas,” says The 20 Media founder Pratik Dholakiya, “businesses contribute to their own speedy demise.”

Guess what helps reconnect those dots to keep everyone working toward the same goal? A dedicated operations team.

If you think it’s time to scale your operations workforce, you’re in the right place. In this post, you’ll learn how ops teams run businesses like well-oiled machines and the best ways to build your own.

First, the basics: What are operations, and how does this business function work?

The Operations Team Productivity: Roles and Responsibilities

Would you climb Mount Denali without a guide?

It’s a little easier to climb a behemoth like Denali with a trained mountaineer who can plot the course, gather all the right supplies, and plan for emergencies like bad weather.

In a company, that’s the operations team’s job.

An ops team’s #1 mission is to manage and optimize the details that keep its organization running profitably. That means delivering the resources that enable other departments to do their job – at peak efficiency and effectiveness – and cost-effectively converting their efforts into products and services that meet customers’ needs.

Phew. Let’s break that down a little. Here are a few examples of how the team supports each of the company’s stakeholders:

Employees

Operations might be responsible for keeping plenty of talent in the recruitment pipeline, promoting interdepartmental communication, supervising other teams’ activities, and figuring out how to best leverage resources to prevent and solve problems.

Executive team

Operations also lead business predictability by helping the C-Suite plan KPIs and holding them financially accountable. Some ops professionals are specifically trained to neutralize legal issues, too.

Customers

Ops teams rarely come into direct contact with customers, but it’s still their responsibility to make sure the company delivers the right products to the right customers on time. The product team relies on operations to recommend improvements, as ops are best positioned to weigh customer feedback against the company’s capacity.

Vendors

As any great ops professional will tell you, ensuring quality output means ensuring value at the source. To do this, the ops team focuses on acquiring inventory and services that maximize productivity, minimize risk and costs, and deliver on customer expectations.

You might have noticed a common thread here. For just about all activities, operations teams prioritize quality management. Not necessarily Steve Jobs-level attention to every detail of the business, but enough to:

  • Produce what needs to be produced without delays, errors, or rework.
  • Drive down failure costs, both internally and externally.
  • Find the best possible solutions to problems in any situation.
  • Ultimately inspire all stakeholders to champion the company’s value.

Before it can manage the quality of other business units, of course, operations must first manage itself. What’s the best set-up to achieve all these goals?

How to Build an Effective Operations Team

Step 1: Start from the Top Down.

A functional and well-run operations team relies on great support from the top down. Beyond the usual traits of great leaders, your ops manager will need a solid grasp of:

  • Various processes across the company, so your team can confidently coordinate and develop new methods.
  • Supply chain management, including knowledge of manufacturing, logistics, and transportation, if you’re a product-based company.
  • Problem-solving means pulling information from both an analytical and creative perspective.
  • Learning how to communicate effectively with all stakeholders.

Sure, all leaders need to communicate and solve problems. But an ops manager uses these skills on a bigger scale to unite people and processes seamlessly across the entire organization.

TIP: You can make your ops manager’s job much easier by making lines of communication easy to access. Digital channels (like project management or messaging apps) should be accessible for your ops teams to use on the go when they’re on a call, for example, while regular meetings can be a powerful way to sync up teams (as long as they’re not too regular). A written manual on communications processes can help clear up any confusion.

With those resources in place, you’re ready to think about the structure of the rest of the team.

Step 2: Organize Your Operations Team Structure.

In their book, The Practice of Cloud System Administration, three Silicon Valley-based authors describe the three sources and categories of operational work:

Sources of work
  1. Life-cycle management or the functional work — means to run a service within the company.
  2. Stakeholder interaction means meeting the needs of the people who use the service.
  3. Process improvement and automation mean the operational work needed to improve and upgrade various processes continually.
 

Categories of work

  1. Emergencies like power outages or emergency requests from other teams.
  2. Standard requests include questions about how to use a service or reports of the problems users experience.
  3. Project work, or the projects that automate and optimize team/company systems.

“It can be tempting to organize an operations team into three subteams, each focusing on one source of work or one category of work,” the authors write. But that creates those dreaded “silos of responsibility.”

Luckily, there’s a much simpler way to organize your team: Make project work the priority.

If you want to run your ops team at peak efficiency, you’ll need to focus most of its bandwidth on projects. Projects save them running from emergency to emergency until they burn out, or from slowing down to deal with interruptions (a big productivity killer).

How do you prioritize project work while responding to emergencies and requests promptly? There are two ways:

  1. Assign an emergency response team. If one person owns emergencies, and other standard requests, means that the rest of the team is free to focus all its energy on projects. TIP: Make sure the ERT emails out reports to the rest of the team, including alerts logged, action taken, trends noticed, and recommendations going forward.
  2. Take turns. Using a useful calendar management tool, you can move the team through a rotation for on-call duty (emergencies) and ticket duty (standard requests). TIP: Schedule each shift for no more than a week. Say you had a team of eight people; this would give each member a full six weeks of the cycle to focus on projects.

Depending on the size of the team’s workload, your ops manager might want to assign both on-call and ticket duty to one person or multiple people to one task. As long as they cross-train all team members, you’ll always be able to cover unexpected absences.

Bear in mind, though, that it’s best to limit each rotation to one person for a smoother hand-off to the next. Involving entire teams might lead to unnecessary meetings. It’s also good practice for the ops manager to include him- or herself in the rotation so they can keep tabs on what’s going on.

Step 3: Optimize Your Teamwork.

Congratulations: you now have a well-organized ops team.

But team-building doesn’t end there. It’s a journey – starting with every team member’s commitment to using the following six practices.

A knowledge bank

By documenting and sharing processes and templates across the team, you can streamline project management, cut time and effort wasted on reinventing the wheel, and ultimately ensure customers get the best results.

TIP: As with your communication channels, make it as quick and easy as possible for everyone to find these resources – using a tool like Box, for example.

A system of delivery

Take a standardized approach to deliver high-quality products and services by establishing bite-sized, repeatable processes in which everyone knows their role.

TIP: Projects are best accomplished in small teams. While solo projects disconnect team members and inhibit feedback, large teams face setbacks from decision-making challenges.

A system of measurement

Collect objective data on everything you do. How else can you improve your team’s output?

TIP: Google’s Objective and Key Results (OKR) is a great model to use. The aim is to set aggressive quarterly or annual targets, create incentives for your team to hit them, then stack up against your results against your forecasts.

(Keep in mind that because they’re so aggressive, you should only run 70% of your OKR goals.)

Productivity tracking.

To meet their many demands, operations teams should focus on getting the most done with as little time and resources as possible. Enter: time-tracking and productivity tools.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Team building.

Team-building activities are beneficial for many reasons, including productivity. Think of opportunities to bring the team together to take a break, reconnect, celebrate wins, and have a little fun.

Team sports are a simplified example and one of the best ways to foster teamwork and personal connections.

A safe space to vent.

Operations are one of the most complex and demanding functions of the business. That’s why it’s also the most in need of transparency.

There will be times when team members need to deliver criticism, hold others accountable, and admit their own failures to reach goals. The most important lesson they can learn, though, is that effective team performance isn’t always about hitting numbers. It’s about being agile enough to deal with missing them and confronting sensitive issues for the collective good of the team.

Is everyone on board with all six practices? Remember: Feedback makes the dream work.

Final Thoughts

By now, you should have all the ideas you need to build a capable operations team, assign smart roles, and streamline operations over time.

That leaves us with one last important question: What happens when challenges arise?

Nobody enjoys finding shortfalls in their teams or processes. But especially in operations, where one mistake sets off company-wide chains of events, it’s the name of the game. As the leader, your goal should be consistency: bringing underperformers up to standards, encouraging top performers to keep doing their very best, and keeping burnout at bay.

Does your company have a small operations team? What other best practices do you use to improve team performance? Share with us what worked for you in the comments.

Operations Team Productivity: What They Do (and How to Build and Improve Yours) was originally published on Calendar by .

The post Operations Team Productivity: What They Do (and How to Build and Improve Yours) appeared first on KillerStartups.

Revitalize Offers Innovative Way to Soothe Tired Eyes and Reenergize a Tired Mind 22 Oct 2020, 9:20 am

We’ve all been there: working or studying long after the sun has gone down, staring at a computer screen with tired eyes and just trying to stay awake and be productive. Late nights often mean reaching for yet another cup of coffee or energy drink, which sounds like a great idea at the time but leaves you feeling jittery. These beverages also do nothing to help dry, tired eyes. Instead of stocking up on caffeinated drinks and eye drops, you could try Revitalize Energy, artificial tears that provide a punch of energy.

Revitalize, currently available on Indiegogo, is designed to soothe your eyes with a moisturizing effect while also providing a boost of energy. Made in a convenient eye drop form, it takes effect instantly, fights tired eyes, and one bottle offers weeks of energy. With just one to two drops in each eye, Revitalize is designed to leave you feeling refreshed.

The product design offers a number of benefits. The compounds in the formula are quickly absorbed through the eye, allowing the energizing effects to kick in instantly on contact. A few seconds after the initial energizing effect following application, the drops provide a refreshing, cooling sensation that soothes the eyes. This cooling sensation is in part due to the rapid absorption of the drops.

When it comes to energy, Revitalize provides plenty. The energizing effect outlasts a cup coffee, but doesn’t last quite as long as a 5-hour product. Each 12ml bottle of Revitalize is approximately a one-month supply, giving you weeks of instant energy.

Features
Revitalize Energy includes a variety of features that support its effectiveness as well as visual appeal.

The active ingredients include hypromellose, tetrahydrozoline HCL, and zinc sulfate.

Hypromellose: Hypromellose is a semisynthetic, inert, viscoelastic polymer that’s used in eye drops to help relieve eye irritation and redness.

Tetrahydrozoline HCL: Tetrahydrozoline hydrochloride is the hydrochloride salt of tetryzoline. It’s a sympathomimetic agent and a vasoconstrictor that helps reduce redness in the eye.

Zinc sulfate: Zinc sulfate is an astringent that is commonly found in over-the-counter eye products and helps reduce eye irritation and redness.

Sleek bottle: No more boring eye drop bottles. Revitalize Energy drops come in a sleek bottle that conveniently fits into your pocket.

American made: Revitalize Energy decided to make their product right here in the USA due to the strict safety regulations here and to support the U.S. economy during this difficult time.

Takes effect instantly: Revitalize drops rapidly absorb through what eye to provide energy and relieve eye irritation on contact.

Fights tired eyes: While caffeinated beverages only focus on the energy aspect, Revitalize Energy soothes dry, tired eyes in addition to proving an energy boost.

Weeks of energy: With average usage, each bottle of Revitalize offers a month’s worth of energy.

Interested?
Late nights may not always be avoidable, but eye irritation and caffeine jitters are. If you’re ready to soothe your dry, tired eyes and get a boost of energy without the dreaded coffee jitters or crash, check out Revitalize Energy at revitalize-energy.com.

Photos
Revitalize Energy

The post Revitalize Offers Innovative Way to Soothe Tired Eyes and Reenergize a Tired Mind appeared first on KillerStartups.

How to Kick Yourself Out of a Slump 22 Oct 2020, 8:00 am

We all get in slumps. Sometimes it’s because you’re under the weather. Or you’ve got that summertime sadness feeling. But, what if you’re really in the gutter and you don’t know why?

It happens to all of us from time-to-time. However, that doesn’t make it any easier. When your mood plummets, everything from your health, relationships, to career suffer. Even worse, you may not want to get better. It’s just easier to close yourself off and stay down. But, that’s no way to live. Instead, you have to kick yourself out of your slump so that you can enjoy your life and get back to being your bad-self.

Saying that from the outside, though, is easier said than done. But, I’ve been there more times then I would care to admit. And, through some trial and error, I used the following tricks to break free of my downward spiral.

Be on the lookout for red flags.

I’m going to tell you all an embarrassing story. Not that long ago, I was walking my dog before going out for the night. In my hurry, I didn’t pay attention to where I was going and tripped over a flowerpot. It happened so fast that I didn’t realize I was falling until I crashed to the ground.

Sometimes, that’s the case with slumps. There’s so much going on that you don’t realize that you’re down in a hole until you’re already in it.

Now and then, check-in with yourself so that you can spot any potential warning signs. While this varies from person to person, here are some of the more common symptoms that you may be in a slump:

  • You’re bored day, in-and-out.
  • You’re stuck in the past.
  • Daydreaming eats-up too much of your time and energy.
  • You refuse to get out of your comfort zone.
  • You continuously don’t feel well.
  • No one asks for your advice or feedback.
  • You put others ahead of yourself.
  • Business isn’t thriving.
  • You’re searching for an escape, like vacation deals or selling your business.

If any of these ring true, then it’s time to admit that you’re in a slump. From there, you can begin to get to the root of the problem so that you can dig yourself out. For example, if the main culprit is your business, then maybe it’s time to consider selling it and moving on to a new venture.

Prioritize yourself.

There’s nothing wrong with helping others. Helping others is a proven way to increase your happiness. Which, in turn, can pull yourself out of your slump. But, you still need to take care of yourself.

Always putting others first is exhausting and can impair your work performance. What’s more, “when you put yourself at the bottom of your to-do-list, you’re more stressed and less energetic and creative,” writes Angela Ruth in a previous Calendar article. “Your sleep is impaired, and you may turn to other vices.” Overall, without engaging in some self-care, you’re harming your physical and mental health.

So, how can you prioritize yourself so that you don’t drive yourself into a rut? Angela suggests:

  • Take a “me” moment, like blocking out specific times for you to something that you enjoy.
  • Increase your emotional intelligence.
  • Swap out the negative self-talk with more positive and supportive language.
  • Take a social media break.
  • Recite empowering mantras.
  • Remove the toxic elements from your life.
  • Get comfortable setting boundaries and saying “no.”
  • Remember your “why.”
  • Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Schedule downtime.

Decline your invite to the pity party.

Have you ever received an event to a function that you really don’t want to attend? You probably don’t hesitate to decline the invite.

Take the same approach whenever you have the urge to throw yourself a pity party. I know that it’s easy to fall into this trap and wallow. But, as Helen Keller correctly put it, “Self-pity is our worst enemy, and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in the world.”

Get your fill of inspiration and motivation.

Being in a slump sucks. There’s just no other way to put it. You’re not in a good mood. Energy and productivity have been drained. And, the things that you usually enjoy doing just don’t cut it anymore.

A simple way out of this? Surround yourself with as much inspiration and motivation that you can.

Inspiration and motivation are different for everyone. For me, I know that when I’m down, I might watch a comedy like “Step Brothers.” No matter how many times I’ve viewed it, it busts my guts every time. And guess what happens next? I’m in a slightly better mood and want even more. The next thing, I’m climbing out of my descent.

Whether if it’s a movie, song, podcast, book, or going for a hike, turn to the things that lift your spirits and give you a zap of energy.

Shock your system.

One of the easiest ways to get yourself in a rut is by staying within your comfort zone. You know how it is. Every. Single. Day. Is.The. Same.

The best way to counter this? Change things up. For example, instead of going to your office every day, try working somewhere else — even if it’s just one or two days a week. Try out a new exercise program or restaurant. Wake-up a little earlier so that you try out a new morning routine. Try out a new hobby, or do something that scares the crap out of you.

In short, shake things up so that you don’t get stuck in the same routine. And, if this is too nerve-racking, start small and work your way up. For example, instead of going to the same grocery store every Sunday morning, visit a local farmer’s market on Saturday morning.

Reach out to others.

The worst thing that you can do when you’re down is to keep it to yourself. As long as you’re reaching out to others because you’re looking for a way out of your slump — you’re not going to be bothering anyone. They are probably more than willing to listen and offer advice.

Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and calling a trusted friend or family member. In my experience, a family member or best friend should always be your go-to. If they’re not around, consider reconnecting with an old friend. If that’s not an option, then please consult a support group or mental health professional.

Practice gratitude.

Research has found that gratitude has the power to change you and your brain for the better. Most notably, because it comes with psychological benefits like unshackling us from toxic emotions.

Best of all? Practicing gratitude doesn’t have to be a complicated activity. It’s a simple activity that you can do daily. Examples are writing in a journal, saying “thank you,” and spending quality time with your nearest and dearest.

Play hooky.

Of course, you don’t want this to become a frequent occurrence. But, everyone could benefit from taking a mental health day now and then. It’s most beneficial when you’re feeling rundown or don’t have any time off planned.

Whether you feel guilty about taking the day off, or don’t want to pry yourself from the couch, make the most of your day-off. You don’t have to go all-in like Ferris Bueller. But, definitely go out and have some fun. Indulge in a little self-care. You might take a moment to catch up on some cleaning or reading. Or, meet-up with a friend for lunch.

You’re going to survive, and work will be just fine without you for an hour or two or half a day. When wake-up the following day, you’ll find yourself refreshed and in a better state of mind.

Squash the ANTs.

And, finally, get those pesky ANTs out of your mind. Coined James Phu, these are Automatic Negative Thoughts that ruminate and prevent you from getting out of your rut.

The first step is to try to keep those thoughts from occurring in the first place. James suggests you can do this by avoiding toxic people, office gossip, and the news.

The next step is to become more self-aware so that you can catch any negative thoughts as early as possible. Some techniques that James has used are meditating, breathing exercises, and checking-in with yourself throughout the day. He also recommends using the rubber band trick. Whenever a negative thought pops in your head, “pull that elastic band and release.” That small amount of pain reminds you to stop and focus on something more positive.

Finally, find ways to defeat the negative. Gratitude, mindfulness, and keeping yourself busy are all great options. You can also try putting things in perspective and challenging these thoughts. For example, let’s say that you gave a presentation and made a couple of mistakes. You may tell yourself that it was a complete disaster. But, in reality, you got a standing ovation.

How to Kick Yourself Out of a Slump was originally published on Calendar by .

The post How to Kick Yourself Out of a Slump appeared first on KillerStartups.

25 Productive Hacks and Things to Curb Your Boredom 20 Oct 2020, 8:00 am

Last weekend was cool and rainy. I was ahead of my work, and I was trapped inside. Suffice to say; I got a little restless because I was bored with a capital B.

Here’s the thing though, being a little bored is not always a terrible position to be in. Research shows that boredom has the ability to inspire creativity. And, because boredom gives us a brief escape from the daily grind — it’s good for your mental health.

The catch? You have to get bored the right way. If that’s confusing, then there are 25 productive things that you can try the next time boredom strikes.

1. Plan way ahead.

If you want to be productive, then you need to make a plan. Of course, this isn’t always something that you have the time to do. But, if you ever feel restless between meetings or on a dreary Sunday, it’s one of the best ways to kill some time.

In my opinion, this should be a weekly activity. However, don’t be afraid to make plans for the next month or even year. It may sound overwhelming. But, this will let you book your priorities so far in advance that you’ll never have to worry about conflicts.

What’s more, it’s an effective way for you to get a head start on upcoming activities. You can also block-out some me-time in advance or identity tasks that can be assigned to others. It’s a win-win.

2. Tidy up your home or workspace.

Some people thrive when a mess surrounds them. But, for most of this isn’t true. In fact, clutter can be distracting and stressful.

Since you have some availability, pick an area and tidy it up. For example, if you only have a couple of minutes, throw the trash on your desktop, and file important documents. If you have nothing to do this weekend, you could organize your kitchen or clean out your bedroom closet.

3. Organize/clean your computer, phone, or tablet.

Just like your home and workplace, your electronics also have to be periodically be cleaned and organized. Some suggestions would be to remove apps that you no longer use, organizing your electronic files, and clearing your cache. You could also make sure that your contacts are up to date and backup any relevant digital data.

4. Clear out inbox.

If you don’t keep your inbox in-check, it can become so out-of-control that it can kill your productivity. Just think about the time you waste searching for important messages or trying to prevent it from interfering with your workflow.

Right now is the perfect time to tame your inbox. Go through and clear out your spam and unsubscribe to newsletters you aren’ reading. And, while you’re at it, set up filters and unify accounts.

5. Pursue a hobby.

Hobbies aren’t just fun. They can also help you professionally. Research shows that hobbies spark creativity, rescue stress, and improve your physical health. As if that weren’t enough, those with hobbies are more satisfied with their jobs and have a lower likelihood of burning out.

Just keep in mind that depending on where you’re at, you might have to be flexible. For instance, if you’re at home, then baking, gardening, homebrewing, or airplane modeling isn’t a problem. But, you probably can’t do them at your workplace, so you’ll have to opt for hobbies like writing, drawing, or coding.

And, who knows? Maybe your hobby can become a new business venture — or at least a way to earn a passive income.

6. Read.

I love to read. I have since I was a wee lad. And, it turns out that it’s one of the best activities to enjoy.

Reading has been found to strengthen your brain, vocabulary, and ability to emphasize. It can also reduce stress and bolster both focus and analytical skills. So, instead of complaining that you don’t have time to read, pick-up a book the next time you’re bored.

7. Play around on Spotify.

I use Spotify. But, if you’re using a different app like Apple Music, the idea is the same. Listen to educational or inspiring podcasts. Or create various playlists for activities like exercise or to drown out background noise.

I’ve also made a little game with one of my friends, where we create different playlists of our favorite songs and podcasts. Besides giving us something to talk about, it’s a great way to discover new auditory experiences.

8. Watch a TED Talk.

What’s not to love about TED Talks? They’re informative, motivational, and are always under 20-minutes. In my opinion, when you have some time to spare, this is the best way to spend it.

9. Compose a learning bucket list.

I’ve come across many lists that suggest when you’re bored; you learn something new. Obviously, that’s an excellent use of your downtime. The thing is, what exactly are you going to learn?

I might be an anomaly here. But, I’m not the type of person to say, “I’m bored. I think I’ll learn how to speak Italian today.” I’m more likely to wander around aimlessly until I bump into something.

To prevent, I have a list of things that I always wanted to learn. The next time I’m looking for something to do, I can refer to the list. To create your own learning bucket list, think about anything you’ve always wanted to know or try.

10. Practice your current skills.

Becoming an expert in your field can be extremely beneficial. It makes you more marketable. And you’ll be able to work smarter and more easily.

Whether if it’s keeping up with the latest industry trends, attending an online class, or working with a mentor, sharpen your ax.

11. Try something new.

Are you just sitting around the house? Why not hop in the car and try out something like geocaching or exploring a different part of town? Did you work up an appetite? Order dinner from a restaurant you’ve never patronized before.

When you try something new, you open yourself up to new opportunities and perspectives. And it forces you outside of your comfort zone.

12. Go for a stroll.

Spending time outside is one of my favorite activities. In fact, I cherish my daily walks with my dog.

Besides being good for us physically, it’s been found that walking can increase creativity levels. Additionally, being outside makes you happier, relieves stress, improves concentration, and boosts your energy.

13. Journal.

Journaling is hands down one of the best things to do for your mental health. After all, it can help you manage anxiety, reduce stress, and cope with depression. Moreover, journaling can help you prioritize and solve problems, track your triggers, and practice gratitude.

14. Play a brain game.

Unlike Trix, games aren’t just for kids. In fact, chess, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and even certain video games are worth your time. Why? They’re able to boost your mental focus and fitness.

15. Meditate.

Meditation is one of the most effective ways to help put your mind at ease. It can also improve your focus. The reason for both is that when you meditate, you’re brought back into the present.

Even better? It takes just 5-minutes of meditation to change your life. And, it can be done wherever you’re at.

16. Update your resume/online profiles.

When was the last time you updated your resume or online profiles? If you can’t remember, then now is the perfect opportunity to do so.

Even if you aren’t looking for a new job, you never know when the opportunity will knock on your door. It’s better to have these items up-to-date instead of scrambling to do so when you’re crunched for time.

17. Network.

Whether it’s attending industry events or introducing yourself to relevant online communities, expanding your network is a must. After all, there’s no better way to grow your business, improve your skillset, and stay afloat on trends.

18. Hang out with friends or family.

Be spontaneous and see if a friend wants to grab lunch. Pick-up the phone and call your parents. Or, plan a last-minute day trip with your kids.

In addition to strengthening these connections, it’s good for your overall well-being. In fact, according to an 80-year-old Harvard study, relationships are key to happiness and long life.

19. Deal with financial stress.

Did you know that 60% of Americans feel stressed about money? As a consequence, this could lead to anxiety, insomnia, and poor coping habits. It can even put a strain on your marriage.

To counter this, think about ways to alleviate financial stress. It could be improving your financial literacy, launching a side-hustle, or creating a budget.

20. Run an errand or two.

Why put off going to the grocery store, dry cleaner, or whatever errand you have to do? If there’s nothing else going on, go out and knock these off your to-do-list.

21. Plan your next vacation.

You might be grounded right now. But, just the act of planning your next vacation can make you happy. And, with so much notice, this ensures that you won’t worry about work while away.

22. Help others.

You don’t have to be selfish with your boredom. If there’s a colleague why needs assistance, lend them a hand. You could also volunteer or share your expertise through blogging or webinars.

23. Self-reflect.

If you’re bored, go somewhere quiet and spend some alone time reflecting. It’s a proven way to improve your self-awareness, provide perspective, and challenge your thoughts. Also, self-reflection helps you review and track your progress, as well as make sense of things,

24. Daydream or take a nap.

Some might scoff at this. But, daydreaming can make you more productive. The reason is that it sparks creativity, reduces stress, and assist in problem-solving.

Similarly, napping can reduce fatigue, increase alertness, and improve your mood. Naps can also speed-up your reaction time and better your memory.

25. Veg out.

Here’s the main takeaway from this article; you need to stop worrying about being productive 24/7/365. That may sound counterproductive. But, when you obsess over maximizing every minute, you’re putting unnecessary stress on your health and well-being.

Furthermore, this can diminish the quality of your work. It also puts a strain on your relationships. And, eventually, you’ll get burned out.

So, the next time you’re bored, just kick back and relax. Use this downtime to recharge your batteries and reconnect with your priorities. When you’re refreshed, you can come roaring back to work.

25 Productive Hacks and Things to Curb Your Boredom was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

The post 25 Productive Hacks and Things to Curb Your Boredom appeared first on KillerStartups.

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