A Holiday Wish List for the Office Worker

A Holiday Wish List for the Office Worker

The holidays are near and ‘tis the season to be jolly! But Santa isn’t the only one making a list this season, we all have a list of people to give love and gifts to. Here are a few gift suggestions for your working friends and family.

For the Foodie

Assorted Chocolates: Admit it, even the most decisive person would have a hard time choosing between Almond Praline and Salted Caramel or Dark Sea Salt vs Dark Almond Toffee Nut. So why not get them a box of assorted chocolates. This is one dilemma they’ll actually enjoy.

  • Suggestions: Always a treat to get Whitman’s Sampler or the Godiva Assorted Chocolate Gold Gift Box

Coffee Sampler: for all ‘ye coffee nerds out there. This is the perfect gift for your best bud at the office or your dad who loves gourmet coffee. Goes well with that “Best Dad Ever” mug you gave him for Father’s day.

  • Suggestions: Coffee Sampler Gift from The Swiss Colony or Bean Box Gourmet Coffee Sampler or Peet’s Coffee Samplers

Cookies in a Tin: or in a box, wherever…the only difference is that they can use the tin to store the crochet hooks and yarn they used once they finish all the butter cookies WHILE knitting.

  • Suggestions: Royal Dansk Danish Butter Cookies or the Sapphire Butter Cookies

For the Techie

A tracker: for that person who tends to misplace things (we all know someone who keeps losing things). Attach to any item (keys, wallet, laptop) and it tracks the item’s last location on the app. Come to think of it, we all need one of these.

  • Suggestions: Can’t go wrong with TrackR and Tile

Laptops: there are laptops that are well within the $300 mark but still pack a powerful punch. If you’re feeling magnanimous and want to give mom, dad, or the grandparents a gift to lure them into the wonderful world of technology, you can start here.

  • Suggestions: Lenovo Ideapad 120S ($200), HP Stream 14-ax010nr ($215), Dell Inspiron 11 3000 ($180), Acer Aspire 1 ($220), Acer Chromebook 15 ($250), Asus Chromebook C202 ($220), Samsung Chromebook 3 ($190). I have a lot of suggestions, right? That’s cause I’m hoping to get one of these for Christmas (wink, wink).

For the Girl/Boy Scout

Powerbank: Never run out of battery charge ever again. Give this to your siblings or significant other – they’ll have no excuse to not return your calls.

  • Suggestions: RAV RP-PB17, Poweradd Pilot 2GS, Tronsmart’s Presto PBT10

For the Exercise Buff

Cool water bottles: get them one that can store cards, keys, and cash like the Contigo Autoseal Kangaroo Water Bottle, or one that calculates your recommended water intake, measures liquids, provides temperature readings, and pairs with both your Fitbit account and your iPhone so you have no excuse to miss your daily, weekly, or monthly hydration goals like the Thermos Connected Hydration Bottle With Smart Lid. Or you know, you can always get a cool, sturdy one that has no bells and whistles.

For the Audiophile

Earbuds: of course, earbuds will be on this list, audiophiles can never have enough. They need one for every bag they own, one for the car, one for each device, and one spare.

  • Suggestions: Sony, JBL, Sennheiser, Skullcandy

Bluetooth Speakers: like the earbuds, they probably have one of these already, but it won’t hurt to get them one more. Also, like the earbuds, audiophiles can never have too many BT speakers. Get a splashproof one.

  • Suggestions: Sony XB10, Braven, AmazonBasics, JBL Clip2

What’s on your Christmas Wishlist? Let us know in the comments. Stay humble and hustle hard!

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help 

 

Feng Shui: Not just a bunch of Hullabaloo

Feng Shui: Not just a bunch of Hullabaloo

 

I am a firm believer in keeping things in order – and not just because I (may) have (mild) OCD but because I’d like to get rid of “visual noise”. You know what visual noise is, it’s the kind that is made up of small little things that are out of place and bothers you the whole time –  a pile of junk mail, an empty yogurt cup, un-corralled pens, you know the deal. In short, it’s clutter!

You know who else are believers in keeping things in order? Feng Shui practitioners. Most westerners are now getting on board on exploring old eastern traditions and incorporating those practices. Feng Shui is an ancient art and science developed over 3,000 years ago in China. It is a complex body of knowledge that teaches us how to balance the energies in any given space—be it a home, office, or garden–in order to assure good fortune for the people inhabiting it.in their lives. Feng Shui is based on the Taoist vision and understanding of nature, particularly on the idea that the land is alive and filled with Chi, or energy [1].

You can use Feng Shui to help create an energizing and productive workspace, be it in your home or at the office. Below are some tips on creating a balanced workspace based on Feng Shui principles.

Desk placement is important.

Place your desk in a position where you can see the main entrance and over-all office traffic. What this does is that it gives you a “no surprises” mindset.

Pictures can brighten your day.

Your desk needs a focal point, and that focal point could be anything that energizes you. Bring a picture of your family, a photo of your pup, your child’s artwork, or a trinket from your favorite vacation spot and set it on a spot on your desk where you can see it and gain energy from it.

Clear the clutter.

I cannot stress this enough. As the saying goes “a cluttered space creates a cluttered mind”. For more tips, read this and this.

Bring in life.

Plants are marvelous for bringing in new energy. They clear the air of stale air and old energy and they bring in life. There are small air purifying plants that can help boost your mood, clean the air, provide aesthetic value, and are nearly impossible to kill (if you’re not blessed with a green thumb). Check with your office manager to see if you can bring in a plant. If so, here are some great examples of air purifying plants [2]:

  1. Devil’s Ivy
  2. Aglaonema
  3. Ficus Benjamina
  4. Zamioculcas Zamiifolia
  5. Bromeliads
  6. Philodendron
  7. Peace lily
  8. Dracaena
  9. Sansevieria
  10. Cacti

These tips are all based on the principles of Feng Shui which is all about balance and harmony. You may or may not believe in Feng Shui but it doesn’t hurt to try these tips on for size on your workspace if you’re having trouble with balance or would just like to redecorate.

What other workspace boosts do you know of? Care to share them with us? As always, stay humble and hustle hard.

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help

 

References:

  1. https://www.thespruce.com/what-is-feng-shui-1275060
  2. https://www.ambius.co.uk/blog/top-10-best-plants-for-your-desk-at-work/

 

The Economic Impact of Sleep Deprivation

The Economic Impact of Sleep Deprivation

As working adults, we take for granted the hours of sleep we get each night, most of us settling for whatever amount of sleep we can get at the end of the day. We trick ourselves into thinking that we can function on less than 6 hours of sleep and that we are, in fact, more productive for it. However, a lot of studies on sleep science will prove us wrong – and being misinformed could have actual economic costs for companies and industries.

A cross-country comparative analysis conducted in 2016 by The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States concluded that “sleeplessness in the U.S. workforce results in economic losses of roughly $411 billion per year, with 1.2 million working days lost [1]. The CDC goes on to declare that insufficient sleep is a ‘public health problem’.

The effects of sleep deprivation such as feeling tired, fatigued, groggy, cranky, and unable to concentrate, can have less than ideal consequences on how employees perform at work. Unfortunately, these ‘symptoms’ are very hard to see. You can’t take a look at a person and say, “go home, you’re sleep deprived” the same way you would send home an employee with the flu or chickenpox.

If you are an employee who constantly finds himself/herself sleep deprived or if you are an employer who is concerned about the productivity of your employees, here are several tips on how you can manage the effects of sleep deprivation:

Let in natural light.

Natural light is a critical ingredient for better sleep. It stimulates melatonin production which helps our natural circadian cycle find its rhythm. People who are exposed to natural light daily sleep better than those who are only ever exposed to artificial light. If your workplace is blessed with access to natural light, then by all means – let the sunshine in!

Welcome breaks.

If you are an employer, be mindful of sending after office hours emails. Make sure that your staff takes vacation breaks and don’t expect them to stay online and be available 24/7.

If you are an employee, take your vacations seriously. Stay off the grid for a while – the world won’t blow up just because you’re out of the office. Unplug.

Wellness is a priority.

Enroll in wellness programs. If your office offers a wellness incentive program like yoga retreats or spa days, then take them! Otherwise, you can go on your own wellness retreat by enrolling in yoga or learning meditation. It also helps to treat yourself out to a massage or a spa day once in a while.

Also, practice good sleep hygiene. If you need more tips on how to sleep better, you can read my previous posts here, here, and here.

Below is a set of recommendations by the CDC on how to get better sleep:

  • To improve sleep outcomes, individuals should: Set consistent wake-up times; limit the use of electronic items before bedtime; and exercise.
  • Employers should: Recognize the importance of sleep and the employer’s role in its promotion; design and build brighter workspaces; combat workplace psychosocial risks, and discourage the extended use of electronic devices.
  • Public authorities should: Support health professionals in providing sleep-related help; encourage employers to pay attention to sleep issues; and introduce later school starting times.

Do you have other tips for sleep deprived employees? Share them with us in the comments! Stay humble and hustle hard.

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help

 

References:

  1. https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1791.html

 

 Freelancer for Hire

 Freelancer for Hire

According to Dictionary.com, a freelancer is a person who works as a writer, designer, performer, or the like, selling work or services by the hour, day, job, etc., rather than working on a regular salary basis for one employer [1]. As of 2016 in the US, freelancers make up a third of the US workforce [2] and that percentage is expected to grow by 40% in 2020. Freelancing is the new normal and freelancers are contributing a huge chunk to economy and nation-building.

Previously, we thought of freelancers just as they are described by dictionary.com – but there are now 5 types of freelancers. These classifications pose a challenge to the definition of a “regular” freelancer. Some of which may fall outside of the normal categories and would not have been categorized as freelancers if we were to use the old definition.

If you are thinking of freelancing or hiring a freelancer to do some work for you, here’s a breakdown of how they are classified.

Independent Contractors:

These are the people who fit our traditional assumption of how freelancing works. These are people who sell work or services per contract/piece/hour/day/job etc. and work on a per-project basis. These can be artists on commission, writers for blog articles, and virtual assistants.

Moonlighters:

These are the people who have regular traditional jobs who have a second job as a freelancer in addition to their regular employment. A pre-school teacher who does transcription work after hours may fit this category.

Diversified Workers:

These are people who have multiple sources of income from combined traditional employment and freelance work. A person who works as a part-time receptionist and fills the rest of the time out driving an Uber and doing freelance editing may fit this category.

Temporary Workers:

These are the people hired by a single client for a single job, contract or project. A designer working for a client to design one of his/her properties and sees it through until project completion is one example.

Freelance Business Owners:

These are business owners who have a small team of (1-5) employees hired to work on a project. A website consultant who has a small team of website developers and designers hired to build a website for a startup can fall under this category.

As you can see, many other workers can count themselves as freelancers, and not just in the traditional sense. Some workers that could have been previously thought of as part-time workers may now fall under the diversifies workers if they are working multiple jobs that make up the equivalent of a fulltime job. If you are a business owner, you could use this information to carefully examine your organization’s structure. Business owners involved in startups are now looking at freelancers as one of the major sources to tap for their skills and manpower resources.

What is your organization like? Do you have a healthy mix of full-time employees and freelancers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Stay humble and hustle hard.

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help

 

References:

  1. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/freelance
  2. https://blog.freelancersunion.org/2014/09/04/53million/
  3. https://benrmatthews.com/definition-freelancing-changed-meet-new-5-types-freelancers/

 

 

Work Stress: Don’t let it take over your personal life!

Work Stress: Don’t let it take over your personal life!

Work stress cannot be avoided. After all, work takes up a HUGE chunk of our lives. If you spend your entire adult life working, then you are going to spend 20 to 30% of your life at work. That’s 23.3% of your total time during the course of a 50 year working-life period, 21% of your total waking hours over a 76 year lifespan, assuming 8 hours of sleep a night, 35% of your total waking hours over a 50 year working-life period assuming 8 hours of sleep a night, and 50% of your total waking hours during any given working day [1].

One-third of your life is a long time. Over that course of time, it is inevitable to experience some form of work-related stress. Since it is impossible to avoid feeling stressed out at work, the best thing you can do is to learn how to manage these feelings and leave them at work where they rightfully belong.

Here are 3 tips to keep your work stress at bay and your sanity in check:

Take long walks:

I am an advocate of taking walks to clear your head. Some people run, but I’m not much for running to manage stress. We all have some version of pounding the pavement: walking, hiking, running, etc. The key to this is to burn off excess energy that you would have directed towards stressing out and to redirect that energy to something that will help you decompress and clear your thoughts.

Have a “closing shop” routine:

Develop a routine that you can do at the end of a workday. For example, I clean my workstation and wipe down my monitors and keyboard before I “close shop” for the day. This signals the end of a workday for me just as a cup of coffee and connecting to my Bluetooth speakers signals the start of a workday. Having a “closing shop” routine helps get you into a mindset of leaving your work-related worries at work and starting an off-work mindset. Your work-related worries can wait until tomorrow. I know that there are work-related worries that sit on your mind long after the workday is through, but this exercise isn’t about completely forgetting them, just putting them off for a time when you can actually do something about them.

Elect a sounding board:

Choose someone, ideally someone you don’t live with, to be your sounding board for work-related stress. NOTE: It is important that your sounding board has agreed to be your sounding board. Not living with your elected sounding board would ensure that you don’t rant about work-related worries to someone who is available to you at all times, ensuring that you only talk about work stress when you see them. This accomplishes two things:

  1. By the time you actually see them, you would have probably solved the problem, or you would have acknowledged that it doesn’t seem to be that big a deal in the first place.
  2. You won’t be tempted to keep rehashing the problem over and over again compounding its stressful effect on you.

What are your tips for managing work-related stress? We’d love to hear about them in the comments. Stay humble and hustle hard!

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help

 

References:

  1. https://revisesociology.com/2016/08/16/percentage-life-work/