Author Archives: kate

The Nose Knows

The Nose Knows

Brain fogs, we all get them. Its symptoms include confusion, forgetfulness, and lack of focus and mental clarity. Sometimes you focus too much on work and start to get overwhelmed. You can’t think, you lose focus. You can’t concentrate on the task at hand. This can adversely affect our work and productivity.

Sometimes, we need to take a step back to regain clarity. We lose sight of the bigger picture when we’re too focused on the details and it helps to take small mental breaks in order to clear our heads and “get back in the game”

Stress causes knots and kinks in our bodies and that restricts blood flow and oxygen – just when our brain needs it the most! So, taking short mental breaks to de-stress is not only good for your sanity but for your body as well.

A good way to de-stress is to put on a diffuser and make a blend of essential oils to set the mood for brain de-fogging or try smelling some scents that can instantly give you a clarity boost. The right scents can boost alertness and increase brain power. Cary Caster, Certified Clinical Aromatherapist and founder of 21 Drops Essential Oil Therapy says, “Scents have a powerful effect on the brain and can give us an instant boost in productivity and focus.”

Here are some favorite scents to help you gain clarity and enhance productivity [1].

Frankincense
“The essential oil contains numerous sesquiterpenes which oxygenate and stimulate the limbic system, the seat of our memory and emotions, to improve memory retention and clarity of thinking,” says Caster. A study published in the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology found that burning frankincense could have a Prozac-like effect on the brain by activating anti-depressive pathways and lowering anxiety.

Lemon
According to research from Ohio State University, sniffing lemon improved people’s moods and raised levels of norepinephrine, a brain chemical linked to executive decision-making and motivation. Lemon can really work wonders for keeping you motivated and productive.

Peppermint
“The uplifting oil is well known for its ability to awaken and refresh the mind, aiding in focus and mental clarity,” says Caster. Another study shows that the scent of peppermint can reduce mental fatigue and burnout. This is great news for those afflicted with brain fog.

Coffee
Of course, this list won’t be complete without coffee. In fact, no workday would be complete without coffee. A study published in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that just breathing in coffee’s bitter scent could reverse the effects of sleep deprivation on the brain and bust stress. So, there is science working behind the age-old adage that coffee is a great pick me upper. People instantly perk up not just from the caffeine but also from smelling coffee.

How about you? What are your favorite scents to induce clarity and productivity? Let us know in the comments. Stay humble and hustle hard!

 

Written by Jaie O. The Help

 

Source:
1. https://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/wellbeing/best-scents-for-productivity-and-focus/slide/1

How to stick to your New Year’s Resolutions

How to stick to your New Year’s Resolutions

Everyone loves making new year’s resolutions. It’s like giving ourselves a clean slate and allowing ourselves a do-over of last year’s goals and ambitions. We know we can start working on our goals anytime, but the ring of the New Year just gives it more of an attestation that we are seriously leaving the past behind and starting fresh.

New year’s leave us hopeful. But new year’s resolutions are notoriously hard to keep. Statistics show that people fail to stick to their resolutions as early as February. Half of the total number of people who make them are not even confident they would be able to stick to those resolutions at all.

So how do you achieve your new year’s resolutions? Here are a few tips:

Make it specific:
Instead of saying I want to be better at my job, you can instead say that you are aiming for a promotion to (insert job position here). The first mistake of those who fail to keep their resolutions is setting a general goal. It must be clear in your mind and better yet, on paper. So, I suggest you write down your goals and list a few things underneath it that can help you achieve said goal. While “get a promotion” seems like a good motivational mantra, it won’t help you get direction.

Make it measurable:
Making measurable goals can help you see how far you’ve progressed. So, if you plan on bagging a promotion, you should tailor your goals with milestones in mind. For example, learn three specific skills needed for the position before mid-year evaluations. It helps you manage your expectations and set your path. “Sign up for online classes” already seems specific but “complete one online class per 2 months” makes it more manageable.

Make it attainable:
Now that you’ve already drawn out your plans and have broken them down into measurable pieces, how do you make them attainable? Write down your plans on how you can realistically make your goals happen. For example, you can say, “I will read up on industry news during my daily commute to work” or I will read class materials for 1 hour each night.

Make it exciting:
At some point, you’d be distracted or bored of your goals. Try to set milestones and equivalent rewards for reaching those milestones. As with the previous example, you can maybe treat yourself out to a fancy dinner once you’ve completed a course. Or maybe you can host a mini “graduation party” each time you complete an online class.

Make yourself accountable:
Write your goals somewhere you can see it and be constantly reminded of what you’re working towards. The first page of your planner perhaps, in big, fancy, bold letters. Or keep it on your desk or taped to the fridge. Tell a close friend or family member and hold yourself accountable for working towards that goal.

What are your tips on how to keep your new year’s resolutions? Share them with us in the comments. Always remember to stay humble and hustle hard!

 

Written by Jaie O. The Help

DIY Version Control for Office Documents

DIY Version Control for Office Documents

So here’s a funny story for you: One typical Tuesday morning, Anne threw together an ad copy for the new online holiday campaign catalog which offers free shipping for 3 months when you sign up for a subscription. She thought it looked solid enough to get sign ups but she wanted to get her co-workers’ creative input before sending it out to her editor. Anne thought she’d share the files up in the cloud for others to take a look at.

Bob thinks the copy should have more calls to action and needs a design update, so he tweaks the document and saves off a copy in the same folder.

Chrissy takes a look at a copy (there are 2 now) and immediately thinks of 100 images that can go well with it, so she inserts the images and saves off a copy in the same folder.

Dan thinks the paragraphs are too long in this version he’s reading (there are probably 3 versions floating around now), so he edits the ad and saves off a copy in the same folder.

Anne opens the folder to see a mess of multiple copies of the same document not knowing which ones have been edited and who did what. It is now up to her to organize the edits and update one final document with the inputs and changes her colleagues provided. This proves to be harder than actually writing the damned ad copy in the first place. Also, if she’s not very careful, her editor might publish the wrong version.

In an office setting where collaboration is the norm, there is bound to be a problem with duplicate versions or having multiple copies of the same documents. When you can’t find the original version or (more horrifyingly) when you can’t find the FINAL version for publishing, this small dilemma can turn into a big nightmare.

So how do you this stop this nightmare from occurring? Systems, people, systems!

The first system that you must have in place is an online collaboration system. You can use Google Drive or Microsoft Office Suite but you have to have a standard workspace. Although Google can open MS Word files as Google Docs, version should be compatible to start with to avoid having to download, convert, and rename files. Getting rid of the extra steps saves everyone from saving over other people’s work, working on a legacy version, or losing the files completely. So keep everything in one cohesive workspace.

The second system to have is a naming system. Many employees have used the v1, v1.1, v1.2 etc… file naming conventions. This is how software version is named. But you might have to develop a standard one for your company or team. Keep it short and concise. You don’t want to end up with a filename such as:

HolidayCatalogue2017AdCopy_Anne_Bob_Chrissy_Dan_edits_Final.doc

Other tips:

  • Acknowledge that there is only one project and instruct everyone to work on only one
  • Save the original copy in a local folder first (preferably somewhere only you can access) before you upload the working copy to the cloud for online collaboration.
  • Don’t clutter your collaboration folders with unnecessary assets. Only include relevant images or resources in the collaboration folder.

Hopefully, these tips could help keep your office files from exploding with multiple versions of office documents. What are your office’s adaptations of version control? We’d love to hear your tips in the comments! Stay humble and hustle hard!

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help

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/