Author Archives: kate

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/

Give Yourself a Happiness Boost

Give Yourself a Happiness Boost

Why are we so fixated on social media? Every once in a while, we check our social feeds for updates even though it’s been less than an hour and there is doubtfully already something new going on in our friend’s and family’s lives in that short amount of time. We keep hitting refresh, hoping for some new development. What are we expecting to find?

It’s time to stop living vicariously through our social feeds. Here are some steps to live in the now and give yourself a happiness boost:

 

Connect:

No not in social media, in real life (IRL). Face to face connections is essential in this day and age when it’s so easy to just type in a short message and send it to a group chat and think that counts as “connecting”. Move out of your inbox and into the real world. Face to face connections is just as, if not, more satisfying than virtual ones. Wouldn’t you want to see the actual look on the face of someone you are talking to. Now is the chance to see if they actually LOLed or laughed out loud at your (probably corny) joke. What’s more, seeing someone in person makes both parties feel good. Face to face connections entails a handshake or a hug ensuring a physical connection that boosts serotonin levels in our body. Touch is equally as important as a quick “hi!”

Contribute:

Make someone else’s life easier. It could be something as simple as taking on a chore they hate doing or visiting an elderly friend or family member. Or if you’re up for it, why not volunteer your time at a shelter or soup kitchen and do some “greater good” for the community, for the environment – whatever your advocacy is. You can also donate to charity or help with a fundraising or awareness drive. This is your equivalent of a gold star or good boy/girl cookie. There is no small or large contribution. Do what you can to make a difference. You can start with your inner circle, or be ambitious and pan out. Like connecting with others, doing good not only makes you feel better but helps others as well. You see where I’m going with this, right?

Care:

Self – care to be exact. Love yourself. Do yourself a huge favour and get some quality sleep. No one can be happy with only 5 hours (or less) of sleep. While you’re at it, practice self-care. Eat right and get some exercise. Your body is designed to move and not just sit around all day. Even a leisurely walk around the neighborhood can be therapeutic. Cook something for yourself…or share it with others. Bonus points if you share what you just cooked with other people. Food is meant to be shared and making others happy gives you an all-important serotonin boost.

What are your happiness boosters? Let us know in the comments. Always remember to stay humble and hustle hard!

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help

How to be a Morning Person

How to be a Morning Person

 

Most people are morning risers by nature. We are programmed to wake up with the sun. Some very lucky people are up and cracking at the break of dawn. By the time the rest of the world wakes up, they have already accomplished so much.

Most of us dream of becoming early risers. The people who wake up at 5 am or 6 am have at least a 2 to 3 hours head start from the rest of us. What this might mean for you could be a leisurely breakfast, some time for exercise, a jump start on your task for the day, preparing things before your family wakes up, or unhurriedly getting ready for work. Whatever an early morning start means to you, it gives you more time to accomplish your to-do list with some peace and quiet before the sun is fully up.

Now, if you are happy with your “wake-up” schedule, then by all means, stay with your routine. If you want to be an early riser, here are a few tips to get you started: (Please take note that it will take trial and error for you to find your rhythm).

Set your alarm a little earlier each day.

Let’s say you wake up at 8 am each morning and would like to start getting up earlier, for this example, we’ll set a 6 am wake up time. Set your alarm back incrementally. 15 minutes is the recommended time. Set your alarm back a little by 15 minutes each day until you get to your desired wake up time of 6 am. In 8 days, you should be able to get up at 6 am. Don’t hit the snooze button. That defeats the purpose of this exercise. You set an alarm to wake up earlier, not to have the allowance to hit snooze. If you hit a snag, then just keep trying but DO NOT force it. Work with your body, not against it.

With that said…

Go to bed at the same time each night.

This will ensure that you get the recommended hours of sleep, which is 7 to 8 hours for most adults. We are all different, some need more, and some can function on less.

Have a night time routine to help prepare your body for sleep. Mine is taking a shower, brushing my teeth, doing some sort of skin care routine (moisturizer, hand cream, eye cream, etc.), and reading. I try to stay away from my gadgets because the blue light emitted by screens can affect our sleep cycles [1]. Form your own night time routine and keep doing that regularly. This will help signal your body to wind down for the day.

In line with creating a night time routine…

Create a morning routine.

Create a morning routine that you can look forward to. Be really excited about it. Think of preparing a great breakfast. Or you can use that time to meditate or exercise. A quick run or hike (if you’re in an area with beautiful hiking grounds) would be something great to look forward to.

My morning routine involves making an event out of preparing French pressed coffee. It starts with boiling water. As I wait for that to boil, I play with my dog. Once the water has boiled, I carefully measure out 2 scoops of freshly ground coffee beans, pour that into a French press, and pour the water in. While I wait for the beans to infuse, I set out a breakfast for my pet. Then we sit together as she eats her breakfast and I sip my coffee. The quiet time is something I look forward to every morning.

How about you? What are your nighttime and morning rituals? Got any tips on how to be an early riser? Let us know in the comments. Remember to stay humble and hustle hard.

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help

 

References:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side

Not Actually Employees

Not Actually Employees

 

Just a couple of weeks ago, I had to hire a freelancer to do some writing work for me. It was something I couldn’t write myself because it involved hard science and a strong background in astrophysics. Yes, astrophysics. So, instead of making sh*t up and trying to make a fool out of myself, I called in the big guns.

As soon as I read through the first draft of the article, I knew that it wasn’t the style and tone I was going for. A major overhaul was needed and there was some miscommunication on both sides.

After a few back and forth exchanges of ideas and some redirection (and with the help of amazing collaboration tools!), I finally got the article I wanted. It took a while for us to achieve those results but I was thankful that we had a good co-working relationship to get us through the hurdles.

When you are working with freelancers, contractors, consultants, and just about anybody who is not an actual employee and who you don’t get to see around the office on a daily basis, there are bound to be some challenges. It takes a different approach to manage them and there were quite a few lessons that I had learned along the way.

Clear instructions:

Since you don’t see these guys around the office, the best way to give instructions is to send a detailed one via email. Send them clear instructions from the get-go so that they don’t feel like a headless chicken trying to figure out what to do with the information you sent. Send them a brief about the project that includes a background and what the purpose of the project is. Send them useful samples or links. Then, include specifics like what you want to see, specific colours and logos to use (for design work), text to include (for most marketing or ad copies), calls to action, list of suppliers to credit, etc. For chrissake, don’t just send them a link and send them off with a pat on the back and a “good luck!”

Clear expectations:

Set your expectations early. Ask if the project is doable and let them know that if they need help or clarification, you are available. The trick is to share your vision and let them piggyback off of that. Also, ask them when should you expect them to start working on the project. Alternatively, set a deadline or a timeframe and impose that. But don’t be too rigid that you end up being too inflexible. Be aware that setbacks happen – even inside the office. So be prepared to encounter a few setbacks when hiring freelancers as well.

Clear closure:

Give feedback to your freelancer. Don’t just take the finished project and run away with it. It is very good practice to let them know what happened to the project after they handed it over to you. If it was successful, let them know that it couldn’t have been possible without their talent and that you would like to work with them again on similar projects in the future. If it didn’t go right, thank them anyway and let them know how much you appreciate their work.

Please do not forget to please pay on time – acceptable work or not. You are responsible for people you hire so when someone isn’t a right fit, it’s not their fault. Provide constructive feedback and keep working relationships intact. Do not burn bridges. Your freelancer might not be right for this project but could be a perfect fit for future ones.

Have you tried hiring a freelancer, contractor, or consultant? What management tips have worked for you? Let us know in the comments. Stay humble and hustle hard!

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help

The Case for Working from Home

The Case for Working from Home

One of the most controversial topics in the workplace is if employees should be allowed to work from home. Many employers think that unsupervised and left to their own devices, employees would have a hard time resisting their beds, their tv, and their fridge. These things can present very real threats to an employee’s productivity.

However, we are no longer in the age of the Industrial Revolution where people are required to go to the factory to make actual products or machine parts. Many companies offer services, and that does not even require going to an office at all, if you think about it. All you need is a dedicated workspace, complete with tools and some peace and quiet. Still, the point of contention will always be productivity.

According to a study by WMS.org, the number of employees in the US who telecommute has tripled over the past 30 years, although it’s still only 2.4 percent. But to put that into perspective, “Out of the 150 million Americans who work, that means roughly 3.6 million Americans work from home.” In other parts of the world where the digital connectivity is steadily improving, between 10% to 20% of employees work remotely, at least part-time [1].

Many companies are now adopting the work from home model for parts of the week. For example, some companies allow their senior managers to work from home for 2 days a week, as part of their promotion. The work-from-home option can also be given as a perk, as a raise or bonus, or as a contingency plan for severe weather conditions.

While, of course, it is still up to the employer to decide whether to allow their employees to work from home some days of the week, here are some other great points to consider when contemplating working from home.

It takes advantage of mobile technology – many employees have mobile gadgets that can allow them to telecommute. Major cities are now wi-fi enabled and most homes have advanced digital connectivity that allows employees to stay connected to their teams at the office, while working from home or any place that offers a wi-fi connection like a co-working space, a business center, or a coffee shop.

Company issued laptops now have cloud-based programs and software that mirror the programs and tools most commonly used on-premise, at the office. Not only that, they are equipped with Data Encryption and Data Protection Software that can wipe company data in case a laptop gets compromised. Examples of these products are TrueCrypt, Symantec, CheckPoint, and BitLocker.

It solves logistics problems – A lot of companies have headquarters in and around major city hubs where the traffic is most concentrated. Working from home helps keep a number of these would be commuters or drivers off of the streets. They help ease the congestion and they are also spared from the hassles of a long and tiring commute., which, coincidentally, is one of the major causes of attrition. Understandably so, because no one would want to travel for 1 to 3 hours to and from the office. So, employees quit their job in the city and move to a job that’s closer to home. For some, employers, this also solves the problem of availability of seats. An office expansion would entail acquiring more office space to be able to house the growing workforce. If some of them can work from home, some of the time, employers can manage the very expensive cost of having to rent out or acquire a larger office space.

How about you, what are your thoughts on allowing employees to work from home? Please let us know in the comments. Stay humble and hustle hard!

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help

 

References:

  1. https://ideas.ted.com/why-working-from-home-should-be-standard-practice/amp/