Category Archives: Administrative Support

Stand Up for Health

Stand Up for Health

Did you know that sitting for long periods of time is a risk factor for early death? But you already knew that, didn’t you? Not to scare you or anything, but new studies show that no matter how much you exercise, staying sedentary for too long can be a huge health risk [1]. According to this article from CNN “There’s a direct relationship between time spent sitting and your risk of early mortality of any cause, researchers said, based on a study of nearly 8,000 adults. As your total sitting time increases, so does your risk of an early death” [2].

Sitting for too long can cause a multitude of problems [3].

 

Here are some examples:

● Organ damage to your heart, pancreas, and colon.
● Digestive problems
● Decrease in brain function
● Posture problems like a strained neck or tight shoulders, not to mention back problems.
● Increased rate of muscle degeneration
● Leg disorders such as the appearance of varicose veins and weak bones.

So how do you reduce your mortality risk if you are an office worker who sits at a desk for eight hours a day, 5 days a week? The trick is to get out of that chair every 30 consecutive minutes of sitting.

Stand up! Move around! Set your timer and take a movement break every 30 minutes. Use an online timer like Toggl. There are nice and easy to use online timers that can help you with this. Check out this list here [4].

Here are other ways to get some movement into your day:
● Instead of sending an email, walk to your co-worker’s cubicle and tell them instead what you would have written.
● Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
● Ride a bike to work.
● If riding a bike is not feasible, park your car further away from the entrance to get in a couple more steps.
● Try using a standing desk (my favorite).

What is a standing desk?
A standing desk is basically a desk that allows you to work while standing up. You can create your own standing desk setup by placing elevators, such as boxes or a laptop stand on your desk to elevate your laptop or keyboard and monitor/s.

I’m lucky to have a desk that has an elevated shelf attached to the side, which is just the perfect height for creating my own standing desk set-up. I alternate between using my usual desk setup and then using my standing desk. I started using it when my back was beginning to give me problems. Too much sitting had me hunched over with really bad posture. The standing desk improved my posture and reduced the pain in my lower back. It also reduced my neck pain since we tend to slide our heads forward when we hunch.

Some studies also show that aside from reducing health risk like the ones I previously mentioned, standing desks can also boost productivity and improve your mood and energy levels. So, go ahead and try it! See for yourself if it really does work wonders. If you have any experience using a standing desk, we’d love to hear about them in the comments. Stay humble and hustle hard.

 

Written by Jaie O. The Help

References:
1. http://annals.org/aim/article-abstract/2653704/patterns-sedentary-behavior-mortality-u-s-middle-aged-older-adults
2. https://edition.cnn.com/2017/09/11/health/sitting-increases-risk-of-death-study/index.html
3. https://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/05/08/sitting-too-long.aspx
4. https://blog.toggl.com/top-5-best-free-online-work-timers/

What Do I Ask When Hiring?

What Do I Ask When Hiring?

If you have an independent or family run business, you probably have around two up to five people running it with you. And you might be comfortable with that. After all, these are the people you trust. But what happens when the business starts to grow, as any healthy business should?

A growing business is going to need a more hands-on-deck. You are eventually going to need more people in order for you serve that ever-growing client base. You are going to have to start hiring.

I read an article from The Muse about “3 Questions Amazon’s CEO Asks Before Hiring Anyone”[1]. You should read it to get more insight about the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos’, hiring goals and see if they fit your company culture.

In the meantime, here are 5 questions that might help you get started in drafting your own interview questions. Keep them in mind and tailor them to fit your company’s needs.

How did you learn about us?
Aside from the obvious thing that this question will tell you about how the potential candidate learned about the job opening, this questions also tells you how much they know about the industry and the position they are applying for. It is a gateway question that can seriously weed out those who are just looking for a job and those who want to build a career.

Can you tell me about a situation where you were particularly challenged and how did you resolve it?
This question tells you what potential candidates consider an obstacle or challenges and what their strategy is at resolving them. This allows the candidate to show off their problem-solving skills. It simultaneously showcases their strengths and weaknesses.

To get a more comprehensive picture of how the potential candidate behaves, ask them these follow up questions:
● How did that work out for you?
● If you could do it all again, would you do anything differently?

Can you tell me about a time when you were called upon to take a leadership role?
This question will tell you if the potential candidate can take on leadership roles and how they work with teams. It can tell you if they are independent workers, team players, or if they can delegate tasks effectively. It also shows you their communication style.

How do you get over a tough day?
This may sound like a question to ask on dates or when chatting with friends, but if you throw this question into the mix, you might get to learn about the potential candidates’ strategy for work-life balance and their level of motivation and resilience.

Can you tell me about a situation when you had to adjust to the way someone else works?
This question will show you the potential candidate’s adaptability and willingness to move within roles.

These questions aren’t the end all and be all of the interview questions. You can add or tweak them to fit your hiring goals.

What are your go-to interview questions? Share them with us in the comments. Stay humble and hustle hard.

 

Written by Jaie O. The Help

References:
1. https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-questions-amazons-ceo-asks-before-hiring-anyone

Organizing through Scrum Boards

Organizing through Scrum Boards

On a quest to adapt the most efficient productivity and time management tools, I came across a dozen examples. Some I’ve already written about in a series of articles on productivity. There are a few more that I tried. It is an adaptation of an agile project management tool that is used in the software development industry. It is a practical way to track the progress of a project. It is called a scrum board.

What is a scrum board?
A scrum board is used to track the progress of a sprint. A sprint is just a single work cycle inside of a larger project. It’s important for breaking down any project into more manageable parts, but those parts also need to be tracked and managed. We call these parts “stories.” Each story may be broken down further into different tasks. With scrum project management, it is vital that each of these tasks get addressed. This is where a scrum board comes in [1].

I wanted to reduce the stress of coming into work with a full inbox and a million things on my to-do list. While all the productivity techniques work well for me (Eat the Frog is my favorite productivity boosting technique), I find that I had to implement a visual organizing method for all the running tasks I have. That way, I can SEE progress.

How to Scrum?
First of all, get a huge board. I have a 2m x 1m whiteboard that I used from my teaching days. I used to use it for bills and important numbers. That has since been wiped clean and is now being used as a scrum board.

So, first off, start with a clean board. You can get a blackboard or a whiteboard, it’s up to you. Divide the board into 4 columns. I use washi tape but you can always just use markers or chalk. Make the 3rd column larger than the others, I’ll tell you why later.

Column 1 has descriptions of all my running tasks, neatly categorized and color-coded into 4 categories pink = bills, green = work, blue = errands, and yellow = ad hoc tasks. Simply put, it is a legend.

Column 2 is where you put your to-do lists. For example, in a pink post it, I wrote “pay utility bills (water, elec, ISP)”

Column 3 shows tasks in progress. For example, in a green post it, I wrote: “write February articles”. That is posted under the “in progress” column as I still haven’t completed all the articles. Leave space for this as you might want to write notes or reminders in this area, while tasks are in progress. I wrote ¼ beside the green post it since I have only completed 1 out of 4 articles.

Column 4 is where you post all your done or completed tasks. I will be moving the green “write February articles” to this column once I have completed and delivered all articles for February.

This is basically how the scrum board works. It’s usually more complex for industries and large companies but could be scaled for personal use, like how I do it. How about you? Do you have any personal experience with using the scrum board method? Share them with us in the comments. Stay humble and hustle hard!

 

Written by Jaie O. The Help

References;
http://www.techno-pm.com/2017/05/scrum-board-example.html?m=1

The Perfect Gift Giver

The Perfect Gift Giver

I’m very organized. Before the holidays even rolled in, I have already drafted a gift budget with a list of suggested gifts for friends and family. Neatly wrapped and handsomely ribboned boxes were already laid perfectly underneath the tree well before Christmas day. Whenever I am invited over for an occasion, I see to it that I get the host a gift – a bottle of wine, a box of cookies, a jar of gourmet preserves. Otherwise, I send a digital gift.

My brother is a terrible gift giver. He sometimes ends up paying more for last minute gifts (more on that later) or not giving anything at all. No, he’s not stingy, he’s the most generous person I know, he just sucks at gift ideas. His gift inspirations are anything but inspired. He got my mom a nebulizer for Christmas. Practical right? Also, why though? We all thought it was funny.

I’m not sure what thought process goes into your gift-giving habits. Maybe you’re a researcher who puts too much thought into what to get for your friend who is celebrating a birthday. Maybe you’re a last-minute purchaser who swings by the store to buy wine for your aunt’s housewarming party. Maybe you’re a wishlister who saves items online and buys them in time for special gift giving occasions. However which way you want to do it, here are some digital gift ideas to make your gift giving easier.

Subscriptions
Dropbox – While already awesome, Dropbox basic just gives you enough data storage for @GB of space. However, if you take a lot of work home or work from home an upgrade to 1TB of storage is a really big convenience. This is a great gift for college students or for people who are mobile, telecommute, or work with huge files daily. It’s great and it gets them optimized for working and accessing working documents and other files on the go.
CrashPlan – This is a great gift to give small business owners or your loved ones who work from home. CrashPlan makes sure that their data is safe and always backed up. It’s like giving the gift of peace of mind. How amazing is that?
Spotify – I love the idea of creating your own playlist. I have one for every activity; exercise, work, sleep, even for waiting at the dentist’s office. A Spotify Premium subscription is one of my go-to gifts. They recently ran a promo where you can get the 1st three months on a huge discount and then it reverts to the usual price after the 3-month period. I got that for my family and friends. It’s cool because with a premium subscription, you can use the app uninterrupted with ads. You can even listen to audiobooks and standup comedy playlist (what I listen to during a long commute or while stuck in a waiting room somewhere).

Gift Cards
Gift Cards have always been the go-to or emergency gifts we always have at the ready. They’re convenient, fun, and readily available at retail stores. There is a multitude of gift cards to choose from. You can give your friends store cards to their favorite retail shops like Target or Starbucks, online gift cards to online shopping sites like Amazon or Sephora. You can also give them subscription cards like Netflix or Hulu Gift Cards. You can give them gift cards to buy apps like iTunes or Google Play gift cards.

eBooks
You can send your friends and family eBooks for their tablet and mobile devices. Most eBooks have an option to be given as gifts when you purchase them online.

Games and Apps
Or you can gift them an app or a game directly via the App Store

How about you, what is your last minute or go-to gift idea? Share them with us in the comments! Stay humble and hustle hard.

 

Written by Jaie O. The Help

It’s My Chronotype!

It’s My Chronotype!

I spent the holidays at my mom’s house and it’s quite an experience. You see…my mom is an early riser. She gets up at the crack of dawn before the sun is even up, makes coffee, and waters the plants. She then proceeds to tinker around the house until one by one all its inhabitants are up. The last one up would be me.

I am not a morning person. Never was and probably never will be. I am more of a “sun is up” person. I love to snuggle deep into the covers until the sun is already up and brightly shining. While some people rise with the sun, I find that waking up at dawn when it’s still dark out makes me gloomy.

Now, before you judge me as being lazy (and you all know that I’m not), I’d like to tell you all about the study of Chronotypes. “Chronotype refers to the behavioural manifestation of underlying circadian rhythms of myriad physical processes. A person’s chronotype is the propensity for the individual to sleep at a particular time during a 24-hour period. ‘Eveningness’ (delayed sleep period) and ‘morningness’ (advanced sleep period) are the two extremes with most individuals having some flexibility in the timing of their sleep period [1].

There really are underlying biological reasons as to why some of us are “morning” people or Larks and some are “night” people or Owls.

Some core biological differences are:

Body temperature: There is a difference between the occurrence of the lowest body temperature in morning and night people. Night people experience their lowest temperature drop two hours later than morning people. So if both types of people go to bed at the same time, let’s say 10 pm, the morning person’s core body temperature would have already dropped to prepare for rest while the night person’s core body temperature might still be higher and they will be less sleepy.

Melatonin: Melatonin is sometimes called the “sleep hormone”. Its production in morning people happens earlier, thus causing them to feel sleepy earlier.

Cortisol: Cortisol is sometimes called the “stress hormone”. That is an oversimplification though, as cortisol is also responsible for making energy available to our cells. Morning Larks have higher cortisol levels in the first hour of waking up compared to Night Owls.

Aside from these biological factors, the reason you are a morning lark or a night owl may be written in your DNA. Yup, it doesn’t get much deeper than that. In a study of approximately 90,000 subjects, 15 versions of genes have been identified as being linked to whether you are a Morning Lark or a Night Owl [2].

So, the next time someone judges you for keeping a late schedule or for going to bed early, tell them this “it’s my chronotype!”

Are you a Morning Lark or a Night Owl? What schedule works best for you? Let us know in the comments. Stay humble and hustle hard!

 

Written by Jaie O. The Help

 

References:
1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronotype
2. https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms10448