Category Archives: Administrative Support

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/

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