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Month: June 2016

You Can Still Enjoy Canada Day if You’re Working on July 1st

Today, most kids are rejoicing because school is now done for the summer. Most adults might feel like celebrating themselves seeing as this Friday is a Canada Day, a stat holiday!

Unless of course, you’re one of the poor suckers who’s working on Canada Day.

*Raises hand*

If you’re like me and scheduled to report for duty this Friday, take comfort in the fact that not all is lost; You can still enjoy Canada Day whether you spend the day answering phone calls the from America, or serving refreshments to the more fortunate.

Here’s Why:

Best Commute Ever

If nothing else, you can’t deny that the drive into work will be pure bliss because you’ll be pretty much the only doofus on the road this Friday. Enjoy the fact that, because of this, you will arrive to work twenty minutes earlier than usual and can get a head start on all your favourite duties.

Lighter Workload

Unless you work in the foodservice industry, in which case, skip this paragraph. And sorry.

For the rest of us, we will enjoy fewer phone calls, sparser emails, and lesser demands in general. If you’re lucky, you might even get to go home early because it’s so dead.

The Compensation

You should be getting some form of additional compensation for working a stat holiday and will either be making time and a half, or you’ll get an extra day’s vacation in lieu. More than a fair tradeoff, I’d say, especially in the latter scenario. I’d rather bypass some random crappy Monday than a holiday Friday with a light workload.

You Can Still Go to the Fireworks

Unless you have a night shift, or work on Saturdays… In which case, move along, and sorry again.

Otherwise, rejoice in the fact that you can still enjoy the fireworks because unlike most Canada Days, which seem to always fall in the middle of a work week, this year it’s on a Friday! For once, you can join the cultural celebration of sitting in gridlock traffic for an hour while getting to and from the local park. That’s right! This time, you get to celebrate Canada properly by sitting in a cheap lawn chair and fending off mosquitoes, because you don’t have to worry about getting up for work the next day!

Although, you could decide not to bother with the fireworks and go straight home to don your PJs and pass out at 9pm.

Not that I know anyone who would do that. 

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Rejuvenate

Easy Ways to Rejuvenate Yourself this Summer

If you’re someone with a challenging career that engages you for the majority of the week, finding time to unwind and rejuvenate can turn into the most difficult task of all.

Switching off your work brain at the end of the day can seem impossible. You may find yourself writing off weeknights and living for the weekend. Yet, once the weekend arrives, your time is often commandeered by chores or errands, and the next thing you know, you’ve forfeited any opportunity for R&R.

It’s a recipe for burnout and needs to be avoided at all costs!

So how does one recuperate from the daily grind when there are only a handful of hours during the week at your disposal? The key is to schedule time with yourself and practice mindfulness.

Here are a few simple ideas to help you rejuvenate yourself this summer. 

Sit in Your Backyard

On a sunny weekend, there are few things I enjoy more than grabbing a cold drink and sitting on the back deck. But you don’t need to wait until the weekend to get some time on deck. (Or on patio… Or on grass!)

Take advantage of the long summer days, particularly right now when it’s summer solstice! A couple days ago, I ventured outside just before 9:30, and it was the perfect time to sit outside and watch the sunset. The light made everything a gorgeous rose colour. I was only out for ten minutes, but by the time I came back inside, I’d forgotten all about work.

So as corny as it sounds, there’s something to be said for stopping to smell the roses. Watch the birds or squirrels that venture into your yard. Enjoy the colours in the garden or focus on the gentle flutter of the leaves.

I know you’re busy but trust me, you can afford to take ten minutes to just sit outside in your own yard!

Get to Yoga Class

If you’ve read anything else on my blog, you’d know I’m all about the yoga. If you can’t get out to a class, then roll out your mat at home and do your own thing, or download a yoga app. My favourite yoga app is Yoga Studio, which you can actually download for free today, June 22nd, in celebration of International Yoga Day! (I feel the need to mention that I’m not in any way affiliated with this app, but it’s my absolute favourite so when I heard they were giving it away for free, I had to mention it!)

If you’re not into yoga, a similar effect can be accomplished through any other form of physical activity that you enjoy. Even if it’s just a fifteen-minute stroll around the neighbourhood, it’s still exercise and a great way for you to spend time with yourself. Yoga is just my personal favourite activity for both exercise and cultivating mindfulness!!

Do Something that Does Not Involve Technology

If you’re like me, you’ll turn off your work computer at the end of the day, only to come home and turn on your home computer. Give your eyes and brain a break! Try something creative like writing or journaling. Or, try an activity that gets you outside, like gardening. 

If you’re not feeling creative or active, then sitting down with a book is the next best thing. And yes, e-readers like Kindles or Kobos are allowed in this instance because the display is more akin to a page than a screen!

Plan a time to engage in these activities and savour each moment you spend doing them for maximum benefits.

To Summarize…

Rejuvenate yourself in a short time by doing something that is just for you. Most importantly, use the time to practice gratefulness, and live in each moment!

Tree yoga pose

Why Yoga is My New Run

I used to be a real running enthusiast. There was nothing I loved more than a long run outside or the thrill of running in a race. In the past decade, I’ve run an assortment of races from half marathons to 5ks. Even when I wasn’t training for a race, I’d still get out for a run just because I enjoyed it.

Sadly, within the past three years, I developed a chronic soreness in my right hip that has barred me from continuing with long distance running. More recently, I’ve been getting painful headaches after even short runs.

I have yet to identify exactly what it is that’s causing these problems as the usual suspects like shoes and posture don’t seem to be the culprit. In the meantime, I’ve had to find something else to fill the exercise void.

Enter Yoga.

Although I started classes about six years ago, my practice was intermittent at best. I’d go a few months practicing several times a week and then suddenly forget about my mat for months on end. My practice mostly consisted of tagging on a few asanas after a run to stretch out my hamstrings and quads.

But for the past year and a half, I really started taking my practice more seriously and it’s gradually replaced running as my main source of exercise. I’m now one of those annoying people who’s always talking about how awesome yoga is and why everyone should be doing it! 

Aside from being a low-impact exercise, here are the main reasons why yoga is my new beat!

Minimal Space and Equipment Required

I always loved running but finding the time and place to go for a run would sometimes be a problem. In the winter months, running outside was less than ideal, and I didn’t want to keep a gym membership. With yoga, all you need is a  6’ by 2’ rectangle of space and you’re good to go!

No gym? No problem!  Raining outside? Downward dog inside! Only place to exercise in is a hallway? That’s ample space!

Like running, yoga requires minimal gear.  The one big purchase is a quality mat – instead of quality running shoes – then you’re good to go for years! Sure you can buy props like yoga blocks and straps, but I’ve found that household items like books or a belt work just as well if you’re on a budget.

Different Styles of Yoga Achieve Different Goals

The thing about running is it’s great for cardio but not a whole lot else. It was refreshing to discover that different styles of yoga can target different fitness goals. Vinyasa is by far my favourite style of yoga because it’s a cardio-style workout that gets me sweating. 

The fantastic part is there are many other yoga styles that can help you target different goals. Power yoga will count more towards strength training while rejuvenation-type classes focus more on stretching and recovery. No matter your mood or energy level, there’s a yoga style for it!

Great Stress Reliever

Don’t get me wrong, running is a great stress reliever (as is most exercise) and I always loved how I felt after a run.  But yoga just seems to lend a little extra serenity. Even after the most vigorous vinyasa class, by the time we’ve finished with a few supine twists and savasana, I’m as cool as a cucumber, and the feeling lingers for hours.

I find even a short, 15-minute session will result in a more relaxed outlook on life. 

It Benefits Other Areas of Life

It’s interesting how the things you learn in yoga start to infiltrate other areas of your life, for the better. Along with the physical benefits of the exercise, it trains you to not sweat the small stuff, and teaches you how to live in the moment.  For example, I recently had this article published about how yoga can help your career. The truth is, the same lessons can apply to almost any facet of life!

 

7 Things I Learned from Bees

(Warning: Bee Puns Abound)

This post is a tad ironic because I’ve always been terrified of bees, especially when I was younger. I used to run screaming if I heard any kind of buzzing, even if I wasn’t sure it was actually a bee. I thought they were out for blood with their poisonous stingers, and that I would surely have a fatal reaction if I ever got stung. I’ve never been stung in my life so I have no idea where this fear came from, but I’ve been dealing with the phobia for as long as I can remember.

In recent years, I’ve learned more about bees and what they do for our environment, and my fear is now softened by a deep respect. I am fascinated by them – so long as they keep their distance. There are few species more industrious than the honeybee, and is in fact sometimes referred to as a super-organism. 

After researching about these amazing insects, I’ve gleaned a few lessons that I would like to share. I’m looking at them mainly from a career development standpoint, but they could apply to any area of your life.

Let’s get down to bizzzzness! (I know, sorry!)

Find Your Niche

Bees are the only insects that produce foods consumed by human beings. Talk about being indispensable! We all have our own innate strengths. Find out what you’re good at and nurture it! The best way to be happy in your job is to find one that plays your strengths and encourages you to grow. 

Go the Distance

Collectively, a hive of bees flies around the globe a total of three times to collect just 1 kg of honey! That’s about 56000 kms! In a more figurative sense, you may need to go a long way to reach your goals, but if a swarm of bees can orbit the earth, then you can make it to the top of the corporate ladder – or even start your own business if you dream of being an entrepreneur.

Keep going and don’t ever give up.

Bee Efficient

Bees must be expert mathematicians because they are somehow able to calculate the most efficient path of flowers when foraging for pollen with uncanny accuracy. There are supercomputers that can’t figure out this equation!  But you don’t need to stump an A.I. to follow their lead. Simply take the time to plot out your course. Whether you’re laying out your career goals or hashing out the best way to tackle a new project, proactive planning will help you accomplish your goals more efficiently!

Communicate Effectively

When honeybees have found a plentiful source of pollen, they’ll fly back to the hive and “dance” to communicate where the choice flowers are. While I’m not recommending you attempt to communicate with your coworkers via whip and nae nae, developing your communication skills – whether by email, phone, or in meetings – is key to cultivating successful relationships with your clients and colleagues. (Or really anyone!)

Recognize You’re an Integral Part of the Team

Bees contribute to the hive from the time they are a few days old, cleaning their cells and even feeding younger larvae. As they grow, they take on new roles like guarding the hive and building combs, until they are old enough to leave the hive and start collecting pollen.

No matter where you are on your career path – or in life – you are part of a community and your contributions matter. Instead of zeroing in solely on what your job functions are, understand how what you do contributes to the big picture and you’ll find yourself taking more pride in what you do.

Do More with Less

There’s evidence suggesting that out of all structures the bees could have chosen for their cell shapes, the hexagonal shape uses the least amount of wax. Who knows how they figured that one out, but clearly they know how to be economical!

Get inspired by this and think of ways to do more with less at home and at work.  Try going paperless or ensuring you properly power down your computer at the end of the day. You could even try pitching casual day at the office to save cash on dry-cleaning bills! 😉 

Never Stop Learning

Recent studies have shown that bees will learn to complete new tasks by observing other bees. Whatever your goals are, finding a mentor to help guide you is a surefire way to reach them!

Bees are also progressive learners who are gradually able to build their problem-solving skills by overcoming easier problems first. Take each challenge one step at a time and eventually, you’ll be able to take on even the biggest challenges in your career or your life!

And that concludes the many reasons why I salute the bees…

From a safe distance, inside my house.

Save the Bees!

I’d just like to end with a quick PSA here. In recent years, the bee populations have been floundering due to habitat loss and pesticides, which is extremely concerning considering we rely on them to pollinate our crops. But we can help to build a more friendly environment for our buzzy friends just by planting flowers or creating little bee baths for them. And doesn’t a “bee bath” sound like the cutest thing?

 

Photo Credit: juergen.mangelsdorf via Compfight cc

workspace clutter

Make Your Workspace a Happier Place

Although I consider myself to be a fairly tidy person, I wasn’t always that way. As a teenager, I kept an empty coke can collection that towered to impressive heights, and my schoolwork was always scattered on my bedroom floor so densely that you needed a shovel to find out what colour the hardwood was. One day, my brother stood in the doorway of my room as I waded through a sea of assignments and said, “Corrie, paper is your bane.”

It might have been the title of my autobiography.

15 years later, I was sitting at my desk and realized that the teenager in me lived on through my workspace. (And my car, but that’s another story for another time.) A perpetual stack of files served as my cubicle walls, and hundreds of crumpled post-it notes rolled across my desktop like tumbleweeds.  At any given time, there were three empty water bottles and a week-old cup of coffee conspiring on the corner of my desk. The snapshot was more than a little depressing!

It was time for my workspace to grow up.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since then, it’s that an organized desk is a happy desk. Your space should be a place that welcomes you and inspires you to do your best work.

Take your workspace from messy to dressy!

Go Paperless

Obviously, this is a tip that has some personal significance for me. The less you print off, the less paper on your desk, and the more trees you save! It’s green, and it’s practical. Get savvy with your computer’s backup functions and email archiving.

If you absolutely must keep hard copies, then make sure you have an adequate filing system in place. Trust me when I say that it’s a situation that can easily get out of control if you don’t keep on top of it. Papers breed like rabbits; you may start out with just two innocent little sheets, but you return from your coffee break to find a whole ream has colonized your in-tray.

So once a file is closed, get it off your desk and filed away in the proper place!

Get a Plant

You’ll be surprised how much a little greenery can do to lift your mood. Just do the plant a solid and set a recurring reminder on your Outlook calendar or phone to water it a couple times a week. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, there are numerous low maintenance plants that are almost impossible to kill, like a succulent or a spider plant.

My favourite viney friend is a pothos plant, which I’ve had for a good four years now and has yet to croak, despite periods of questionable care.

Frame a Friendly Photo

This could be a framed picture of your spouse, your kids, your pet iguana, whatever. As long as it’s someone you care about whose face still makes you smile when you’re in the thick of a tough situation or a tense phone call. Keep it to one or two pictures, and keep it professional. Your workspace needn’t contain a collage of photos from the weekend you and your girlfriends toured wine country. (As great as those memories may be!)

Suggest Nameplates

It seems a tad pretentious at first, but adding this small piece of identification can do a lot to boost morale and make you feel valued. The only thing about nameplates is that it only really works if everyone has one. Otherwise, it’s a little weird. My office got them for everyone a few months ago and somehow it’s really motivating to have something with your name on it that so clearly stakes your territory.

If nameplates are not an option for your office, try getting a business card holder to keep on your desk. (This also helps when you have visitors so you’re not rifling through your desk at the last minute trying to find your card!)

Accessorize

Adding one or two useful or fun desk accessories can be a great way to personalize your space and make it a more appealing place to be. There are lots of practical ways to accessorize, like getting like a phone dock or a coffee mug warmer. Or, you could go with something that’s tailored towards making you smile, like a Notester or a decorative paperweight.

Again, keep your accessorizing to a minimum and keep it appropriate!

In Summary

Every now and then when things get hectic, you may find your workspace reverting to its old evil ways. Don’t sweat it, work happens! Just regroup when things calm down and clean up. With practice, you can keep your desk an organized, personalized, and comfortable place for you to crush your workday.

 

How messy or dressy is your workspace? Let me know in the comments!

Photo Credit: The Lone Traveler via Compfight cc