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Author: Corrie Alexander

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

The daily commute grind

Regaining Perspective on the Daily Commute

Two years ago, I looked out the fourth-floor window of my office building with a familiar feeling of despair. An ominous black cloud had just broken into a thunderstorm, and the rain pelted the windows so hard that I could scarcely see the parking lot below.

“Gonna be a long drive tonight,” my coworker said.

A feeling of resignation gripped the office as my colleagues and I got ready to leave the office. It was already 4:45 pm and gridlock was imminent. We filed out of the elevator on the ground floor and somberly uttered our parting mantra, “drive safe.”

As I sat idly on the highway staring out at the sea of brake lights ahead of me, I thought about a friend of mine who had just been complaining about their 30-minute drive to work each way. All I could think about was how lucky they were; I would kill to have a 30-minute commute!

A lot has changed in two years. Perspective is a funny thing, and in light of recent events, it seems wise that I should commute now down memory lane.

My time as a commuter has been a constant cycle of progress followed by ingratitude. When I first started out eight years ago, I took the bus to work. Actually, it was three buses and a 20-minute walk, which was three miles uphill, in two feet of snow in my bare feet.

Okay, that last part isn’t quite true. I was wearing heels.

On average, it took about 90 minutes or more each way. I’m sure that given the GTA’s less than stellar commuting standard, my journey was far from being the worst. However, those were definitely the dark ages of transit for me. It was a seemingly endless purgatory of cold bus shelters, cramped seats, and missed transfers.

After about six months of obsessively saving for my own car, the magical day finally arrived when I rolled into work driving my new, gumball-blue Toyota Yaris. My bus days were officially behind me, and I was ecstatic that I could now relax in my own car, blasting my own music, while shaving about half an hour off my transit time.

It was perhaps only two days later that I had resorted to cursing every car that cut me off, and every red light that prolonged my decidedly intolerable trip home. The next six years yielded many tales that included fender-benders, traversing through “snowmageddons”, and narrowly escaping the Toronto flood of 2013.

Near the end of 2014, I took a great new job that was much closer to where I lived. Just like that, my commute was less than ten minutes each way.

I went home for lunch almost every day. Naturally, I took to complaining about how many stop signs there were along the way.

Even so, I would sit on my couch at home during the lunch hour and think, “Now this is work-life balance!”

Unfortunately, in a recent stroke of destiny, this commuting bliss has been rendered temporary. As I write this, there is a sign on the front lawn that reads, “SOLD”. There’s a good chance that my family and I will be moving to the next town over. This could mean a commuting time of up to 30 minutes each way.

I’d been sulking about the prospect for weeks.

Then a couple days ago, I stumbled across one of my old blog posts about my 90-minute commute, and I remembered my own thoughts from two years ago that I’d feel lucky to only have a 30 drive.

So maybe work-life balance doesn’t simply mean having a 5-minute drive to work. Maybe part of it is having the right attitude about a drive that’s doable.

In eight years, I figure I’ve clocked around 4000 hours of commuting. That’s more than 160 days solid that I’ve spent sitting in a car shaking my fist out the window, zoning out to an album I’ve heard a hundred times, or clunking my head repeatedly against the steering wheel.

But that’s nothing when you consider that the average person spends 3 years of their life doing laundry, 4 years making business calls, and 7 years suffering from insomnia.

So I’ll keep it in perspective, and keep on rollin’ – whether it’s for 3 minutes or 30.

 

What’s your commute like? Comment below!

 

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Make Monday Suck Less with Just 10% More Effort

One Monday morning not so long ago, I left for work in damp pants, in a car that was perilously low on gas, ten minutes after I was supposed to be already out the door. I gazed longingly at the Starbucks as I drove by, but the drive-thru line was so long that I knew I would have both run out of gas and been late for work had I got in line.

I arrived to work barely on time in my cold clammy pants and turned on my computer to find a slew of emails that I would have to face without the crutch of caffeine.

It really did set the tone for the day.

Perhaps you have had Mondays like mine. If so, know that with as little as 10% more organizational effort, you can make your Monday morning, and the afternoon that follows, a less wretched experience. Here are my best tips for making Monday suck less, and I’ve even broken it down by the exact percentage of extra effort required.

And yes, these are very scientific percentages brought to you by the school of Corrie’s Stories.

Get Something Done on Friday Afternoon – 3% More Effort

We’ve all been there: You get back from lunch on Friday to hunker down for another four hours of work, but your brain has already checked out and gone home for a beer.

It can be tough to focus when you’re that close to the workweek’s finish line, especially if your Friday afternoons tend to be a bit slower at the office. But have some discipline and get at least one or two significant things done. I’m not talking about starting that giant project that got plopped on your desk at 3:45. I mean that easy, but mind-numbingly boring weekly report. It may not even take that long to do, but if that crappy report is still waiting for you on Monday morning, you’re going to be overly dramatic about it and spend at least twenty minutes just moaning about it. (And then you’re just making your colleagues’ Monday suck too!)

Get Your Act Together on Sunday – 4% More Effort

In my experience, Sunday night can lead to a bit of lethargy and denial that Monday is coming. That morning I left for work in damp pants was because I left my laundry until the last minute, and threw everything in the dryer right before I went to bed. Then I learned that Sunday night lethargy can affect even your appliances because the next morning my clothes weren’t all too dry.

The lesson being, you need to make a weekend chore schedule for yourself and stick to it. Sort your clothes, breakfast, lunch, and whatever else you need in advance to make the ride through Monday as smooth as possible. It’s really not that hard, it’s mostly just making a point of getting off the couch before 9pm on Sunday night to do it.

By the way, Getting your Sunday night act together also includes going to bed at a decent time instead of stubbornly binge-watching Netflix until 2am.

Get Out the Door Ten Minutes Earlier on Monday Morning – 2% More Effort

Get out the door even just ten minutes earlier and you will be rewarded with fewer gray hairs. How do you accomplish this? Get up earlier. (Because you went to bed at a decent time, remember?) Make doing your hair a timed event. You get three tries at that cute braid you saw on Pinterest before you need to abandon the idea and settle for a ponytail. Shave off additional time by making breakfast a labor free endeavor with something simple like fruit and yogurt. Any of these little adjustments that can get you out the door a little earlier will result in a less stressful commute.

If you get out on the road and traffic is flowing, then great! You can either get a head start on your emails or wait in the car outside your office and doodle around on your iPhone for ten minutes.

Or, if it’s like 90% of all Mondays, you’ll encounter some kind of traffic jam or delay on the road, but you won’t have to stress about getting to the office on time. Not to mention you’re keeping the roads safer by not driving like a James Bond stunt double reject.

Focus on Something You Can Look Forward To – 1% More Effort

This can be something really simple, like treating yourself to fancy coffee or making plans to get lunch with a friend. Make a conscious effort Sunday evening to think about what you have to look forward to the next day. It makes it that much easier to crawl your way out from the cocoon of your bed when the alarm goes off. I picked up this little exercise in mindfulness from yoga class, and although it sounds a bit basic, you’ll be surprised how much it helps!

Bonus Tip: Take Monday Off – 0% Effort

Obviously, we can’t do this one all that often, but I’m a firm believer that in conjunction with taking shorter vacations, at least a couple of those vacation days should be used to bypass Monday. A lot of people are in the habit of taking Fridays off, but if you think about it, Friday is the most decent workday there is. You should take a day off that’s crappier, like Monday. And look at that, Monday is attached to a weekend, just like Friday!

In Summary

Mondays will probably never be your favorite day of the week, but these little modifications can help take the edge off.  So even if you can’t take next Monday off, at the very least you can take comfort in the fact that you’ll arrive to work on time and in dry pants.

yoga; pyjamas

Why You Should Do Yoga in Your Pyjamas

When I first discovered yoga, I only practiced in a classroom environment where I had the guidance of my teacher. But with my work schedule, it was hard to make it to class more than once a week. In order to make more progress with my asanas, I began practicing on my own at home.

One evening after a long day at the office, I was too lazy to change into my lulus, but I wanted to work on my chaturangas. Thus, my pyjama practice was born. This turned out to be a valuable life-hack for me. If you like to practice yoga at home but haven’t tried it in your PJs, here’s a few reasons why you should:

It’s Comfortable

Yoga pants are my second-favorite article of clothing. They’re comfortable, they double as leggings, and they’re more or less acceptable to wear in public. But let’s face it, nothing’s quite as comfy as your jim-jams, especially those that are a looser cotton fabric with a bit of stretch.

You Practice More

I can be pretty lazy, and sometimes all it takes to discourage me from doing yoga is the effort it takes to change into my workout clothes. If you’re like me, fewer wardrobe changes equal a greater chance of a yoga session occurring. If It’s in the evening, you’re just going to change into your pajamas anyway, so why not take a vinyasa or two? Just keep the yoga session shorter and less vigorous so you don’t go to bed sweaty.

When you wake up in the morning, you’re already in your “yoga clothes”, so there’s no excuse not to hit the mat for some spirited sun salutations!

You Sleep Better

Practicing relaxation poses right before bedtime can promote a more restful sleep. Yes, bed yoga is a thing! Focus on easy stretching, and postures that use gravity to help you relax. My favorites are reclined cobbler pose and Shavasana. The latter is optimal for transitioning to sleep, as it helps you mindfully release thoughts from the day that might keep you awake.

 In Summary

As you can see, doing yoga in your pyjamas has many benefits. And really, how many other exercises do you ever get to do in your pyjamas? Swimming? No. Running? Not recommended. I rest my case!

Just save it for your home practice— Your yoga classmates probably don’t need you showing up to the studio in your Superman onesie.

 

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Survival Guide to Friday Night at the Grocery Store

It’s 5pm on Friday. You should be filled with joy as this ephemeral time of week heralds happy hour and the start of 48 hours off of work. Instead, a feeling of dread comes over you because you absolutely must stop off for groceries on the way home. And for some reason, Friday night at the grocery store is always a nightmare.

You tried to avoid it, but despite last weekend’s expertly planned shopping list, you’ve run out of a few key staples during the week. You can’t wait until Saturday morning, because the things you’ve run out of include toothpaste, toilet paper, and wine, and going through the night without even one of those things is just uncivilized.

You have no choice but to swap your sanity for sundries. It’s going to suck. But I’m here to help you get through this. Follow these guidelines to make this wretched errand as brief as possible:

Park at the Back

Drive straight to the back of the lot, do not waste time looking for a spot close to the doors. It may seem like a bummer having to walk the extra few yards to get inside, but by the time you wade through the sea of pedestrians with shopping carts and finish waiting for that car to finally back out of their primo parking spot, you could have already been checking out with the goods. Bonus points if you can sneak into the parking lot through a side street and avoid the fiasco at the front all together.

Downsize Your Shopping Receptacle

The point is to grab only the necessities and get out until you can return at a slower time of day, armed with a well-organized shopping list. If you can’t manage to carry everything in your arms, grab a basket. But do not grab a cart, no matter how great the deal is on that jumbo pack of paper towels. The cart is certain doom. You’ll be making your way down the aisle and encounter that shopper who’s carefully scrutinizing the jam selection while their cart is parked diagonally across your path to freedom. You’ll try to go back the way you came but at that exact moment, a grocery clerk will show up with a pallet of cereal boxes and block your way. Suddenly, you’re barricaded in the breakfast isle. The only way out is to squeeze yourself around the obstacle, but not without abandoning your cart. Either that or you’ll have to wait for the jam guy to move along, but we both know you’re too impatient for that.

Avoid the Deli Counter

This is definitely one of the bigger time-sucks at the grocery store. I broke my high score in Agario once while waiting for my turn to get serviced at the deli counter. Listen, I understand that you like a little black forest ham with your Saturday morning Eggs, but take a pass. Chances are there’s at least four people ahead of you, and all of them want half a pound of everything, freshly sliced. There might not even be any ham left by the time they get to you, so just save yourself the disappointment and skip it.

Don’t Forget the Toothpaste

You were on your way to the checkout, weren’t you? The toothpaste is the whole reason you’re here in the first place! Go back and get it.

Beware the Price Matchers

I will preface this by saying I truly admire people who take the time to price match. You can save a lot of money, and it’s a super smart thing to do. But it seems to take forever, and I’m more impatient than I am smart. I’d rather pay an extra 30 cents for my bag of apples if it means shaving 10 seconds off my time at the checkout. If you’re like me, then check to make sure the person ahead of you isn’t wielding any flyers before getting in the checkout line.

And lastly, the most important step of all:

At the Wine Shop Past the Checkout, Buy Two Bottles Instead of One

You’ve earned it! TGIF!

 

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Sneak in More Runs This Week

 

I used to be a bit of a “weekend warrior”. I would cram in two, sometimes three long runs between Saturday morning and Sunday night.

Then the most exercise I would get between Monday to Friday was a brisk walk from my car to the office building.

It can be a challenge to ramp up or maintain your mileage when you have a full-time desk job, but it can be done! Here are some tips on when to fit in some weekday runs.

Get Up Early

Pros: You can count on a pretty consistent mood boost any time you get your run out of the way early. You get to have that feeling of accomplishment before most people have had their first sip of coffee!

Cons: Getting in a run before work may sound logical, but if you’re not a morning person and you have an 8 o’clock start time at your job, this can be a groan-worthy suggestion.

Make it Work: Hear me out, there’s way to make this option suck less! Get to sleep a little earlier, and I’m not talking about making a huge adjustment to your current sleep schedule. Even turning in half an hour earlier can make your alarm clock less cringe-inducing come morning. Getting up 40-60 minutes earlier should be sufficient to pound out a few kilometers and still have time to cool down before beginning your normal morning routine. You can also plan your morning runs to be short. It’s a lot easier to get up to run if you’ve only committed to a 15-20 minute lope, and there is no shame in short runs! 3k is better than no k, right? Although once you’re out there, you may find yourself busting out a couple extra kilometers anyway!

Get Out on Your Lunch

Pros: The biggest perk is that you get your runs in during the day so your morning and evening schedule can remain uncompromised. And with enough planning, you can pull it off without returning to the office looking like a soggy tomato.

Cons: This option has to be a carefully planned event since you only have 60 minutes to change, run, cool down, change again, and get back to the office. This also might not be a great idea if you can only run outside and it’s summer, when temperatures are soaring their highest at midday. You’ll be sweating buckets before you’re five minutes in, and no amount of towelettes or deodorant is going to be adequate for that long afternoon back at your desk. Trust me, just ask your co-worker.

Make it Work: If your only option is to run outside, I would save this option for cooler months between September and May. Shorter runs are key. You’ll need to be organized enough to bring along your workout clothes and running shoes. You’ll also do yourself (and your colleagues) a great service to pack some baby wipes, travel deodorant, and a change of undergarments. Make sure your lunch is prepacked or easily accessible so you can either eat at your desk, or wolf it down in the five minutes before you need to be back. Depending on the logistics, you can probably allot 30 minutes maximum for running and the other 30 minutes should be for cooling down, changing, and eating.

Get it In After Work

Pros: Depending on your schedule, this option may provide the most time and flexibility since your work for the day is done. You could get in a run either right after work or later in the evening. In the summer months, this may be a more attractive option for the outdoor runner because its stays lighter later, and it’s cooler than at lunchtime.

Cons: Personally, I find this time of day to be the hardest to commit to because depending on how stressful or busy your day was, you may not have the energy or willpower to carry through with your planned run by the time you clock out at work. Also, unless you have access to a treadmill or indoor track, this will most likely be a no-go in the colder months when its dark and snowy.

Make it Work: If you plan on running right after work, bring a snack to nosh on in the afternoon to give your energy levels a boost. This will help keep you from flaking out on your run plan. If you need to go home first, keep all your running stuff by the door to minimize your chances of succumbing to the couch. Take it from me, if your butt so much as touches that couch, you’re done. If you plan to run later in the evening, eat an early and light dinner. Make sure you finish up your run at least a couple hours before you need to turn in, as exercise too close to bedtime can result in less than optimal sleep.

In Summary

At the end of the day, the best option for logging miles during the work week is the option you can actually commit to. You may want to try every option before deciding what’s most effective for you!

 

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4 Reasons to Take Shorter Vacations

 

January might not be your favorite month as a full-time employee. The holidays are over, you’re back at work, and your pants are undeniably tighter than they were two weeks ago. To top it off, you’re about to buckle down for three months of cold, dark, harsh weather.

But not all is lost; as of January 1st, you are back to having full vacation days!

Yet the typical full-time employee only has 10-15 vacation days to use in a year. While most people can agree that time off work is critical to mental and physical health, it’s not a lot of days to work with. So what’s the best way to make the most of them?

I advocate spreading out your vacation days throughout the year rather than taking one or two longer breaks. Here’s four reasons why shorter is better!

1. You Can Take Them More Often

Studies show taking more vacations make you happier and healthier! Our brains give us a mood boost whenever we have an upcoming opportunity to take a break from work, regardless of its duration. You can look forward to an upcoming vacation from work every couple of months, instead of slogging through six long months before your coveted two week break in July. You can take six or seven vacations in a year if you only use two days at a time and tack them onto weekends and long weekends.

2. It’s Easier to Plan For

Financially and logistically, shorter vacations are easier to arrange. You don’t need to spend as long saving up for them. You don’t need to spend as much time figuring out where to eat, or what activities you’ll be filling your days with. You only have a few days to plan for, so you can focus on just a few highlight activities to make the most of your trip.

3. Shorter Vacations May Actually Be More Memorable

In 2012, Time posted this article about how shorter vacations create better memories. Evidence suggests that you’re better off having two action packed days off work than a longer, less intense vacation. Think back to the last vacation you took that was a week or longer. Chances are, there was a least one or two days where you didn’t do much, or it was more of the same of what you’d already one.. Or can you even remember those days? (See what I did there?)

4. Returning to Work Sucks Less

You’ve just returned to work after two weeks off. You have 3602 emails in your inbox, and stack of paperwork that’s as tall as your cubical. The project you were working on right before you left inevitably went sideways in your absence. Worst of all, you have to deal with the chunks of congealed milk floating in your two week old cup of coffee because you forgot to rinse it out before you left for your vacation. Need I go on?

In Summary

To reap the most benefits from your vacations, keep them short, sweet, and frequent. This year, try spreading your vacation days out instead of taking them all at once. You could take some three-to-four day trips to a Northern resort, or Southern winery. You can even take two or three well-planned “staycations”. So what are you waiting for? Take next Friday off and get vacationing!

What Happens Someday

It’s not that you don’t love your job.  But let’s face it, you’re a nine-to-fiver. Weekdays are pretty much a write-off. By the time you get through the front door at the end of the day, it’s all you can do to pour yourself a glass of wine and unzip your pants. If you’re lucky, you get to flake out on the couch for 45 minutes until family duties drive you to action. Sure, there may be some days when you can muster up the mandatory excursion to the dentist after work, or the carefully timed mission to Service Ontario on your lunch hour, but there’s just only so much you can accomplish between home time and crash o’clock, right?

That means that the majority of your errands and social life must be accomplished on one of those two special days, Scatterday and Someday.  But really, you can forget about Scatterdays.

On Scatterday, you at least wake up early because your body is on a 9:30 pm sleep schedule. From there, the day is a blur. You hoist a week’s worth of clothes into the laundry machine and hasten to the grocery store to beat the crowds. But as usual, the Superstore is already rammed by 8:30 am. No matter how well-organized your grocery list is, it still takes you an hour to grab everything and check out, and when you get home you realize you forgot the sour cream. Again.

The afternoons are less predictable. Sometimes, you’re finally getting around to organizing your closet, or tackling the weeds in the garden, or cleaning out the fridge. Other times, you’re able to get out to see that movie with your spouse, or get your hair done, or catch up with a friend. Those afternoons go by so fast that you’ve but blinked twice before you find yourself back at home, realizing that your laundry from that morning is still crumpled up in the drier waiting for you to fold them. You try to stay up late because it’s Scatterday night, and that’s what you’re supposed to do. But you end up passing out at 9:30 pm, because that’s what you always do.

So really, Scatterday is a write-off too. Everyone knows that Someday is the only day you can get anything done.

Someday is far less hectic than any other day of the week. It’s the one day that you have some amount of mental space. You are introspective. You wake up early in order to get to yoga class. Then you dream that Someday you’ll be the one teaching the class instead of being the one who falls on their face during crow pose. Instead of finding nirvana as you lay in savasana, you think about how you still need to pick up the sour cream, and Someday you’ll remember to buy it at the same time as the rest of your groceries.

The afternoon creeps in and you start thinking about the workweek ahead. You sigh to yourself that Someday you’ll have more time to do accomplish everything else you wanted to do.

That night, you stare at your computer screen and think that Someday you’ll have enough time to write something, because you do love to write, you just really don’t have time to today.

Then in one magical moment, you remember that Someday is today.

And then you write.

 

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