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10 smart ways to rise above your boring work pattern

10 smart ways to rise above your boring work pattern
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Do you ever feel like your life is dominated by work? It’s boring, you do the same thing everyday, and if it keeps up like this you’re going to quit. This feeling is kryptonite for companies. Appnovation, a company that is growing rapidly, puts it like this: “The ‘revolving door’ syndrome of people in and people out sends shivers down our collective corporate spine. It’s an ‘avoid at all costs’ situation, which erodes the quality of the company.” If the company you work for is worth it, and you have a chance of going somewhere with them, try these ten hacks to help you rise above a boring routine. You’ll be more happy, less depressed, and more ready to make the big changes that will take your life to new and better places.

1. Start the day with exercise

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    Regular exercise is good for your brain. It improves your memory and overall thinking skills by increasing the size of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the region of the brain responsible for verbal memory and learning. Particularly, aerobic exercise does the trick, the kind of exercise that really gets your heart pumping and blood flowing. You’ll find yourself remembering little details at work, especially the conversational details. Improved social skills will improve your overall work performance, too.

    2. Take a different route to and from work

    new-modern-car-dashboard-with-speedometer-and-tachometer-picjumbo-com

      Your brain’s positioning system, your internal GPS, does more than help you find your way around. It also plays a role in memory, providing the abstract, higher-intellect input that helps shape the hippocampus. Taking a different route to work is just one quick way to exercise your brain’s memory-building skill. Try a route you’ve never taken before, one that forces you to find your way through a different part of town. Try it on the way home, too. As you build new landmarks in your brain, your memory and problem-solving skills will improve.

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      3. Hack your desk

      desk

        Yes it would be nice to take an ax to your desk and hack it into firewood. Talk about a way to release anger! But since you can’t exactly do that, there are some things you can do to optimize the use you get out of your desk. Try these simple, awesome desk hacks:

        • Add storage–Create a new desk out of bookshelves and a door, then store essentials on the shelves
        • L-evate–Add a table or other desk to what you’ve got and create an L-shaped station for more workspace
        • Stand it–Studies show excessive sitting is the new smoking; place your monitor on top of a sturdy stack of books or a low stool for a DIY standing desk
        • Personalize–Get creative with knick-knacks and little touches that showcase your personality
        • Get ergonomic–Check out this workspace planning tool to help make your desk more ergonomically friendly

        Nothing is too small when it comes to productive changes. Changing how your desk is set up may just be the difference between good work and awesome work.

        4. Adjust your station’s lighting and colors

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          There is definitely something to be said for the way light and color affect your psyche. Among the many effects light has on you, blue light makes you more alert and productive. Green light, on the other hand, makes you more relaxed, even sleepy. The color blue is also associated with logic, rationality, and alertness. That’s because midday sun with a clear sky lets the most blue through. Evolutionarily speaking, we’re used to getting things done while the sun is high. See what adding a little blue can do for you.

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          5. Talk to someone you’ve never talked to

          talkpeeps

            Of course, this one depends on where you work and how introverted you are. But even if your place of work is small and you’ve talked to everyone, there will still be a point during your workday when you’ll have the chance to talk to someone different. Seize it. Here’s why: being uncertain about your social ranking is bad for your health. It’s not that having a low social ranking is bad. It’s uncertainty that’s unhealthy. Even if you get rejected in your attempt to make conversation, at least you tried, and at least you’re certain of where you stand. The more you try, the more your social horizons will expand.

            6. Eat something different

            salad-healthy-diet-spinach

              Dr. Taylor Krick has a very interesting podcast on how variation in diet is the key to long-term health. If you’re eating the same thing at work everyday, you won’t be healthy in the long-term, especially if you’re eating processed foods. Make a point of going out of your way for variety. Yes this is more expensive. But what better thing to motivate you to make more money than a little extra kick in your diet and a healthier life to boot?

              7. Try a pleasant scent

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                Your olfactory sense–your sense of smell–is connected to emotions and memory. This sense has direct access to the amygdala section of the brain, which processes emotions, and the hippocampus, that good ol’ memory center. Trying a pleasant scent out at work, in the form of a candle, balm, plant, or other agent, basically means creating a new, pleasant work-related memory. Just make sure the scent isn’t one your coworkers hate!

                8. Learn a new word

                word

                  To learn new vocabulary words, you have to use parts of the brain responsible for movement and hearing. So, if you make an effort to learn a new word, that means you exercised these parts of the brain. You wouldn’t normally exercise these parts by just staring at a computer screen. Involve a coworker. Look up a new word and then use it in conversation with them while you’re going to lunch or taking a walk on your break. You’ll be smarter when you get back.

                  9. Take a walk

                  walk

                    Here again, walking is a great way to promote brain health–especially walking in nature. When researchers studied people who walked for 40 minutes, three times a week, the results were similar to aerobic exercise. It’s tough to get out and run while you’re at work. But if you can get out and walk, your hippocampus will be healthier, and your circulation will thank you too.

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                    10. Learn an instrument when you get home

                    guitar

                      This one is huge. Instead of watching TV or surfing the internet after work, pick up a musical instrument. Musical training helps your memory, spatial reasoning, and language skills. It’s better than brain-training apps, and there’s practical use for it, too. Once you know an instrument there’s a whole new social nexus of musicians waiting for you. There’s also a whole new understanding of music when you listen. You can’t think about work when you’re busy plucking an instrument. You’ll return to work refreshed after a night of playing music.

                      Featured photo credit: Froken Fokus via pexels.com

                      More by this author

                      Dan Matthews, CPRP

                      A Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner with an extensive background working with clients on community-based rehabilitation.

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                      Published on July 27, 2021

                      15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

                      15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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                      During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

                      But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

                      Put the Pro in Professional

                      After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

                      1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

                      The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

                      Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

                      2. Dress the Part

                      While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

                      Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

                      For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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                      Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

                      3. Stage Your Workspace

                      Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

                      Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

                      4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

                      Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

                      Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

                      Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

                      Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

                      5. Arrive on Time

                      In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

                      Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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                      6. Turn on Your Video

                      Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

                      If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

                      Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

                      7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

                      Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

                      Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

                      Attend to the Pesky Details

                      8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

                      With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

                      Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

                      9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

                      Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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                      Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

                      10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

                      As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

                      Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

                      Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

                      Talking Has a Time and a Place

                      11. Chat Appropriately

                      Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

                      At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

                      12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

                      The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

                      Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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                      13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

                      In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

                      Manage Yourself

                      14. Minimize Distractions

                      While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

                      Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

                      15. Save Snacking for Later

                      Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

                      However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

                      Final Thoughts

                      Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

                      Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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