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5 Fitness Hacks for a Busy Schedule

5 Fitness Hacks for a Busy Schedule
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When life gets busy, fitness always seems to be the first item dropped from our to-do list.

The holiday season is a perfect example. Between hangovers and massive family meals, it’s easy to forgo fitness, especially when 2017 is right around the corner and you can just start fresh then.

But if you’re serious about making fitness a part of your life, you need strategies that can help you fit exercise into your schedule no matter how busy life gets.

Below are five hacks for getting your fitness in, even when life gets crazy.

1. Make Your Workouts Ultra Efficient

You only need to work out three days a week for 45 minutes a day. Dedicate one day to each of the three compound lifts: squat, overhead press, and deadlift. This is the bare bones workout plan you need if you’re serious about fitness.

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If you’re used to mixing in cardio or doing additional marathon training on top of that, you can scale back to just these three workouts when life gets busy, and still maintain your gains.

If you think cardio is worthless, the three compound lifts are all you need.

2. Work Out in the Morning

I know, I hate myself for even suggesting that we should all wake up early, but this is the one productivity hack that will absolutely change your life.

When you work out first thing in the morning, you eliminate the possibility that life will get in the way. Our lives are filled with unexpected traffic jams, last-minute drinks with friends, family members coming into town, and hundreds of other forces conspiring to keep us from exercising.

Working out in the morning lets you enjoy the day without fitness hanging over your head. If you accomplish nothing else the entire day, you can sleep easy knowing that at least you’ve worked out.

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3. Work Out on Sunday to Jump Start Your Week

Here’s another pro tip that’s not going to be wildly popular but is guaranteed to make a huge difference:

Start your workout routine on Sunday by tackling your least favorite compound lift.

I dread squat day, which explains why I didn’t squat until recently in my fitness journey. So for me, nothing provides a greater sense of accomplishment than starting off my Monday mornings knowing that I’ve already gotten my least favorite lift done for that week.

Gone are the Sunday night blues and the Monday morning scramble of trying to work out and make it to work on time. Don’t give Mondays a reason to suck more than they already do. Tackle your toughest lift on Sunday — the rest of your week will thank you for it.

4. Front-load or Back-load Your Workouts

I always advocate for rest days between compound lifts because they’re so taxing on your central nervous system, but you can move your workout days around if you’re really busy.

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For example, if you’re going on vacation in the middle of the week and doubt you’ll get to work out once you leave, it’s OK to stack your three lifts on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday before you go. Three workouts in three days, while not ideal, is better than zero workouts in seven days.

If you aren’t in a bind with your schedule, always shoot for 48 hours between lifts so your body can recover and come back ready to attack the next workout at full strength.

5. Build A Home Gym For Cheap Using Holiday Deals

To help fit exercise into my busy schedule, I work out at home. If you’re like me and your wife generously gives you a spare room to set up a home gym (no small sacrifice in Hong Kong), take advantage of some of those holiday deals to buy yourself a squat rack for cheap. For a couple hundred bucks, you can get a new one delivered to your door.

Working out at home saves you from having to drive to the gym, get changed, work out, shower, and drive back home to change before going to work. You know, all those reasons you use to justify not working out.

All sorts of fitness equipment can be found for cheap around the holidays, but since we’re just worrying about the three compound lifts, your priority can be on a squat rack.

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Make Fitness A Lifestyle Change, Not A Time-Suck

Most people who put down “go to the gym more” as a New Year’s resolution spend the first two weeks of January hitting the gym every day. At some point, they get burnt out. They want their life back, and so they give up on fitness.

If you make fitness into this all-consuming activity that directly conflicts with the rest of your life, you’re going to fail. This is why all of the hacks I listed above center around one idea:

Fitness should fit seamlessly into your life.

By keeping your workouts as minimal as possible and figuring out schedules you can actually keep long-term, fitness will just become a part of your life—not an obstruction.

You might still have a busy schedule, but you’ll be in the best shape of your life.

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Featured photo credit: Fitness and Health Matters via fitnessandhealthmatters.com

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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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