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Productivity From Blah To Blitz – 5 Ways To Control Stress And Do More

Productivity From Blah To Blitz – 5 Ways To Control Stress And Do More

Your alarm goes off, and you wake up. For a moment, you’re disoriented. Then you remember that it’s a workday. Oh no! You’d give anything to pull the covers over your head again. You hate your job, and your life. You’re beyond stressed: you’re heading into depression, and you know it. Productivity is impossible with low spirits and energy.

There is an alternative to blah mornings. What if you woke up feeling great, and couldn’t wait to blitz through your day? You can’t avoid stress, but you can channel it. Use the adrenaline of stress and transform it from desperation to enthusiasm.

These five strategies will help you to control your stress and become more productive.

1. Control your mind. Focus on your ideal life: make it real.

What if you could have and be anything you chose? What would your ideal life look like?

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Close your eyes for a moment, and imagine a day in your ideal life. It’s morning. You open your eyes. What do you see? Look around you. Get up, and go to the window. What’s outside?

Do this now.

Write down your impressions of your ideal day. Do the same exercise tomorrow. Imagine it, then write it down.

2. Be spontaneous. Trust your intuitive insights.

You’re the result of your ancestors’ intuition. Those puny humans stayed alive despite savage bears and saber-toothed tigers by relying on their instincts. Everyone has a “gut instinct.” Allow your instincts to guide you. Scientists take intuition seriously, and so should you.

Your intuition lives in your body. Neuroscience researchers say that you should pay attention to what your body tells you, then act. Has your “still small voice within” been trying to tell you something? Your intuition can be persistent. It can also occur as a flash of insight.

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Many years ago, before Amazon and the Internet, I spent months looking for a book I needed. The book was long out of print. While visiting a client in another state, I had a strong urge to walk down a street. I was already late, but I obeyed my intuition anyway. At the end of the street, I found a small bookshop. I walked into the store, directly to a shelf in a dark corner—right to the book I wanted.

Do this now.

Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Direct your attention to an area of your body. Any area which catches your attention will do. Perhaps it’s your belly, your chest, or even one of your arms. Just let your attention rest there for a moment.

This simple exercise helps you to pay more attention to your body. It’s a meditative technique. Use it often. It helps you to become more conscious of what’s happening in your body. You’ll become more aware of intuitive insights.

3. Be grateful.

Gratitude makes you happy. It can even improve your health and lead to better relationships. Most of us have lots to be thankful for. If you’re feeling blah, think of one thing, past or present, for which you can be grateful. Everyone has something. You don’t need to wait for the Thanksgiving holiday to give thanks. You can do it every day.

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Develop the habit of thankfulness and your life will improve because whatever you focus on becomes stronger.

Do this now.

Think about your blessings for two minutes. Write down three things you’re grateful for.

4. Eat better, exercise, and sleep for at least seven hours.

If you’re eating junk, and never exercise, you can’t feel well because you’re not providing your body and brain with the fuel they need.

Do this now.

Commit to a healthy diet. Eat the things you know are good for you: protein, fruit, and vegetables. Want junk food? You can have your pizza, but eat your salad first.

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When you get home from work, walk around the block. Then, go to bed earlier, so that you get at least seven hours of sleep a night.

You’ll feel the benefits immediately.

5. Accept yourself, just as you are.

If you have a strong inner critic, self-acceptance is impossible. This lack of self-acceptance results in low self-esteem, but you can change this. Metta meditation can help you to greater self-esteem, by developing your qualities of love and compassion, for others, and for yourself.

Do this now.

Think of someone, or something you love. I think of my Jack Russell terrier, Honey. Allow feelings of tenderness and affection to arise. Where are they in your body? You may feel a sensation of expansion and warmth in your chest.

Now direct the feelings of love to yourself, and wish yourself well. Say silently: “May I be happy.”

Give our five strategies a try. Allow your intuition to guide you on how to do this. You may choose a strategy a day, or one a week. Each strategy will help you to eliminate the blahs from your life. Not too many mornings from now you’ll wake each morning overflowing with excitement and enthusiasm. You’ll be happy and will increase your productivity, so that you blitz through your days.

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

5 Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Effective Learning

5 Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Effective Learning

Businesses rely on talent to generate and sell value. Without skilled people to create its products, manage its operations and execute its strategies, a business would inevitably fizzle out of the game and leave better-staffed competitors to take the field.

This is the reason why ambitious companies go great lengths to attract top talent,[1] shelling out millions of dollars in the process and bending traditional work policies just to bring highly skilled but demanding candidates into the fold.

Clearly, the contours of business are changing. But so are the demographics of work.

Millennials have become the dominant generation in the job market in terms of population, and some have already transitioned into leadership roles. Most millennials consider opportunity to learn and grow more important than overall compensation.[2]

Companies also today expect employees to come equipped with razor sharp business acumen.[3] Unfortunately, there is an alarming discrepancy between the actual skills businesses need and those currently possessed by job candidates.

To stay in the game, employers need to continually upgrade their training and skills development strategies to cover the entire employee lifecycle.

What are Learning Management Systems (LMS)?

Learning management systems are software-based solutions for authoring, presenting, consuming, storing, and tracking educational content and training materials. These systems aim to centralize all instructional content (e.g., lessons, training modules, instructional videos, presentation slides, worksheets, online quizzes, ebooks, takeaway notes, etc.) in one place.

LMS enable instructors to design and deliver learning experiences to students, with the added capability of evaluating the effectiveness of the instructional materials and grading the learning progress of students.

On the other side of the equation, learners use LMS to develop skills and acquire new knowledge virtually anytime and anywhere via the different channels and content formats made possible by digital technology.

Over the years, a wide range of features and technologies have been integrated into learning management systems to help enhance the experience of training designers, instructors, and learners. These include cloud and mobile technology, artificial intelligence, responsive design, scheduling, gamification, data analytics, and interoperability with other applications.

5 Best All-Purpose Learning Management Systems

There are dozens of LMS vendors catering to the general market or to specific segments such as K-12 learning, higher education, and corporate training.

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With so many options available, selecting the right LMS solution for your needs can be complicated and costly, especially when you end up adopting a platform that doesn’t exactly match your goals or requirements.

Short of conducting a comprehensive audit of your needs and finalizing a learning roadmap, the safest bet would be to adopt full-featured but affordable LMS solutions.

Based on user reviews, here are the 5 best LMS to help people gain knowledge, build skills, and achieve mastery:

1. Canvas Network

Launched by Instructure as an open source software in 2011, Canvas is an end-to-end cloud-based service originally engineered for the education sector.

Widely adopted for K-12 and Higher Ed learning, Canvas can be repurposed for anything that involves an instructor, a subject matter, and a student.

Used around the world by people of all ages and organizations of all types, Canvas arguably has the largest learning and support community in its class. It works on desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones.

To get a glimpse of the platform’s fresh interfaces, you can visit the Canvas Network, a learning community that provides educational and instructional materials created by colleges, universities, corporate businesses, independent course developers, and other knowledge-sharing entities around the world.

Hosting hundreds of interesting topics from data science to horticulture, the learning network also serves as evidence to the scope, capabilities, and popularity of the Canvas LMS platform.

Canvas is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure, which enhances the platform’s reliability, speed, scalability, and overall online performance.

Additionally, platform adopters enjoy a low-risk environment since cloud-based solutions require no hard stops for version updates, upgrades, or system migrations.

The Canvas website does not show a price matrix but says the service adopts a simple formula for computing fees: a one-time implementation fee and an annual subscription fee based on total number of users. It also promises free basic services for teachers who want to use the platform.

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In addition to Canvas, Instructure also offers Bridge (an LMS designed for corporate environments), Arc (a video platform for online learning), and Gauge (an assessment management system).

Check out this video if you want to learn more about Canvas Network:

2. Google Classroom

This free service from Google aims to improve the teaching and learning process using cloud technology, web apps, workflow simplification, and seamless communication between students and instructors.

Using Classroom, educators can easily create and schedule classes, distribute assignments, send feedback, and grade quizzes all in one place. By streamlining processes, Classroom helps teachers save time and organize classes more effectively. Both students and teachers can also work using any device anytime and anywhere.

Classroom works perfectly with other Google tools, having been launched initially as part of Google’s G Suite for Education. This LMS solution taps Google Drive for content storage and distribution, as well as Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for the creation and sharing of instructional materials. Meanwhile it integrates Google Calendar for scheduling and Gmail for communication.

With G Suite, other communication channels such as chat messaging, video conferencing, and a dedicated website are enabled.

Easy to set up and manage, Google Classroom is free to use. One of my very first courses was actually hosted on Google Classroom.

Going beyond the classroom environment, Google offers G Suite Enterprise for Education for large institutions. This suite provides enhanced search and analytics capabilities as well as advanced tools for enterprise communications.

3. Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment)

If budget and capability equally top your list of LMS adoption criteria, then Moodle might just fit the bill. Which is to say there’s none (i.e., bill).

Moodle is a free and open-source learning solution for distance education, workplace training, flipped classrooms, and other pedagogical environments.

It is also a full-featured LMS supported by a robust community and a thriving developer ecosystem. Not surprisingly, Moodle is used in more than 15 million courses by more than 130 million users in 230+ countries.

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Among other things, Moodle enables administrators and educators to create a dynamic and dedicated website to host organic, easily accessible, and highly customizable courses that can be experienced on desktops and mobile devices anytime and anywhere.

Moodle provides a personalized and intuitive dashboard as well as a host of collaboration tools for content designers, teachers, and learners. A universal calendar, an efficient file management system, an automatic notification system, multimedia integration, and a progress tracking tool all come with the package.

Check out this video if you want to learn more about Moodle:

4. Absorb

This platform recently bagged PC Magazine’s Editors’ Choice Award for Best LMS.

Co-designed and built by former course authors, Absorb takes learning experience to the next level. This turnkey LMS solution is responsive, full-featured, and highly customizable for maximum impact.

Course developers can orchestrate a wide range of experiences depending on audience or learning situation. In addition to surveys, polls, and e-commerce integration, Absorb supports formal online learning and certifications standards such as AICC, SCORM, and Tin Can.

The user interface can also be modified to match the learner’s location, group, or department, allowing for a different look and feel for customers, channel partners, management trainees, and newly hired employees.

Absorb supports all personal computing devices from desktops to mobile phones. There are also native or hybrid apps for iOS and Android.

The only possible drawback to the platform’s powerful feature set is its pricing. The service reportedly implements a flat, one-time setup fee depending on your business and training requirements. According to the site, any plan comes with a dedicated success team for your account.

Although small companies are welcome to try, midsize to enterprise-scale organizations are probably the best segment to readily adopt this LMS solution.

Take a look at some examples of Absorb in this video:

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5. Watershed Collaborative

Created by a group of educators, this nonprofit rethinks the priorities of an LMS, asserting that too many systems miss the most essential elements of what makes learning stick. They promise a better user experience – emphasizing Learning before Management and System.

Watershed aims to support an inquiry-based learning experience through an integrated mix of online and in-person learning strategies and interactions designed expressly for teams – including collaboration, reflection, and dialogue.

While Watershed was founded initially to serve the K-12 education market, the company has since expanded its scope to cater to all types of teachers and learners with its video-rich, state-of-the-art platform.

If you’re a mission-driven educator, content creator, institution, or business, this LMS may be the one for you.

Watershed specializes in assisting you with the instructional design of courses and provides content production services to ensure top-quality video assets with lasting value. Their LMS makes it easy for course creators to continuously update and tailor content to support small and large groups, while ensuring the technology and instructional strategy supports communities of learners.

Pricing varies based on products and services, but revenues support the nonprofit’s ability to make its platform and courses available at little or no cost for high-need educators and educational settings.

Honorable Mentions

There are dozens of LMS vendors in this growing market and the brands included in foregoing list are by no means the only viable options for companies or learning institutions looking to upgrade their learning infrastructure.

Many other excellent services are worth checking out. These include:

  1. Docebo is an LMS designed for hyper-engaging students, employees, customers, and other learners. The system helps organizations identify and resolve competency gaps with strategic learning interventions.
  2. Cornerstone OnDemand is a talent, training, and performance management solution offered as an SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). This service enables learners to create personalized playlists of instructional content.
  3. Lessonly is an LMS solution that makes it easier to recall and reinforce whatever skills or knowledge you have learned through quizzes, coaching, and constant practice.
  4. Skillsoft is an online training and corporate learning platform developed by a two-decade old and billion-dollar company with the same name.
  5. D2L BrightSpace is a learning management system that has all the basics for delivering excellent, rich-media experiences for classroom or workplace training.

Conclusion

There are many ways to learn but some are more effective and meaningful than others. Whether you are a teacher looking to enhance classroom learning or an HR manager creating a long-term talent development plan for employees, the key to impactful learning is to understand and bridge the needs of learners, the goals of your institution, and the actual capabilities of the learning tools you are considering.

Note that using multiple LMS platforms is possible although not recommended. On the other hand, adopting other learning solutions beyond LMS (such as podcasts, mentoring, and onsite in-person workshops) may significantly improve learning outcomes. Always go for products and plugins that seamlessly integrate into your core LMS tool.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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