What is self awareness? 3 Questions that lead to better self-awareness

A while back I was giving a complimentary workshop to support the Syrian refugees. During this workshop, one of the members asked me what you could do when you’re constantly thinking that you’re not good enough.

 

After my answer, I went on a deeper reflection to what that question actually entailed, and I ended up with this question:

What is self-awareness?

In this article, I want to cover the 3 Questions that I learned from my mentors that lead to a better self-awareness.

3-Level Debriefing

In order to grow your self-awareness, you need to be able to reflect. The good news is that you can use the same techniques as with large groups. During a very emotional conference, like a Leadership Development Seminar (LDS) one of the main techniques we use as facilitators is called the 3-level debriefing. In here you make sure to close each workshop and session properly for the delegates involved by asking them 3 relevant questions until you can feel they are comfortable enough to move on to the next sessions (aka they are properly debriefed).

Same applies to us if we had an emotional experience that we want to close for ourselves so that we can move on to the next step in our personal development.

 

Question 1: What happened? 

This is an obvious one, as we start with the logical part of the brain. We just answer objectively (or write it down) as to what happened. Bullet points work great in this part. Don’t get angry or sad yet, that’s for the next question.

 

Question 2: How did you feel when that happened?

 

This is a tough one if you don’t have someone else to help you with this debrief. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how experienced you are, if you’re too emotionally involved with the subject it’s best to get outside counsel to get properly debriefed.

Another big note to take here is that you should go really deep here. The story is not properly closed for you if you haven’t gone until the end to debrief yourself. That’s why it’s possible that you’ll have to do this several times, just like you would with a group. If you’re not sure how to do that then scroll down to the part where I talk about circling back.

 

Question 3: What can you learn from this experience that you can apply in your everyday life?

 

It’s not a debrief if you can’t make it tangible for yourself. We can only truly close a story and move on when we’ve taken some lessons out of it. Else we’re doomed to make the same mistake over and over again.

Make sure to also write this down, just like with your goals, if it’s not written it doesn’t exist.

Circle back

Now at the end of this circle of 3 questions, you might notice that you’re not fully debriefed yet, that’s why you’ll have to go back to question 1 and see whether you have zoomed in on the right point. If you listen to your instincts you’ll know which point you’ll need to debrief next. You circle back and debrief every single point until you finally feel like you can move on. This is the reason why these debriefs can sometimes take an entire night!

 

Closing 

Once everything is closed and you can move on, make sure to scribble down the last notes, also ask yourself if you’re content with the debrief or if you should have gone deeper. If you’re sure you’re done, then close the notebook you’ve been writing in, take a deep breath and move on.

You have now closed your debriefing

Hope that helps,

-L

 

If you’re not on the 30-day work-life balance challenge yet, make sure to jump on it before it closes. I explain more of these tips in there and show you how I apply it into my daily life :

Click here to secure a spot (it’s online, don’t worry)…

How I lost 3 kilos and 3% Body Fat in 5 days with Science – The Alcat Test

Enough with all these “magical” solutions.

It’s ridiculous how many self-proclaimed dieticians I see roaming around the Internet, requoting what false studies seem to proclaim is the ultimate “healthy” way of living.

Clearly, they know how to get six-pack abs so they must know how to make you lose weight and become healthy, right?

Nope.

In the past year, I’ve been picking up their pieces by healing my clients, which also brings losing weight as a side effect NOT as the original goal. Because if losing weight is your goal, you can do what they do in martial arts, which is just racing the treadmill while sitting in a sauna. You’ll lose 3 kg’s in 1 day if you want to.

Being healthy has a different meaning as you can see in one of the client testimonials here:

 

Losing weight, and becoming healthy are not the same.

With this blog post, I’ll finally show you the difference between someone who has Science backing him or her up, and a Body Builder trying to give you six pack abs while making you unhealthy in the long-term process.

The best part is I’ll be using me as the lab rat. I’m not a doctor, just a normal person. Just like you.

Now throughout this blog post, you might be thinking that I used some kind of “shortcut” that I don’t share with you, don’t worry I didn’t. Science really does make life much simpler.

So if it sounds simple, it is.

The reason nobody tells you this discovery is because it’s only recently discovered, but unless you’re a medical practitioner the chances are that you will only hear about it in 20-30 years.

Just think about smoking, it took decades before the medical industry finally admitted that it was bad for you. Unfortunately, we live in a world where our medical industry is really that slow and filled with stubborn people that are not open for new stuff.

I understand, sometimes, where those doctors are coming from. There is sooo much crap out there, at the end of the day they just want to do their job and get back to their families.

 

But, that’s not reason enough for me. EVERY doctor no matter how big or small has to give the Hippocratic Oath1 at the end of their studies.

BEFORE I dive deeper into sharing my discovery I want to shed some light on a BIG problem in our society, that might interest you to understand how the medical industry works. That way you’ll know what to ask your diet “expert” or doctor when sitting across from him or her.

If you don’t feel like reading this just skip below to the title where I share my discovery.

For those that stayed let’s dive a little bit deeper into the matrix.

Here are some relevant parts of the Hippocratic Oath to give you some context:

 

To hold my teacher in this art equal to my own parents; to make him partner in my livelihood; when he is in need of money to share mine with him; to consider his family as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they want to learn it, without fee or indenture…”

I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course.” –

 

Let’s dissect these two paragraphs for a moment before we jump into what I discovered.

1. The first paragraph of the oath: Without fee or indenture

It talks about sharing the knowledge in a way that is without fee. Yet, all of the great cutting-edge knowledge is only shared at the top of the medical profession. In order to get around this 1% you need ridiculous credentials. An average doctor around the corner doesn’t have the finances nor the network to get into any of those conferences or around those people. Unless, like me, they make it their life purpose to get into those circles.

It took me half a decade before we finally got certified by institutions like the ALCAT laboratories in the U.S. and Europe.

The reason we didn’t get it before, is because I didn’t even know it existed. I thought that before ALCAT I knew where to find the latest research around nutrition and health, thanks to my friends who were healers.

Little did I know that I wasn’t even close.

I discovered these healers in the beginning because I was suffering from extreme stress symptoms. I suffered from things like chronic hyperventilation (breathing in a bad way).

I had temporary paralysis on my limbs throughout really stressful periods, and burnouts on a regular basis. Those healers fixed me after years of doctors not being able to do anything, and a ton of money wasted. There were points where I signed up for diving lessons, just to get an oxygen mask give me that sense of relief.

When Why Not 3 got certified by the ALCAT center2 it opened up, even more, doors.

For the first time, ever, I had access to the top 1% of doctors in the medical field. People that graduated from the Ivy league, were practitioners on a daily basis. Suddenly, ALL of the stuff I heard my clients suffer with on a daily basis was being explained in front of my eyes at a conference. That’s when I realized that whatever these cutting edge people discuss right now, will only be common knowledge in 20 years, once the media properly picks up on it.

A good example of this, even though it’s not medicine, is global warming. There are still some weirdos denying that. Unfortunately one of those weirdos is also the president of the U.S., which makes me glad to be a European citizen (and no we’re not getting bombed every day in Europe – that was just Sweden, right Mr. Trump?).

But, that’s off topic.

The point I’m trying to make is that the oath is already broken if this material isn’t shared properly, because of what the pharmaceutical industry thinks is profitable. This is a conversation that you need to be aware of when first walking into your doctor’s office, and it’s a conversation that needs to be maintained.

 

2. The second paragraph of the oath: not administering a poison, even when asked

It says that a doctor will always help the sick and never to cause injury, and never ever give them poison in the process. EVEN if they ask for it. And here comes the whole problem. If you’re a doctor and you’ve studied for more than 8-12 years, why in the world would you suddenly stop learning???

Whatever you might have learned 10 years ago, might be already been debunked and you would never know. An example of that was brought up by a speaker at one of the conferences I saw: Dr. Alessio Fasano MD3, who to me was an interesting doctor to listen to, and has published many articles about the causes of gluten on the immune system (still ignored by the majority).

Here you have a guy that has won many awards and proven himself as a doctor, yet you have common practitioners (and even less qualified “dieticians”) that ignore his advice. They ignore his advice without even doing their own research that could contrast the research Dr. Fasano is making. Then, worst of all, they go to their clients recommending them shitty diets for certain diseases.

The point I’m making is if you have a doctor or life coach, or diet “expert” that doesn’t get their research from a scientific source, and it’s clear that they are not open to new knowledge then what the hell are you doing following them for health advice?

Now, the BIG Problem is shown. My rant is over, let’s get to the fun stuff, and how you can actually make it EASY for yourself to lose weight and become Healthy.

 

30-Day Challenge

The Fun Stuff of how I ate Fries, butter, and potato chips and actually lost weight with science:

#firsttimeInstagrampicturelikefoodiesdo (hope it came out fine):

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and here are my Belgian fries ( It’s not French fries. I’m belgian, we don’t have much, but we did invent the fries, so the french aren’t taking them from us).

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BUT, there is a big BUT. Those aren’t just normal fries, nor are those normal potato chips that you can find at your local supermarket (or Albert Heijn for the dutchies).

But first, as all of these blog posts do, here is a screenshot of my Wifi weight scale (yep, that’s a thing, and it’s cool).

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*I’m 183 cm (6 foot).

 

We’ll ignore everything that I did in January and February (if you really want to know I went in 2 months from 83,7 kilograms (kg) on 21/01/2017 to 81,3 kg on 13/02/2017). I didn’t do much in those months to lose weight as we had to rebuild business after the holidays, and considering I had just scaled to a new country in September, it was a pain in the ass. Nonetheless, I did manage to readjust my diet and save myself 2,4kg’s in 1 month.

Anyways so I went and ordered the ALCAT test, here is an unboxing of it:

 

On 15/03/2017 at 10 am I get my ALCAT test results as a pdf in my inbox. This is what it looks like:

Alcat test

(* DISCLAIMER: This is MY ALCAT test, based on MY bloodwork. This is not a reflection of how you should be eating -> Which is what every dietician should know.)

The first 2 days as you can see by the date on my weight scale I didn’t bother to track anything.

Again, as I described in my book, I never think that I’m anything special. I somehow always foolishly assume that everyone knows what I am. But I’m getting better at sharing what is necessary, like this.

Anyways, I’m pretty sure my weight was closer to 83kg, because I just went through an internal crisis in my business and I had a lot to do to pick up the pieces, and health was taking a back-burner at that time. On the 16th I started tracking my food and the 17th I start tracking my weight, because I realized then that the results are going to be crazy. Which is at that point that I send out the email to my email list, and say that I’ve discovered something ridiculously cool and that I’ll be writing a blog post about it.

30-Day Challenge

Here are my days written down in detail of what I did, which was pretty much ONLY eat the foods on the green list, and make sure that they are high quality, and low in toxicity, and cook them properly like biohackers explain. Which is how I could eat the above potato chips and belgian fries and still lose weight. Biohackers to follow include people like Mark SissonDave Asprey, and a good friend of mine Jolly. In essence, don’t cook on too high temperature, and definitely no burning of your food:

 

DAY 1 – 16/03/2017:

Intermittent fasting (I’ve been doing this for 3 years already – my blood tests read better than with breakfast on a full fat diet)

Lunch:

  • French Organic fries (ingredients include white potato and sunflower oil -> both on my green list, no additives).
  • full fat yoghurt (skimmed milk is the worst thing you can eat/drink -> That’s for another blog post) + Raw Honey + Pear + Almonds
  • Cheese
  • Olives with Basil

Dinner:

  • French fries (hey, don’t judge, I hadn’t eaten them in a while, I was going to enjoy myself).
  • Grass fed Kerrygold unsalted butter -> Not all “grass fed” butter is created equally as I had to find out in the Netherlands.
  • peas
  • turkey
  • mayo
  • himalayan pink salt (normal salt is not good if it’s from the Atlantic Ocean -> Norway dumps their trash in there. Deserves another blog post from my time working with the Council of Europe.)
  • Olives with Basil

 

DAY 2 – 17/03/2017:

Intermittent fasting

Interesting fact, I woke up at 7:50 am, which I almost never do.

Lunch:

  • Mango (I try to keep fruit below 25gr fructose. Science is slowly catching up to this.)
  • Pork sausages with mustard
  • Almonds
  • Garlic + Cayenne pepper + Himalayan Salt
  • Almond drink

 

Dinner:

  • White potato + butter + Himalayan Salt + Garlic + Cayenne pepper
  • Mushrooms
  • Mandarins
  • camomille tea
  • white rice
  • soy beans

 

DAY 3 – 18/03/2017:

Intermittent fasting.

Woke up at 7:05 am (crazy normally I wake up at 8.30-9ish). Start noticing more clarity and brain fog lifting even more than before. Cracking of my fingers is becoming less and less everyday.

Lunch:

  • Mango
  • Olives + Basil
  • Rice + C Pepper + Basil + Garlic
  • Almonds
  • Turkey

Dinner:

  • Cheese, butter, & salmon
  • salade, garlic, apples, oil, apple cider vinegar, red onions, salt, egg whites, salmon , olives.

 

DAY 4 – 19/03/2017:

Intermittent fasting.

Lunch:

  • Cheese
  • Potato Chips
  • Cay. Pepper + Salt + butter

 

Dinner:

  • Fries + Cay. Pepper + Mayo
  • Pork Sausages

 

DAY 5 – 20/03/2017:

Intermittent fasting till dinner (once or twice a week it’s good to do that to flush the system -> Read my post about the silent day).

1 meal at the end of the day.

  • Cheese
  • Fries + Cay. Pepper
  • Olives
  • Turkey

 

DAY 6 – 21/03/2017:

Intermittent fasting till dinner. This one was by accident my company websites had crashed and we had to work the whole time with the team to get it back up as fast as possible.

But, if you’re good at fasting and you have a full fat diet, you don’t experience upswings or downswings when you fast.

1 meal at the end of the day.

  • Sushi (rice + Mushroom + Mango)
  • Soy Beans
  • Olives + Cheese + Salmon

 

DAY 7 – 22/03/2017:

Intermittent fasting.

Lunch:

  • Kebab (onion + salade + lamb meat) – not perfect, but I’ve experimented with their meat and it’s not completely affecting me. As a fast food in the middle of a busy business day it’s my best option.
  • 2x Apple

Dinner:

  • Fries + cheese + salmon
  • Turkey
  • Basil
  • Cay. Pepper
  • Butter

 

That’s it. In short, you’re noticing 2 things there. I didn’t mention how much of it I ate and how many calories it is.

Simple answer, once you’re on a high fat based diet it doesn’t matter how much you eat, as long as you stop when you’re full. If you would count how many calories I eat I would probably be between 3000-4000 calories a day. The key is to know the quality of your food. When I moved to the Netherlands I called every farmer that sells in the big stores, so I knew exactly what they feed their chicken and cows. Which is why I have to import my butter from Belgium (Kerrygold Butter). With import I mean hop on a train and buy my butter there.

Also, I didn’t mention exercise. Because I didn’t exercise. I have 2 international companies to run, and we had a huge crisis happen this week. I literally did not have time to exercise. I do plan to start exercising once I’m more used to the ALCAT diet, and have more variety in my dishes to choose from. At the end of the day we’re all striving for a work-life balance here at Why Not 3. This variety btw is crucial, DO NOT take my results here and expect you’re going to lose weight. This week was not a perfect week for me, because the best way is to have more variety in your diet so that you’re body doesn’t get used to it.

But, my point was to prove that as long as you have science (a proven blood test that measures food sensitivity like ALCAT) backing you up it doesn’t matter how perfect you do it, you ‘ll be on a much better path than any doctor or dietician could ever bring you.

 

Hope you enjoyed the post & make sure to share it with 2 or 3 friends.

Cheers,

Lova from Why Not 3?

30-Day Challenge

 

Footnotes:

1.Hippocrates of Cos (1923). “The Oath”. Loeb Classical Library. 147: 298–299. doi:10.4159/DLCL.hippocrates_cos-oath.1923. Retrieved 6 October 2015.

2.http://alcat-europe.de/en/ ; “Your hidden food allergies are making you fat” – by Rudy Rivera & Roger D. Deutsch

3.http://www.massgeneral.org/doctors/doctor.aspx?id=19184

 

 

 

Yoga can reduce stress

Is Stress The #1 Silent Killer? Discover the secrets to prevent and relieve stress!

Is Stress The #1 Silent Killer? Discover the secrets to prevent and relieve stress!

 

You’ve heard the saying “stress is a silent killer” but do you know exactly why? What’s all the hype about stress? Learn what stress really does to your body and how to stop it!

Can you remember the last time you weren’t stressed out? I can – it’s when I went out for dinner with my best friend on the beach this past week. I remember thinking, “Hey, it would be nice to feel this stress-free all the time!” While it’s not realistic to never experience stress (because it’s sometimes needed, as I’ll explain later), chronic stress can eat away at your health, productivity, and overall well-being. I know this, you know this, the world knows this – so why is it so hard to just relax? 

I think sometimes we need to be reminded of just how bad stress is for us. It’s easy to forget about it because it sits on the back-burner of your mind, all the time. After all, it’s the “silent killer”, right? Finally, when you get a couple seconds to chill out, your brain goes “Ahhhh, peace.” And for the first time in a while you remember what not being stressed out feels like. Awesome.

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What does stress do to your body?

Firstly, chronic stress does lots of bad things. Acute stress is needed to propel our butts into action. When acute stress turns into chronic stress, there’s a problem, but acute stress on its own is quite normal and not usually detrimental.

Physiologically speaking…

You may have heard that stress is bad, and it definitely is when it’s chronic. In layman’s terms, our fight flight or freeze pathway is activated during our normal stress response. We’re meant to have acute stress and the hormones related to it released every now and then when we have stressful life situations. Think about this dude who punched a bear in the snout and lived to tell the tale (not all heroes wear capes). His stress response would’ve been through the roof! Cortisol being released out the wazoo! But that’s okay because it was acute stress.

 

  • Stress causes wear and tear on our bodies…

In terms of chronic stress, the amount of cortisol we release wreaks havoc on our bodies. But how? Well, to be frank, cortisol plays a part in literally rotting us from the inside out. Cortisol is a hormone partly responsible for internal oxidation or oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the term scientists use and it is a lot more complicated than just a simple secretion of cortisol. However, for simplicity’s sake we won’t go into depth further. Oxidation is what happens when rust forms on your car, right? Think of your organs slowly rusting due to oxidative stress. Ouch.

When our organs get weak from rust so to speak, they become susceptible to diseases or just fail altogether.  It’s important to note our bodies can suffer from oxidative stress not only from what we define as being “stressed out” but also from: disease, ketosis, sleep restrictions, and too much nutrient intake.

 

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  • Stress can cause Type II Diabetes

If you thought you only got Type II Diabetes from too much sugar and not enough exercise, think again. Oxidative stress can cause the onset and progression of Type II Diabetes. This is because oxidative stress affects the stress pathways that control insulin signaling and then BAM. Diabetes. Not quite like that, there’s a pathway of serine and threonine kinases involved, but you get the picture.

 

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Psychologically speaking… 

Chronic stress can make you suffer from any or all of the following symptoms. They range from cognitive, behavioral, to social symptoms.

  • Irritability
  • Sleeping Problems (too much or not enough)
  • Eat problems (too much or not enough)
  • Fatigue
  • Agitation
  • Nervousness
  • Confusion
  • Helplessness

Also, stress makes it a heck of a lot harder to deal with any mental or physical illnesses you might have. For a more complete list, visit Psych Central here.

The real problem lies when stress is allowed to grow and grow until it brings about more psychological problems that are a lot harder to treat than stress. Illnesses such as Bipolar Disorder, OCD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and phobias can be exacerbated or created by excessive stress.

 

Why are people so stressed?

It seems that everyone is stressed about something. A lot of people assume that entrepreneurs and business people must always be stressed, because after all, business is stressful! But people all over the world are stressed about anything and everything. If it’s not you, it’s your job or your family. If it’s not your money, it’s your health.

We’re stressed for lots of reasons, and here are three main ones:

1) Lack of a work-life balance. 

Think about all of the people that wake up in the wee hours of the morning, commute for an hour or more to work, sit at a desk for 8 hours, then they head home. Maybe you’re one of these people. By the time you get home, you’re depleted of energy and willpower. You hardly have the energy to put together a healthy meal, let alone go out with family or friends, pursue a hobby, or hit the gym.  You feel stressed because you know you should be working out or running errands but you’re just too tired (and ironically, too stressed) to get motivated.

People often stay in jobs they don’t like with long commutes because they are financially tied to their job or simply don’t think they can quit and find a better job. This is what Why Not 3 is all about — helping people who want to turn their passion into their career. Maybe you love your job, but can’t find a balance between working and life. Why Not 3 is also here to help with that. Later in the blog post, I give some tips about reducing stress and finding your work-life balance.

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2) Missing knowledge about de-stressing.

What do you do to de-stress? For a while, I thought doing absolutely nothing while watching re-runs of Friends was the epitome of de-stressing. No doubt about it, that’s very fun and relaxing but it leads to a vicious cycle of laziness. I had the wrong idea about de-stressing.

To get rid or even reduce your chronic stress, you can’t simply just turn off the stress for a couple hours each day while watching TV, or napping, or whatever your guilty pleasure is.

Here’s why:

If the only time you allow yourself to de-stress is when you’re watching TV THEN your mind will begin to crave watching TV because it’s “happy and relaxed time” THEN as a result, you’ll watch a lot more TV which is completely counterproductive.

Watching copious amounts of TV sucks out your time…and why are a lot of people stressed? Because they say they have no time!

This is not only about TV but about any unhealthy and unproductive behaviors you may go to for de-stressing. It could be a few too many martinis every night or binge eating your favorite foods.

I had to learn (and teach my brain) that it’s okay to allow myself to relax outside of my dedicated “relaxing activities.” Because, in all honesty, it’s not realistic to only allow yourself to relax only while on vacation or watching TV if you want to rid yourself of chronic stress. We all must train our brains to relax all the time, not just while vegging out on the couch.

Think about it, if you allow yourself to relax 2 hours while watching TV or 2 weeks while you’re on vacation, then you’re only relaxed 2 out of every 24 hours or 2 out of 52 weeks a year. My friends, that is most definitely not effective de-stressing. Everyone (myself included) severely underestimates how stressed they actually are. Just because you know how to unwind at the end of the workday doesn’t mean you aren’t stressed.

What if you could relax during activities that you think are stressful? Think about stress free driving to work, answering emails, talking to your boss, or looking for a new job. Just imagine some activities that used to be stressful holding no weight over you! You can get started on your journey to reduced stress with some tips I give later in the blog post. You really can make it through most days without chronic stress, I promise.

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3) An increasingly faster way of life. 

Back in the good ol’ days it used to take people weeks or months to communicate via snail mail. Now we can talk to each other in seconds. Many entrepreneurs or working people have to be available 24/7 to their job. With the growing technology, convenience, and faster way of life, you’re expected to be ready to go all the time.

People are sending emails and texts at red lights and don’t stop working even when flying across the globe. WiFi accessibility has skyrocketed over recent years. While that’s great, it also means it’s harder to disconnect.

This is something we’ll have to adapt to as entrepreneurs, CEOs, movie makers, stay at home parents, students, and whoever else. We just need to learn how to chillax in a busy world. Yes, I also give you some tips on how to help with this one.

 

How can I stop being stressed?

I won’t lie to you and say it’s easy or requires no effort. However, the tips I’m about to share with you and Why Not 3 in general is here to help you reduce stress. You can learn from our trials and hopefully connect back with us and tell us your successes!

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1) Do a calming exercise, every day.

 Health professionals have been proclaiming for years that exercise can help disorders such as depression and anxiety. Exercise is also helpful for stress, but certain exercises may be better than others. For example yoga has been studied to reduce stress and anxiety extremely effectively. People who suffer from chronic stress and anxiety claim that Hatha yoga and various forms of Hot Yoga help them calm down.

Being a yoga teacher myself, I can vouch for the fact yoga teaches you to be calm in all aspects of your life. This is especially true for yoga in the morning. Many people feel that when they step off the mat after class, they’ll be relaxed and refreshed for the whole day to come.

If money is an issue, simply type in “at home yoga routine” on YouTube and you’ll find enough videos to last you a lifetime. Many yoga studios offer unlimited free classes in exchange for your time helping out around the studio. Simply call your local studio and ask!

 

2) Subscribe to the Why Not 3 reading list.

Lova Kremer, founder of Why Not 3, sends out regular emails chalk full of time management tips, inspirational stories, and personal information about how he manages his busy lifestyle. If you’re looking for free, quality, and practical information then you should definitely subscribe. The Why Not 3 book also has all the information you need to really reduce your stress and keep your life on track. You can sign up for the email list right here.

 

3) Start meditating.

I know this is what you read in every self-help book, article, and website. So maybe it’s time to start if you don’t already? Meditation can be really daunting for beginners…so we wrote a blog post about it to help you get started. Check out “Meditation for those that can’t sit still.” Meditation helps you to be present, which is essential for those of you who stress about past and future events.

 

4) Visit your doctor.

Do you feel like you have stress about being stressed out? If your stress is out of control and you feel anxious, then you could actually have an anxiety disorder. Your doctor can help control your symptoms and set you on the road to recovery. It can be painstakingly slow to find a treatment that works for anxiety, but your doctor is your best starting point.

 

5) Try a therapist or counselor.

Believe it or not, you can visit a mental health professional even if you don’t have a mental illness like dissociative identity disorder or depression. While they can be pricey, a counselor can help you work through your problems and possibly help you determine why you’re stressed. If you have anxiety from stress, a therapist can help you plan a healthy lifestyle, teach you coping techniques, and help you along the path of life. If you’re so stressed you don’t know what to do or where to start, I highly recommend a mental health professional.

 If you can’t afford one, you can Google search for assistance programs in your area for those who need mental health assistance. Once upon a time, I needed a therapist and couldn’t afford one so I reached out to my school. They ended up paying for almost all of my sessions…sometimes you just need to ask.

 

6) Manage your time wisely.

This could be a whole blog post in itself. To get the most out of this tip, I recommend you use a daily planner such as the Passion Planner or buy an agenda and keep it updated. Why Not 3 is not affiliated with Passion Planner.

 

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7) Connect with us at Why Not 3!

First, start with our Silent Day. This is one day a week where you disconnect from everything. Does this sound hard? It sounded impossible to me until I read the blog post written by Lova Kremer about his silent day and how he disconnects. Everything is explained step by step. Read it here now!

Comment on this blog post or send us an email with your questions. Browse through our blogs. We exist as a team to help people be less stressed, so please don’t hesitate to connect with us.

 

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I sincerely hope this blog post brought you more understanding about stress and gave you some tips for beating stress and anxiety. Remember that if you’re stressed, you don’t have to be. There is help available to you, and lots of it is free!

 

Are you ready to kick stress to the curb for good? What you need is practical advice that you can actually apply to your life. Click the Get Started button on the top right hand corner of your page right now. You’ll get exclusive info from the Why Not 3 team to help you relieve stress. We’ll help you continue your journey towards a life with less stress and more productivity, all for free!

If you benefited from this post, please share it with someone who could benefit from it too! Click on the Share buttons below to spread the word on your favorite social media networks.

 

By Cassandra Wilson

 

References

 

Aschbacher, K., O’Donovan, A., Wolkowitz, O. M., Dhabhar, F. S., Su, Y., & Epel, E. (2013). Good stress, bad stress and oxidative stress: insights from anticipatory cortisol reactivity. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38(9), 1698-1708.

 

Michalsen, A., Grossman, P., Acil, A., Langhorst, J., Lüdtke, R., Esch, T., … & Dobos, G. (2005). Rapid stress reduction and anxiolysis among distressed women as a consequenceof a three-month intensive yoga program. Medical Science Monitor, 11(12), CR555-CR561.

 

 

 

101 productivity apps: faster read than you think

Ever had this feeling on a productive Monday morning that you have so much energy and willingness to achieve all you want this week and on Friday night you look back in despair at your crammed to-do list which only has half the items crossed out?

Have you read dozens of blog articles and gone through the whole productivity section of your apps market looking for the next big thing to help you with your productivity?

 

As much as I love my phone, I usually end up realizing it’s more of a productivity killer than a real help. Indeed, most of us are so addicted, every single notification makes us jump out of our work and check this super important… newsletter from this website we ordered from a few months earlier. After a moment like this, I put my phone on plane mode and swear never to check it during productive working hours again, and then I miss an emergency call from my boss and ruin the day at the office. Seems like I should get a phone « just for calls and texts » as my mum phrases it.

 

So, is going back to good ol’ pen and paper and Nokia 3310 really the solution to being more productive? Maybe not. Just the other month, as I was wishing my business seasoned uncles a happy 2016 and updating them on my projects for the year to come one of them answered me « I’d really like to know how you fit all of this in 24 hours; I know you don’t have kids yet but I’m really impressed. »

And as I was wondering what to answer, I realized that I was actually sitting in the bus, using some otherwise idle time to go answer this email, saving time at home to do something I love. And all this is thanks to my phone, mobile data and numerous productivity apps. Even if smartphones & laptops definitely are great distractions, they are our best allies in being more productive.

 

Now, you might be wondering why you should care to spend time reading this article?

You probably already read productivity articles on the best productivity apps and you’re probably asking yourself if this one won’t be just a repetition of what you read before? This article is slightly different than the others that mainly focus on work-related productivity apps. This one extends the definition of productivity apps to various domains. Indeed, being productive isn’t only about being a killer in the office, it’s also about being healthier, doing house chores more efficiently and basically doing anything you don’t want to spend too much time on faster (and why not add easier and better?).

 

Sleeping apps

sleeping

 

Sleep is key to your productivity. Being tired makes your brain slower and definitely makes you ineffective. Every doctor and scientist stands by it, better sleep is the one key to a better life and better productivity. However, sleep is something that is definitely hard to monitor and control because, well, you’re asleep and not conscious of what is happening whether around you or within yourself. Thankfully, there is no need to go to the hospital and wear funny-looking electrodes to know how you sleep and how to improve it. Your best friend in your pocket (no, it’s not Google) knows how to do so.

 

 

  1. Glimmer: If the only way you sleep is in a pitch black room and each morning you either fumble around your room in half-sleep or blind your eyes with a sudden flow of lights from your ceiling bulb then this app is the one you need. It wakes you up using your screen to reproduce daylight at the desired time to wake up, adding up some light bird and nature sounds on the go. If you’re worried that this won’t take you away from the softness of your sheets, loud noise plays as last resort, making sure you get out and have a wonderful day. No snooze, no waking up your lover with tasteless alarm sound, in short, the one app which makes waking up less of a godly test every morning.
  2. Morning Routine: Your colleague keeps bragging about his new routine that has helped him achieve so much more, that he now has a clear mind and can do whatever he likes without feeling overwhelmed, and you keep trying to have a routine without getting it; too much hassle, too much change and unknown parameters in your life. Well, again, your phone becomes your morning best friend. You set up what you want your routine to look like and this small app helps you achieve it every morning. Within a couple weeks, you can also brag to your colleague about how productive you’ve become thanks to a morning routine.
  3. Alarmon: Waking up is definitely not the funniest part of the day, but what if it was? Alarmon makes sure it becomes an enjoyable moment, with super cute animal characters, fun sounds and challenging mini-games to stop the alarm it makes sure you don’t fall back asleep and hit snooze, but it also makes sure your first moments of consciousness are filled with fun and cuteness. As a bonus, your pretty character of the day gives you the weather so you choose your clothes right!
  4. Sleep Cycle: Waking up for sure is the hard part of sleep, but why is it that some days you wake up tired after 9 hours of sleep and the other you wake up super energized after only 6 hours? « Elementary! » would say our dear Sherlock; your sleep is not just a straight line; it goes through cycles which last between 80 and 250 minutes depending on people with different phases of light and deep sleep. Waking up in the middle of those cycles, especially in the deep sleep phase is what causes hard times waking up. Sleep Cycle not only monitors your sleep and analyzes your cycles with their different phases, it also wakes you up at the right moment. Set up your wake up time and a time span (ideally 30mn) in which the app can wake you up if it fits your cycles better and you’re good to go for a restful night! Only inconvenient if your partner has a very loud snoring, it can mislead results and show way less sleep than you actually get, but the wake-up function works just as good.
  5. Pzizz: Before waking up and starting all your beautiful morning routine and assessment of your sleep, the question arises as to how you can first fall asleep? If like me, your once-in-a-while stare-at-the-ceiling-after-a-stressful-day became a habit, you’ll love this app. It’s full guided meditation and music really helped me (and will help you I’m sure) fall asleep faster. Bonus: it has a nap module with a built-in alarm so you can get powered up over lunch break. It even has an offline mode so you can use it anywhere, very handy when you’re traveling and need to be fresh and ready to go to work when you arrive!
  6. Brain wave: This one is definitely for the geeks. This sleep and nap app uses your own music whether from iTunes or Spotify and some built-in sounds to get you to a desired mood or state. Its design is definitely not a strong point but it’s efficient and has a lot of possibilities for you to choose duration, method, mood, etc. I really like it because I can just do whatever I want with it, it almost feels like coding your own relaxation and sleep app.
  7. Omvana: If you’re a bit into meditation, I’m sure you’ve heard about Omvana, which is developed by Mindvalley; and if it works for those people amongst the most inspiring on the planet why not for you, right? To me, it’s a classical meditation and relaxation app, but it’s probably one of the best out there. Its meditation tracks are brilliant and the ebook and different inspiring resources from Mindvalley that comes with it definitely make it great.

 

Phone saver apps and tips:

phone saver

Using all these productivity apps for sure uses a lot of battery and while iOS has created « power-waving » mode in its latest versions when your phone hits 20% remaining battery, it’s hard to keep our phones performing all day and all night to support us. So here are a couple productivity apps which help me save battery life and stay productive even with a low battery.

 

 

  1. B&W for iPhone: Bigger screen, brighter colors, our phones use most of their power in screen light. And there is a small revolution that occurred already a couple years ago in the iOS 6 update; the possibility to put your phone screen in black and white, saving up to 30% of power. To set it up: go to settings > general > accessibility > greyscale. And you’re good to go for a couple hours more!
  2. Battery Doctor: having apps running in the background, or a full cache can definitely use up precious power uselessly. Battery Doctor, in its orange version, has 2 useful features in its « Memory » and « Junk » sections which clean cache data you don’t need anymore. It’s a very useful app, especially for those of you who have older phones with smaller memory as it can free some useful mega to take that selfie with your girlfriend or downloading this attachment to work on it from a colleague.
  3. Pen & Paper: This might sound silly, but really, when your phone dies and there is no plug around, always having a notebook and a pen on your desk and in your bag does save your productivity. Of course, it’s great to have all those apps but relying solely on our power-dependent device can make us super unproductive when they’re not there to help us. So use this savvy tip, keep a notebook and a pen near you at all times, they will never fail you if your power goes out! PS: don’t look for it on the App Store, it’s not there!
  4. Search iPhone: search iPhone is a built-in app that has an extremely powerful keyword and research system. It really allows me to find anything on my phone. And the only thing is: you just need to turn it on in the settings!
  5. Google chrome: When chrome is your default browser on your computer and has all your passwords saved and your history and everything connected to your Google account, having this app on your mobile is golden, everything is saved and works just like on your computer, a real time saver, considering how annoying typing passwords on a phone can be
  6. Skyfire: I love my iPhone, but sometimes I curse these Cupertino close-minded jerks who prevent me from seeing a flash website on my phone. Skyfire is the one solution to the one problem Android users don’t have; taking advantage of your iPhone without suffering from the disadvantages.

 

Organization apps

organization

 

All productivity gurus and articles keep repeating this: getting organized is key to being productive and keeping a good work-life balance. And there are so many productivity apps around there that we don’t even know which to download. A short overview of my favorites might help you find your new best way!

 

  1. Phone reminders: If you belong to those of us who get attached to their smartphones and are not willing to change it for the latest shiny model, you probably find yourself facing the challenge of available memory on your phone. With apps being more and more powerful, hence heavier, it’s sometimes hard to keep your phone functioning properly. So, instead of throwing away your beloved smartphone, you can just delete all the heavy calendar apps and use the one already built-in your phone. Whatever your smartphone, there is definitely a reminder and a calendar app integrated within the Operation System. These apps, although they might not be the fanciest are (for most platforms) easy to use and do most of the tasks you’d expect from them. And you can’t get rid of it anyway, so it seems smart to make use of this otherwise lost space.
  2. Wunderlist: Find you phone’s to do’s app bland and wish your colleague could also receive notifications on tasks you set? Wunderlist is a freemium multi-platform reminder app that allows you to set your tasks with specific deadlines, organize them in lists, send reminders and even share tasks and lists of tasks with other users. The free version is super powerful and the multi-device integration really makes me feel super productive, no matter if I’m working on my tablet at home, on my phone on the way or on my computer in the office.
  3. Google Keep & Calendar: Quite an unknown Google app, Google Keep is a useful complement to Google Calendar. While the latter allows for easy and clear scheduling of meetings and activities, inviting colleagues and family to see or participate in your booked slots, its to-do is definitely not optimized. Google Keep allows you to keep multiple to-do lists and integrates them seamlessly into all your other Google apps. Free and easy, as always with Google.
  4. do: Just like Wunderlist, Any.do is a classical to-do app. Its design is slightly more modern to my taste. It synchronizes with Dropbox and you can also assign tasks to family/colleagues. Really, it’s a matter of preference between the two, they’re both great!
  5. Habitica: I cannot recall the countless arguments I’ve had with my younger brother about the importance of using a calendar and a to-do app to manage time properly. But as he would put it « it’s too boring to be useful » and to a certain extent, he’s right; how many of you see that paperwork task set on your calendar and feel like « hmm, I’ll just do it later because it’s not fun ». Habitica will not make paperwork fun – I don’t think anything can, and I come from bureaucratic France – but it’ll definitely make fulfilling the task fun. Habitica is a “to-do game », you embody a small character, progressing through winning points by completing tasks, or losing points if your task is not completed or is completed late. For all of you who need a playful incentive to respect your calendar, Habitica will definitely do the job. Available on iPhone & Android, freemium
  6. Tempo: Remember that situation when your meeting with an important customer is saved in your calendar, the location is saved as well but you arrive late because you miscalculated the time it would take you to get there? Tempo smartly integrates traveling time (with an update on traffic!), weather information and other useful environmental data which allows you to control almost all parameters to make all your scheduled meetings go as planned. And not having to use multiple apps to get all of that info is definitely a productivity gain!
  7. Momentum: Creating a routine requires a lot of willpower and a lot of help to keep you motivated. Remember that promise you made to your mum to eat more veggies for your health? You find it hard to keep up? While Morning Routine solves this problem for mornings, Momentum is a more general app that helps you keep track of all your routines every day. Its flat design and helpful reward system makes it easy to keep up and make your life more productive thanks to routines!

 

Work

work

 

If there is one area of our lives where productivity matters it’s our work. Indeed, it has a direct influence on our revenue and our free time, but also to the quality of what we do and thus our mood. And so many geniuses are developing lines of code for us to use in the shape of beautiful productivity apps on our phones, it would be a pity not to use any!

 

  1. Genius scan: Scanning documents has become a daily operation in our ever-more digital world. But as we move and travel more, I usually find myself short of a scanner to scan important documents and email them fast to people. And taking a picture is not something the majority of business partners like, so what to do? Genius scan is a good solution; I use it to scan documents for my company, like invoices, and it has a black and white function, that way it looks as if you really scanned it.
  2. Foc.us: For those of us who like to get a bit nerdy, this is a great app and tool to experience. foc.us is an app which combined with head patches transmits waves into your brain to increase your focus. It definitely feels a bit weird, and although it’s probably not the most appropriate tool in the office, you can definitely use it at home when you need to finish that presentation. It’s worth giving it a try.
  1. IFTTT: That anyone who thought that the automatic publishing of Instagram photos on Facebook was genius raise their hand. If you’re like me and would like your social media to be always aligned with each other while optimizing the time you spend on each, then IFTTT is the one tool you need. Standing for « If This Then That », IFTTT allows you to connect social media together thanks to an easy « if-then » formula. Not only does it work for social media but for hundreds of apps and website. From turning on your home radiators when you leave office until sharing your latest Facebook posts on twitter automatically, IFTT is definitely an all time favorite
  2. Evernote: Whatever their job, everyone needs a powerful note app. One on which you can record any media from music to PDF docs, that you can organize in folders, have keywords, make presentations from, set reminders etc. Do I still need to introduce an app you’re probably using better than me?
  3. Small PDF: PDF is definitely one of the coolest format ever invented, it’s safe, can be opened on any computer and will never change appearance no matter the software you use to open it. But, easy operations on any other format such as merging documents, splitting them, converting them to other formats or reducing their size become a pain if you don’t have pro software. Fortunately, a bunch of awesome people created SmallPDF, a free powerful website which allows you to perform all of these operations online in a matter of seconds. Since I’ve known about this website, it’s definitely been a time-saver.
  4. Google drive / slides / sheets / docs: I remember my first group presentation in college, we were a group of four, presenting a project for CSR class and I think we created at least 20 versions of our PowerPoint presentation because everyone wanted to put their mark on it. And although Facebook already had this function of « upload new version » of a document posted in a group, it quickly became a huge mess. And then, we discovered Google Drive and the slides app, which allowed everyone to collaborate flawlessly, comment on each other’s work, and keep a history of changes. And Slides isn’t the only awesome app in Google Drive, Docs, Sheets and Forms are all super useful. And there are two bonuses for these ones: first the 30GB of free storage Google offers you on its cloud to store any file you need, second the countless add-ons developed by 3rd parties that make them even more powerful and give them, even more, functions.
  5. Dropbox: That one time when you have a project with another company and they don’t trust Google apps! Dropbox is a similar service; a collaborative cloud storage solution. It has less apps, it’s maybe more to the point of sharing a word document and updating it collaboratively with the other team. It shares the same features as Google drive and has interesting business solutions. My colleagues in Germany swear by it. Simple and helpful.
  6. Trello: That one time when I had a team of 8 to organize a 4-day conference for 230 people and we had to think of everything from delegates room assignation to trainers material and meal prep while feeding social media and ensuring sleep for everyone, Trello proved super useful. It’s a team-based organizer in which you can create to-dos, set deadlines, upload documents and assign to-dos. Its dashboard makes it easy to navigate and know in seconds what the priorities are for the day. As always, free and synchronized on all devices!
  7. Podio: In need for a CRM but without having the financial means to invest into a pro software, the organization I was working for decided in 2014 to set up a Podio account for our business stakeholders and alumni, and it was a great progress in the management of these stakeholders, no messy sheets anymore. It’s collaborative and all customers have a page with all their information, all collaborators can have different access and editing rights. Podio allows the creation of multiple apps with which you can manage your business daily operations. It has to-dos, messages and a lot of other features, which make it a powerful tool for running daily operations.
  8. Slack: Look at your phone screen and check your notifications, raise your hand if your Facebook messenger is filled with messages from colleagues and multiple conversations are making you lost. Whatsapp also has its share of work-and-project-related conversations and your emails is also flooded with news and updates on projects. This situation used to make me so confused, always looking for information on different communication channels. And then my boss introduced us to Slack: it’s a team based communication app, in which you can create different channels to talk about different topics with all members of the team or only those working on the topic. You can tag people, upload documents, write posts, and put yourself into « Don’t disturb » mode for the night or your vacation. Bonus: you can insert GIFs into conversations.
  9. Cardmunch: I hate networking events. But it’s not because of overpriced drinks or my discomfort when pitching, it’s because I’m scared to death to lose business cards and not being able to convert all these efforts into something useful afterward. So, every networking event has a routine, when I come back at 10pm, slightly tipsy, I open my contacts and sit down for 1hour, updating my phone contact list with newly made contacts. Problem solved, but it’s tedious, and not the best end to an already challenging evening. Cardmunch now does the work for me. I just need to scan the business card and it’ll decipher the contacts, and automatically add it to my phone’s contact list or dozens of other apps like Mailchimp or HubSpot! Now, I don’t have an excuse not to network, and you don’t either!
  10. Focus Keeper: One of the productivity tips that keeps coming back on blogs is the 25-5 work pace. Work on a task for 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break and once you completed 4 cycles, take a longer break of about 20-30 min. Of course, your phone’s built-in timer does the trick but let’s be honest it could be more fun. Well, Focus Keeper does just that. It allows you to select a task, set the time and its beautiful design and simple features just make you want to focus!
  11. SlideCarnival: That one night when you find yourself having to prepare a presentation for an important customer and you’re clueless about how to design it; a template will be too obvious, black and white will be too bland and you playing out with colors after spending hours checking presentations on Slideshare in the design section might end up in an epic failure. Slide carnival will definitely be a life-saver, it offers a wide range of free templates that are editable from Google Slides, MS Powerpoint or Open Office. They are designed by a pro and are up to date with current design trends. As a bonus, it has free vector icons, which you can reuse for other presentations.
  12. Mindly: Paper and pen are awesome for brainstorming and mindmaps but then digitalization is always painful and you’re probably going to end up like me trying out things on PowerPoint with smart-art that’ll be too complex to read for your audience. With Mindly, a mind map app for smartphones, you’ll find yourself able to design beautiful mind maps in minutes. Additional trick: to put them in your presentation, just screenshot your smartphone screen in landscape mode, it will do the trick for most mind maps!
  13. WeTransfer: Ever tried to transfer a heavy video from your phone to someone and received that annoying notification « file too heavy to load »? I hate it. And I used to hate that this forced me to open my computer, connect my phone, transfer the video to my computer and then send it using Wetransfer. So this super useful website which allows you to send heavy files by emails (up to 2GB for free!), and their app allows you to do it directly on your phone; super handy!
  14. Charlie: When I was in business school, one of my friends dragged me to Business Intelligence class saying it was going to be « the most awesome class of the year ». Turned out, looking for information and stalking both people and the Internet is not my thing. So imagine when I needed to do some research for my business meetings. I’d just Google the person, check their LinkedIn provided they had anything public of interest and then go to the meeting. I didn’t have the best closing rate. So, how does Charlie solve my problem? Well, basically, this app connects to your calendar and collects data from different social networks about the people you’ll meet, providing a 2-minute digest of all you need to know with tips for a conversation starter, or things to congratulate them about… One of the best apps in this selection!!!

 

Social Media:

social media

Social media is a powerful tool to keep up with your loved ones, with business trends or to boost your own company’s visibility. But they’re also one of the biggest time-wasters in the world. Ever caught yourself looking at your Facebook newsfeed not remembering what you were supposed to do in the first place? Or spending hours trying to create a compilation video of your companies latest event only to have similar results to a 9th grader of 2010? Without demeaning what a 9th grader could do in 2010, there are plenty of productivity apps now to make it all pretty and easy!

 

 

  1. Snapseed: You just took the perfect selfie, but need a filter or to add a caption on your image before posting it on social media? Snapseed is there for you! It’s more powerful than most phones built-in image editors, more private than using Instagram directly and it’s free! Definitely one of my marketing colleagues favorite apps.
  2. Quik: Need to create a quick movie with pictures, animations, and music with a specific theme to communicate on social media? Quik helps you do so in seconds. Select a theme, select a picture, select the music from the app’s library or your own, add your text and captions and let the app do the work for you! Save and enjoy! Bonus: it has a weekly movie function that makes movies out of your week’s pictures to help you keep memories in an entertaining way. Best of all, it’s entirely free!
  3. Filmic pro: All our phones have very elaborate cameras but we only use them with default or automatic settings. Did you know you could control shutter speed and exposure? With this app, you can control everything from your camera and finally unleash your creativity.
  4. Page: Ever tried to manage your company Facebook page and mix things up with your personal account? It happened to me plenty of times, commenting a friend’s picture with the organization page, or publishing a post with my personal account; embarrassing situations that I could easily have avoided with the app Page. It has a lot of tools to help you analyze your data and boost your reach!
  5. Facebook: The one and only Facebook app, do I really need to present this application? Though, maybe I should tell you how it wouldn’t kill your productivity. Well, Facebook is definitely something that you will do on your phone, and if you don’t have the app you’ll go on their web version via your phone browser and the mobile web version is definitely not as smooth and performing as the app. So by the absurd, a faster waste of time is less waste of time! And after all, maybe you won’t even be wasting your time Facebooking, you might need to contact a prospect or a potential business partner or share something in a group, which a page doesn’t allow you too! That’s what the app is for!
  6. Twitter: Twitter is definitely a must-have app for your public profile or for your business. The app allows me to not waste time on your laptop once in the office. Dealing with these things during commute or breakfast time for example. It offers all the needed features to tweet productively!
  7. Instagram: From Instababes to Instabusiness; this app just recently made it to my phone! So many businesses start using this network for marketing, and I do like to follow companies on this network, it’s less formal, more fun although superficial! But it’s also super convenient with its instant Facebook integration and one of my friend even uses it to edit all the pictures he takes from his phone without publishing them on the network. A double-use for this app, saving time and space on your phone, to make you more productive.
  8. Snapchat: If you think of Snapchat as sending tipsy videos of you to your best friends, for sure it might not be the most productive application on your phone. But same as Instagram, its use by businesses and companies have risen in the last couple years. It allows them to build an interaction with their customers; to have a very personal and intimate relationship with them. As a customer, I appreciate seeing « behind the scenes », as a professional myself, some of the local offices of my organization are piloting Snapchat accounts to share stories with potential customers and it received good feedback. Last but not least, receiving a crazy picture from your best friend whether in the middle of the day or the middle of the night can definitely relax you, and that little emotional break will make you more productive!
  9. LinkedIn: What would business be without LinkedIn? Last year, I was looking for an internship and I received weekend advice from the coolest professional I know: my dad, and he started telling me about how to write a beautiful letter and CV and to print them on special paper so you get noticed when you mail it. Yes, he was talking about actual mail, in an envelope with a stamp. Later, I went out for a drink with friends and he applied for a job with a tap of his thumb on his phone. And he got the job. This app has become an essential, something I update regularly with my articles, for example, check business opportunities whether for my organization or for myself, it allows me to also know the trends and what businesses are up to!
  10. Iconosquare: How would social networks be productive without you being able to measure it? Data analyzing apps are a super good help, so you can finally tell your boss you’re not « wasting time » but actually being productive. Iconosquare (renamed from Statigram) is one of the best apps for Instagram stats. It has a really clear dashboard and provides very useful insights on which posts are trending or not!

 

 

Email

email 

 

Since they were created, emails have allowed communication to become more effective, helping companies get even more productive. But in this time of endless communication, emails can be the worst productivity-killer ever. With the average US employee receiving 25 emails, providing it takes an average of 5-minute per email to process, it’s more than 2 hours per day being lost! So where are the productivity apps out there that can help you and me keep emails productive?

 

  1. Boomerang: For all of you who use « mark as unread » for inbox management because it’s simple & easy, you’ve probably got yourself in a situation where your inbox fills in with emails that require your attention not now but in the future. Boomerang is an awesome extension for your web browser, which allows you to boomerang an email to your inbox at a chosen date. It also allows you to schedule emails. I use it to send out monthly reports, which by my Job Description I need to send out every 1st of the month, but sometimes 1st of the month is on Sunday and I don’t really want to work on that day, even just for one email. So, I just write the email on Friday and schedule it for Sunday. No more excuses to-be on my computer during Sunday brunch! Finally, it can also boomerang emails to recipients if they haven’t received it in a certain timespan, like a reminder. Super handy when your head is a bit full and you forget to send reminders to people who forgot to answer!
  2. Sidekick/Mailtracker: I had a colleague last year who never replied to my emails despite all my efforts, and every time I was asking him whether he had read it he told me the email got lost or went to spam or some other BS excuse. That worked for me until I found about Sidekick and Mailtracker. These 2 apps that you connect to you Gmail or other email account send you a report on who read your emails and even who clicked on the links & opened the attachments.
  3. Hemingway: Based on Hubspot’s research on email effectiveness, the most effective emails are the ones that are written in 3rd Grade language. That means avoiding complex vocabulary and lengthy sentences. As someone who’s particularly fond of 19th-century literature which fancied this writing style, this is one of the worst flaws I have: I like to make things fancy; but it’s totally counter-productive. Hemingway highlights my long sentences and suggests ways to reduce them. Super handy if like me you want to sound bold and clear rather than fancy and over-complicated.
  4. Just not sorry: I have a secret to tell you: I’m still a student and although I already have some professional experience. Most of my emails to partners and older or more experienced colleagues have a very distinct « fresh out of college » style. That’s long to say submissive. My friend who works in Business Development and sales told me « They’ll never treat you as an equal if you don’t write to them as if they’re your equals » and then I discovered Just Not Sorry. This browser expansion reads your emails as you type them and suggests ways to sound less apologetic and more self-confident. And now, even my banker respects me!
  5. Grammarly: One of my favorite productivity hacks. Even the best of us have our bad grammar days and built-in auto-correct tend to mostly focus on spelling, not on grammar. So they won’t notice the difference between « they’re », « their » and « there « , but your VIP partner definitely will. Grammarly is a browser extension that’ll analyze what you write, underline potential mistakes or possible alternatives. And if like me your grammar-obsessed English teacher from high school made your grammar a reference in the office and you have your colleagues (or boss) ask you to double check important emails before they’re sent, showing them this app will considerably decrease the amount of time you spend checking their grammar. I saved around 1h a week just by showing this to my team of 6 people

 

Fun & Leisure

fun

Every productivity expert will tell you that fun and leisure are as important to being productive than work. So, how can your best friend help you have fun outside of work and get a well-deserved break to boost your mood and your productivity?

 

  1. Places I’ve pooped: I happen to share a flat with 4 guys this year and what I’ve learned was that toilet-time was an essential part of their daily routine. They started using this app to mark all the places, bars, clubs, museums, etc. where they pooped. It’s like a travel map. It’s useless but it’s tons of fun for them! So why not for you?
  2. Cutest animals: Always looking for pictures of super cute pets to boost your mood on a bad day? You’re right, some research has shown it had a positive effect on your mood and thus to your productivity. So, you can definitely download this app on your phone and indulge into a productive break
  3. Great lightsaber: This is another secret for you: I have never seen any of the Star Wars movies, and I’m not particularly a Sci-Fi fan. However, I do love to use that app for fake lightsaber fights with my marketing manager during break time at the office. Going back to such childish games really releases stress and helps me focus better at my job, until the next fight!
  4. Pocket: There is so much good content out there on the Internet, that I always have that frustration that I’m never able to read all of it. But then, in my times of boredom, let’s say in the plane, I cannot access this content because, of course, my devices are on « plane mode ». Pocket allows you to save online content with one tap and makes it available offline. The tags you add to your content when saving it, makes it easy to organize and get around what you saved. This first prevents me from wasting time reading super interesting stuff when I’m not supposed to, but also makes my bored time more meaningful; that’s a double-productivity hack!
  5. Feedly: I love to use Pocket for random stuff I like to read but there are a lot of sources that I consult on a daily or weekly basis because I need to keep some updates on what is happening in the different places and fields and feedly allows me to do just that. Basically, it allows me to subscribe to RSS feeds and to a lot of different sources and to organize them in collections. The power of the community also allows you to see from the sources you subscribe to which are the most popular reads. Paid versions allow for super good integration with other services such as Slack & IFTTT.
  6. Spotify: I have become very fond of Spotify. Music definitely helps me focus and manage my mood depending on what playlist I play. While I was used to uploading my CDs or to download music on my iTunes accounts, Spotify made the whole process of listening to music from my phone so much easier and faster. Bonus: unlike listening to music on YouTube, you can use your phone while music plays and the « available offline » of the paid version which allows you to take your music literally anywhere as long as your battery is on.
  7. YouTube: No need to introduce what YouTube does I guess. However, for me, it’s an essential app for fun & leisure. I use it for cooking tutorials in my kitchen, showing that latest video to my friend and of course following my favorite YouTubers; people I value for their insightful opinions or for the exhilarating fun they provide me with.
  8. Stylicious: I am a girl, and like any girl, a few mornings a week, I stand in front of my closet with an empty mind wondering « what am I going to wear today? » . And it can be both a real pain and waste of time. Stylicious allows me to take a picture of all the pieces of clothing in my closet, and to create outfits, a community of stylists can also help me design the best combinations for an event. Very handy not only for fashionista but for anyone wondering what to wear in the morning.
  9. HAPPIER: I’m French and as a French person, I love to complain and to criticize my day and to be overall pessimistic. But that is definitely not helping me being happy and productive. Happier is my pocket friend to gratitude journaling. It helps me remember the moments I should appreciate even on the worst days. The awesome thing is that it’s built around a community so you can either keep your journaling for yourself or share it with a whole lot of other people sharing the same values and struggle.
  10. Schulte grid: Since I can recall, I was never confident with catching any flying object. I spent my school years avoiding volleyball classes because I would just run away from the ball instead of sending it back. It just happens I have bad reflexes, and this has a solution. Super simple games just like this one help me get better and become more confident. I still hate volleyball, but now it’s not because I’m afraid of the ball anymore.
  11. Filmon: Remember when your English teacher in high school told you that immersing yourself in English culture was the best way to learn the language and made you listen to BBS podcasts? What if you could have access to all British channels, a lot of US channels, for free with all their programs without having to look up for shots on YouTube? Then Filmon is yours to download, transforming leisure time into language classes!
  12. Sky map: Dating is another part of leisure and people who’re happy in their relationships definitely are happier in life and more productive. This app shows the constellations in the universe by you pointing your camera at it. So of course, it’s not going to make that wonderful girl fall in love with you, but it may help you end the date on a romantic positive note! Good for your happiness and good for your productivity on the next day, unless you keep daydreaming about her.
  13. Duel Quiz: Having fun is good, but how about learning while having fun? This app is like a mini trivia game that you can play against your friends or a random person. It’s very nice for socializing and build connection but also to get some knowledge thanks to the questions. And that helps me both sound smart when I’m with business partners and keep socializing with my long-distance boyfriend over lunch time.
  14. Kindle: I don’t know about you but a good book has always helped me feel good, words have this amazing power of taking you away from trivial thoughts! However, books are heavy to carry and take a lot of space in a flat. Although libraries sort of solved that problem in the last century, e-books are definitely the number one solution technology provided us for that issue. Kindle is not just a device, it’s also an app. It allows you to read e-books easily on your favorite device without having the trouble of carrying an extra gadget for that.
  15. Dual N Back: If like me, you want to develop your memory to remember more things, not only for work but especially the good times, training it while having fun is possible with this visualization game.
  16. Shazam: There’s nothing like a good song but there’s always this moment when you hear a new song and want to know the title & artist. Unfortunately, there isn’t always someone around who knows this. Shazam is just the right app for that. It allows me to build better playlists for my Spotify to manage my mood at work, or just have better parties
  17. 9gag: Need a break? Need to have a good laugh! 9gag is a website and app which can lead to serious productivity problems if you open it in office. But on those rainy days when a customer was super obnoxious, I have to admit this helps me continue my job. And sharing the best Memes with colleagues definitely improves the teamwork, thus also our productivity!

 

Keeping in Touch:

keeping in touch

We have more and more people we know as organizations and opportunities are worldwide and interconnected. But relationships are a really important part of our inner-balance, it’s one of the Why Not 3 Principles after all. But keeping in touch can be hard sometimes so how can your 5 inches productivity pocket friend help you achieve that?

 

  1. Messenger: As a Y generation member, Facebook has been my best friend since I’m a teenager; therefore its messaging app is definitely on my home screen. It’s handy although the new emoji design is debatable. The separate app, although a lot of people used to not like it, really allows me to focus more on the messages without the distractions of notifications from my Facebook feed.
  2. WhatsApp: This revolutionized the way I communicated with friends & colleagues abroad. It’s just like texts but without the expensive international costs. I like how simple it is to use and its low use of data for messages. The voice notes are also really good although a lot of other messaging apps are catching up with this trend. And bonus: you don’t need to be a friend with people to communicate with them, phone number is enough
  3. Line: The Asian version of WhatsApp; better design and more kawaii functions with more emojis, stickers and special GIF’s. Overall, if you work with people in Asia, it’ll be more productive to use this one rather than making them change to WhatsApp!
  4. Skype: Do I really need to introduce this app? Actually, yes. Personally, I use Skype on my phone way more than on other devices. The call quality is usually way better than on a computer and it’s still the one app that has been around for so long that my parents know how to use it.
  5. Hangouts: The online Google version of Skype. A Gmail account is needed to communicate, call quality is a bit higher than on Skype according to my own experience and I personally prefer the user experience. I love this app because it integrates with all the other Google Tools, like with Google calendar, which automatically creates a hangout link for your planned meetings with another person. So, this definitely is something I use to make my time more effective, I don’t need to switch between apps all the time.
  6. Couple: Those who have to be in a long-distance relationship because of work raise their hand. I guess as entrepreneurs, we’re all traveling a lot and cannot always be physically with our partner. This app is on my home screen. At first sight, it looks like WhatsApp, except the only person you can talk to is your partner, and they have tons of super cool special features like a live drawing where you can draw together and thumb kiss! This definitely helped me sustain my 6-year-old relationship during 1 year of long-distance

 

Travel

travel

In an ever more connected world, traveling has become an essential part of both work and leisure and even if it’s becoming easier and smoother to move around. If not planned properly it can be a huge waste of time, productivity, and money. So let your pocket help you save all the hassle and get the most out of your travels!

 

  1. TripIt: I personally hate it when I have so many email reservations for my flight, then my bus, then my hostel, and my museum visit, and then dig into my inbox when I’m there. This app allows you to transfer all your reservations and then find it all in one place and available offline when on the spot. It’s extremely useful and definitely reduces all the data roaming!
  2. Google translate: When I was in China, I couldn’t speak nor read mandarin – and I still don’t to this day! – So it was very difficult to get around as very few people spoke English. The quality of the Google translation is such that I was able to show written translation to people around me. The voice & character recognition allowed me to understand what the taxi drivers were telling me – although sometimes it got funny – and to even read menus in restaurants by scanning words. So, of course, it doesn’t work offline but still it’s extremely
  3. Waze: When I was a kid, I remember the long rides we used to take to go on holiday with my family; to avoid traffic, my dad would turn the radio on and we would spend the day listening to traffic updates and route change suggestions. This radio station still exists but now there is a quieter and more efficient way to get all this info: Waze. It works just like any GPS app but has a very strong community feeding it info such as traffic, but also speed limits, maintenance, etc. It has become an essential app for all my carpooling experiences.
  4. Google maps: So, you’re in the office, you’re checking that email from a lead you need to meet and opening Google Maps to check the route. Then you leave office, get in your car or on the subway and start doubting and now you need to repeat the whole process on your phone: look through email – copy address – paste in Google maps – wait for directions. Well, the new feature of Google maps « send to your phone » makes this history; with a single click it sends the directions to your phone and opens it in the app on your phone. No more hassle or copy/pasting between phone & computer!
  5. Duolingo: With English being so predominant, a lot of people are questioning the use of learning other languages, but sometimes that amazing German girl you met becomes your girlfriend and she wants to introduce you to her parents who only speak German… Unlike most language apps, this one is entirely free and has a very efficient method, in 3 months with a bit of effort you can follow and participate in common conversations. For the professionals who are looking for business opportunities, learning the language of your main customer or supplier can not only save you the salary of your interpret and a lot of time, but also your business relations will improve as there’s a high chance they’ll be flattered by your efforts.
  6. Hopper: Comparing flight prices, taking into account date & destination can sometimes be hard. But worse, trying to predict whether prices will go up or go down between now and the following week when you get your salary transferred is just like Russian roulette with your budget. Hopper not only shows a calendar of the best dates to fly to your destination but also uses prediction algorithms that allow it to predict whether prices should go up (in this case you need to buy now) or down (in this case you should wait) in the next days/weeks.
  7. Blablacar: The first time I used carpooling, there was no app, just a community website where you’d meet strangers and give them cash for a ride… And then the community grew and Blablacar became not only a hippie way to travel but a shared-economy giant. Carpooling is developing at an ever-faster pace and is now a « normal » way of traveling for many Europeans. This app allows you to book or propose your trips, check & give reviews of drivers & passengers, pay for a ride and all the other features you’d expect from such an app.
  8. Flixbus/Megabus: There’s probably nothing better for your budget than traveling by bus. Although trips can be a bit long – 18 hours from Paris to Madrid instead of a 2-hour flight for example – the value is incredible. A lot of companies are out there whether in Europe or the rest of the world and it has become a habit for me to download the app of one I’m traveling with as it allows me to store my bookings and find them offline (handy when traveling abroad!). Of course, you can also book your trips on these apps, but first I like to compare prices using www.checkmybus.com
  9. RyanAir/EasyJet/Vueling: Same as for buses, airlines have their own app which allows you to book but also to find your bookings offline and avoid the printing of your ticket by using a QR code directly from your app, saves time and paper for a happier you and a happier planet!
  10. RATP/Underground app: Public transportation systems can sometimes be complex and planning your trip from one district to another can turn into a painful exercise. Luckily, most cities have developed easy-to-use and effective apps that help you plan your trips, choosing your means of transportation, amount of walking etc. Living in Paris, the RATP app is definitely of daily use for me but check out your city’s app, I’m sure it’s just as helpful!
  11. Converter+: What happens when you open an online business in Europe but have US customers? Conversion nightmares. From distance to weight and currencies, everything needs to be converted. And things like currency evolve constantly. Converter+ helps you convert all these in just one place!
  12. Jetsmarter: Ever dreamed of flying in a private jet? Always thought it was too expensive for you? This app might change your mind. Some of the jet seats are less expensive than a commercial flight. It is based on a community of jet owners who share their journeys and open seats to people having the same journey. It’s like the Blablacar of airplanes, the only difference being you will never have to sit at the back of a Twingo!

 

Finance & Daily life

finance

 

Productivity is not solely intended for the office, it can cover any activity and action we undertake. And daily life can get pretty time-consuming and complicated. So, instead of enjoying life outside of work we usually spend our off-time worrying about money or other trivial problems. And there again, your inch-size gadget can help you with tons of productivity apps.

 

  1. Expensify: When managing a company or an organization’s finance, filing and processing expense report is a tedious task for both employee and finance department. Expensify allows employees to easily submit their expense report and for a finance department to approve it in the app. Smart scans of receipts and integration within accounting software are included. This definitely makes business finance more productive.
  2. Bank App: I’m pretty sure you have a bank, and I’m pretty sure this bank has an app and most probably you don’t use it because it’s not sexy. A lot of banks are now making a lot of efforts in revamping their apps for them to be more helpful. In addition to allowing you to see your current balance, making transfers and contacting your advisor; most of them now also have a budgeting tool, which classifies expenses and revenues and can produce an analysis and reports on how you spend your money. This was a real help when I was a student as it really allowed me to understand on what I spent money and how I could be smarter with it.
  3. Splitwise/Tricount: Jack paid 89$ for the gas, John paid 95$ for the first groceries and you paid 240$ for the hotel; how much does each of you owe each other? Sounds like the math exercise your 9-year-old young cousin solved last week but that takes you pen, paper, your phone calculator and 1 hour to figure out? The good news is: it’s over! With these 2 apps, you can just enter what each paid for and it’ll automatically calculate who owes what to who. I love using this app from going to the restaurant with colleagues to going on a trip with my friends or even buying common presents with the whole family on Christmas.
  4. Audiomemos: Although most phones have built-in voice memo recorders, their functionalities are usually limited. This app has really good quality and compression of files so you can record a whole 2h workshop with it. Very handy for customer research and interviews as well. It has helped me a lot in my marketing qualitative research when you have to transcript all the interviews you’ve done, the voice is much clearer as all the surrounding noise are « muted » .
  5. Pocketbudget/Linxo/Moneylover: For those of you whose bank doesn’t have a budget function, these apps can fill in the gap. They allow you to enter your expenses and incomes easily from your phone, as you make them, some of them like Linxo even synchronize with your bank account so you don’t have to enter them manually. You can set limits for each category of expenses per month or week and it’ll send you notifications if you’re close to crossing your limit. Super handy!
  6. Lydia: After calculating how much everybody owes to everybody, it’s time to pay, but how? Cash and bank transfers work of course but isn’t there something simpler? In France, and now expanding to Europe, Lydia allows for credit card payment between individuals using their phone number or emails. You can send them money in 30sec or even request it from them. And the best part is: they don’t need the app to pay you; you enter their number, they receive a secure payment link, enter their credit card details and that’s it! Since I started using it, I’ve had a lot less troubles with colleagues and friends owing me a few bucks who never repaid me because they forgot or were lazy; this app allows no excuse!
  7. Aliexpress: Ever used Amazon? Ever thought a cheaper version should exist? Jack Ma heard your prayers. Aliexpress is the one competitor for Amazon. It’s originally from China but now delivers and operates in most of the world. And you can find anything there. The only downside, the delivery time is definitely not as fast as Amazon’s, but they’re catching up, fast!
  8. Foodora/Deliveroo/TakeEatEasy: Honestly, after a hard day, there are moments when I feel like cooking will just kill me so I indulge into delivery. There is nothing that beats that guilty pleasure after a long day (and most of them deliver ice-cream as dessert for comfort!). The range of offers they have is massive and the delivery time is really fast. Bonus: now even some fancy restaurants deliver through them, having someone important for dinner and don’t want to make a mess in the kitchen (or ruin your evening with your yet-to-be-developed cooking skills)? This will easily do the trick.
  9. PayByPhone: As an urban driver, after looking for a parking spot, the moment of paying the fee is definitely on the top of the « pains of driving » list. Indeed parking meters usually only take in coins and you have to choose the amount of time you’ll be spending there without any possibility to adjust it, so what if your meeting takes more time? Either you run out of your meeting pretending to go to the bathroom and put in a few extra coins or take the risk to get a fine. PayByPhone is a new app being used in France, UK and Belgium and also expanding to Europe. It allows you to pay your parking fee by phone entering your plate & credit card details and to adjust your payment by time (buy more time or even reduce your time and get money back). Bonus: you don’t need a smartphone to do all that; the process can also be done by texts for those who still thrive with a good ol’ Nokia.

 

Health:

health

Last but not least, being productive isn’t possible if you’re not healthy. And by being healthy I don’t necessarily mean counting calories and tracking exercise. Of course, these are the ones we think about the most, but health is more than that, it goes from your brain to your toes and there are (one last time) tons of productivity apps that can help you improve your health and thus being more efficient and productive!

 

  1. Waterlogged: Doctors, nurses, teachers, TV and my mom will never say it enough: we need to drink at least 1.5L of water every day to function properly. But my daily intake usually looks like: morning coffee, lunch coffee, and a glass of water for dinner; definitely not enough but I get caught up in work and I forget! Waterlogged tracks your daily water intake and sends you regular reminders for keeping you hydrated and productive at all time! Bonus: some research has shown that drinking water is sometimes as efficient as a cup of coffee for keeping focus, for those of you who have trouble sleeping at night because of that late afternoon coffee, maybe it’s time to change your habits!
  2. Tabata: When exercising, it’s very important to use proper timing, to make sure your efforts both pay off and don’t cause harm. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found it hard to take a look at my watch for precise timing when exercising or to use my phone’s timer for workouts and break periods. Time for me to set up the 10 sec break between 2 series and it’s over. Tabata solves that exact problem; it’s a set of apps with exercises and timers, which allow you to not care about time, you just need to follow either audio or visual signals from your phone to exercise properly.
  3. Lux: When I started university, I started wearing glasses to reduce my migraines and my doctor said: « only use them when you read and are in front of a screen ». Well, needless to say, I wear them almost all the time now because there are screens everywhere and they’re involved in everything. Our eyes have a very strong connection with our brain and eye fatigue is definitely a holdback in my productivity. And when do our eyes get the most of our fatigue? At night when blue light interferes with the dark. So for those of you who are like me and still want to continue using your computer at night, you can use FLUX, it transforms the blue light of your screen in yellow light at nightfall. Colors definitely look a bit awkward at first but after a few days you get used to it and honestly, my eyes definitely feel better in the morning and so does my brain and my productivity for the next day.
  4. Skulpt: Every one of us wants to be fitter for both beauty and health, and fitter, in our vocabulary, usually means fighting the evil of “fat”. But how do you know which part of your body has the most fat so you can target your exercise? Either you follow Arnold Schwarzenegger « It’s simple, if it jiggles, it’s fat », or you use Skulpt, a device which connected to your phone scans your body muscles and tells you how much percentage of fat you have in each. Very handy for targeting the gym class you’ll attend next!
  5. Fitbit: Should I really introduce the Google of health trackers? This bracelet connects to your phone and allows you to track bunch of data related to your health, your exercise, etc. Very handy to keep track of everything and to motivate yourself with your progress!
  6. Clue: There are a bunch of health apps out there to track your heart rate, your sleep, and your temperature, but how about your period and fertility? Yes, I’m talking to the women out there; don’t you hate it when you’re not sure when your period will be or to use a secret coding system in your Google calendar? This free app is super complete, it easily allows you to enter your date from preset categories and after a few months, it gets scarily good at predicting when your next period starts and sends you notifications about it! It’s one of my top apps since I started using it 1 year ago!
  7. Heartmath: Again another app coupled with an accessory. This one comes with a tracker but it’s not intended to track your health, it tracks your stress and proposes you ways to reduce it. And as we know, stress is not good for health, so getting rid of it sounds like a healthy thing, right?

 

So, if you made it until this point, congratulations! I hope you found out a few cool apps and are ready to boost your productivity thanks to all these apps!

 

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If you want to find out more make sure to sign up to the email list by clicking on the “GET STARTED” button in the top right corner.

 

By Noémie Bouin

Edited by Lova Kremer

Killing Jet lag: Can’t sleep at night, what to do?

Do you travel often and get jet lag sometimes?

Do you sometimes find yourself not being in your own bed?

Are you struggling with falling asleep faster?

I can probably go on with 10 more questions to see whether or not you struggle with jet lag, but I think you’re interested enough. Your reality is harsh when you’re traveling. I just came back from the Freedom Business Awards in Las Vegas, where I went through a 9 hour time difference. Traveling knowing you’re going to receive jet lag is not very nice, however, I try not to think about it too much until jet lag actually hits me (hard).

When you travel West you just stay up later and the jet lag usually sorts itself out. It took me maybe a day or two to get used to the time difference. No jet lag there.

But, this wasn’t my first rodeo and I knew that traveling West was not going to be the problem.

Travelling East is the problem for jet lag.

Currently, I’m in my bed writing this blog post at 03:35 am , so clearly all my biohacking tools didn’t succeed in me biohacking Jet lag. What follows is a step-by-step of what I usually do and where I screwed up, which ended up in me writing this blog post on jet lag. Hopefully, I won’t forget these steps anymore (probably will).

Still, as one cheerful South Park episode once mentioned, we all have a perfect 20/20 hindsight vision. What follows is several tips on how I usually hack Jet lag, it works 99% when I travel West, and unfortunately only 40% when I travel East. It just so happens that right now, as I’m writing this, I’m in the other 60%.

 

1. Take known sleep supplements to counteract jet lag: Magnesium & Gaba

If you’re in my close group of friends, then you might have heard me mention these two sleep supplements. If you’re having any trouble sleeping (because of things like Jet lag), these will be the two supplements that I recommend.

The story goes quite simple and unexpected on how I discovered them. In the days that I was doing blood analyses every month, I would notice that whenever I had trouble sleeping my Magnesium levels were low. I then started supplementing with pure Magnesium and noticed that my sleeping patterns got healthier, and I also fell asleep faster.

If I had a very stressful day and I couldn’t calm my mind, what usually did the trick (but I used it less often) was GABA. The reason I use GABA less often is because there isn’t much scientific research to be shown for GABA. A doctor will probably tell you it’s a natural hormone in your brain, but that’s usually where the knowledge stops. I once asked my pharmacy to print out what they had on record from their supplier as the description (which in Belgium is required for every drug sold by a pharmacy), the description literally read nothing. Just empty.

Now, the reason I’m not completely freaked out is that if you delve deeper and you use moderate doses you’re not going to fry your brain. I use it for myself to kickstart my sleeping routine into normal again. A situation where I used to use it a lot is exam periods, high-pressure business pitches, or a day before delivering a 3-day conference in front of 155 people.

It’s definitely better than normal sleeping pills, as it’s still natural. And I see it like I see taking a sip of alcohol before going to bed (which also stimulates GABA production btw), it’s best NOT to do it. However, when you’re dealing with high-stress situations on your mind it’s worth the trade-off. Because in the end stress will be a worse enemy than alcohol for a longer and healthier life. Especially, if you’re fighting against Jet lag.

Bonus tip: I also use GABA whenever I’m on a conference as a speaker and I know I’ll have to be at the top of my game and perform on less than 3-4 hours of sleep for several days. It improves my deep sleep according to my sleep tracker.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, so consult with a doctor before taking it. That being said, some doctors are very traditional and if they don’t know the product they just advise not to take it (without even looking at the composition) -> those are the doctors you want to avoid in your biohacking journey. Go to the doctors that have read recent research and not doctors that remember something that they read once in their studies (avoid those), cause medicine is a science and every couple of years someone comes along and rocks the entire boat. Just like the uprise we’re having right now of good fats, vs. carbs. Who knew that you had to look at the toxin compound of foods as well? Apparently, the government and normal doctors didn’t (but that’s for another blog post)…

2. Grounding to counteract Jet lag? -> Yep, it works

Grounding is literally touching the earth with your skin. I first found out about it from Dave Asprey at the Bulletproof diet (www.bulletproofexec.com). I was a bit skeptical about how Dave Asprey described grounding and the bulletproof diet, but if you’re a true biohacker then there is no other way but to try it out before drawing conclusions. So I did, and yes it works, especially for jet lag.

 

In simple terms what I would do is:

a) either find a patch of soil in a park, a beach next to the sea (not a fake on in a bar), and so on… And do some exercise for 20 minutes on it.

b) Have my grounding bracelet (or mat) that plugs into the socket and takes all the energy out. Because, it’s smaller I usually leave it on overnight. I experimented in the beginning with putting it on my wrist, but that would ruin my sleep during the night, because I tend to move a lot. After a week of trying different limbs I found that putting it on my right foot was the best option.

 

The idea is to get all of the accumulated energy out into the soil. I’m not very much into hippy stuff, but if it works, it works. And yes, it does work just try it out. Worst case, you would have exercised for 20 minutes on the ground.

The best way I can describe the sleep you have after that is by making you imagine a day where you spend playing sports on the beach with your friends. At the end of the day you come back exhausted and fall into your bed. That sleep that you have, is what you’re getting because you grounded yourself. The only other way to get that sleep I found was to take GABA, whenever you’re short on it. Because GABA doesn’t work that well when you don’t have a shortage of it in your body.

 

3. Staying up for 24 hours??

So, when I was coming back from the Freedom business awards I tried to stay up for 24 hours to counteract the jet lag. I’ve tried this for half a dozen transcontinental flights now and let me tell you, it’s not going to work. The reason is simple, in order for your body to stay up 24+ hours you need to stay active, if you’re sitting in a chair with nothing to do, except for reading a book, or taxes for your company or writing a blog post. You are not going to be stimulated enough to actually stay awake. Unless, by some miracle you found that one book that will change your life. But, let’s be honest the chances of you getting a book like that every time you fly transcontinental is not that high (unless it’s the Why Not 3 book :D). But, all jokes aside you can’t stimulate your brain for 24 hours, you can stimulate your body for that long by doing active stuff, but you can’t solve a mathematics exercise for 24 hours straight if you’re a normal person just like you and me.

Short conclusion: in theory it works for jet lag, in practice not so much.

So what’s the solution then?

4. Exercise to keep you awake

Well, I kind of mentioned it already. Exercise should tire your body enough and keep it active until you actually have to go to bed. The reason that I’m writing this blog at night (at this point it’s 4:01 am) is because I actually followed this last tip and exercised, but forgot the second part (hey, I’m not perfect and I don’t claim to be. I’m just a guy on the pursuit of the perfect work-life balance).  I forgot to keep myself awake until I had to go to bed, I fell asleep around 20 ‘o clock, which meant that I woke up around 1 am and yep you’ve guessed it, it ruined my sleeping rhythm (again).

But tomorrow is another day, which brings me to the next tip;

5. Just use F.lux or Nightshift

I’ve probably mentioned this app in every blog post I’ve written or every YouTube video I’ve released. If you’re reading this at night and you don’t have that app switched on, I can already tell you that you’re not going to fall asleep in the next 2 hours unless you’re seriously tired. But then again, from experimenting on myself I can tell you that your sleep is not going to be as effective as it should be, even though you think you’re sleeping well.

Unless you’re tracking yourself, you don’t know what the best sleep is that you can achieve. I mean imagine you install that app or you discover a certain supplement or you do some cool exercise that stimulates sleep, and then you fall asleep and you have an amazing 99% deep sleep (not that it exists), but just imagine that it happens.

What I’m trying to illustrate with the above story is that if you want to give yourself an ultimate sleeping experience, you owe it to your body to really go and experiment with all of it, instead of thinking that your sleep is good enough already. 

When you’re comfortable and you don’t grow, you start going backward. Because your body changes every day, and it grows and evolves and if you don’t keep up, at one point your going to feel it.

Even if, everything is perfect you want to track why it’s perfect, so that if something changes in your environment you’ll be able to reenact what it was that gave you such good sleep.

6. What to do when everything fails and you can’t sleep (because of jet lag)?

First thing is be productive, because if you do something that you’re proud of or something that can’t make you feel bad about staying up, then at least you’re not going to go into a vicious circle and start hating your life (not that you should, I mean it’s just sleep jeez). By having done something productive you tell yourself that no matter what, everything is going to be fine. Now that that stress is out of the way you can continue to the next step, always tire your body out before you tire your brain.

Why?

Simple, every day you get a ‘cup’ of willpower (there is a ton of research that proved this concept). Every decision you take makes the cup of willpower smaller if by the end of that day you took a lot of decision your cup is empty and you’re not going to exercise. You’re going to go into bed with your laptop and watch an empty movie or tv-show. You don’t want that to happen, so exercise first and then tire your brain out. If your brain is still running fast, recognize the concept of the cup of willpower and start making decisions that require mental energy (like writing a blog post). If it’s late you’ll have trouble doing stuff you’re not passionate about (like taxes), so try to focus on the stuff that you are passionate about. That way it doesn’t feel like a strain, but believe me that cup will slowly become emptier until you naturally turn off your computer and fall asleep.

 

So those were my tips on how to deal with Jet lag. They work almost always when traveling West, they work almost half of the time when traveling East. I’ve been using them religiously for a while, however, If you know some other stuff I would love to hear some more in the comments.

 

As always, I enjoy delving deeper into the health topic. If you’re interested in more information check out my other posts. We divide the blog into Health, wealth and relationships. The idea is to balance them all to achieve a perfect work-life balance, and by doing so achieving ultimate happiness & productivity.

 

Cheers

Lova

Founder of Why Not 3? Work-Life Balance for Entrepreneurs

 

Make sure to check out our 30-day FREE Work-Life Balance challenge here:

www.whynot3.com/30-day-challenge

Meditation for those who can’t sit still…

Meditation for those who can’t sit still…

By Noémie Bouin

 

Did your best friend just tell you again how great meditation is and how it helped him so much?

Did you feel like an utter fool sitting cross-legged in your room trying meditation?

If you cannot sit still and are sick of new age guru advice for meditation, you might want to read on.

 

Meditation has recently become the hot new thing. All the benefits are being praised both on and offline. Scientists are getting crazy about this practice that used to be a hippie thing. Research has shown that meditation reduces your stress, it makes you happier, and it’s good for your health. Additionally, it seems like all successful business geniuses and entrepreneurs meditate, examples include the CEO of Salesforce.com; Marc Benioff ; Tim Ferriss and even Oprah Winfrey.

There are so many reasons for you and I to meditate but to be completely honest, how often have you tried to meditate and felt like an utter fool?

How often did you sit cross-legged in your room trying to empty your head of all the stress and only managing to stress yourself more because you feel like you’re not getting there?

I’m the first to raise my hand to these statements.

 

I’ve failed miserably so many times at meditating for the last three years that when someone advised me to meditate I would answer « it doesn’t work for me » and I’d carry on with my life. But sharing about these failures on meditation made me realize I was meditating regularly without even noticing, small exercises and reflexes that bring me the same benefits as meditation.

 

So before you give up all the gains of meditation because you cannot feel Mindfulness like Steve Jobs or do Transcendental Meditation like Martin Scorsese, here are some advice from a woman who would have read « Meditation for Dummies » if the book had ever been written.

After this article, I promise you, you won’t need that Meditation for Dummies book. These simple daily tricks will make up for all the mindfulness in the world.

 

Use apps

 

If you love your smartphone as much as I love mine, you’ll probably want to use some apps to help you with meditation, and it’s a good starting point. One of the positives of technology is that now everybody can have access to cool free meditation apps to support you and guide you through your meditation journey. I personally only use one called Sunny, which allows me to set a duration for meditation music and tune the sound there is in the music (birds, rain, waves, …). It’s a paid app for iPhone that I got for free one day on the App of the Day app.

But there are so many more. Some with guidance, some with melodies, timer, … One of my friends is especially fond of Omvana by MindValley. The meditation app is free and is super easy to use.

 

Finally, the founder of ‘Why not 3‘ has introduced me to a lot of golden apps for meditation, here are a few good ones for meditation.

  • To track yourself with breathing, there is a device called the “Hearthmath”. It’s an amazing tracker and teacher on how to breathe. Inside you will find an infrared sensor that you attach to your earlobe and your iPhone.

Then, your iPhone goes on to tell you when you should breathe in and out, so that you can start synchronizing your heartbeat. (It even has cool levels, so you can train your meditation skills.) http://www.heartmath.com/  

(No, we’re not an affiliate to any of these. We just love them.)

 

  • PZIZZ is an application that you can find online for your phone. It has something called binaural beats that lets you have longer deep sleep. It also has a guided meditation option with a timer. So the voice will guide you out of your nap after 15-20-25-… min.

 

  • Another app is “BRAINWAVE 32 BINAURAL PROGRAMS”. This one has a timer as well but no guided meditation. It’s very effective for Gamma-waves, which gives you the exact frequency to become more focused on your work. Try it out and let me know what you think in the comments below.

 

But,

Of course, there are dozens of other apps to help you meditate, however, let’s be honest, isn’t it a little bit too easy to use technology?

If you’re ready to try meditating without your phone, this article is definitely for you.

 

1) Start with breathing

breathing Why not 3

Breathing is one of those things you can’t stop doing as it is crucial for survival. Everybody can breathe. So how about doing it not only for survival but to reduce your stress and improve your meditation skills? Deep breathing increases oxygen rate in your blood, allows for more muscle build-up and improves your pulmonary and cardiac systems.

 

Deep breathing is done not only using your chest but also your belly. To start deep breathing, choose a position in which your back is straight, whether standing, sitting or lying and rest your hand on your belly. Breath in through your nose, hold it (count to 3) and breathe out slowly through your lips. You should sense your belly go up when breathing in, and go down when breathing out.

Once you get used to deep breathing, you can drop your hand from your belly and increase the count while you hold your breath (up to 10).

What should you do about your mind? Just let it focus on your hand going up and down, on the air going in and out of your body.

 

I love deep breathing because you can do it in any situation without looking weird because you don’t even need to close your eyes. Once you don’t need your hand to focus, you can just take a 60-second break on your office chair without anybody noticing every time you do it.

 

2) Take advantage of transportation time for meditation

 

You know about these dozens of minutes you ‘lose’ in public transportation every day to commute to work? These minutes are your best opportunity to start relieving stress and do meditation. Just look out the window and let your mind wander, look at the scenery and focus on it. Start feeling the way your body moves with the bus or the train, breathe slowly and focus on your breathing. You can even start deep breathing if you feel like it. Doing this on the way to and from work is super effective; it allows your mind to clear up before you arrive to work in the morning or home in the night.

Of course, as you forget about all your worries you might forget to get off at the right stop as well. Just set an alarm with the approximate time of your trip minus 1 minute!

 

3) Enjoy doing nothing (especially not using your phone!) during meditation

 

Doing nothing is the best way for your mind to clear up. Of course, most of us have our smartphones glued to our hand (some to our face) and are not able to sit still and do nothing anymore – there’s always something to check on Facebook, Twitter or who knows which social media. But these moments of apparent boredom are an amazing opportunity for our minds to finally wander and lead us to peaceful thoughts.

In a moment where you don’t have anything to do – even for a few minutes like waiting for a friend in a café – put your phone away, and let your mind wander freely.

Don’t refrain any thought and let one lead you to another, without finding a meaning. If you need a starting point, observe your environment and focus on one element: is it a bag? What is it made of? Is the fabric more blue or green?

Let your mind wander off. You’ll slowly feel your brain focusing on creative thoughts rather than trivial work or home-related worries.

Doing this while you eat is called mindful eating. You actually start appreciating what you eat on a completely different level. On top of that, you get that time to also clear your mind and let your stress go.

A funny advice from a colleague was to do this in the toilet. Spending time in this place is a necessity and using this time to do nothing, especially not using your phone, and letting your mind wander can prove to be a surprisingly positive break for your mind.

 

4) Lie down and don’t be afraid to fall asleep

 

Lying on your back is a neutral position. Your body doesn’t feel uncomfortable. That’s crucial because we don’t want it distracting your mind. It’s one of my favorite positions to meditate as it not only allows my mind to rest but also my muscles; this is especially useful during an intense, stressful period in which you don’t get so much sleep.

To use this position, lie down (preferably not on a sofa) and make sure all your limbs are straight. Start feeling the surface on which your body is and how your body is spread on it. You can start deep breathing and closing your eyes or focusing on an element of your environment (the ceiling most probably) and then let your mind wander.

Meditation is definitely relaxing and of course, in this position, it is easy to fall asleep. At first, every time I fell asleep I woke up being disappointed because I thought this meant I failed at meditation and had just taken a nap. But waking up from this meditation is different than waking up from a regular nap, my mind was much more free and I felt lighter. As long as you don’t let your body go to deep sleep, the benefits of your pre-sleep meditation will show. To ensure this, set an alarm around 15-20 minutes from the moment you start meditation. Make sure you use a smooth sound to wake you up softly so you don’t get stressed again!

Once you get used to these 20min meditation sessions, you can use music to time your session. Set some relaxing meditation music, ideally instrumental music with nature sounds, and make sure it stops in 20 minutes. Your brain will wake you up when the music ends.

 

 

5) Use music

Why not 3 music

 

Going deeper in the use of music mentioned above, I have to admit sound is a great help for me to focus as it covers any noise that might distract me. Ideally, quiet music is the best way to get to the peaceful state you want to reach when meditating, however, it doesn’t have to be instrumental if you feel more comfortable with lyrics.

As usual, get into a comfortable, neutral position whether standing, sitting or lying. Closing your eyes, start the music and focus your thoughts on the sound of the music going in your ears, to your forehead through your head. If you use music with lyrics, focus on the voice of the singer, not on the words and imagine the flow of air from the singers’ lungs, until the lips.

What I like best is nature sounds with rain dropping and waves on a beach, some soft piano and a few birds singing. The music from Acerting Art youtube channel is worth checking out.

 

6) Be spiritual, if you are

 

Spiritual moments are – I believe – a type of meditation. Indeed, when praying, you let your mind focus on something bigger than your own worries. The ritual words and signs that open and close a prayer help make a clear cut between trivial life and spiritual mindfulness. Additionally, to get the answer from any bigger entity you’re talking to, you open your senses to grasp any sign of a response. Finally, the environment is also a great help: other people praying, the decoration, the smells, the silence or soft music; all of these contribute to taking your mind off daily worries and your senses to a relaxed openness.

So if there is a bigger entity you believe in and you want to start meditating, why not intensify the regularity of your spiritual moments? These will give your mind and body similar benefits than meditation and might also save your soul!

 

7) Talk to yourself during meditation

 

As weird as it sounds, talking to yourself is a good way of meditating. Who never cheered themselves on with a simple: “Come on [your name] let’s go.”

Before a speech or a stressful moment? Most of us do this without noticing, so how about making it a meditation routine?

 

But how you might think?

Go to an environment you feel comfortable in, take a comfortable neutral position. You don’t need to close your eyes if you don’t want to. Start thinking about positive things in your day, in your past, or things you’re excited for in the future. When you feel ready, start talking about these just as if you were talking to a friend, get your mind to focus on the sound of your voice, and on the positive feelings that these memories or exciting moments to come, are bringing you.

If you feel uncomfortable listening to the sound of your voice, you can start this exercise by having a conversation ‘in your head’ but I personally don’t find it as effective. Talking to myself in a meditating mood is especially useful in the moments mentioned above when I’m about to start a difficult task that stresses me out.

 

8) Use your body

why not 3 body

 

There is a very deep connection between your body and your mind and if meditation and mindfulness can be very powerful body fuels, the relationship is actually double-sided. Using your body to control your emotions and your mind is a good way of achieving the state of peaceful mindfulness that meditation brings you to.

As research from Amy Cuddy and other scientists show (see her Ted talk), you can use power poses to reduce stress and increase self-confidence. Using some of the poses she shows is a life hack for positivity that I’ve been using since I learnt about it.

 

How should you do it? 

Whether standing or sitting, straighten your back, relax your shoulder and put your chin up. Your hands can rest on your hips or on a table, but don’t put them in your pockets or on your laps. Hold for at least 2 minutes while breathing slowly. Feel your blood in your body and your muscles. When going back to your natural position, exhale through your mouth.

For a polished finish, you can stretch for a few minutes after doing this, carefully breathing in and out while you stretch your arms, your back and your legs. This will help you feel more connected

 

 

With all these meditation hacks for hyperactive people, there is now no excuse for you not to get all the benefits of meditation without formally meditating. Of course, you can use a combination of two or more of these techniques for your meditation sessions. And if you feel like going for more formal meditation, why not try the 6 phases of meditation from MindValley founder, Vishen Lakhiani?

 

why not 3 mindvalley

Written by Noémie Bouin
Edited by Lova Kremer

 

References:

university of Massachusetts Medical Centre

Stanford University

University of Freiburg

Gannon College, Pennsylvania

Universidad Federal de Minas Gerais

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCR9EuMWhNOQ5xbMRnAxl5Vg

Sunny: here

Omvana: app, website

images: pexels.com, mindbodycoach.org

 

15 tips for a decent work life balance over the holiday season

15 tips for a decent work life balance over the holiday season

by Noémie Bouin

 

 

Are you tired hearing your mum complain you care too much about your job?

Are you tired your family tells you, you shouldn’t read work email while you’re at home,  decorating your Christmas tree?

If so, then you’ll be interested in these tips that have changed my Christmas. Starting out with having to sneak out for work, and ending with an excellent work-life balance between family and working time.

Holiday being by definition “An extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home or in travelling” (Oxford Dictionary) you can clearly wonder why you should include a work-life balance into your lifestyle. That sounds totally irrational. But in today’s world of endless communication and technology, up to 59% of U.S. employees – and 54% of U.K. employees, check their work e-mails during holidays. (research by GFI)

 

Why?

Especially in a world where 95% of countries have mandatory paid holidays – the only exceptions being Liberia, the Marshal Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Sri Lanka, Tonga and the US where no federal law is regulating this – financial factors are clearly not relevant reasons to work during this time. However, you could follow up with the traditional “why not?” and indeed; wouldn’t you work over the holiday season?

 

Most people would assume work is a negative thing and that it’s the necessary effort to survive in this hard world, but as my boyfriend and his brother (discussing work over dinner) would say “We are not talking about our work. We are talking about our passion”. Maybe you feel fulfilled because of your work and maybe you might even be passionate about your job. I mean how great would the world be if all of us got to spend our time on our passions during a holiday, and have that work-life balance we desire?

But, your family, friends and the people around you might not have this perspective on your work-life balance and expect you to disconnect from your job, enjoy relaxation and relieve stress, particularly during traditional holidays such as Christmas. So, how do you balance your work and your life over this holiday season, and achieve that work-life balance with a peak productivity state in all areas of life?

 

As the very concept of work-life balance starts with the concept of work, we’ll open by tips to make sure your work is kept at socially and mentally acceptable levels:

 

  1. Work ahead to have the work-life balance you desire

 

This is the best work-life balance advice I’ve ever received and the best I can give you. Working ahead of your holiday doesn’t start the last day. It’s better if you think about it at least 10-15 days in advance and like any project, you need to set priorities and plan tasks. This might add up a little bit of pressure for the last two weeks in office prior to your holiday but it’ll free your mind for the duration of your time off and will reduce stress when you come back.

Lastly, if you have kids, working ahead and not leaving things to the last minute might be something you keep telling them, and if it’s good for your kids, why not for your work-life balance?

 

  1. Delegate to your colleagues

 

In addition to working ahead and setting expectations, delegating tasks to your colleagues can be a good way to help reduce your holiday workload & get that work-life balance stimulated, and might even be seen as a sign of your trust in them. Delegating work while you’re away is slightly more complicated than delegating tasks when you’re in the same building. Of course, guidelines and deadlines need to be very clear but you also need to clearly empower your teammates, giving them ways to solve issues without you. Think of using “ifs” when you’re giving guidelines such as “If A, do…, if B do …, if C do …, and so on.”

If you give them no right to contact you at all and empower them totally, make sure you’ll be able to entirely trust them and to deal with any consequence of their action. Be an entrepreneur and a leader in these situations. A leader who trusts others a 100% and a leader that takes responsibility for their mistakes, is a leader that will end up gaining support from people. That is part of the equation in achieving that elusive work-life balance everyone talks about.

 

  1. Plan your work

As much as working in advance is necessary, planning your work in detail over holidays is very important for your work-life balance. Set priorities and plan specific tasks and things you want to work on, and when. To do so, make sure you talk about it with your relatives so they can also give you their expectations on when you can and cannot work.

Make an agreement with them and tell them when you’ll work so they don’t hold a grudge against you for not caring about family time! This is a good way for them to also realize that you value your work-life balance, that way you won’t get all those questions on how much you’re working or neglecting them.

 

 

  1. Put limits if you want to achieve a proper work-life balance

Most of us assume people have our kind of logic. But, working in a multicultural team for the past six months really taught me that what is “normal” for you might not be normal for others. Calling on December 25th might not be acceptable for you because it’s Christmas, but apparently, it’s totally fine for your Taiwanese colleague who doesn’t celebrate it.

Setting limits and giving clear instructions on how and when to contact you before you leave is very important. It will help people to get organized, especially if they stay at work while you’re away. This also includes setting an auto-responder to your emails with clear dates and if needed, an alternative way of contacting you.

Last but not least, avoid the urge of responding to that email you received on the 25th December at 6pm because you think Pudding and Sherry are eventually putting your family to sleep-mode; setting limits to achieve a work-life balance in your life only works if you respect your own!

 

  1. Take advantage of time-saving & work-life balance applications

In the vast ocean of applications, plug-ins and extensions that technology offers us, many are real time-savers. You probably use them in your daily work but have you thought of using them over the holiday season?

For many marketers and community managers, the holiday season is crucial for the customer relationship; you have to post something on Christmas day, New Years, and so on, and sometimes these posts can’t afford a one-day delay. So instead of losing your Christmas day time with your family, take advantage of all the built-in or add-on scheduling to prepare your posts in advance and schedule them for the desired day and time. Facebook has a built-in schedule post, even some Instagram services started offering it.

For emails there are free and easy-to-use extensions such as boomerang (http://www.boomeranggmail.com/)

or

Sidekick (http://www.getsidekick.com/)

Finally, taking advantage of those time-savers & work-life balance apps means you have to start trusting them. Once you schedule something, don’t worry about it anymore; it’s done.

 

 

  1. Work on stuff you don’t have time to work on regularly

 

Holiday time is special so you also need to make your work special. There are tons of things we wished to work on during the year; a long-term planning, creative thinking, our career development, and so on. All these things are time-consuming and we tend to postpone them. Take advantage of this opportunity to be in a different environment to work on these things. This will break your ordinary work routine and help you feel better. Also, being surrounded by people you might not see regularly, can help you discuss ideas and be more creative, provided they’re cool with talking about work with you!

 

 

  1. Choose the right environment to achieve that work-life balance you want

 

That’s it, you’re there; you planned, you delegated, you worked ahead; it’s now time to enjoy work. However, working outside of the office can be very disturbing or very refreshing depending on the environment you choose. Pick a place that you feel comfortable in, relatively quiet so you can focus, indulge yourself in a cup of your favorite tea or coffee, eat a couple of your grandma’s cookies and start working.

It has to feel different, you’re not in the office and you need to make the experience pleasant. However, avoid your bed at all cost, that’ll make your mind associate it with work and not rest anymore. Which is a big no if you want to have a productive work-life balance.

 

  1. Be satisfied with “good enough” during the holidays (80-20 rule).

 

And now that you’re done with your work, be happy with it. Most passionate people are perfectionists; and if you’re passionate about your job, there’s a good chance you’re a perfectionist at work. But being a perfectionist usually makes you put in a lot of extra efforts in a task, which causes additional stress. Even if it’s a trait you might not want to work on in the rest of the year, you might want to give “good enough” a try when you’re on holiday. After all, if you’re working over the holiday, you have no obligation to be perfect. Finally, as the 80-20 rule suggests – 80% of your results will be produced by 20% of your efforts – holiday time seems to be a good moment to be happy with those 80%!

 

Once you’ve done your part of the work, make sure you get the most out of your work-life balance. That way everyone around you can enjoy it as much as you do. That is essential for creating a good work-life-balance based on the Why Not 3-Principles.

 

  1. Don’t feel guilty

 

Going on a holiday and taking time off is not something bad; it’s a good thing. The majority of scientific research shows that taking time for yourself helps boost your body, your mind and your productivity. You need to own these holidays, without feeling guilty to achieve that work-life balance with peak productivity. Two things can help you get rid of that guilty thought:

  • Will the world stop working, if it’s not done now? One friend used to say that if you really wanted it to be done before you left, you would have done it. If it’s not that important, it can wait.
  • Will the world stop working, If it’s not done by you? Something that we tend to forget is that we’re not alone and we’re not irreplaceable. Companies keep working with employees being on vacation and on sick leave all the time, why would your holiday have a bad impact on yours?

Meditating these two points help you reduce the stake of your holiday and clear your mind of your guilt.

 

  1. Reduce notifications

 

Trying to respect all the work-life balance limits you set is quite hard when you’re constantly being bombarded by notifications (especially on your smartphone). Several solutions can help you cut down these notifications:

  • Disable notifications: In the settings, disable the notifications from all professional apps you might be using such as your professional email, or any information system app you have. This will help you have notifications only when you open the app.
  • Disable data and/or wifi for some applications: Same as notifications, you can disable data and/or wifi for all the professional apps you do not wish to consult on your phone. This is a good trick, especially if you tend to open apps by reflex.
  • Disable data and wifi for your phone: Your free time can also be a data-free time, so that you can really connect with the people you love. In Settings, simply disable mobile data and wifi. This is a good alternative to plane mode, as it leaves room for texts and calls (from your loved ones, which obviously includes the pizza guy!)

 

  1. Get people to help you in achieving that work-life balance

 

The magic of Christmas resides in family, relatives and being surrounded by people. These people might be the ones stressing you out, because they think you’re a workaholic, but these people love you, and they would probably do anything to help you! Of course, you might not ask your aunty to help you work on a five-year-plan for your department’s growth but she’ll be happy to give you a reminder or take your phone away if you slip from the agreed work-life balance trackers you set at the beginning of the holiday.

 

  1. Change your environment

 

Changing environment is an excellent way to get your mind out of ordinary problems. Travelling is an excellent way to focus on the present time. Additionally, depending on where you go, wifi and data might not always be available, giving you an excellent excuse not to see your boss’s email (because we always answer them right away?)

 

 

  1. Dive into other time-consuming work-life balance activities.

 

Whether you want to watch the whole six seasons of Games of Thrones, read the whole Lord of the Ring trilogy or learn pottery; Christmas break is a good time to do these things. They’ll help your mind focus on something non-work-related and fill your schedule so you don’t have the temptation of filling it with work. Also plan activities with your family, friends or relative to make the most of your free time with them. They’ll appreciate that and you’ll feel way more fulfilled than if you would have done some work. This in return will feed your soul, so that you can lower your stress-threshold.

 

  1. Avoid typical holiday stress

 

Getting together with family and relatives, traveling, cooking, buying and preparing presents can be extremely stressful and I often hear colleagues complain they come back more tired after Christmas holidays. To avoid this feeling when you come back, make sure you keep away from stress by planning things carefully and sticking to what’s most important for your work-life balance: being together! Forget about that grumpy cousin you want to impress with your cooking, stick to the tried and true, and buy your presents in advance to dodge last minute rush. This will help you reduce negative times and make the most of your holiday

 

  1. Smell some lemons

 

Aromatherapy, cure by scents, is getting more and more attention from the public. Science has shown the positive effects on our body and mood. A research by the Ohio State University has shown that lemon scent had a positive effect on your mood. So take advantage of all those Christmas cookies and teas with a lemony scent and indulge in a gourmet mood boost!

 

 

 

Whatever your ways, whatever your work-life balance over the Christmas holiday, the only thing I wish you is to live this time by the words of Edna Ferber who once said: “Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling.”

 

by Noémie Bouin

edited by Lova Kremer

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Sources:

http://www.gfi.com/blog/survey-81-of-u-s-employees-check-their-work-mail-outside-work-hours/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_statutory_minimum_employment_leave_by_country

http://www.boomeranggmail.com/l/schedule-an-email.html http://www.getsidekick.com/email-scheduling

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2278291/