Monthly Archives: April 2016

My Favorite Mood-Boosting Music

This has been a tough week for me. I feel tired and dragged down, and the chilly, gray, rainy days we’ve had are only intensifying my dour mood. I am having trouble sticking to my routine and can’t seem to push myself to get things done. I have no energy left to put effort into anything except for the absolute bare minimum expected of me. Instead of admonishing myself for having a bit of a wasted week (which would certainly only make me feel even worse), I’m just accepting the fact that some weeks are just like this. It’s Friday, and I can start to let this week just fade away behind me and look forward to the next one.

In the meantime, I’m turning back to my tried-and-true method of mood boosting: Paul Simon’s Graceland. I posit that it is nearly impossible to feel low when this album is playing. It is my go-to anytime I need a quick pick-me-up to energize me for the day. I am listening to it this morning and looking forward to feeling more rested and back to normal next week. I plan to usher in May with a good mood.

What is your favorite mood-boosting music?

 

An App To Curb Procrastination

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 11.34.15 AM

To wrap up my two-week discussion of the workplace in its varied forms and resulting stressors, I leave you with a recommendation for a digital aid that blocks out distractions, and helps increase your productivity. It’s a handy little tool for anyone who sits down at the computer determined to get their work done, and proceeds to spend the next couple of hours procrastinating by searching websites, playing games, or refreshing your social media feeds.

Freedom works on all digital platforms (computers, tablets, smartphones) to allow you to block websites and apps (or all internet usage) that routinely distract you and reduce your productivity. It forces you to stop procrastinating when you otherwise can’t stop yourself. You can create set schedules for distraction blocking, or you can start a new session at any time. There’s a free trial period that allows you to test out Freedom’s effectiveness for you; it gives you 7 free blocking sessions. After that you can choose monthly, yearly, or lifetime payment options. If you have trouble staying focused, and you have a major project coming due at work, you’re a student with a thesis or dissertation to write, you’ve resolved that this is the year you author the next great American novel, or just need a little help staying on the ball in your daily work, I recommend giving this app a try.

{This is not a sponsored post. Freedom is in no way associated with More Well.}

5 Tips For Working At Home

When I first started my business, I worked out of my house. I set up my massage studio in our basement, and would operate my administrative and marketing efforts from our dining room table. Business was slow to start, which gave my days an aimless, unstructured feeling. It was hard to force myself to sit down at my computer and work on my business plan, but so easy to plop down on the couch and waste a few hours watching TV. To this day, a good chunk of my work still takes place from my home: scheduling, marketing, service planning, continuing education, bookkeeping, etc. I give massages at my studio, but all of the other work for my business is still done at my dining room table. As telecommuting and flexible scheduling become increasingly popular, I am meeting more and more people who put in at least some of their work hours from home. In many ways, working from home is glorious: no commuting, no in-person meetings, no small talk with coworkers, no uncomfortable work clothes and high heels, no freezing cold offices. But without the structure of a regular workplace, it can be hard to get yourself going in the morning, and stay productive throughout the day. If you’re just starting out with telecommuting, or struggling to make working at home work for you, here are a few tips to help you out.

1. Put on pants.

Establish a routine for your mornings and stick to that routine. Get up and get dressed like you would if you were going into an office (though, in more comfortable clothes. You don’t need to sit around in a suit, but you also should avoid wearing pajamas all day), have breakfast, make a cup of coffee. Creating a routine gives your day structure and shifts you into the right mindset for working. I used to wake up and shuffle my way through morning without any particular routine and often found that I’d look up and it would be 2pm, and I was still wearing my pjs and no matter how much I had managed to get done that day, I suddenly felt like a gross, lazy, unproductive person. Brush your hair, put on real pants. Act like a person who is at work, not like a college student on a Sunday morning with a bad hangover.

2. Sit in a chair.

I have so many clients whose back, shoulder, and neck tension have become worse since they started working from home. Do not work from your couch, or your bed. Yes beds and couches are very comfortable, but they also all but guarantee that you will slouch and hunch over your computer more. Try to create a space in your home that replicates an office setup. Put your computer on a desk or table. Sit in a chair that has some support. Do not sit on your couch with your computer in your lap. Your back will thank you in the long run.

3. Get out of the house from time to time.

When you work from home, you can easily find yourself spending a full day without stepping out into the world beyond your front door. Take a break in the middle of your workday and get outside. Go for a short walk. Meet someone for lunch. Take your computer and embrace the coffee shop telecommuter aesthetic. Talk to other humans from time to time.

4. Step back from the computer screen.

If there are tasks you can do that don’t require a computer, then do them away from the computer. Give your eyes a rest. Eye strain from staring at screens is a real thing. If you get a lot of headaches and feel very fatigued at the end of the day, try cutting back your computer time and giving your eyes a break.

5. Set a start time and an end time and stick to them.

There seems to be a belief (and concern on the part of employers) that having people work outside of a traditional office will mean that they work less and waste more time. But the opposite is just as likely. Not having the structure of an office environment and a clearly defined workday can lead people to work all day long. In fits and starts, and little chunks, they remain constantly available to respond to work inquiries and address last minute issues and assignments. If you want to keep your work life from bleeding over into your personal life, give your workday a framework. You don’t have to stick to specific hours like you would in a traditional work environment, but it’s helpful to have a sense of when your workday will begin, and when it will wrap up. Set a time to end your day and avoid dealing with any work-related matters after that time. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean your whole life has to be about work. You still deserve time with your family, friends, and for yourself without work intruding on those experiences.

3 Self-Employment Insights

View More: http://urbanrowphoto.pass.us/ctaylorwellnessnewstudio

I will often get asked why I decided to become a massage therapist and my answer is usually a confusing amalgam of desires to be active and engaged, but caring and therapeutic, with a focus on health, but in a way that was flexible and adaptable, and would allow me to work with a wide variety of people, but with the opportunity for a targeted focus, and so on. The more simple answer, though, is that I wanted to work for myself and this seemed like a good way to make that happen.

I am in my seventh year of being self-employed and I have found that, like all things, really, it has its ups and downs. For anyone who is considering making a shift to being your own boss, or has just started out on the self-employment path, I have a few insights to share that I hope will help you in your planning, and in creating a new direction for your career.

Your personal schedule is not as flexible as you may have hoped, or as other people think it is.

My friends and family often assume that I can take as much time off as I want, whenever I want, since I set my own schedule. While I may not work a standard 9-5, 40 hours a week schedule, being self-employed has not afforded me an unlimited wealth of free time and flexibility. When I was first starting out I would take any and all clients I could get, and would often bend over backwards to accommodate their schedules. In the first few years of my practice, I had very few free evenings to spend with friends, because evenings are when everyone else is done with work and wanting to come in for a massage. I was afraid to take any vacations beyond a couple of days, because I didn’t want to miss too many opportunities to schedule new clients. Nowadays, my schedule is so busy that I am often booked up about a month in advance, which means that if vacations, time-off and social gatherings aren’t planned well in advance, or don’t happen to fall on one of my off days, odds are I won’t be able to join in. I can’t duck out of the office an hour early like a lot of people can. If you want to see me on short notice, you need to be free around 1o in the morning.

The struggle for work-life balance doesn’t go away when you’re your own boss. In a lot of ways, I’ve found that it becomes even more difficult. Try to establish clear boundaries for your time and your energy from the start. Set a time when your work day will begin and when it will end, and try to stick to those times and avoid engaging in any business-related activities outside of that range. It can be hard to do, but if you get in the habit of separating your work life from the rest of your life early on, you’ll be happier in the long run.

Your successes and failures are your own, which is wonderful, and terrifying.

During the first three years of my practice, I would get waves of new clients out of the blue and I would feel wonderfully successful and excited. It’s all happening, I would think. I have arrived! But then the next month would be stunningly, impossibly slow and my mood would come crashing down and I believed that surely this meant I was doomed to fail completely and no one would ever come back again, and I would have to return to working for someone else, because clearly I wasn’t cut out for running my own practice. I know now that this is just how these things often work. It takes time to establish a steady, reliable business. It takes time to build up a regular, faithful clientele. Even though my practice is well established at this point, I still have some weeks, or even some months that are slower than I would have liked or expected.

You need patience and resolve, and a healthy does of faith to run your own business. Accept that things will ebb and flow for a while, and that’s natural and to be expected. Celebrate those periods where you’re really busy and feeling super successful, but try not to beat yourself up or get too gloomy about those times when the work isn’t coming in. It doesn’t mean that everything is falling apart.

It helps to make connections, get creative, and build a network of support around you.

Make friends with other self-employed people. Connect with people who run businesses that are similar to yours. It has never been my experience that separating yourself from your competition will make you more successful. It is helpful to connect with people who understand how your particular business and market works. You can get ideas from each other, learn from each other’s mistakes, get insider tips that will help you save money and make better financial and marketing decisions. I have several friends who are massage therapists. If I can’t fit someone into my schedule, I will refer them to one of my friends, and I have had several clients who have found me on the recommendation of another therapist who either couldn’t fit them in, or wasn’t the right style for their needs. The more people who know you and know about your work, and can help spread your name, the better. Don’t make yourself an island.

It’s also helpful to connect with people who are in entirely different fields. You can get a lot of great ideas just from talking to other people about their businesses, and I have found that it is really helpful to get an outside perspective about marketing efforts, services, or events that you are planning. Sometimes when building up your business, your focus can really narrow and it becomes hard to see beyond your specific target market and your established way of practicing. Plus, you would be surprised how often these connections can lead to interesting and unexpected collaborations. I am all about sharing ideas and advice with people who are just starting out with their own businesses. I don’t assume that I have all of the answers, or that what worked for me will work for everyone, but I think it’s nice to have someone to turn to with questions, someone to bounce ideas off of, someone who has been there before in the early days of self-employment who can say, “hang in there. It gets easier. You’re doing great.” It’s not easy being your own boss, but if you can create a network of support around you, it makes it a lot more fun.

 

 

 

Reframing Your Commute

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 4.11.39 PM.png

freeimages.com/nickilby

I have had a variety of commuting experiences in my working life: walking, bus, car, light rail, just down a flight of stairs when I worked at home. By far my longest and most complicated commute began with walking a half mile to the light rail stop near my office, a twenty minute train ride downtown (that often came after a thirty minute delay in the train’s schedule), and then about a three mile walk back to my apartment. It was terrible in the rain and winter, and it dragged out my day and left me feeling completely worn down and frustrated by the time I finally made it home. But in some ways, it was kind of great. On nice days, it was a chance to get outside after a long day stuck sitting at a desk. I would read on the train, and relish the opportunity to sit quietly, caught up in my own little space. I would listen to music as I walked home, and enjoyed the way each new song became a different soundtrack for my walk.

I do not like commuting; I won’t lie and claim that I do. In so many ways, commuting is the absolute Worst Thing. My commute now is a seven minute walk from my front door to my studio. It is wonderful, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Commuting feels so stressful and exhausting because we have so little control over it. You don’t get to decide how heavy traffic will be. There is nothing you can do when an accident brings everything to a standstill. You can’t make your bus show up on time. You can’t stop it from raining, or change the temperature when you’re standing out in the cold waiting for your train to come. When you are a commuter, you are simply at the mercy of the commute. The only thing you can control is how you think about your commute, and how you let it affect your mood and well being.

One of the complaints I hear most often from friends and clients is that they never feel like they have any time to themselves to just relax and do something they enjoy. Kids, work, obligations are constantly intruding on our time and attention. But a commute is time free of intrusions. It is time where you are essentially stuck, trapped for however long your commute takes that day. Rather than thinking about your hour-long commute as a wasted hour that you’ll never get back, try to value it as worthwhile alone time, where you can catch up on all the things you say you’d do if only you could get a little bit of free time in your day. A long drive home through slow traffic is a great time to listen to you favorite music, catch up on some podcasts, or try out an audiobook if you’re one of those people who can’t remember the last time you got to read a book. A bus or train ride is a good chance to get caught up on any news you missed during the workday, check in on social media, or personal email, and a great time to practice some relaxation techniques and allow your body and mind to unwind from work.

Need some recommendations? There are so many great podcasts nowadays to choose from. You’re sure to find something that fits your tastes.

Everyone has their own unique book preferences, but here are a few audiobook lists to get you started.

If zoning out is more your style and you could use some relaxing sounds to block out the noise of your fellow commuters, here are my suggestions for two relaxing nature sound apps.

A Work Organization App

Asana is a project management system that companies can use to track and communicate about group projects, sales, new marketing efforts, etc. Although I work alone and don’t need it to help me stay connected and up-to-date with other team members, I like to use the Asana app as a way to stay on top of my to-do list for my business.

The app allows you to create multiple lists or “workspaces,” which lets you separate your work tasks from more personal tasks, in addition to letting you share a workspace with another Asana user (I first learned about this app when my friend Naomi, of Urban Row Photo recommended we try it out for organizing some shared events we were planning).

Within each workspace you can create new projects that each have their own tasks lists and due dates.

FullSizeRender (4)

And you can view all of your tasks and their due dates in a single list to quickly and easily see what you have coming due soon.

IMG_1668

The app doesn’t have all of the functionality of the web version, and I can’t speak to how well it would work for large groups, but as a way to manage your own to-do list or collaborate and track tasks for small groups or shared events, I’ve found it to be helpful and easy to use.

 

{This is not a sponsored post. More Well is not affiliated with Asana in any way.}