Geri’s Lemon Jell-O Journey

Jello2             Jello1

Geri’s Lemon Jell-O Journey

The family has been making Jell-O molds for decades. One favorite recipe is an Apricot Jell-O Mold, made with pureed apricots and ice cream. It’s a no-fail creation. Another holiday special is a Lemon Jell-O mold. Not my favorite, but adored by many in the family. Here’s the Jell-O journey from hell:

Wednesday evening: pick up 2 packages of Lemon Jell-O, a 12 ounce can of frozen lemonade, and a container of Cool Whip.

Wednesday night (tired!): mix Jell-O and 6 cups of water, lemonade and let it firm up. Then, mix in Cool Whip. OOPs, the carton says it’s 12 ounces, but I need 16. I think, “No problem. The other mold uses ice cream; why not add ice cream for the missing Cool Whip?” Blend again and pour the mixture into the 2 quart mold and refrigerate.

Thursday at 8 am: Oh NO. It’s not a mold; it’s soup. “I knew there was too much water. I must have incorrectly copied the recipe. OK, OK, I’ll run to the store and get an extra package of Jell-O.”

Thursday at 10:30 am: Return from the store and mix up the extra package in a small cup of boiling water. Take out the soup. Get out the mixer and blend the new Jell-O with the soup. Return to refrigerator.

Noon: Check the mold. It’s still soup. What is the matter? Reread the recipe again and again until I see that I was supposed to buy 2, 6 ounce (double) boxes of Jell-O, not the 3 ounce size. So, really I had needed 4, rather than 2 boxes. Well, now it all makes sense.Decision point: to go back to the store for another box of lemon Jell-O or just throw it out. Never a die-heart, I slip into my clogs and return to the smiling faces at the grocery store. At least, while driving, I’m at an interesting part of my mystery audio book.

Grab the Jell-O, laugh with the same check-out clerk, and head home. I laugh at the situation and enjoy the audio book on the way home.

12:30 pm: Off with the clogs, on with the Jell-O adventure. I’m chuckling as I relate the story to my husband. I boil, pour and mix—but the mixture is so granular and lumpy. It doesn’t make sense, you’re in trouble when you’re cooking and you say, “This doesn’t look right.”

Of course it didn’t look right, I bought Jell-O Lemon Pudding! Now, I’m laughing and with tears rolling down my cheeks, but undaunted, I again blend to add the pudding with soup. Of course, with my laughter, I spill the stuff on the way to the refrigerator.

Will it firm up? If not, can it be used as a sauce over pound cake and ice cream? Should I tell?

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Takes Two

 

Ballroom Dancing

 

 

 

“Takes Two”  Shel Markel (2014)

Shall We Dance? Kristen Storey and Richard Tonizzo’s Leadership Lessons from the Ballroom Floor

Jane Heineken (Guest Blog)

Although we often discuss the Demons of Distractions, one of our favorite topics is the benefit of positive distraction: those activities that—unlike damaging forces such as the Stress or Fatigue Demons—actually help refresh and refocus you. What you may not realize is how your hobbies can enhance and inform your performance on your “real” job. Our team attended a workshop presented by University of Michigan Human Resource Development organizational development and learning specialist Kristen Storey, entitled, “Leadership Lessons from the Ballroom Dance Floor.” Kristen was joined by her Ballroom Dance instructor, international competitor Richard Tonizzo, and members of the UM Ballroom Dance Team.

Kristen began learning Ballroom Dance on a dare to herself during a time when she was feeling unfulfilled in her career and vaguely dissatisfied in her life. In addition to becoming addicted to the art form, she also discovered, “…how Ballroom Dance and Leadership are integrated in concept and approach.”  Here are the five aspects of Ballroom Dance that have also helped her in her role as a Leader and Educator:

Balance: in Ballroom, balance is a physical and spatial issue. In life, it’s a metaphorical issue; human beings are most fulfilled when they strive to achieve balance in the realms of career, personal finance, social relationships, community service, and health/well-being. Kristen thinks of them as buckets that all need to be filled to sufficient levels to achieve a satisfying life. But balancing your life involves an element of risk-taking: Kristen quoted champion ballroom dancer, Emmanual Pierre Antoine to his students: ‘Sometimes you have to lose your balance to find your balance.’ Successful Leaders continuously evaluate what they are doing right versus where they need to give more or pay more attention.

Self-Awareness: dancers need to acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses they bring to the dance floor at any given time. This helps them know what to work on. Ballroom Dancing is evaluated as a partnership; both dancers need to look good. The male traditionally leads, but he can’t always see where he is going; he has to be willing to let his partner guide his leadership through subtle signals. The same is true in the workplace: no one will follow a Leader who can’t support, showcase, and share credit with co-workers. Leadership is more than attacking tasks “like a beast” —it includes cultivating relationships and being responsive to the music and rhythm of the work environment. Self-awareness on the job means staying present and realizing your impact on others.

Teaching & Coaching Mindset: dancers who interact with each other may possess different levels of experience and competence; every dancer has been taught and coached by someone at a higher level. Instructors must be patient and flexible in the ways they communicate information because adult learners come to them with baggage and egos; they may react more negatively to new challenges. A Ballroom student might say, “This new move is stupid!” The instructor knows to translate this as, “I feel stupid because I can’t execute this new move” and respond with, “You just don’t understand the move yet; later on, when you do, it’ll be fun.”

In the workplace, successful Leaders also need to see what they do as teaching and coaching. You should never take for granted that others know what you know, or that they experience things in the same way that you do. Ask questions about your learners; the more you know about them, the better you can draw on similar experiences or make analogies when coaching them. You need to “…leverage a variety of ways to communicate and enable successful performance in others.”

Being Agile: Ballroom dancers need agility, not only to achieve each position, move, and turn, but also to execute their plan on the space of the ballroom floor, which is divided into long and short runs. Pairs have goals for navigating the space, but there are many factors beyond their control that force them to adapt their plans in competition or performance. Their coping strategies include: challenging each other with the unexpected during practices to see if both can adjust, using their powers of observation the moment they arrive in the new setting to plan adjustments to actual conditions, and deploying special strengths to cope with challenges. For example, if the competition is taller and has longer strides, a shorter pair can show off quicker, sharper steps. If the floor is unusually crowded, a pair might need to change up their speed, or even hold back and yield to others until a space opens up to shine. Dancers have to accept that their plan is always changing and will never be perfect: if a partner makes a mistake, they don’t dwell on it—they support them and recover quickly.

In the workplace, successful Leaders are agile in mindset. There are many business conditions that call for adaptability: financial challenges, staffing issues, reorganizations, technology change—even the price of success (resources stretched thinner, growing pains, etc.). Though you may start with a plan, you need to view change as a given and respond quickly to unexpected circumstances while meeting strategic goals and priorities. Be aware of speed, pace, openness, and readiness to move forward on issues with your team. Also, observe other leaders: how does their agenda conflict with yours? Are they pushing the boundaries? Can you “play the game” against them but still be respectful of each other?

Continuous learning: no matter what their level, Ballroom dancers never rest on their laurels. There is always something to improve and something new to learn from instructors and other competitors. In the workplace, successful Leaders never assume they know it all: “When you stop learning, you cease to become a valuable asset to your organization.” Like Ballroom competitors, Leaders can always be asking, “What’s the next thing I can learn and add on to my repertoire?” Staying open to the various perspectives of mentors, inspirational figures, and team members around you can alert you to knowledge gaps that you weren’t aware of having.

Daring herself to dance is a risk that paid off spectacularly for Kristen in ways she never expected. What leisure activities and hobbies do you love to do in your free time? What have you been tempted to try? Your work skills will undoubtedly benefit from an activity that cultivates one or more of the five areas above. As Kristen Storey says, make sure all of your life buckets are getting as filled as possible!

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Don’t Be Distracted by Style over Substance

 

sense

 

 

 

Don’t Be Distracted by Style over Substance

Guest Blog: Jane Heineken

 

We know that our ancestors spent most of their days fighting for their very survival without the benefit of automation, climate control, sanitation, modern medicine, or any of the technological advances we now enjoy. The few pauses they took from the unrelenting task of feeding, clothing, and sheltering their families had to do with religious or social rituals marking major life events and the passage of time: births, deaths, marriages, and holidays.  Each culture around the world developed customs that made their people feel celebrated or comforted during particular times along the hard road of life. Sometimes there were artists or storytellers to capture these moments for future generations, but mostly, memories were made in the minds of those who lived the moments: laughed, cried, danced, ate, and prayed intensely with their communities.

Cut to modern times, when the entrepreneurs of a commercialized society realized that there was lots of money to be made off of these celebrations: suddenly Martha Stewart was dictating your kid’s destination birthday party and Zales was hinting that your husband should be looking at a “push present” and Bridezillas terrorizing their girlfriends had actually become A Thing. When I had my senior high school yearbook photo taken, I drove to a studio in August, sweated through a series of posed, seated shots in a stifling hot, velour sweater that was to be “all the rage” that fall, waited several weeks to see proofs, and chose the one I found the most flattering—end of story. Then came my daughter’s turn: “on location” in a public botanical garden over several hours, with at least four different outfits—and I was STILL sweating as I tried to help her change into them behind a blanket so that she wouldn’t acquire an arrest record at 18 for indecent exposure. “This is CRAZY,” I kept muttering as I swatted off bees and mosquitos; it got even worse when we were paralyzed by the overwhelming quantity and shocking expense of possible photos from which to choose. Whenever I questioned the new protocol, I was told over and over again, “But this is how it’s DONE now.” The peer pressure had shifted from wearing the “right sweater” to being “the right kind of parent.”

I heard a similar story from a friend who attended a perfect cinematic tableau of a wedding: sunset at the beach, balmy breezes, chirping birds, and lapping surf. The happy bride and groom stood clutching hands, ready for the ceremony to bind their lives together…when suddenly the peacefulness of the moment was completely destroyed by an overly ambitious wedding photographer clicking her way around and across the altar space. She then proceeded to force her way between the bridal party and the audience, turning around to the front rows to jam a large lens into the faces of loved ones, trying to get “candid response shots” from people attempting to witness and enjoy the sacred ceremony. What the photographer got instead was my friend giving her the evil eye, gesturing a “cut” motion and hissing at her to “GO AWAY,” much to the relief of those sitting around her!

Meanwhile, a recent news report cited the latest trend in wedding photography: hiring drone operators to send cameras overhead for a bird’s-eye perspective of outdoor ceremonies. Seriously? Now we’re going to be buzzed and dive-bombed during everyone’s vows?? Add to this the rash of overly elaborate, flashmob engagement proposals going viral, and professional photo sessions booked for everything from school dances to once-private passages such as gestation and childbirth. I hadn’t realized how out of hand some of these practices had gotten until people began to parody them: check out one dad-to-be’s “pregnancy photo shoot” (http://www.buzzfeed.com/mikespohr/this-man-took-maternity-photos-of-himself-when-his-pregnant#yx14a1 ) and the couple that inserted their dog into the modern family album trope (http://www.lifewithdogs.tv/2014/08/couple-does-newborn-photo-shoot-of-rescue-dog/  )!

Perhaps because technology and trends have been changing so quickly, people have become more concerned with micromanaging the presentation and documentation of life events rather than simply experiencing them, in the moment, with merely the human senses granted to us from as far back as when we were in the womb. It’s not just the hosts of events who are guilty of this; attendees, too, are often caught up in demonstrating their own participation in things that are really “not about them.” I received one wedding invitation in which the bride and groom felt the need to request that their guests focus on the ceremony rather than on photographing it with their camera phones. Have we really become so distracted by the trappings of occasions that we forget to focus on their deeper meanings?

It’s easy to feel controlled by all of the things that are possible these days, as well as by what “everybody else” is doing. However, we have the right—and sometimes, the obligation—to examine and question how we want to mark the special occasions in our lives. What is the most important aspect of the event we are hosting or attending? How best do we honor that aspect? How can we balance planning, presentation, and preserving memories with the actual opportunity to connect and engage in ritual and community in the moment? If you are the subject of the event, discuss these things with your photographer, videographer, family, and guests so that expectations are clear and your wishes are respected (as well as those of others who may prefer not to be photographed or filmed). If you are a guest at an event, take a few moments to see beyond the style—stunning as it may be—in order to appreciate the substance of the occasion. A beautiful photograph or video clip is a lovely momento to treasure, but in the end, it is still a collection of pixels filtered through the distance of a lens. It’s much more powerful to have the smell of the flowers, the warmth of the hug, the power of the music, and the light in the faces of your loved ones imprinted on your heart.

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The Fidget Factor

 

 

Fidget

The Fidget Factor

 

Like a racing mind, your body may feel like it is always in high gear.  For example, are you a person who taps a spoon throughout meal times, or whose body seems always on the go?  If yes, then you may have excess physical or mental energy that reveals itself through fidgeting. Some people just seem to be more “fidgety” than others; fidgeting can be a relatively positive way of dissipating excess energy or tension.

 

However, excessive fidgeting can become an issue if it becomes disruptive in some way. Your fidgeting may be a problem if your actions undermine your ability to effectively communicate or interact with others. Fidgeting is one of the most common non-verbal behaviors that others use to judge you, especially in the workplace. Are you creating noise and distraction in an otherwise quiet atmosphere? You might get labeled “rude.” If you fidget during a job interview, you might project nervousness, untruthfulness, or lack of self-control—even when none of these things are true. When you fidget during conversations with a co-workers or friends, they might read your body language as a sign of boredom, disinterest, or disrespect, and become angry with you.

 

If you suspect that excessive fidgeting has caused you problems, the first step is to pay attention to your own behavior: how often is your fidgeting noticeable? Does your fidgeting help or hinder your attention or concentration?  Does your fidgeting bother others? When you catch yourself fidgeting, try to notice how you are feeling: is it merely a physical feeling of “antsy-ness” or are you stressed or troubled about a particular issue? Excessive fidgeting can develop from simple “bad habits,” or for some people, it might be part of a general cluster of symptoms of an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disability or an indicator of some other medical issue. Your medical provider can help you sort out possible causes and recommend positive steps to take.

 

To become more aware of all the different ways that fidgeting appears in your everyday life, use the following chart to examine your “fidget factor.”  Check any item that describes you.

 

 

 

Self-Check: The Fidget Factor

 

___ 1.  I shake my foot (and leg) often.

 

___ 2.  I feel antsy or jittery if I sit too long.

 

___ 3.  I chew gum, eat mints, and chomp on pencils a lot during the day.

 

___  4. I whistle and/or hum more than most people.

 

___  5.  I drum my fingers, or tap with dining utensils, pencils, or other objects while dining or conversing.

 

___  6.  I jiggle coins or swing objects such as my keys during conversations or when waiting.

 

___ 7.  I walk quickly, although it is often not necessary.

 

 

 

If you experience more than a few of these behaviors, review or ask others about the effects of your fidgeting.  Ask, “Is my fidgeting a distraction to you?” You may be surprised at their reactions.  For example, one professional talked with his sister after a family function that didn’t seem to go very well. She replied, “David, of course it’s distracting! I’m talking to you and you’re leaning and rocking on the dining room chair or banging your spoon on the table—while at the same time, you’re sniping at your son to stop playing with the salt shaker! It’s rude and inconsiderate!” David was shocked to hear that his family thought he wasn’t listening to them respectfully.

 

 

 

10 Ways to Manage Your Fidgets

 

1. If you are dealing with the fidget factor, plan ways that you will try to better manage your fidgeting:

2. Observe and note the times or conditions that seem to exacerbate fidgeting. Is it only at work? More likely in the late afternoon? A reaction to stress?

 

3. Get regular exercise to rid yourself of some excess energy.

 

4. Reduce caffeine intake.

 

5. Fold or sit on your hands, fold your legs, or cross your feet to quiet them for a time.

 

6. Stand during some portion of a lengthy meeting.

 

7. Take a mini-break to refocus your attention.

 

8. Replace an annoying behavior such as tapping a cup with a spoon with something less noticeable, like tapping your fingers on your thigh.

 

9. Consider replacing your desk chair with a large exercise ball to expend excess muscle energy while you sit, or ask your employer about providing a standing-desk or treadmill desk as an office option.

 

10. Listen to others if they ask you to stop.

 

Visit a medical or mental health professional if fidgeting consistently interferes with your or other’s attention or concentration.

 

Excessive fidgeting can negatively affect your performance at work or in social situations. Understanding your body language and how it affects your life can lead you to more constructive ways to relieve excess energy and tension. Whether your fidgeting is a habit or an aspect of a condition or disability, you can learn to exert greater control over your actions.

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The Blank Page Exercise

 

Blank Page ExerciseUsing the Blank Page Exercise to Actively Learn Lecture Notes

Geraldine Markel, PhD

You can hear all of the post-mortems as students emerge from their exam rooms; Janice tells her lab partner, “I was sure I had memorized all the chemistry formulas—but that didn’t go so well.” Meanwhile, Tom is commiserating with his history classmates: “I went over my notes so many times, but I still couldn’t remember the details to put in the essay section.”

 

These student comments illustrate the less-than-optimal results of a particular passive learning behavior: rereading notes.  Although reviewing notes feels productive, the act of reading alone does not ensure learning.  In Janice’s and Tom’s cases, simply looking at what was written did not help them remember the amount of detail required to get the grade they desired.

 

If you watch students passively rereading their notes, you may see them nod and say, “Right,” or “Yeah.” As you read, you do confirm that the information is familiar and perhaps recall the main ideas and examples from lecture. However, merely passing your eyes across the text doesn’t guarantee that your mind has assimilated details like dates, definitions, or formulas. Without using more active learning strategies, you won’t know if there are gaps in your retention of the material or a lack of depth in your understanding of the ways in which it can be applied. Failure to integrate all of these aspects of studying can really hurt your test performance, especially during situations like timed exams.

 

The Blank Page exercise provides a form of active learning that illustrates what you actually know at any given point in the study process. It leads to greater levels of memorization and builds confidence in your ability to perform under test conditions. The more active the learning, the better your test scores and grades.

 

Follow these steps to use the Blank Page Exercise to actively learn information from texts, lectures, or class notes:

 

Read the title of the lecture or class and visualize the topic.

Before rereading the notes, write main ideas, key words, concepts, definitions, or details on a white board or notepaper. Use whatever form is most useful to you: a paragraph, table, chart, or diagram. This helps you access prior information and lets you see how much of the lecture you actually remember.

Check the completeness and accuracy of what you have reproduced with your lecture notes or slides.

Check if the sequence in which you wrote the information or steps is accurate. Identify any relationships that are essential.

List the topics that you knew and the degree of detail you remembered.

List the topics not understood or remembered, and any details or examples that were missing from your version.

Identify the order in which you need to relearn those concepts and facts. Project the amount of time you might need for each topic. Remember to begin with the basics and main ideas. This provides a framework for more advanced material.

Revisit the material you could not reproduce on your own. In addition to rereading it, add an action such as moving while you read, speaking the words out loud, fitting the information into a mnemonic or catchy song, or taking turns with a study partner to recite and discuss the information.

Repeat learning and testing yourself on the Blank Page or White Board.

Allow no more than 45 minutes on this type of learning before taking a short break, since it is intense and energy draining.

After a break, use the Blank Page technique to review and check your retention of learned material over time.

 

You can ensure better understanding, retention and application of material such as your lecture notes when you use active learning like the Blank Page Exercise. In addition, your confidence level goes up and your stress level goes down once you prove that you can summarize the main ideas and provide important facts and examples in a written format, be it a paragraph, chart, illustration, or graph.

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Pay Attention to Avoid the Mess of Memory Slippages

4678110_f260On the Go? Be vigilant about distractions and memory slippages when you go to the gym or other places where you need to change clothes.

At home, you have probably got it down to a science: the last possible second you can roll out of bed, run through your morning rituals and be out the door. Everything is where you need and expect it to be, even when you’re bleary-eyed and half asleep: favorite conditioner in the shower stall, toothbrush next to the sink, vitamins on the kitchen counter, keys by the door. But what happens when your intimate hygiene routines take place outside of your home?

It’s going to be a busy day, but Natalie pushes to get to the gym at 6 am for her Zumba class. Afterwards, she’s a sweaty mess but elated that she got in her workout. She rushes toward the locker room, her mind racing, “Shower…conference call…lunch meeting…” Opening the locker for her flip-flops, she smiles because she didn’t forget any clothing; last week she forgot clean underwear and was forced to wear her undies inside out. In the shower stall, Natalie hangs her watch on the hook next to her towel. She pauses, thinking, “Put the watch in your sneaker so you don’t forget it,” but she gets distracted and ignores her inner voice as the scalding water hits her skin and needs to be adjusted. After she has cleansed, she feels refreshed, but pressured to throw on her clothes and get going. Later that morning, she glances at her wrist—but it’s empty. “Oh, no!” She can see herself holding the watch, telling herself what to do to avoid forgetting it—but not following through because of her distraction. She skipped a step in her routine and overrode the caution of her inner voice. She left the costly watch in the stall—and it was stolen.

How many times has a variation in your routine or a sudden distraction caused you to forget or lose something? Maybe you agree to house-sit for a friend for a couple of days, or your boss arranges an off-site training session and suddenly you’re trying to carry your life or office around with you. “Wait, where did I put my…?” Sometimes you catch yourself, refocus, and avert loss; but often, you’re not so lucky. Other times, the problem is failing to expect the unexpected. Perhaps the weather turns ugly during a visit to your family so you have to spend the night there, or you show up for a routine medical appointment and get sent on to another facility for a night’s worth of monitoring. How do you plan ahead for your needs and keep track of your possessions in a public or unfamiliar environment?
With today’s constant pressure to do more and be everywhere, you’re vulnerable to the kind of distractions and memory slippages that occur when your routine is broken. What can you do to reduce or avoid them? Here are some tips:

1. Become aware: test yourself by trying to visualize each step in your morning and bedtime routines. On a day when you are not rushed, go through the sequence and see if you missed anything. Perhaps you want to make a laminated checklist card to hang on your workout bag, or a note stored on your cell phone.
2. Note the little things that you take for granted at home: health and beauty supplies; hygiene items; accessories like belts and jewelry; charging cords for shavers, etc. What will you need in other situations? Some things may be optional, like using a hair dryer, but others, like medications, are not.
3. Think ahead: when you know you will be getting dressed or staying over somewhere else, try to picture going through your routines there. Visualize an outfit from top-to-bottom and inner layer-to-outwear to prevent those missing unmentionables or socks. Get in the habit of asking yourself, “If I got delayed or stuck, what would be good to have with me?”
4. Redundancy is your friend! If the situation allows, have an extra emergency hygiene kit packed for your car or office. Many drugstores sell small travel kits with deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, etc. Keep an extra bag of older workout gear in your car just to use in a pinch, or a neutral outfit for work in case of some kind of wardrobe malfunction. See if your health insurance and pharmacy will give you a vacation override to have an extra few days worth of your medications.
5. When a system works, stick to it! Do the same thing every time. Natalie started her shower before securing her stuff as usual, and it cost her dearly.
a.For instance, frequent business travelers are very picky about their luggage and accessory kits: a place for everything and everything in its place. They restock for the next trip as soon as they get home.
b. Fold-out, hanging accessory bags with clear pockets can help you see if you have forgotten something; you can use a label maker to designate each space.
c. If you wear eyeglasses, request an extra eyeglass case from the optometrist for when you shower at the gym or sleep on somebody’s couch.
d. Friends and internet resources can lead you to tricks and merchandise to solve travel-related problems.

Listen to your inner voice. Those warnings in your head telling you to be careful, to slow down, and to focus your attention on the task at hand are important. Don’t let your incessant cell phone, demanding boss, or needy family drown out the one person who should be looking out for you: you.

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New Study about Stress in Our Lives

If you want some insights about the impact of stress today, read this:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/07/07/327322187/stressed-out-americans-tell-us-about-stress-in-their-lives.

Besides major problems involving health or death of a loved one, many people feel overwhelmed with too many responsibilities and problems at work. What about you? After you read this article, take a few minutes to think about these results and then, think about your work/life stress.  Too much stress results in poor performance and a variety of health problems. If you have stress, are you using strategies to reduce it? You might ask questions such as:

To what degree is stress negatively impacting my work/life? How can I better manage stress? Are there strategies and resources that I could use, but avoid?overwhelm

Work/life stress is more prevalent than ever and it’s not going to go away. Now’s the time to identify a few strategies that can be used to decrease the stress you are experiencing. Here are a few tried and true strategies:

1. Get more sleep. The more fatigued you are, the more vulnerable you are to stress. The more rested you are, the more energy you have to ward off  or deal with everyday stressful events.

2. Take frequent, but brief breaks. This is especially important when tasks are difficult or boring, or tensions abound. Even a short nap can restore your energy, motivation and patience.

3. Add a bit of humor to your work/life. Humor and laughter are instantly powerful stress busters. When you have a good laugh, you relax tense muscles and take deep breaths. Besides, you’ll be sharing a positive experience with another co worker or friend.

4. Take a walk. Bright sunshine and fresh air can work wonders to calm stress. If possible, access nature: enjoy the trees, birds, flowers and open space.

5. Infuse lovely colors, sounds and scents into your work/life. It is easier to relax when you are surrounded by soft colors and often, easier to perk up with vibrant colors. Feeling low, perhaps a song or lively march will interrupt those stressful feelings.

You can these are but a few suggestions to provide stress relief during these stressful and challenging times.overwhelm

 

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Don’t Get Distracted at the Copier

UnknownCommunal printers, copiers and scanners are commonplace in most workplaces since they offer economies of scale for employers. Unfortunately, they also present dangers to distracted employees. Tales of drunken office party pranks aside, there are plenty of horror stories about sensitive or inappropriate items left behind on the glass platen or paper catcher.

Elaine, a charge nurse at a corporate-run skilled nursing facility, got caught up in an administrative restructuring ordered by headquarters. Powerless to intervene as poor decisions began to compromise both staff morale and the quality of patient care, she finally reached her breaking point and spent one of her lunch hours typing up a scathing letter citing all of the ways in which her center had become “completely dysfunctional due to idiotic dictates” by those in positions of authority. Her intention was to get all the venom out of her system and then to rip up the printed letter in a symbolic act of purging the negative emotions from her system. However, she was interrupted by a patient crisis before she could complete her personal protest—and her supervisor found the letter. A quick and abject apology saved her job in the short term, but diminished her prospects for advancement long after the reorganization had settled into place.

Here are some tips to help you avoid this type of embarrassing situation:
• If you’re feeling frustrated or angry with a coworker or supervisor over an incident, think before you write—whether it is a letter or a possible email.
• Visualize the possible negative outcomes that might occur if you were to actually send a nasty note.
• Use a separate, bound notebook or journal to describe your feelings and thoughts. Some people just list or brainstorm random ideas, while others write long and descriptive paragraphs. Reread your notes after 24 hours.
• Mull over any lessons you’ve learned and some possible, positive ways to communicate your message or deal with the situation.
• You may want to discuss the situation with a trusted friend or resource.
• Decide if the incident is worth doing something about. If so, decide on a positive way to deal with the situation or avoid future pitfalls.
• If you are using a copier to transmit your message, do it at a time when you are alert, non distracted and relatively non emotional.

Remember: What you write, email or post today can come back to haunt you tomorrow. Pay attention at the copier and prevent unnecessary mistakes.

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Stress, Haste and Fatigue UP, Accuracy DOWN

stress15n-1-webRay is a small business owner who does most of his bookkeeping after hours from home.  In the last quarter of the year, he’s getting some phone orders. He knows he shouldn’t be posting hand-recorded charge slip amounts to the credit card company late at night when he’s exhausted, but he desperately wants to feel caught up for the week and post the payments. In fact, he’s busy arguing with his wife about the hours he’s been keeping as he taps the figures into the remote virtual terminal: “I just want to finish this up!”  However, the charge won’t go through; his screen keeps telling him that payment is “DENIED.” It’s not the first time Ray has lost money on a credit card transaction, and he is furious to be left holding the bag again. He can’t reach customer service until business hours, so he shuts down his system, grumbling all the while, and goes to bed. He wakes up angry but decides to try posting one more time before calling and giving someone a piece of his mind. In the fresh light of a new day, he discovers that he tried to collect $9500 instead of $95—no wonder the system performed an override!

productivity-working-at-homeHere are some suggestions to avoid making mistakes when working on tasks requiring accuracy:

  1. Schedule tasks requiring high accuracy when you are alert; not late, when you are tired.
  2. Schedule brief work periods for tasks that are detailed or boring.
  3. Take the extra time to check your accuracy prior to clicking send, especially if you are tired or irritated.
  4. Take frequent breaks when you are doing important legal, medical, or financial tasks.
  5. Stop multitasking when you need to complete tasks with speed and accuracy.

During the last quarter of the year, take special care to complete your business chores when you are not fatigued, distracted or highly stressed. You’ll be amazed by the amount you can accomplish in 20-minute work sessions when you are alert and focused. Ray learned his lesson:  fatigue and distraction can result in clumsy fingers and wandering eyes.  When the stakes are high, you need to bring your A-game to the process of inputting important information.  You can’t rest easy on the (information) Cloud unless you’ve made sure that the data you store there is correct.

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To Err about the Divine is Human

In 2013, popular hip hop musician Kanye West released a new album which he titled, “Yeezus.” He seemed to enjoy the ensuing media debate about whether the deliberately-chosen moniker was a religious reference, a twist on his nickname—or none of the above. The Vatican, however, had no intention of causing controversy when it recently commissioned 6000 bronze, silver and gold commemorative coins honoring Pope Francis. Imagine the embarrassment of officials there when the newly minted medals contained the name “Lesus” instead of “Jesus” imprinted in a Latin phrase on each one!

Jesus misspelled

According to the The New York Times, neither the Church nor the Italian mint managed to flag the error during the design, mold-making, production or delivery stages; it wasn’t until the medals hit retail outlets that the misspelling was discovered. Vatican officials were forced to recall most of the coins, although the few lucky collectors who snagged one will undoubtedly find a silver (or gold or bronze) lining in this clouded situation. Could it be that even in a place as exalted as Vatican City, modern life has gotten too stressful for everyone? Pope Francis is, after all, the first Pope on both Twitter and Instagram. The British newspaper The Independent agrees that Demons of Distraction may dare to tread on holy ground when they quipped that the mistake must have occurred because, “It seems the devil is indeed in the details.”

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

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