Keeping Calm Throughout The Crazy

What is your favorite ritual?

We all have a way of finding peace in our lives. Now, that’s not about connecting to one’s secret inner hippy, with all that light and love stuff.

Simply put, the busier, the crazier the world becomes around us, the more grounded we need to feel. Finding that sense of calm throughout the crazy, makes all the difference.

Who knows how life is going to turn out? Being organized is one approach that provides us with a sense of stability in this uncertain world. With iStratus we have the ability to be prepared and stay that way.

So… How Can We Keep Calm Throughout The Crazy?

WOULD YOU DARE TO APPLY THAT FAVORITE RITUAL, TO YOUR AGENDA?

The iStratus Organizer is here to help. Designed to keep you on track, with the multitude of tasks we’re expected to juggle –To Keep Calm Throughout the Crazy, finding that balance in your life.

With its multifaceted interface, you can easily and efficiently use the iStratus Organizer to:

  • Notate a clear “To Do” List, in order of priority, with a click of a button.

  • Generate reminders to send follow-up emails.

  • Effortlessly set multiple alarms to navigate schedules that always have you on the go. Whether it’s supporting your kids with multiple activities, or staying atop that crazy college schedule, iStratus has you covered.

  • Create seamless shopping lists for the household meal plan, which does not have to be complicated. Keeping it light, and easy.

  • Quickly coordinate appointments you need to attend for yourself. The process is as simple as you can get.

Leaving a little time for that favorite ritual. Yes, you should!

5 Benefits of Being Organized:

Remember, balance is always key. Thus, there are simultaneously 5 beneficial elements of being organized with iStratus for creating calm:

STRESS RELIEF

Experts suggest an endless list of “things to do” constantly invading your headspace is a major source of stress on the tipping scale of life. It may seem obvious (but not necessarily easy) that becoming organized lessens that pesky weight upon our shoulders.

Bustle.com says, one of the most productive things that can be done is simply tracking your day.

Anyone can take three hours to complete a task, largely because of the task itself or because of the interruptions allowed.

SIMPLE ADJUSTMENTS TO YOUR LIFESTYLE AND TIMING USING ISTRATUS CAN HELP REDUCE THE “STRESSORS” IN YOUR LIFE.

DE-CLUTTER, SLEEP BETTER

Clutter creates chaos. Even if you don’t realize it, clutter in your bedroom can result in the loss of Zzzzzzzz’s. Furthermore, if you are disorganized you may unintentionally become a night owl, staying awake later to do something last minute, or worrying about everything that needs to be addressed.

Use iStratus to de-clutter, schedule that time, and stick to it. Organize the clutter in your life to lessen that endless ‘chaotic craziness’ invading your precious dreams to sleep longer and deeper at night.

A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE

When you’ve planned out your meals, you’re less likely to forget to eat,  avoiding hunger pangs, which flows through to impulsive consumption. You’re also more inclined to find motivation for physical fitness if you plan time on the schedule for it. Increase those necessary endorphins for better health. Who’s up for a triathlon?

ESSENTIAL ‘ME TIME’

We’ve finally arrived at that favorite ritual, we’ve mentioned! Perhaps it’s PB on toast or a warm cup of Tea? (Sometimes, the simplest things mean the most). We frequently leave ourselves until last! You can put yourself on your own agenda when you actually make time for it!

It’s difficult to be at your best for anyone else – family, friends, colleagues – if you’re running on fumes. Bustle.com advises, it doesn’t matter what you do – it matters that you do it.

Try the iStratus App for prioritizing time to do something you enjoy. Coffee anyone?

“Create the kind of climate in your organization [processes] where personal growth is expected, recognized and rewarded.”
 ~ Author Unknown
 

BE MORE PRODUCTIVE PROFESSIONALLY

Let’s be honest, disorganization is un-motivating. Along with clearing out the clutter in your home life, it also gives you the energy to focus on what’s required during office hours. If you’re feeling tired by four walls, try taking a few minutes to organize your iCalendar or filing your emails.

Did you know that iStratus easily allows you to file photographic evidence with paperwork for an appointment or task? Once it’s where it belongs, you won’t be yelling at your phone, whilst searching inboxes for the information you require at the Doctor’s Office.

A little effort goes a long way. Spending a few minutes each day getting organized makes a difference towards being healthier, happier, and calmer throughout the crazy!

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Develop a Growth Mindset to Boost Performance

How great could work be if you genuinely believed you had limitless potential?

It is possible, with a growth mindset.

What’s a growth mindset?

The term—growth mindset—was coined by Stanford Professor Carol Dweck after her research of student performance.

Dweck found that students fell into two groups: students who believe that their success is a product of their own hard work and persistence (growth mindset); or, students who believe that whatever success they might have is solely a product of some innate intelligence or talent, not effort (a fixed mindset).

What Dweck found is that students with a growth mindset had significantly better grades than students with fixed mindsets.

While this research was done in classrooms, her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” prompted business leaders to recognize how applicable a growth mindset could apply in business as well.  If you want to boost your work performance, develop a growth mindset.

What does a growth mindset look like?

If you believe that you have the power to build capacity through your own hard work and passion, you’ll likely find the following to be true:

You’ll clamber for meaningful professional development and mentoring opportunities.

You’ll take challenges and risks confidently, knowing that all experiences (even failures) present learning opportunities.

You’ll take setbacks in stride, not as an insult to the value of your core self.

You’ll welcome and act on constructive feedback.

You’ll be enthusiastic to work collaboratively (rather than threatened), knowing that you can learn from others.

You’ll be consistently more productive and satisfied, and a more significant asset to your organization, because you are continually looking to grow.

If you are working within an organization that supports the growth mindset, you’ll feel more integral and committed to the overall organizational mission.

Sounds terrific, right?

Unfortunately, not everyone has a growth mindset.  

What if I have a fixed mindset?

If you are like many, you grew up with an internal dialogue that told you what you weren’t. I’m not a math person.  I’m not a good public speaker.

Whether it was fear, subtle (or not so subtle) messaging from friends or family, or messages absorbed from society-at-large, you internalized the belief that you are who you are.  Nothing you do will change that.

If this sounds familiar, you have a fixed mindset.

By accepting these messages as fact, and feeding them back to you on an endless loop, these “facts” about yourself became a reality.

All of the outward evidence proved your point:  you struggled in math and avoided or stumbled through public speaking.

Even for high-performers, a fixed mindset is limiting.  

For the “natural talent,” they see no real reason to push themselves because their work is already superior and they believe work should come easily.  So, again, reaching full potential is squashed.

Also, high-performers with a fixed mindset do not take feedback well and are more prone to shift blame or cheat to cover failure.

If this sounds painfully familiar, don’t worry.

The good news from Dweck’s research is that your mindset is more malleable than you think.  And, honestly, it’s typical to have a fluid mindset not consistent in all domains.  For instance, a person who has a growth mindset in writing proposals may have a fixed mindset about public speaking.

How can I develop a growth mindset?

A growth mindset is a process of reframing your thinking.

The tagline that emerged from Dweck’s work is the Power of Yet.

That’s your new mantra.

Believe that areas in which you don’t currently feel as confident are merely areas that you are NOT YET confident.

With hard work, persistence, and a relentless pursuit of growth, you CAN become more capable.

The following quote captures the fixed vs. growth mindset struggle perfectly, “It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.”

Whatever you think you are NOT now, is merely temporary.

Belief in capacity needs to be followed with action.

Here are some actionable steps to develop a growth mindset (Bradbury, 2016):

Don’t be helpless.

Learn from successes and failures—they are both valuable.

Work with passion.

You may not be as talented as another, but you can compensate with passion.

Act now and take risks.

Don’t let fear and anxiety paralyze you.

Exceed your personal best a little every day.

Seek out constructive feedback and opportunities to collaborate with others to spur your growth.

Be results-driven.  

Just because you ought to be progress-focused, don’t let yourself off the hook when it comes to striving for results.

Face adversity with flexibility.  If you face a setback, no whining—learn and move on.

Be honest with your boss about areas in which you’d like to grow.

Maybe you’re ready for growth, but what about the boss?

If you are a manager, your personal mindset has an even broader impact on the success of your employees and organization.

If you have a fixed mindset, you won’t see or foster full potential in others and are less likely to provide growth opportunities because you believe capacity is fixed.  

You are more likely to praise only the highest of outcomes (not progress) and natural abilities (e.g., you’re so smart/talented).  

By recognizing high outcomes or innate abilities only, you effectively cap growth.

If employees get the message that no matter how hard they work, they’ll only get positive recognition for the highest of outcomes and assume they just aren’t capable enough.  They’ll see no point in exerting extra effort.

Even for high-performing employees, a boss’s fixed mindset is a detriment.  High-performers typically have a history of producing well without having to stretch themselves.

They get the praise anyway, so who needs to grow?

However, a boss with a growth mindset can unlock limitless potential in their workforce by praising hard work, progress, perseverance, and thirst for growth.

A boss with a growth mindset knows that developing a culture of growth is both good for employees and good for the health and success of the organization.

A growth mindset culture encourages higher quality work, fosters mutual trust, and deepens the worker’s commitment to the company.

Dweck’s research found that growth mindset employees are, 34 percent more likely to have a strong sense of ownership and commitment to their organization and 47 percent more likely to say their colleagues are trustworthy than their fixed-mindset peers.

Given the highly competitive business world, a growth mindset at the individual and organizational level is critical.

It ensures all employees reach their full potential, fully engage in their work, and produce the best outcomes.

Whether you want to improve your public speaking, learn a new software language, or improve how you coach your employees, you have the capacity for growth with hard work and passion.

Even better, you’ll be part of a happier workforce.

For more information about tools that support your growth and organization at work and at home, visit iStratus.com to check out the DayPlanner app for iPhone.

Workspace Design

When an employee is genuinely engaged in work, they feel invigorated, dedicated, and absorbed.  

An engaged employee finds the task so fulfilling that he/she brings nearly limitless physical and mental energy to the job and is energized by its pursuit.  They willingly show perseverance and tenacity in overcoming the challenges of the task.

At the pinnacle of work, engagement is flow.  

Flow, a term created by psychologist and author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is a state of heightened performance during which an individual feels, “satisfied, alert, in effortless control, confident, and at the peak of their abilities.”  

During flow, a person can become completely absorbed in work and lose the sense of time passing.  

Csikszentmihalyi contends that achieving flow could be critical to developing a meaningful career and experiencing a joyful life.  

We should all be so lucky to have job tasks that leverage the perfect intersection of our strengths and interests, at just the right level of challenge to bring about flow.

While you should strive for this, is your workspace designed for engagement and flow?  

Without a workspace that’s conducive to this focused work, it will be more challenging to engage and find a state of flow.

Below are factors to consider as you assess whether your current workspace allows you to maximize your work.

An “Engaging” Workspace

Ergonomic workstation

In genuinely engaged work, you are likely to spend long periods of time at your desk.  It’s critical that you can work comfortably.  Preferably, opt for a variable height desk that allows you to cycle between sitting and standing.  This not only supports a healthy back, but a change in position can also provide a small brain break as well. It also promotes creativity. 

Research has found that people are more creative when standing or walking vs. sitting.  

Also, make sure that your monitor is at a comfortable eye level and directly in front of you to protect your neck.  

If you work on a laptop, this may require purchasing another monitor to get proper alignment for both keyboarding and looking at the monitor.

Lighting

Choosing the right light not only affects how you are visually processing information but also affects you mentally and physically as well.  

Cool blue (the color associated with natural daylight) is the ideal color light for a workspace.  

Blue light keeps you alert, boosts your mood, and increases productivity. If you have no window and are working under fluorescent lights, supplement your lighting with a task light or floor lamp with a blue-white bulb.  

Also, consider a desk-top SAD light to mimic natural light.  

It’s important to consider the brightness or direction of lighting. Opt for no-glare or lower-wattage bulbs for overhead lights to reduce glare.  

Alternately, you could remove some of the high-wattage bulbs or tubes in an existing hanging light fixture. By adding adjustable, low-glare task lighting, you can move the light as needed to reduce glare on your screen while still having adequate light for paperwork.  

Uplighting and diffusers can help control glare too. If you’re lucky enough to have a window in your office, don’t forget adjustable blinds to control potential glare as well.

Noise Control

Hopefully, your office observes some quiet hours for concentrated work. If not, an open-door policy can derail your workflow.  

It’s ok to set limits and establish closed-door, quiet time. You can always reconnect with your colleagues on a break.  

Snack Time

You can’t think if you’re hungry and dehydrated.  That’s a fast track to fatigue, headache, and a lack of focus.  

Keep a stash of healthy snacks like fruit or trail mix and water on hand to fuel your body during these extended periods of engaged work

Lose the Clock

The goal of engaged work is flow, and with flow comes total absorption in the task to the point of losing all sense of time.

If a clock is staring down at you, ticking in your ear, flow can be hard to get into.  Remove or temporarily hide the clock, even the clock on your computer desktop.

Also, protect your smartphone, turn off alerts and notifications, and add an away message on your email to minimize possible distractions.

Inspirational Setting

Engaging work requires creativity. Does your space inspire creative thought and problem-solving?  

If not, it might be time for a workspace re-do.

We’ve already talked about how blue lighting is optimal, but don’t stop there with the color blue.  Blue is also a color that we subconsciously associate with openness and tranquility, according to a 2009 research study.  

Researchers found that while in this de-stressed state of openness and tranquility, people were receptive to new ideas and, therefore, more creative.

If you don’t have blue in your space now, consider blue walls or artwork/décor.  

While you’re at it, take another cue from nature’s color palette and add some green.  Adding plants can bring the nature vibe indoors and allow you to reap the relaxing benefits while at work.

Also, if you want to produce inspiring work, it might help to work in an inspiring space.  Add images or artifacts that inspire and motivate you. 

You spend hours every week working, so why not strive for engaged work?

If your current workspace doesn’t support that goal, it’s worth taking some time to design a space that inspires the possibility of engagement and flow.

You may not reach that goal tomorrow, but with practice and persistence and a little help from your surroundings, you’ll be gratified with more meaningful work, you’ll boost your overall happiness, and your company will benefit from a superior product and a more satisfied employee.  To find more strategies to maximize your work life, visit iStratus.com.


6 Tips for Effective Goal Setting

The beginning of the year inspires many of us to reflect, assess where we are professionally or personally, and, hopefully, set goals for the New Year.

There’s something about the flip of the calendar that fills us with a sense of opportunity, excitement, or curiosity for what the year ahead might bring.  

If the year just past was not what we’d hoped, we might look to the New Year as our clean slate; our chance to makeover some part of ourselves, our jobs, our organizations anew.  

However, inspiration can fall flat in no time if you don’t create an exact plan of action driven by a foundation of effective goal setting.

Why is goal setting important?

Think of goal setting as mapping a course.  Without setting yourself (or your team/organization) on a specific path, you might as well be a rudderless ship adrift on the ocean.

Where your ship lands might be lovely, but just as likely, your destination could be awful. You’ve left it up to chance.

How will you know if you’ve had a prosperous voyage if you didn’t know where you were sailing in the first place?

Does that sound like a plan for success?  

Success doesn’t usually happen by accident.

Goal setting propels you forward with inspiration, intention, and purpose.

The act of goal setting develops key characteristics of the successful person.

Research by Locke & Lathan in 2006 found that setting goals result in motivation, self-confidence, and autonomy.

These qualities not only breed success but happiness as well.

We know goal setting is a positive, but what does effective goal setting look like?

Six Tips for Effective Goal Setting

Tip 1. Be passionate

The best, most fulfilling goals are those for which you feel passionate.  

Ideally, this is not an “I should” kind of goal, because others tell you it’s important.  

Or, if it’s a team or organizational goal, craft a goal that is one your team/organization can genuinely get behind because it’s closely aligned with your core mission.

Without passion, you’re likely to flop.

Tip 2. Set a goal that stretches you

Being passionate about your goal is important, but setting a goal that insists on significant growth (and maybe even a little risk) is critical.

What do you really gain by setting a goal that’s too easy?  A checked box?  Bragging rights?

Who cares if there’s no real growth.  This is where a growth mindset is truly your friend.

Tip 3. Craft a goal with clarity

And, it’s not enough to think about a lofty goal in some vague, hopeful, unspecified terms.

Zero in on that passionate goal, but follow up with a detailed, clearly-outlined plan of actionable steps, and measurements to take to assess progress.

One popular system for setting and achieving goals is called OKR–Objectives and Key Results.

OKR was developed in 1975 at Intel by Andy Grove.  

Today, OKR is a system followed by the likes of Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, ING Bank, Target, and Bono, to name a few.

The key tenets of OKR are:

Objectives: The WHAT of your goal.  This is the passion and inspiration and can be a little more “big picture” rather than detailed.

Intel’s original model suggested monthly goals so they could be agile and adjustments could be made quickly.

For example, your objective could be–I want to be an attentive parent.

Key Results:  The ACTIONS or HOW you will go about attaining your goal and MEASURING your progress.

KRs must be quantifiable and should number between 2 and 5.

For the attentive parent example, your OKRs could be, I want to be an attentive parent by spending at least 30 minutes of one-on-one time with my child at least 4 days per week and initiate family time at least 2 weekends a month for the next month.

I will (Objective) as measured by (this set of Key Results).

For more information about OKR, check out this TED Talk or visit https://felipecastro.com.

Tip 4. Write it down

It’s not enough to feel passion, you must put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write down your goal.

Psychologist Gail Matthews at Dominican University conducted a 2015 research study that found goal achievement is 42% more likely when goals are written.

Tip 5. Accountability works

The same Dominican University study also found that people who not only wrote their goals, but shared their goals and/or action plan with a friend, and committed to periodic progress reports were significantly more likely to succeed in reaching their goals.

Commit to a friend to chat every week.  

Or for a team/organizational goal, schedule recurring progress review meetings and commit to making them non-negotiable.

Tip 6. Don’t quit when the going gets tough

There are times when you may need to abandon a goal.

This is especially true if it’s one that was ill-conceived—you’re not passionate about it, it was an “I should” goal.

But entrepreneur Molly Cain writing for Forbes warns us that more often, goals are abandoned prematurely because of fear.

Maybe it’s a fear of failure. What’s going to happen to my career if I don’t reach my goal? Or maybe fear of success. How will I possibly manage it all if this business gets off the ground?

Remember; growth involves discomfort.

Just like those leg pains you got as a kid before you shot up two inches, growth in your professional and personal life also involves discomfort.

Discomfort in the unknown. Discomfort in the uncertainty of success and putting your neck out there.  But, in the end, growth towards a goal for which you feel passionate is worth discomfort for the chance of earning exhilarating success.

What supports can I use to help me meet my goals?

Technology can be a powerful tool in achieving any goal.

The iStratus DayPlanner app for iPhone has multiple functionalities directly aligned with the goal-achievement process.

For instance, when you clearly document your goal, your actionable steps, and record progress measurements, those documents can always be at hand and top-of-mind.

By saving and storing them securely, you have ready access wherever you are.

Trying to map out your action plan?

Use the task list function tied to your calendar to make sure you are on target with scheduled tasks.

Keep yourself accountable by adding color-coded meetings on your calendar (or multiple integrated calendars, if needed) for progress check-ins and deadlines.

Keep your key results doc linked to your calendar at your goal dates to compare actual progress vs. plan.

By following the tips above to craft an inspiring, growth-oriented goal, to implement a clear action plan whose results will be accurately measured, accountability partner(s), and guts to persevere, you put yourself in the best position to set and achieve significant goals and experience personal growth.