The Voice of Motivation: Staying Engaged with Life

We want to do it all. But we must stay engaged with our goals in order to stay motivated. 

Doing it all is a common goal, but too often we become distracted or bored. Sometimes, making it difficult to stay engaged with life.

Enter A World Of Organization

With a sense of organization around us, we can engage wholeheartedly with what we do, and in turn, keep that passion and excitement for life abuzz. 

So let’s rock this world together with iStratus!

The most interesting thing with all of this is that – there’s no singular solution or idea, which ensures engagement happens. Engagement is something that cannot be forced

The truth is, the more disorganized we feel, the more we become of change. It can do the opposite of what we hope to achieve.

So, where does that leave us? 

Let’s look at what’s at the heart of motivation and maintaining engagement in what we do in our daily lives.

Are you interested in reading this?

It is quite a simple question. And an important one, we need to know that we are truly interested in reaching a goal before we decide to tackle it.

You see, that’s what engagement is…

If we actively read, listen, and then formulate our own opinion, feelings, or view regarding a topic or issue, then immediately we’re more engaged.

Ultimately iStratus wishes to tap into those needs, and inner thoughts regardless of what we’re doing or need to do. At the end of that, we’ll feel far more motivated and engaged, or tuned in.

Small Actions, Big Impact

Fortunately, it doesn’t take much for us to shift momentum or direction. The smallest changes can have the biggest impact.

Every day we engage with each other is another day we create connected experiences in our environment, no matter where we are. The time is now. 

Let’s Break Down Barriers

It’s not a secret that if we understand what we’re dealing with, we’re more likely to use knowledge or apply something in a practical sense. That’s exactly what iStratus hopes to achieve for you. Break processes down so that things become easier and help maintain your interest, so that you don’t feel like a headless chicken. Typically, when we don’t have a clear process, direction, or we feel disconnected from something, we will automatically zone out. Simply put, that engagement and desire are lost.

A Voice and A Choice

The most important resource for all success stories is ourselves. Simply put this means that by giving ourselves a voice, we take ownership of staying motivated, rather than merely just doing it. At iStratus, we strongly believe having a place to categorize tasks or notate our direction for ourselves allows us to complete the items on our checklists. 

Ultimately if we highlight our areas of strength, areas for improvement, it then becomes a process of reflection, which goes a long way towards maintaining motivation. 

“The only lifelong, reliable motivations are those that come from within, and one of the strongest of those is the joy and pride that grow from knowing that you’ve just done something as well as you can do it.”

~ Lloyd Dobyns and Clare Crawford-Mason

Let’s Us Repeat: Stay Motivated and Engaged By “Doing”

Hooking into excitement is key. — If we’re excited, the principle is simple engagement and connection to what we do will take place.

None of us are magicians, we cannot force anything — but we must choose to do something for there to be a difference. This choice is made easier when we make the connection right from the get-go.  The question of: Are you truly interested in this? Matters. Let’s go down that rabbit hole of organizing and “doing” that leads to progress, synchronously increasing our zest for life and staying motivated.

Finally, there’s no substitute for experience, communication, and critical thinking skills. So let’s stay engaged with information, which is indeed at the very essence of utilizing what’s right in the palm of our hands.

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Setting Gratitude As a Daily Goal

The Power of Positive Thinking: We don’t know about you, but we often find there are many benefits of “Listing” your positive thoughts. 

There is an abundance of evidence that suggests that the brain finds it next to impossible to focus on positive and negative thoughts simultaneously.

We all know the ancient question: Is your glass half-empty or half-full? Considering whether you’re optimistic or pessimistic in your approach will also reflect upon your outlook of life — and quality of health.

At iStratus we believe creating the practice of listing the things you’re grateful for helps you train your mind to be increasingly more positive. 

If you set out to list your gratitude each day, your brain will be more aware of positive things to include on the list!

Indeed, listing the positives with optimism is a key part of applying effective stress management strategies. And realistically we’d all like to stress less.

We need to make it clear, positive thinking isn’t about sticking your head in the sand and ignoring life’s tough situations, or pretending everything is a rainbow. No, positive thinking is an approach to addressing unpleasantness more positively and productively. Going for the best outcome, rather than the worst.

Positive self-talk is the start. In our minds, the “self-talk” is that endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through our heads daily. Such automatic thoughts can be both positive and negative. 

Negative Thoughts?

Not sure if your self-talk is positive or negative? Some common negativity can include:

  • Polarizing: Things only either good or bad. Finding the middle ground is irrelevant. Things must be perfect; otherwise, this will lead to failure. 
  • Personalizing: You automatically blame yourself. For instance, you hear that there has been a change in plans, and you believe it was the result of something you said or did.
  • Filtering: In this case, the negative aspects of a situation tend to override the positive ones. For example, five tasks on your “To Do” tasks were completed as required, yet your focus is solely upon only the one, which wasn’t, forgetting the wins achieved.

Positive Thinking with Gratitude as a Daily Focus

Daily gratitude can be incorporated into your thinking. The process can be rather simple and attainable; nonetheless, it requires time, commitment and practice. — Basically, you’re building new habits. 

We believe using iStratus to list your gratitude or thankfulness daily (or at least once a week) you will begin to see a shift towards thinking optimistically. This is how you do so:

  • Pinpoint needed changes. Optimism requires engagement in more positive thinking. Start by identifying the things you usually think negatively about. Be it work, school, relationships, or the daily commute. Choose one thing to begin focusing on with increased positivity. 
  • Check-in with the Self. At times, it’s necessary to stop and evaluate what you’re thinking about in your day. If you feel too much ‘negativity’ is happening, attempt to find a way to reposition a positive spin on it. Did you enjoy your coffee in the morning?
  • Apply that Positive Self-Talk. By human nature, we tend to impose thoughts upon ourselves we certainly wouldn’t say to others. It’s not always easy to be encouraging of oneself. Thus, when negative thoughts creep in, think about things and people you’re grateful for daily.
  • Positive people help. It’s not always good to be a complete island. We all need people around us who are positive and supportive. We don’t always have to agree with the thoughts and opinions of others, however, the people we can depend on for love, quality advice, and feedback matter. 

We all have freethinking minds. Still, those typically “negative thinking” personalities, can easily increase self-doubt which doesn’t help one’s ability to manage life in healthy ways. 

  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle to fuel your mind and body. Eat well, with fruits and vegetables. Recharge your internal batteries to help manage stress. Engage in 30 minutes of exercise to positively improve your mood. 
  • Laugh. Humor helps increase gratitude. When you can laugh at life, even in the toughest moments, you slowly feel better. Happier memories and hearts can be found within. 

Create that “List of Gratitude.” When your mind frame is generally more optimistic, life improves for better and we’re able to handle everyday stresses more constructively. Just Smile. Life is worth it.

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

iStratus Lists: To Organize Your Life

Write. Write. Write. Or rather, type. Type. Type. Recording your thoughts or “To Do’s” helps you process and remember information.

If you’re feeling like life’s a bit out-of-control right now, one of the best things you can do is create a set of lists you can take action on.

So c’mon, let’s get motivated with iStratus, and make lists!

Brain Dump – Free Up Your Mind A Little 

We recommend getting all of your thoughts down in the notes section. Make a clear list of:

  • What you need to do, 
  • What you want to remember and 
  • What plans or projects do you have to work on

Write (or type) until you can’t think of anything else – and be patient with yourself! Bear in mind, this process could take a while! Add or edit as you wish to.

Once the brain dumping is done, your mind should feel lighter (if it isn’t, at least a little, then something else needs doing. Take 10, 15, 20 minutes, or 3 days it doesn’t matter). 

The point is, once you feel a little relief (yes, every bit counts), you will find that it is easier to categorize related items, prioritize, and productively disregard unessential responsibilities.

This will free up your mind to think about other things besides the stuff you want your brain to recall.

Existing Projects List

Even though having an existing projects list seems repetitive or unnecessary, it’s an effective idea to consistently have one.

Why? How so?

Ultimately it provides a realistic picture of everything that’s on your plate right now. Too many projects occurring at once can be overwhelming, and it’s unlikely to increase motivation to get anything done.

3 or 4 important projects are enough, relocate the others to a “Next” list.

The Next List

This is the one that can help you take action and be productive regardless of where you are…

Such as, making a call or sending a quick follow-up text, before a meeting begins.

If you’re driving and need something to listen to, maybe pull up that podcast you’ve had on your mind or “must listen to” list for ages!

Daily To-Do List

This list really shouldn’t be multiple pages if you’re aiming for effectiveness.

Three to five items you want to accomplish are sufficient. That’s all!

It’s those important things required for achieving your goals.  It’s important to focus on completing them the best you can.

Process Checklists: Easy as 1, 2, 3

If something requires certain steps for completion, and you tend to forget them a process checklist can help.

A process checklist could include:

  • How to update your SUV navigation system
  • How to turn on/off the alarm system 
  • How to run payroll.

Grocery And Quick Meal Lists Will Save Your Sanity

Avoid driving yourself insane because you can’t recall that it was a can of coconut milk you needed from the supermarket.

Keep a grocery list active in iStratus and share it, so that members in your household can contribute to it.

If you use an online grocery pickup service, you can add items to your cart as you note them.

That way, everything will already be in your cart, ready to order as needed.

Create a list of quick meals, the kind you can make in a dash.  This list will save your sanity on those busy nights when you are running the kids here, there, and yonder. Meals that are easy to make are key. See here for some fast, easy 30 Minute meal ideas.

And yes, sometimes a pizza delivery is OK too!

Things to Research

Lately, “doomsday scrolling” has become a real problem for so many of us on social media platforms.

In reality, with so much chaos in our world right now, it’s only natural that we want to keep up with the latest information, which easily turns into hours of endless scrolling and building anxiety.

A “Things to Research List” dedicated to a specific amount of time online researching whatever information is needed, will help you stress less, reduce anxiety, and it won’t eat up too much time in your day.

Books to Read, Music to Hear, or Movies To Watch List

This is the fun one. Self-care is important. 

Use iStratus to list the exciting stuff you want to engage your ears and eyeballs in. Next time you hear a tune you want to spend more time listening to, or there’s a good book you’d like to read someday, or if there’s a movie you’d love to watch – Note it. 

Lists can be life-changing and interchangeable with life. With the flexibility of our checklist system, you may breathe a little easier.

And remember to laugh: 

“There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is in having lots to do and not doing it.”

~ Mary Wilson Little

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Set Better Goals

This past year has been tough.

In many respects, this Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to think long and hard about what it is we value. What goals do we want to set?

For centuries, being able to compete within the rat race has been a symbol of pride and standing in our society. We often feel as though we are held to a cutthroat world, whereby success is measured through financial earnings and specific titles.

Throughout this article, we’ll discuss how to navigate choices, how to set goals so that hopefully one doesn’t feel stuck between a rock and a hard place, especially during times of stress.

Taking The “Enough Is Enough” Angle 

If one places impractical pressures on oneself and their family, it becomes exhausting for all. That daily structure we create needs to be organized, but also flexible. It’s also important to recognize yourself, your needs, desires, and goals as being significant.  

This isn’t stroking the ego, this simply means that the goals and expectations you set for yourself matters. We all want to be at the top of our game, maximizing our success with balance.

You can use iStratus to, make sure those targets are aligned with our strengths and interests. Not doing this can often lead to overload and this is also a real cause of burnout.

At iStratus, we feel that as long as you can use our app to develop some, structure or direction regarding what’s next even amid a pandemic, one step at a time – with goals in mind, this will provide a certain feeling of stability. 

We know how important it is to have a plan for the future. 

Be Realistic

On the same hand, we also need to remain realistic with the goals we set. We believe goals are great, but even better is when they are prioritized. With an exceeding amount of pressure that is placed upon us for success, continual motivation is unlikely if things are not prioritized or obtainable. 

Additionally, it’s also important to remember, there’s a distinct difference between having goals versus putting all one’s eggs in the same basket. Ultimately, the latter is bound for a struggle. 

Use iStratus to take note of specific steps and break your goals down. Trying this approach may help things feel less overwhelming, which in turn, will likely see some progress on those long-term goals or projects:

  • Assess what is wanted Not solely what you think you should be doing. 

(We all have to undertake tasks we don’t want to do. That’s life. However, distinguishing the objectives between what requires completion, alongside what is wanted, is a different kettle of fish).

  • What Do You Enjoy? – List five things on a “Loves” list in iStratus. Can they help you attain your goals in some way?
  • Start SMALL – Smaller goals are easier to achieve. Feeling better about things more often helps us progress and maintain it.
  • Define Goals. Be specific – For example: To learn a musical instrument. Commit to practicing for 20 minutes a week even (it’s not always easy). Keep a list of any songs you’d love to learn.
  • Break It Down – Mini goals help motivation levels.
  • Set Deadlines – Targets help things stay on track. Set dates on your iStratus calendar for achieving each mini-goal and try your best to stick with it.

Every phase of life is a process. And honestly, providing all the advice and tools in the world doesn’t mean everything will be miraculously easier. Nothing is that simple. However, a good starting point is to truly think about what it is we hope to achieve.

“Set priorities for your goals. A major part of successful living lies in the ability to put first things first. Indeed, the reason most major goals are not achieved is that we spend our time doing second things first.” ~ Robert J. McKain

We’ve been here many times, right? From a societal standpoint “time is always of the essence” however, we all know by now things change unexpectedly. The point is to take one step or one thing off the checklist at a time. 

And Sometimes, Press Pause, Just Breathe…

If there’s another thing this pandemic has taught us is – might it be that home is supposed to be a sanctuary? The four walls of a home are a place where one can retreat to and find peace, away from those things that pressure us.

Pause, rest, recharge, just breathe – and then tackle things! Set those goals in iStratus today and see how you go. Keep things flexible, one checkmark at a time, and there’s no doubt you’ll feel more open and positive towards those goals for the taking.

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

A Healthier You!

New Year, New You, Right?

With each New Year, comes resolution: Changes are welcomed and new ideas are formed. 

In the spirit of new beginnings and starting with a clean slate, we want to help you take action towards becoming further organized this year. Below are some tips to help us all serge into another year refreshed with iStratus.

We hope you feel that spark of rejuvenated optimism. Taking Action is the first step.

Begin Small with Achievable Targets

Right off the bat, setting realistic goals will improve your chances of success. Realistically, grandiose resolutions or targets will likely result in feelings of failure. Whereas if you begin with having your engine checked, drinking two glasses of wine a day, or reading-through your email first thing in the morning, avoiding distractions later; these small things, can lead to big successes.

Perhaps, choose three tasks you will begin doing daily. Once you have mastered those three, adopt three more to pursue.

Declutter to Feel Refreshed

As you may well already know by now, one of our favorite things associated with using iStratus is the idea of lessening clutter. Perhaps you cleared stuff out before Thanksgiving or Christmas, however, when you seriously think about it, there will no doubt be further things in your house or life requiring attention to freely welcome a new year. 

Tidy Can Be Mighty

Housework may be your least favorite task, however, flipping it around, cleaning is also a good way to relax or provide stress relief. In the end, you might love the result of having a clean living space.

Try creating a weekly “spring-cleaning” guideline in iStratus and applying whatever best fits with your schedule and your family, where everyone can positively contribute somehow.

Your Calendar is an Advantage For Everything

While some people may dislike being ‘boxed in’ with schedules on their calendar, adding reminders, tasks, vacations, and other important events to it can also help you recall things. Use iStratus on your smart device and start noting your “To-Do’s”, to stay on top of daily tasks.

“Gaining control over your health and well-being is one of those times in your life that you get to be completely selfish and not feel bad about it. If you want to meet your goals, you have to make it about you. You have to make it work for you and you alone. Anything less is a setup for failure.”

~ Jennifer Hudson

Why iStratus Storage is Effective

With the emergence of electronic e-statements or e-billings, we are subsequently cutting back on paper filing. Thus, our main goal at iStratus is to provide a safe and secure, one-stop, storage system in the palm of your hand for documents you may need to access, no matter where you are. 

Stick To A Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Routine and Don’t Feel Stuck

If you tend to forget due dates, creating routines, or checklists will make it easier to accomplish your tasks on time in no time. Things such as fixed automatic payments, or meal planning ahead will make your life less stressful. Set reminders for things that need addressing each week or month to remain organized. 

Additionally, set routines aligned with what you already do and build upon these things, one step at a time. So when life becomes overwhelming or stressful, consistent routines provide some stability to get things done.

Yes, Love Those Packed Lunches

It’s no secret, packed lunches are not just for school kids, best yet – there’s a whole new foodie love out there for taking lunch to work, or pre-prepping dinners to save you slaving in the kitchen every day. There are loads of exciting sandwich recipes on the web, that you can dare to try not just the classic PB&J. This can also save you buckets of money each week.

Use iStratus to lessen the stress of dinner decisions and checklist groceries and pre-plan. Not only will this save you money, but the pre-planning will also save you precious time overall. Calmer mornings make for calmer and less stressful eating on the run!!

Monitor Your Progress

We love the use of color. Give it a big check or a big check on your calendar with iStratus. Highlight each day that you’ve made successful strides towards keeping some of your resolutions. 

When you can physically visualize the chain of success, you will be more motivated to keep going down the list until your goals are achieved.

While tracking your progress may appear somewhat daunting, it will also potentially motivate you to do more.  Even if you’re feeling flat at the minute: Go do something right now! Mark up that iStratus calendar!

As the year progresses, focus on organizing one day at a time. There is absolutely no time like the present!

Live life and roll well with iStratus. Download our free app today.

Memory Stress, Let’s Assess

Are you constantly on the hunt for your car keys? Or walking into the store without your shopping list or phone on hand? And what about names?  Do you struggle to remember your mailman’s name? You’re not alone. Everyone forgets things occasionally. Still, memory loss is not something to be taken lightly.

In life, there are no assurances to preventing memory loss or conditions such as Alzheimer’s however, there is a myriad of evidence available online that indicates certain activities can potentially help. 

At iStratus, we’d like to consider the process of organization as one of seven simple ways our app can help sharpen memory. It will also hopefully make it easier to recognize the signs of memory loss and when there’s a need to address it.

Get Organized

Is your home cluttered or are your notes in disarray? You’re more likely to forget things when you are not organized. 

iStratus is the perfect tool for recording tasks, appointments, and other important events, limiting the amount of paper around you.

To help cement tasks in your memory, it also pays to repeat each entry aloud as you type it. We suggest, maintaining “To-Do” lists and checking off items as they’re completed. 

And always have a mainstay place for your wallet, keys, sunglasses/glasses, and other essentials.

Limit distractions as much as possible. If you focus on the information that you want to retain, you’re more likely to recall it later. It might also help to connect names to a favorite song or another familiar phrase or concept.

 

Exercise Your Body, Exercise Your Mind

 

Physical activity increases blood flow in your entire body, including your brain. This might help keep your memory sharp.

 

The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderately intense aerobic movement or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobics or a combination of both preferably spread throughout the week.

 

Even a 15-minute walk around the house or Zumba session in your living room is better than nothing! But, it’s easy to let an exercise routine slip if you don’t schedule it.  We suggest including your daily workout in your iStratus Dayplanner. 

 

Increase Your Brain Waves For Fluid Thought 

 

Akin to physical activity keeping your body in shape, mental stimulation keeps your brain in shape — and might keep memory loss at bay. Implement things into your daily schedule on iStratus and do your best to stick to it. There are other options too – like taking an alternate route when driving or learning to play a musical instrument. 

 

Stay Social. 

 

Social interaction helps keep depression and stress at bay, both of which can contribute to memory loss. Get together with loved ones, friends, and others.  This is especially important if you live alone.

 

Prioritize Catching Your Zzzzzzz’s!

 

Your brain needs quality, consistent sleep to perform at its best. It’s no surprise catching Zzzzzz’s plays a fundamental part in the process of memory strengthening.

 

Try to create a consistent sleep-wake cycle where you’re going to bed and waking up around the same time every day – even on the weekends.

 

Cutting screen time before bed can also help you get great sleep. For many, scrolling through your phone or watching television before settling can have negative impacts on sleep patterns.

Sleep experts also endorse limiting your caffeine intake during the late afternoon and evening. It also pays to avoid nicotine at night and limit alcoholic beverages before bed. Too much of anything at night may cause frequent restroom interruptions to catch your Zzzzzzzz’s anyway.

 

Sleep plays an important role in filing things within your long-term memory for recall down the road. Getting enough sleep is a definite priority. Extensive research can be found online which indicates most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per day.

You’ll feel like a better “you” when your schedule is on track – sleep included!

 

Eat Some Veggies: A Healthy Diet Helps

 

A healthy diet is as good for your brain as it is for your heart. Your stomach is your second brain. So eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for fuel. Choose low-fat protein sources, such as fish, beans, and skinless poultry. Drinks count, too. Too much alcohol and not enough water can result in confusion and memory loss. 

 

When To Seek Further Help

 

If memory loss is a concern, talk to your doctor. Particularly, if this forgetfulness is noticeably worse or affects your ability to complete your usual daily activities. Your medical examiner is likely to undertake a physical assessment, as well as check memory and problem-solving skills. Treatment and testing depend on what’s contributing to memory lapses.

 

The important thing is to stay abreast of matters; being efficiently organized helps lessen memory stress.

 

Live life and roll well with iStratus. 

Decluttering the Mind

There’s not an adult on the planet that doesn’t have a mind filled with clutter.

And there’s something about that which is more troublesome than a cluttered home or workspace. A cluttered mind is restless, unfocused, and somewhat akin to a scrambled egg. The cluttered mind moves in multiple directions at once, and the result is little gets done.

Mental clutter can include keeping a mental “To-Do” list, worrying about the future, deliberating about the past, and so on. Does this sound like you?  Are you ready to clear space in your head?

Below are ideas to de-clutter your mind with iStratus, reduce feeling overwhelmed, and ultimately gain beneficial clarity to achieve more.

Your Physical Environment Matters

Clutter bombards the mind with disproportionate stimuli, which makes our brains work overtime. Clutter also signals that there’s plenty else that needs addressing, which is of course, in its own right mentally exhausting.

The bottom line: De-cluttering your physical space also de-clutters your mind in succession.

For The Record…

You don’t need to keep everything stored in your brain. Record and categorize things within the iStratus app —and utilize it as a storage device for all those bits and pieces of information you need to remember. This can include appointments, shopping lists, ideas for future projects, and so on.

Quit Multi-Tasking

We’ve mentioned this many times, but it’s worth repeating. Quit multitasking. It doesn’t work

If your house was a mess and you needed to reorganize it, how would you begin? Perhaps start by choosing one important area—for example, the kitchen pantry —and giving it a good cleaning.

The mental equivalent of tidying the kitchen pantry is to allocate a certain amount of time exclusively devoted to clearing your mind. Throughout this process, transfer your mental clutter to the side and completely focus your attention upon the task at hand.

Imagine your pantry top notch and organized, and ensure that it stays so, without other items being plonked all over it during the timeframe you’ve devoted to it. 

Mentally push the clutter outside of the pantry doors too. Make a note in iStratus of any items that might be needed to make this organization even more efficient, such as labels or storage canisters.

The Past Haunts

Speaking of “pushing something out the door” – mind clutter is also often related to the past. Most people keep a large cabinet of mental drawers stored in the back of their subconscious. 

Go through those mental files and discard memories of the past that are not serving you well in the present (it’s not easy, we know)… Set some “Quiet Time” on your schedule for yourself with iStratus.

Be Decisive

If your email inbox is filled with emails that require addressing, and no decisions are made on them, what will happen? Soon, your inbox will be overflowing with bills, requests from your employer or clients, and spam mail. The way to progress is to address what’s in your inbox or check things off your checklist. 

The solution for clarity of mind is to be decisive and follow through with tasks, to the best of your ability. Everyone has up and down days – that’s a given, life is a rollercoaster of crazy sometimes and really, the truth is, we are only human!

Routine Decisions Require an Auto Pilot Switch

Flick it to the “On” position.

Small, routine tasks can occupy a lot of brain space. This can include things like:

  • Deciding what to eat for breakfast each morning;
  • Deciding what you’re going to wear each day;
  • Deciding on what to have for lunch; and so forth.

You can reduce the amount of brain space because of routine tasks by putting them into auto-pilot mode and setting them on automatic. This is why meal planning works so well.

Prioritize

Nothing creates as much brain clutter as an endless To-Do list. Accept that some things need to be dropped and focus on the most important things. 

A checklist of your top priorities will make all the difference to freeing up the bulk of your brain space.

And Learn To Breathe.

Sounds simple, but breathing is key to placing the mind at ease and putting useless thoughts of overload away. It’s not easy to do, but just like organizing your workspace, it can be done. 

“Nothing contributes so much to tranquilizing the mind as a steady purpose – a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.”
~ Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: English novelist (1797 – 1851)

Think clearly, and focus on what matters most.

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Eight Time Management Tips for the Busy Person

Time Management.  How can I manage something that I never seem to have?  Have you ever looked at your weekly calendar on Sunday evening and cringed?  You have work deadlines, a repair person coming, kids to get to practice, a spouse who’s traveling, and, to top it off,  your mother needs a ride to the doctor.

Have you ever gotten to the end of a week and wondered what you’ve really accomplished? Or wondered if what you’ve accomplished really was the most important?  As our lives get busier and more complex, managing how we spend our precious time has become increasingly important.

You Can’t Stretch Time, But You Can Make the Most of Every Minute

Making the most of every minute does NOT mean that you never slow down to engage in your favorite activities…or to simply relax.  In fact, by implementing time management strategies, you can actually “find” time. Not only will you use your time more efficiently and effectively at work and at home, the time you “find” can be used for that extra hour of reading your favorite author or walking to the park.

Get Started With Time Management

SELF-ASSESS

  • HOW IS MY TIME MANAGEMENT NOW?
  • Do I procrastinate?
  • What are my time wasters?  (social media? office chatter?)
  • During what hours do I feel most focused and productive?  
  • How do I keep track of my schedule, and is it working for me?

Once you’ve taken a few minutes to honestly assess your current time management, you’re ready to consider the following:

LIVE BY THE LIST

List, List, List.  Can’t be stressed enough.  The process of making a list forces you to account for all that needs to happen on any given day.  Plus, by writing a list, you’ve effectively downloaded that information from your brain. That frees up your brain power to get things done.  But, be ready to edit. List making can be tricky at first.

  • Make a realistic list.  Making your list too long can set you up for disappointment and frustration.
  • Prioritize.  What is truly MOST important for you to accomplish today?  This might not necessarily be the same as what is “talking” to you the most and getting your attention. Top of your list should be the MOST important item for you to complete, not someone else’s priority.  The iStratus task manager is a great way to start prioritizing your to-do list.
  • Commit to the list.  We all know the unexpected happens, but consistently commit to following your list in order of importance to meet priorities most effectively.  If you’ve committed and life throws you a curveball, at least you’ve worked towards the top priority first even if you can’t complete it.
  • Write it today.  Write your list for tomorrow at the end of your day today so you enjoy your evening with a clear head. Plus, with your list written, you’ll start tomorrow with your plan of action ready and waiting.  

STOP PROCRASTINATING

We’ve all done it.  We’ve worked diligently on our To Do List.  We’ve promised to dig in right away with task #1 first thing in the morning.  Morning comes, and task #1 seems daunting. How do I get started? How am I going to finish this?  Then it starts.  I’ll just clear my inbox first.  Or I’ll just knock off task #4 first—it’s quicker. STOP.   This is where strategy #1—Live by the List—can save you.   You’ve prioritized. You’ve committed. Feel the power of sticking to it!

If task #1 is completely overwhelming, break it into more manageable sub-tasks that you can complete more quickly.  More quickly completing that first sub-task can provide the much-needed buzz of accomplishment to spur you on to the next sub-task.  

GET HELP—DELEGATION IS YOUR FRIEND

You are focused on your task #1, but there is another task distracting you.  Successful time management doesn’t mean you must do everything yourself. Nor should you. If there is someone in your sphere capable of handling the distractor task, ask for help!  This is not a weakness, but working smart. Perhaps your co-worker can lead that meeting. Or your child can get dinner started. To truly be productive, you should consider delegating. Delegating keeps you focused and builds capacity in others.

MULTI-TASKING IS NOT YOUR FRIEND

You’ve got three balls in the air—you’re cranking and feeling productive.  But are you? At first glance, multi-tasking seems like the perfect solution to an over-stuffed schedule.  

However, when your brain’s focus is switching among multiple tasks, you are less able to fully attend to any one task, often sacrificing quality.  The time your brain spends to re-focus on each task as you shift among them, actually wastes time. But even worse, over time, the brains of frequent multi-taskers often become less able to filter out distractions to truly focus on one task.

SCHEDULE—THE MUST DO’S AND THE WANT TO DO’S

You’ve got a long list of Must Do’s on your schedule.  But don’t forget about those routine tasks that can eat up a big chunk of time, but never make it onto your calendar. Catching up on email, returning calls, face-time with co-workers are all sneaky time users that should be scheduled into your day like any other commitment.  If they are scheduled, you’ll be less likely to address them through multi-tasking.

When you schedule tasks is also important. If you are not a morning person, tackling your #1 task first thing, when you aren’t your most alert and productive, might not be the best choice.

With those Must Do’s accounted for, you can now schedule the Want to Do’s.  Whether it’s extra time at the gym, lunch with mom or a movie with your spouse, if you treat it like any other time commitment and add it to your calendar, you are more likely to make it happen.

USE A MASTER CALENDAR—MASTER YOUR UNIVERSE

You’ve got your work calendar, your personal calendar, you kids’ calendars, your spouse’s calendar, maybe a parent’s calendar to consider. If you must keep it all in mind when scheduling your time, then you must keep it all in one place.  Whatever your style–the giant chalkboard in the kitchen, a day planner, or a digital calendar tool—keeping all relevant events in one place keeps you from the annoying time suck of re-scheduling tasks later.

GET REST AND EXERCISE

With all this talk of prioritizing lists and making schedules, and your actual WORK, how can you possibly have time to get enough rest and exercise?  The fact is, you may become the expert at time management. But, if you’re chronically over-tired or rarely exercise, you still won’t be as effective and efficient.  Too little sleep chips away at your ability to focus and maintain attention on tasks to bring them to successful completion.

Regular exercise (even just 10 minutes a day) improves sleep quantity and quality and increases mental alertness. Spending time exercising can help you find time as you rest better and approach each task with more clarity and focus.  Schedule your rest and exercise on your Must Do list!

By practicing these eight time management strategies, you’ll be well on your way to becoming your most productive (and less stressed) you.  Plus, you’ll find more time for fun and relaxation.To learn more about tools to help you in your pursuit of skillful time management, visit istratus.com.

Passwords In Words

Creating strong passwords may seem like a tediously daunting task, especially when the consensus is to use a unique password for every site you visit. 

It’s simply nuts trying to keep track of these things along with everything else in your life. Consequently, you may be more inclined to use one password despite the fact that we know it’s unsafe and potentially compromises all of our information. Or you may use numerous passwords, although they are simple words, or include numbers that relate to our lives which are easy for hackers to guess. 

Those hard-to-remember passwords (probably because your business or a website forced you to) are just that, hard to recall. So these passwords are right next to your computer – even though this also compromises safety on a shared computer.

Forgettable passwords are useless. And passwords that are too easy can lead to an attack. With most of our personal lives increasingly migrating to online status, iStratus is here to give you some ideas on how to create strong passwords and keep your information safe in a technological world. 

What’s A Strong Password You Ask?

Strong passwords are typically longer (the longer the better); a combination of letters (upper and lower case), numbers, and symbols, not connected to personal information or dictionary words. 

The good news is you don’t have to memorize awful strings of randomness, impossible to remember. It simply takes a few effective tricks.

Weak Passwords Are Easily Spotted

Passwords can be memorable and remain difficult to guess. Creating them can be fun and safety is a huge payoff.

Let’s consider what constitutes “weak passwords” to understand why these are risky:

First, a word akin to “Password” is a NO.

Password is the most commonly used password. We also believe it’s pretty clear why such a password is weak – as are words like: ’default’. Programs that use automated assault can easily identify these passwords. As is using a last name and year of birth (i.e. Smithy1965) combination, particularly if someone knows you well. Identifying pieces of information also means it can be easily deciphered.

Secondly, let’s say, you use “F1avoR” as a password, mixing up capital letters and numbers. Here are two important reasons why this password example isn’t safe: 

  1. It’s a common word and
  2.  If a password is too short, it isn’t safe either. A long password is a strong password, as it’s harder to decode/break. Also, substituting the number “1” for the letter “I” is easy to guess for both humans and software alike.

Staying Password Strong and Secure

By now, you’ve likely discovered that the “perfect password” is a lengthy combination of obscure letters, numbers, cases, and symbols. You’ve got it. 

It’s also important NOT to: 

 

  • Write your passwords down: This can be tempting, especially in the workplace, to keep track of passwords the old-fashioned way, but these are easily discovered.
  • Reuse your passwords. If your passwords are identical across email, and other websites holding sensitive personal data, it is easily exposed and is at risk of being breached.
  • Don’t share your passwords. It’s a total no-brainer and if you absolutely must, change it as soon as possible.

Create a Unique Password (That’s Also Strong)

The short answer is: A hard-to-crack password is unique and easy to remember. 

In addition, we encourage you to use a password manager, like our iStratus Vault, which is specifically designed to offer you a way to store passwords securely. Learn more about organizing your passwords with a password vault here

Password Induced Stress

New research by NorPass suggests, the stress of trying to recall our passwords is contributing to the vicious cycle of mental health, anxiety, and stress.

Their evidence indicates,  “the average Internet user has around 70-80 passwords” for their accounts? So each year, “we spend 7-12 hours on average trying to remember and reset those passwords.” 

Thus, trying to keep track of these procedures and memorize our passwords results in a lot of time wasted, which inadvertently contributes to the experience often referred to as password stress.

Our suggestion in creating a password is to apply a phrase and incorporate shortcuts or acronyms that either mean something to you, or you associate with a type of website, with minimal effort.

For example, it could be a phrase about money for a banking site, and so forth. You can be Shakespeare’s Hamlet: 2BankorNot2Bank_Thisis$? (Based on “To be or not to be? That is the question”).

Also, Use Commonly Accepted Symbols:

This is self-explanatory, symbols such as ! # $ % * & + = can help you create stronger passwords

Give Emoticons Some Love

While there are some limits with the types of symbols you can use, most sites allow a decent range. Try turning them into “smiley” faces, :))) and give a fun boost to your password power. You already know that a smile is easier to recall! 

Check Out Your Keyboard

Given that most computer keyboards contain anywhere from 101 to 105 keys, there are countless options to craft unique passwords. It’s a canvas to draw on! So get creative with your system of symbols, abbreviations, and combinations that works for you.

iStratus hopes you find these ideas helpful. Share these tips around. Just don’t share your passwords and change them regularly!

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Are Your Passwords Organized Yet?

We can run into all kinds of password dilemmas when they are kept in unbelievably random and insecure places…

The truth is: We don’t want to know your info! It is no secret passwords are the key to unimaginable disaster or chaos in the wrong hands! It pays not to be careless or flippant with this information. 

Things are bound to go wrong with that eventually, trust us.

And don’t get us started on the views of: “I don’t need a password system… I have one that I use for everything.”

This is yet another cause for ruin and disaster! If this is you, we at iStratus are providing some friendly advice to please think again. 

We are all likely to know a person whose e-mail password was compromised, and horrifyingly with this, there’s also the potential for any thief to infiltrate things further. 

If your e-mail account is compromised, for example, the thief can use the  ‘forgotten password functions’ on other websites to unlock many more accounts (as details are emailed directly to the perpetrator). Everything can be completely swiped – it’s a piece of cake or the whole chunk of it, for hackers and bots to initiate multiple breaches if the password in question is an identical one. What’s worse, often by the time one discovers the disaster – all hell has broken loose already, with hundreds of thousands in funds swiped… it is no joke.

Lessons to be learned: Adopt very strong passwords and use passwords managers such as iStratus’s Password Vault with its encryption to protect your passwords. In addition, guard the security of your email account/s fiercely. iStratus recommends using different passwords to avoid compromising every other account you have. Also, change your passwords often and take notice of any usual changes. Set your notifications at the ready.

Furthermore, we suggest that people also need to be mindful of being run over, smack bang by the proverbial freight train. Would important people in your life know how to access this information if something unexpected happened to you? It is pretty critical, that there’s a clear system someone else knows how to reach in the case of an emergency.

Like Our Vault: Electronic Password Keepers

There are abundant database applications made for storing passwords. We don’t want this to seem like a sales pitch here. We just want you to know there is a benefit to transporting all of your important information with you, securely encrypted, when away from my desk. 

Pro-Tip: Whatever application it is you choose, please DON’T trust a Word or Excel document for this purpose of recording (particularly one conveniently named “Passwords”) which can be effortlessly intruded.

Staying Secure When Cyberspace is Endlessly Vast 

The point is: Keep your passwords on the down-low. Think of it somewhat like this: Leaving your passwords easily accessible, is kind of like locking the front door, or securing your home with the latest, most fan-dangle, expensive security system — and leaving the backdoor wide open, as an invitation. Along with a welcome note saying: Check out my fridge, please feel free to help yourself.

Avoid writing or recording any password hints that are comparative to other accounts held, such as “same as PayPal”. It may seem obvious, but it needs to be said – this can become a big cross-referencing mess very quickly, particularly when you change the “referred-to” accounts and forget to reference this!!

Yes, a frustrating muck, you’ll likely spend hours attempting to rectify with frustration. Chances are, you’re not alone in this experience.

Here are some unforgettable words of golden password wisdom from people in the know: 

 

“Passwords are like underwear. You should change them often. Don’t share them. Don’t leave them out for others to see. They should be mysterious.”~ Chris Pirillo

 

In other words, ensure your passwords are cryptic to people.

And…

“Treat your passwords like your toothbrush. Don’t let anybody else use it and get a new one every six months.” ~ Clifford Stoll

All humor aside, your security is important.

So, on a final note, pretty PLEASE avoid using your birthday or any significant names associated with you! Choose something long but memorable. A nonsense sentence is a good password, such as “Myfavoritemorning2drinkisColdBrewCoffee!” We repeat: Don’t use something obvious, and if you must, record the master password if you tend to worry about forgetting such things.

In offering this advice, there is no bias intended, but one of the greatest advantages of adopting an electronic system is that you can use even more secure passwords and switch them up regularly since you are no longer relying on your memory to hold everything within.

Free up your mind – we’d love you to join us. Live life and roll well with iStratus.