Thrive App: Your Mini Mindfulness Coach in Your Pocket

There is a growing interest in taking a holistic approach to productivity. Each year more and more working professionals and business owners are seeking out ways to implement a greater focus on mental health and spiritual wellness in the workplace.  Employee rest areas, yoga sessions, meditation classes, and kitchens that are always stocked with various teas and organic snacks all signal a remarkable shift from the traditional brick-and-mortar, 9 to 5 job setting in the U.S.
While some workplaces are making a greater effort to create an environment that nurtures the “whole” employee, many others have yet to join the revolution. For people who do not find themselves having regular access to an employer-sponsored wellness and productivity program, Thrive UK has created an app that may be a very affordable alternative for millions of people.

Exploring the Link Between Mindfulness and Productivity

There are several components of a person’s well-being that can have a direct impact on the individual’s level of productivity. The body uses food as fuel; therefore, diet influences a person’s energy level as well as his or her ability to concentrate and focus for extended periods of time. Rest is essential to health and performance. Consequently, a lack of sleep can quickly diminish workplace performance. Stress and anxiety can also have a negative impact on a person’s work and home life. Finally, one of the most often overlooked aspects of productivity and performance is mindset. The Thrive App utilizes soothing music with ocean sound effects in combination with various exercises and helpful tips to bring peace, optimism, and balance to the most critical areas of the user’s life.

Mental Health and Wellness Monitoring on Demand

Upon logging into the Thrive app, the user is greeted and immediately offered a practical tip for managing stress, easing anxiety, or simply shifting to a more positive mindset. Next, the app asks the user to rate his or her mood on a color scale. Mood tracking can be helpful to anyone, especially to those who are experiencing anxiety or depression. Tracking moods can help the individual remain connected to his or her emotions in addition to detecting any concerning or unusual changes in the overall mental state. Next, the app asks the user to identify specific events that may have led to his or her current mood, whether negative or positive. Reflecting and considering the connection to certain events that may have triggered a particular mood can be helpful, particularly when a person is experiencing a negative emotion and has difficulty identifying the exact root cause.

Mind and Body Activity Recommendations

Upon receiving feedback on the user’s mood, the program then assigns three daily goals that are recommended activities to help maintain a healthy mental state and, if necessary, to improve a bad mood. Examples include 30 minutes to an hour of a specified physical exercise, breathing activities, self suggestion, deep muscle relaxation, and an impressive collection of meditation strategies that leverage sound, smell, and the power of imagination. The user may set notifications to serve as a reminder to complete the prescribed activities throughout the day. Each time the user logs in, the app will ask the user to indicate which activities he or she has completed since the previous session.  In addition to the daily recommended activities, Thrive also includes a collection of games that provide a healthy distraction when the user needs to unwind.

In-App Games

At any time, users may swipe over to Zen Island, which is the Thrive app’s virtual destination for games and recreation. Zen Challenge requires the player to draw paths to connect two objects on a plane while navigating through a series of obstacles and hoops. Wise Words teaches the participant to focus on positive words by identifying them within an assortment of jumbled letters that are displayed on a grid. Those who are feeling creative may choose to design their own zen garden in Zen Island’s sand.

Conclusion

The Thrive App is packed with valuable resources that can help virtually anyone increase self-awareness and practice mindfulness in ways that can have a very real and positive impact on overall health and productivity. Even occasional use can help a person relax and even avoid an oncoming episode of mild tension or anxiety. Like virtually any health tool, the Thrive app should be used regularly to produce lasting results and to realize more substantial improvement.

Thrive is a subscription-based app available for £4.99/month, £14.97 for a three-month subscription, or £47.88/year, which translates to approximately $8/month, $21/quarterly, or $67/annually.

Thrive UK has graciously provided a FREE access code for my readers. Click HERE to request your free subscription to the Thrive app.

Set Your Eye on the Prize, and Your Life Will Follow Suit

Focus is an important ingredient in goal-setting and achievement. Most people think of focus as the act of remaining on-task, avoiding distraction, and carefully following whatever procedure we have determined will lead us to success. However, we often overlook the importance of looking toward the horizon and focusing on the vision we want to come to fruition.

Imagine Yourself Achieving Your Goals

If you are working on modifying a habit or achieving a specific goal, it is important that you set aside time each day to envision yourself being successful. While some may view this exercise as not being particularly beneficial or even as a waste of time, envisioning your own success is actually vital. Not only does imagining yourself crossing the finish line allow you to shift your thoughts from the stress of being hard at work in the trenches, striving to inch closer to your goal, but envisioning your success may also help you figure out exactly what steps you will need to take to get there.

Filling In the Details

If your goal, for example, is to purchase your first home this year, allowing yourself to envision the size of the home, location, furniture, and paint color will help you answer several key questions, including “How much would this type of home in that particular location cost?” “How much more should I set aside for decorating expenses?” “What steps do I need to take to save enough money for the down payment?” If you simply set a vague goal of “saving for a house,” at the end of the year, you may find yourself coming up short because you have not saved enough, or the opposite may happen: you may restrict yourself more than necessary and completely compromise your quality of life only to find that you could have spent more time with family, gotten more sleep at night and still achieved your goal of saving for your first home.

Focusing on Your Goal Can Help You Persevere

Reminding yourself of exactly what you want and are working to achieve will help you maintain a sense of “purpose” during hard times. Thinking of how it will feel to invite your family and friends over to your housewarming party can help you find the energy you need to go to that second job after you have worked a full day at your main place of employment. Imagining yourself being able to wear a bikini on the beach with your friends can help motivate you to forego that intense desire to binge on carbs. Being able to close your eyes and see and feel yourself enjoying the benefit of your hard work can help you continue to work hard when you feel like quitting.

Daydreaming is for Grownups, Too

There is power in allowing yourself to dream and imagine yourself living the life you want to live. Oftentimes, the contrast between the dream world and our reality can be more than enough to compel us to do something about the tension between the two and work to make the dream our reality.

 

 

What About Your Friends?

When seeking to make a life change, many of us neglect one of the most important components that can set us up for success… or failure: the people with whom we choose to surround ourselves.
Friends and Family Can Be Your Allies
…Or They Can Be Toxic
Let’s look at weight loss as an example.  People who wish to lose weight often find that despite their decision to change,  they are still surrounded by people who may have habits that are less healthy.  Oftentimes, the issues may not even be that the people around you are maliciously attempting to derail your efforts, though that is sometimes the case.  Making a major change may require a level of discipline that others may simply not require in the same areas in their own lives. In understanding that concept, you can actively take steps to plan ahead to improve your likelihood of achieving your self- improvement goals.
Seek Out Likeminded People
In keeping with the weight loss example, there are multiple ways a person who wishes to lose weight can find a supportive network of likeminded people.  The obvious option might be to join a weight loss program or take classes at a gym. Nowadays, many hospitals and community centers offer free classes and events that are aimed at helping members of the community connect and learn about healthy living. Other options include joining a Meetup group in your area or even participating in an online group that focuses on weight loss. There may even be opportunities to connect with others who share similar goals at home and at work. Having lunch with a vegan coworker might be more favorable that tagging along with a group that usually goes for fast food. Joining a recreational league may also provide an opportunity to make new fitness-oriented friends while getting regular exercise.
But What If My Family Isn’t Onboard?
If you live with family members who do not share your goals, you may wish to think strategically about the activities you can still do with them without compromising your progress.  For example, if your family refuses to eat healthy, but you still want to have meals with them, consider preparing a separate meal for yourself, or have your healthy meal prior to joining them. Then limit yourself to having a salad, healthy snack,  or smoothie while with them. In other examples,  a person who wants to control his or her spending may suggest low-cost activities to do with others or decide to stick to a limited cash budget.  Someone who wishes to stop using drugs or alcohol may decide to only meet others in settings in which drugs and alcohol are not allowed or cannot be used openly.  There are also times when an individual must choose his or her own well-being and progress over continuing to socialize with people who do not support the positive lifestyle change.
Overall, deciding to eliminate bad habits and replace them with new ones does not mean living a life full of solitude and restrictions. By always looking for opportunities to meet like-minded people and spend time doing activities that reinforce the positive change,  you will greatly enhance your likelihood of achieving your goals, and you may just find yourself having fun while doing it.

Why You Need a Rest Day

All over social media, I see entrepreneurs and professionals who boast about their 7-day work weeks and 12 hour days as if these things are the bragging rights of working for yourself. Hard work should be rewarded, celebrated, and praised. But are people who work non-stop ultimately cheating themselves? Their families? Even…their careers and businesses? I would venture to say yes. Here’s why.

Human Beings Are Not Machines

The title of this section is probably obvious to most of us. Nevertheless, it bears repeating: human beings are not machines; therefore, they need rest. We need rest. Furthermore, even most machines go on standby or require time to cool down or to be powered off. You and I are no different. When we work non-stop, there is a point at which we become less “sharp.” We become tired, and our mood deteriorates. We have to stop for food because we get hungry (and you reallllly should take time to pay attention to what you eat, chew your food properly, etc for health and nutrition reasons…but I digress).  Over time, you will not be at your best; this inherently means that while you are giving 100% of your time to your business (or career), you are very likely giving much less than 100% of your competence. Don’t cheat yourself, your teams, your customers, and don’t cheat your business or career out of being it the very best it can be. Rest.

Multitasking Kind of Sucks

Pardon my language. But the ability to multitask is another capability about which many of us love to brag. The truth is if you’re multitasking, you’re probably not focusing, which also means you’re likely cheating someone out of receiving your full attention to detail and level of competence. If you are giving time to your family, set that time aside and focus on them. If need to write important emails, schedule time to do that outside of listening to webinars, participating in conference calls, etc. Otherwise, you will retain only a fraction of the information that is conveyed during the webinar or call, and you also run a high risk of sending an email that lacks coherence or is missing important details and will ultimately frustrate the person on the receiving end. Let’s eliminate these errors by giving our full attention to whatever we’re doing. In fact, doing so will help you complete your tasks faster and more efficiently so you can move on to the next task much sooner.

But, Rolanda. How Am I Supposed to Do All This?

 

One word: planning. If you haven’t taken a look at some of my posts on scheduling and time management, check them out. As a first step, I recommend everyone spend a few days to an entire week keeping a time journal. Keep track of everything you do in a day, and note the how long it takes you to complete each task. Most people readily discover there are small pockets of time they waste throughout the day; these small pockets often add up to hours. Moreover, simply taking inventory of how you utilize your time and having the data on paper can be eye-opening on its own. Having a written account of how you spend your days allows you to interact with the concept of time more tangibly and to visualize different ways you can spend it. Once you’ve discovered exactly how you are spending your time, set boundaries. Set a bedtime. Schedule time for meals, family, and even idle time…because you need time for yourself. By setting a schedule and sticking to it, you will feel more balanced and recharged when it’s time to work, and the added efficiency will help you eliminate the need for those seven-day work weeks and 12-hour days.

 

If you need assistance with time management and scheduling, message me to inquire about my productivity coaching services available to individuals in all locations.

Please also join my new Facebook group to connect with individuals who are also determined to manage time more effectively and to achieve their goals in 2018!

 

When Your New Year’s Resolution Takes a Sharp Left

Business Insider Magazine reports 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail before February. Now that we are a few weeks into January, you may feel yourself reverting to those habits you’ve wanted to change. The following tips will help you keep going strong into February and beyond:

1. Set benchmarks. Instead of planning to immediately make a gigantic change all at once, set benchmarks that will ultimately lead you to your larger goal. For example, if you want to start cooking at home and eliminate fast food, reduce the number of times you go out for fast food by half. Next month, reduce that number by half again. Keep cutting down until you’re no longer eating fast food. In some cases, you may need to make very immediate changes up front (i.e. if your health dictates an immediate switch), in which case you should do whatever your health professional tells you. But in most cases, gradual change is more likely to become permanent behavior.

2. Get back on the horse! It’s VERY easy to give up on your diet after having a forbidden dinner, throw your commitment to arriving on time out the window the first couple times you’re late to work, or to skip a couple days at the gym and never go back. Instead of feeling like you have to go back to the drawing board, pick up where you left off as if you never missed a beat.

3. Assess yourself frequently. If you are having difficulty making a change or sticking to a resolution, evaluate why you have decided to make the change, and consider all possible mental, emotional, and situation blocks that may be preventing you from making the change. Then work to bypass or, if necessary, eliminate those blocks.

4. Consult someone with more experience. When in doubt, seek help. Hire a coach. Ask a friend who has been there/done that. Join my Facebook group! Transformation is much more easily attained with the support of like-minded people. My goal for the group is to create a community of people who are focused on becoming the best version of themselves and helping others along the way!

Productivity Apps to Help You Get Stuff Done in 2K18

It’s a new year. We all, more or less, want to be healthier, wealthier, wiser, and more aerodynamic. I’ve highlighted a selection of productivity apps that will help you keep that fresh new set of resolutions you’ve recently made. All apps are available on Android and iOS.

Apps to Help You Save Time

Blinkist

Addicted to self-help books? Or perhaps you may simply feel like your self could use a loooot of help. No judgment. The Blinkist app may be for you! Blinkist works with non-fiction books and delivers a 15-minute audio or written summary. The app contains more than 2,000 titles by leading self-help authors in categories that include Personal Growth and Self-Improvement, Management and Leadership, Psychology, Communication and Social Skills, and Motivation and Inspiration.

Buffer

This one is for my entrepreneurs who use social media. Buffer is a social media management service that can be helpful if you manage multiple accounts. In addition to allowing the user to schedule posts, Buffer also supplies detailed analytics on Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, and other networks. Users may manage up to three accounts free of charge and schedule up to 10 posts per account. There is a premium option which allows for more posts and accounts.
IFTTT

Derived from the phrase, “If this, then that,” IFTTT allows users to automate repetitive tasks. The app can message a friend or family member when you approach their location (useful when picking someone up after work or school or notifying a roommate or spouse that you are on the way home). IFTTT can also work with smart home features to program lighting to turn on upon your arrival and off when you depart for work each day. The “if this, then that” phrase refers to the app’s ability to program tasks that are dependent upon certain conditions (i.e. if I’m not home by 4, then text my sister to say I’m running late).

Newton

A super-charged email app, Newton has built-in tracking capabilities, a “Send Later” option, and can even remind you to follow up with clients. The app can also keep your inbox tidy by weeding out newsletters and other extraneous mail.

 

Productivity Apps

FocusList

This app may work well for people who are interested in using the Pomodoro method to increase their focus. The app allows you to write your plans for the day and allocate time for each task. When it is time to complete a task, the app directs you to work in 25-minute timed intervals of complete focus followed by 5-minute breaks until the task is done.

Google Keep

Similar to post-it notes, Google Keep allows you to post digital notes on your phone, which will remain visible until you have completed the task and no longer need the reminder.

Momentum

An app that is geared toward habit modification, Momentum utilizes Jerry Seinfeld’s “Don’t Break the Chain” strategy to help users build new, productive habits. Each time the user completes a specified healthy behavior he or she would like to turn into a habit, the app adds a new square to form a chain on the display. The chain remains on display via the “Today view” screen and is visually satisfying as it increases with each successful completion of a positive habit-forming activity.

Before downloading a new app, be sure to think about your ultimate goal and evaluate how well the app will support you in accomplishing it. The new year just got started, and there are tons of apps under the sun. Stay tuned for more reviews to help you live your best life by staying organized and productive!

Organizing Your Life 201: Getting Organized to Go to Work – Winding Down at Night for a Better Morning

Rolanda L. continues the OranizeU series by discussing the importance of properly winding down at night to prepare to be more positive and productive the following day.

For many of us, getting out the door and arriving at work on time is one of the greatest challenges we face in a day. Nevertheless, the process of transitioning from home to professional life is also one of the most important tasks we have each day.

The Significance of a Good “Launch”

Leaving the comforts of home to interact with the world outside is a process that is not to be taken lightly. In fact, the morning routine is more analogous to a daily “launch” in contrast to the way many of us typically view our mornings: as a mundane process through we we drag ourselves from our place of comfort to a place of obligation.

Good and bad days both begin with how we prepare for the hours we will spend way from home (or in the home office for those who work from home; that is a separate post entirely). We could even go one step further and say the outcome of the following day is frequently influenced by the preparatory measures we take the night before. These measures may include getting enough sleep, finishing a work assignment the night before OR going to bed early enough to allow yourself time to comfortably prepare the next morning. Therefore, spacing and proximity are critical considerations when planning an effective schedule; a well-planned and executed schedule will consistently lead to better days overall.

Getting Started 

In crafting a morning routine that is most conducive to having the best day possible, the process begins with the here and now. First, think about all your pain points and struggles that regularly occur in the morning: do you you sift through closets and drawers to find the right clothes to wear? Do you skip breakfast and have difficulty concentrating or later resort to eating unhealthy snacks? Do you simply not feel like getting out of bed and, as a result, hit the snooze button too many times? Next, think about the most frequent reasons you may experience a bad day at work: are you too tired to peacefully coexist with an annoying supervisor or coworker? Do you simply not enjoy what you do for work? Do you miss deadlines or feel unprepared when required to complete assignments? Do you lack energy by the end of the work day? Believe it or not, each of these situations may be remedied by investing a little energy up front to execute effective schedule planning and by tweaking your morning routine.

Planning for Improved Logistics

Factors such as getting adequate sleep, getting dressed, having breakfast, and arriving at work on time are all part of the logistics of a successful morning “launch.” Thinking in terms of launching a space shuttle, the support teams don’t haphazardly drag the rocket out to the launchpad and lean it against the platform. A considerable amount of prep work takes place prior to a shuttle launch. Similarly, a well-executed start to your day will also require a degree of preparation.

Because logistical components like showering, dressing, and eating are largely based on effective time management, remedying related issues is somewhat of a straightforward process. Ensuring you have enough time to include each of these important components of your morning depends heavily on creating a schedule that realistically works for you. If you are unsure of where to get started with creating an effective schedule, see Organize U Lesson 103 for an example.

Getting Enough Sleep

To most people, a reminder on the necessity of getting enough sleep may sound cliche. However, ensuring adequate sleep the night before sets the tone for a more peaceful, productive morning, which is more likely to lead to a better day. Getting enough sleep starts with a plan. As discussed in Lesson 103, I highly recommend creating  a chart and dividing a 24-hour day into 15-minute increments. Using the time you are scheduled to leave work as a starting point, think about how you currently spend each 15-minute period from then until the time you typically got to bed. Then look for opportunities to optimize your afternoon and evening schedule to allow you to get to bed at a reasonable hour. This may require eating out less, spending less time at happy hour, or simply ending television-watching 15 to 30 minutes early to signal your body and brain to enter wind-down mode and fall asleep more easily at the preferred hour.

Crafting the Perfect Wind-Down

Speaking of sleep, many of us have difficulty getting there because we expect our bodies to go from full speed to an immediate stop. While there may be medical and deeply psychological causes that may prevent a person from getting to sleep at night, insomnia is also often caused by lack of an effective pre-bed time routine. For this reason, we must plan a “wind down” period into our nightly schedule. The components of an effective wind down will vary from person to person. Therefore, each individual must think about environmental factors that will help him or her relax. In general, relaxing in a comfortable setting with dim lighting and no electronics will help most people “unplug” from the digital world before going to bed. During this time, lighting candles, reading a book, and/or listening to music are favorable activities. Those who find baths relaxing may wish to use this time to bathe in warm water scented with lavender. Individuals who suffer from muscle tension or other physical ailments may find it beneficial to apply a scented heating pad or other therapeutic treatments to help reduce tension and pain prior to attempting to sleep.

The objective of the wind down period is to focus on calming sights, sounds, and smells to shift the mind from work responsibilities and other stressors to a place in which both mind and body can rest through the remainder of the night. Those who have difficulty shifting their thoughts may find it beneficial to repeatedly remind themselves that all work, personal, and social responsibilities will be there when they wake up the following day and may be addressed in due time. Moreover, an individual who has a well-rested mind and body is more capable of  finding and implementing solutions than one who is exhausted in both mind and body. After winding down, proceed directly to bed, allowing an extra 15 minutes prior to the scheduled bed time to actually fall asleep.

The next lesson will discuss setting the tone for the a successful, less stressful day by creating an efficient and enjoyable morning routine.