One Problem Everyone Has and How to Cope

Heart-pounding, knee-knocking stress. Your palms sweat and your head gets light.

It’s the fight-or-flight response that kept our ancestors alive when they were out hunting to make sure that they weren’t the ones being eaten. Nowadays, we don’t have to worry about being chomped in two by a T-Rex, but we do have bills, family matters, or upcoming deadlines.

Job stress is the primary source of stress in adults. And it’s been increasing in recent years. It’s not that surprising considering the sheer number of projects (30-100) the average business person has at one time or the fact that you’re interrupted up to 7 times an hour on average.

If you’re one of the 40% of workers reporting that your job is very stressful, you could be experiencing:

  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Sleep trouble
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • And the list goes on and on

We’re all staring down a heaping pile of TPS reports. Everyone feels stress, but it’s what you do with it that matters. You could cope using methods that have a negative effect on your life like binge-eating fast-food or overindulging in alcohol. Or you could adopt some ways to manage that stress.

Identify what’s causing it

If you identify stressors in your life, you can better assess what is important and what needs attention, and what doesn’t. Put everything you can control into one box and everything you can’t control into another. Shawn Achor refers to this as the Island Experiment in his book The Happiness Advantage. He suggests that you take effective action on the items in the first box and throw out everything in the other. Seems liberating doesn’t it?

Get together

We all need some help sometimes. Find someone in your life to chat with about what’s stressing you. You can talk to a colleague about a problem they can help with. Or maybe you can vent to a friend about an annoying colleague. I find that the sheer act of talking about your problems helps to reframe them in a way that makes them seem more manageable.

Stay positive

Stress is influenced as much by what’s happening inside as by what’s happening outside. Reflecting on what you’re grateful for and reminding yourself of it throughout the day is one way to stay positive, even when things aren’t going so well. You can also reduce the negativity around you by keeping better company. Negative people and their negative thoughts are only going to exacerbate the stress you’re already feeling. You can put them in the ‘forget about it’ box I referred to earlier.

Everyone feels stress, but that doesn’t mean that it has to control our lives. Identifying what’s causing it, relying on your friends, and staying positive are all great ways to keep stress from taking over.

One Trick to Improve Your Quality of Life

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Photo by Robert Wiedemann on Unsplash

*Yawn*

*Sips coffee*

Sleep is serious business. Your sleep patterns (or lack thereof) can have a dramatic effect on your life and your work. The nature of work is changing, and technology is intruding more and more upon our body’s natural circadian rhythm, so it’s more important now more than ever to reclaim this most precious resource.  

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends 7 hours of sleep per night needed to promote optimal health in adults. There are numerous other factors (such as genetics) that can influence exactly how much sleep you need, but 7 hours per night is optimal. A lack of sleep is associated with all kinds of negative health effects.   

More than the overall health trouble a lack of sleep can cause, it can have a significant impact on your performance at work, resulting in a lack of focus and more errors on the job. It can even impact your performance as much as alcohol according to this research from the Harvard Business Review. Too little sleep can be dangerous, and that’s pretty scary stuff.

A study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that regular sleep patterns resulted in higher academic performance in university students compared to their peers with irregular sleeping patterns. The difference in performance was not affected by the total duration of sleep. Even if these two groups of students ended up sleeping the same amount, those with a sleep routine tended to have better grades. So when you get your 7 hours, make sure they’re part of a routine. Catching up on sleep doesn’t factor in.

Your sleep habits affect your quality of life, your work, and your overall productivity. So what can you do about it?

  1. Try your best to stick to a regular schedule. Go to sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time. When you get into a proper rhythm, you’ll feel more awake and focused. Even enjoying the luxury of sleeping late on the weekend can throw off your routine.  
  2. Set an alarm if need be. Schedule your sleep. We’re big on scheduling here at Doodle, so trust us with this. Plan a little reminder to get you to hit the sack at a decent hour.
  3. Exercise. The three pillars of a healthy life are sleep, diet, and exercise. They’re all interrelated. A proper workout will not only improve your overall health, but it will also leave your body ready to recuperate, as exercise helps reduce stress and improves sleep quality.  

 

Meet Anywhere in the World

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Photo by Slava Bowman on Unsplash

There’s no question that Doodle is the best way to organize a time to meet. It wouldn’t be the best time-finding tool if we didn’t take into account one vital issue.

Time zones. Your 8 o’clock or my 8 o’clock? Wait, when are we meeting again?

We’ve taken care of all of this already. Just in case you had any questions, I wanted to share the details with you.

There are two time zone settings you’ll encounter when polling.

Poll time zone

During step 2 when you create the poll, you will set the “poll time zone.” If you have an account, the poll should automatically take whichever time zone you have in your account settings. Check yours here. If you don’t have an account, the poll time zone is taken from your IP address. You’re free to click on the time zone during step 2 and choose another if you wish. This will be the time zone of your poll and the time zone of your event.

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Display time zone

Consider the following from the perspective of your participants.  When viewing a poll, you’ll notice the “display time zone” just under the title of the poll. This time zone will be unique to the person viewing the poll, depending on their location. The poll should adjust the time options according to the person’s account settings or IP address. The poll time zone remains the same and the display options are changed for each participant. You can also click on the time zone and change it if you like. 

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For Example

I’d like to have a conference call with some colleagues overseas. I’m in Berlin and I’ve created a poll with some options that I think might work for everyone. The poll time zone is Berlin. When my colleagues in New York open the poll, they’ll see my Berlin times adjusted to their time zone (see above). The 11am option they choose will be my 5pm, taking into account the 6 hour time difference. When the phone rings at 11am New York time, they’ll be ready to answer it.  

What about the apps?

When you create a poll with time slots in the app, Doodle will take whichever time zone you have your phone set to as the poll time zone. Likewise, when viewing a poll in the app, the display time zone will be adjusted according to your phone settings. There’s no need to adjust the time zone, we handle this for you automatically.

You can also check out our FAQ here for more details.

How to Avoid Productivity Pitfalls

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Photo by Fleur Treurniet on Unsplash

Buzz buzz. Buzz buzz.

You better check that that, it could be important. It’s okay; I’ll wait.

So where were we then?

I was about to say that it’s easy to lose focus on important work with the world demanding our attention. However, all is not lost! Even in a world with constant distraction, there are steps you can take to get back your focus and sharpen up your mind.

Limit distractions

Email notifications, Slack pings, and constant digital chatter is making us multi-taskers less effective according to Stanford research. If you turn off or tune out most of the distraction and focus on one task at a time, you’ll no doubt be more productive with the work at hand.  Make doing one thing at a time a habit, and let it seep into the rest of your life.

Email wrangling

Refrain from repeatedly checking your email. It can bring you out to of that creative flow (I referred to yesterday). Set a time for email checking, perhaps during a mid-morning slump or at the end of your day. You could be working intently on a project, get a notification and respond to an email, and then spend 10 minutes trying to find the place in your work and get yourself back up to speed. It’s best to choose a time to check email when you’re not already performing at your best. This leads me to my next point.

Know thyself

A little self-examination would do us all a bit of good, wouldn’t it? Go ahead and ask yourself two questions. When are you most productive? When are you most distracted? Use this information to sort out your day. If you’re most productive in the morning, then use that time to get your most pressing/important work done. Use the time when you’re most distracted, in that after lunch coma perhaps, to do mundane tasks. Combine with #2.

Journal away distraction

Blank paper, endless possibilities. Author and venture-capitalist Tim Ferriss, often discusses his habits, productivity and otherwise, on his well-regarded podcast.  He points out that the practice of journaling is also a great way to ‘cage the monkey mind’ and get those persistent nagging thoughts out of your mind and onto paper, where they’re locked down and do no more harm. It’s important to recognize that distraction also creeps up from within. Journaling is also one of the best ways to get your head together about important projects and make sure your time is used effectively.

Do yourself a favor and adopt at least one of these suggestions to help avoid those typical productivity pitfalls. You can do it right now.

Again, I’ll wait.

4 Lessons for a Productive Life

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Photo by Garrhet Sampson on Unsplash

It’s pretty safe to say we’re scheduling enthusiasts here at Doodle.

Here’s a collection of some of the best calendar/scheduling hacks to help you organize your life.

No more back-to-backs

For your sanity, it’s best to avoid running appointments back to back. It may seem unavoidable, but this is why you use Doodle in the first place. If you have the feeling that you’re exhausted moving to and from meetings, try to take back some control and give yourself a break in between. Frequent breaks also help to keep you motivated and performing at your best.

Set up recurring events

If you’re trying to organize recurring meetings and want to create a Doodle poll for it, you can use our free text option. Just include options like ‘Mondays 1:00, Wednesdays 3:00, etc.’ In your calendar, there should be an option to create an event and have it repeat at any interval. You can have your meeting every week, month, or year. Just choose the interval from the pulldown menu.

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Creative flow 

When you get lost in your work, time seems to fly past. Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi called this flow. It’s mental state where your focus is heightened, and you fall under the spell of the activity you’re performing so much so that you lose a sense of where you are and how much time has passed. The trick is, it rarely occurs under time constraints. If you have to get serious work done, especially work where you need to generate lots of new ideas or make real progress, strive for flow. It’s best to block time in your calendar, to account for the time needed to generate ideas and flow.

Take back your time

Don’t just about fill up your calendar with meetings. Productivity is about spending time doing meaningful work. Focus on what matters and ignore the rest. If the meeting isn’t going to generate value for you or your work, don’t add it to your calendar. 

Meetme is a great way to manage your incoming appointment requests. You can connect your calendar to Meetme to show the outside world when you’re free or busy. Your colleagues or friends can request times to meet based on that information. The offers roll in, and you’re free to either accept or reject.

2017: Year in Review

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Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

Redesign 

We started rolling out our redesigned Doodle in a few countries back in April of 2017. Do you remember what Doodle looked like before? The sturdy version we had for almost ten years? The redesign is so much sleeker and friendlier. We ran the beta version of the site until October before we switched off the lights on old Doodle. With your feedback, we improved the overall flow of poll creation and participation. Sending invites is easier and poll management is more intuitive. We also increased loading times by over a second. What can I say? We revamped everything while staying true to the product you love. That’s some magic right there.  

Meekan

We’ve also been up to some coolness with Meekan. If you don’t already know (and you should) Meekan is the world’s smartest AI scheduling assistant. Previously, you could interact with Meekan over Slack, Hipchat, and Microsoft Teams. In November, we released a Meekan chrome extension so you can interact with Meekan in your browser. Connect the browser to your Google account. Add your invitees, and in seconds Meekan will compare everyone’s schedules and suggest the best times. Easy as pie.   

The pairing of Meekan and Doodle is the future of scheduling. Imagine the brains of this AI infused with the scheduling app you already love. We’ve got some exciting things planned for later in the year, so make sure you’re paying attention.

Apps

Back in June, we were one of the first that Google allowed to implement the new Android instant app. This technology wasn’t available until last year, and we were chosen to beta test the new version. Instant apps provide the native app experience so you can still create polls with Doodle on your mobile, even if you don’t have the app. Always on the cutting edge. iOS has gotten better and better over the course of the year. Now you can experience all the Premium features (like who is missing and branding) you enjoy from the website in our app.

It was an incredible 2017, but we’ve got our sights on 2018 for the best year ever.

 

 

 

Change Your Life

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Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

 

Are you going to make 2018 your best year yet?

Or are you gonna be one of the 80% that bows out on their New Year’s resolutions by February?

I’m sure you’ve been reading all over the internet about how you can keep your New Year’s resolutions.

Newsflash: You can’t.

The good news is it only takes 66 days to form a new habit. In some cases, it could be as few as 18.

It’s 2018. Think about your goals for the year and then plan each incremental step with your calendar to help you reach them.

New year’s resolutions are by nature temporary. When you say something like ‘I’m going on a diet for 2018,’ it means that you’ll eventually go off of it. I’m no weight loss guru or cross-fit junkie, but if you want to get back in shape or just be healthier, it seems like a no-brainer to make a plan for it. Just put all of those incremental goals on your calendar. Once a time slot is planned, you won’t schedule anything in its stead.

You’re hitting two birds; when you plan small steps you’re on your way to achieving your larger objective, and it makes it easier to celebrate the little successes. It’s easier to get to 18 than 66.

So rather than making a resolution for the new year, use your calendar to build a new habit.

We’re scheduling fans here at Doodle (obviously), so trust us with this.

Gym classes, language lessons, calls with your mother. Put all of your goals on your calendar and plan a successful 2018.