A Free Path to a Less Stressful Day

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10 Apps, Tools and Resources for Your Professional Development and Inspiration

Your growth is your responsibility

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Who has time for personal or professional development?

Dedicated professionals know that it is important to invest in ourselves. Our physical, mental and emotional health play a role into how we can carry out our professional goals. But it can be difficult to make time for feeding ourselves healthy information and inspiration. Here are a list of ten tools that can make it easier, some of which that I am currently using. 


  1. YouVersion Bible App: This is a great way to carry a Bible with you all the time. It has a wide variety of short and long term reading plans, image making tools, and even opportunity to connect with friends if that interests you.
  1. Abide App: Abide provides audio prayers, music, and scenic backgrounds (among other services, depending on what version you pick).
  1. Calm App:* With lovely graphics and though provoking meditations, this app can help you take a few minutes to focus. As this is not a faith-based app, I challenge myself to connect the word of the day to Scripture.
  1. Feedly: Feedly collects posts from sites/blogs that I want to follow. I scan the feed in the morning, marking articles I want to read in more depth later. Then during short breaks or on weekends, I pull up an article or two (or more) read it, and either save it to a topic board or discard it.
  1. The Skimm*: this weekday email provides a conversational summary, generally fairly balanced, of current national and international event, so you can be prepared for daily “water cooler talk.” Immersing myself in news does not work for me, but I do see value in knowing the basics, and this morning email gives me a quick overview. (Warning…the language used in some of the writing may not appeal to some.)
  1. Greenville Today: In the spirit of Skimm, my local county offers a weekday e-newsletter that summarizes interesting information and happenings in Greenville county.
  1. The Daily Shine* this is a weekday text that can be a source of bright encouragement for your day that I have used in the past.   I also have a group of friends in a text group and we randomly send Scripture to one another from time to time. We call this “Scripture Sisters” – it’s our own form of regular text encouragement.
  1. Newspapers: I don’t typically read newspapers instead staying informed by the summaries above. But I do enjoy reading our local business journal (Upstate Business Journal) usually during a lunch break.
  1. Platform University: I highly recommend that you find a membership site that corresponds to your profession or industry. In my case, Platform has had a major impact on my journey as an entrepreneur and the building of HOPE Unlimited. I make time to watch the training videos and/or read resources, usually over a 15-30 minute period once a week.
  1. Books: since 2012, I’ve successfully had a goal of finishing one book per month. (Note I said finish, not start and finish.) Sometimes its a business book, sometimes a faith based book, and sometimes fiction or a classic. This simple goal (which I track on Goodreads) keeps me reading consistently, although I do feel I don’t read books enough.

BONUS: HOPE Academy This is a branch of HOPE Unlimited where we will be offering strategic courses to help overwhelmed professionals. Have you tried the free course yet?

How about you? Do you have a plan for your professional and personal development?

*Caveat: Many of you know that as a follower of Christ, my faith saturates all aspects of my life. I provide this list with the advice to be discerning. Not every tool completely aligns with my worldview, and I have indicated those with an *.  However, I feel the tools can have valuable elements and are worth listing.

 

Rest & Reflect Week: Three Questions to Guide Your Reflection

013-Refresh to a quiet place

 

Rest: set a timer for 60 seconds. Close your eyes. Listen for sounds around you. When the timer ends, jot down five sounds you heard, that you normally don’t pay attention to.

Reflect:

The end of a month is a good time to look back and think about what went well, what could have been better, and what you hope to do in the next month. Take a few minutes to ask yourself the following questions:

1. What new skill or task did you learn in your work?

2. What professional relationship needs some improvement? What one step will you take this coming month to make that improvement?

3. Did you take care of yourself in a way to provide you energy for your work? (Part of this month for me was dealing with sickness–there’s no shame in succumbing to viruses etc. but I learned some things in the process…like how I overdid it before I was completely well.)

 

If you benefit from sharing your answers, feel free to comment!

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 My book, A Light for Your Path, helps you reflect on every chapter in the Bible. With no dated starting point, it’s a great book for year round reflection. Visit my store to purchase.

Reflection Week: Three Questions to Help You Look Back on the Month

January, 2017

breathe

 

Hello readers! It’s the end of January (already!) and if yours was anything like mine, it was very full and fast. I hadn’t totally prepared myself for the wave of the new year, yet I am grateful for what it represents!

I’m opting for a short post this week, providing you with three questions for reflection. I encourage you to take some time (maybe during a lunch break or as part of your morning ritual) to jot your thoughts about this first month of 2017 in relation to your professional life.

1. In what area of my work/business life did I feel the most stress and what can I (of did I) do about it?

2. What three things did I do very well? (Don’t skip this one in our human tendency to be embarrassed to celebrate the gifts and skills God gave us.)

3. What surprised me this month?

 

Taking time to reflect is very important. If we don’t think a bit about how our professional journey is going, we risk staying in a rut-like routine and a comfort zone. We may miss out on that one tweak that would help us breathe easier, or the opportunity to be grateful for an unexpected blessing.

I’d love to hear how your reflection went!  See below for mine!

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Beth’s reflection:

1. In what area of my work/business life did I feel the most stress and what can I (or did I) do about it?

I experienced a growth spurt in business that I wasn’t totally surprised by, but also wasn’t totally prepared for. I am tweaking my approach to my morning ritual, which is helping me devote the right focus to each unique day of the week. I learned that a “one size fits all” approach to how I start my day isn’t a good fit. The customizations seem to be helping.

2. What three things did I do very well? (Don’t skip this one in our human tendency to be embarrassed to celebrate the gifts and skills God gave us.)

  • Customized morning rituals to better fit the day of the week
  • Started a prayer appointment with a colleague from a different state, where we pray specifically for clients by name.
  • Got a Fitbit and increased my fitness focus. I feel I am in a little better shape at the end of the month than I was at the beginning. Got a Fitbit? Let’s be friends.

3. What surprised me this month?

The growth spurt in my business. I’m grateful.

35 Healthier Snack Ideas from People Like You

Substitutes for the not-so-good stuff

snack

Most of us like to enjoy a snack during our work day, but it’s easy to get into a rut and go to the same–sometimes unhealthy–items for a pick me up. I asked my Facebook friends to chime in on some healthy options…enjoy this list and comment with ideas of your own!

John S.:   Almonds

Allison C.: cheese/dried fruit/nut combo

Javela S.:  Yogurt with nuts and/or fruit

Lee M.:  Apple; carrot; vegetable and/or fruit smoothie; boiled egg; piece of meat

Paula K.:  Edamame with a little salt

Wendy W.: peanut butter filled celery sticks

Hillary K.  Clementine orange

Patrick V.:  Almonds; yogurt; jerky; protein bars; water; peanut M&Ms as a treat

Kristen M.: Hummus and pita chips/veggies; trail mix

Larry E.: Triple Zero yogurt with frozen blueberries

Steve.: Craze box

Lynda M.: cashews or raisins

Unique H.: Amonds, cashews or fruit medley

Amy H.: walnuts; Cutie clementines

Elisa R.: Watermelon; cut up cucumber, sometimes with a little salt

Rebecca K.: nuts, cheese, hummus

Christopher R.: almonds

Richard G.: water

Mariah W.: Cheese or avacado spread on Ezekiel toast with fruit; apply with peanut butter; yougurt, berries, homemade granola; carrots and hummus

Chris E.: Kind bars, Think Thin bars, almonds

Bucky B.: Natures Bakery bars; mixed nuts

Sheila H.: two slices of deli meat wrapped around a piece of string cheese; banana

Toni K.: apples with peanut butter; carrots with vegetable dip

Dave C.: almonds, carrots, grapes

Bobby T.: wasabi almonds

Cindy H.: Laughing Cow cheese wedge with lLight Rye Wasa crackers; slice of turkey; slices of cucumber

Kim R.: strawberries; Sahale snacks

Ricky H.: beef jerkey

Richard H.: peanuts and raisins with dried cranberries

Sue M.: apple

Sherry B: almonds; sliced apple; yogurt with chopped nuts

Brenda B.: Halo clementine

Dana H.: Greek yogurt with honey & Oats bar crushed on top

Beth B.(me!): cottage cheese with nuts, seeds, microgreens sprinkled on top; smoothie

Keith B:.  Fruit, Clif bars

Your turn: What’s your favorite healthy snack to enjoy at work?

The day I Messed Up

Thoughts on when the mistake is your own

mistake

 

It was meant to be a happy day–the first day a published piece on a client’s blog would go out to hundreds of subscribers.

This client offered space for contributing writers to share on topics that aligned with the client’s business.  My job was to take the pieces submitted and edit/format them to fit the blog, and run them on a regular schedule.

I worked to set up a system, arrange for Mail Chimp to be able to pick up the RSS feed, and started editing and scheduling posts to appear routinely every other Tuesday.

The first “send” came and I was delighted to see that the technology worked. I even emailed the client and the contributing writer to celebrate.

That’s when it happened.

In all my setting up of a process, I neglected to carefully proofread the piece. The first paragraph somehow showed up twice. Another small error appeared. And the joy of publication was marred by the obvious mistakes, and we had to put in place a plan to overcome the distractions–which we did, successfullly.

In the end, all worked out just fine.

But it was worth thinking about what happened in order to grow. As I reflected, the following came to mind:

  • My focus on developing a good system blinded me to catching an obvious error.
  • My focus on process kept me from asking for help from another proofreader.
  • My “years of experience” in this type of project led to focus on efficiency over collaboration.
  • My speed overcame accuracy.
  • My responsibilities were nearing the state of overwhelm (this all happened in a season of increased opportunity and decision making.)

Are systems, processes, experience and speed wrong? No. Without them, we’d be far less productive. But it’s easy to sacrifice collaboration, attentiveness, and consideration on the altar of efficiency.  

Perhaps the most important thing I learned was to understand my limits–to think through what I can do well over the long term, and to extend grace to myself and others.

How about you? Are you getting overwhelmed and finding yourself making more mistakes? What are you going to do about it?

If having some assistance would help you feel less overwhelmed, check out HOPE’s collaborative virtual assistance services.