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40 Micro-Improvements to Un-Fail Your New Year's Resolutions

Lifestyle

Well, some say it's a to-do list for the first week of January. Statistics say it's something only 8 percent of people will keep up throughout the year. And I say they it's a collection of failures we line up for ourselves to experience. Every year. Except for 2018 -- am I right?


Reputable sources on the internet list the top 10 New Year's Resolutions as follows:

  1. Eat Healthier and Diet
  2. Lose Weight and Get Fit
  3. Quit Smoking
  4. Spend More Time with Family
  5. Learn Something New
  6. Get Out of Debt and Save Money
  7. Travel to New Places
  8. Be Less Stressed
  9. Volunteer
  10. Drink Less

Which for our generation roughly translates to:

  1. Stop salting food
  2. Make use of FitBit
  3. Stop smoking...cigarettes
  4. Answer mom's phone calls
  5. Buy more Groupons
  6. Uber only when necessary
  7. Attend more weddings
  8. Stop texting exes
  9. Volunteer...to flaunt on social media
  10. Vodka soda. Vodka soda. Vodka soda.

The problem with these noble aspirations is that they require considerable lifestyle changes and committed efforts to follow through. And though the start of a new calendar year may feel like enough motivation to do so, more often than not, we find ourselves right back where we started (just in lower spirits...)

This year, you can continue the cycle of goal fatigue from those overbearing resolutions -- OR -- you can set yourself up for success with a few mini-goals that are well within your reach. In the spirit of your success, we've crafted a list of micro-improvements to make in terms of: health, organization, money, happiness, travel, relationships, and volunteering.

Do yourself a favor and over the course of the next 365 days, accomplish one, two, or just a few of the below, and relish in the fact that you're achieving greatness! Or just be proud you're being an adult, which we've all learned the hard way, is not easy...

Here, the 40 Micro-Improvements that will help you stick to your New Year's resolutions
HEALTH

1. Get your teeth cleaned.

Dig up your insurance card. Locate website. Search for a provider. Set an appointment (like, maybe 6 months from now). Forget appointment.

2. Throw out expired food.

And makeup. And anything else with an expiration date. And while you're at it, clean your makeup brushes.

3. Put gym clothes and shoes in your car.

Or just put those clothes you've been meaning to donate in your trunk, so that you can a) finally drop it off at Goodwill and b) use them as workout clothes until you do so.

4. Get a flu shot.

At the beginning of the season. Think how many calories you'll save on soup and ice cream.

5. Grilled, not fried. On the rocks, not frozen. Salt rim, not sugar.

How to order at every Mexican restaurant.

6. Embrace dry shampoo.

“For a good, clean feeling. No matter what."

7. Get more massages and facials.

For health reasons, duh. Buy packages or encourage these as gifts from loved ones.

8. Floss.

Often.

ORGANIZATION

9. Clear out your email inbox

Download Unroll.me to instantly see a list of all your subscription emails and unsubscribe easily from whatever you don't want.

10. Delete your weird high school friends on Facebook

It helps if you do this on their birthday, when FB reminds you they exist.

11. Put an emergency tampon in key locations

Like your gym bag, glove compartment, boyfriend's house and every purse you own.

12. Give someone an extra key to your apartment.

Make sure it's not the weird friend from high school.

13. Throw out hideous promotional items you've accumulated over the years.

You don't need that Bank of the West blanket, or NuvaRing hat. It's fashion over function this year.

MONEY

14. Collect old gift cards and spend an entire day cashing them in.

You'd be surprised what you can still get at a Barnes and Noble.

15. Try to return that dress you lost the receipt for.

Maybe they'll take it, right?

16. Save a little bit of money.

Download an app (like Qapital) that automatically deposits into a savings account...or an emergency Vegas fund.

17. Invest a wee bit of money.

Spend half the time you do checking Instagram on checking stocks. Or the news. Or something time-worthy.

18. Shop clearance first, not last.

Nordstrom Rack is your friend.

19. Cook something once in awhile.

Microwaving counts. Salads also count.

20. Only order online from Amazon Prime.

AKA free shipping. AKA never pay for shipping.

HAPPINESS

21. Watch one Disney movie a month. Maybe two.

But seriously, no judgment if it exceeds 10.

22. Wear more costumes.

Or at least wear the appropriate color on each holiday: green on St. Patties, red on Valentine's (black, depending on your relationship status), etc.

23. Eat frozen yogurt as a meal.

Try your hardest to “wow" a Yogurtland employee. It's like a personal trophy.

24. Give more gifts.

Hand out glow jewelry or flash tattoos to people you don't know at a party to witness true joy.

25. Dress up as much as possible.

Wear clothing with kittens or puppies on it. Or whatever makes you happy.

26. Ditch the bitch voice inside your head.

She sucks.

27. Take more naps.

This includes in the car on your lunch break.

TRAVEL

28. Take a solo trip.

Find a cheap Airbnb and go make a friend.

29. Spend less money when you do travel.

Stop pretending foreign currency is “Monopoly money." It's real.

30. Go somewhere you don't speak the language.

This includes neighborhoods in your own town.

31. Figure out how to redeem points for a fully expensed trip.

Or just figure out how to redeem points. Seriously how do they do it?

32. Make believe.

Feel like you're traveling by using a random foreign accent to confuse people. It's great.

RELATIONSHIPS

33. Stop ghosting people.

Just kindly type: “Not interested." Easier written than said.

34. Be pickier.

Stop going on dates because you've been “meaning to try that place."

35. Be more strategic.

Start going on dates that end in tickets to see Hamilton.

36. Be more thoughtful.

Send people random “thinking of you" cards...or DM's.

37. Be more aware of others.

RSVP for your friend's events before they have to remind you to do so.

VOLUNTEERING

38. Donate old clothes.

But no shame if you try to sell them first. eBay is your friend.

39. Volunteer at home.

To show family/significant others “how it should be done."

40. Be a good friend.

Take a girlfriend to lunch and offer to listen to her problems. And listen, Linda, listen.

There you go, you're now armed with 40 tools that can make or break your 2018. With these in mind, tackle the New Year the right way (which just translates to whichever way you see fit…)

If not, there's always next year...

4 Min Read
Business

Communicating with Employees Will Be Key for Successful Remote Work Post-COVID

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies were resistant to implementing remote work for a variety of reasons such as concerns about technology and infrastructure, a lack of trust that employees would get their jobs done, the longstanding (and understandable) bias in favor of face-to-face interactions, or some combination of these factors. However, not only has the COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to switch to remote work despite their reservations, it's clear at this point that it's going to be very hard to put the genie back in the bottle. Remote work is here to stay, at least partially. By analyzing the pros and cons of remote work we've witnessed over the past few months, we can apply various insights towards maximizing its benefits while minimizing the downsides.

Remote Work Can Be Productive But Also Challenging

Ever since companies implemented remote work en masse, we have witnessed several general tendencies. One is that despite early concerns about remote work leading to less productivity, what many have seen firsthand is that a lot of work can indeed get done via remote work — in many cases even more than before when people were physically going into offices. There is a wide range of possible reasons for this, from having a quieter environment to work in (which is obviously not always the case for everyone, especially parents) to having more time freed up due to less commuting to no obvious start and end time to the work day.

Alas, the results have not been uniformly positive. One problem many of us have experienced is that remote meetings can be more difficult. The actual platforms used to run meetings online like Zoom or Google Meet are in themselves relatively simple and straightforward to use. The challenge is that online meetings come with some intrinsic limitations such as the inability to incorporate the same level of non-verbal communication that we use interacting in-person. Non-verbal communication plays an influential role in conveying meaning, and when it is absent, we lose important nuance. Perhaps the most annoying obstacle is that online people tend to talk over each other, albeit unintentionally. Part of this is because we cannot use those non-verbal signals to signal we want the floor, and part of it is technical issues of buffering, delays, and audio/video synching.

This is the time for employers to be analyzing, strategizing, and planning, to find out what employees need.

Making Up for Lost Planning Time

Companies have had to grapple with the lack of time to plan and prepare for a complete switch to remote work. COVID-19 forced them to go from 0 to 60 mph in what felt like a nanosecond, resulting in many hiccups along the way. Looking ahead, now that much of the initial craziness has ebbed, many companies will have the opportunity to make up for that lost planning time. They should make this a deliberative process and include to identify what worked and what didn't in the remote work process. Good, clear communication will be key. What limitations did employees run up against over the past several months, and what are their ideas for getting around those? What kinds of hardware and software do they need to acquire or upgrade? This is the time for employers to be analyzing, strategizing, and planning, to find out what employees need. They should also prepare thoughtful responses if and when they cannot make the changes employees request.

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Overwork and Burnout

Of course, a flexible workplace culture of this sort requires a great deal of trust, and good communication is the foundation of this trust.

As mentioned, remote work has not led to people being unproductive or doing less work. If anything, people are working more, and therein lies a potential problem. For many, COVID-19 has caused work-life balance and healthy boundaries between the two domains to effectively disintegrate. This is why communication is so important, particularly for companies preparing to offer a permanent remote work environment to staff. Companies need to encourage employees — remote or in the office — to take work-life balance seriously. In a tough employment environment, with so many layoffs and furloughs, many people feel lucky just to have their jobs. They are anxious about keeping them, and so succumb to the temptation to be available 24/7 as a way of demonstrating their value to their companies. This isn't good for the company, and it is definitely not good for the employee.

Overwork, stress, and burnout have detrimental effects on employees' functioning and job engagement as well as their performance and productivity. To help avoid this, companies will need to set clear expectations, clearly communicate what those expectations are, and, if necessary, actively encourage employees to take enough time away from work. They may also benefit by changing their workplace culture to focus more on results and final products and less on strictly defined work schedules. For example, as long as your employees get what you need back to you by the time you need it, perhaps the actual hours or days that they work should not matter so much. Of course, a flexible workplace culture of this sort requires a great deal of trust, and good communication is the foundation of this trust.

The Importance of Informal Communication at Work

One dimension that was largely lost because of the widespread transition to remote work was informal communication in the workplace. This is the casual socializing and interaction that naturally occur among employees in the workplace — the proverbial water cooler talk. It just seems odd to schedule Zoom calls for engaging in small talk or socializing with our work colleagues.

Good, clear, and frequent communication, once again, will be the key to maximizing the benefits of remote work and minimizing its potential pitfalls in the post-COVID era.

However, workplace informal communication is important and serves multiple beneficial functions. Conversations build interpersonal relationships and have positive effects on work whether or not the topic relates specifically to the job at hand. It is likely that going forward, companies will move to a modality that incorporates both remote and in-person work, although some may find staying remote works for them. If the company has all or many or some employees working remote, it will be worth considering how to create space and opportunities for informal communication. This could be through hosting virtual happy hours, recreating morning coffee breaks, or hosting brown bag lunches or whatever else fits companies' needs and situations. No reason these events could not include the employees in the office as well as those working remotely. A company wanting to celebrate could host a luncheon on campus and send takeout to those working from home — a truly virtual brown bag lunch!

Despite the numerous logistical challenges that the sudden shift to remote work has presented, the consensus among many employers and employees alike is that remote work can work. Not only can it work, it can be highly efficient and productive and provide employees with the flexibility they want as well as offer numerous advantages to companies. Good, clear, and frequent communication, once again, will be the key to maximizing the benefits of remote work and minimizing its potential pitfalls in the post-COVID era.