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Work Life Balance

5 Reasons Science Says You Seriously Need To Take A Break

Do you and your business a favour and get out of town.

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I am about to hit the road with one of my oldest friends for a weekend away from the rest of the world.

We do this every year…with varied results. Sometimes we have an amazing time relaxing. Other times, we push each other to the brink as only lifelong friends can. Mostly, it’s a combination of the two. And I need it.

For these couple days each year, I am no one’s wife or mother or employee. I am just me, rewinding to when I was 18 and wanted to be a writer, just as I was when my friend and I first met.

Life becomes simple, and when the weekend ends, I feel recharged, refreshed and re-inspired.

Do you take planned breaks in the action like this? Research says not as much you should. In America, 54% of all workers did not use all of their allotted vacation days, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Please don’t do that. The scientifically-backed mental and physical benefits of time off can not be underestimated.

You don’t have to go far or spend a lot of money to experience those benefits. Here are some simple ways to create your own little retreat and get your groove back.

1Read something for fun

You must escape your world and enter another one to really get outside yourself. I am mainly a fan of business books and biographies, so this time of year I need to read fiction. Reading just for fun is, well, fun, but it also gives your brain power a boost.

Researchers at Stanford examined people’s brain activity while reading Jane Austen and found increased blood flow to the regions of the subjects’ brains associated with focusing on tasks. We can all use a little workout to strengthen our ability to pay attention to details and get things done, right?

2Walk it out

walking-and-relaxing

Vigorous work outs will strengthen your body, and leisurely strolls will strengthen your ability to chill. It is hard to be distracted by problems plaguing you back in the office when you’re distracted by natural beauty right in front of you.

Walks force you to clear your thoughts, and I’ve often found that I come out the other side feeling a little more fit and a lot more calm.

3Cook a meal

Sure, we eat out a bunch when I’m on these weekends away, but some of the best meals my friend and I have had involved chopping simple ingredients and pouring wine right there in our kitchen.

I am no chef, so I’m talking about spaghetti, jarred sauce and pre-made garlic bread. But still, there is a nice simplicity to making something myself with no rush and good music playing in the back ground. And bonus, cooking and eating meals at home can improve your health overall, according to the CDC.

4Go offline

unplugged-offline

This will be a new one this year. No email or social media for three days. I will have my phone so people can text in an emergency, but that’s it. Instead of trying to capture memories on Instagram, I want to be present to take some pictures in my head.

The National Health Service in the UK found that people who take a week off of Facebook showed more overall satisfaction with their lives. And who couldn’t use a little more of that?

5Don’t do anything

I would tell you to try meditation like me, but I can’t calm down enough to do it myself. This is a helpful guide – maybe you’ll have better luck. (I’m trying, really!) And trying really is the point. Taking a quiet moment or two to just breathe forces you to stop thinking about the bills or all the work coming in the months ahead. It’s brief, but those two minutes of mental vacation can make all the difference for me.

So as the summer winds down, you don’t have to head off to the South of France, but you do need to get out of your own head. I’m going away with one of my best friends in the world – what will you do? Make sure you take some time to reset and refresh, and when Monday comes, you’ll be ready to restart.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Victoria Cairl writes about women and work. She's is the VP of Business Development at Show-Score, a lover of Broadway and mother of three.

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Work Life Balance

How To Accomplish More In 4 Days Than Most People Do In 4 Weeks

Practice and self-control are key.

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We all know that it takes hard work to achieve our goals. And in the world of business and entrepreneurship, we often hear how we must be willing to sacrifice weeks, months, even years of slaving away to suceed.

But what if we’re all just doing it wrong? What if there was a way to accomplish a huge to-do list in less than half the time it would normally take? Barring the discovery of a time machine or a wormhole, you might say this is impossible. But with a little practice and self-control, it’s possible to get to the finish line before most people even start the race.

1. Use the 80/20 rule

The Pareto principle is a universal truth that can help us recognise where to focus our efforts to be most productive. The basic rule of thumb works like this: 80 percent of results will come from just 20 percent of the action. In other words, roughly 20 percent of your customers will account for 80 percent of your total profits. Likewise, about 20 percent of your daily tasks account for your most important and time-consuming projects. The remaining 80 percent of daily tasks are relatively low-level functions and less important undertakings.

Having a laser-like focus on those top 20 percent of tasks is the most valuable use of your time. Once those tasks are complete, you can work on the bottom 80 percent, or delegate those tasks to others. Keep yourself on track by always asking yourself: “Is this one of my top 20 percent most important activities, or is this a bottom 80 percent task?”

The same goes with other areas of your business. Focus on strengthening your relationship with the 20 percent of people who are your money makers: Those who are consistently working hard for you or are your top clientele.

Related: 5 Surprising Elements That Boost Your Productivity (One of Them Is Colour)

2. Break big tasks into manageable chunks

workload-balance

Procrastination often hits us when we’re feeling overwhelmed. We avoid starting a huge project because it feels daunting and we can’t imagine how we’ll tackle it. So stop trying to take on monster-sized jobs.

Break tasks into manageable pieces so you’re just taking on one small task at a time. Make sure your to-do list is broken into tasks that can be accomplished relatively quickly – a half hour or less. Then start using a stopwatch to kick your focus into high gear.

Set a timer for 20 minutes and tell yourself you must stay totally focused until it goes off. You’ll be shocked by how much you can accomplish! And once you’ve finished the allotted time, you may be motivated to keep going – how much more can you do in another 20 minutes?

3. Outsource tasks to focus on your talents

Most of us are really good at a handful of things, and are average or OK at everything else. The best use of your time is to focus on the areas where you’re strongest. If you can hand the other tasks off to someone else, you’ll have more time to focus on the tasks you’re best at. You can do this by outsourcing jobs that you don’t excel in.

Outsourcing might mean hiring someone or using a form of automation technology. Tasks that may be easy to outsource include web developer, content writer, graphic designer or a general virtual assistant, who can ease the burden of many daily tasks such as setting appointments or returning emails.

Related: 14 Of The Best Morning Routine Hacks Proven To Boost Productivity

4. Understand your natural rhythms

natural-rhythms

What time of the day do you have the most energy? When are you most creative? In order to be efficient and make the most of your productivity, you have to know how to manage your energy. You have to understand your body’s natural timetable. Is there a time of day when you always feel in a slump or a time when you feel raring to go? Prioritise important tasks to those times when you know your mind is alert.

In order for this to work, you must have established routines. This will help you create a pattern so you can observe your natural rhythms. When you know you’re at your best, focus on detail-oriented and difficult tasks. And remember to give yourself breaks to keep your energy level high throughout the day.

5. Cut out distractions

Your ability to focus is key to your productivity and getting more done in a short amount of time. Researchers have found that it takes a typical office worker 25 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption. Work interruptions also decrease accuracy by 20 percent.

By eliminating distractions, you’re giving yourself back all that wasted time. Try scheduling chunks of uninterrupted time that allow you to dive into a project. And as much as possible, avoid leaving things half done. If you start something, finish it! Each day, set goals you want to accomplish and then make it happen.

Your smartphone is one of the biggest distractions. The average person can’t leave their phone alone for six minutes, and most of us check it up to 150 times per day! So if you need to be hyper-focused on something, work on one screen at a time. Turn off your smartphone notifications or try putting your phone away for periods of time.

6. Focus on one thing at a time

monotasking

We used to think multitasking could help us accomplish more, but we now know that the human brain wasn’t designed to focus on more than one thing at once. However, most of us find ourselves toggling between web pages, email, text messages and the task at hand, and then we wonder why we never seem to get anything done. It’s time to start monotasking.

Monotasking, also known as single-tasking, is about focusing on one thing at a time so we get more done. It requires you to break your multitasking habits. Because we live in a highly connected world, that’s not always easy or even possible for every task. But monotasking allows you to get into deep work, where you can really focus on a demanding task.

Try setting aside two to four hours daily when you can focus on one thing without interruption. It may take a while to develop this skill, but eventually you’ll be able to engage both sides of your brain to make incredible breakthroughs that have an impact on your business.

Related: Your Narcissism Is Killing Your Employees’ Productivity. How To Avoid The Pitfalls

7. Capture stray thoughts

It can be annoying when a tantalising thought enters your brain when you’re in the middle of doing something else. “I need to remember to this!” you tell yourself. And then you try to set the thought aside, while simultaneously trying to remember it.

As you may have learned from experience, trying to remember a thought while you’re involved in a task often fails. However, if you write it down you can truly let it go, knowing you can reexamine it later. You close the loop. If you rely on memory, you’re either wasting energy trying to remember it, or you forget it completely and lose the value of that idea. Either way, it’s a waste.

Make sure you capture these random thoughts and ideas, either in a notebook or in an app that you always have handy. This can be part of a massive, ongoing brain dump that you can refer back to and will ensure that you don’t lose that lightning bolt of genius, or forget that you need to pick your suit up from the cleaner. Just be sure to review your notes on a regular basis!

8. Sleep, eat and breathe

It’s nearly impossible to be hyper-productive if you’re feeling exhausted, hungry or overwhelmed. It’s important that we continue to engage in self-care, even when we’re slammed at work or are feeling overwhelmed with projects. You’re not a machine – you need rest, food and a clear mind to perform well. That means ditching junk food and fast food, and nourishing your body with healthy meals and snacks. It means getting a solid eight hours of sleep at night, exercising during the day and carving out time for mental breaks.

Taking even a few minutes out of your day to focus on your breathing or to meditate can help you clear your mind. Another option is to go for a quick power walk or take the stairs rather than the elevator in your office building. These activities will help reinvigorate you so you can focus. Think of it as a reboot for your brain.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Constance Halaveli – Savour Life On A Magical Secluded Island Hideaway

A 5* luxury island hideaway on stilts in the Indian Ocean that puts paradise at your fingertips. Unforgettable dives and unspoiled beaches make for a totally spoiled you and your loved ones. The magic of your surroundings is as romantic as it is exceptional. Constance Halaveli is like nowhere else. Disconnect. Reconnect. And enjoy relaxation perfected.

Constance Hotels & Resorts

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Floating in the North Ari atoll and shaped like a curved Dhoni (Maldivian boat) is the five star Constance Halaveli. It is a place where time seems to have stopped and dreams become reality. Water and sand combine and lie in contrast to the exuberant green of the foliage. The shadow of the 86 villas falls on the turquoise lagoon. The three restaurants and the U Spa by Constance ensure that both body and mind are well cared for. Constance Halaveli is a place to relax and regenerate in overwhelming peacefulness.

Choose from one of the 57 Water Villas, 9 Beach Villas, 11 Family Beach Villas, 8 Double Storey Beach Villas or the lavish Presidential Beach Villa at Constance Halaveli Maldives. All the villas are air-conditioned and feature their own private plunge pool located on the beach or over the water.

They are comfortably furnished using modern wood, marble and equipped with hairdryer, LCD TV 42’ /satellite channels, DVD, WI-FI Internet access free of charge through Imac system, wireless streaming via Air Play / Android & PC streaming, telephone, mini-bar, mini wine cooler with a selection of wine, tea & coffee facilities, individual safe, desk, sitting area and 24h room service. Each villa has also a furnished terrace or balcony and bathroom comprising of separate shower (inside or outside), bath/WC. 

Related: Spoil Yourself And Book Your Stay At Constance Aiyana

Highlights of your stay

  • Connect with the whale shark during an unforgettable dive
  • Contemplate the astonishing atolls from a sea plane
  • Taste one of our Millesimal, your feet in the water
  • Meditate at sunrise with our yoga master

Indulge in fine food and sumptuous flavours at Jahaz, Jing and Meeru restaurants. For palate pleasing cocktails; divine vinous experiences, step in Jahaz, Jing Bar & Wine Cellars.

The marvelous U Spa by Constance at Constance Halaveli rests on stilts above the gently lapping waters of the Indian Ocean and has stunning views across turquoise waters from the treatment rooms, a spacious, decked outdoor wet area and an Ocean Salon. Relax, rejuvenate, detox, re-hydrate or simply enjoy – the choice is yours. Our highly skilled team is at your disposal to help you decide which treatments are best suited to your needs.

maldives-constance-halaveli

The Constance Hotels and Resorts Group owns and manages a number of luxurious island destinations in the Indian Ocean, made up of 5-star Resorts: Constance Belle Mare Plage (Mauritius), Constance Ephelia (Seychelles), Constance Moofushi (Maldives), Constance Tsarabanjina (Madagascar) and 5-star deluxe Hotels: Constance Prince Maurice (Mauritius), Constance Lemuria (Seychelles) ,Constance Halaveli (Maldives) and Constance Aiyana (Pemba, Zanaibar).

Distinctive elements for these hotels and resorts include magnificent locations with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world; distinctive architecture and design; warm hospitality; completely personalised guest experiences; gastronomic excellence matched by internationally recognised sommeliers; Constance Kids Clubs at almost all hotels and resorts (except, Constance Moofushi, Constance Tsarabanjina and Constance Aiyana); complete wellness and rejuvenation with U Spa by Constance; and some of the most beautiful natural diving locations in the world (PADI and CMAS are available at all hotels). Constance Belle Mare Plage, Constance Prince Maurice and Constance Lemuria Seychelles on Praslin all have 18-hole championship golf courses.

Contact us now for your island destination holiday in some of the most idyllic spots in the world.

Central Reservations: Tel: +230 402 27 77

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Work Life Balance

Why Smart People Don’t Multi-task

Multi-tasking is really tempting. It’s also really bad for you.

Travis Bradberry

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You may have heard that multi-tasking is bad for you, but new studies show that it kills your performance and may even damage your brain. Every time you multi-task you aren’t just harming your performance in the moment; you may very well be damaging an area of your brain that’s critical to your future success at work.

Research conducted at Stanford University found that multi-tasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

A special skill?

But what if some people have a special gift for multi-tasking? The Stanford researchers compared groups of people based on their tendency to multi-task and their belief that it helps their performance.

Related: Why Multitasking Isn’t Much Good To Your Brain

They found that heavy multi-taskers — those who multi-task a lot and feel that it boosts their performance — were actually worse at multi-tasking than those who like to do a single thing at a time. The frequent multi-taskers performed worse because they had more trouble organising their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower at switching from one task to another.

Ouch.

Multi-tasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.

Multi-tasking lowers IQ

Research also shows that, in addition to slowing you down, multi-tasking lowers your IQ. A study at the University of London found that participants who multi-tasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night. IQ drops of 15 points for multi-tasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an eight-year-old child.

So the next time you’re writing your boss an email during a meeting, remember that your cognitive capacity is being diminished to the point that you might as well let an eight-year-old write it for you.

Brain damage from multi-tasking?

It was long believed that cognitive impairment from multi-tasking was temporary, but new research suggests otherwise. Researchers at the University of Sussex in the UK compared the amount of time people spend on multiple devices (such as texting while watching TV) to MRI scans of their brains. They found that high multi-taskers had less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region responsible for empathy as well as cognitive and emotional control.

While more research is needed to determine if multi-tasking is physically damaging the brain (versus existing brain damage that predisposes people to multi-task), it’s clear that multi-tasking has negative effects.

Neuroscientist Kep Kee Loh, the study’s lead author, explained the implications:

“I feel that it is important to create an awareness that the way we are interacting with the devices might be changing the way we think and these changes might be occurring at the level of brain structure.”

Related: Celebrating The Multi-Faceted Woman

The EQ connection

Nothing turns people off quite like fiddling with your phone or tablet during a conversation. Multi-tasking in meetings and other social settings indicates low self- and social awareness, two emotional intelligence (EQ) skills that are critical to success at work. TalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that 90% of top performers have high EQs. If multi-tasking does indeed damage the anterior cingulate cortex (a key brain region for EQ) as current research suggests, doing so will lower your EQ while it alienates your co-workers.

Bringing It All Together

If you’re prone to multi-tasking, this is not a habit you’ll want to indulge — it clearly slows you down and decreases the quality of your work. Even if it doesn’t cause brain damage, allowing yourself to multi-task will fuel any existing difficulties you have with concentration, organisation and attention to detail.

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