Being Productive When You Are Sick

It can come out of nowhere. One minute you’re reaching the height of your potential at school or work, and the next minute you’re feeling like you need to be 3 feet deep under a pile of blankets running a cold so bad you’re questioning where you went wrong!

But, as a hardworking, high-achieving individual, you know that you can’t let a roadblock like sickness get in the way of reaching your goals. Or as a parent, you can’t afford to take sick days!

How can you continue to be productive when you’re feeling under the weather? Here’s some strategies:

  1. Take care of yourself first

Whatever is going on in your life, you need to take the right steps in taking care of your health first. Whether it’s visiting a doctor’s office, a pharmacy, or reaching out to your parents, it’s important to make sure you’re doing what’s necessary to recover 100%.

If you’re like me, the doctor’s office is reserved as a last resort. For the money conscious individual or if your insurance isn’t the best in the world, the price of a doctor’s visit plus any added prescriptions can really add up as unexpected costs in a budget.

Tip: Visit your local pharmacy and ask the pharmacist for their opinion on anything that would help you without the need for a prescription.

Whenever I feel ill, I visit the pharmacy in my local grocery store and tell them how I’m feeling and ask them if there’s anything available to purchase that would help relieve my symptoms.

Doing this can save you time and money by not visiting a medical doctor. However, please note that you may require more attention or something a bit stronger than what you can get without a prescription, so don’t be afraid to call your local clinic or doctor’s office if what you’re going through gets worse or if the pharmacist also suggests it. This goes doubly if you think you may be contagious.

Take care of yourself first before trying to tackle your other commitments.

2. Prioritize your commitments to determine which ones you can accomplish

Determine how you’re feeling. If you’re not feeling all that bad, you could still continue working on your commitments and be productive throughout the day. However, if you’re feeling like you can’t get out of bed and the world is on the verge of ending, it can feel so much harder to be productive.

Prioritize your commitments for the day and see what you can accomplish in your current state.

From our previous point above, your number one commitment when you’re feeling under the weather should be to take care of yourself. From there, you should have things in an order of importance or things that have to get done.

Once you figure out what’s important, determine what you’re able to do, take steps to do those things, and you’ll be on your way to productivity!

3. Notify school or work

Some things on your list may require giving a notice to someone. When you give your school or work notice that you’re not feeling well, you put yourself in a position where you can prevent work buildup and stress. The right people will know you’re under the weather and they will most likely not want you to come in if you’re sick or contagious.

If you feel that you’re contagious based on your current state and symptoms, it would be best to avoid any commitments that require interacting with others. Visit your local doctor’s office and take the right steps towards recovery.

From a school angle, if your teachers or professors are responsive, you can get the material that you’ll miss from not being in class from them. You’ll be able to keep up with the rest of the class and not have the extra stress to worry about when you return.

On the work side, letting your boss know you won’t be in with advance notice gives them an opportunity to find ways to pick up the slack, if necessary. It also shows you communicate well if anything comes up.

One thing to note is that some schools and workplaces require a doctor’s note if you’re going to be out. Without it, you may miss out on the opportunity to complete any makeup work at a later date. Or you may receive a no call, no show from your work, which is something that can be avoided.

4. Enlist the help of friends and family

When you’re not feeling well, who better to help you in your time of need than your friends and family? Reach out to those people who can help you with tasks that need completing.

If you know anyone from your classes, ask them to send you their notes and any updates so you don’t fall behind.

Having someone take even the smallest items off your list of things to do can make a world of difference in your level of stress. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you could really use it.

This holds true for parenting as well! As much as parenting requires us to be superheros, when we’re not at 100%, it can be difficult to get through the day. If you have help available, utilize it!

Summary

It can be the worst feeling in the world when you’re not feeling well, and you still have a mountain of tasks to get done! To help yourself be more productive during these times, we talked about the following strategies:

  1. Take care of yourself first
  2. Prioritize your commitments to determine which ones you can accomplish
  3. Notify school or work
  4. Enlist the help of friends and family

Make sure you put yourself on the right path to feeling better, and notify others that would be affected by you being ill. This can save you from added stress down the road.

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4 Clues That Your Current Job May Not Be Right For You

Life is too short to spend time working in a job that you’re not passionate about. However, an overwhelmingly high number of reports suggests that many people who work are unhappy with their jobs in one way or another. Are you in the majority? If so, your current career may not be right for you! Here’s how you can tell.

  1. You’re not happy in your current role

Everyone has the occasional bad day at work. It happens. But, if you find yourself dreading the workday on a consistent basis to the point where you don’t want to be at work more often than you do, you may not be in the right job.

It’s important to take some time to figure out why you’re not happy with your job. Are the issues you come up with something that you have some control over?

If the issues are not in your control, how long do you think you can deal with them until something has to give? Think about the long-term picture here.

Also, take a look at your work environment. How is everyone else feeling about their jobs? Do they look unhappy as well? If you work with others who feel the same way, there may be a bigger issue that needs to be addressed by the higher ups. Having a whole team unhappy does not create a good work culture.

2. You feel unfulfilled

If your job leaves you feeling unfulfilled in what you’re doing with your life, you may not be in the right job.

I worked for a tobacco company one year while I was finishing up school for my second bachelor’s degree. As someone who grew up with asthma, I couldn’t get on board with their mission and their purpose.

I had absolutely no sense of fulfillment working there, and I definitely didn’t feel like I was making a positive impact on the world. On the flip side, there were many people who worked there that felt fulfilled to be helping distribute a product that they enjoyed using.

When you feel like you’re making an impact in the work you do, it can give you a great feeling of accomplishment and pride. It’s all a matter of making sure you know who you are and what gives you that sense of fulfillment. When you finally get that feeling of fulfillment in the job you do, it’s something you don’t want to lose.

3. You don’t feel appreciated

When you feel like you do a great job at work, and you put in a lot of effort because you care, it is the worst feeling to not receive any appreciation for it. You’re helping the company you work for be successful, but you don’t get the recognition you deserve. It can hurt your morale and drive to continue to do well.

Maybe you got overlooked for a promotion or raise. Maybe it’s happened on more than one occasion. If you don’t feel appreciated at work, it’s hard to be committed to doing your best.

If you’re not feeling appreciated at work, try bringing it up with your boss. It’s okay to be direct and highlight all the great work you’ve been doing. There’s a chance that they’ve been busy to the point that they haven’t noticed or it hasn’t been brought to their attention.

However, they may not give you the response you were expecting. The company may not be giving raises at that time, there may not be available positions to be promoted to, or it’s not in their management style to acknowledge great work.

If you’re feeling unappreciated at work, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change, you may not be in the right job.

4. You browse available job openings

On your down time you may find yourself browsing open jobs in your area. Sometimes the grass is 100% greener on the other side. You owe it to yourself to entertain the idea of what another job would look like for you. Take your job browsing a couple steps further.

Find opportunities to interview with other companies. The stakes would be a lower because you already have a job, so the stress levels shouldn’t be as high as if you didn’t have a job to begin with.

Look out for the things that would make you happy, fulfilled, and appreciated at the job, and ask questions about the things that have you looking at other jobs in the first place.

Ask to take a tour of where the new job is. Use this opportunity to gauge the mood of the room. Do people seem happy to be there? Ask if you could meet with someone who works there to get some inside information that you may not have gotten during the interview. These are all great ways to get yourself into a job that fits you best.

Summary

Many working individuals are not happy in their current jobs. It can be for a variety of reasons, but if you find yourself in the following situations for an extended period of time, your job may not be the right fit for you:

  1. You’re not happy in your current role
  2. You feel unfulfilled
  3. You don’t feel appreciated
  4. You browse available job openings

You should be in a job where you’re happy, fulfilled, appreciated, and you’re excited to be there. You owe it to yourself to find the job that’s right for you.

Are you in a job you don’t like? Or, do you have a job you love? I’d love to hear from you!

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Feeling Down At Work During The Holidays? Try These 3 Tips To Lift Your Spirits

There are many holidays that provide opportunities to celebrate throughout the year. No matter what time of year it is, there’s usually some holiday right around the corner.

For many people, however, the holidays can be a sad, depressing time of year. Whether it’s a specific holiday or the general celebration of all holidays, it can be difficult for many people to get into the spirit of celebration.

In the workplace, where there are many other people sharing their experiences and being fully committed to the holidays, it can be difficult for others to get through. The reasons can vary from person to person, but no matter the reason, there are ways that you can take back the feelings of wanting to celebrate a holiday and make it something that you will want to remember for the rest of your life.

  1. Create your own traditions

When you’re in the office listening to others share their wonderful past holidays, and you’re steeping in your own past experiences wishing you could forget them and move on, it can difficult to make it through the workday.

I used to despise celebrating my own birthday because I’ve had so many bad experiences around it. Although not a national holiday per se, everyone has a birthday. A lot of the bad experiences were relationship related, but before I met my wife, and she helped me create amazing, lasting memories surrounding my birthday, I wouldn’t celebrate it.

I would take my birthday off work just so I wouldn’t have to be subjected to happy birthday wishes from others. I took my birthday off social media so others wouldn’t know it was my birthday.

But, by doing all this, I was isolating myself from everyone else and creating more sad birthdays for myself. By not celebrating, it became one more birthday to add to my list of birthdays that didn’t go well.

The year I completed my graduate degree and started teaching, I decided to make a change. Instead of taking the day off from work on my birthday and being sad in my apartment all day, I decided to take a trip to see pandas and eat barbecue. On my day off, I drove 3 hours to a zoo that had pandas, and afterwards I enjoyed barbecue.

Although I was by myself on my birthday, I started a tradition that I enjoyed telling others.

  • Coworker: “Happy late birthday! So, did you do anything fun?”
  • Me: “Yes! I went to the zoo to see pandas, and I got some pretty good barbecue!”
  • Coworker: “That sounds like fun! I’m glad you enjoyed it!”

The following year on my birthday, I traveled out of the city again to enjoy my day. When I started dating my wife, we kept up my tradition of doing something fun on my birthday, although it took some time to fully embrace my birthday as a day to celebrate.

When a holiday has a dark cloud looming over it for a reason specific to you, one thing you can do is start your own tradition filled with fun things that you 100% enjoy doing. Whether you’re by yourself or with friends or family, start growing fond memories to associate with that holiday. Venture out, try new things, and fill your memories with great experiences.

I love pandas, and I love food. I enjoyed visiting a new city, and I did something similar the next year as well. It definitely beat staying in my apartment sulking all day on my birthday.

2. Get involved in the holiday spirit at work

This one can be difficult, especially if you’re not a fan of the holiday being celebrated, however, think of it like a volunteering give-back situation.

If decorations are being put up or potlucks are being assembled, volunteer your services! Giving back is always an inspirational way of building holiday cheer. If you help others in celebrating the holiday, you’re building a connection with them, and you can learn about their experiences in the holiday. Building friendships and being connected is a great way to steer clear of going down the path of isolation and depression. It’s also a great way to get inspired for what you can do for the holidays.

As an example, let’s say your work has its annual potluck. You bring in a wonderfully fudgy brownie, and it’s a big hit. Over food, you hear a coworker talk about a town close by that really gets into the holiday spirit with decorations and festivals. You enjoy festivals, so you talk to them about their experiences with it. From there, you make your own plans to visit and create happy memories.

Getting involved in workplace festivities may go against your immediate feelings, but in return for doing this, you have an opportunity to develop connections, make friends, and get inspired to create happy, lasting memories.

3. Tell someone you trust how you feel

Talking about your feelings can be tough. However, during the holidays, it is so easy to isolate yourself from the world and fall into a depressed state. It’s important that you talk to someone you trust about how you feel. It may not be easy, but having someone provide support can make a world of difference in how you continue to perceive the holidays.

Whether it’s friends, family, or concerned coworkers, being able to talk about your feelings surrounding the holiday in question is a huge step in the right direction.

But, how do you bring up these feelings in a conversation? It can be as natural as the following:

  • Friend: “I am ready for this 3-day break! It’s going to be so much fun!” Do you have any big plans?”
  • Me: “No, I don’t really like to celebrate this holiday. I’ve had some bad experiences. I’ll probably just stay home.”
  • Friend: “What happened? You know, you’re welcome to hang out with me if you want. It’ll be great!”

Look for an invitation in conversations to share your feelings and see how they respond. It should be clear if they want to be supportive or if they don’t.

What’s important here is that you’re sharing your feelings. You wouldn’t want to keep in any negative feelings to let it brew and build up. I’ve used the balloon analogy previously, and it also applies here. You don’t want to be like a balloon with too much air and pop.

Instead, find someone you trust to share your feelings with, and you will start to feel better. They will look out for ways to support you and make the holidays a more positive experience for you.

Recap

The holidays are a time for celebration, but for many people, it brings up old, painful memories. It can be difficult to manage these feelings, especially in a workplace environment where you’re there for a bulk of the day. Here, we discussed 3 things you can do to keep your spirits up during the holiday times:

  1. Create your own traditions
  2. Get involved in the holiday spirit at work
  3. Tell someone you trust how you feel

Reach out to someone if you or someone you know start showing signs of depression or something worse during the holidays as well as any time of year. You’re not alone, and it’s important that you know that.

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel like it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for more ways to feel empowered and confident in your career and education goals!

5 Key Strategies To Prevent Burnout

Burnout is a term used to describe someone that is feeling tired and mentally exhausted resulting from a buildup of stress. This can come from several different areas in your life, such as school, work, and parenting.

It is a serious problem that affects many people around the world, and it’s important to take action steps to limit the buildup of stress leading to burnout.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out my article, What Is Burnout And How To Identify It At Work Before It’s Too Late, it goes into detail on the process of burning out and what signs to look out for.

If you feel like you’re on your way to burning out from your commitments, there are strategies available that can help prevent it. Here are 5 strategies that you can use to help you avoid burnout.

  1. Locate the source of the stress buildup

It’s important to find what stressors are in your life and where they are coming from. Like any problem you face in life, it’s easier to deal with the stress when you know what’s causing it. For this to work, it’s important to be as specific as possible about what the stress is and where the source of the stress can be found. Without knowing these two things, it’s difficult to address the problem.

As an example, let’s look at the two statements below:

  • “Work is stressing me out, and I don’t think I can take it much longer.”
  • “The added responsibilities on top of my regular duties at work without added support is becoming difficult to manage. Work was fine until my boss asked if I could take on a new project. It’s becoming difficult to stay motivated because I don’t see an end to the extra work I’ve received.”

The more specific and honest with yourself you can be, the more effective you’ll be at addressing the issues to prevent burnout. Once you’re able to identify the source of your stress, you can take steps to address it.

2. Identify your support system and utilize them

Your support system is anyone you can turn to that will listen when you have a problem, and they will help you in addressing the problem. Having a strong support system will give you a safe place to share the stress in your life, and if they’re close to you, they can provide guidance that would best suit you.

It’s important to note that when a person goes down the path to burnout, one of the steps that they could go through is withdrawal from social interaction. If you’re feeling this way, it’s important to seek out your support system.

If you’re not the kind of person that likes to share personal information, such as the things that are causing you stress, your support system can also provide a way to change your environment or engage in social activities. It can be just as beneficial to be doing something you enjoy with others, such as game nights or eating out.

3. Take time for yourself

Not only is it important to have a support system available, but having personal time for the things you enjoy is also important in minimizing the effects of stress leading to burnout.

When work, school, or life gets stressful, and you feel the effects of the stress for any length of time, it’s important to take a step back and dedicate some time for yourself.

The time doesn’t have to be long, but during this time, you should do something you enjoy, such as a hobby or working out.

The reason you want to take time out for yourself is that your brain releases different signals depending on what you’re doing. If you’re constantly stressing about something, then your body is constantly sending the same signals, and over time this can lead to serious health problems, which includes, but is not limited to, burning out.

When you’re doing something you enjoy, your brain releases different signals that enable you to feel happy, relaxed, and overall in a good place. So, when you get back to your commitment, you’ll be in a better position to continue working.

4. Prioritize the important things

There’s a saying:

  • “The straw that broke the camel’s back.”

This can be in reference to a small or minor issue being the final thing that causes a big reaction. As an example, let’s say one day I had a terrible experience starting from the time I woke up. I missed my alarm, sat in traffic to get to work, forgot to eat breakfast, missed a meeting, and I forgot to grab my wallet, so I couldn’t get lunch either.

As I’m sitting at my desk with all of these problems built up inside me, a coworker walks over and asks how my lunch was. Although they meant no harm in the question, it upset me so much that I walk out of the office and go home. With that last action, I miss the rest of my meetings, and I’m responsible for explaining to my boss where I was the next day.

In my example, what my coworker said was meaningful enough to me that I left my other commitments unfinished to go home. However, it shouldn’t have had such an impact that I neglected my other priorities as a response.

It’s important to prioritize the important things in your life so that you can see where your time and energy should be spent. Your priorities should include some form of the following:

  • Work/school success
  • self-care
  • friends/family

It can be in any order that you feel and as specific as necessary, but it’s important to note that a lot of things that can be stressful, you wouldn’t necessarily find on your list. These would be the straws that we want to avoid stressing over in our lives. In my example, what a coworker said, that wasn’t even rude or offensive, was not something that I should have prioritized as important.

When you’re able to prioritize what’s important in your life, you have a clear picture of where your time and energy should be spent, and you’re better able to keep the straws from becoming the reason for your burnout.

5. Find meaning in what you’re doing

I cannot stress this one enough. When you’re feeling down about your work or school, it is important to find meaning in what you’re doing, and keep it at the forefront of your mind. You had your reasons for starting whatever it is that’s causing you stress, but you have to continue to see the value in what you’re doing.

Whether it’s finishing the semester strong so you’re one step closer to graduating, or many people being dependent on successful completion of your project at work, what you’re doing has value. It’s meaningful. You may have to remind yourself every once in a while, just in case you forget.

Without having the value behind what you’re doing, you start to lose the motivation or drive to continue doing it. You may even start developing negative feelings towards it. By staying aware of the meaning behind what you’re doing, you’re better able to keep the motivation for doing it alive.

Even in the most difficult of situations, you can find something meaningful to hold onto so that you can continue forward.

Conclusion

Many people around the world have experienced or will experience burnout in their lives. It’s important to find ways to keep from going down that path for your overall well-being. In this article, we looked at 5 key strategies for helping to prevent burnout:

  1. Locate the source of the stress buildup
  2. Identify your support system and utilize them
  3. Take time for yourself
  4. Prioritize the important things
  5. Find meaning in what you’re doing

Although any one of these strategies can help as an aid against burnout, using a few or all of the strategies together can have a better effect and a higher success rate.

What things do you do to fight against burnout? Let me know!

And, as always, if you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for more ways to feel empowered and confident in your career and education goals!

What Is Burnout And How To Identify It At Work Before It’s Too Late

Have you ever felt exhausted from work on a regular basis? Does it take a serious pep talk with yourself to get out of bed to continue with the commitments in your life? If so, you may very well be burning out.

Burnout is a term used to describe someone that is feeling tired and mentally exhausted brought about by a buildup of stress. This can come from several different commitments, such as school, work, and parenting. Although the specific reasons for burning out may differ from person to person, there is a simple pattern we can identify to help us better manage it.

Here’s my story:

When I first started teaching, I was so excited to be a positive influence in every single one of my students’ lives. I created great lesson plans, executed them well in class, tutored, held parent meetings, graded papers in a timely manner, and I coached sports.

It was great seeing my students succeed with everything I was a part of. All of these commitments, however, began to take its toll on me. I would come home late after work and coaching, and I would still have to grade papers. I would’ve graded papers during the day, but I left all of my available time open for my students just in case they needed help with something we covered in class.

During the weeks where we have assessments, my students would take advantage of my open hours to meet with me for tutoring. So, I had to put off grading papers until I had other time available, which happened to be either late at night or on the weekends.

At this point, I would spend the week teaching, coaching, and attending meetings, and on the weekends, I would grade papers and plan lessons.

I didn’t really have time for much else after I added in errands that had to get completed over the weekend. A couple weeks of this schedule, and I was exhausted!

I would arrive at school tired, and my energy level teaching wouldn’t be in a place for my students to get excited about the material. If I couldn’t sell what we were learning about as being exciting and interesting, my students would have a hard time getting excited about it.

Once school was over for the day, I would still have my coaching commitments in the evenings. After that, I would be so tired that I would only want to go to bed. The next day I would have to do it all over again until the weekend came along, where I would spend the greater part of both days grading papers and planning lessons.

The stress got so bad for me that I would have to take personal days off work just so I wouldn’t fall too far behind grading papers. Eventually, I lost the motivation to do my best work, and instead opted for ways that I could just get the work done.

From a psychology standpoint, there are 12 accepted steps that lead to burnout. However, within my experience teaching and many others who have experienced feeling burned out, there is a simpler pattern we can identify that makes it easier to remember.

  • New task
  • Stress buildup
  • Continual stress
  • burnout
  1. New Task

When you’re presented with a new task, such as a new job, project, or promotion, the prospects are exciting. You want to do your best, so you take on the challenges associated with the task headfirst and put all of your hard work and effort into it. This is an exciting time. You really want to show that you can do well.

2. Stress buildup

Over time, the stress from that task can build up. This can result from your need to work harder in the task as your responsibilities increase. It can also come from neglecting your own needs in the process.

As an example, if you’re in the middle of a semester and all your professors have exams happening on the same week, this would be an event that builds stress for you.

You have to figure out how you’re going to do well in all your classes that week, so you decide to dedicate your free time to studying leading up to the exam week. And that’s all you do. You don’t dedicate any time for yourself or doing anything you enjoy, which can build up your stress levels.

So, at this point, stress will show itself here and there in different forms, but it’s manageable. You may also neglect some things that give you a sense of recharging. An example of something that I find recharging is spending time outside on a nice day. This is an important thing to do if you’re looking for a way to manage stress.

3. Continual stress

Continual stress happens when you find yourself stuck in your task. It may not feel like there’s anything wrong with how you’re feeling because it’s all part of your task. You may feel that if you continue to work hard, maybe there will be light at the end of the tunnel, and the stress will die down.

Even with all these feelings, the one constant is the stress that continues to grow from your task. At this point it may feel like you’re carrying the stress around with you even after you leave your task for the day.

You may also withdraw yourself from other commitments, like spending time with friends and family, so that you can dedicate more time to tackling your task, or the continual stress from your task makes it to where you’re unable to enjoy some of the things you used to do. From your withdrawal, you may start to feel depressed about where you are with your task.

4. Burnout

If we equate the stress buildup to blowing air in a balloon, the burnout stage is where the balloon pops.

This is where you feel exhausted and mentally drained constantly. You question yourself often on whether you should have taken on the task, and you really have to build yourself up to continue doing it. You may even dread having to go back to your task to continue with it.

Burnout can affect your performance in the task, and it can leave you feeling unsatisfied with where you are in life as well as feeling empty inside. It can be a difficult feeling to overcome, especially if you’re committed to the task that caused it.

I loved teaching. It was a rewarding career, but I didn’t manage my commitments or take care of myself well enough to prevent feeling burned out. And once I hit that stage, it took a serious action plan to build myself back up again.

Whether it’s school, work, or parenting, you’ll want to do what it takes to avoid burning out for your social, physical, and emotional well-being, not just for you, but for your friends and family around you as well.

Conclusion

Through this article, my hope is that you have a better understanding of burnout and how to identify the progression to burnout before it’s too late. If you see anyone else going down this path, it would be important to provide support for them as they may not realize it. Because once you’re feeling burned out, it can be difficult to pull yourself out of it.

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel like it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for more ways to feel empowered and confident in your career and education goals!