Sneaky Ways to Exercise With a Busy Schedule

Despite our best efforts and good intentions, many of us still struggle to get up and move. But before we start pointing any fingers, it should be noted that this is not entirely our fault. Research suggests that humans are actually hard-wired to rest as much as possible. In other words, we prefer to be comfortable.

If you have a hectic schedule, just the idea of packing a gym bag, dragging yourself to the gym, working out, and trekking back home can seem overwhelming (and exhausting!). Luckily, we have some simple and creative exercises that can be done just about anywhere and anytime.



But first, there are a few basics to cover about exercise...


Why Exercise?


It is true that there are some serious benefits to working out. In fact, studies suggest that regular exercise can help to improve your focus, productivity, and self-confidence. That’s not all though. Studies also show that regular exercise can help to boost your energy levels (even more than a daily cup of coffee!).




So How Much Exercise Do We Really Need?


According to experts, a minimum of 150 minutes a week (approximately 20 minutes a day) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity are recommended for the average adult. Experts also suggest strength-training, that specifically works the major muscle groups (e.g., chest, back, arms, shoulders, abdominals, and legs), for at least two days a week.

For us busy bees, however, fitting that time in is easier said than done. Given that the average worker spends approximately 2,400 minutes per week at the office (or home office), it is easy to see why six out of ten individuals cannot manage their time to do regular exercise. With that being said, some of these minutes can be spent doing double-duty.




Leisure Activities Equivalent to Exercising


There are plenty of ways to workout without taking up too much of your free time. As a matter of fact, many exercises can be combined with your daily and leisure activities! Below are just a few ideas:


  1. Use the stairs instead of the elevator
  2. Join a sports co-op team with friends or family (e.g., football, volleyball, or soccer)
  3. Propose a hiking trip with friends or family
  4. Do squats while waiting for the oven to preheat
  5. Wear a smartwatch to set reminders (e.g., to stretch, take a walk, or practice yoga) and to track your stats (e.g., activity, nutrition, and calories burned); this data could also help motivate you to reach your fitness goals faster




Exercise While at Work


Even if you are stuck to a desk for most of your workday, you do not necessarily need to sit still. Here are some ways to move your body while at the office:


  1. Use hand weights, hand grippers, resistance bands, balance balls, or mini elliptical devices at your desk (yes, you can even use these while reading emails!)
  2. Try standing at your desk for 20-30 minute intervals (electric, height-adjustable desks allow you to easily transition between standing and sitting)
  3. Take a quick stretch break (try neck rolls, torso twists, or chair yoga poses)
  4. Try sculpting your calves with calf raises (this can be done while printing, faxing, or scanning documents)
  5. Use part of your lunchtime for a brief walk (feel free to bring along your running shoes)




The Takeaway

Indeed, keeping fit can sometimes be an uphill battle. With everything competing for your time and attention, it may be difficult to make exercising a top priority. However, there are ways to stay in tip-top shape without having to hit the gym. Arguably, the opportunities to exercise are endless. All you need to do is find (and take advantage of) them!



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Packing Like a Pro: How to Make the Most of Your Suitcase

Admittedly, packing is the least exciting thing about taking a vacation. The process of packing becomes even less appealing when facing threats like wrinkled clothing and unpredictable weather. If done wrong, you could be looking at overweight baggage fees, messy spills, damaged items, or multiple trips to the drugstore.
While packing a suitcase may seem simple enough, there are actually a number of ways to go about it. In fact, how a person packs can depend on his or her itinerary, budget, and destination. However, according to travel industry experts, some packing strategies are better than others. With that being said, here are a few of the top tips and methods for packing efficiently and effectively.


Choosing the Right Bag

It is important to keep in mind that the “right” bag is different for everyone and for every trip. Whereas a bag may be appropriate for one trip, it may be troublesome and bulky for another. If your bag doesn’t fit your needs, you could be sabotaging your trip from the start. Fortunately, there are many types of luggage available - backpacks, satchels, totes, weekenders, duffels, and rolling suitcases, just to name a few.
Always keep airline size and weight limits in mind when choosing your bag(s). This is especially crucial, given that suitcases can vary widely in price, size, material (e.g., hard or soft shell), and design (e.g., two vs. four wheels). Remember, every pound counts! To save space, avoid bags with a lot of interior compartments or features. Instead, opt for bags that expand or have exterior pockets.


Bear in mind that you do not need a big collection of luggage to travel. This is often excessive and expensive. Instead, stick to a few reliable pieces that you can use over and over again. For the frequent traveler, a sturdy bag with a generous warranty is likely to withstand years of wear-and-tear. For the occasional traveler, a mid-range bag with a limited warranty may be more suitable.

Determining What to Pack

After selecting a bag to use, the next step is to decide what items should be put inside it. If you are unsure of where to start, consider practicing the 1-2-3-4-5-6 rule. This is the simplest packing tip to follow and covers a week’s worth of outfits. Here’s what to pack:
  • 1 hat
  • 2 pairs of shoes
  • 3 pairs of pants, shorts, or skirts
  • 4 shirts
  • 5 pairs of socks
  • 6 sets of underwear


Of course, this list can be modified to match both your needs and the duration of the trip. Do not hesitate to throw in a swimsuit, jacket, or dress if the trip calls for it. However, be careful not to fall into the ‘just in case I need it’ trap. This could lead to an overstuffed bag that will be tricky to repack once it’s time to head home.
Bonus Tip: If you still find yourself overpacking, try choosing interchangeable and multitasking pieces that can be worn multiple ways. Not only will this provide you the versatility to mix and match items, but it will also allow you to create more outfits with less.



How to Pack: Tried and True Methods

While everyone has their own ‘packing personality’, packing should always be an easy, organized, and stress-free activity. Below are a few of the best packing methods to maximize space, keep things clean, and cut down on wrinkles.

The Rolling  Method (No Rubber Bands Necessary)

Yes, travelers do swear by this method! Rolling your clothes not only helps you to fit more into your bag, but it also helps to reduce wrinkles. This method is particularly effective for softer and casual garments such as jeans, cotton pants, t-shirts, knitwear and sweaters. When rolled tightly, these items are less likely to wrinkle.

The Cube Method

If using a larger bag or suitcase, packing cubes can help you to keep things organized and easy to access. Not only are they conveniently shaped, allowing you to pack without wasting space in between, but they can separate different types of clothing and toiletries (perfect for partners sharing a suitcase).

Separating Dirty Laundry

To prevent mixing soiled and clean clothing, simply use a separate bag for laundry (e.g., drawstring pouches, compression bags, or resealable plastic bags). Forgot to bring one? Check your hotel room for any unused trash bags (these are simple and free to use).
Bonus Tip: I have found that plastic bags also work well for keeping shoes, along with accompanying dirt and germs, apart from other (clean) belongings. If possible, set your shoes along the sides of your bag. Due to their odd shapes and heels, they will take up the most space.

The Takeaway

When it comes to packing a suitcase, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. In fact, there are a multitude of ways to do it! Just how effective these methods are, depends greatly on the types of items you pack.
With that being said, it is important to pick a method, or a combination of methods, that suit your needs and preferences. Although only a few methods have been mentioned here, there are many more worth trying. So if you haven’t already, book that trip and start packing!


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Briggs and Riley Travelware (2021). How to Pack a Suitcase: 5 of the Best Packing Methods We Stand Behind.
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How to Deal with Workplace Burnout

As burnout has become increasingly common, it is certainly worth considering the impact of stress on the human mind and body. With nearly two-thirds of full-time workers experiencing burnout, either occasionally or frequently, organizations are undoubtedly facing an occupational phenomena.


Fortunately, there are tactics employees can use to beat burnout. When applied, these tactics can help employees to regain perspective, retain their focus, and reignite their passion for work.


But first, it is important to understand what burnout is and what it entails.



What is Burnout?


Burnout is the loss of motivation, energy, and interest regarding one’s job or career. Instigated by massive stress and overwork, burnout not only causes a mental collapse, but it can ruin an employee’s ability to work.


Signs, Symptoms, and Causes of Burnout


Notably, burnout can affect anyone at any time. Unfortunately, for many employees, it can be difficult to differentiate normal stress from burnout. For this reason, it is important to watch out for key signs and symptoms, including cynicism, reduced professional efficacy, chronic fatigue, and loss of appetite. Burnout can occur for a number of reasons, with the most common being work-life imbalances, toxic work environments, and unreasonable time constraints or expectations.




Recovering from Burnout


While taking some time off may be tempting, a vacation is not always a quick fix for burnout. Indeed, it can temporarily relieve stress. However, research has shown that the average vacation does little to improve employees’ energy and happiness levels once they have returned to work. In fact, workers’ problems and workloads are likely to persist, or worse, double!


With that being said, there are other ways to alleviate burnout, even while on the job. Below is a simple (yet effective) guide that employees can follow when dealing with burnout.


Remember to take regular breaks. This method may seem counterintuitive, however, taking small moments to unwind (e.g., taking a nap, eating a snack, stretching, or going for a walk) are important for maintaining productivity, efficiency, and motivation. Even with pending deadlines, working non-stop is a surefire way to burnout quickly.




Manage expectations (for your work and for yourself). It is always important to consider your current capabilities and priorities. If you find yourself drowning at work, try limiting the number of tasks you’ll tackle. If you cannot say “No” to a project or request, try negotiating the deadline and/or the amount of work. Remember to be transparent with your boss and colleagues about what you can and cannot fit into your schedule.




Keep a daily schedule. While adding more rules and structure to your day might seem restrictive, a time-blocked schedule actually reduces decision fatigue and feelings of overwhelm. Not only are you able to keep track of your intentions (with clear goals and priorities), but you are able to protect your time from distractions and interruptions.




The Takeaway


Admittedly, burnout is something that everyone goes through at some point in their career. While burnout can directly and negatively impact our lives, both at work and at home (especially for remote workers), it is possible to manage or reduce its effects.


By understanding what burnout is and how it happens, employees can take steps to reverse (and possibly prevent) burnout at the workplace. Ideally, this would allow employees to end the workday not only happier, but healthier too.



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