The Evolve Mag Magazine, January / February 2021

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CONTENTS January/February ’21

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Coffee and Sweetness Whipped to Perfection


Colorful Kitchen Inspiration


5 Ways to Design with Authentic Materials


How to Bring More Space into Bathrooms


Our Past is Not the Future, Looking Forward to Deeper Connections in 2021


Is the Pandemic Making You a Chronic Worrier? Here’s How to Stop


Improve Your Mental Health with Better Sleep


Time Management Tips in the “New Normal” of Remote Work


Gokce Gizer


Innosance LLC




Liz Galloway


Jeremy Thomas Sam Kolder Getty Images


Editorial Inquiries: Contributing Inquiries:

Cover, January/February 2021 Artjafara

Advertising Inquiries:

Copyright © 2020 The Evolve Mag by Innosance LLC. © 2020 The Evolve Mag by Innosance LLC.’s Copyright subsists in all work published in this magazine. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. The Evolve Mag by Innosance LLC. cannot accept responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. If you submit unsolicited material to us, you automatically grant Innosance LLC a license to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine. The Evolve Mag by Innosance LLC. endeavors to respect the intellectual property of the owners of copyrighted material reproduced herein. If you identify yourself as the copyright holder of material we have wrongly attributed, please contact with us. Publication of articles does not necessarily reflect the official position of the The Evolve Mag by Innosance LLC.

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COFFEE AND SWEETNESS WHIPPED TO PERFECTION Do you know that moment when something sweet hits your taste buds and a smile instantly spreads across your face? It’s almost magic to some. To others it’s just simply bliss. This holiday season, try something that’s simple yet sophisticated for an easy way to ensure smiles all around. Try an Easy Tiramisu Dip because whether you’re relaxing at home, having a small get-together with friends or joining your annual family gathering virtually, this dip is sure to spread culinary cheer. The recipe starts with “easy,” and it holds true to its name. With a short list of ingredients and only a handful of instructions, this is something you can whip up (literally) in just a few moments. Also, using minimal tools in the kitchen is always a plus for at-home chefs. The only appliance needed to make this recipe is a mixer. The outcome is fluffy, rich and sweet with a hint of espresso. It’s not overpowering, however, so little ones or non-coffee lovers can still enjoy this delicious dip. This is also a unique dessert because it can be served cool or chilled. If you are planning to take a sweet treat to a party this holiday season, this is nearly perfect. No oven time needed and simple to serve to kids and adults alike. Serve with ladyfingers or fruit to bring that sweetness to a whole new level, and it’s topped with a final sprinkle of cocoa powder to give it that extra appeal. You do eat with your eyes first after all. Give this one a try and see the faces of your loved ones light up with joy this season. This creamy, tasty dip is sure to impress.

Easy Tiramisu Dip Servings: 4 1 cup heavy whipping cream 1 tablespoon espresso powder 4 ounces cream cheese, softened 8 ounces Mascarpone cheese 1/2 cup powdered sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 teaspoons cocoa powder wafers or fruit, for dipping In medium bowl, whisk heavy whipping cream and espresso powder until blended. In large bowl, use hand mixer to beat cream cheese until smooth. Add Mascarpone cheese and beat until combined. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating after each addition. Add vanilla extract; beat mixture. Add espresso mixture; beat until soft peaks form. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Spoon mixture into serving bowl. Sprinkle with cocoa powder. Serve with wafers or fruit. For more easy dessert recipes, visit Courtesy of Family Features. Photo Courtesy of EnvyApple

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COLORFUL KITCHEN INSPIRATION The kitchen is the heart of many homes, and careful planning is a necessity when it comes to redesigning this essential living space. Picking out cabinetry – and a color for those cabinets, in particular – can be a challenging process. Everything from the style of your cabinets to the amount of natural light your space receives are key factors to consider when choosing an updated hue. While white cabinets are an everlasting choice, and wood-stained cabinetry once held 70% of the market,

painted cabinets now account for 70% of sales, signaling a significant shift among homeowners and their preferences. While there are virtually no limitations when it comes to the paint, stain and glaze options available to complement your overall kitchen design, the current stylings reflected in Wellborn Cabinet’s annual color trends provides an opening to a range of impactful colors, such as grays, blues, blacks and wood tones, and a mixture of these on-trend hues.

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A Gray for Every Mood While gray cabinets have been a popular design choice for several years, much like shades of white, no two grays are exactly alike. Cabinet colors live on a color spectrum that ranges from warm to neutral to dark; warm grays have yellow or brown undertones while cool grays have hushed hues of blue. Neutral gray, or Ash, is a true black and white mixture of colors. However, many homeowners are opting for warmer or cooler shades instead. For example, light gray cabinets can create a chic, modern motif for homeowners looking to liven up their space while avoiding completely white cabinetry. One of the latest gray trends is a warmer gray that can look almost beige, earning the nickname “greige.” Shades of dark gray – whether painted or stained – are also options for making a luxurious, traditional statement that can span ever-changing color trends.

A Sea of Blue One of today’s hottest trends in kitchen cabinetry is the use of shades of blue, which provide calming and restful effects and the feeling of harmony and serenity. Pops of blue can be used as an accent color on islands or on either upper or base cabinets. To balance out these dramatic darks, many homeowners are opting to pair a bold color choice like a navy hue – such as Bleu – with neutral to warm whites, such as wool and bone white, to create a crisp, clean look. Gold hardware can be used on navy cabinetry for an upscale and regal look while silver-tone hardware provides a contemporary finishing touch. While lighter shades of blue, like aqua, are perfect for keeping spaces light and airy, one of the latest colors to emerge is a mid-tone classic blue. A balanced option like Sapphire from Wellborn Cabinet, which is a classic, mid-tone royal blue available in the Premier and Estate Series framed cabinetry, as well as the full-access, frameless Aspire Series, can help create energy and inspiration for dining or cooking.

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Mixed Wood Tones

Dark Drama

Even with the rise in painted woods, stains are seeing a surge in popularity. The application of stain to natural wood can enhance the character of the cabinetry. Neutral color, dimension, texture and soft luxury can be layered into nearly any space to create a blended balance. Wood grains typically pair well with whites, grays, blues and brass tones – all of which are popular colors in modern kitchens and other localized entertaining areas such as in-home refreshment areas or bars.

Often overlooked as more of an “accent� color, black has become livable, luxe and inviting with textured woods adding rustic, homely charm. For example, Wellborn Cabinet offers a decorative laminate veneer option in matte black. Edgy but classic, black cabinets can pair perfectly with nearly any design element still in its natural wooden state to create a distinct style that is all your own.

Multi-Tones and Unexpected Pops of Color While all-white palettes have long reigned supreme in the kitchen for their timelessness and versatility, straying from neutral tones can add an energetic and welcoming feel to nearly any space. Smaller kitchens that once had an all-white look are getting a facelift by adding a burst of bright, bold color on either the upper or base cabinets. Adding colorful retro appliances or using the island as a canvas for an energetic and welcoming pop of color can also make a similar statement and help create a space unique to your style and personality. Many homeowners are even pairing two or more complementary colors to create two- and three-toned looks. For example, lighter gray, Shale or blue can be used for the upper cabinets with darker shades used below for the base cabinetry, or a neutral hue can be used on the uppers with a contrast color on the bottom. In three-toned kitchens, an additional color or material is introduced to create asymmetry in the palette to help define zones or functions and keep the eye moving. Find more on-trend kitchen inspiration and color options at

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reating a welcoming and relaxing space may be easier than you expect when you give natural materials a leading role in your design. Elements like natural stone, wood, fiber, metals and even plant life can allow you to express a sense of unique personal style that is broadly appealing.


Most inviting rooms share one quality: ample natural light, which creates a subtly vibrant and energetic ambiance. Other aspects of an enticing design may be less obvious to the casual observer. Special touches like custom craftsmanship lend a special aesthetic to furnishings and decor, and bring authenticity to your home. Similarly, items that are made in America using an artisanal approach can elevate the character of a room when compared to things that are mass manufactured. For example, choose a single piece of artwork from a talented artist rather than multiple pieces of mass-produced art from a retailer.

Hardwood Flooring

Plant Life

The floor is often the largest design element of a room, so utilizing authentic materials for your flooring makes a strong statement about the overall tone and feel of the room. An artisan-crafted hardwood flooring option like Carlisle Wide Plank Floors is crafted individually – one board at a time – so the emphasis is on the natural beauty of the wood. You can choose a completely custom look, from wood species and grade to texture and color, or make your selection from a collection of popular tried-and-true finishes.

Vegetation is a central element to landscape design, so when your goal is to create an inviting indoor space with a connection to nature and the outdoors, it makes sense to incorporate plants as part of your design. Options vary greatly, so it may take some work to narrow your selections. If the rest of your space reflects a specific region, choose plants native to that area. You’ll also want to consider lighting and watering requirements as well as the level of care you’re able to dedicate.

Natural Fiber Textiles


Careful attention to detail is important for a cohesive design, so be sure to keep thinking natural when selecting textiles. Linen and rough cotton fabrics bring distinctive textures that maintain an organic vibe. Natural textiles can also be quite durable, making them practical selections for often-used spaces. Elements to consider include window treatments, fabric components of any furnishings and accents like pillows or throws. Jute or wool rugs and textile artwork may also work well with this motif.

Adding metallic components like iron, copper, gold or silver to your space can bring everything from an edgy style to graceful beauty. While furnishings and accessories are common ways to incorporate metallic flair, also think in terms of lighting and hard features like railing spindles and window treatments. Get inspired with more ideas to create an inviting, authentic space at

You can incorporate natural and hand-crafted materials into your spaces in countless ways, but these ideas can be achieved regardless of what your budget may be.

Natural Stone When many people think about designing with stone, features like countertops or flooring come to mind. Incorporating stone in more unexpected ways can make an even bigger impression. You might choose a coffee table or end tables that are made of stone or feature stone accents. Accessorizing with stone also introduces an earthy appeal; think agate bookends or decorative items like sculptures.

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oday’s designers, architects and builders are creating modern bathrooms that are practical, luxurious, comfortable and accommodating. They know homeowners and homebuyers desire – even demand – these features regardless of the bathroom’s size or layout.

Therein lies the challenge: How to create a feeling of spaciousness and openness without sacrificing valuable floor space, obstructing traffic flow or forfeiting storage space. Despite these impediments, building professionals can meet these bath-design challenges and even exceed them with an option like Johnson Pocket Door Frame Kits. Pocket doors can be installed in virtually any room but are particularly well suited for use in bathrooms, where space is often at a premium. The typical hinged door requires up to 14 square feet of floor space to swing open. A pocket door, conversely, slides into the wall, leaving the space in front of and on either side of the doorway open and available. Pocket doors are commonly installed at the entrances to bathrooms and can also be used to conceal linen closets and washers and dryers when the bathroom serves double duty as a laundry room. There’s also a growing bathroom remodeling trend of enclosing the toilet alcove to create a toilet “room” within the bathroom. However, space restrictions seldom allow for the installation of a swinging door, so remodelers often install pocket doors. Pocket door frames also allow for items to be mounted on the pocket wall. For instance, when used with Johnson’s 151558PL Pocket Wall Reinforcement Clip Set and 5/8-inch thick plywood, the 1500SC Pocket Door Frame with all-steel split studs can support wall-mounted fixtures such as towel bars, shelves, framed mirrors or artwork. The pocket door frame kit comes equipped with soft-close hardware that allows doors up to 200 pounds to be opened and closed by the touch of a fingertip for less risk of pinched fingers and slammed doors. The frame also comes with self-tapping screws that work for both drywall and finish trim, and the smoothrolling pocket door hardware and track exceed ANSI standards, meaning they can successfully complete 100,000 opening and closing cycles. Another potentially unexpected benefit of using pocket doors in bathrooms is the free space gained can be used to install larger vanity cabinets, freestanding shelving units, bigger bathtubs and other fixtures that may have been squeezed out in order to accommodate swinging doors. To find more ways to bring more space to your bathrooms, visit

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OUR PAST IS NOT THE FUTURE, LOOKING FORWARD TO DEEPER CONNECTIONS IN 2021 Written by Liz Galloway, Travel & Lifestyle Contributor

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anuary is inherently a time to set new goals and look at the world with fresh eyes. Take a deep breath, because this is a year to allow lessons we’ve learned to drive deep change in our lives. Ok, let’s face it, 2020 was many things including the year you can say you survived the great toilet paper shortage. Last year is in the past but it may also have been a year that provided some of the biggest lessons. I say it’s time to take back the things that have shone brightly in our lives and embrace our more compassionate selves. One that considers deeper connections in 2021.


I recently had lunch with someone I considered a friend, someone I respected, loved to share stories with, swap knowledge with, and generally provide good old fashioned support for each other. Or so I thought. This lunch started with me waiting on a very late arrival, then a blame shift for her keying the wrong address into her GPS, and then catapulted into a one-sided conversation about money and status. Who made what, what semi-famous person they had a semi-connection to, and continued into what so-and-so was doing and what she got out of it. She didn’t ask about my life, business, personal growth, or god forbid topics like happiness. It was like a hallow lecture to the wrong audience. With many people’s lives turned upside on an unfathomable scale throughout 2020, I wondered if this is what she took stock in from her own soul searching. It seemed so removed from important topics on a global scale and I glanced across the table questioning what the point of the conversation was. She seems more distracted than focused or maybe it was me feeling a spark of reproach that left me disheartened. The boasting and superficiality made me feel like I couldn’t confide in her and my intuition urged me to pull away. I couldn’t get attached to what she was saying, and I ultimately tuned it out. I left lunch that day wondering if this was a case of “those that are the loudest and most judgemental are often camouflaging the most insecurities” type of thing, or if I was just feeling vulnerable. It felt we should be brought together now more than ever with compassion and a sense of connection, but this felt like the opposite. The lunch topic of money stood out because 2020 affected so many people’s livelihoods and yet it seems like I’ve run into more acquaintances who are money shaming those around them while grasping onto self-proclaimed prestige. Valuing themselves and others on cash over character. Don’t get me wrong, I love money, but I don’t place my personal value on money. I grew up in a hardworking family and learned the skills of resilience and consistency to create success. But I am not my money, and neither are you. The damage of valuing people this way has longer-lasting effects than we think and is heavily ingrained in separating our society.

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Ever heard the saying, a person of character can attract wealth but a wealthy person can’t buy good character? The potency of money is real. It can get things done, offer freedom, creativity, personal and professional security, and relief from stress and shame. The psychology of money goes deep and like many of our subconscious emotions, money psychology can be positively harnessed and used for social change. The moral of the money story, if there is one, is that we have the freedom to choose what we value the most, and we need real connections and real character in our lives. Whatever tool we choose to seek that is ours. It’s worth spending some time to tap into our submerged mind with rational thinking and those important emotions tied to our character, money valuing, or others. Without our own awareness, we tend to avoid dealing with things that aren’t “perfect” and may not see how we are valuing others and ourselves, misplacing a shaming story on someone.

We’ve watched human struggles escalate during a pandemic and have reached a precipice that requires change. Amid overwhelming emotions, we can still ask for more. We are not our past and personally, I refuse to carry anyone else’s story of me. So, if 2020 hit you, hit back. Take back that shining light as a tonic for your soul, the irresistible human spirit still shines. In 2021 I’m taking back my ability not to carry other people’s “stuff”, to learn new skills, embrace my compassion, reassert myself, live more intentionally, be around the right people, and seek movement for my body and mind. Be careful not to step too close to those with self-proclaimed prestige, with a faint smile and superior stance that may hide coping mechanisms. In the meantime, I’ll choose my lunch dates a bit more carefully and tap into the power of harnessing my own fearless goals. Keeping ourselves healthy and working on our character, values, skills, and our own stories can sometimes feel like the most indulgent thing of all. But they are also some of the most meaningful. What are we waiting for? No time like 2021.

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Is it possible to have a worry-free pandemic? After all, there seem to be endless things to worry about—from our own survival and well-being, to that of our loved ones, to the overall trajectory of the global economy. But according to Karen McGregor, not only does all this worry come at a high cost to our health, it’s a symptom of a bigger problem. “First, worrying drastically suppresses your immune system,” says McGregor, author of Wall Street Journal bestseller The Tao of Influence: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Leaders and Entrepreneurs and an international keynote and TEDx speaker. “You could eat the world’s cleanest diet, but if you worry all the time, you’re basically saying, ‘No, thanks, organic veggies, and fruit—I’m choosing the greasy burger joint down the street.’ That’s what the stress of worry does to our bodies. “But also, worry is just another word for fear, and fear keeps us from being fully present,” she adds. “When we’re not fully present, we’re disconnected from our primal power, which is love power, and that means we can’t be our healthiest and happiest selves and have a positive influence on those around us.” Her book lays out a path—rooted in the ancient wisdom of the 4,000-year-old Tao Te Ching—for identifying and breaking the “power patterns” that undermine your influence, create dysfunctional relationships, and otherwise squelch your potential. Read it and you’ll note that fear plays a role in virtually all of these power patterns. The bottom line: Even right now— especially right now—we need to break the bonds of worry and create a healthier, happier life. (Consider it your pandemic project.) Here’s how.

First, understand why worry happens “Worry is a mechanism of the mind that is designed to keep you exactly where you are,” says McGregor. “By mulling over a situation without a solution, you are not changing and not acting. This is the mind’s nature; its job is to keep you safe from perceived harm. While that can serve its purpose if we are in imminent danger, the reality is that it blocks us from creativity, productivity, and following our dreams. “Over your lifetime, your mind has created patterns to keep you safe,” says McGregor. “These patterns have been with you for so long that they are automatic. Do you ever notice yourself automatically saying to people the same response when asked a question like ‘how are you?’ This is what your mind does. It is on an automatic worry ‘channel.’ The good news is you can break these patterns and change the channel.”

Tune into the channel you’ve been listening to (probably for years)… Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings and see if you start to notice a pattern. At the heart of your worrying could be “blame” or “judgment.” It could be your need to be right or your need to be a victim to your circumstance by repeating the same story of injustice to anyone who will listen. It could be your need to withdraw from others and say, “No way, I know better” and live out a pattern of withdrawal and entitlement in which the world owes you something.

…then, dismantle your channel. You can do this simply by becoming more and more aware of how you worry. Does your Victim power pattern take

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hold so that you say things like, “I can’t recover from these losses”? Or do you pull away from everyone (a sign of the Withdrawer power pattern) and then say, “I’m in this alone; I have no support”? “When you are aware of the channel you are listening to, you can watch your worries simply float on down the river of thoughts,” says McGregor. “You don’t have to hook into them. You can observe your thoughts joining millions of other fearful thoughts that are swimming around the globe every single minute. When you observe, you’re not worrying.”

Focus on solutions Each time you become aware of a worry-filled thought, ask yourself, So, what am I going to do about it? You can stay helpless by feeling overpowered by worry or you can take action. At the very least, your action will help you feel less helpless, and at best it can help you shift into a healthier state of mind. “An action-oriented solution may be to sew homemade masks to mail to friends and family,” notes McGregor. “It may be to sign up for an online class that makes you more marketable after the pandemic ends. Or it might just be to go for a midday walk to get some fresh air and sunshine, or to turn on some festive music and cook a beautiful meal for your family.”

Create a new language Language is powerful, whether we are saying those words out loud to others or simply thinking them to ourselves. Replace your go-to “worry words” with words that empower and generate passion and enthusiasm. Remember, says McGregor, you are always influencing yourself and others, so get serious about using empowering, positive language.

Instead of saying, “I can’t recover from these losses,” replace those words with, “I am creative and have the support I need to learn how to earn more than enough income.” Rather than, “I am so busy I can’t keep up,” say, “My life is wonderfully full as I serve the world with my purpose.” “Worrying doesn’t fix what’s going on in the world; it only hurts you,” says McGregor. “We’re all facing challenges due to the pandemic, but we don’t have to let worry make them worse. Be gentle with yourself and start making healthier choices. You’ll immediately notice a shift in your outlook. That’s true now, and it will be true long after the pandemic is over.” About Karen McGregor: Karen McGregor is a thought leader and catalyst for influencers with a powerful global message and is the author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller The Tao of Influence: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Leaders and Entrepreneurs. Karen has supported hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs over the past decade to create and deliver powerful messages. An inspiring international speaker who presents across all industries (her TEDx Talk on happiness has been viewed by over a million people), she walks her talk every day, sharing her message on stage with luminaries like Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, John Gray, and David Wolfe. Her ideas and direct quotes have been featured on CTV News, Reader’s Digest, Breakfast Television (Toronto, Canada), Florida Weekly, and many other prominent media outlets. For more information, please visit

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Getty Images

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IMPROVE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH WITH BETTER SLEEP For some, the holidays may be the happiest season of all, but for others the hectic pace and endless to-do lists can take a real toll on their mental health. This year, the impact is heightened by a global health pandemic. According to a survey from Mattress Firm, more than 60 million Americans say COVID-19 has worsened their quality of their sleep, and those losing sleep are often seeing their mental well-being and healthy habits worsen. Nearly half of respondents said COVID-19 has increased their worries and prevented them from falling or staying asleep at night, with 41% reported their poor sleep has a negative impact on their daily lives.

Try progressive relaxation. This involves taking slow, deep breaths and slowly tensing the muscles in your body for a few seconds then relaxing them. Start at your feet and work your way up the body. This technique can help you relax and decompress after a long day. Give yourself a break. Especially if you’re working from home or tackling a lot of seasonal tasks, it’s easy to keep yourself busy up until the minute you fall into bed. However, your mind may still be whirling from all that activity. Build in a few minutes before bed each night to let your mind rest, whether it’s spending a few minutes with a good book, practicing meditation or sipping on a cup of sleepy-time tea.

“It’s no surprise that when our minds are full or our hearts are heavy, our mental health tends to suffer,” said Dr. Sujay Kansagra, a sleep health expert for Mattress Firm. “What many people don’t realize is that mental health struggles also affect sleep, and adequate rest is a key component of maintaining and improving your mental health.”

Appeal to your senses. Being mindful of how your senses react to various stimuli can play a role in your ability to drift off to sleep. Some people need silence; others benefit from ambient sound. Certain scents can be soothing and make good choices for essential oil diffusers, such as lavender oil. Also be conscious of the touches that affect your sleep, like the support from your mattress, the softness of your sheets or the temperature of the room.

If stress and worry are preventing you from getting a good night of sleep, try these ideas from Kansagra to help improve your mental state and ease your body into rest.

Whether it’s your family, your health or general stress that’s keeping you up, find time in your day to give yourself some grace. Your mental health is extremely important and should not be overlooked, so if you’re feeling a little worn down, ensure you’re getting the quality sleep you need to tackle the day and week ahead.

Think positively. Every night before going to bed, list three good things from your day. They don’t have to be amazing things, just three positive aspects of your day. For example, acknowledge you had a good virtual catchup with a colleague or enjoyed a new recipe or workout class. Listing your positive experiences at night can help you maintain a positive frame of mind as you unwind for the day. Create a to-do list. This technique is for those who mentally work through their list of pending responsibilities before bed. In a fast-paced world, sometimes lying in bed is the first time you have to actually think about what’s on your list. By creating a list of tasks (or even writing down your worries), you can prevent yourself from thinking about them excessively before bed and throughout the night.

What’s Keeping You Awake? If you’re like many Americans, outside influences and worries may affect your sleep. Pinpointing what’s keeping you awake, such as these common sleep disruptors reported in a Mattress Firm survey, can help you address your concerns so you can rest more easily. 1. Money or Paying Bills (49%) 2. My or My Family’s Health (48%) 3. State of Country and the Economy (39%) 4. My Kids and Their Health or Education (32%) 5. Missing Social Interaction (31%) Find more tips for better sleep at Courtesy of Family Features.

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Working from home has been a big adjustment as people’s work and personal lives collide. Jackie Gaines shares essential time management tips to help you reclaim the lost balance between work and life. The pandemic has forced many people to start working remotely. While most of us are surviving the arrangement, fewer of us are actually thriving. That’s because working from home can be endlessly tough. There are countless distractions, from kids, to pets, to partners trying to get their own work done. Meanwhile the workday hours blur as the work piles up, and before we know it, we’re tethered to our desks and working around the clock. Since we likely won’t be heading back to our offices anytime soon, Jackie Gaines

says right now is the best time to get meticulous about time management. “Working from home can blur the boundaries between work time and personal time like nothing else,” says Gaines, author of Wait a Hot Minute! How to Manage Your Life with the Minutes You Have. “On one hand, the work doesn’t stop just because you’re at home, but on the other, you can’t be a great leader or employee when you spend all your time glued to your work

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computer. The better you become at optimizing your work hours and making the most of the time you have outside of work, the more balanced and calm your whole life will become.” Gaines says that gaining more conscious and mindful control of how we spend our time is the closest we can possibly come to slowing the relentless flow of the sand through the hourglass. These tips can help you reclaim the precious moments you have, and maximize them.

Prioritize self-care time.

This includes making time for 7-9 hours of sleep a night, designing time to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner (at the table, not at your desk while you work), and factoring in adequate time for family and leisure. “Working nonstop allows us virtually no down time to catch our breath, take care of personal needs, or mentally recharge for the rest of the day,” says Gaines. “Personal tasks should not be deemed unimportant when they are essential to our very survival. We simply need to overcome the knee-jerk urge to put ourselves last.”

If you are a leader, infuse play into your employees’ workday.

Infusing appropriate play into the workplace is time well spent, because it can promote a positive culture, which leads to improved productivity and stronger relationships. Even though everyone is working from home, you can still enjoy some team-building fun and camaraderie. Host themed Zoom business meetings in which everyone dresses for the theme. Mail your employees small care packages with coffee and donuts. Host online birthday or holiday celebrations and regular “happy hours” so people can chat, share what they’ve been up to, and bond.

If you are an employee, establish what the “workday” means to you and your boss.

It’s common for employers to call or e-mail you after hours, but it is up to you to decide whether or not you’re available after hours. Never has this been more true than in the new normal of COVID-19, when people are more likely to work day and night. If you choose to be off-duty on nights and weekends, that is your choice (and your right!). Just make sure you respectfully address your “workday” limits to your boss upfront, so everyone is clear on the boundaries.

Don’t stay on your e-mail all day. “Constantly checking your inbox is distracting and slows you down,” says

Gaines. “Designate a few times in your workday to check e-mail so that you remain in control of your schedule and aren’t being reactive to new messages as they appear.”

Step away from the Internet.

Surfing the web is a huge time waster for most people. An innocent little break often turns into an hour (or more) of wasted time that you can’t get back—especially when you should be working or headed to bed to get some rest. Gaines advises shutting off access to the Internet at a certain time each day to avoid getting lost in cyberspace. She also recommends breaks from recreational Internet use—about a month—to focus on other aspects of your life that may need attention.

Minimize distractions and the tendency to multitask.

Instead, focus on each daily task one at a time. For example, if you are working on a project for work, don’t start thinking about the dinner menu. You will find the task at hand will take longer.

Set achievable goals each day.

“Even the most thoughtfully constructed to-do list will be useless if it is too ambitious,” insists Gaines. “What’s the point of writing down unachievable tasks? We’re not superheroes and shouldn’t try to be. Make your daily goals small enough that you can actually get them done. Remember that you can always do more if you have the time.”

Listen up!

Active listening consists of being present and engaged when communicating with another person, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s very common to forget to listen after you speak your thoughts in a conversation, and you often lose important info as a result. When you are talking with a coworker, manager, or anyone else, be sure that you turn off that pesky inner monologue and focus when it is the other person’s turn to speak. “This is especially important in a workfrom-home scenario when you are having far fewer face-to-face conversations,” says Gaines. “Make a commitment to tune in and filter out distractions!”

Stop shuffling papers.

Most of us waste a lot of time shuffling papers from one pile to another. Chances are that your desk is full of paper you

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don’t know what to do with. Gaines says to stop this maddening cycle by touching each sheet of paper just once and figure out the appropriate action. Either put it in a to-do pile so you can deal with it immediately, a file (for documents you must keep), or the trash. This keeps the papers moving and keeps you sane!

Recapture your “throwaway” moments.

Everyone can find a few minutes a day between meetings or phone calls to achieve a few small goals. But many times, those moments just pass us by, and we are no closer to our goals than we were before—and once they’re gone, they’re gone. Seize these “throwaway” moments and use them to accomplish some of your goals. For example, in five minutes, you could review your schedule, return a few e-mails, write in your journal, organize your workspace, or tell someone thank you or offer a compliment. In 15-30 minutes, you can achieve even more. For example, you could return a call or make a call, clear your inbox of e-mail clutter, exercise, cook a quick meal, or clean a room in your house. In 60 minutes, you could attend a business meeting, write a report, watch your favorite TV show, or complete a workout at home.

Do a priority “tune-up.”

“We have very little trouble prioritizing everything in a real or perceived crisis, yet we struggle doing the same thing with our precious minutes on any given day,” says Gaines. “We make excuses as to why less important things rob us of our time. We need a priority ‘tune-up,’ starting with setting realistic goals for ourselves on both personal and professional levels.”

To do your “tune-up,” begin by looking at your life in small chunks. Take into consideration how you spent your time over the past three months. Now ask yourself the following: • What would I keep doing? • What would I want to eliminate or stop doing? • What’s missing that I might want to add? Now, using that list, create goals for the upcoming three months. Be as specific as you can. Try to separate professional goals from personal ones. Select three or four priorities that rise to the top of your list and make a commitment to keep them front and center over the next few months.

Identify your “time robbers” and cut them out.

It can be eye-opening to find out where all your time goes in a day. Make a list of how you spend your time in a 24hour period. Account for things like sleeping, eating, selfcare, exercise, entertainment, surfing the web, work, and housework. You might be surprised to discover one or more “time robbers” that you were unaware of before. But that’s good news, says Gaines, because once you recognize them, you can take action to focus on them less.

Practice mindfulness and breathe.

When working from home, it’s almost impossible not to be distracted. But imagine how productive you could be if you could focus, calm all anxious thoughts, and truly be present. You can find out by practicing mindfulness.

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“Breathing is a tool for achieving a relaxed, clear state of mind,” asserts Gaines. “There are multiple methods for achieving this state, including tai chi, meditation, yoga, or simple breathing exercises. Find one that resonates for you and practice it daily.”

Make time for laughter.

Laughter can be a powerful motivator. It can build cohesion during a team project, make a task seem less daunting, and improve productivity. Laughter connects people easily with each other. It helps to develop a positive mental attitude, optimism, and increases communication skills. So, take a five-minute work break to watch a funny video, play with your pet, or read a comic strip. Or, allow yourself to wind down at the end of a long day with reruns of your favorite sitcom.

Learn to say “no” more often.

Although most of us don’t like to say no, sometimes it is the most respectful thing you can do for the requester. It actually can save you both time. You get out of having to do something that you didn’t want to do. The requester moves on to proposition someone who really wants to participate.

“Saying no in the workplace can be anxiety-provoking, as employers are now expecting us to do more in less time,” says Gaines. “People say yes to these demands because they want to be a team player, look eager, or simply be nice. At work, be sure to think before you respond. Hit the pause button and allow yourself time to evaluate the cost/benefit of saying yes. If you still come to the conclusion that no is the answer, respond in a timely manner and ask if there might be another way you could contribute. This lets the employer know you understand your limits, but also care about the task at hand and the company—a great characteristic for a leader.”

Stop owning other people’s stuff.

How often do you hear yourself saying, “Never mind, I’ll do it myself”? Probably more often than you’d like, and this habit takes up your precious minutes in no time. The solution, according to Gaines, is to hold others accountable for their responsibilities. This includes your children, your spouse, and your colleagues. Let “never mind…” be the exception instead of the rule. “In these strange times, you owe it to yourself to get serious about managing the limited minutes you have each day,” concludes Gaines. “Time is a precious resource, whether you are clocking in at a physical workspace or simply ‘commuting’ from your living room sofa to your desk. By building a little extra discipline into your daily routine, you can optimize your workday, reduce unnecessary stress, and enjoy your remaining free time however you wish.” About the Author: Jackie Gaines is the author of Wait a Hot Minute! How to Manage Your Life with the Minutes You Have and Wearing the Yellow Suit: A Guide for Women in Leadership. She is an award-winning senior executive with more than 40 years of sustained leadership experience. She dedicated most of her career to the advancement of quality health care programs throughout the U.S., helping organizations improve their leadership skills and performance. Today, Jackie works for Studer Group|Huron as an executive-level coach, senior director, national speaker, and best-selling author.

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