6 Ways to Stay on Track Over the Holidays

6 Ways to Stay on Track Over the Holidays

During the holidays, routines often get out of whack. The derailment might be due to family commitments, a vacation, a work deadline before year-end, or unexpected events that pop up. What can you do to stay healthy and on track this time of year?

Here our coaches from The FlipSide Plan share simple yet powerful practices that will set you up for success in 6 different parts of your life.

1 – For Time Management: The “Big 3”

If you struggle to set boundaries and manage your agenda in December, we invite you to identify your “Daily Big 3.” What are the 3 most important things you must do each day? Write them down (on paper) and plan for them to happen. But here’s the deal: make sure these are tasks that rely 100% on you to complete. You don’t want to be chasing people these days!

Write your Big 3 at night: the next morning you’ll be a step ahead knowing your priorities as soon as you wake up. These can be small things (15-min HIIT training) or a work-related activity (finishing the Q4 report). Evidence shows that working on your Big 3 before lunchtime increases the probability of being successful, so plan for early morning productivity.

2 – For Stress Management: Gratitude Practice

Did you know that a gratitude practice has the same health benefits as a 1-hour HIIT training session? Gratitude causes the same “feel good” sensation in the brain as a hard workout.

There’s a caveat though. This practice is not about listing things you’re thankful for; it’s about telling people face-to-face (or by phone) why you are grateful to them. Find one opportunity every day, and act on it. Tell someone (your partner, kid, co-worker, parent, friend) why you’re thankful for something they specifically did to make your life better. Don’t look for heroic moments – stick with simple things.

The bonus? This practice equally benefits the giver and receiver. Do it daily as your gift to others (and yourself) during these holidays.

3 – For Nutrition: One Perfect Meal

Eating out and enjoying food is a huge thing this time of year. Here’s the plan: control just one meal per day, and control everything about it. Make it the healthiest meal possible. If it’s breakfast, opt for a balanced smoothie, with maybe some berries and leafy greens, avocado or nut butter, hemp seeds, flax or chia. If it’s lunch, make a big warm salad with a green base, roasted veggies, topped with an amazing dressing. No processed or packaged foods! No sugary drinks! Even at this time of year, you can do it. It’s not complete deprivation… it’s just one meal a day to make perfect.

4 – For Movement: Two Quick Sets

Your body is designed for activity: walking, pulling, pushing, and hoisting things like dumbbells at the gym (or Christmas shopping bags at the mall!) Your body is better off moving than immobilized: more movement throughout the day is what your body wants and needs. Stay on track by practicing two quick 15-minute sets of movement a day.

How to fit it in when you’re so busy? Park your car further away when shopping. At work, ditch the chair, and use an imaginary seat against the wall, challenging yourself to hold it for 1 or more minutes. Walk during calls. (Bonus: walking stimulates the exchange of information between the brain’s hemispheres, boosting your problem-solving skills and creativity.) Take a stroll before meals. (Bonus: you’ll decompress your digestive system, de-stress your nervous system, and be more wakeful after eating.)

Fifteen minutes is just three songs, after all, or the length of a call to someone to express your gratitude!

5 – For Gut Health: Mindful Eating

The gut is not only affected by what we eat but also how we eat. “Mindful Eating” means eating without external distractions, chewing slowly, and enjoying the moment, even when eating alone.

By paying attention to what we eat, without distractions, our gut and brain recognize when we’re full, and we avoid overeating. Also, by chewing slowly you allow the gut to absorb broken-down nutrients better instead of having to do the heavy work of decomposing food. (Fast eating causes gas, by the way.)

For one meal each day – at home, at the office, or at a party – make an extra effort to sit down to eat. If alone, put your phone away and avoid your computer to focus on your food. Invite a co-worker to join you. If at a dinner party, before going for seconds, pause for 5 minutes. You’ll likely realize you are already satisfied.  

6 – For Sleep: Natural Light Exposure

Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset the brain and body each day. Sleep allows our body to reboot and our cells to detox. But how can we get good sleep with so much on the mind and on the calendar this time of year?

A scientifically-proven tool is exposure to natural light. Being exposed to morning sunlight within one hour of waking helps regulate your biological clock and circadian rhythm. It promotes a healthy wake-sleep cycle, regardless of your social life.

Aim for a 15-minute walk in the morning to get that natural light (even if it’s cloudy it works). Or sit close to a window at breakfast, letting the sunlight activate your hormones (cortisol and melatonin) which in turn regulate your sleep that night.

Last Word

To fit all these in, try to stack your habits. For example, take a brisk walk during early morning to get your sun exposure; or express gratitude to someone while you’re mindfully eating.

These habits are super simple, yet so powerful. Give them a try and be consistent. Good luck and Happy Holidays!

ACE Coworking members, Rosana Fernandez and MV Anzola, are the co-founders of The FlipSide Plan. They are credentialed professional coaches known for designing, managing and delivering top-notch corporate wellness workshops and programs on health and productivity. Follow ACE Coworking & The FlipSide Plan on social media to stay up-to-date on our regular co-hosted Lunch & Learn Workshops, which you are welcome to attend!

 

Traditional Office Lease Vs. Coworking Private Office

Traditional Office Lease Vs. Coworking Private Office

by Mark Fornasiero

Now that we have finally dug out of the last of our lockdown restrictions, people are looking to make some long-term decisions about how and where they will work. We know that commuting to a central office five days a week is not in the cards for many people. But continuing to have a separate place to work outside of your home is still essential for your mental health, for maintaining a healthy boundary between your work and family life, and as a productivity tool. (No distractions like the fridge, Netflix, laundry or pets when you are at an office!)

If you’re trying to decide between renting your own private office for you and your team or opting for a managed office space like you’d find in a coworking location, here are a few things to keep in mind:

FLEXIBILITY

Coworking memberships are designed to be flexible, with no long-term commitments like you will find in a regular office lease from a traditional landlord. Typically, an office membership at a shared space is between 6 to 12 months in length. Businesses change, the environment changes (as we know) and knowing that you aren’t on the hook for a 5-year lease will give you great peace of mind.  

MORE THAN JUST 4 WALLS

When you take a private office in a coworking space you get much more than four walls and a door. You get access to a great community of like-minded people who value community and are serious about getting work done. At ACE we have a full calendar of events to support our members’ wellness, social life, educational opportunities and business growth. Of course, you can make as much use of these events as you choose. Whether a member likes to attend a little of everything or prefers to keep their head down and work, it’s nice to know the opportunity to connect is there if they want it.

SPACE & OPTIONS

A good shared office space will have lots of places for you and your team to work other than just your office. Boardrooms, lounges, café areas and phone booths are all at your finger tips at ACE Coworking and at most well-appointed spaces. Make sure you book a tour before signing up to check all these out.

PEACE OF MIND

If you’re considering an office lease with a traditional landlord, don’t forget that you will still have a lot of other expenses and jobs ahead: you’ll need to arrange your own internet service, cleaning service, schedule the purchase of coffee and office supplies, buy renters’ insurance, and be available when the Amazon delivery shows up. A good coworking space will often have a couple of internet providers to make sure you’re always connected and definitely have someone on site to handle the inevitable IT problems that pop up.

IN A NUTSHELL:

Finding the best way to work as we enter this new, exciting future is an important decision. Make sure you take a holistic view of all the factors that will affect where and how you work. Most coworking spaces with private offices will offer a free trial day where you can see if a shared workspace is a good fit for you. That is probably the best thing you can do to help you make a choice between a fixed, long-term lease and a flexible membership-based shared office space.

 

Mark Fornasiero is the co-founder of ACE Coworking and the creator of The Clear Insight Program. An avid practitioner of mindfulness meditation, Mark also provides professional consulting to entrepreneurs looking to launch and operate their own independent coworking spaces.

If you’d like to get more inspiration and education from the staff and partners of ACE Coworking, sign up for our monthly newsletter. You’ll also stay up to date on the events we run and the amazing promotions we often offer!

Office Space, WFH, Hybrid: What’s the best “place”?

Office Space, WFH, Hybrid: What’s the best “place”?

by Catherine Harrison

Place /plās/ : a portion of space available or designated for or being used by someone.

The modern workplace has shifted and shaped over the past 20 years – with the pandemic accelerating change even more. Until recently, we had office-goers or gig-economy freelancers, home-office entrepreneurs or corporate rush-hour types. COVID-19 threw all that into a blender and tilted how, when, and where we work, creating new confabulations and opportunities. The “place” where we work has evolved immensely.

Even pre-COVID, work had been shifting. Offices had been morphing from cubicles to open shared spaces, creating nomadic work pods and enabling ‘working from home,’ and for traveling professionals, they could ‘work from anywhere. 

Now, as we begin 2022, all this is up for grabs, inviting new iterations to truly reimagine what it means to work and where we can do it best. 

Right now, leaders are determining what the new work world will look like for our teams: those administrative and professional workers who go (or used to go) to the office to get work done. Our choices seem to be: all-office, all-remote, or a hybrid of the two. But coworking spaces are emerging as an important option too. Let’s explore this new way to work. 

 

MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS 

Humans flourish with a balance of connection, quietude, positive energy, new ideas, development opportunities; a sense of both autonomy and inclusion; and a measure of predictability combined with flexibility. Where does this happen best? Although employees exist at either end of the spectrum – I need my office! I love working from home! – many do best with some time working from home combined with time around others at a work ‘place.’ 

The claustrophobic WFH “Groundhog Day feeling” has caused its share of mental health issues during the pandemic. Countless workers have reported feelings of loneliness, and increased stress that comes with blurred lines between work and home. 

Coworking spaces can help mitigate these issues. We know there are psychological benefits when work life is separated from home life. When solo work is balanced with teamwork. When in-person is balanced with virtual.  When we provide options and opportunities for an employee, their overall health and wellness improves, and we both reap sustainable benefits.

 

MORE CONVENIENCE; LESS COMMUTING

According to research carried out by Pauline Roussel, companies understand that “… coworking spaces can be a part of an office management strategy and a work strategy for their employees. It’s already started: certain companies, such as Spotify, give their employees a monthly coworking budget.” 

Successful coworking spaces offer beautiful surroundings, ergonomically friendly chairs, healthy food and drink options, printers, reliable free WIFI, mail service and concierge options, and enough space to blend solo work with open concept.

Imagine walking to work! Driving less than 15 minutes! Hopping on a local bus or riding your bike! Shorter commutes to a local coworking space can translate to valuable time and energy spent on high-quality work or improved work-life balance. Stress is reduced. Consider the employee who shares living space with others: they may lack privacy or a professional-looking environment for their video meetings. A coworking space offers these benefits, increasing both their efficiency and creativity now that they’ve been relieved of distractions like doorbells, dogs, and kiddies. 

Employers can now create teams in multiple locations at lower costs, with no long-term commitment. When Dialpad Inc. scaled, for example, they decided to use coworking spaces in lieu of satellite offices, allowing for greater versatility. Also, as travel restrictions lift, coworking spaces will appeal to out-of-town businesspeople needing temporary workplaces. 

 

INDIVIDUALS & COMMUNITIES WIN 

 Coworking also boosts local economies. Employees buy lunch, coffee, and even do their retail shopping closer to home. Imagine all the spending happening in your own neighbourhood, instead of the corporate office’s neighborhood, far from home?

Shared office space is also a great way of building up local relationships; people are more likely to network with people from other companies and swap ideas. It reminds me of the Village Square: different proprietors working separately but together. It also requires leaders to think creatively about manifesting and cultivating a corporate culture where employees feel connected and aligned with their company of employment while they mingle with others in a coworking space. 

Whether you be a sole proprietor, run a small business or multinational corporation, consider how a coworking spacemight be a meaningful part of your ‘workplace’ strategy. It will likely help your bottom line, and more importantly, support the psychological and physiological wellbeing of your employees. A true win–win.

If you’d like to learn more about coworking, whether a flexible hot desk or a private office, we would love to show you around ACE Coworking.

Book a tour here.

ALSO…

You’re invited you to join us at our next ACE Book Talk on Wednesday, February 23 from 8:45–9:30am. We will be discussing Three Colors, Twelve Notes, by our guest blogger, Catherine Harrison. This insightful read is a memoir and a guidebook for the curious and those who want to learn how to cultivate a reflective mindset. Email us at info@acecoworking.ca if you’d like to reserve a spot.

If you’d like to get more inspiration and education from the staff and partners of ACE Coworking, sign up for our monthly newsletter. You’ll also stay up to date on the events we run and the amazing promotions we often offer!

ACE Coworking Holiday Book List

ACE Coworking Holiday Book List

by Mark Fornasiero

We’ve said it many times, but we love books here at ACE. Our regular Book Club meetings, where we dig into interesting non-fiction books on business and personal development, are always a hit. They also provide gift ideas for the holiday season. If you’re in need of suggestions for the readers on your list, you won’t go wrong with any of these titles.

THINK AGAIN, by ADAM GRANT

Another good read from Adam Grant, a Wharton business professor who specializes in organizational psychology. As humans we are particularly poor at judging situations and people. Our first impressions are notoriously wrong. A lot. Grant points how our innate biases lead to poor decision-making and outcomes. Fortunately, he also gives the reader lots of ways to improve the way we assess people and situations so we can make better choices.

NOISE, by DANIEL KAHNEMAN

From the grand poobah of behavioural economics, Nobel prize-winner Dan Kahneman. Whether it is in business, medicine, or science, we are often very unaware just how much noise is in the information that reaches us and how it clouds our judgement, often with disastrous effects.

HOW TO CHANGE, by KATY MILKMAN

Just about everything we do in business is about trying to create change; change in people (including ourselves) especially. Milkman is another Wharton professor who studies behavioural change. Based on large amounts of research and scientific work, this book lays out many ways to alter your behaviour to create the change you are seeking.

WILLFUL, by RICHARD ROBB 

This book essentially introduces a whole new field of economics and perspective on economic thinking. The classical view of economics (the Adam Smith school) is well entrenched in our thinking. Behavioural economics is also now pretty much everywhere we look (all those ‘like’ buttons and ‘people also bought’ suggestions on Amazon, are forms of behavioural economics). Robb introduces a third way to look at the economic choices we make, one that is rooted in individual, ‘wilful’ action.

THE SECOND MOUNTAIN, by DAVID BROOKS

The subtitle – The Quest for a Moral Life – really says it all about the theme of this book. Brooks, a columnist for The New York Times, shares his own journey in trying to bring a higher degree of morality into his life. Along with many wonderful stories of regular people making the unconventional decision to live a more purposeful life, the book also suggests ways in which you might bring more morality and virtue into your own life. 

INDIAN GIVERS, by JACK WEATHERFORD

You may have a general sense of how the indigenous people of North and South America impacted western European culture, but you will be blown away by how much we owe them after reading this book. Our democratic form of government, the roots of our financial system, medicine, agriculture, and ecology are all directly a result of the knowledge and wisdom indigenous people developed in the centuries before Europeans landed here. A remarkable book.

Also: you are invited you to join us at our next ACE Book Talk on Wednesday, January 26 from 8:45–9:30am. We will be discussing Three Colors, Twelve Notes, by Catherine Harrison. Catherine, an ACE member, will lead the conversation. This insightful read is a memoir and a guidebook for the curious and those who want to learn how to cultivate a reflective mindset. Email us at info@acecoworking.ca if you’d like to reserve a spot.

If you’d like to get more inspiration and education from the staff and partners of ACE Coworking, sign up for our monthly newsletter. You’ll also stay up to date on the events we run and the amazing promotions we often offer!

How Mindfulness Can Help with Pandemic Stress

How Mindfulness Can Help with Pandemic Stress

Lockdown – Reopen – Stay-at-Home Order – Reopen – Emergency Brake – Reopen…. over and over. How does a business owner cope?

Our current predicament feels like it may never end. The goal posts seem to move every time we get close to “the end.” You can sense the anxiety, tension, and sadness in the people around you, and you may be feeling some of these emotions yourself. If you’re running your own business, or expected to lead a team and it’s your job to chart the path forward through this mess, the consequences of carrying this negative energy around are amplified even more.

So, how do we cope?

Getting outside and moving certainly helps. Eating well and sleeping well are beneficial too. It’s also a great time to start a mindfulness practice if you haven’t done so already.

What is mindfulness and how can it support you during this pandemic? When we practice mindfulness we simply focus and observe the present moment, usually by paying attention to the breath and how it feels in our body. When we do this, we start to notice how agitated the mind is, the stream of racing thoughts that we seem to have no control over, and how these thoughts affect the sensations in our body. This agitation, or restlessness, feels very much like the anxiety we sense in our communities now during the lockdown.

You may be wondering how “just” focusing on your breath could possibly be helpful. Or you might worry that noticing your anxious thoughts so carefully will result in you feeling even worse! These doubts are all part of the process. Mindfulness practice will train you to observe the present moment without judgement.

When practicing you’ll notice the thoughts arising, the related sensations in your body, and observe them simply for what they are: fleeting images and feelings that arise and pass away. You will also notice that, try as you might, you cannot turn off the torrent of thoughts generated by your mind. This points to the universal truth: all things simply arise and pass away. Thoughts, sensations, events – even our lives themselves – all simply arise and pass away. 

There is an amazing amount of freedom and balance to be found when you allow yourself to truly accept this reality. Everything will arise and pass away, even this pandemic. You will also discover that we also have no control over much of what happens to us. (Just as we have no control over those thoughts in our minds.) To train the mind to accept this truth requires practice, though. It’s called a mindfulness “practice” for a reason!

Wouldn’t it be great to develop a sense of calm, focus, and balance to help cope with all these rolling lockdowns, confusing messages, and the tidal wave of negative reporting swirling around us? Here’s a simple way to start:

  • Find a quiet place to sit. (An ordinary chair is fine.)
  • Set a timer for just 5 minutes.
  • Close your eyes and see if you can simply notice your breath as it gently comes and goes. Your mind will wander almost immediately; that’s okay, it’s what the mind does. Just keep coming back to your breath. Over and over again. The more you fight the desire of the mind to wander, the harder this will feel. See if you can relax and simply observe the thoughts coming and going. Remember: no judgement!

As you develop the capacity to simply sit and observe the rising and passing of your breath, as well as your thoughts and the way they make your body feel, you are slowly training yourself to take a sense of calm and focus with you everywhere you go. 

Mindfulness is a wonderful skill for helping you to cope with the ups and downs of the pandemic – which, by the way, is one other thing that will surely pass. 

 

Mark Fornasiero is the co-founder of ACE Coworking and the creator of The Clear Insight Program. An avid practitioner of mindfulness meditation, Mark also provides professional consulting to entrepreneurs looking to launch and operate their own independent coworking spaces. 

New Year, New You? Reinventing “Reinvention”

New Year, New You? Reinventing “Reinvention”

by Catherine Harrison

Happy New Year to all our ACE members and to visitors to our ACE Coworking Blog. We hope this post offers you a fresh perspective on goal-setting and transformation as you launch into your new year plans. Wishing you much success in 2021!

This is the time of year, even in ‘normal’ years, when news feeds and media articles focus on New Year’s resolutions and reinventing oneself.

We’ve all heard stories of people who have reinvented themselves – done a radical overhaul and sold everything, shaved the head, quit the job, moved across the world and joined a Bhutanese convent. Maybe it’s the story of someone you know personally or of a celebrity like Madonna, Diddy, Arnold.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘reinvent’ as: 1. to make as if for the first time something already invented; 2. to remake or redo completely; 3. to bring into use again. 

When we hear the word reinvention, most of us think of definition number two. But what if we challenge ourselves to reinvent the notion of reinvention? I’d like to encourage us to think of smaller, more accessible shifts rather than “complete” do-overs. People often shy away from the concept of personal transformation because reinvention sounds massive, cumbersome, and overwhelming. 

You’re already invented! You’re already a complex, fascinating creature, made up of lots of experiences, talents, preferences, thinking styles, skills, and ways of noticing, interacting, and expressing yourself. 

A more accessible notion of reinvention is reconnection. Reconnecting to different parts of yourself that may have been lying dormant or crowded out by the noise of the daily grind. 

Reinvention is the outside job – what it looks like to other people. 

Reconnection is the inner work that is then manifested and reflected on the outside. 

A healthy snake with access to good nutrition and a balanced ecosystem sheds its skin on a regular basis, around once a month. This process, called ecdysis, is how a snake grows. Same goes for lobsters. As they grow, they shed their rigid exoskeletons, and go through a period of significant vulnerability while the new shell sets in place and hardens. Then they live comfortably in the new shell until they outgrow that and go through ecdysis once more. 

I find this so symbolic of how we, as humans, go through change and adaption – we live, learn, fail, go through discomfort, and re-establish a new sense of self. We grow into ourselves. And as with everything in nature, some basic needs (for humans: nutrition, rest, social interaction, love) are necessary for the regular re-growth to occur. 

In my book Three Colors, Twelve Notes, I include reflection questions at the end of each chapter. These are invitations to consider tiny bits of reinvention. What if we all did reinvention reflections regularly and not just once a year? What if we decide, like the snake and lobster, to conduct a regular process of shedding, reorganizing, shifting, settling in, and expanding so that our lives take on a fluidity, a joyfulness, and a more fully expressed experience? 

Taking time to reflect and reconnect to parts of yourself, to things that are interesting to you, to a sense of exploration and curiosity, to your values and aligned actions, allows you to be more present in your life, at any stage, in any activity, through any challenge, within any opportunity. 

It might only take a few minutes a day, a few small choices a day, a few micro habit changes to shift over time. You might identify, activate, integrate, and sustain what’s working and discard the bits that aren’t. To begin, invest 20 minutes and answer the following: 

  • What is the one thing you’d like to reconnect to this year?
  • Why is it important to you?
  • Have you done it before? When, where and with whom?
  • What resources do you have? What might you need to get?
  • Who can you recruit to be on your team? Is there already a group you can join?
  • Is there someone you can ask for support, encouragement, guidance?
  • What will you gain by reconnecting to this thing, this activity, this practice?
  • How will it support your forward momentum in life?
  • What might you have to give up in order to get it? What might that loss feel like?

This year, especially this year, after all we’ve been through, consider taking an inner inventory and celebrating all that you already are, and then identify which bits need to be given a little more energy to shine bright moving forward.

Our guest blogger, Catherine Harrison, is president of Purple Voodoo, an Oakville-based performance and behaviour change consulting company with a focus on mindfulness, adaptability, and accountability. Catherine is the author of Three Colors, Twelve Notes, an innovative book that invites readers to reconnect with themselves and with others by getting clear on what really matters—and realizing what is possible.