The Long Weekend: 3 Benefits of and 5 Tips for Taking One

As a professional, you likely get three or more weeks of vacation to use each year. However, the demands of being a professional make it quite difficult to take all of that time during the year. If you can’t afford to take week-long periods of vacation multiple times throughout the year, taking a short break in the form of a long weekend is the way to go.

long weekend

Your employer gives you vacation days to use and expects you to use them. If they wanted you to work all the time, they wouldn’t have given them to you. And, you’re actually getting paid to take those vacation days. So why wouldn’t you want to use them.

We all think our jobs are so important that we can’t take all the vacation we earn. We just can’t be away from the office that long. Things will fall apart if we are.

You think that. But, it’s not true.

The company will survive while you are gone on vacation. Get over yourself and just go. You and your family will thank you. 

Just to prove it, just take one day of vacation wrapped around a weekend. Take that three-day weekend and see how you get along. I promise you the world will not end.

Watch the short MasterCard commercial above. It’s titled OneMoreDay and is very fitting to this conversation.

Hopefully that video piqued your mind a little so you’ll think about taking some long weekends this year. You want to know the benefits of taking that long weekend, don’t you? Well, here you go:

Benefits of Taking a Long Weekend

Following are three benefits of taking a long weekend to use up some of that previously unused vacation time. These are common sense but since you haven’t used your vacation time like this in the past, maybe it’s not so common.

Get refreshed 

Face it, you love to work but it can wear you out emotionally, mentally and physically. Sitting with terrible posture behind a desk all day, dealing with employee issues and researching answers to difficult questions drags you down.

Taking short breaks during the day help during the day but those quick jaunts around the block to the nearest Starbucks can’t keep you fresh. You need a longer break and the three-day weekend is just the way to do it.

Spend time with your loved ones

Being successful in your career requires certain sacrifices. Unfortunately, too many professional sacrifice their time with family to keep “providing” for them. Your kids want stuff but they want you more. Take a long weekend and give some time back to them.

Yesterday evening I took two of my daughters, my father and my nephew to the farm to go fishing. The entire trip lasted only about three hours but these are memories my kids (and me) will remember for a lifetime. There is nothing better than being paid to take my kids fishing!

Time for house repairs

The “honey do” list continues to grow. You want to scratch at least one item off the list each weekend but two more are added. You should outsource most of those tasks but why would you do that if you’re capable of doing them? I’m not criticizing…I’m talking to myself.

If you can’t get enough done on the weekends or in the evenings, and you won’t pay someone else to do it, extending your weekend by a day or two will give you the time to accomplish some of those house repairs.

How to Prepare for a Long Weekend

Talking about using vacation days here and there for some long weekends is one thing. Doing it is altogether something else. 

You really would love to take an extra day over a weekend but you just feel like you can’t. I’ve been there too. Sometimes we just feel so overwhelmed with what we have to do that we don’t think we can afford to take a day off. It’s hard enough to take both days off on the weekend.

Thankfully you can use the following practices to help you overcome the guilt of taking a three-day weekend.

Set expectations with family, co-workers and clients

In plain terms, we experience stress when our expectations do not mesh with someone else’s. Setting expectations of what will get completed before the weekend, what will wait until after you return and who will cover things while you are gone will make it so you can leave (and stay gone) stress free.

Have frank discussions with your boss, team members, family and clients before you leave. Agree on expectations for projects, emails and response times while you are away. 

Plan to work longer hours before

When taking a long vacation, you’ll likely need to work longer days for the entire week before you leave to get as much done as possible. Adding a day to your weekend won’t require that much time commitment but you should plan to work a little before and a little after you return.

Delegate

You can still get work done while you enjoy your long weekend. How? By having someone else do it. That’s what delegation is all about. To get co-workers to help you while you are gone, be sure to reciprocate when they ask you to do the same thing. 

Don’t plan meetings the day you return

When you go back to work after an extended weekend, you will have a lot to catch up on. Even if you delegated tasks and responsibilities while you are away, things will still pile up on you. Email, as you know, is the worst.

To get the most out of your first day back, don’t plan any meetings or plan to be out of the office that day. Plan to be in the office all day so you can catch up on as much as you can. You’ll also have the availability to catch up with your co-workers about what you delegated to them.

Don’t check in

Checking your email over a long weekend can ruin the weekend. It’s not an innocent thing to do or even a good thing to get “caught up” early. It will stress you out because you will want to reply to emails or take care of things as you see them in your inbox.

You can still get work done while enjoying a long weekend…by having someone else do the work.”

I’m at the end of a long weekend right now. It’s been glorious. While I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to accomplish during this short break, I do feel I achieved each of the benefits above. I am refreshed and ready to get back at it in the morning, I spent quality time with my family and I did a little yard work that needed to be done.

My long weekend was a success. Now it’s time for you to schedule your next long weekend. It’s an easy way to use your vacation days and it provides a much needed respite (albeit short) from the crazy professional life.

What are you going to accomplish on your next long weekend?

The Number 1 Reason Why Professionals Should Be More Active on LinkedIn

At its inception, LinkedIn was viewed as an online resume. Those looking for jobs or looking to hire would complete profiles and then wait. However, that specific use of LinkedIn has evolved into something much greater.

LinkedIn can be (and should be) a tremendous asset to professionals seeking to grow a business, connect with influencers and discover talent. 

Robert Kiyosaki Quote

I used LinkedIn every day. Yes, I’m on it every day. 

You may believe you need to be on LinkedIn for hours every day to reap the benefits it offers. That’s not even true. You can spend only 15 minutes a day to see significant results.

But the question is still, “Why should professionals be more active on LinkedIn?” What are the real reasons you should do more than just have a profile?

To answer this question, I asked one of the best resources I could, Kevin Knebl. Kevin is an international speaker, author and trainer. He teaches professionals like you and me how to use LinkedIn, and other social media sites, to increase sales by building relationships.

Since he’s the expert, here is how he answered this question: 

Why should professionals be more active on LinkedIn?

Professionals should invest 15 minutes per day on LinkedIn. The reason why is simple – because true professionals have always understood that they’re in the relationship business.

You can be technically proficient off the charts in your chosen profession, but in a more and more interconnected, over-caffeinated, hyper-competitive, Mach Five with your receding hairline on fire, Crackberry Blackberry world, you never know where your next lead, client, job, referral, networking partner, strategic alliance, spouse, etc. is going to come from.

If you think your technical proficiency is your security, think again. There’s this new thing called the Internet, it’s gonna be big. Thanks, Al Gore. Information is a commodity now. It’s a Google search away. Now, more than ever before true professionals know that their ability to create, nurture and deepen their network has a direct correlation to their net worth. Ironically, this has always been true. It’s just so glaringly obvious now.

By investing 15 minutes per day on LinkedIn using simple, strategic routines to expand your network while staying top of mind in ways that aren’t intrusive, slick or salesy, you exponentially increase the likelihood that you’ll have a long and successful career.

LinkedIn isn’t just for job seekers. LinkedIn is for networking and relationship building. And that’s what always leads to your success. Only every time.

Kevin, through his witty way, just told you the primary reason you, as a professional, should be more active on LinkedIn – to build relationships. Relationships make the world go round. They are what matter in business.

People do business with people they know, like and trust. They do business with people with whom they have relationships. Deep and trusting relationships trump low price. These kinds of relationships result in loyalty…and what professional doesn’t want that?

If you want to build relationships through LinkedIn, contact Kevin at kevinknebl.com or me through the contact page. We would both be more than happy to help you connect with influencers, enhance relationships and get more clients.  

21 Ways to Live a Life by Design Instead of by Default

According to a March 2016 Gallup poll, only 34.1 percent of workers in the U.S. are considered to be engaged. If you are one of the 65.9 percent who are not engaged, you probably feel like you are living a life by default instead of a life by design.
 
The good news from the Gallup poll is that 34.1 percent is the highest level of engaged employees since Gallup started tracking the statistic. The bad news is that it’s still only 34.1 percent.
 
 
Too many Americans feel like they have to take any 9 to 5 job they can because they have to pay the bills. The pressure of paying off student loans, the mortgage and everything else is too much to bear so people just do “what they can” instead of what they want.
 
Frankly, that’s pathetic. 
 
You are the author of the story you call life. Why not live a life by design (your design) rather than defaulting to someone else’s agenda?
 
Don’t get me wrong, I did that for a while too. I had a short period in my career where I wasn’t happy and was just going through the motions. I felt like someone pulled my ability to live by design out from under me. In reality, however, I was responsible for those feelings. I lost my will to design my own life.
 
Don’t let yourself fall into the same trap I did. Take the “bull by the horns” and steer it in the direction you want your life to go. You can live a life by design. Someone else’s default life for you is not what you deserve. 
 

Living a Life By Design

 
Through my soul searching and re-igniting of my life’s purpose, I discovered the following 21 ways for living by design. Take as many of these as you can and implement them in your life to start living again.
 

1. Realize you make the choices

 
You are responsible for all of your actions. Your actions are the results of choices you make. No one else makes the choices for you. Realize that and you will take all the power away from others you had given away. 
 

2. Find something positive in all situations

 
Bad things happen to everyone. What you don’t know immediately, however, is that you can find the proverbial silver lining in any situation. Sometimes it won’t show up immediately but I promise you it’s there.
 

3. Create a life plan

 
Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy recently released a book, Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want, which will help you create a life plan. I highly recommend reading this book as it will directly help you to find what you want out of life.
 

4. Live a life of gratitude

 
You won’t complain about the life you have when you show gratitude. Be grateful for everything you have and every experience you’ve been through.
 

5. Live with purpose

 
I believe my purpose in life is to have a positive impact on everyone with whom I come into contact, either in person or virtually. With that as my life’s purpose, I can end each day content with my situation. Perhaps your purpose is more specific. Whatever it may be, discover your purpose and live it.
 
 

 

6. Be in the moment

 
How often do you find yourself trying to pay attention to something but then find yourself day dreaming or getting sucked into something on your cell phone? Too often. Put the phone away and pay attention to what you really should be doing.
 

7. Meditate

 
Nothing has made more of a positive impact on my life in the last few years than discovering meditation. I always thought it a bit California Woo-Woo. Boy was I wrong. It helps you learn to breathe through issues and relax when you couldn’t have done so previously.
 

8. Set expectations with your family

 
Nothing will make you realize you’re living a life by default than getting pestered by your family for not being around enough. Set expectations with your family and make sure to meet them!
 

9. Set expectations at work

 
Bosses and co-workers like it when things get done on time. So should you. Set expectations with them and you won’t feel near as stressed.
 

10. Set expectations with yourself

 
This one is what really counts. Before you can set expectations with yourself, you need to know what you want. Figure that out and then stick to it.

 

11. Make personal development a priority

 
Personal development is crucial to getting to where you want to go. If you don’t grow, you won’t go.  Here is an article to help you create a personal development plan.
 

12. Read some fiction

 
I used to only read business books. I thought I always had to be getting better at my job and more knowledgeable. Finally, I realized I needed a break from learning all the time. Reading a fiction book is a great way to escape reality and just be entertained.
 

13. Have at least one hobby

 
We all need something we can call our own. Sure, you have to work and you want to spend time with your family. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a hobby to engross yourself in. Whatever your hobby is, make time for it. Don’t just let it happen because the time will never show up if you do that.
 

14. Unwind after work

 
I’m very thankful for my 20 to 30 minute commute home after work. It allows me time to unwind from the stress of the day before I walk into the house with other family demands. Unwinding allows me to be fully present when I step inside the house. What can you do to unwind before you get home?
 

15. Set consistent date nights

 
This one is tough, I know. With all of the activities of life, especially once you have kids, it is hard to find time for you and your significant other. You must do it. The best tip I can give you is to plan at least three months in advance. Don’t schedule anything on the dates you set aside. Stick to it!
 

16. Be home for dinner

 
There was just an article this week that stated the most productive people in the world make it home for dinner each night. Wouldn’t that be great! When we don’t spend enough quality time with our families, we find we are living a life of default. There may not be any more quality time you can spend time with your family than at the dinner table.
 
 

17. Eat healthy

 
Eating healthy will give you the energy to do the things you want to live a life by design. Eating healthy takes two things: planning and self-control. Eating healthy isn’t difficult. It’s just that we don’t plan for it and we succumb to the “tasty” option on the menu rather than the good option. Eat healthy and you’ll thank yourself for it.
 

18. Exercise regularly

 
Exercising is similar to eating healthy. You need to plan the time for exercise and be accountable to yourself. If possible, exercise first thing in the morning. You’ll be more energized during the day and you won’t make excuses later in the day about running out of time.
 

19. Be open-minded

 
Close-mindedness breeds negativity. Be open-minded about everything. Don’t confuse being open-minded with being gullible. Be especially open-minded when it comes to your life. Be willing to discuss new opportunities so you can live a life by your design.

 

20. Spend regular time with your friends

 
Remember back to your college days when you hung out with your buddies all the time. Don’t you miss those days? You don’t have to miss them anymore. It’s okay to spend time with friends. And you should.
 

21. Give praise to God

 
God breathed life into you and gives you the ability to live a life by design. Give praise to Him continually. Worship Him frequently. Talk with Him daily. Spread His message of good news to everyone you meet. 

 

 Start with One Way to Start Living by Design

 
Just like building a house, you can’t do it all at once. You have to take step after step after step. Living a life by design is the same. 
 
Take one of the 21 ways shared above and start doing it today. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Do it today.
 
Then, add in another way the day after that. It really will be possible to use all of these ways in less than a month. If it takes you more than a month, that’s okay too. The key is to just start.
 
Question for you:  Which of the 21 ways for living a life by design will you implement first?

8 Power Tips to Be Successful with Flexible Working Hours

With the increased use of technology in business today, many companies have implemented flexible working hours. A flexible work arrangement can be just the thing to retain an employee for an extended period above the norm.
 
While flexible working hours may be relished by an employee, it could also provide opportunities for an employee to not be as productive as when working normal hours.
 

 

Why Are Flexible Working Hours Offered?

 
It’s always been the case that some people perceive that they work better in the morning or late at night. We call it being a morning person or a night owl.
 
I’ve thought of myself as both at certain times throughout my career. I’ve learned that you can change which bucket you fall into by changing certain practices in your life. The pros and cons of being a morning person or a night owl are not really the point of this article. We’ll approach that argument at a later date.
 
The point is that people believe they are one or the other.
 
When you do believe you work best?
 
If you claim to be a morning person, you would rather wake early, get to work before others and then leave earlier than most. Night owls would like to sleep in, get to work late but then stay later than others. Some would rather even leave at a normal time and then stay up late working at home.
 
This is the reason companies have engineered flexible working hours into their policies. People have different times of day (or night) at which they work best.
 
Society has always had these two choices. The baby boomers and the Gen Xers experienced the same desires as the Millennials. However, the Millennials collectively have made it a point to not put up with the old business norm of working 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
 
Instead, they have pushed businesses to change policies if they still want the benefit of working with the Millennials. 

 

The Dangers of a Flexible Work Arrangement

 
Employees who push to have a flexible working arrangement only the see the benefits they will enjoy from such an arrangement. Most notable, the benefit will be a greater “balance” between work and life.
 
However, these same employees may overlook the dangers that may occur in their careers that may stem from working in a flexible hours arrangement.
 
What does it take for you to be productive? Do you need assistance from other personnel, especially someone more experienced than you? If so, you may not be able to get the assistance you need unless that other person works the same schedule as you.
 
Also, if you work different hours than your boss, you may get overlooked for promotions. Why? Does “out of sight, out of mind” ring a bell?
 
Productivity, though, trumps almost everything in a flexible hours arrangement. If you can be as productive as you would be working a normal schedule, you’ll be just fine. The problem, however, is demonstrating that productivity to you boss. How will you do that?

 

Tips for Excelling in a Flexible Hours Arrangement

 
Now for the good news: You can effectively work in a flexible hours arrangement and excel just like you can in a normal arrangement. 
 
It will take ext ran effort on your part to excel though. If you aren’t in front of those who you work for, you will get overlooked. Put the following tips into practice and watch your career soar:
 

1. Communicate more

 
Flexible working hours will lead to less face-to-face or one-on-one conversations. It won’t be as frequent because you are working different hours than those of your team or your boss.
 
Begin a practice of giving daily updates until you are told otherwise. Bosses want to know their direct reports are working but good bosses don’t want to have to micromanage. If you provide daily email updates regarding your projects, your boss will be happy.

 

2. Be more productive

 
Company leaders who start a flexible hours arrangement expect productivity to increase. If it doesn’t, there isn’t a point in having the arrangement. You need to be more productive.
 
If you are working in your peak hours as you claim to be, this should be an easy target to hit.
 

3. Get expectations in writing

 
It’s harder to monitor productivity when people aren’t working in the same place at the same time. To help that, get your boss to put expectations in writing. When does she expect for you to wrap-up a project? How many projects are you expected to work on at once? 
 
Get it all in writing, and, yes, an email is fine. 
 

4. Boast about your productivity

 
I learned a long time ago that I needed to boast of my accomplishments in order for those accomplishments to be recognized. 
 
Boasting is usually seen as a negative, ego-centric trait. However, there is a right way to do it. 
 
When giving your daily updates to your boss, describe to her about how well you are doing. Give daily, weekly and monthly updates. 
 
When you continually get projects done before they are expected to (or under budget, etc.), tell your boss about it. Remind her of the timeline she had given you for it so she can see how well you are doing.
 

5.  Attend all meetings

 
Believe me, I’m a proponent for fewer meetings. The information disseminated during most meetings could have been just as easily written in a one page email and sent to everyone. 
 
Regardless of your thoughts on the useful of your company’s meetings, however, you need to attend. Your attendance will show you are a team-player and that the work is more important than your flexible hours schedule. 
 

6. Use the phone

 
Old-school employers are more prone to calling someone directly rather than sending an email. Give your boss what she wants – call her. 
 
If you know she is available, call instead of emailing. It will help her think better of you and create a closer connection to you. 
 
Better yet, if you are in the office at the same time as your boss, walk to her office and talk with her face-to-face.
 

7. Get and stay connected with your co-workers

 
Working remotely or on your own flexible schedule is great but people stay at jobs longer due to the connections they have with fellow employees and bosses. 
 
Make friends at work. If possible, be friends with them outside of work. You’re going to spend a lot of time with those people so you might as well enjoy that time by spending it with friends.
 

8. Don’t ever, ever lie about anything

 
At some point, something will happen that will impair your productivity. It’s inevitable. 
 
Whatever you do, don’t lie about it. Be upfront. 
 
Most employers understand that life happens. Your daughter might get sick and you have to take care of her instead of working. Maybe your flexible hours arrangement will need to be adjusted for a brief time.
 
Just tell your boss and work it out up front. 
 
If you don’t, your boss will figure out you’re lying. 
 

They Want You to Succeed

 
Remember that the company’s leadership implemented flexible working hours so the company can be more profitable. When you help that goal become a reality, you’ll prove their decision was a good one.
 
Leadership wants you to succeed. You want the company to succeed. It’s a win-win situation if both parties take things seriously.
 
Question for you: What other practices have you used to make a flexible work arrangement successful?

5 Simple Strategies for Identifying What Is Important in Life

 
 
What is important in life will depend on the season of life you’re in at the moment. What is important to you in your early twenties will likely be different than in your thirties and even your forties.
 
You’ll make different priorities in the different phases of your life depending on your current status and your future ambitions.

 

  5 Simple Strategies to Identify What Is Important in Life

What Is Important in Life to Me

 
Many people over the last few months have asked me why I haven’t released any new articles lately. Thank you so much for asking and for all your kind words regarding them. It really makes it difficult to not to write when I know people are looking forward to reading what gets released.
 
When I’m asked about why I haven’t written anything lately, the answer has been consistent.
 
I didn’t have the time.
 
You don’t have to remind me that I had the time. I have the same 1,440 minutes every day that the most productive and successful people in the world have. I agree with that statement.
 
So if I agree I did have the time to write, why didn’t I? It’s simple.
 
I didn’t want to take the time.
 
Geez, that doesn’t sound like what I would normally say either. I thoroughly enjoy writing for you and helping you through all the obstacles you face in life. But I still didn’t want to take the time.
 
I haven’t written because, frankly, writing for this site was not important to me for a few months.
 
The first month of the year is the busiest time for me. It’s audit season at work which means that hours outside of work are limited. 
 
Due to limited available time, I chose to focus on four things:
 
1. My spiritual life
2. My health
3. My family
4. My career
 
While the hours I get to work during the first quarter of every year are more than the hours I spend with any other aspect of my life, it’s still fourth on the list. 
 
Those four areas were the most important for me. There wasn’t time for anything else. Even though I love writing and sharing ideas to help in your success, that had to take a back seat while I focused on the other four.
 
Now that audit season is over, I plan on providing weekly content once again for your consumption.
 

What Is Important to You

 
You and I are not the same. 
 
Thankfully.
 
We need to be different. If we were all the same, life would be very boring. And no one wants that.
 
Since we are different, you will also have different things that are important to you. That’s okay. Again, not every successful person shares the same priorities.

 

Five Strategies for Identifying What Is Important in Life

 
Now we are going to discuss some strategies for identifying what is important in life. It’s important to really identify what is important to you so you can know where to focus your time, effort and money. 
 
Goals don’t get reached without first setting the goal. Along with that, you need to create a plan for to reach that goal. Setting goals and identifying priorities go hand-in-hand.
 

1. Identify the weakest area of your life

 
To be well-rounded (and to be the happiest, in my opinion anyway), you need to feel good about each of the five aspects of your life: spiritual, family, health, mental, professional. If there is one that is lacking more than the others, maybe that area needs to be emphasized so you will be better balanced.
 

2. Focus on your strengths

 
There has been a movement the last five years to focus on strengths rather than weaknesses. I think this is more useful in your professional life than associating this to the five aspects of life. 
 
Identify your strongest skills and work on improving them even more. That may just lead you to bigger and better things.
 

3. Identify your short-term and long-term goals

 
Goals are important to achieve progress. If you haven’t yet set some goals, you should now. Here is a great resource I created for walking through this process. I call it a personal development plan but it is about goals:
 
How to Create a Personal Development Plan
 

4. Identify what makes you happy

 
Is there something in your life that you find always makes you happy? If you don’t do that certain thing often enough, maybe you should.
 
I just experienced this last month while sitting in a Starbucks early one morning. I realized how creative I am and how much I enjoy sitting in a coffee shop before work. That led me to decide to do that at least one morning every week.
 

 

5. Identify what makes you unhappy

 
There is at least one thing in your life that does not make you happy. Figure out what that is (or narrow down the list to the biggest item) and figure out a way to not do that in the future. 
 
Some things are inevitable but there are usually strategies to take to change it or eliminate it entirely.

 

Determine What Is Important to You and Stick with It

 
You will always focus on what you view as a priority. You can say one thing and act in a completely different way. It’s how you act that truly shows what your priorities are.
 
The most important thing to do after identifying your priorities are acting on them. Create a plan and then be consistent with your actions. 
 
Reaffirm your priorities at the beginning and end of every day so you will not fall out of step. 
 
Because of my schedule, I’ve been able to include creating content to share with you as another priority. I’d appreciate it if you would sign up below to receive these articles straight to your inbox.