Tag Archive for health

Archive Thursday: The Importance of Holidays

Happy-HolidaysThis week’s Archive Thursday was originally posted on February 3rd, 2015.

In past years, I never took a break from my work. I worked seven days a week, whenever there was something to do, and to whatever hour it took me to finish my work. And frankly, I never had time for myself and wasn’t particularly happy.

More recently I decided to regulate my working hours. I get up at the same time every day, work until 5pm, and have the evening hours to myself. This doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t work outside of that time, but I make an effort to get everything done within my typical working day. The ability to have a few hours free every day is great incentive to get more work done. I also take weekends off and use the time to catch up on chores and pursue my personal and artistic projects. (I paint, for example.)

The fact that I do these things causes astonishment, and in some cases derision from people that I talk to. I fully recognize that my schedule would not work for many people who have full time jobs, families and children to care for. I would never intimate that what works for me is required for someone else–however, the importance of taking a break, of having some time away from the microphone and the DAW is absolutely vital. Giving your mind, fingers, and vocal cords a break (even if it’s a ten minute walk around the block) will give you a chance to refresh on all levels and make your next piece or section of work better, and you’ll feel better about it, which is worth those few moments, don’t you think?

Archive Thursdays: Relax and Let Go

f45c2045-ab12-48cd-839c-c518a056e7c6-Relaxation-for-Mind-and-BodyThis week’s Archive Thursday was originally published January 28th, 2013

A bit more than a month ago, I stayed with Melissa Exelberth and Liz de Nesnera while attending the NY VO Mixer. Those two amazing ladies reminded me of an important life lesson while I stayed with them.┬á When I was with Melissa and Liz I was so excited to go see everyone that I was bouncing all around the house, and both ladies had to calm me down by reminding me that we’d get there when we got there, and I needed to just go with the flow-thus getting me thinking and inspiring this post. It’s important to not worry and fuss about the unimportant things in life. It’s so easy to cause yourself lots of unnecessary stress by focusing on all the little things.

There are many ways that you can control your life and the things that happen to you. But there are things that happen to us which you have no control over. In those situations there is only one thing you can control, which is your reaction to the things that happen. It’s a balance, like anything else in life. Worries and obsessions are something to allow yourself to feel, (Pushing them away can easily make things worse when they come back to bite you later!) and then make the effort to let go of.

Letting go is hard. It’s just as hard as taking control and putting forth the effort to change your life. (Which I’ve written about here) There have been many many studies done on the profound and long term effects that stress has on your body and mind. It can and will damage your health and make it harder for you to accomplish the things that you want to. The two polarites of making an effort to take control and change direction and letting things go sound like they should be mutually exclusive, but they aren’t. Mastering both is the task of a lifetime, but one truly worth striving for. No one can do both perfectly, making mistakes and falling off the wagon is not only expected but understandable.

So the next time you feel yourself knot up with tension, your stomach sour with worry, stop. Just stop. Take a deep breath, and close your eyes. Remember that in the long run, whatever you’re worrying about will probably not seem as important as it does in this moment. Relax your muscles. Take a break from whatever you’re doing, maybe walk around for a few minutes, and let your mind drift. When you step back to work, you’re a lot more likely to come up with a solution or an idea that you were too tense to think of a few minutes ago. Focus on the elements of the situation that you are able to control, not what other people are doing or saying. Do this–or whatever relaxes you–when the worries threaten to take over, and I bet before you know it you’ll find yourself with less worries than before.

Morgan Barnhart starts my interview series next week, talking on Social Media!

Gratitude

gratitudeI’ve written recently about how I’ve gotten a second job in addition to my virtual assistant work. That job has taught me a lot of things, including how out of shape I was-whew!-but one of the most important things I’ve learned is perspective. We who work from home live in a pretty awesome little fishbowl, and it’s really easy to forget how big and how different the world outside is.

I’d forgotten how lucky I am. I had forgotten what it was like to work in an environment that is not only mentally stressful, but physically stressful. There is never enough time, and there is always more to do. Customers are often unhappy, and many times-since I’m not working one on one with them-it’s not something that I did or can control, but I have to handle the fallout. There are good and bad things about this other job of mine, but the ‘real world’ is quite a bit different than I remember it.

It’s often valuable to take a moment and realize how many good things you have in your life. Working like we do has it’s own unique set of challenges, no question, but there’s also a lot of great things about it. I’m glad that I’ve been forced to see things from a different angle, it’s definitely given me a fresh view on my work!

A Circle’s Round…

a_circle_is_round_it-66271It has no end, that’s how long I want to be your friend…

Sorry if I just got that song stuck in your head. I sang it in Girl Scouts way back when, and it ties in with what I want to write about today.

Friendship. The digital age has brought us all far closer together, and at the same time, much farther apart. These days, who doesn’t have a friend or closer relative that we feel twinges about because we know we should call them, but…? Or more than one? Life requires so much from us some days, not like the raw physical labor of previous generations, necessarily, but crowding every element of our lives so close together that it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed, no matter what you do for a living.

But I believe that it’s vital to reach out, to touch base and maintain those connections as much as possible. What makes human beings happy and fulfilled in life is the quality of their connections with others, and it’s amazing how great it can make you feel even just to write to someone you’ve meant to keep in touch with. Just to say, ‘hey, I was thinking about you..’. How often do you hear something like that? Not asking for something, just wanting to connect?

Even if it’s just one email, one facebook message, one voicemail, take the time to reach out this week to someone you’ve meant to keep in touch with. I believe you’ll be surprised at how much positive energy you can bring into your life just by the act of reaching out, and renewing old ties.

Stand up and be counted!

2015-03-21 21.42.47I’ve been using computers since I was a teenager. (My parents wondered why I stopped going outside, but computer games were the answer! Ah, Windows 95…) For all that time, I’ve spent many hours sitting on my behind, and never thought a thing of it. When I started work as a Virtual Assistant, I continued in the same way, creating my work area on the presumption that I would be sitting all the time.

After a while, I noticed that I was sore and uncomfortable, and I certainly wasn’t feeling very good physically. Sitting down all day made me feel lethargic and groggy. I browse a lot of articles linked through Facebook, and one caught my idea about the idea of a standing desk, specifically for something called a geek desk. I absolutely loved this idea, although the price was a little too high for me, so I put it on the back burner of my mind.

A while later, I had gotten frustrated with my sitting situation, and I decided to take measures into my own hands. I had long had a sturdy kitchen table from Ikea, and it struck me that it would make a good base for a possible desk. With some hunting, I found a smallish TV stand that would hold monitor and speakers. Further exploration resulted in the small, two shelf stand that would work with my keyboard whether I was standing or sitting. I got a computer chair mat-I do sit sometimes, when I’m not feeling well, or am sore from some other activity-and a chef mat to stand on.

And that’s how I work! I find that this position is much better for my health-I feel more energetic, and it’s much easier to keep my mind sharp than it was before. One unanticipated side effect was the fact that it’s also too easy to walk away from things, since I don’t have to undergo the extra effort of getting up first! ­čÖé It’s not for everyone-although some people take it even farther and put a treadmill underneath and walk while they work-but for many people I think it can have some excellent health benefits, and greater long term affects for the body.

 

Stuffing Your Voice

holiday-eatingHoliday eating and drinking is pretty universal. Most of us stuff ourselves in the presence of friends and family and indulge on New Year’s Eve. Now, this is not a bad thing, but when you’re sitting down to the table, think of your voice! Of course you do this often anyway, but we all get last minute jobs, even over the holidays, and if you rein it in a little, you can perhaps improve the quality of your auditions, reads, and anything else voice related during that time.

When thinking about health and holidays, I decided to seek some wisdom from Dr. Ann S. Utterback, the well known voice doctor. She writes an informative blog on how to keep your voice healthy, and I’ve found her to be both a very nice person and a highly important perspective for delivering your best vocal product. She says, in regards to holiday eating:

“We all know sugar cookies and eggnog put on pounds, but there is another culprit during the holidays, and that’s salt. ┬áSalt causes the body to retain fluid. ┬áCouple that with the weight gain most of us will have in the coming month, and you’ve got that stuffed feeling that saps your energy and makes it harder to breathe with the diaphragm. ┬áSo as much as you love those salty party snacks and Bloody Marys, remember to keep tabs on your salt intake.”
So when you’re sitting down at the table, pause for a moment of thought while you fill your plate. Your voice health is important year round, and a little restraint may help you keep your quality higher even during the busy holiday season.

3 Things I Learned Staying Up All Night

up all nightRecently, due to some competing deadlines, I stayed awake all night to finish some work. After I caught up on sleep, some observations about the experience occurred to me and I wanted to share them with you. We’ve all been there right? Not enough hours in the day and too much to do, and suddenly you find yourself having to stretch the extra mile to make sure everything gets done on time. Meeting deadlines is really important to me, and I know it’s important to my clients too. So without further ado–here’s what I learned in my marathon of work!

1. You are more capable than you think you are.

I’m 32. yes, I’m not ancient, but I was pretty certain I couldn’t make it though the night any more, or at least not easily. With the aid of plenty of coffee and judicious naps, I was able to make it with little trouble. I did not feel wonderful, but I was able to be sharp and accomplished with no problems.

2. Working longer doesn’t always mean working better.

Despite working for about 24 out of 36 hours, (I had to go to the dentist and get a root canal finished as well. Not the best day!) I was not vastly more accomplished than I would have been otherwise. I probably could have been nearly as effective with a better working method and a good night’s sleep.

3. Just enough isn’t good enough.

I will freely admit that it was my fault for ending up in the situation where I had to stay up so long. For a number of days, I had gotten ‘just enough’ work done. My focus was divided, and my overall work completion suffered for it. I could give you all kind of reasons as to why this was the case, but the point is that a greater sense of prioritization would have helped me to whittle out the chaff and move from point to point more quickly.

Any freelancer knows that in order to do our jobs well, we have to outdo any ball balancing seal any day of the week. And our focus needs to be both laser-like and intense, yet capable of running from one task to the next with no loss of control. Everyone does better or worse on this on a daily basis, but it’s important to not get stuck in a single way of doing things. It’s vital to keep in mind how capable you really are, and lastly, don’t forget that the ‘I’ll do it later’ you say today is likely to create numerous problems tomorrow.

Asking For Help

6a00d8341c500653ef0162fc629c06970dSome of us suffer from the reluctance to do this more than others. I think the mindset that produces it is common to people who end up entrepreneurs. We want to get everything done ourselves for a variety of reasons, perhaps because we want to make sure all the details are just so, perhaps because we don’t want to take the time to explain all the aspects of something we want done, perhaps because we think there’s no one to ask. Or maybe someone just doesn’t think of it because they’re so caught up in the day to day reality of making a living in our wonderful and yet often uncertain business. (Will I have more work tomorrow? Will my clients re-cast something I just did because they didn’t like it? Should I spent more time marketing?)

But it’s important to do this when it’s needed. Only you can say when that is, but don’t hesitate if you’re overwhelmed, if you’re feeling pulled in all directions. Whether it’s someone in your family, or a college kid you hire, or whatever, don’t hesitate to take those steps and have someone to turn to when things get crazy. On more than one occasion I have filled my plate a little too full, (because I hate turning people away) and have had to request help from other editors or from my family to make sure that I can meet my deadlines. It’s humbling, in a way, but I’ve felt better afterwards, and it’s let me attend to my other work with a freer mindset and less stress.

Make 2014 the year you ask for help when you need it! You’ll never know until you try how much impact and benefit this can have for you.

 

The Importance of Holidays

Happy-HolidaysIn past years, I never took a break from my work. I worked seven days a week, whenever there was something to do, and to whatever hour it took me to finish my work. And frankly, I never had time for myself and wasn’t particularly happy.

More recently I decided to regulate my working hours. I get up at the same time every day, work until 5pm, and have the evening hours to myself. This doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t work outside of that time, but I make an effort to get everything done within my typical working day. The ability to have a few hours free every day is great incentive to get more work done. I also take weekends off and use the time to catch up on chores and pursue my personal and artistic projects. (I paint, for example.)

The fact that I do these things causes astonishment, and in some cases derision from people that I talk to. I fully recognize that my schedule would not work for many people who have full time jobs, families and children to care for. I would never intimate that what works for me is required for someone else–however, the importance of taking a break, of having some time away from the microphone and the DAW is absolutely vital. Giving your mind, fingers, and vocal cords a break (even if it’s a ten minute walk around the block) will give you a chance to refresh on all levels and make your next piece or section of work better, and you’ll feel better about it, which is worth those few moments, don’t you think?

What are your resolutions?

a_fresh_startHappy New Year! It’s been a while since I’ve written. I used the end of last year as an opportunity to re-evaluate a lot of things about my business and my writing for this blog. I had kind of gotten burned out, and I wanted to take a chance to step away and refresh my perspective and come up with some new content.

My business has gone through a lot of changes–I started in 2011, but really only gave things my full attention a year later in late 2012. I’ve grown by leaps and bounds since then as far as clients, reputation, and the different types of work that I’ve been involved with, but it’s been a challenge to write my own ticket, to create a job and a business that’s not quite unique, but is certainly unusual. When I first started things, I always introduced myself as “Bob Souer’s Daughter,” so people would have a context for me in the voice over community, but more and more often now I find people who have heard of me, and never heard of my Dad! (This was very startling the first time it happened.)

So for a New Year, I find myself re-evaluating and taking a hard look at myself and my methods. I don’t want to get too comfortable and I don’t want to miss out on things that could improve what I do both in efficiency and effectiveness.

What are your resolutions? How are you going to make this year better than ever for yourself and your business? Next week I’ll be talking more about mine, and issuing a challenge for you! Think about it.

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