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10 Ways to Achieve Post Vacation Harmony

With summer in full force, many are returning from their summer holiday break or planning their next exciting getaway. Whether you’re just now purchasing your tickets or if you’re still enjoying the glow of your Caribbean tan, you can benefit from our tips and tricks for avoiding post vacation overwhelm.

Did you enjoy a week in Orlando with the family, spend a long weekend in Vegas with your girlfriends, or hike the Inca Trail in Peru? Regardless of the venue, these productivity tips can help you deal with the stress, overwhelm, and dread that goes hand-in-hand with coming back to reality.

Make sure your projects are under control before you embark on your journey

Be proactive, rather than reactive, to reduce the pain and dread of returning to work or home. The key is preparation. Make sure your projects and tasks are under control before your departure. At the office, take care of your high priority tasks, communicate your status to your manager and co-workers, and delegate any tasks that require completion before your return. If you’re managing a household, use project management techniques from the experts. Break large projects such as laundry and shopping into manageable tasks. Create shopping lists, checklists, or to-do lists.

Clean and organize your house before your departure

Nothing makes you feel more post vacation stress than returning to a dirty and disorganized house. Schedule time before your departure to clean and organize. Mow the lawn, if necessary. Outsource, if you have the budget. Hiring a cleaning service or lawn service will free up your time for packing and making plans, such as pet care, vacation itineraries, and reservations.

Create out-of-office or “unavailable” messages

Create out-of-office messages for both professional and personal voicemail and email. It’s basic office etiquette to ensure others are aware you’re not available, and co-workers tend to be self sufficient when they understand you’re away. For personal email and voicemail, create a message to let friends and family know that you won’t be answering email or returning calls for an extended period of time to avoid a flood of messages upon return.

Allow yourself time to recover

Schedule an extra day of vacation to unwind and prepare at home before returning to work or school. Don’t feel obligated to finish all projects, complete all tasks, and return all phone calls and email messages the first day you return. It’s especially important to schedule extra time if you’ve traveled across time zones and you’re suffering from jetlag.

Unpack and sort laundry

Upon return, unpack your bags, and sort your laundry immediately into piles or baskets. This is where your family can help. Ask children, spouses, or partners to assist with sorting, folding, and putting away laundry.

Attack your email inbox

Have you ever returned from vacation to an inbox full of hundreds or even thousands of email messages? If you haven’t started using Merlin Mann’s 43 folders techniques for email (Inbox Zero) this is a good time to start. It provides great tips to get your inbox to zero quickly and efficiently.

Quick email tips include:

  • Set filters on email beforehand. For example, sort email from your manager into one folder so you can start there upon return. Sort noisy, repetitive email into another folder that has a lower priority. You can address those items later.
  • Respond to email immediately. Answer email that you can immediately, and remember it’s not necessary to write a long response.
  • Create lists. Create a to-do list or task for anything that requires an action, then don’t be afraid to archive or delete the associated email.

Attack your “snail mail”

Sort the items from your mailbox into the following groups:

  • Coupons. Place any handy coupons or gift cards into one folder.
  • To do. Place any mail that requires a task into one folder.
  • To file. Place any mail that requires scanning or filing into one folder.
  • To pay. Place any bills that need to be paid online or by mail in one folder.
  • To read. Place catalogs, newspapers, and magazines that you wish to read later in this pile or folder.

Everything else goes into the recycle bin.

Stock the refrigerator and cupboards

After returning from a vacation, the refrigerator and cupboards might be bare. Once again, preparation is key. Make sure you have frozen meals stocked beforehand so you have something to eat as soon as you arrive home. Next, create a shopping list and schedule time to purchase groceries. After eating at restaurants for an extended period of time, your budget might be low and your waistline might be expanding. Home-cooked meals will help solve both issues.

Delegate your tasks

You can’t do it all yourself. Make sure your family pitches in, and avoid the temptation to redo their work. Make tasks clear and age appropriate. Set realistic deadlines. Give younger children single tasks and set a timer for completion. Consider using a reward system for completed tasks.

Find tools to help

There are several tools that can help you manage these items to achieve harmony. Choose a tool that works for you. LightArrow has created the app, LifeTopix, to help manage most of these items. LifeTopix is a calendar based productivity app for personal organization and time management available on the iPad and iPhone. It helps you manage your to-do lists (checklists), projects & tasks, notes, files, grocery shopping lists, service providers (such as pet care, cleaning services, or lawn maintenance), travel, and much more. You can find LifeTopix at the App Store.

5 Reasons You Should Track Your Nutrition

There’s many reasons to track your nutrition and maintain a food log. Are you working out, but not seeing changes? Do you suspect food allergies or a gluten intolerance? Do you suspect emotional eating? Do you have health issues, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure? Whatever your reasons, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding foods that are detrimental to your health will help you live a happier, healthier life.

Keeping track of food consNutrition Tracking Photo - LifeTopixumption will help you see the number of calories that you’re consuming each day, and it will also tell you if you’re eating enough vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, which are essential to a healthy diet. Keeping track of solid fats, oils, and desserts will help you determine if you’re eating too many of these foods.

There are several websites and apps that can help you keep track. Review our quick tutorial at the end of this post to learn how you can track nutrition based on guidelines from ChooseMyPlate.gov.

Poor Eating Habits Can Lead to Health Risks

According to an NCHS brief from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, January 2012, more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese. Also, the number of overweight children in the U.S. is growing, with 1 out of 3 children now considered overweight or obese. If you have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more, you may be considered overweight or obese. Visit the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention website [ Assessing BMI ] for more information about BMI. Not maintaining a healthy weight puts you at risk for many conditions — such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Understanding Your Relationship With Food

Food is used for several reasons — not just to satisfy hunger. At times, there might be psychological reasons, instead of physical reasons that lead to over-consumption. Food is used during celebrations such as birthday parties or weddings. Relationships, locations, and moods can affect your eating and drinking habits. For example, if you’ve had a stressful day at work, you might indulge in an extra glass of wine, or if you’re at the movies you feel obligated to eat the buttered popcorn. Keeping a diary of your food will help you identify the triggers that lead to poor eating habits.

Finding Your Allergy Triggers

Keeping track of foods that trigger your allergies can be a valuable tool. Some allergies are extreme and are obvious, but others may require some further investigation. When you keep track, you can correlate symptoms such as wheezing, nasal congestion, rashes, and nausea with the foods or drinks that you consume. Of course, if you suffer from allergies, any changes in your diet should be discussed with an allergist.

Improving Body Image

Your body image is how you feel about your physical self. If there are things that you want to change about your body (i.e., you’re not within the accepted BMI recommendations), you can put together a plan in conjunction with a nutritionist or a general practitioner to reach those goals. Make sure those goals are realistic for your body type. Tracking your progress and reaching these goals can boost your self-esteem and your body image.

Combating Unfair Perceptions of Obesity

In a study conducted by the University of Alabama, the perception of people who are obese is very different from those who are thin. For example, in the study those who were overweight and resting were associated with laziness, while their thin counterparts were described as resting. For more information about the study, see Science Daily.

How Technology Can Help

There are several tools that you can use to track exercise, weight, and nutrition. At LightArrow, we’ve created LifeTopix, which enables you to track everything in your life — all in one place. It is very flexible — allowing you to build nutrition tracking that’s tailored to your specific needs. Take a look at the following tutorial to learn more.

Download LifeTopix:

The LifeTopix App Helps those with Attention Deficit Disorder

Recently one of our valued customers remarked that LifeTopix is a must-have app to help with organizing her life. She is living with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (AADD). She confessed that in the past she used a lot of different apps that managed her life data and calendar, but she had trouble remembering which app held her information. If you or your child have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, and the iPhone or iPad is part of your strategy for improvement, we encourage you to take a look at LifeTopix.

If you are unfamiliar with this common disorder, some of the major symptoms include being easily distracted, missing details, forgetting things, and frequently switching from one activity to another. Those living with ADD/ADHD also have difficulty maintaining focus on one task and may become bored with a task after only a few minutes. Some of the signs include lack of focus on organizing, trouble learning something new, trouble completing homework assignments, and often losing things.

There are several apps at the App Store created to help adults and children with ADD/ADHD. These apps include simple alarm clocks to encourage you to get to school or work each day on time; reminders to help with medication; apps to store emergency contacts; apps to store notes and reports for reviewing with your doctor; and apps to store health statistics. It’s fantastic that these apps are available, but they don’t solve the core problem that there’s not one place to manage everything. Managing everything in one place is essential for success to eliminate distractions from “app switching.” When you spend your time switching from app to app, the task at hand takes longer than it should — or doesn’t happen at all because something grabs your attention, and you forget what you were trying to accomplish in the first place. At LightArrow, we’ve developed LifeTopix to solve this core problem — we manage EVERYTHING you do in life — all in one place.

I’ll introduce you to a few features that can help adults and children cope with ADD/ADHD. There’s an exhaustive list of features, so I highly recommend that you explore the LightArrow website to get a full picture of how you can benefit from LifeTopix.

Daily to-do list
According to Psych Central “When things get busy, ADHD symptoms can lead a person to lose perspective. On a daily level, to-do lists can help organize your schedule according to the importance of each activity.” LifeTopix includes features which enable you to create, schedule, and prioritize using to-do lists, as shown below.

To-do List

To-do List

All of these items roll up into your master calendar, and you can track daily progress.

Your Daily Planner

According to HelpGuide.org, a non-profit resource that helps people who have mental, emotional, and lifestyle challenges, it is important for those with ADD/ADHD to “make use of lists and notes to keep track of regularly scheduled tasks, projects, deadlines, and appointments. If you decide to use a daily planner, keep all lists and notes inside it.” LifeTopix allows you to accomplish this via its virtual daily planner. It is based on 12 LifeTopix.

LifeTopix gives you the abil­ity to enter, orga­nize, pri­or­i­tize, track and check off even the most com­plex tasks and projects in a stream­lined, nat­ural, and easy-to-understand way. It also works with popular apps such as Evernote, Toodledo, and Dropbox — eliminating the need to switch to those apps if you’ve stored notes, files, or tasks there. Take a look at the My Calendar view, which includes a rollup of all the data that you are tracking every  day in LifeTopix

My Calendar Rollup

My Calendar Rollup

Progress Reports

According to Psych Central, a motivational strategy for children with ADHD is to establish a Daily Report Card. LifeTopix is completely user configurable — you can create your own report card with any values you wish using the LifeTopix Wellness Log Forms. An example of wellness log values are shown below.

Wellness Log

Wellness Log

You can choose to log any stats with any range of values or numbers. For example, the following report card was created to track the number of times  undesirable behaviors occurred during a day (on a user-defined scale of 1-10). You can track this data every day, every week, or every month — it’s up to you to decide. Teachers can create report cards for students and email the report cards to parents; alternatively parents can track these behaviors on their own to discuss with doctors during appointments.

Report Card List

Report Card List

You can also view the data in a graph form (line, bar, or plot), which allows you to view and analyze any trends that occur over time, as shown below.

Report Card Graph

Report Card Graph

Medication Tracking

Using LifeTopix Wellness Log Forms, you can  track how you or your child are feeling each day to judge medication effectiveness. You can combine medications and wellness into a LifeTopix Multi-Topic Log Form so you can track the medications that you take and your wellness — all in one place. Similar to the Daily Report Card, you can view the data in a chart to analyze trends that occur over time.

For example, you can track the medications you are taking, hours you slept, your mood, your energy level, your ability to complete tasks, etc. All of these values can be completely defined by you — as shown below.

Medication and Wellness

Medication and Wellness

Nutrition Tracking

According to Dr. Frank Lawlis, author of The ADD Answer: How to Help Your Child Now, a healthy diet is important for all children and adults, but it is even more important for those who suffer from ADD/ADHD. To help you or your child  stay on track,  and to analyze any associations between behavior, wellness, and the foods and drinks you are consuming, LifeTopix provides a Nutrition Log, as shown below. Once again, you can define the values any way you wish.

Nutrition Log

Nutrition Log

We hope this brief overview helps you see how LifeTopix can help you manage your life when you’re living with ADD/ADHD. Please let us know your thoughts and share your stories.

Download LifeTopix:

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