Pumpkin Pulled Pork and Catching Up on Fall

I love fall. From the the crisp smoky aroma of wood stoves to the brilliant foliage filled trees, cascading over country dirt roads, forming a tunnel of bright yellow.

Fall always catches me off guard. Which is bizarre because I live in the state that invented Fall, Vermont. I have just put my pumpkin decorations in our living room built-in and have subsequently decided that I must share my favorite fall recipe, and tips for enjoying the season.

Here’s a few ways I absorb the glorious months of September through November. I’ve designed a sharable bingo board so you can keep these ideas in your camera roll and share with friends and followers. Be sure to cross off the activities you’ve completed this year.

Right click and “save” to share on social media!

Now that you have 25 ideas to safely enjoy Fall, let’s eat!

Years ago I made pumpkin pulled pork for an office spirit week. If you know me you know I love office spirit weeks. I take them very seriously and it’s one of the few times I will cook from a recipe found on a blog post that takes 17 minutes of scrolling to see the ingredients.

Here’s my pumpkin pulled pork recipe. I hope you will make it for friends and family this season. It sounds gross but it’s divine. Pair it with soft rolls and coleslaw for a hearty Fall meal.

Ingredients

5bs Pork Roast

1 Can Pumpkin Puree

1/4 Cup Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

3 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar

1 TBSP Black Pepper

1/4 Cup Maple Syrup

1 TBSP Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 TBSP Onion Powder

Directions

Throw it all into a crockpot on low for 10 hours or until at the desired consistency. I have cooked it for 12-15 hours with great results!

I hope you enjoy the remainder of the season. Remember, it doesn’t have to be Christmas until you say so, or December 25th.

Nellie Working from Home

A Marketer’s Guide to Working from Home

You’ve probably seen dozens of similar articles floating around the internet or pushed to your inbox. I’m sorry. Here’s another one. Yep. I am going to write another one of those articles about how to work remotely; however, this comes from someone who has tested these methods and actually uses them to push through an eight hour day with their chihuahua and homemade coffee.

Get A Dedicated Space

I see you at your kitchen table. You think you’re cute. But you might regret where you’ve placed your new corner office. Please do yourself a favor and build a dedicated location for your work. If you’re going to use your kitchen table, that’s okay, but it’s no longer the kitchen table. It’s a desk with all of the materials you need for work. It’s set up with monitors and maybe even pushed into a corner so it no longer feels like a kitchen table. Eating dinner will happen elsewhere.

If you have the luxury of living in a residence with a separate office, use it. Close the door and don’t spend time in that space when you’re not working. Similarly, don’t continue sitting at your kitchen table office when you’re not working. Keep it as a separate space for the intention of work. This will help you feel more relaxed when you’re off the clock and more focused when it’s time to get your 40+ hours in for your employer.

Embrace Technology

When I was a child the thought of a video call was a big deal. It was not accessible and definitely not cheap. Fast forward to 2020 and there is little point in a verbal phone call because every piece of technology has a video component. If you’re a leader that is holding regular meetings, turn your camera on. Most laptops come with cameras and showing your face in a meeting is a great way to bolster your contribution to the team and your support of the company that employs you. If you’re a business owner, consider inviting your clients to join you on a video call. I recently heard a great piece of advice (sorry I don’t have attribution for this), if the meeting facilitator has their camera on then yours should be on too.

I should share one caveat with you about video calls. Learn how to use your camera, speakers, and microphone, before you make or join a call or meeting. There is no excuse for the echo. Google how to fix it. Speak to your IT department. figure it out. Oh, and if you hear feedback in a meeting – it might be you. So mute unless you’re talking. Please.

Snacks and Drinks Help You Think

Trying to work on a detailed project while you’re depleted of glucose is not useful. Leaving your dedicated workspace every ten minutes for a small cup of water is distracting to your productivity. Pack a bag of snacks and drinks to last at least four hours. Use ice packs. Or, invest in a mini-refrigerator. It’s worth it and will save you at least an hour in lost productivity. How? When you go to grab a drink you also see the dirty dishes, the dog that wants a treat and the plants that need to be watered. Don’t allow yourself to be in a position where you can meander over to other tasks when you were simply looking for a Fresca.

Take Breaks. Sometimes Many. 

Some people can focus non-stop for hours on end. I am not one of those people. I need variety. If you have worked with me then you know I am a conversationalist. This was a way for me to take a mental break between projects. My work in marketing is very project based and interpersonal interactions help me create transition time between projects. Working at home means being alone. There is no one to chat with about the odd power outage that happened because of a herd of deer. I am not sure that has ever happened but it’s possible in Vermont. 

Oh, right, breaks. So instead of speaking with colleagues I take periodic breaks. I use this time to check in with myself physically. Do I need water? Food? Social interaction? If I need social interaction I may not always scroll through social media. I may actually take that time to speak with followers or post something. This helps me still feel like I’m speaking with someone. Other times I will take the dog out for a five-minute walk down the street. Or, I’ll pop through the drive-thru for coffee. I try to do something that has an obvious ending. For example, going for coffee means that once I get the coffee and arrive home, the break is done. It’s on to the next project.

If you feel you need to take more breaks and work a longer day, do it. If you’re hourly and working from home, speak with your Manager about how you can best work mini-breaks into your day. If you’re salary, get to a full day and build your breaks in as you go.

Set Boundaries

I’m feeling very empathetic toward parents that are working from home. Especially parents who would otherwise have the escape of an office environment. Yes, I said escape. It can be very jarring for a parent to go from a 40hr office work week to a 40hr co-working space with their toddler. For those without children, like myself, it’s still important to set boundaries.

So what boundaries can we set to enhance our remote work experience? Consider the following ideas:

  • Set a start and end time for work. If you’re taking more breaks, then your day may actually end later than usual.
  • Break up the childcare duties. I don’t have much experience with this matter but balance in all things is valuable.
  • Be careful not to set lunch dates or social visits when you should be working. Granted, we’re all pretty confined to our homes but a socially distanced brunch could drag on and distract you from your day.
  • Do still use PTO. Just because you’re home doesn’t mean you don’t need a vacation or time to focus on your medical appointments. Early on in the pandemic I took a Friday off just to process what was happening in the world. You can too.
  • Don’t work 15hr days because you can. I remember working so late in one office that I had to wave my hands to turn the sensor lights back on. Overworking can lead to physical and mental stress so be sure you’re setting the expectation that the day ends after eight or nine hours. Or less if that’s what is required of you.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Perhaps they’re the same tips you’ve seen all over your TikTok “For You” page. Regardless, stay sane out there. Grab a snack and enjoy this time of personal grounding as we get through 2020, together.

Networking: Three Steps to Becoming a Meet & Greet Rockstar

It’s January, and pretty soon we are going to be going into the spring events season. You are probably already rolling your eyes in contempt at the amount of networking that you may be required to do in a few months.

Have no fear, there are a few things you can do to not only enjoy networking, but become a networking rockstar.

1. Prepare

Whatever you do, don’t go into the meet and greet blind. You should have some expectation of who is going to be at the event, and a few things you can talk about to strike up conversation.

Consider looking up a few key people on LinkedIn ahead of time. Check out their company’s recent news events, and brush up on where they went to school and some of their recent projects.

As a word of caution, don’t look up everyone that’s going to be at the event and don’t connect with everyone either. It will be pretty obvious that you are trolling the registration list if you do this. No one likes a LinkedIn stalker.

Another way to prepare is to have three key talking points. This could be conversation starters that are related to the type of event you are attending, as well as things that you really want to mention about your organization. But be sure not to force these items of conversation. These topics are simply to drive the conversation forward if there is a lull.

2. Go in confidence

This may sound a little New Age but you need to be sure that you are mentally preparing yourself for the event before you go. Remind yourself that you are very talented at what you do, that you get along with people really well, and that you are great in conversation. Walk into the event with your head held high feeling that you can move about the room and enjoy yourself. If you have done the preparation this becomes much easier to accomplish. Another way to feel confident as you enter the room is to be sure that you’re wearing comfortable clothes that are aligned with the dress recommendations for the event. Ladies, getting your nails done before an event is another quick win in the confidence arena.

3. Don’t force connection

You are not going to hit it off with everyone at the event. Frankly, you shouldn’t. Your time can be much better invested in meeting a few people and building a few great long-term relationships versus meeting many people for a brief amount of time. Again, this goes back to your preparation. If you know who you want to meet then you can focus on meeting those people, but if you click with someone allow yourself to let the conversation flow. Make sure that you are enjoying the event and that the event is a catalyst for you to build long-term business or personal relationships. Today’s business minded individuals can see through bullshit and they love to speak to people who are genuine and passionate.

My Favorite Leadership and Marketing Tools

As leaders we’re constantly bombarded by advertisements requesting our time to try a new tool. Most of these tools offer little value, are overcrowded with partner advertisements, or have a poor user interface. In this post I’ll share a few of the tools I use to manage some of my marketing tasks and overcome time management quandaries.

Buffer, HootSuite, and Social Scheduling 

I’ve said this before and i’ll say it again, schedule your social media posts. I’m still floored when people think I’m posting to Facebook at 7:53 AM on a Sunday. Seriously? Ain’t nobody got time for that. By “that” I mean posting for your business in real time. Check out Buffer, HootSuite, or any social scheduling app and get rolling. You could become a social media maven while only spending two hours per WEEK scheduling posts. 

Also consider reposting older posts. If you write your content to be evergreen you can recycle your posts over and over again. You can also schedule posts from other likeminded thought leaders. 

Feedly, Paper.li and RSS

Feedly is a site which allows you to pull RSS feeds from many sites by imputing the RSS URL, or by searching a keyword. If you’re looking for content to reshare Feedly allows you to make a real time library of content on the web. 

Paper.li has the same functionality as Feedly but also allows you to create your own branded online newspaper to share on social media. For example: If you own a hair salon you can curate articles about techniques (cut, color, etc…) and share that newspaper online with your clients or social followers. Your paper will automatically update with new content from the web based on the search terms you setup. 

Audiobooks & Podcasts

I cannot put a value on the knowledge I’ve gained by listening to audiobooks and podcasts. I travel frequently for my job; by listening to podcasts and audiobooks I’ve essentially turned my car into a rolling university. I recommend Stitcher, iTunes, and Audible as tools for adding this content to your daily commute. And here’s the kicker — most podcasts are free! I’ll share some of my favorite podcasters and authors in a future post so be sure to “stay tuned” to my blog. 

Toggl

Your time is valuable. Do you know how much time you’re spending in meetings, on projects, or on the golf course? Wouldn’t you like to see how your time is used and break down where you’re most productive? Toggl can help. People think it’s a little nutty that I document every work task. I think it’s nutty not to understand how many hours are spent on non-essential tasks. I clock in and out of everything I do during work hours. This allows me to stay on task, and find out why I’m ahead in one area and behind in another. For example: I know that website visits drop during weeks I’m at trade events. Why? Because I neglected to schedule web content. Remedy? Schedule content before I go out of town. 

Slack

I admit, I just found out about Slack. This neat app allows you to create chat groups and work on projects with anyone. It’s great for extracurricular projects (non-profit boards, bands, etc…) and works via app and desktop. You just have to be sure you’re not adding a duplicate tool for communication. People are habitual so it may take some training to get your teams or groups on board to the idea of using Slack more regularly. 

Coffee

No explanation nessesary. ☕️

How to Know When to Take a Break

 I find it really interesting that there are a lot of articles about productivity online, but there are not a lot of articles about when to take a break. Or learning how to calm your mind to be more productive later on. This post is about learning when to be calm, take a break, take a nap, or take some time out for yourself to unplug. Here are a few ways to know when to take a break:

You’re having trouble focusing.

If you’ve tried to start the same task three times in the last 10 minutes and can’t seem to make any progress you may need to step away from that task. Go take a quick walk around the office, grab a cup of coffee, or sit still for a few minutes and think about the task at hand. It may even help to write out a few bullet points about the task just to get get to the next step. 

You feel overwhelmed.

Some of these steps will be similar to what you would do if you can’t focus. Take a walk, grab a glass of water, or take a quick break. You may also want to talk about how you feel with one of your coworkers, or start making a list of what is overwhelming. You can even do a brain dump of absolutely everything you’re thinking about at the time. If you feel your heart racing then you really need to stop what you’re doing so you can calm your mind. Hold your breath for five seconds and release. Repeat this a few times until you feel calm. If you cannot calm after this exercise you may be experiencing a panic attack. Seek the advice of a medical doctor right away if you believe you have experienced a panic attack, or feel any shortness of breath, or rapid heart beat. 

You feel frustrated.

Perhaps you’ve been working on the same task for a while but the outcome isn’t what you hoped. Use your frustration as an opportunity to channel your energy towards something positive. For example, this would be a good time to go work out, take a brisk walk, or start a physical project in your office like filing, or cleaning your desk. When I find myself frustrated at work I typically organize my desk drawers or other areas of my professional working space. 

You are physically exhausted.

This is the most common reason people take a break. But for some being physically exhausted is seen as a weakness. It is not a weakness. When you are physically exhausted your body needs to rest. You need to physically recharge so that you can handle the stressors of the following day. Perhaps you’ve had too much caffeine, or not enough water, or you’re not eating nutritious food. Those factors contribute to physical exhaustion. The greatest factor that contributes to physical exhaustion is lack of sleep. If you’re having a very tough day at work try to take a nap on your lunch break. Give yourself a physical timeout. And avoid future physical exhaustion by giving yourself a bedtime.

As you go about your week pay attention to the times when you need to take a break. You may find that there’s a trend, and you may be able to get in front of the problem and start having a more successful, calm, and productive month.

How to Easily Prioritize Your Day

Make Things Happen!
Photo courtesy of http://www.dollarphotoclub.com.

I’ve downloaded countless apps for building my to do list. Frankly, the more bells and whistles the worse they become. Now I stick to a written four quadrant to do list.

Yep, a written list. I’m sorry to disappoint, but that is what works for me. I use the four quadrant approach to prioritization. It’s simple, it’s direct, and it’s worth it.

The four quadrant formula is one we all know and love, but simplified.

The four quadrants are:

  • Urgent and Important
  • Urgent and Unimportant
  • Not Urgent and Important
  • Not Urgent and Not Important

That’s a mouthful isn’t it? There’s an easier way to categorize these four quadrants of prioritization and that is by using the following acronym’s UI, UU, NUI, NUNI. If you don’t have a computer handy, simply use pen and paper to draw your quadrants.

We then put these four quadrants together we form a large square of prioritization. I’ve built it into fillable PDF. Please feel free to download this PDF for future use as a printable prioritization chart. You may also prefer filling out the PDF and saving it to your desktop. No need to waste paper.

Tell me – how do you prioritize your time? What tools do you use?