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Your Time is Valuable: Insights on Time Management

A new year, for many, means new resolutions (or old ones revisited). For me, time is of the essence. In fact, in a recent video interview, I mentioned that being present is critical to success. Take time to enjoy the beauty of life and count your blessings with an attitude of gratitude.

Be present with a grateful heart and I think we’ll have the best year we’ve ever had.

USANA President Jim Brown

USANA President Jim Brown wrote an article late last year about this notion of time. In it, he offered several insights on time management and creating an optimal work/life balance.

As I’ve done with previous articles in this “engagement series,” I wanted to share some of Jim’s thoughts with you here.

“Working from home is the new norm for hundreds of employees at USANA,” Brown says. “We’re also connected 24-7. Our work/life balance is more challenging than ever, and I worry your days don’t stop.”

Brown recognizes that companies need to have tools in place to make sure employees are balancing workloads. Without them, it can be easy to slip into 10- or 11-hour workdays — especially when working from home. A set system or schedule can help you manage your time and stay productive.

Below are several excellent time-management tips, courtesy of Jim Brown.

Plan Your Productivity

I use Outlook. The calendar and reminders keep my day on track. And I set alarms on my phone, so I never miss a meeting. I also schedule downtime, time for me to just sit back and read a book, to learn and grow.

A simple pad and pen work for me, too. I keep my daily action items on it and take them into my meetings so that I can write notes. I put an “AI” next to action items. If I don’t keep track of them, I’ll forget to do them. The list sits on my desk.

My administrative assistant, Irene Howell, also helps me organize my events. She has access to my email and can add items to my calendar. She’s always looking ahead for me. It’s nice to have that extra help. She does a lot to help USANA move forward.

Fine Line Between Work and Life

I’ll look at my phone before bed to check if anything has popped up. But even if it’s urgent, I take care of the issue the next day.

Working from home, you get to decide if you’ll take a break or run an errand. Your inner voice may make you feel guilty for going to the bank or hardware store. But if you’re good at time management, and you’re knocking action items off your list (whatever that may look like), you shouldn’t feel guilty for taking time for yourself.

Sit down and look at your time. Make that work/life balance happen.

Time Management

It’s Your Time

Some companies have implemented companywide initiatives to block out hours when employees can’t schedule meetings.

We don’t have any such plans. USANA shouldn’t be blocking out hours, you should. And this goes back to time management. Develop your own schedule. Say you need to pick up the kids from school or help them with homework — that’s your downtime. I don’t want you to lose that because the company has scheduled hours for everyone to follow.

Yes, we all have big days that require long hours, but this shouldn’t be the norm. Our normal is a very stable work week where we effectively give to the company because USANA gives back to us.

Good Timing

Time management takes extra effort and attention to detail. It also goes beyond calendars and to-do lists. Here are a few suggestions to help you make the most of your day.

1. Look Ahead

For some people, it’s helpful to always look a day ahead. I keep an eye on my whole week. Managing your calendar in advance gives you the flexibility to modify your schedule for both your business and personal needs.

2. Take Time to Reset

Free time is important. I’m trying to exercise a little bit more now, so that helps me. At night, my son and I play video games together. It’s a great way to spend time with him. I also just love gaming. Call of Duty or Madden is my way to take my mind off work.

3. Procrastination

Everyone procrastinates on some level. Though it’s not something I have much of an issue with. I have a lot of other things to work on, like my impatience.

Procrastination usually happens if a task doesn’t excite you or is something you don’t want to do. But the longer you wait, the worse it gets. It’s better to tackle these things head-on.

And if you have control over your time, you can afford a little procrastination.

4. Say No

I honestly don’t think any of us are good at saying “no.” When something lands on your desk or you’re asked to take on a task, look at your priorities. If you don’t have the time and it’s reasonable to do so, say no.

5. Delegate

Delegating is a great way to get stuff done. It’s a chance to help others learn something new and inspire them. The higher your position, the more important it is to delegate. If you’re building a team, they need to be prepared to move up as well.

Delegation is a tool for growth. Look at it as a teaching tool. If you’re just using it because you don’t want to do stuff, (and I don’t think we have employees like that) then you are not using it right.

6. Set Your Phone Aside

I never actually shut my phone down. But when I finish work, or when I come home, I’ll set it down to take a break from the texts. I typically put it away so that I can spend one-on-one time with my wife and son, too. That way, I can give them my undivided attention.

I’m not always perfect. If that phone vibrates, I’ll pick it up and look at it just to make sure everything’s OK. But sometimes putting it to the side is all you need.

7. Take Vacation

I struggle to use my vacation hours. Sometimes I take a Friday off or go to Lake Powell for a week. But most of my vacations are extensions of my weekends.

Vacations help us wind down and take a mental break from work. I understand vacations look different right now, but it’s important to take time for yourself.

The Value of Time

In the end, the one thing we’ll regret most is the time we didn’t spend with our loved ones.

With good time management, you’ll spend less time working and still get just as much done. Schedules make you feel prepared and productive. And they can help you enjoy work — and life.

To view additional articles in this series, please click here.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

4 Ways to Stay Healthy at Home

Health is much more than simply how we feel physically. Paul Jones, USANA’s chief development officer, recognizes this and recently he shared with our employees four ways to stay healthy at home.

USANA President Jim Brown speaking about the importance of health.

USANA President Jim Brown speaking about the importance of health.

“How grateful I am to work for a company that lists health as a core value,” he says. “Its very vision is to create the ‘Healthiest Family on Earth’ no matter where we are — working in the office or at home.”

Though physical health is incredibly important, so too is our mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

“They are very much intertwined and if one aspect of health is struggling, it impacts the others,” Jones says.

With that, Jones outlines four areas of our life we can focus on to improve our overall well-being. It’s the latest in a series of posts from USANA’s management team.

Tips to Stay Healthy at Home

1. Nutrition

For many, it seems one of the more frustrating effects of COVID-19 is the 19 pounds we have gained from staying in and eating less than stellar foods. I have three challenges for us all:

  • First, evaluate the snack selections available in our remote worksite pantries and eliminate the greatest temptations. Snack less in between meals. And when you do snack, choose healthy options.
  • Second, drink more water throughout the day. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups (3.3 liters) of fluids for men and 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) a day for women.
  • Third, take CellSentials.

The Challenge: Choose healthy snacks, drink more water, and take your vitamins.

2: Exercise

Studies show the importance of exercise. However, one of the great benefits of regular exercise is better mental health. A comparison of 1.2 million people who do 45 minutes of exercise 3 to 5 days a week have 1.5 fewer days of poor mental health each month.

The exercise does not necessarily have to be in a gym (if they’re open). Shoveling snow, raking leaves, vigorous house cleaning, and many other regular, daily activities also count.

The Challenge: Let’s get up and move!

3: Sleep

Too many of us are sleep deprived. The recommended guideline for a good night’s sleep is at least seven hours. Yet, one in three adults doesn’t meet this standard, according to Nancy Sin, assistant professor at the University of British Columbia.

“A large body of research has shown that inadequate sleep increases the risk for mental disorders, chronic health conditions, and premature death,” Sin says. “All elements of our health are negatively affected when we don’t get adequate sleep.”

The Challenge: Turn off the electronics and go to sleep.

4: Gratitude

This is Jones’ secret to a healthy life. He explains that Nationwide Children’s Hospital has shown the following health benefits from living with gratitude:

  • Improved mood
  • Increased optimism
  • Improved social bonds
  • Improved physical health

And he challenges us to pick one — or more — of the following actions:

  1. Start your day by writing down one thing that went well the previous day and why it went well.
  2. When you find yourself feeling upset or frustrated, hit the pause button and reset your thinking. Come up with something positive about the situation or think about something else entirely that you are thankful for.
  3. Go around the dinner table and have each person state something they are thankful for. Even more, identify something specific to that day that they are thankful for.
  4. Share your gratitude with others by writing a note to someone for whom you are grateful.

To view additional articles in this series, please click here.

Have Fun and Stay Connected While Working From Home

For many of us, working from home is our new daily routine. And, if you’re like me, it’s definitely a different experience. Fortunately, I’m still surrounded — albeit, mostly virtually — by talented colleagues and friends.

Dan Macuga, USANA chief communications and marketing officer

Dan Macuga, USANA chief communications and marketing officer

Recently, Dan Macuga, USANA’s chief communications and marketing officer, explained to USANA employees how he’s staying connected and having fun while working from home.

As I’ve done previously, I’d like to share with you key points from his article in hopes that you can implement the strategies in your own life.

Get to Know Your Peers

Being happy, Macuga says, is critical to staying connected and having fun. It’s something he’s learned in his 14 years at USANA.

“USANA has to be experienced,” says Macuga, a self-described people person. “I consider myself very fortunate to be here at USANA and with each day that feeling strengthens — even with tough days like you and I have every once in a while.”

Daily interactions with employees allow for the opportunity to learn about new ideas, among other things. And those interactions shouldn’t vanish simply because we’re not all working in the same building.

“Basically, if you listen to people around you, and you are truly interested in their opinions and feedback, you gain insight into the business you would never know otherwise,” he explains.

In other words, if you listen you will learn. Plus, you’ll be able to offer your own perspective on an idea or an initiative. This is how innovation starts — it’s a groundswell of ideas that culminate in change.

In the process, learning and interacting can be fun. It will help you build relationships and set a foundation for future collaboration opportunities.

“We are people first, employees second. Learning about people, their families, and their hobbies is not only fun, it’s truly engaging to hear what other people are up to. Perhaps you will even find similar likes that bring your friendship to a new level.”

— Dan Macuga, USANA Chief Communications & Marketing Officer

Make Sure You’re Having Fun

Our new work environment can feel isolating at times. It gives me even more appreciation for our USANA Associates and what they accomplish. But no matter where we work, it’s important that we stay connected with our colleagues.

Macuga tackles it in two parts: Disconnect and Connect.

“Stress can impact your health, your personal life, your work life, basically everything,” he says. “So, my advice is this, when you feel pressure, find an outlet to just disconnect and let go. Find a way to take a break, step away, let your mind roam, do something you enjoy, just get away for a bit.”

It could be a walk around the block, a 15-minute meditation, or reading a chapter or two in a book. Essentially, find an activity that lets you stop, forget, and get your mind back into a good spot.

For Macuga, his go-to activity to decompress is slightly unusual.

“I mow my lawn!” he says. “Seriously, I go out back, fire up the mower, and work on getting the lines in my lawn perfectly straight.”

When you’re ready to go back and connect, consider doing so in a way that involves some sort of teambuilding. Departments at USANA hold smaller Zoom meetings regularly. Others conduct virtual lunches or get together to play board games or meet to discuss a book, movie, or TV show.

The bottom line: Find ways to stay connected with your co-workers.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Listen and Learn

I’ve said it before, but the USANA culture is special. And that culture doesn’t disappear just because we’re working from home.

“I have worked for a number of large global companies here in the U.S. and I can assure you that not one of them has the unique culture that has been created and maintained at USANA,” Macuga says. “To keep that culture alive and well in these unique times, we need to stay focused on our personal health and stay connected with those around us.”

Remember:

  • Find a way to disconnect in times of stress. Look for opportunities to get away even for just a few minutes to let your mind go and reset yourself.
  • Find ways to stay connected. Get to know your fellow employees better on a personal level and find ways to spend time together doing something fun.

And finally, Macuga believes the more you listen, the more you learn.

“Take the time to get to know people around you, hear their ideas, and listen to their concerns,” he says.

It will give you insight into making your work environment even better than it already is.

To view additional articles in this series, please click here.

Building a Foundation of Trust

When Doug Hekking, USANA’s Chief Financial Officer, writes about trust and integrity, we all should listen. Doug and I have worked closely together for many years, and I’m grateful for his leadership.

Recently, Doug offered several thoughts on these important topics in an article for USANA employees. I’d like to share key points from his article here in hopes that they might resonate with you.

The foundational building block of establishing trust with others is to, first and foremost, seek to become trustworthy yourself.

Doug Hekking, USANA Chief Financial Officer

Doug Hekking, USANA Chief Financial Officer

“Our expectation of others and our willingness to trust others is often a manifestation of how we view ourselves,” Hekking writes.

Certain characteristics and competencies are inherently linked to trust and integrity:

  • Honesty
  • Do what you say you’ll do
  • Humility
  • Speak up

If you embrace these character-building values, you are creating a solid base that will be apparent to both yourself and those around you.

Building Trust: What Are Your Intentions?

I’m humbled to share the following advice. It’s something Hekking says he learned from me following one of our interactions. Over the years, we’ve disagreed at times on certain issues. While our conversations sometimes became heated, they were never vitriolic.

“After one of these conversations, it was weighing on my mind how I spoke to Kevin,” Hekking writes. “I reached out to apologize for how I communicated and his response proved to be one of those learning moments in my life that has never left me.”

Thinking back, I remember explaining that I understood Hekking’s intentions were pure and his motivations were in the best interest of USANA. Therefore, I didn’t take offense and appreciated his passion.

Demonstrating positive intent/motivation provides a real opportunity to improve and enhance our communication with each other.

“We are in times where there is a great deal of change,” Hekking writes. “As you demonstrate your capabilities, follow through, and deliver results, you will fortify others’ belief and trust in you.”

The Basics of Trust

Hekking continues to highlight ways in which employees and managers within an organization can create trusting relationships. Besides being honest with yourself, you build trust through:

  • Honest, candid dialogue
  • Mutual respect
  • Transparency
  • Owning mistakes, learning, and moving on

Actions speak louder than words. There needs to be alignment between what we say and do.

At USANA, we do this well. When we make mistakes, we acknowledge them and set things right. Our actions show we advocate for our customers as key stakeholders.

You’ve heard me say it before, but I’m proud that we hold true to our core values.

Build a Safe Zone of Communication

Finally, communication is so important as we work to build and maintain trust. It’s critical that you welcome open and honest dialogue. To do this, listening is key.

Whether you’re an employee or a manager, create a safe environment to have open and honest dialogue.

“If someone is talking to you, be present and listen—really listen,” Hekking writes. “Don’t placate with hollow conversation.”

Interact in a transparent way. Welcome differences of opinion. And recognize employees are the experts at what they do.

As organizations grow, one person can’t be the expert in all things. Encourage an open dialogue where people are respectful, but they also feel free to disagree and offer a diverse perspective.

“In my experience, when the right employee is given responsibility and accountability, that person steps up and shines,” Hekking says. “Such growth encourages those of us in leadership roles to be confident to delegate and empower our teams. When employees take advantage of opportunities and deliver on them, they add to the building blocks of trust and confidence.”

Building trust takes practice and commitment. My sincere thanks to Doug Hekking for sharing such strong advice on this topic.

As he concludes, “Trust is a multidirectional, daily exercise, with responsibility on both sides. And it all starts with each of us.”

To view additional articles in this series, please click here.

5 Healthy Communication Habits

“Communication—the human connection—is the key to personal and career success.”

— Paul J. Meyer

The way we communicate changed in 2020, especially for those of us who were used to working in an office environment. Face-to-face interaction became more difficult. Our quick office pop-ins to deliver messages all but vanished. And we struggled to separate our work life from our home life.

Working from home, which is familiar for so many entrepreneurs, became the norm for countless office workers.

How do we build strong relationships and maintain productivity while many of us continue to work from home? Much of it comes down to consciously adapting our communication habits.

Amy Haran, USANA’s Executive Vice President of Communications, offered 5 Healthy Communication Habits she’s found to be helpful. I wanted to share some of her advice here.

Communication 2020

Communication is key. Here are 5 Healthy Communication Habits. Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay.

1. Communicate More

Amy Haran, USANA Executive Vice President of Communications

After several weeks of working from home, it became clear my colleagues and I had to be more intentional about sharing information. I now keep a list—along with lists for my other direct reports—to keep track of what I need to share in our weekly meetings. And my employees keep a similar list for me.

Being intentional in our communications should extend to our relationships across the company. We don’t see each other in hallways or cubicle walk-by’s anymore—meaning, we need to make an effort to ask for and share information with each other.

When in doubt, err on the side of sharing information with a wider group.

2. Check in Often

Meetings: We all love to hate them, but they’re an important tool to stay connected in today’s remote workplace. And if handled well, they can actually be fun.

Several meeting types that should take priority on your calendar:

  • Formal Development Meetings: Surprise! Giving timely feedback and understanding each other’s expectations did not go on hold during the pandemic. Consider monthly employee-led check-ins and quarterly manager-led meetings—and add them to your calendar.
  • One-on-One Check-ins: Aside from these employee development meetings, less formal and more frequent check-in meetings are necessary for most employees these days. I’ve found that weekly check-ins have worked best for most of my direct reports. We usually jump on WebEx to share updates, discuss challenges, and catch up on what’s happening in each other’s lives. And turning on our cameras always helps us connect even more.
  • Team Meetings: All of the teams who report to me have increased the frequency of their meetings—to twice a week or even a quick, daily WebEx—to address pressing concerns, give progress updates, and maintain relationships. Be sure to leave some time for coworkers to catch up or play a quick game. It’s easy to get distracted in web meetings, especially with your camera off. Just remember, your participation and focus in these meetings are key to staying informed and maintaining your team’s culture.

3. Choose the Right Communication Channel

At USANA, we’re fortunate to have many ways to communicate with each other, including WebEx meetings and messages, email, text, Slack, Zoom, Jabber, and the good, old-fashioned phone. But all of these choices can lead to confusion about what channel to use and when.

With no hard or fast rules to follow, considering everything from the sensitivity to the urgency of your message will help.

Which Channel?

  • Email: Info that’s straightforward, non-sensitive, non-urgent, and doesn’t require a lot of discussion or responses (e.g. A monthly project update to a large group)
  • Video Meetings: Collaborative meetings, sensitive messages, and complicated topics that require discussion or responses (e.g. A weekly team or employee check-in)
  • Chat/Instant Messaging: Quick questions, real-time collaboration, urgent info, or socializing (e.g. A brief project question to a small group)
  • Phone: When a video meeting isn’t a viable option and the message is too lengthy, complex, or sensitive to handle via email or chat (e.g. An urgent conversation with your manager about a complicated issue)
  • Text: Info or questions that are brief, urgent, and don’t require a lot of collaboration or discussion; also, funny memes (e.g. A heads up to your manager that you’ll be late to an upcoming meeting)

Whatever channel you use, keep it concise, courteous, specific, scannable (if it’s written), and relevant to your audience.

4. Establish Rules of Engagement

Work may be at home these days, but that doesn’t mean the office is open 24/7. Take note of when you reach out to people and ask yourself whether your expectation for response time is fair.

To help navigate changing expectations, many experts recommend you establish “rules of engagement” with your team to make life easier for everyone. These “rules” could include when people are available via email, how often you expect updates from each other, and even “office hours” when managers are free for unscheduled employee conversations.

5. Provide Positivity and Support

In times of crisis, high anxiety, or high stress, employees look to managers for emotional cues. Like COVID, negative emotions are highly contagious. If we’re communicating stress or helplessness, our employees will likely do the same.

Recognizing this doesn’t mean we have to be fake or overly cheerful. Acknowledging the situation or validating someone’s feelings while offering encouragement and trust will go a long way toward helping our coworkers feel calm and confident.

You’ve Got This

“USANA has weathered some big storms this year, and we’re stronger for it,” Haran says. “You are capable of staying connected with your coworkers, maintaining our amazing culture, and remaining focused on your goals—whether you’re working from a cluttered guest bedroom (raises hand) or a corner office.”

To view additional articles in this series, please click here.

Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

Tips for Staying Connected While Working Remotely

In March 2020, our work routines changed dramatically. Offices shut down and employees, in many cases, were required to work from home. Staying connected became a challenge as we navigated our new workplace environments.

I wrote about the importance of incorporating core values into your home office to stay better engaged. It kicked off an internal series of articles for USANA employees. Today, as part of that series, I’d like to share some notes and advice from Pete Benedict, USANA’s executive vice president of information technology.

He wrote an article detailing how USANA’s IT teams worked hard to set us up with the proper equipment and applications to work from home.

Nearly 700 meetings were conducted on the Webex platform in the last week of August — that’s seven times more than were held the first week of March. Bandwidth usage shot up tenfold.

But that’s just the technical side of the story. How about the interpersonal side of what working remotely entails?

Staying Connected - Video Conferencing

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay.

Staying Connected & Avoiding ‘Video Fatigue’

Pete Benedict, USANA Executive Vice President of IT

As Benedict writes, “video fatigue is real. The more meetings we have throughout the day, the more tiresome they can become.”

Here are tips Benedict shared with our employees. Perhaps you can incorporate them into your situation to help fight virtual fatigue.

  • Keep meetings short, about 30–40 minutes
  • For longer meetings, take a break every hour
  • Use video when possible (sometimes an internet connection or WiFi speed may make this more difficult, but when possible use video to see and help in staying connected with others in the meeting)
  • Be on time
  • Have an agenda to stay on track (this includes ending on time)
  • Make the meeting fun and interesting (a few ideas: virtual background contests, themed meetings, bring in a child or pet, play a brief game, schedule a virtual happy hour or a meal)

“We’ve seen some amazing stuff happen with teams banding together,” Benedict says. “If I ever hear someone is struggling or sick, I reach out to ask their team members to do something special — often finding out it’s already been done.”

We’ve had more than six months to acclimate to virtual meetings, but we’re still fairly new to this digital experience. So, if your connection drops or a kid drops in, we’ve all been there. Give your coworkers, and yourself, some grace.

“I’m so glad we live in a technological age when we are able to work from home and still communicate through chat, email, and virtual meetings,” Benedict says. “It helps us stay connected to one another and to the USANA culture.”

To view additional articles in this series, please click here.

The Importance of Core Values

Core values, as the name suggests, are at the heart — or core — of everything we do. They’re often personal, and for that reason, your core values might not be the same as mine. That’s perfectly fine.

The important thing to remember is to identify what your core values are — what drives you, what’s your North Star that guides you in everything you do?

Once you’ve identified those values (I recommend writing them down), you’re then able to align your actions accordingly.

In All the Right Reasons, The Ben Franklin Principle is the first of 12 principles I write about. I started the book with this principle because it truly establishes the foundation for everything else. It outlines the importance of core values.

Before he became one of America’s founding fathers, Franklin made a commitment. He committed to living his life according to his “moral virtues.”

Franklin resolved to always do right. In his mind, that meant aligning his life around 12 virtues (and later, after a friend counseled him to add “humility,” his list expanded to lucky 13).

Staying Engaged

Just as your values might be different than mine, a company’s core values also might differ from those of an individual. But at USANA, we’re fortunate in that our core values likely align with many personal values.

USANA Core Values: Community, Excellence, Health, and Integrity.

Recently, USANA published a series of articles internally that are designed to help employees stay engaged during this unique and difficult time. Many of our employees continue to work from home.

I introduced the series by sharing some thoughts on incorporating USANA’s core values at home in order to maintain a connection to our corporate culture.

I wanted to mention that here since many of you reading this are entrepreneurs and likely encountering many of the same challenges as are USANA employees.

Staying connected while also maintaining a healthy work/life balance is vital to our success — and your well-being. Self-care and your family are just as crucial.

Our core values unite us as a USANA family. And to live in harmony with your own family, you need to take care of yourself and them.

Keep the Culture Strong

Above all, I’m so grateful to each of you. The entire USANA Family has stepped up to an unprecedented challenge.

But there’s something we should remember as we continue to work from home (and as business owners interact with the corporate staff): let’s keep the USANA culture strong.

Members of the USANA management team are writing articles and sharing strategies to do just that. Over the next little while, I’ll try to share their nuggets of wisdom publicly here. I believe we can all benefit from varying perspectives.

Among the topics:

  • Virtual Meetings
  • Communication
  • Trust
  • Having Fun and Staying Connected
  • Recognition and Celebrations
  • Wellness and Safety
  • Schedules and Time Management

I have no doubt about your dedication and passion. And as we continue to align our actions with our core values, I’m confident we’ll keep achieving success.

As I wrote in my book, I believe that by building a solid foundation, we take charge of our own destinies, have more fulfilling relationships, and achieve long-term, genuine harmony, and happiness in business and life.

To view additional articles in this series, please click here.

All the Right Reasons: 12 Timeless Principles for Living a Life in Harmony is available on Amazon. All proceeds benefit the USANA Foundation and its mission to feed hungry children. Each book purchase helps to provide 40 meals.