Monday, 4 June 2012

How to complete tasks

Why do we put off until the next day what we should do today? Because it’s easier to delay! Adhere to these simple actions, and you will overcome stalling before you can say, “I’ll do it later.”

Make a record of all your present projects. Which ones have been excellent the longest? Are they still really essential? If the response is, “Not really,” then take them off your record. For some of the projects, use outsourcing.

If a venture seems too big and frustrating, begin with something little. Throw out the old newspapers from the tray.

If you are basically confused by the scale of the process, prevent stalling and crack it down into little actions. Determine each phase to a different day on your schedule, and create responsibility. Even if you can pick up ten moments here and there, you will see advances toward finishing a huge venture.

If there is a venture that you definitely must get done, do whatever it requires. Invest a little cash to seek the services of a nanny or purchase take-out if that will keep you operating.

Work with your everyday tempos and routines. If you are a beginning morning individual, take benefits of the beginning time to deal with your most challenging tasks. Furthermore, nightowls might achieve more after the relax when the home is silent and sleeping.

If you cannot seem to encourage yourself, pick up a colleague. Sometimes just the companionship of a companion can force you through a challenging job. If you need a really impartial, non-judgmental associate to information you through, consider getting in touch with your expert manager for venture, document, or effective time control planning help.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

How to create a working enviornment in the workplace

Whether you are home based, in the workplace, or in your car -- your capability to generate outcomes with the least amount of pressure, is immediately suffering from your actual atmosphere. A efficient table that is unpleasant can be as much of a obstruction to efficiency as a wonderful table that is not efficient. I have invested over many years with individuals operating in their houses, workplaces and vehicles. One thing has become emphatically obvious. Your table can be your biggest attacker or your best companion.

Take a excellent look at your table. How does it make you feel? Are you relaxed there? Can you do what you need to do there easily? How does it look to other people? Does it indicate the concept you want to give to the community about your perform and your values?

Analyze the types of actions you need or want to do at your table. If you use a pc, an L-shape table is usually the best choice. Use the short end of the "L" for your pc, and the lengthy end for table components, your cellphone, and distributing out documents while you works.

One of the significant critics to an efficient and eye-catching table are those bothersome leftovers of document, which seem to multiply in your lack and sometimes in your presence! In my encounter, an important part of any table is area for information. I desire two pc file storage in my table - one for present tasks and another for referrals components I use regularly. If you are an "out of vision, out of mind" individual, you may desire a pc file owner that rests on top of your table. You can use Post- it? Banners with shaded cafes for easy-to-use color-coded brands.

Do you get plenty of cellphone calls? If so, you should create a methodical way to history all those information. In our workplace, we keep a spiral-bound laptop computer by the cellphone to jot them down. The top of each web page is old, and we put the name of the individual accountable for addressing the contact in the left-hand pillar. When the activity is accomplished, the name are surpassed out. Any awaiting concerns are flagged with a Post-it? Banner - a different shade for each individual. The flag dispensers are that come with the side of the cellphone.

Do you invest some time discussing on the telephone? If so, what do you need? Is your resource of statistics - digital or document -- quickly accessible? Do have a regular way to take notices while you are talking? To create processing your cellphone notices simpler, keep Post-it? 4" x 6" shields close by. Prevent placing notices from several interactions on the same sheet of document.

The biggest table on the globe will be sabotaged without a relaxed adaptable seat and excellent illumination. An motivating item of art in your organic line of perspective can be a real pressure crusher too!

Most individuals want to be able to shift around in their office, so a rotating seat on paint rollers is a big benefits. If there is floor covering, you will need a seat mat so the seat will throw quickly.

Most workstations I see are too messy - document that could be registered away if you were assured you could find it when you required it (we'll discuss more about that later on columns!), workplace resources online you never use, and collectibles that has been there such a lengthy time you don't even see it!

Essential desktop computer resources for most individuals consist of an "In Box" for email you haven't checked out yet (not a place to put delayed decisions!); an "Out Box" for the things that need to go outside your workplace, and a "To File Box" for the documents that need to be registered outside the arrive at of your table. Caution: Remove any package not particular for a particular objective or it will soon become a catchall for unfamiliar objects!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The benefits of a To-Do list

Do you sometimes feel like the amount of work you need to do is overwhelming? Perhaps you often miss deadlines? Or maybe you foget to do something very important, and find youself being chased by others to get your work done?

A To-Do list could be just what you're looking for, as all of the above are common problems for peolpe that are not in the habit of keeping To-Do lists. These lists are prioritised lists of all the things that you need to get done at any given time. Most of the time they place the most important thing at the top of the list, and lesser tasks further down, allowing you to prioritise your day as you see fit based on your requirements. They can be used for anything, from housework to coursework, or even in your place of employment.

Keeping one of these lists can help you make sure that your tasks are written down all in a single locations. They allow you the peace of mind that comes in knowing you haven't forgotten anything important. By making sure you prioritise the things on your list, you can tell what needs immediate attention, and what you can leave until later.

To-Do Lists are important if we're going to bear our heavy work load. People who don't use To-Do lists effectively can often find themselves unfocused, and also find that others see them as unreliable to work with (or for). By using a To-Do list you'll find that you are much better at getting organised, more constructive in the way you go about work, and far more reliable when it comes to working with other people. If you maintain your To-Do list intelligently, your time and energy will be far better spent, leading you to being far more productive, and more valued by those around you.

Keeping a proper To-Do list isn't hard, but it will surprise you how many people fail to do this. More often that not it is due to personal bias, where people will allow themselves to get caught up in their feelings about their tasks, often leading them to dropping important tasks that they don't want to do to the bottom of their lists. So long as you remain objective about your To-Do list, it could really help you create a To-Do list routine that works for you!

Just don't forget to put it on your To-Do list!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

5 ways to be happy at work

Being happy at work is a choice

Being happy at work is a choice, and you can chose to be happy at work. Sounds simple, but things that are simple are often difficult to put into practice. Some people may not have the best employer in the workd, for example, which makes being difficult at work hard. Try to think positively about your work. Consider the aspects of your work that you like. Do not spend time with negative people, or partake in gossip. Find people you like and enjoy and work, and spend your time with them. The choices you make at work define your expeirnece. Being happy at work is very much a choice.

Enjoy the things you do at work on a daily basis

Maybe you enjoy or love your current job, and maybe you don't. Maybe you think that there is something in your current job to love, or maybe you don't. Look at yourself, your abilities and hobbies, and look for a thing that you can enjoy doing on a daily basis. Doing something you love ever day can make your workload lighter than it may appear to be. If this is impossible, it may be time to consider moving on to another job.

Take responsibility for personal and professional growth

Recently someone complained to me that they did not feel their employer was doing enough to help them develop. I asked who they though was responsible for or most interested in her development. You - not your employer or co-workers - are the person with the most to gain by developing. Take responsibility for growth. If you don't, you could lose so much more by standing still.

Know what is happening at work

People complain that they never get enough communication as to what is happening with the place they are working, or the people they work with. Passive people will wait to be filled in by others. This is a bad habit, and you should try to seek out the information you need to work effectively. Build a network of information, and use it often. Request information regularly from your boss.

Get feedback often

People often say that they don't receive feedback often enough. This is down to them. Ask your employer for feedback. Tell them that you'd really like to have assessments of the work you do. Customers and co-workers are also valid sources for feedback, so that you can assess your contribution and your performance at work. You are responsible for you own development.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

What to include in a CV or Resumé

It's important to include the right information when writing a resumé or CV. Hiring managers and interviewers need to be able to see straightaway why you are the best candidate for the job, and why they should employ you, and they get the majority of this information from your resumé.

In your CV you should include personal details, but take care to avoid superfluous information such as religious affiliation, the names of your children, or so on. It's important that the information tell the interviewer about you, but only the things that will make them hire you.

When providing details on your educational background, try to be as clear and details as possible. If you can, include information on the types of qualification as well as the institutions you attended, and the dates you attained each qualification. Put them in reverse order, so that the interviewer can see the most recent qualifications first. Make sure to place higher educational qualifications ahead of others (starting with degrees, and working backwards through professional, college and high school, dividing them out into relevant categories).

Again with work experience, provide details like the employers name, location, type of work and dates, and again put them in reverse order so that they interviewer can see the latest employer first.

When writing a curriculum vitae it's important to include all the right information so the hiring manager can see, at first glance, why you are a strong candidate for the job. List your achievements against each role so that the interviewer can see what you took away from each job role.

Skills are not to be mistaken for qualifications, and should be included separately. Include such things as foreign language skills, recent training and development, and other skills that you feel would be relevant to the job you are applying for.

Keep your hobbies and interests short, and as impersonal as is possible. Do not include superfluous information, and try not to be overly specific or long winded.

References can be covers with as simple, "Available on Request" clause.

Kevin Fitzgerald, North American Marketing Communications Manager, Michael Page International, one of the world's leading professional recruitment consultancies, shares his advice on what to include in your curriculum vitae.

Your resumé or CV should be no longer 2 pages long. Any longer and you risk the interviewer missing crucial information.

Top 5 places to work

We're all looking for the best working experience we can possibly have, and part and parcel of that is identifying companies that are the best to work for. Recently FORTUNE published a list of the top 100 companies to work for in the US, and here are the top 5 companies to work for in that list!

1. Google

Google is perhaps the best known Internet-age company in the world, with a market profile that everyone who ever uses a computer is subject to. Starting out as a basic search provider in the late 90s, Google has quickly grown to offer services including email, online document writing, social networking, mobile and desktop software as well as their well known AdSense and AdWord services. Google promises some of the largest pay checks, best benefits and most entertaining working environments in the world!

2. Boston Consulting Group

You've probably never heard of BCG unless your in the consultation industry. BCG is perhaps one of the world most well known and leading management consultation firms, valued at a whopping  $3.5 billion. It has worked with some of the world most well known companies and has some impressive names on its list of former and current employees, including CEOs of big names like General Electric, Pepsi and News Corporation. Obviously its employees are one of the most valuable assets it has, so if you land a job here you can look forward to some of the highest pay slips in the industry as well as impressive benefits to boot.

3. SAS Institute

SAS Institute is a big name software developer in the US, perhaps one of the largest in the world. Formed in 1976 to produce statistical analysis software, SAS has diversified over the years but still maintains its bread and butter through SA software. As a leader in its field, it rewards its employees with some of the most impressive benefits of any company.

4. Wegmans Food Markets

Wegmans Food Markets is a chain of up-market food outlets in the united states. With over 75 stores, it isn't the largest of grocery chains but it is perhaps the most attractive. And unlike competitors such as Walmart and Safeway, Wegmans rewards its employees handsomely for their hard work and effort.

5. Edward Jones

Edward Jones is one of those evil investment firms that saw much negative publicity over the last few years, but it escaped the 2008 financial crisis without a single lay off. It moved forward, arguably powering through its competitors, and worked hard to keep its staff safe from the perils of financial uncertainty. As managing partner Jim Weddle controversially said: "it's a great time not to be a bank, or to be owned by one."

Monday, 7 May 2012

Hard work and training

Most people will find themselves reading self-help guides, feeling that these "tips and tricks" are the most obvious truths in the world. Often however the most obvious truths are the ones we forget, and from time to time we need reminding of them.

In any industry the key to success is hard work and proper training. Recently in Britain there have been two popular tournaments involving famous people leaning ballroom dancing and ice dancing. In both, hard work and training from a professional for a handful of weeks turned the incapable into fairly good performers, and with more training it's almost certain they'd get even better, leading to a professional standard.

It's much easier to enjoy your work if you reach a professional standard in whatever you are doing. This could be outlined as the standard attained by a person who consistently does something well and without effort. The may even smile like James Bond as they complete the toughest of assignments with ease.

The main way to get to that stage in our professional lives is through hard work and training.

Once you've got the best training, and are putting in the hardest work, you can enjoy performing like a professional. You will be treated with respect, and you will have confidence in your ability to perform well at work.

There are many opportunities for training, including free training courses online, as well as paid for training courses at training providers across the country. Signing on to a training course may be the best thing you've ever done in your life!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Workaholism in 2012

In Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" we are painted a picture of a work addict. We see Ebenezer Scrooge holed up in a dark and dank office, slaving away late into the night, with stacks of coins as his only company. Ensnared by his drive to succeed, Scrooge annexes himself from the rest of the world and devoted himself entirely to his employment. Having surrounded himself so tightly with his work, Scrooge is reduced to a man who can to nothing but scheme and plot for money.

The work addict may today not seem as disagreeable or void as Dicken's famous character, a shocking high percentage of workaholics today share a lot of the signs and symptoms as Scrooge.

Workaholism can have a number of negative effects on our life. It can lead to a reduction in relationships with others, as well as other problems related to the people in our lives. It can alienate those suffering from their friends and families, and can lead to a disruptive household and even, in extreme cases, break-ups and divorce. Often choosing to work instead of spending time with family, workaholics soon find themselves alone and bereft of meaningful interpersonal relationships.

Another problem with workaholism comes in the abstraction of boundaries between work and life. Often these individuals will bring work home with them, incapable of leaving their tasks in the office. They'll even go so far as to steer conversations with family and friends towards the problems of work, which can often have a negative impact on their ability to socialise.

In our ever more mobile world, workaholism is facilitate by the ever connected laptop and smart phone. We can be anywhere, doing anything, and still suffer the calls of employment even when we're trying to get away from it. And workaholics will take full advantage of this; a laptop or smart phone is merely a tool they can use to carry on working when they're away from work. And a constant preoccupation with work can often have a negative effect on the value of the work being done.

To put it short, workaholism is an addiction and - like any addiction - it can be dangerous. If you feel like you are a workaholic, or know someone who is, you should consult a psychiatrist or other medical professional. Whilst it may not lead to the problems assosiated with more detrimental addictions, it can lead to detrimental mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, personality disorder or the like.

Have a Strong Work Ethic

A strong work ethic is crucial if we want to make more of ourselves and seek self improvement. If we find ourselves working in a job we don't like, we must be ready to make a tough decision. We must either decide to grin our teeth and bear it, or we have to be ready to move to a job we'll find more fulfilling. These are the only two choices that really matter if self respect matters to us at all.

Even if you dislike the work you do, a good work ethic that shows we are eager and willing will almost certainly get noticed by the people who can help us advance. It's easy, like many do, to take the low road and do the minimum amount of work possible to get by, but this is never going to lead to promotion or advancement. However this is only a valid approach for those who have no interest in self improvement and building a better life for ourselves.

It's an oddity then that plenty of people pride themselves on doing as little as possible, seemingly beating the system or pulling the wool over the eyes of their employers. This often however leads to yet more disappointment for those people; they complain about their jobs not being fulfilling enough, often because they don't work to find the fulfillment that there may be in working hard. And they are probably the most vitriolic people you're likely to work with, as they find their amusement in office politicking and rumours for the same reason they complain about their work; a lack of a strong work ethic.

On the other side of the fence, there are those who work hard and work well but seemingly get ignored by their managers and employers. They find themselves perhaps doing more than their lot in an effort to get noticed, and are often willing to take on tasks that would otherwise not get done to show that they are motivated and hard working. In these cases moving on is often the only reasonable choice available, so that they can try to find a job - and an employer - that will value them to a fair degree.

Making sure we are up to date with all the latest goings on in our working field, as well learning new skills that could further our abilities in work, is very important if we want to advance in our career. Keeping motivated will also help. If your goal is to advance up the corporate ladder, or start our own business, have a strong and pronounced work ethic is perhaps the most vital thing needed for success.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Creativity at work

In today's economic climate, workplaces are going through a phase of excessive rightsizing and downsizing. We're all having to do more with less, so how do we stay ahead of our workload whilst remaining relatively sane? 
There are a lot of answers to this question but few are as fun as being creative. Using your creativity to work for you can allow you do to more with less and shine out like you never have before.
Not everyone is overly creative, but everyone can be creative to some extent or another. Interestingly enough you're probably creative in your everyday life without really thinking about it. Creativity helps us problem solve on and ongoing basis, and everything from waking up in the morning to making a cup of coffee can exploit our creative minds when we're not aware that it's happening. Put simply, if you're breathing, you're probably quite creative.
Creative thinking - as well as problem solving and innovation - are things you shouldn't take for granted, so here's 10 hand ways you can get the most of your creativity in the workplace.
1.) Use your personal values, things that interest you and the skills you have to express your opinions, and make your contributions stand out.
2.) Don't force expression; use the unique things that make you who you are to express yourself naturally.
3.) Customise your work environment and your clothes in such a way that speaks about you as a person.
4.) Speak and write in a way that reflects you as a person. You don't always need to use corporate bore-talk to get your point across!
5.) Use the way you work to express who you are. Everyone does everything differently, so use your unique approaches to problems as a way of expressing your personality.
6.) Bring your hobbies, interests and "at home" personality to influence the way you work.
7.) What makes you passionate? What hobbies do your put the most energy into? What do you commit yourself to? Take all three to work with you and put them to work for you.
8.) All creative acts begin with a conception. Make sure you capture your workplace conceptions as they come, as they can have a big impact on how you work.
9.) All creative acts develop through incubation. Make sure you give yourself some time to follow your creative impulses, so that you don't get too bogged down by your responsibilities.
10.) All creative acts end with a birth. Make sure you see your creativity through to completion, and you'll feel all the better for it.

Working from home

Today's work is a lot different to the world your father, mother or your grandparents grew up in. This can be a positive or negative thing, depending on your perspective on life.
One of the great benefits of today's world is the Internet. Like never before it has empowered people across the world, leading to success and wealth for millions of people. Perhaps the Holy Grail of the working world is the idea of working from home, and thanks to the Internet that is now more possible than ever before.
The problem with working from home, or starting the journey towards working from home, is that there are those individuals out there who know that most people would like to work from home. Simply put, they will exploit that desire to their own ends. It's very easy to get scammed unless you pay close attention to the details (that are often buried 6-foot under a mass of small print).
So where do you start? Well the first thing to do is get your priorities straight. It's all well and good having a brave and bold business plan, but you need to "aim high, shoot low" so to speak. Make sure that your idea will allow you to provide for the necessities of life, pay the bills, feed the family, and the like. If it can't, you'll need to spend some time figuring out a way to make it work for those basic requirements.
The next stage in the process is to get the right mentality. Regardless of the scale of your ambitions you should treat any "at home" venture as a business. It may sound simple, but if you go in viewing it as a hobby you're likely to miss a great many opportunities along the way.
If you have a set of marketable skills then you can easily (with some work) set up a profitable business from home selling your time and abilities; if you don't, that doesn't mean you can't succeed, but you will need to look elsewhere for a product, service or offering that aligns with your goals and aspirations. One great way of setting up a business from home is to align yourself with companies that offer commissions to sell their products. Some are not so lucrative, but most offer great rates and brilliant customer services that will allow you to fuel a growing and successful business.
However you need to be cautious. As the old adage goes: "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is." There are a wealth of shady businesses and individuals out there offering seemingly amazing ways for you to make a great deal of money, but almost invariably these are scams, or at the very least exaggerations, that could lead you to ruin. If you don't think a service is realistic in its claims, it probably isn't. That doesn't mean you shouldn't pursue such avenues, but pursue them with a great deal of scrutiny, and if in doubt walk away. 
One good idea is all it takes to make a success of yourself by working at home. There are a wealth of famous quotations that emphasise this point, and they are never dishonest. Generally the difference between success and failure will fall on your effort and mentality. If you don't believe in yourself, or don't put in the hard work, you will probably fail. Believe in yourself and the product or service your are offering, and put in the hard work that is required and you can - and probably will - be a successful business person from the comfort of your own home.

Building positive relationships in the workplace

Getting on well with co-workers is very important to anyone who wants a happy and successful time at work. Most people spend more time with their co-workers than anyone else in their lives, something that we rarely consider. Those people are directly related to your success and your well-being in the work place, because what they say, do and think about you will always be an important factor in their relationship with you. Everyone in a work environment is a cog in a much larger machine, and if one of those cogs doesn't fit well with another it can have a lasting impact on not just the success of those individuals, but the success of the entire team they are a part of.
The first place you should start when dealing with co-workers is to deal with their unique characters traits. Often you'll find that people have habits and tendencies that can annoy you quite easily, and whilst you could argue that those people should be more considerate of you it's probably easier for you to simply learn to deal with those problems yourself. The workplace is a diverse environment, and you are unlikely to find a single person that you will get along with entirely. Then of course there are the issues of race, gender, age, nationality and religion.
You may consider that people of different race, gender, age, nationality or religion are quirky, and prone to strange habits. Whilst this may be true, it is also true that everyone of every different denomination wants the same things from life; a safe place to live, ongoing employment, success and financial security. Whether they act or dress the same way as you, and regardless of their unique traits and qualities, they share a lot of the same aspirations as you. And what a bland world it would be if everyone was precisely the same as everyone else!
If you discriminate against fellow co-workers because of their race, gender, age, nationality or religion, or for any other reason, it's safe to say that you're putting your success at work in jeopardy. There are a host of situations where being discriminatory towards other staff can lead to your failure. For example, if you were put up for a promotion to a managerial position and your co-workers were asked whether they would be happy with your appointment, would they give their support to someone that had treated them badly simply because of the differences between you? 
Of course there are other areas where your relationship with co-workers can break down. Perhaps another employee is emotionally immature, and finds it difficult to work with you because they fear that revealing any aspect of their job to you may result in a loss of job security? Or maybe another co-worker simply doesn't understand something you are trying to explain to them, no matter how simply you break it down? Or maybe they just don't care as much as you do about doing their jobs well? The problems inherent with difference in emotional maturity, intelligence and job dedication are hard to deal with at the best of times, but again these people could make or break your career depending on how you interact with them. Patience, and calm, can go a long way in facilitating healthy working relationships with the most difficult of co-workers.
Your success in the work place requires that you accept and embrace everyone around you, regardless of whether you like or dislike them on a personal level. Forming healthy relationships with co-workers that you may work with, even if it's unlikely, will make your job easier and more successful in the long run. Be personable; engage in small talk on coffee breaks, invite them out for lunch, and learn about them as a person, if only to give you a better understanding of how they tick. 
Never come across as threatening, bossy or intrusive; consider how you would like to be treated and treat others accordingly.

6 tips to help you cope with stress at work

Are you feeling stressed at work? And are you taking that stress home with you at night?
Stress in the workplace is a problem common to most people at some point in their working lives. We've compiled a short list of 6 things you can do to help reduce your stress levels. Following these simple steps should help you cope with stress in the workplace, and allow you to go home at night free from work-related aches and pains.
1. Breathing exercises can help you reduce stress. If you know you're entering a potentially stressful situation, such as making a particularly difficult or lengthy phone call or attending a meeting with your boss, try taking a few deep breaths before you move forward. It may sound silly, but practising simple breathing exercises before a stressful situation can make a big difference to how you cope with the issues at hand.
2. Eat sitting down, and not at your desk or in your workplace. Lunch time is a brief period in your working day where you can take some time out to, even if it's only for a brief period of time. When you intend to eat lunch try to give yourself some time away from your desk, even if it's only 10 minutes. This will allow your mind to wander to more pleasant thoughts, and you'll come back to work refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day's tasks. Focus on relaxing and enjoying the free time you do have, rather than trying to cram work and lunch in at the same time.
3. On the drive or walk to work, listen to some upbeat music that you enjoy. It's important that you start the day on the right note, and whilst it may not seem like much at all simply listening to a catchy song that you enjoy can make you feel more energetic and ready for whatever the day may throw at you. 
4. On the drive or walk home after work, listen to something relaxing. Obviously the same sentiment is true. You may be going home to do the washing, or cleaning, or to look after the kids, but it's important that you get a brief unwind time after leaving the office. Simply listening to something relaxing can remove the frantic thoughts and feelings that your work-day may have left in your mind even after leaving the office.
5. Take some time every day to reflect on the days difficulties, failures, successes, and anything else you think is important.  Some days may feel like they've been the worst days in history, but it's rare that we have a day where nothing positive at all happens, even if it's something really simple like finding some change on the floor, or having a perfect cup of coffee. Reflect on these days, but reflect on them honestly; you'll often find that things aren't nearly as stressful as you first thought.
6. Avoid wine before bed. Whilst this may seem a little silly (we all love a glass of wine after a hard days graft) wine is perhaps the biggest enemy you have in your drinks cabinet. It may feel like it allows you to sleep better, and feel better, but in both cases the opposite is true. Wine disrupts your sleep, which will obviously lead to greater stress not just at work but in every area of your life. Having a glass of wine every now and then is perfectly fine, but stop drinking at least 4 hours before you go to bed.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Get Into The Zone

Referred to often as The Zone, or The Flow, it is a state of mind where you are awake, energised, and yet also relaxed, and able to pay attention to the small details whilst keeping in mind the larger picture. Whether you are a writer, a golfer, or a stock-market analyst; the zone is the place where you are best able to perform and get the results you long for.

For many it is a state of mind rarely achieved, if it can be achieved at all. For some it can come only once a year, perhaps, and it stays for only a fleeting moment. It is always the case that when the flow is lost, we want it back.

When you are feeling stressed, or angry at the unwelcome events and burdens in your life; these are signs that you are not in the zone. But the secret is not attempting to force yourself back into it, you cannot just switch it back on. Rather, the best method for getting back there is eliminating the obstructions that stand in your way.

Our behaviour, and our mental efforts, are the result of billions of processes occurring within our bodies at any one time. The unconscious mind is vastly larger than the conscious, and is duly responsible for a vastly larger share of the workload in organising our lives. When it comes to making decisions, and working on a task or solving problems, our conscious minds do their fair share, but are always calling on the superior processing powers of the unconscious.

When we are under stress, or are tired, or angry, our conscious mind is subjected to signals that tell us this is so. It's meant to be a mechanism that moves us into doing something about it and getting us out of there. Often though, in our fast-paced and highly pressured working environments of today, these situations don't disappear, and the signals just get in the way.

It's like trying to remember your way out of a burning building when the corridors are filled with smoke, and the fire alarms are ringing in your ears, with the flickering threat of flames behind you. It'd be much easier to find your way without all of those distractions.

So it is with the Zone. Our unconscious minds are much better able to organise our feelings, thoughts and memories, and guide our actions, when our minds are clear of clutter.

This increase in our processing performance is what is referred to as 'flow'. Chinese philosophers see it as a flow of energy, when really it is a flow of clarity.

So how do we increase flow?

Eliminate the Rules:

We are often overly concerned with what is expected of us. Sometimes we spend more time worrying about what we should do, rather than what would actually be best to do in any given situation. Often there is a preoccupation with ettiquette and how we behave around others, and how we are being perceived. Over time we build up a variety of rules for behaviour that we act out unconsciously, and these are especially brought to bear when we are feeling anxious and stressed.

If you already knew how to do something, you wouldn't be struggling over getting it done. To get into the flow it is necessary to relax that part of your mind that is stressing over all the important little things you have to remember.

Trust that your unconscious mind will react accordingly to situations as they arise. Do not try to control everything.

Eliminate the Limitations: 

Over the course of our lives we develop a vast array of methods for keeping ourselves in the illusion of control and in our comfort zones. These are, by definition, self-limiting beliefs. Things like, "It's too hard for me", "I don't have the experience", "I'll never get the hang of it", "I don't know enough..."

These self-limiting beliefs we don't necessarily believe all of the time, only when we think we need them, like when a situation calls for us to step outside of our comfort zones. And we often don't recognise them for what they are, because we weave them into the narrative of our lives. And of course, sometimes we don't wish to analyse them for other reasons. Perhaps they are the rationalisation for an aspect of ourselves we are uncomfortable with.

But the fact is these 'beliefs' limit ourselves, and stop us from growing and extending our capabilities. If we let them go we can operate in much more like our full capacity, and focus on the task at hand.

Eliminate the Expectations: 

We always have expectations on how a situation might play out, how a project may end up, how an article might end, how a plan might succeed. We have goals, and we know what those goals look like.

When things don't go according to plan, however, the image in our minds of our goals are threatened. We try and force things to go according to plan. We get into arguments. We feel resentment or anger. The tension mounts.

But life and the universe is complex, and our plans often aren't. We must be prepared to let go of our plans, our expected routes to the goal, in order to achieve what we want. We let go, regroup, and then go again.

Eliminate the rules, eliminate the limitations, eliminate the expectations.

Get into the Zone.

Looking at Work/Life Balance

The pressure of an extremely strenuous work life in the west is perhaps the greatest factor influencing the psychological wellness of the population. A significant number of individuals are ignoring the factors in their lives that make them vulnerable to psychological illness.

It is approximated that nearly three in ten workers will experience a mental health problem in any one season. But with working hours increasing this is likely to rise.

A mental health survey found:
  • The more time you invest at work, the more time outside of work you are likely to invest in thinking or stressing about it. 
  • One third of participants experience dissatisfaction or great dissatisfaction with the amount of time they spend at work.
  • Just less than half of workers ignore other aspects of their lives because of their focus on work.
  • As you increase the number of hours spent at work, so your level of unhappiness increases.
  • Many more females report unhappiness compared to men, which is probably a result of competing lifestyle tasks and more pressure to 'juggle'.
  • Nearly 60 % of workers have experienced a negative effect on their individual lifestyle, such as psychological and physical illnesses, a lack of self improvement, and relationship problems.

Things you can do to help yourself:

  • Take proper breaks at work, and try to get away on your lunch break.
  • Attempt to draw a line between work and play. If you bring work home, try to complete it in another area of the house to where you like to relax.
  • Really try to maximise on protective factors, which include exercise, leisure time and friendships/socialising. Do not sacrifice these things to work longer hours if you can, and ensure you spend adequate time on them.   
  • Be responsible and tell your employers when demands and expectations are too much.
  • Prioritise your work so that you do not waste time on less important tasks.
  • Recognise the serious link between work-related stress and mental health problems and do something about it.
  • Take note of how many hours you work a week, and how many hours you spend thinking and worrying about work.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Fear in the Workplace

These days it seems we are existing in a world loaded with concern. Things change constantly, and forecasts of tragedy and gloom can be overwhelming. Misunderstandings or concern about the long run can cause our thoughts to turn into stress and worry, both in our life and on the job. Should managers do something about this?

Psychologists say there is no such thing as "healthy" fear. It drains people of their inner-resources, and interferes with performance. Outcomes which are based on fear are often negative, and affect quality of life at home and work.

So how can we detect fear in the workplace?

Is short-term thinking the status quo in your organisation?

With monthly targets, or weekly deadlines, a company can very quickly switch to thinking in only the short-term. When everyone is focused on the here and now and the demands of the day there can be little time left for long range planning. As this goes on over time people lose touch with the larger aims of the company, and are left without a greater purpose. This results in a company that cannot see the wood for the trees, and a disatisfied and poorly performing workforce.

Is your workplace very competitive?

Competition between departments or employees creates pressure, and this can cause anxiety which cascades into a variety of negative behaviours that destroys the positive environment of the workplace. Often employees will hide or alter the information they give to management to avoid repercussions. Performance can suffer with employees spending too much time focused on threats and thinking about ways to eliminate them.

Things you can do:

  •  Communication. Make sure your employees have all the information they need to do their job, and are consulted regularly about their opinions.
  •  Clarify perceptions. Ascertain whether employees are doing things they are uncomfortable with or disagree with. Do people understand what is expected of them?
  •  Establish trust. Is there an appropriate level of trust within your organisation? Do co-workers trust one another? Is there any inter-departmental distrust? Do your employees believe in you?
  •  Training. Are you developing your employees? Are they fully qualified? Can they receive more training?

A clear statement of purpose, a reaffirmation of the goals and ambitions of the company, can nullify the detrimental effects of fear. Those companies that manage fear efficiently experience reduced absenteeism, less issues of conflict and better interaction. Less time is spent on reacting to real or imagined threats, and more time is spent on improvement and innovation.

How To Handle Criticism At Work

Criticism is not always a bad thing. The last thing anybody wants is to be drawn up by the manager for their performance or missing deadlines. But if taken in the right vein, you might actually discover it to be quite valuable.

Here is how to deal with criticism at work.

1 - One of the hardest types of criticisms to deal with is an unfair allegation. Even though it’s appealing, never level a return with unpleasant criticism yourself. The accuser may have just been wrong. Instead ask the criticizer about their concerns and probe into their feedback. Often there is some actual cause for their allegation. If their allegation is truly unfair you can solve the issue there and then.

2 - If you instantly go on the defensive, your critic will think you haven't heard them. They might try a different tack to get you to accept their point of view, or may continue with attacking your defense. By showing that you hear them successfully, you are going to indicate that you are familiar with their critique and that you plan to follow up on the issue. Even better, ask what they would do about the issue if they were in your situation. It may be they have ideas you haven't considered.

3 - If the discussion becomes heated, lower your voice for every level your critic raises theirs. This shows not only that you are calm and collected, but puts the focus on the other person and their behaviour.

4 - Display that you are more concerned with fixing the issue than arguing for your perspective. Never be too fast to protect yourself or assess your accuser, and take the problems and recommendations in your stride. This shows you have your priorities right.

5 - Ask your critic to be more specific. If your critic has indicated displeasure with your performance or said that your efficiency is not up to the required level, it makes sense to know why they think that. Once you know what exactly you did poorly, you can deal with the situation. Often, not asking for more detailed feedback when receiving criticism, results in a poor understanding of what you may have done wrong, and the problem persists, reflecting badly on you and your critic.

6 - Accept responsibility if you have done something poorly or incorrectly. Nothing shows capability like admitting your failings and being open in how you are going to go about improving. Someone who is ready to accept their mistakes can be trusted to take on responsibilities, and deal with problems as they turn up, not hide them under the rug and deny knowledge or responsibility.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Effective Teams

A team is a set up of individuals with different skills who cooperate for a specific purpose. The idea is to work together to achieve an end that can only be achieved through cooperation, and to do so in the best possible manner.

Characteristics of Effective Teams

  •     There is cooperation through common support
  •     Rules and principles are consistent, but do not lead to extreme conformity
  •     New ideas are accepted and viewed objectively
  •     Commitment to and investment in the project
  •     Concentration on end results
  •     Communication and the sharing of resources
  •     An open, trustful attitude
  •     High spirits
  •     Ability to gain agreement and take care of conflicts

Characteristics of Inadequate Teams

  •     Members who have little investment in the purpose.
  •     No companionship, and the members do not think they are part of a company.
  •    No procedures for resolving conflict or fixing situations. Team squabbles and covert discussions are continuous events, creating challenges to cooperation.
  •     Deficit of openness and trust. Truthfulness is seen as revealing weakness, and giving a competitive advantage.
  •     No common understanding prevails other than to meet regularly to perform.
  •     Imprecise role descriptions. Territorial arguments and power battles often occur.
  •     Uncertainty seeps into individuals for worry of being different.
  •     People do not speak or share details unless it supports the consensus.
  •    Whether it’s individuals, equipment, supplies, time, or money, insufficient resources make groups worthless. The situation can lead to squabbling and dissention.
  •     Low threshold for variety. Under high pressure conditions no opportunity is available to utilize individuals' strong points and address their weak points.
  •     Lack of support from management. If team members perceive—whether justifiably or not—that management is not encouraging of the venture, then commitment can drop. Individuals think their contribution is not valuable.
  •     Lethargic team members. The objectives are unexplained or nonexistent. Even if the objectives are identified, no one seems to pay attention to them. Everyone is without aim.

An inadequate team is unfocused, riddled with issues, filled with mistrust, and reeks of negative competition. These conditions reveal themselves in absenteeism and significant levels of aggravation.

There are many ways for supervisors to carry a group and nurture its ability to perform together as a whole.
  •   By clearly setting out objectives, everyone starts in the same place and is aware of where the project is going.
  •    Offer each employee a unique description of his or her own obligations.
  •    Make sure that each employee is trained and outfitted to complete the project at hand. And offer more training, perhaps pairing employees up with a partner so that they can learn new skills from each other.
  •   Encourage a social relationship outside of work. Employess going for meals or entertainment outside of work hours can relieve tensions within the team and offer opportunities for discussion on the improvement of working relationships.
  •    Delegate responsibilties. Employees will value the placement of trust and seek the best outcome.
  •   Give feedback. Staff will feel more secure when they know how you perceive their performance.
  •    Reward the team for a job well done. This will create a feeling of unity and appreciation for their efforts.
  •   Deadlines should be reasonable, and lower priority tasks should have their deadlines pushed back to accomodate the deadlines of high priorities.
  •   Offer rewards for employees willing to work extra hours and take on a larger share of the work.
  •   Don't encourage covert discussions, or avoidance of the chain of command, as this can create feelings of insecurity in the workplace and ruin the positive environment.

Tips on Getting Motivated

There are times when one can feel totally demotivated and stuck in a slump. Work suffers. Attendance is poor. Relationships sour. Things go bad. For some unlucky fellows this can be a daily curse, and go on for years (read: decades).

One can, in these situations, have all the best intentions and desires, even the know-how and means available to attain a goal. But one vital ingredient is missing...

"Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game."
- Donald Trump

Motivation is not a subject we, as a species, understand. We are getting closer all the time, but we don't have enough of a handle on it to implement a technological marvel that will keep us all one hundred percent motivated all of the time.

For now, we are on our own.

Each of us face this battle, and some of us are doing much better than others.

A five year old can run an international corporation from one of the world's tallest skyscrapers, which he built, write bestselling books on a variety of yoga, and still find the time to maintain a network of seven thousand friends, and research ridiculously new flavours of ice cream... and go sailing... and find out what nootropics are.

Whilst another person can struggle to rationalise the need for speech.

Is a lack of motivation just plain laziness?


And no.

Does it matter?

What really matters is that when you want motivation, it's there.

Tip #1: Your mind is not your friend

If you are not getting on with your work, something is stopping you. If it is not an electrified titanium cage, or traffic, then it's probably your mind.

"But I've already worked so hard... yesterday..."

"There's still enough time to do nothing... Even if there isn't, there is... somewhere... Space and Time are one..."

"My foot hurts..."

Your mind can be your best friend, but when it's taking you to places other than where you want to go, it's your nemesis.

Tell it to shut up, because you don't believe the lies anymore...

Tip #2: Your body is your bitch

Sure, you stuff all kinds of crap into it, throw it out of aeroplanes, force it to remain motionless on leather furniture for extended periods of time, and constantly ignore it... But it's always there for you.

It loves you and wants to help.

So how do you get your body to do your work for you?

Simple really. Get some exercise. A daily routine is best. Something to get the juices flowing. Increase your body strength.

This will generate a currency called Health, which has a fantastic rate of exchange with Getting Things Done.

Even if you don't get so much Health in the beginning, you'll feel better. And that's what we're really aiming for here.

If you can't even get the motivation to do any exercise, then try this little trick. Stand up and get yourself into a powerful posture. Chest out, chin up, shoulders back. Straighten that back.

Boss pose, revealed by science to make you feel like a boss, ready to get things done.


Monday, 19 March 2012

Tips to Reduce and Manage Job and Workplace Stress

In this difficult economic climate most of us are finding it harder than ever to cope with the stresses prevalent in the workplace. Regardless of occupation, seniority, or salary level, we’re spending more and more of our work days feeling frazzled and out of control, instead of alert and relaxed.

Some stress is a normal part of working life, but excessive stress can interfere with your productivity and reduce your physical and emotional well-being. Finding ways to manage work-related stress is not about making big changes to all aspects of your work life or rethinking your professional ambitions. Instead, stress management demands focus on the one thing that is always within your control: you.

For employees everywhere, the downtrodden economy may feel like an emotional roller coaster. "Budget cuts" and "redundancies" have become bywords in the workplace, the result being increased fear, a lack of certainty, and higher levels of stress. As job and work-related stress increases in times of economic crisis, it’s important to learn new and better methods of coping with pressure.

The ability to control stress in the workplace can improve your physical and emotional health. It can also make the difference between success or failure on the job. Emotions are contagious; stress has an impact on the quality of your interactions with others. The better you are at controlling your own stress, the more you'll help those around you, and the less other people's stress will bring you down.

Here are some steps you can take to reduce your overall stress levels and the stress you find at work:
  • Taking responsibility for improving your physical and emotional well-being.
  • Avoiding pitfalls by identifying knee jerk habits and negative attitudes that add to the stress you experience at work.
  • Learning better communication skills to ease and improve your relationships with management and coworkers.

Tip 1: Recognize the early warning signs of stress at work

If you feel overwhelmed at work, you lose confidence and may become agitated or antisocial. This can make you less productive and effective, and make the work seem less enjoyable. If you ignore the warning signs of work-related stress, they can lead to bigger problems. Chronic or intense stress can also lead to physical and emotional health problems.

Tip 2: Diminish job stress by taking proper care of yourself 

Stress at work hinders your ability to perform in your job, manage your personal life, or impacts your health. Begin by closely studying your physical and emotional health. When your own needs are taken care of, you’re stronger and more hardened to stress. The happier you feel, the better able you’ll be to manage work stress.

Tip 3: Reduce job stress by being organized

When job and work-related stress threaten to overtake you, there are steps you can take to maintain control over yourself and the situation. Your ability to sustain a sense of self-control in stressful circumstances will often be well-received by coworkers, managers, and subordinates, which can lead to better working relationships