Displaying All Posts from July, 2010

How Do You Handle Layoff Rumors?

You’re at work and you accidentally overhear a conversation between your boss and his boss.  You learn that they need to lay off one person in your division in order for the company to stay viable.  They’ve got to decide between laying you off or laying off your teammate.

Your teammate is good – very good – and you are one of the few in the office that knows that he’s about to be a father for the first time.

Do you:

  • Let your teammate know what you’ve heard?
  • “Accidentally” let your boss know about the coming child, and remark about how work quality can decrease in proportion with lost sleep?
  • Sabotage your teammates current project?
  • Update your resume, contact a recruiter and/or your competitors in your industry to start your new role on a new team?
  • Talk to your boss about taking a leave of absence while business is slow and work on your own freelance projects or take the vacation you’ve always wanted?
  • Provide your boss with an alternative to layoffs altogether (your department takes a 5% cut in pay, but everyone gets to keep working)?
  • Wait and see – let the best man win?

Though the economy is starting to stabilize, this question isn’t outlandish right now.

How would you handle it? Click Here to Read Article …

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Anyone for a Pomegranate Cosmopolitan?

In a previous article, I supplied you with a recipe for the world’s best frozen margarita. Along this same spirituous vein, I am here to unveil another killer recipe – but this time for a cosmopolitan. Cosmos are extremely popular these days, and if you follow the cooking and drinking scene you’ll note that a very popular fruit which has been gaining more and more notoriety is the pomegranate. Pomegranate juice is readily available in stores and is one of the ingredients for this drink. So, without further adieu, I present an awesome Pomegranate Cosmopolitan recipe.

Add the following ingredients to a cocktail shaker:

  • Add plenty of shaved or cubed ice (3/4 full)
  • 3 oz of your favorite vodka
  • ½ oz of Grand Marnier
  • ½ oz of triple sec
  • the juice of one fresh lime
  • 100% pomegranate juice (add as much as you like, or just fill the shaker)

Shake thoroughly and strain into a glass of your choice. This recipe should make at least two decent size cosmos. I like to use the stemmed triangular glasses for this drink. I also like to serve it with ice in the glass, but that is your choice. You could just use the leftover ice that is in the shaker.

No matter which way you choose to serve it, relax and enjoy…and let me know how you like it! Click Here to Read Article …

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21 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

Overcoming writer’s block is hard – really hard. You could spend hours staring at that blank screen and not even come up with the title for an article. I’ve suffered through it many times since I started contributing actively to my own blog and various other sites.

Although a writer’s block could fade away with time, it is better take some immediate measures to battle it as it strikes and get started with writing without significant loss of time. This article talks about how to overcome writer’s block by temporarily shifting your attention to something else, possibly unrelated. Click Here to Read Article …

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6 Tips to Add Time to Your 24/7 Work Schedule

“I don’t have time for this!”

How many times do you say that every day? Likely too many. Many of us keep wondering how we can squeeze in some extra time during our 24/7 work schedule to help reduce the long list of pending tasks.

Well, the number of hours in the day are not going to increase. So, it’s up to you to create that extra time you need. The following six tips will get you started on making the most of the time you do have.

1. Stop Multitasking

If you think multitasking will get things done faster, think again. Focusing on one thing at a time is a more productive thing to do. You’ll end up finishing tasks faster.

2. Outsource Your Non-Core Tasks

Learning how to delegate work is something I’ve already recommended. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Get help.

3. Outsource Chores

Outsourcing chores and errands would be a good idea as well. There are services like DoMyStuff that help you with it.

4. Simplify

Try to simplify all the areas of your life – be it your home, your office, the tools you use everyday, things you consume…everything. Focus on eliminating non-essential items that suck up your time.

5. Focus On Quality

As James Chartrand mentioned in a previous WorkAwesome post, being productive in the real sense means focusing on quality instead of quantity.

6. Work from Home

If your commute time is significant, you could ask your boss to let you work from home. If you can convince her that you’ll be more productive, she might agree. Click Here to Read Article …

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How to Get Promoted: Break The Rules

Being “good at what you do” is an asset to your career, and it fosters a great attitude and a solid self-esteem boost.

But, unfortunately it’s not enough to get you a promotion. In fact, if you’re excelling at your current position, it might be a good reason to keep you where you are instead of promoting you. It’s quite the conundrum; if you’re great at your job, your company might never dream of putting you anywhere else.

So, if it isn’t excelling at your work, then what makes someone “promotable”?

Quite a bit of research has been done on promotability.  We’ve also discussed different strategies to move your way up.  Although it’s difficult to conduct fact-based research on it, they have come to a few general conclusions on how to get promoted:

  • An employee can develop skills for higher-level jobs if they are regularly faced with “challenging” work. “Challenging” work is defined as work where the current rules and routines won’t suffice in getting the job done, forcing the employee to innovate new routines.
  • An employee who does non-challenging work (mundane work where the current rules and routines are sufficient) never develops higher-level job skills, and thus may be less “promotable.”

So, how do we get promoted? Ironically, it sounds like we have to break a few rules. Click Here to Read Article …

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Relocating Your Home Office

Moving into a new house or apartment is stressful enough. But when you work from home, and you’re moving both your household and your home office, things get a whole lot hairier, as I discovered during my own move earlier this summer. It’s been a few weeks, and things are finally (!) starting to settle down and I’m getting settled in my new home.

Here are some of the strategies I picked up during my recent move:

Work (and Plan) Ahead

As much as possible, I tried to anticipate the projects I had coming up around the time of my move and complete them early. Depending on the relationship with the client, I might send it in early to wow them or hold off to give myself more time to proofread and polish the assignment. And for the sake of my sanity, I tried not to schedule any important deadlines close to my moving date. Packing and repainting is stressful enough without worrying about missed deadlines! I also made sure to schedule my wifi installation at the earliest opportunity so I wouldn’t be stuck without internet for long.

Keep Your Clients or Customers Informed

Obviously, if you have people snail mailing checks or other important documents to your home, you’ll want to alert them well in advance of your move and file a change of address form with the post office. This also gives you an excuse to reconnect with clients and see if they might have any projects coming up before or after your move. If you anticipate being unavailable for more than a day or two, then let your clients know and try to find a trusted colleague who can cover for you if necessary. Some people also include effective dates and new addresses in their email signature (for safety reasons, I only give out my address by request). If you’re worried about things getting lost between the old and new address, you can also set up a PO box to ease the transition. Since I had some overlap between my old and new place, I was able to go back to my previous apartment and check the mailbox one last time for peace of mind.

Clean Out

Most of us have extra home office equipment or supplies lying around that we don’t really need. Ditto on miscellaneous paperwork, magazines, and so on. Moving is a great opportunity to purge the excess stuff and set up your new space so it’s organized and tidy (not to mention that if you’re moving yourself, you’ll appreciate fewer boxes to carry). I sold a bunch of items on Craigslist so I could buy newer, nicer versions of the things I really need and say sayonara to the rest. Freecycle is also an option for people who have random home office supplies or old computer equipment they don’t need.

Label Office Essentials Carefully

When it comes to packing, the usual wisdom is to pack each room separately and label each box carefully. But the reality is that most of us pack in stages (or we find ourselves frantically throwing stuff into boxes at 2am the night before the movers arrive). I wanted to cram as much as could safely fit into each box, so if there was a hairdryer-sized space left in a box of books, I’d pack that baby with the books (after all, it’s all going the same place). The one exception was my office. The contents of my desk were packed last and lovingly labeled “Susan’s Office” so I could quickly find them later.

Prioritize Your Unpacking

Sure, it’d be nice to immediately find places for my colander or my cream-colored shift dress. But each time I’ve moved, my goal has been to minimize downtime, so I set up my bed (after all, a girl’s gotta her beauty sleep or she’ll be too groggy to please her clients) and office areas early on. First order of business? My laptop and printer/scanner. I also make sure I know where to find extra printer paper, business cards, pens, and paper clips so I don’t waste money buying extras. Even if your laptop is propped up on big brown boxes and your office supplies are stashed in a Tupperware container because you’re waiting for your brand new desk to be delivered, clients will never know the difference. If you’re one of those people who truly can’t work amidst chaos, then you might want to work in a coffee shop or a coworking space in your new neighborhood. That’ll come in handy as you get settled, too.

What about you? Have you moved recently or are you gearing up to relocate? How did you handle this situation?

How to Balance Your Internet Life with Your Real Life

Hi, I’m Carl, and I’m a blogger.

I really started blogging back in 1997 when I created an e-mail newsletter for the newspaper. I would start each daily e-mail with some personal insights then list the day’s headlines. I didn’t know it but it was blogging.

I thought I could quit whenever I wanted. But I kept posting updates. And that led to Facebook and Twitter accounts.

So now I’m very comfortable sharing personal aspects of my life with complete strangers. But some people I share my life with aren’t social media exhibitionists. They don’t blog, tweet, friend or check in. And they’re not thrilled to be part of my social networks by associations.

We talk a lot about balancing work and life. But how well do we balance internet life with real life? Do you need to keep your personal relationships quarantined? Here are some tips for achieving harmony:

Disclose

On your first date, confess your blogging and social media habits. Your date needs to know that this may be the subject of a blog or Facebook update. Better yet, give them veto power. They need to be able to express discomfort and keep their private life private.

Discuss

Set up ground rules with the people in your life. Understand what they don’t want revealed to the world.

Ask permission

No matter what the rules are, your friends and family will appreciate if you ask before you blog.

Create pseudonyms

Your personal life can have a lot impact on what you write. You can use personal anecdotes to add punch and protect the shy members of your life. Instead of using their names, identify them as “My Better Half” or “No. 1 Son.” Give them a little bit of cover.

Don’t ambush

We’ve all thought of the perfect comeback after losing an argument or point in a debate. Social media offers a chance to make that point after the fact. Which really isn’t fair. And don’t write anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.

Extend these courtesies to coworkers

Even if it’s totally professional, you want to consider the people at work and clients part of your private life. They may not appreciate reading about themselves in your blog or Facebook timeline. Ask.

Do you have rules to separate your real and social media lives? Click Here to Read Article …

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Where’s the Best Place for Solving Work Problems?

Being a software professional for the past 20 years or so, I have found that I cannot leave my work at the office.  I am constantly trying to figure out answers to problems that I may have at work.

In fact, more often than not, on the drive home, I tend to solve a problem that I may have been having all day long.  Even though I do bring my PC home with me, I may not even turn it on while I am at home.  Simply the process of leaving the office, and getting away from the workplace environment, stirs something within my mind that allows me to figure things out.

Where do you find is the best place for solving work problems? Click Here to Read Article …

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A Guide to Evernote Trunk

I mentioned Evernote in my post on tools for productive online writing and I am sure almost all of you have heard about it – if not used it. It is probably the best note-taking software out there.

Just a few days back, Evernote announced a new section on their site called ‘The Trunk’. Being a long time user of the tool, I was immediately interested in knowing what it was all about and hence decided to check it out. This article sums up what I’ve discovered about this new offering from the folks at Evernote. Click Here to Read Article …

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Learn How to Build a Successful Blog Business

Envato is one of a small number of companies that has learned how to make money from blogs. Today, we gross well over seven figures a year from our blogs.

So it’s no small announcement that CEO Collis Ta’eed has released a book packed with the company’s secrets, detailing a road map you can use to navigate your blog business to success.

How to Build a Successful Blog Business is a straight forward guide to building a publishing business online that covers everything from choosing a niche to hiring staff, registering a business to selling it, finding traffic to monetizing it.

Whether you are interested in creating an additional income stream or building a fully-fledged business, this is an essential read for web entrepreneurs and online publishers. Click Here to Read Article …

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Is Office Dating Appropriate?

According to a recent article on CBS MoneyWatch, office romances are becoming increasingly common. In a way, it makes sense, because if you’re working crazy hours trying to keep your boss happy, it’s tough to find time to meet people outside the office.

Of course, dating a coworker can seriously backfire because if you break up, you’ll still have to see them every single day. And if you’re dating a superior (or your company has a strict anti-fraternization policy), that introduces a whole other can of worms!

I’ve never dated someone in my office, and it’s unlikely that I will in the future; I now work from home at an office of one (even when I reported to an office, I didn’t have much exposure to potential boyfriends, my coworkers were predominantly female). But I’d be interested in your take on this topic.

Have you had an office romance? Or are you strictly against it? Click Here to Read Article …

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5 Tips for Managing Information Overload

I’m surprised when I hear people say that they are not suffering from information overload. With so much of information all around, it’d be tough to ignore the temptation of consuming more and more of it.

The important thing is to manage the flow of information in your life. Information is power, and you can’t do without it. Managing the flow is the key.

1. What are the Information Sources?

The first step towards managing and reducing information overload would be to clearly identify the information sources. It could be your cellphone, your TV, your RSS feeds — knowing how exactly you consume information everyday and how you start.

2. What’s Your Priority?

Once you’ve identified the sources, you need to identify your priorities. And accordingly, you could decide what are the sources you could do away with and which ones are essential to use everyday.

3. Manage Email

Most of you would agree that email is one of the biggest sources of information overload. Hence, keeping it in check in necessary. How? Have a look at our tips for managing email overload.

4. Manage RSS Feeds

Next in the list is RSS feeds. Being productive with RSS feeds is something which I’ve covered in detail some time ago in my tips for productive RSS news feed reading.

5. Disconnect Often

Finally, disconnecting often from the information sources, be it the computer, PC, mobile phone, iPod or any other such device, is a recommended step if you are serious about taming this beast called information. Click Here to Read Article …

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