Displaying All Posts from March, 2011

Creating an Awesome Home Office Plan

desk coffee & chair

Good home office plans can influence how successful you are while working from home. This means having the resources to get the job done, minimizing distractions and being comfortable.

Home office plans go beyond a floor plan for your office furniture and equipment(although some are mentioned below). You need to take into consideration the following elements:

A Door

You need a door so you can shut it. It will help you keep the distractions on one side and a productive environment on the other.

This isn’t automatic. Your family needs to know what that shut door means. And they need to come to an understanding of when it’s OK to knock on it. Which is something you’re going to have to figure out for yourself. Don’t let me tell you know what’s important enough to merit your attention.

The door also sets a boundary that separates your office from the rest of the house. It reinforces the concept that the office and what’s inside is for your business — and not for school projects or building forts. (Filing cabinets look like the building blocks of a good foundation…)
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Take Care of Your Email Follow-up Woes with NudgeMail

NudgeMail-LOGO

The problem with getting a huge number of emails every day isn’t the time it takes to reply to them. Well, that’s a part of the problem — but there’s a bigger issue: forgetting to follow-up on important emails.

Yes, it happens all the time.

Remember the last time you lost out on a deal because you were to send an email on Tuesday and you forgot? Or when you forgot to follow-up on that urgent request by one of your friends or family, and then later spent hours on the phone doing damage control?

NudgeMail is an email reminder service that aims to get rid of email follow-up woes. Now, there are certainly things like Gmail labels, filters and other tools to create your own email follow-up system. But not every one can set them up in the perfect way. A simple service like NudgeMail might be a better alternative.
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Proof Positive: 8 Ways to Create Positive Work Relationships

In our dreams we fly

No man is an island. – John Donne

This quotation is certainly true when it comes to your working environment, especially in an office where you have many colleagues who you see every day. To get on in your chosen area of work and enjoy what you are doing, it is important to create positive relationships with those around you. Here are 8 proven methods that work in creating positive work relationships if you give them a solid effort:

1. Be Yourself

While it is important to be professional, it is also important to be yourself. It is difficult and ultimately unsatisfying to create positive relationships by pretending to be something you are not. Be natural and put your best foot forward. Many times I have seen people get further in the workplace because they are not afraid to show their true personality and what they are capable of.

2. Treat People Equally

Even managers are human! Putting someone on a pedestal makes it harder for you to approach them and be yourself. Be natural. Don’t be afraid to speak up and say what you think. Also be aware of how you treat your own employees. Be respectful but treat everyone as a peer and don’t think of yourself as ‘lower’ or ‘higher’ than others. It will help your self esteem and make interactions with you more fun and positive. Getting caught up in job titles and hierarchy takes the fun and human element out of work and makes it difficult to create honest and positive relationships.
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How to Overcome the Stress of Being an Overachiever

seventh sense

According to Dr. Phil, “we can’t change what we don’t acknowledge first.” With this being the case, I have finally come to terms with a plaguing issue that I’ve denied for many years: My name is Jennifer, and I am an overachiever.

There. I’ve said it. The proof is in the pudding.

Adorning my bedroom walls are dozens of plaques, commendations, and kudos from just about every avenue of my life: from grade school awards, to college scholarships, to writing competitions, to community service.

I say this not to brag, but to make a point. In 2005, in the hit movie “Hustle and Flow,” one of the main characters of the movie laments over how hard it is to be a successful hustler. This “baller” should try being an overachiever! Overachievers may not get the same street cred, or cool theme music, but they work just as hard and live in constant angst in their daily efforts to be the best at what they do.

Achievement becomes an addiction in which the “high” of success is often chased by additional acts of excellence and emotional and physical over investment. And to be quite honest, it can be rather exhausting.

Sure, for those of us who suffer this malady, we can say that it makes our moms proud, earns us a few bragging rights, and reasons to reward ourselves with chocolate and periodic shopping sprees, but somehow, somewhere, we have to draw the line.

For example, I was competing with a little girl at a close friend’s daughter’s birthday party, in a jump rope competition, and let’s just say that this kid proved to be a poor loser. But I was determined to outdo her.

Could you be an overachiever just like me?
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Collabtive: Project Management Simplified

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An integral part of work is project management.  Whether big or small, a project cannot be successful if it isn’t well-managed. Every work has its own set of requirements, priorities, deadlines and more. Managing a project becomes a mammoth task, especially when we do not take proper steps to make sure it is managed effectively. Today, when many of us spend a good part of our lives in front of a computer screen, a good way to manage projects is through software.

Software like Microsoft Project can do the job, but then there are people like me who don’t like spending a small fortune on buying software. ApolloHQ (see earlier review) is a great option, but the limiting factor is the online access required. Without the cloud, ApolloHQ cannot take flight.

Another viable option is Collabtive, which is free and open source project management software. It has a very elegant and easy-to-use interface. The user (once logged in) can add projects, which she can then manage. Project management with Collabtive is easy. You can have as many users as you want. The users can also send messages to each other, that may (or may not) contain information on projects. The only disadvantage for some people may be that it does not provide the ability to create Gantt charts.
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10 Ways to Get the Most Out of Coaching Sessions

Chegada / Finish Line

Coaching is an ongoing professional relationship that helps people to produce extraordinary results in their lives, careers or businesses.

The way in which your approach coaching sessions will make a difference to what you get out of them and how much you achieve. Here are some tips that will help you to get the most out of coaching sessions:

1. Choose Wisely

Choose coaching and your coach wisely. Coaching is not counselling or therapy and it is important to be clear about the distinctions. There are many resources on the internet that will help you learn more about coaching. A good coach will also suggest a referral to a more appropriate professional if your needs are beyond their scope.

Recommendations from friends and colleagues are a useful way to find a good coach. Don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials. Get clear about who the coach is and how they work. Many coaches offer a free consultation and I recommend taking a free consultation up so that you can get any questions answered and ensure you are a good match to work together before you commit.

2. Get Clear

If you can, write a list of the areas you want to work on before you start your coaching sessions. If you are not sure about what you want to work on you can let your coach know when you initiate coaching and work on this together. The clearer you are, the easier it will be to achieve your goals.
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The Very Best of Awesome Links

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After forty(!) articles in the Awesome Links series, I thought I’d offer some of my favorite links from the past that have been published on WorkAwesome.

Supercharge Your OS X Desktop: Wallpaper, Icons, & Other Hacks (Windows tricks included)
I like to include useful posts from Guiding Tech (full disclosure: I own that site) now and then in the Awesome Links posts. I decided to look up and check which of them brought the most visitors from WorkAwesome. Turns out this post on OS X desktop customization had struck a chord. Check it out if you missed it last time. (The post includes tips for Windows users, too.)

The Essential Zen Habits of 2010
Zen Habits has to be one of the must-read sites for anyone who follows the productivity niche closely. This link points to all of the best stuff offered by Zen Habits from 2010. Easily one of my favorites.

25 Ways to Wake Up Early
Waking up early is usually one of the prime candidates for our new year resolutions every year. We know it’s good for us — but most just can’t do it. This piece from Life Optimizer got my attention as I try to get that resolution back on track myself. Even if just one of the 25 ways does the trick, the time spent on reading the article makes it worth it.
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The Path to Productivity: Short Hours, More Breaks

A Lonely Walk to the Ocean

You want to be more productive. Who doesn’t, right?

We’ve all heard suggestions for packing more work into the idle moments of our day and shrinking tasks by reducing the time we make available to them. If you have too much work, you’ll just have to work more to get it done. But maybe that’s actually the opposite of what we should be doing. The goal isn’t really to do more; it’s to accomplish more. We need to accomplish more of the things that are most important and do high quality work.

One counterintuitive way to increase your productivity is to work fewer hours per day. Even back in the early 1900s, studies had shown that working 10 hours a day did not result in any more production output than eight.

That’s why Henry Ford decided to scale back the work week for his employees, while still paying them the same amount. First he cut back from 10-hour to 8-hour shifts. Then, he trimmed the work week from six days to five.

“Now we know from our experience in changing from six to five days and back again that we can get at least as great production in five days as we can in six… Just as the eight hour day opened our way to prosperity, so the five day week will open our way to a still greater prosperity.” — Henry Ford

Experiments in his own factories demonstrated that workers accomplished no more in 60 hours a week than in 40. It didn’t make sense to keep them there more hours if it didn’t result in more production, so he didn’t.

This was a radical move, and it still would be today. Many workplaces encourage and reward longer hours when they should be rewarding accomplishments. If factory workers get tired and experience degradation of performance over the course of a long day, how much more do people who do mental work?
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5 Steps to Creating a Balanced Life

Balance

In today’s “hustle and bustle”world, it is getting more difficult to separate our professional lives from our personal time. People in this era (more than in any other time before) find themselves taking work home and spending late hours on their laptops. Most of these hard workers justify their misplaced time with their large salaries. However, they fail to see the costs of such a distorted work-life balance.

Family and friendships are negatively affected when you take the time that you once used to play with your family or hang out with your friends and repurpose it for work. The increased stress levels and lack of rest can have a terrible impact on your health and personal well-being. Here are some ways you can start working towards creating a more balanced life — and you can start them right away.

1. Create personal balance by deciding what is important to you.

Before it is possible to bring balance to your work and personal life, you need to make up your mind as far as your priorities are concerned. Is it your family or your work? If you are not able to immediately and honestly make this decision, you can try the following simple exercise. Try staying away from both aspects of your life continuously for at least a couple of days. Maybe you should go away for a few days all by yourself to make this easier. The thing that you miss more during that time is the area of your life that is most important to you. You should focus more of your attention on that area; the area of your life that is most important to you.

Your overall goals and purpose should reflect your priorities. You should be working towards something that will bring you satisfaction and joy. You should do what is important and meaningful. So take the time to figure out exactly what your priorities are.
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The 10 Pillars of an Awesome Team Event

Un cop de mà

Planning an awesome team event is a great way to create and enhance team spirit and boost morale.  An awesome team event is an opportunity for people to spend time together outside of the normal confines of work and get to know each other better. It is also an opportunity to unwind, strengthen relationships, which will have a positive effect on the team and their work when back in the workplace.

In order for a team event to stand out, you’ll need to take several things to make that happen — pillars, if you will. Here are the 10 pillars of an awesome team event

1. Plan

Decide on the goal of the event, how many people will be attending and what your budget restrictions are. You may want to ask for opinions about what event to hold, depending on the size of your company. What time of year will you hold the event? Knowing this will allow you to decide on suitable venues and activities. If the event includes getting muddy or sweaty, make sure you have places arranged for people to change or shower so that they feel comfortable later on (or when they travel home).

2. Include People

Put some thought into what kind of event you want to hold and how to include everyone as much as possible. For example, if the event includes lots of physical activity, is that going to exclude anyone? Make sure that you plan the event so that as many people can attend as possible (and don’t plan it just before an important deadline!). If you are arranging refreshments, ensure there are different choices of food and drink available. It is not always possible to include everyone, but showing that you have put some thought into accommodating as many people as possible will make a difference. You can show this in your choice of activity, when you hold the event and how you accommodate different people at the event.
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Review: Minus- Quickly and Productively Share Files Online

minus

If you’ve got a huge number of photos to share, there are services like Flickr or Facebook Photos which help you upload, organize and create albums — then share them easily. But what if you want to quickly share a picture or two, and don’t want to go through all the steps involved in sharing photos through a full-fledged photo sharing tool? Similarly, what if you want to instantly share a document or video without wasting time? That’s where services like Minus come in handy.

Minus (or Min.us) is a super simple online file sharing tool that boasts a clutter-free interface and lets you share photos, music, documents and videos in seconds. Let’s check out how to use this service, and what features it offers. Click Here to Read Article …

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Why I Use a Leather Day Planner Instead of a Smartphone

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When I meet another person who carries around a monthly planner that is made out of (gasp) paper I get positively giddy. Despite my most recent post on dumbphones, I’m not against technology. But when it comes to certain things (monthly planners included), I gravitate towards the tactile.

I have carried around a paper planner since college. For four years spanning the late 1990s and early 2000s, my every move was cataloged in that thing. When papers were due, my work schedule, important phone numbers, a list of books I wanted to read — among other things. My planner had pockets where I kept stamps, an address book, and a handy 6-inch ruler that I rarely used…but always appreciated.

My good friend Annie is the only other person I know who loves a paper planner the way I do. I knew we would be friends instantly when she pulled it out one day to check her schedule. We also love writing letters, receiving mail, and expensive stationery. Her thoughts on her planner are aligned with mine:

“It’s easy to use and it’s harder to misplace than a smaller, electronic device.”

You’d think we were in our late 70s — instead of our early 30s.
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