Archive | January, 2014

Work Smarter, Not Longer

January 30, 2014


clockIt’s likely been your new year’s resolution for many years in a row: how can I work less, but still get my work done? Lucky for you, there are some tricks out there that can make a big difference in your workday. It is possible to pump out the same amount of work in less time. It only requires a few serious habits you’ll have to put in action ASAP. Here they are:

Block off time for yourself.
Are you one of those people who can’t get her work done because she’s in meetings all day? Here’s a tip: that calendar on your computer allows you to block off time for yourself — no meeting required. If you need time to complete a project, reserve a couple hours every afternoon for yourself. Meetings will get organized around it. Seriously.

Prioritize by importance.
While everything seems important and seems like it needs to get done NOW, the reality is this: it doesn’t. Everything is not equally important. Define importance for you — is it the most visible projects? The most financially beneficial projects? The project that you’ve been dreading and is due tomorrow? Find a priority system and stick to it.

Plan it out.
Your day, your week, your project. Everything needs a plan — and a realistic one at that. Make sure you have all your questions answered, your supplies in hand, and enough time to accomplish everything including a once-over to make sure it’s all good to go. Sure, it takes more time to plan, but it will reduce the amount of time you spend in the long run. We promise.

Image via Michael Sauers/Flickr.

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How to Start Your Week Like It’s Tuesday

January 27, 2014


garfieldWhy Tuesday? Because Tuesday is the most productive day of the week, according to a recent survey by staffing company Accountemps. If you feel like Garfield every Monday morning, it might be time to adjust your plan of attack. Here a few strategies from a recent FastCompany article that will help you make Monday as productive as Tuesdays.

1. Forgo Monday morning meetings.
People are generally more productive in the mornings and a first-thing meeting at the beginning of the week squashes that potential.

2. Don’t slack off on Fridays.
Monday shouldn’t be a catch-up day. View it as a jump start day. That means you’ll have to stick to your deadlines and goals for the end of each week.

3. Plan your week — before Monday.
Before you leave on Friday afternoon, take a look at your workload and map out how your next week will run. Delegate tasks for each day of the week and you’ll be able to take to the ground running when you walk in the door Monday at 8 AM. Really, it can happen!

Read the rest of the article at FastCompany.

Image via Flickr/Nur Hussein



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Awful Resume Blunders… And How To Avoid Them

January 25, 2014



After seeing this slideshow of absolutely awful resume blunders, we came up with a plan of attack. I mean, you don’t want to make any of these mistakes, right? Right. Ok, let’s get to it. Here are 5 things you shouldn’t include on your resume. Skim your resume for the following before hitting send.

1. Don’t say you’re “detail oriented” and then have a grammar or spelling error on your resume. You’re obviously not that detail oriented.

2. Keep your list of achievements timely. I don’t care if you were the 8th grade spelling bee champ. Stick to college experiences and later.

3. Don’t list expectations as achievements. For example: “Showed up on time for scheduled shift.” You better have showed up on time!

4. Don’t list your parents as references. Enough said. (P.S. That includes aunts, uncles, sisters, and brothers, too.)

5. Keep your list of skills limited to ones that are relevant to the position. Are you good with a chainsaw? If it’s not relevant to this position then I don’t care.

Image via Mark Granitz/Flickr.

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What Makes a “Good Job?”

January 24, 2014


Good Job!What do you look for in a job? If pay is your priority, it might be time to consider a few other factors that can turn an OK opportunity into an excellent one — and they have nothing to do with salary. Here are three elements we consider incredibly important to each and every position:

1. The People
Your coworkers and boss can make or break your day on a professional level and a personal level. You’ll need support accomplishing your daily tasks and long-term goals. If you’re lucky, you may form some friendships that extend beyond the office.

2. Work-Life Balance
Taking forty-five minutes to grab lunch. Leaving 30 minutes early to run to the doctor. Taking a week-long much-needed vacation with your family. These are the kinds of “luxuries” that everyone should be afforded. Work-life balance only increases your productivity levels.

3. Passion 
Maybe you’re passionate about the processes, the people, or the product. Whatever your passion, it must be present in some form in your day-to-day responsibilities. Without passion, you’ll lack motivation. And without motivation, it’ll be tough to remain happy at work.

Read what our Facebook fans said when we asked, “What do you look for in a new position?

Image via Kelly Teague/Flickr

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Are You a Workaholic?

January 17, 2014


WorkaholicDo you stay at work after 5 PM more than one day per week?
Are you the first person in the office more than one morning per week?
Do you eat your lunch at your desk?
Have you stepped into the office on a Saturday or Sunday?
Do you check your work email right when you get home?
Do you feel guilty when you take time off?
Do you have trouble delegating work to others? 

If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, you may be a workaholic. In our connected society — when we can check email at any moment — it’s even harder to disconnect. But being a workaholic is not something to be proud of. According to WebMD, it’s not a far cry from being an alcoholic. There’s even a national Workaholics Anonymous group modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous that helps obsessive employees find balance in their lives.

While workaholics are often some of the most reliable employees out there, they are also a big risk for companies. Burnout is one of the biggest threats. Workaholics often won’t take vacation even if they desperately need a break to recharge their mind and body. Another concern is that missing “team player” element. Workaholics are often “control freaks” who have a problem delegating tasks to coworkers. That means they often bite off more than they can chew and may not be productive or do great work. Yikes.

Second-guessing your obsession with your job now? Vacation time, help from coworkers, and working hours are all designed with a master plan: to help you grow into a more productive and happy person at work and at home. So don’t feel guilty the next time you ask for help, take time off, or walk out the door at 5:01. It’s okay. There’s always tomorrow.

Image via Angelo Su/Flickr

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Spectrum Brands’ New “Green” Offices!

January 16, 2014


We’re all settled in our new offices in Middleton, Wisconsin and we’re loving it! A heat reflective roof, covered bike racks, and electric car charging stations are just a few of the “green” benefits that we’re enjoying.

Did you know our eco-friendly office environment has been built out of DIRTT? DIRTT (Doing It Right This Time) Environmental Solutions creates award-winning, pre-engineered construction solutions that result in faster, cleaner construction, while significantly lowering our building’s carbon footprint.

The building was also built to meet LEED certifications established by the Green Building Council. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and compromises a suite of rating systems for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings, homes, and neighborhoods. We’re proud of this achievement! Learn more about our new office in this infographic: SpectrumBrandsNewLocation


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How Quickly Do You Respond to Emails?

January 10, 2014


When Should You REspond to Email?Imagine this: an email pops up in your inbox asking for some additional information about a project you’re working on. You don’t know the answer. You:

a) Immediately respond and piece together the best answer possible at the time.
b) Let them know you’ll respond soon with a more thought-out response.
c) Read the email and make a note to respond later.

In our quick-hit culture when our phones buzz us the instant an email arrives, most people choose answer A — they respond to emails instantly. And it may be hurting our credibility. We feel pressure to respond immediately, but that’s not always the best way to run our professional lives. Poorly-written emails, unnecessarily long responses, and uneducated answers are often the results.

If you chose answer B, you’ve found the happy medium — respond immediately, but take the time to develop a better answer. But perhaps answer C is the type of culture we should be moving toward. Have you ever thought about turning off your email notifications? Or checking email only once per hour so you can actually get uninterrupted work done? Or picking up the phone instead of sending an email? It may sound crazy, but it shouldn’t.

We rely on email too much. We need time to focus on our work, get our work done without interruption, and ruminate in what we’re doing. We need more time to connect face-to-face and express our thoughts in person. Will you try to lay off the email in 2014? Comment below with your thoughts!

Image via RaHul Rodriguez/Flickr.

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We Asked, You Answered: The Toughest Part of an Interview

January 8, 2014


Landing an interview is no easy feat but nailing an interview might be even harder. The anxiety and stress only increases once you realize that your one chance has arrived. We asked our Facebook fans for their thoughts on what is the toughest part of the interview. Here’s what they said:
  1. “Walking in the door!” – Nancy D.
    Put a smile of your face and walking through the door will be a whole lot easier. A smile exudes confidence, and confidence is key for any interview. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, how can anyone else?
  2. “The first five minutes!” – Jon P.
    By setting the stage with a smile and a confident manner, the first five minutes of your interview will go a heck of a lot more smoothly than if you had entered with sweaty palms and a weak handshake. Dress the part, play the part, and before you know it you’ll be believably acting the part.
  3. “The uncertainty of it all.” – Sharon K.P.
    The truth is, you just can’t think about all the bad things that could go wrong. Read our post on three things NOT to think about in your next interview and you’ll better understand why a positive attitude is the only attitude to have in an interview.
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How to Find an Extra Hour in Your Day

January 2, 2014


SONY DSCFastCompany recently did an article on The Hidden Trick to Finding an Extra Hour In Your Work Day. The moral of the story is that there are a few easy tricks to finding an extra hour. For example:

  • Turn off the TV.
  • Schedule 45 minute meetings instead of 1 hour ones.
  • Limit conference calls to 20 minutes instead of 30 minutes.
  • Unsubscribe from spam emails or send unimportant emails to a different folder.
  • Only check email at certain times of the day.

However, this isn’t necessarily the answer. The trick to finding a full hour is that you need to seriously reanalyze your work habits. You need to break down your processes and find the ones that produce the most results in the least amount of time. That’s no easy feat. But once it’s done, you’ll be more productive than ever. So productive in fact, that you might just find yourself with an extra hour at the end of each day.

Image via Lis Bokt/Flickr. 

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