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The 10-Minute End of Workday Routine

April 25, 2017

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An end of workday routine is good for many reasons. It can help you mentally decompress and “clock out” at the end of the day. When you arrive tomorrow morning, you’ll be more organized and will be able to hit the ground running, which will lead to a more productive day…and an easier time clocking out at the end of the day. It’s a cycle! Here are a few ideas for a 10-minute end of workday routine that you can enact tonight:

  1. Set an alarm for the end of the day, which will remind you to begin your routine. It will also encourage you to get home so you don’t linger and tire yourself out.
  2. Assess what tasks you’ve completed today, and give yourself a pat on the pack. These small achievements often go unrecognized but it’s important to end your day on a positive note.
  3. Assess what still needs to be finished this week. Update your weekly goals and tasks and decide what is most important.
  4. Write up a to-do list for tomorrow. Prioritize the urgent items that must be tackled first thing tomorrow morning.
  5. Review tomorrow’s schedule. Begin mentally preparing for tomorrow by visualizing how your day will flow.
  6. Clean up your physical desk and the desktop of your computer screen. Clutter is distracting and can inhibit your productivity.
  7. Say goodbye with a smile, and head home!

Image via perzonseo.com/Flickr.

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Why Weekly Schedules are Good For You

April 20, 2017

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We tend to run our lives day by day, making to-do lists each morning, and mentally calculating our successes and failures each night. But what if we thought “weekly” instead of “daily?” Here are a few reasons why thinking week-to-week can help you become more productive and happier.

  • Instead of planning out your day each morning, map out your whole week each Sunday night. Make sure there is time for exercise, family and friends, and–of course–work. Doing so can help better mentally prepare you for the week ahead and help you assess how you can best spend your time.
  • Weekly to-do lists are less stressful than daily to-dos. If you don’t accomplish something today, it can be moved to tomorrow. You’ll more easily be able to rearrange your schedule to make time for this task without sacrificing other important obligations or stressing out about your seemingly limited time.
  •  A week-long time frame is a better indicator of success. Assess your goals each Sunday night. Did you make progress during this past week? What changes can you make moving forward? Put those into action next week. Weekly progress checks and tweaks can help you improve drastically by the month’s end.

Image via Marie Coleman/Flickr.

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What To Do When You Get The Interview…but Not the Job

April 18, 2017

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Always a bridesmaid! Is that how you feel on the job search? You’re constantly landing interviews but not landing the job? You may be missing one of these key interview techniques that the pros have mastered. Add the following skills to your interview toolbox and you’ll be signing on the dotted line before you know it.

Strike up a conversation.
At some point during the interview, get a natural, off-the-cuff conversation going that can showcase your friendliness and personality. Try small talk when you first walk in the room. Or, ask an unrehearsed follow-up questions that shows you are really engaged with the interviewer.

Outline why you’re a perfect fit.
You know you’re a perfect fit. You think they know it. But do they? You must outline the unique reasons why you would flourish at this organization. Be sure to put the appropriate spit on it — how you could help the company (not vice versa).

Reiterate why you’re interested.
You wouldn’t be sitting in this interview if you weren’t interested, right? It’s true, but the fact still needs to be stated out loud at the end of your interview. Now is not the time to feel too proud. Lay it all out on the table by saying something like, “I’m really passionate about the work you’re doing here and I would love to be a part of it.”

Image via Image Catalog/Flickr.

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5 Ways to to Be Proactive not Reactive In Your Career

April 13, 2017

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We live in a reactive society where emails, push notifications, and texts constantly interrupt our train of thought, deter us from our goals, and dictate our daily schedules. If you’re serious about furthering your career, you need to take a stand. The following tips can help you stay strong, or proactive, on a day-to-day basis.

  1. Shut off your email notifications on your phone and your computer. Don’t let someone else interrupt your day whenever they please. Only check your email when you have time to tackle your email.
  2.  Attend networking events even if you’re not looking for a job. Building connections now–instead of when you are desperate–will make for a much easier transition if you do ever find yourself unemployed or ready for a new position.
  3. Ask for LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements now, not when you are job searching or recently unemployed. Build up a strong reference pool now and you will feel much more at ease the next time you’re on the hunt.
  4. Log out of all social networks and remove the apps from your phone. These sites can kill your productivity during the day. Reward yourself with a visit at the end of the day if you’ve completed your goals.
  5. Say “No” more often. Every time you say “yes” you are saying “no” to something else in your life. Get clear on your priorities and don’t feel guilty when you turn down something that is not in line with your goals.

Image via PughPugh/Flickr.

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When Work Affects Your Personal Life

April 10, 2017

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If you’re unhappy in your current role, stressed about by your workload, or anxious about a nagging boss, it can be hard to truly clock out at the end of the day. You may find yourself complaining about work all night or dreading going into work all weekend, which is an unhealthy place to be. These tips can help you separate your work and home life, and help you choose happiness during your time off.

Stick to a schedule.
Set an alarm each day (for 5:30 PM, 6 PM, or whatever is appropriate at your place of work) that reminds you when it’s time to leave. Just like a morning alarm, don’t hit the “snooze” and give yourself “15 more minutes” of work.

Leave work at work.
Before you run out the door, write down a to-do list for tomorrow and highlight the most important tasks that need to be completed. We’ve covered the importance of to-do lists before as well as this productivity hack that can help you stay focused and efficient while at work.

Chill out during your commute.
During your walk or drive, take the time to decompress and clear your mind of today’s troubles. Look forward to what awaits you at home. A hobby may help make this process easier because it will give you something to look forward to and act as a stress reliever.

Put the phone away.
If you have a separate work phone, shut it off and leave it in your work bag once you walk in your front door. If your work email is tied to your personal phone, turn off the notifications–permanently if possible. Being reactive instead of proactive is a bad habit that you need to break.

Acknowledge the stress…and release it.
If work-related thoughts are creeping into your mind all night, you may need to start practicing some mindfulness techniques. Acknowledge the thought that has entered your mind and then say, “Thank you, but not now.”

Image via Sander van der Wel/Flickr. 

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To Apply or Not to Apply…

April 4, 2017

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The job search process can be long and demanding, which can cloud your decision-making abilities and at times can make you feel desperate. Let’s say you stumble upon a listing for an available opportunity in your area but you’re not totally excited about it. What should you do?

Practice makes perfect.
With each job application you fill out and every interview you complete, you are sharpening your skills. When the perfect opportunity presents itself, you’ll be better prepared if you’ve been through the process a few times beforehand.

Remember: you can always say no.
Applying for a job is not the same as accepting a job. If there is something within the job listing that intrigued you — a short commute time, an interesting company, a new field — go ahead and apply. You’ll have plenty of time to ask more questions during the interview process.

Don’t apply if there’s an obvious deal breaker.
If you’re not totally excited about the job because you’d never want to deal with a lengthy commute or the salary is not even close to what you’re looking for, move on. Don’t waste your time applying for positions that don’t meet your personal career happiness requirements.

Image via perzonseo.com

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3 Under-the-Radar Signs That You’re Excelling at Work

March 30, 2017

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Managers are busy people. They can’t always provide us with the constant feedback and encouragement that we’d like to be provided with. But without asking anyone for a confirmation, you can likely get a pulse on your performance. The clues are there every day. Here are a few signals that you’re doing great in your position.

  1. Your boss relies on you for urgent needs.
    Fire drill! Something went south and the first person your boss turns to is y-o-u. This is a great sign that your boss considers you to be reliable, knowledgable, and trustworthy. You can get something done fast and with precision.
  2. Your coworkers come to you for advice.
    When a peer asks you for feedback, it means they respect your opinion–and that’s a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Be confident but humble. You should be flattered that they turn to you when they need help.
  3. You’re considered a company ambassador.
    If the company asks you to attend a recruiting event or an industry conference, you should feel pretty great! Take advantage of this opportunity to represent your company in the best light and network with others. You’ve earned it!

Image via Kristian Niemi/Flickr.

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How to Be Likable at Work

March 28, 2017

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You know that friendly coworker you describe as a “people person?” They get along with everyone, aren’t easily angered, and are always thoughtful? You can be one of those people too! Being a “people person” takes effort–it’s not a talent that you are born with. Here are a three steps that can help you become more likable at work. Start practicing today.

1. Stay positive.
Don’t whine or complain about your workload, your boss, the company, or even the weather. Plenty of other people are already doing that. Change the conversation when it turns south. Look for the bright side of things. Be the light in the room–people are attracted to it.

2. Don’t gossip.
When you talk about people behind their backs, the person you are talking to fears that when he leaves the room you’ll do the same to him. Gossiping does not make you a trustworthy person at work or in your personal life.

3. Ask questions.
If you have a habit of talking about yourself, or you’re bad at striking up conversations with others, begin by always reciprocating the question that’s been asked to you. If someone inquires as to whether you’re doing anything fun this weekend, talk as long as you’d like about your plans but be sure to finish the conversation with, “And what are your plans?”

Image via Jens Bergander/Flickr.

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What Does Success Mean For YOU?

March 21, 2017

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A stellar promotion. A hefty paycheck. Sitting first class on the company dime. This sounds like career success, right? It’s the prescription we often follow, but it’s not for everyone. Each person’s definition of career success should be different. The key to finding happiness in your career path is clearly defining what success means to you. Here a few traps that we easily fall into when measuring our success against others.

The Title
If you find yourself yearning for a promotion to a managerial role, ask yourself: do you truly want to manage a team? Are you passionate about becoming a great leader, inspiring others, delegating work, and making key decisions? If that’s not what motivates you on a daily basis, define what does: challenging work? Purposeful projects? Quality relationships with your coworkers? Pursue that instead.

The Salary
Just because someone makes more money than you, does it make them more successful? Perhaps success can be defined more simply: paying your bills on time, supporting your family, donating to charity, or having some “fun” money. Which is most important to you? It’s not about how much money you make, it’s about what you do with it–and if it meets your needs and goals.

The End Game
For some people, retiring early or quitting your job to travel around the world is the ultimate definition of success–but is it yours? What are you working toward? What do you want your life to be like in five, 10, or 20 years? Work toward your dreams–not someone else’s. That’s the only true barometer of success.

Image via catherinedncr/Flickr.

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The One Trick That Will Help You Become a Better Speaker

March 14, 2017

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Public speaking is a natural part of corporate life. Whether you’d like to become better at simply expressing your idea to a co-worker or presenting a solution to a huge audience, there’s a trick that will help. TED speakers swear by it as well as high-performing athletes.

It all comes down to practice. But not just practicing by yourself in front of a mirror or simple re-reading your notes so you feel comfortable with your talking points. It’s all about practicing in self-imposed stressful situations. Even just a little bit of stress can help. For example, practice by giving your Powerpoint presentation to a significant other or friend the night before giving it in front of a large audience. Time yourself to add a bit more realistic pressure.

But why does this tactic work? Inc. further explains this phenomenon in an article titled The Best TED Speakers Practice This 1 Habit Before Taking the Stage. It’s all about building up a tolerance for pressure so you don’t choke once it’s placed on you. If you’re the kind of person that can memorize a poem perfectly, but then totally freezes once you’re on stage, this strategy will be especially helpful.

Practicing alone can only do so much. You need to mimic the real-world circumstances that you may be faced with. Think about how much more you learn once you’re on the job, versus what you learned in a classroom setting. Public speaking is no different.

Image via jonny goldstein/Flickr.

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