Time Saving Tools – Really?

Fotolia_39837440_XSAt the risk of sounding ‘anti-technology’ this really has to be said. Advanced tools and technology are great, but only if they genuinely make a positive contribution towards time management. Observing the way some business people appear to flaunt their latest and greatest gadgets to their peers (like spoilt brats) it sometimes makes you wonder how often this is actually the case.

When evaluating this new technology for your own purposes, you really need to try and filter through all the noise to single out only those things that (with minimal modification, if any) could genuinely save you time. The electronic calculator qualifies here for example, as does the microwave oven. The personal computer does too, but only based on the merit(s) of each application that actually runs on it. There are some things the personal computer can do that you may not necessarily want to do on it.

For example, e-mail, text messaging and fax (remember them?) had the benefit of making certain business correspondence less formal and gave the potential to save huge amounts of time. But they came with a downside in that the increased speed in communication they created also led to heightened expectations in terms of rapidity of response from all involved. Receiving multiple requests for a response of questionable urgency’ in one day from individuals is not necessarily good business practice and certainly not (from a productivity perspective) a routine behavior pattern you should condone.

What time saving tools have you tried that turned out not to be so straightforward? Why not share your experiences here by posting a comment below.

Interview Almost Over: Vital Questions to Ask

Fotolia_47387912_XSIt’s rare for an employer to hire based on experience and qualifications alone. In general, it often comes down to the candidate who gives the best interview.

The way that you end your job interview is almost as important as the way you started it. You need to leave a lasting impression by appearing as clear and confident as possible.

Towards the close of the interview you’ll often be given an opportunity to ask questions. You need to be fully prepared for this; otherwise it can look as though you want to end quickly. What’s more, good questions reinforce engagement and demonstrate you have an ongoing interest in the organization.

Closing questions to ask include:

  • What is the Company’s mission statement?
  • What are the goals of the Company and were they met last year?
  • Who will be my immediate supervisor?
  • What are my potential job advancement opportunities?
  • When will a hiring decision be made?
  • What is the office dress code?

At the start of the interview, you would have shaken hands with the potential employer. It’s a good rule to also shake hands upon leaving. You want the interviewers to be left with a positive impression of you.

Also seize the moment and show your gratitude to the interviewer or interview panel. In this way, you’re demonstrating your gratitude for being offered this job opportunity.

Finally, don’t hesitate to follow-up with a (very) brief thank-you note or phone call as appropriate. It demonstrates your seriousness and ongoing enthusiasm in wanting to work for the company.

By paying close attention to the interview closing details you’ll help to project to your potential employers the right impression that can positively contribute to securing that job offer. Perhaps you have some favorite closing questions you’d like to share? Please feel free to post a comment below.

7 Stress-Free Ways to Get More Done

Fotolia_31998794_XSHere are seven ways to get organized and dramatically boost your personal productivity. Follow some (or all) of these seven methods and you’ll find yourself getting much more done in less time with others noticing a difference too:

  1. Clear desk clutter – Get some help the first time you do this if you’re procrastinating about it. A messy work area is depressing, which is the last thing you need at work.
  2. Less talk and more work – No problem with having a quick chat at the coffee machine but don’t let it linger unnecessarily. Set yourself strict limits so you can get done what you need for the day.
  3. Try some white noise – Put some white noise (from light classical to ocean sounds) on your MP3 player to help you remain calm and focused.
  4. Write stuff down – Get in to the habit of taking notes so you don’t get sidetracked from important tasks. On paper, in your smartphone, use whatever system works best for you.
  5. Stop surfing the web –ask yourself if you really need to look at the news headlines that often each day.
  6. Get more sleep – It sounds obvious, but it may be that you’re feeling sluggish because you need more sleep.
  7. Change your job – At face value this sounds a bit extreme, but honestly, if you find your work productivity is suffering because you hate what you do, then it’s most likely time for you to look at doing something else.

Now, by reading this article you’ve taken that all important first step towards boosting your productivity. I challenge you to take that next vital step by giving some or all of them a try, then letting me know how you’re getting on. Feel free to post a comment below.

10 Drug-Free Ways to Banish Work Stress

Fotolia_36677368_XSWork stress management doesn’t necessarily require drugs. Understanding the natural mechanisms for coping and weaving them into your daily life will go a long way towards alleviating any stress you’re feeling at work and also help prevent burnout.

The manner in which you choose to react to particular events can have a major impact on whether your time at work is either enjoyable or a total misery. Whilst a positive attitude can help to reduce stress, there are other ways of helping you feel more relaxed.

Physical Ways of Crushing Work Stress

When you’re determined to deal with your work challenges better, an element of physical activity can really pay dividends. Give these activities a go:

  1. Take a walk during your lunch break. Even if it’s just round the block, it’ll help you alleviate concerns and help you to see things differently
  2. Go to the gym either before or at the end of your workday
  3. Squeezing on a stress ball will also give you something else on which to focus
  4. Take a few moments for some slow, deep breaths at times when you’re feeling the stress levels rising. This will also soothe the muscles and help to let you think more clearly
  5. Take a long, hot bath or shower as soon as you can when you get home

Experiment with various techniques to help you find out what works the best for you, then use them consistently to help maintain your work stress at a manageable level.

By the way, it’s worth practicing with several techniques so you’ve always got a number of stress-relieving options at your disposal for any situation.

Mental Ways of Crushing Work Stress

You don’t always need physical activity to release stress. Emotional and mental alternatives can help too. Try these:

  1. Watch a film/movie –one that gives you a good laugh or has a feel-good factor
  2. Read an enjoyable and light-hearted book
  3. Talk with someone close about a happy experience(s) you’ve shared
  4. Recite positive affirmations to yourself, both before and after work
  5. Meditate or pray about your worries or concerns and ways of dealing with them

Remaining positive concerning any challenges you’re facing with your work is a helpful defense during periods of anxiety and worry. You mightn’t always be able to correct the circumstances straight away, but you can change how you choose to react to them. When you decide to react positively, you effectively empower yourself to move forward with your life irrespective of what’s going on around you.

By practicing any of these stress-reducing activities, you might be able to reduce or eliminate the need for stress related drugs. Of course, you’ll need to discuss this with your medical practitioner before taking any further action as far as any currently prescribed regimens are concerned.

Finally, taking the action to move forward towards your actionable dreams and goals will also help in reducing your stress levels. When you’ve got robust goals in place and something to strive for, you’ll be able to focus on thinking positively rather than reflecting negatively over any stressful situations.

If you’d like to share your thoughts or experiences on this it would be great to hear from you. Please post up a comment below.

9 Simple Transitions To Make Your Presentations Sizzle

Fotolia_35089708_XSSmooth flowing presentation skills include having simple but effective transitions as you move from point to point. It’s one of those fundamental techniques that can really make your work stand out from others.

Unfortunately, when presenters use transitions, they’re often too short, which doesn’t give your audience the required time to catch up. It’s a common delivery error that even professional speakers can make. What’s more, ignoring it will most likely disconnect you from your audience because they aren’t processing your information at the rate you want (or need) them to.

The transitions I’m referring to do need some degree of planning in order to be delivered with an air of spontaneity. To quickly get you on the road to success with these techniques, here are nine transitions used by experienced presenters that work exceptionally well:

1. Use bridging phrases or words

Include words like however, finally, moreover, in addition, and meanwhile.  These point linking words help to keep your audience connected with your message.

2. Use of the same word or idea more than once

For example you could say: ‘A similar idea would be…’ or ‘here’s what people see..’, ‘here’s what people think…’.

3. Refer back to an earlier part of your presentation

You can quickly link by referring back. For example: ‘Remember when I told you earlier…’; “Referring back to what I said earlier…..”

4. Use a pause

This can be a very powerful delivery technique (provided it’s used sparingly). The secret is in the precise timing of the delivery. Give your audience a few moments to think and reflect on what you have just said. You could even include a dramatic pause which really evokes the emotions, but as I said use sparingly for maximum impact.

5. Ask a question

Engage your audience as you’re emphasizing the points you’re trying to make.  “How many of you…; “”Was there ever a time when you thought…”

6. Review the points you’ll be making or the point you’ve just made

Itemize each point. For example, you could say: ‘There are five important take-away messages here,…..’

7. Use a visual

Consider using a prop to complete your point or to introduce the following point you’re about to make. For example, insert an appropriate image that your audience can briefly focus on.

8. Use physical movement or change the tone of your voice

Move to different areas on stage (but not in a contrived or dramatic way).  Use varying gestures and postures to give emphasis as you’re varying the tone of your voice whilst speaking.

9. Use testimonials or convey a personal and relatable story

This technique really captures your audience. You can make your points much more relevant by relating to your audience how you dealt with a certain problem or issue.

 

Finally, don’t make the mistake of using identical transitions over and over again in the same presentation. By varying your transitions your presentations will immediately become more engaging and in turn, much more interesting.

Whilst only representing a tiny portion of your presentation, transitions are a very powerful means of keeping your audience tuned in to you. Give some or all of them a go and let me and others know how you’re getting on by posting a comment below.