Sunday, December 7, 2008

Develop Good Work Habits

Develop good work habits that mark you as a professional and that will serve you throughout your career. Good work habits mean:
  • You plan your time to ensure that tasks are completed on time.
  • You always do a thorough job.
  • You handle multiple priorities with grace and skill.
  • You respond to stressful situations with calm control.
  • You maintain your enthusiasm and commitment to a task until it is completed.
  • You handle boring tasks with the same care that you handle interesting ones.
  • You never give up when tasks are challenging or difficult.
  • You analyze tasks in advance and plan how much time they will take to accomplish.
  • You pace your work and effort so that you don’t have to rush at the last minute.
  • You break large projects into manageable steps and identify milestones.
  • You do what is most important each day.
  • You use a calendar system to help you manage your time.
  • You have the supplies you need on hand and ready for use.
  • You keep your workspace orderly and well organized.
  • You keep track of projects and materials.
  • You are always on time for meetings and appointments.
  • Your written documents are neat and free of errors.
  • You take proper care of equipment.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Get Organized

Being productive requires you to control all incoming information. You can begin to do this immediately while you are implementing your information management system. Here are some tips to help you get started:

· Eliminate “clutter” boxes, “miscellaneous” files, and “paper shuffling.” Everything needs a place and a label.

· Create an in-box, out-box, and to-file box on your desk. Empty your in-box and to-file box before you leave each day.

· Never put down a piece of paper without doing something to move it along. Take each piece of paper as far as you can. Do it now. Delegate it now. File it now. Toss it now.

· Set aside one clean-up day every month to purge what is no longer needed or used.

· Organize for usefulness.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Plan to Succeed

Begin to compare your current use of time to your important goals. Are you using your time most efficiently? Here are some action steps you can take to move you toward your goals.

1. Use a calendar system. Life is too complicated to rely on memory.
Properly using a good calendar system can add hours to your life.

2. Each week, schedule your calendar for the next week.

3. Each day, review your weekly schedule. Plan your day to support your weekly goals, but allow for flexibility to handle “emergencies.” Leave room so that you can respond to last-minute changes. If you schedule your day too rigidly, you will create unnecessary additional stress when things go wrong and you have to juggle your plans.

4. Schedule creative or challenging activities for your peak hours.

5. Stop procrastinating.

6. Question assumptions. Don’t assume that because you’ve always done something, you should continue to do it. Always ask, “Is this necessary?” “Is there a faster/easier/better/more efficient way of doing this?”

7. Avoid ambiguous language. Make requests and give instructions as specifically as possible. Ask others to repeat what they think you said and immediately correct any miscommunication. Listen to your words. Are they concrete and specific or vague and obscure? The more precise your word choices, the clearer your communication and the less need for repetition.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Steps for Resolving Conflict

Each of us comes from a unique perspective. Even if everyone has agreed on a goal or outcome, disagreements may arise. When this happens, it is essential to know how to resolve conflict.

Here are steps for resolving conflict:
  • State the nature of the conflict from your viewpoint.
  • Identify the facts contributing to the conflict.
  • Choose an appropriate conflict management strategy.
  • Evaluate the pros and cons of the strategy you choose.
  • If you choose to resolve the conflict, schedule a meeting with the person to discuss the situation.
Before the meeting:
  • Plan what you want to say.
  • Define the outcome you want.
  • Define what you think the other person wants.
  • Are there areas of agreement?
When you meet:
  • Acknowledge that a conflict exists.
  • Use “I” statements and encourage the other person to also use “I” statements.
  • Avoid personal attacks and judgments.
  • Ask open-ended questions that require more than “yes” and “no” answers.
  • Monitor nonverbal messages.
  • State your desired outcome and ask the other person to state their outcome.
  • Identify what you want in common – where outcomes and goals overlap.
  • Work toward a resolution based on the conflict management strategy you chose.
  • Identify the next step.
  • Agree to take the next step.
  • Set up a follow-up meeting, if necessary.

Friday, November 7, 2008

You Need Positive, Supportive People

Surround yourself with positive, supportive people. Negative people can sap your energy, especially if you have to defend your goals from criticism. Negative comments and criticism can sour your motivation. If you can't avoid negative people, learn to ignore what they say and remain steadfast in your pursuit of your goals. Author Pearl Buck wrote, "All things are possible until they are proved impossible -- and even the impossible may only be so as of now."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Reducing Distractions

Concentration is like a laser; it can help you cut through distractions and be more productive. Energy flows where attention goes. When you concentrate on a task, you focus your attention on it and that, in turn, focuses your energy. You get more done, faster, and more efficiently.

The power is in the present moment. We cannot change the past, and we can only imagine the future, but we can take action in the present. NOW is the moment of power. Concentration keeps you in the now where you can act.

Your dominant sense may be your greatest source of distractions. For example, if sight is dominant, you are probably most susceptible to visual distractions. Positioning your desk by a window may not be a good idea. If hearing is your dominant sense, you need an environment that is quiet since sound will distract you. If feeling is your dominant sense, you need to create an environment that makes you feel safe and is conducive to concentration. For example, you may be distracted and unable to concentrate if the room temperature isn’t just right or the area doesn’t “feel right.”

When you know where distractions are likely to come from, you can take steps to reduce their impact or eliminate them. The key is to success is to do what works for you and not judge yourself.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Temper Your Temper

We've all been there. You know when certain people or situations push your limits and you blow. Later, you're embarrassed when you realize you let them get the best of you. Anger can drive us to act irrationally. Anger also can be a tool for bringing about change, if you can find away to release it constructively and turn it in to a positive force. Anger is often a response to feeling out of control and overwhelmed by having too much to do. While feeling angry is okay, how you respond can make or break you.

Let's say that you are upset because a deadline has been moved up and you'll have to cancel personal plans to meet the new demands placed on you, you need to handle your angry feelings without telling your boss to kiss off.

* TAKE A TIME OUT. When you feel anger rising, first try to step back. When you feel yourself ready to blow, remove yourself -- physically or mentally -- and give yourself a chance to cool off before you address the source of your anger. Take three deep breaths and pinpoint exactly what you're mad at before you speak or act. Be careful not to make any major decisions based in anger.

* LISTEN. When we're angry at someone, we often stop listening to others and form our own arguments in our heads while the other person is speaking. Try to listen. Ask questions instead of defending yourself, criticizing someone else, or blaming them. Do all you can to preserve your own and the other person's dignity. When possible, try to find the humor in the situation and even in you're reaction to it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Influence Others to Support You

Your ability to influence others contributes to how successful you can become. Your influence others when you convince them of your position and obtain their support for your decisions and actions. The following skills are needed to influence others:

- Listen. Effective listening is one of the most powerful forms of communication. When you listen to another person, you place your attention wholly on what that person is saying. Effective listening helps influence others because they are more inclined to listen to you, in turn, and to credit what you have to say.

- Show genuine respect for others. Respect for others means that you honor confidences, make reasonable allowances for others' faults, behave nonjudgmentally, expect others to act ethically and responsibly, and show consideration for another's feelings. When you demonstrate respect, you are respected in response.

- Act confidently. People tend to follow those whoa ct with confidence. If you trust yourself and believe in the rightness of your decisions and actions, others will follow you. Exuding confidence when you believe your decisions are sound, even if you feel anxious, will crate a positive model for others to follow.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pay Attention to Priorities

Developing as a professional means cultivating the ability to set priorities and doing what’s most important. Professionals understand how to priortize and easily move from task to task, staying on point.

Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto first wrote about the 80/20 Rule or Pareto Principle. According to Pareto, 20% of activities account for 80% of results. For example, 20% of your customers account for 80% of your sales. If you have 20 items on your To Do list, four of them will produce more and be worth more than the other 16 items on the list. The key to productivity is to do the 20% first.
To set priorities, ask yourself these questions:

- Does this task have value? If so, to whom does it have value?
- What is the value of doing this task?
- Does this task move you in the direction of your goals?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most important, how important is this task for achieving your goals?
- Does the task have a deadline? If so, what is the deadline?
- Can the task be performed at one time or do you need to break it down into smaller tasks?

Prioritize tasks based on their importance to your goals. The most important tasks that contribute the most to your goals should be in the top 20% of activities.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Start Slow and Grow Strong

Don’t strive for major changes overnight. The Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement -- kaizen -- encourages us to take small, consistent steps that cumulatively make a difference.

One step may not make much impact; 10,000 steps can take you up a mountain.
• Make the tasks look small and easy in your mind.
• Do only a small part of the task each time.
• Five-minute plan: Work on something for just five minutes. At the end of five minutes, switch to something else if you want. Chances are, you'll get involved enough to keep going.
• Plan tomorrow and establish priorities. Sometimes, just writing down reasonable starting and stopping times can help you get going.

Expect some backsliding. Occasionally, your plans will not work. Accept setbacks and start again. You can always recover from a small mis-step. It's a lot harder to recover if you jump off a cliff!

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