Thursday, March 6, 2014
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
How to Work Smarter and Be More Productive
You've downloaded every new app that promises to keep you organized, read books that vow to make you more efficient — and yet you still feel stressed out and overwhelmed with the clutter on your desk and in your mind.
To make matters worse, you're working harder than ever, putting in late nights and feeling overwhelmed at what you need to get done.
Tamara Myles, a certified professional organizer, often hears this common story.
"Most clients call me because something bad has happened, such as missing a deadline, and there is a moment of desperation that causes them to call," she says.
The majority of callers are seeking help with overwhelming stacks of paper that hide missing key documents. But such disorganization is just a symptom of a bigger problem, Myles says.
"It's really a time-management problem," she says. "Most of my clients are Type A personalities and very hard working. But that doesn't mean they work smart."
In a new book, The Secret to Peak Productivity: A Simple Guide to Reaching Your Personal Best, Myles outlines her strategy to better organization and productivity using a what she calls a "personal productivity system."
"There is no single solution that will work for everyone," she says. "But we can make the most of the time we have by making choices."
She suggests beginning with a "brain dump," writing down everything on your plate to get a clear idea of what needs to get done. While you may find you have more tasks than time, you will learn to make choices and do the right things with the time you have.
By beginning with physical organization, you can start decluttering your piles of paper into toss, to-do and keep stacks. When considering electronic options, Myles cautions not to employ anything before you carefully considered its advantages and disadvantages.
"Some people don't use apps efficiently or correctly, and they just have to have the latest and greatest," she says. "That just becomes more clutter."
You have an electronic-clutter problem when you feel anxious about deleting something, forget what you say or spend a lot of time searching for files, she says.
Some other tips she provides in her book:
1. Prioritize your tasks and activities by looking at each one to determine its urgency and importance. Become more aware of how much time you spend on activities that distract you from what's important.
2. Learn to avoid the traps that can distract you from your goals. If you are interrupted continually at work for things that are not important, try posting a sign that says, "Please don't interrupt me now."
3. Make smart choices. Once you make progress on clutter, you will find more time opening up.
What will you fill it with? Make choices that will fulfill you and give you even more incentives to continue organizing your time.
"In my workshops, people hope to uncover a big secret about being more productive and getting organized. But this is not rocket science. Many of the things I tell them they probably heard before," Myles says. "But there is no one thing that can address any one need. What you need is a road map that will work best for you."
Friday, February 28, 2014
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
How to Become a Thought Leader
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Monday, February 24, 2014
How to Promote Yourself Without Being an Obnoxious Braggart
We're often told that if we want to get ahead in our careers, we must learn to promote ourselves.
But this is often an uncomfortable thought — partly because we may be shy when it comes to talking about our accomplishments and partly because we've heard others do it and come off as obnoxious blowhards.
But experts say you can find a way to convey your abilities that will feel comfortable and put you on a path to greater success.
"The biggest mistake people make when trying to promote their accomplishments or abilities to others is not projecting a belief in their abilities," says Chief Executive Kim Garst of Boom! Social, a personal branding and social media consulting firm. "If you do not believe it, it is hard to get others to buy into your value. If you do not value your time and knowledge, neither will others."
The problem can become even more challenging when a worker is inexperienced or young, says Alexandra Levit, author of They Don't Teach Corporate in College.
"The key is enthusiasm," she says. "If you emphasize your passion when describing an achievement, people will think you're just excited about it. An excited person appears earnest, and it's hard to be critical of someone earnest."
Garst considers herself is an introvert and understands how uncomfortable some people may be in talking about themselves. She says she has turned to Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, to learn lessons such as asking people about themselves and learning to listen carefully.
"You will be surprised how much easier it is to share information about yourself when you are simply responding to what they have shared with you and revealing your thoughts, successes, goals, etc.," she says.
Try out your promotional efforts on your boss first, Levit suggests.
"It's OK if you mess up and start bragging because your boss is supposed to know about everything you're doing and can't fault you for keeping him informed," she says. "But when informing everyone else of your successes, be as subtle as possible."
Forward e-mails praising your work to your manager, disguising them as "modest FYIs" and making the success seem as though it had been a team effort, such as using "we" instead of "I," she says.
Even if you don't have a lot of experience, you can talk about things you've done through volunteering, after-school jobs or even campus activities, Levit says.
"It's all about showing how you contributed to the success of the organization by leveraging important transferable skills like project management, marketing, finance and client relations," Levit says.
Using social media is a great way to promote yourself without being overbearing, Garst says. She suggests some ways to do that:
1. Be helpful. "People can tell when you actually care about them and when you are just out for you," she says. "Help others without the expectation of reward. Share your knowledge. Give advice, tips, etc."
2. Make it about them. "How are you helpful or useful to your audience?" she asks. "What problem do you solve for them?"
Garst suggests making a list of ways to make a difference. If you worry about over promotion, look at the list to remember how you help your audience.
3. Build relationships. You must be willing to devote the time to build a relationship with your audience.
This means you have to engage, respond to questions on social media and through e-mail and be present to allow people to communicate with you, she says.
"This does not mean that you have to sit in front of your computer 24/7," she says. "Respond when necessary and always give appreciation to those who are promoting you."
4. Be brave, positive and pleasant. "Actions are what people pay attention to," Garst says. "How you handle a positive or negative situation can define you in so many ways."