Clear demarcations between work and
personal life have gone the way of the three-martini lunch. Using work
computers to shop online or make vacation reservations is as common as
BlackBerries buzzing at school recitals or a co-worker friending you on
Technology increasingly enables people to
live a 24/7 existence, eroding the line between home and office. Today,
professionals can even work while on vacation.
Rather than bemoan the change (a Luddite-like
finger in the dike) today's employee should embrace
for the positive attributes it brings to creating healthy
Managed appropriately, technology
enhances flexibility, productivity and business and personal brand value.
Social media is a case in point.
Consider that Twitter
and Facebook can
be set up for personal use, professional use or a hybrid
model. Experiment with what works for you and your company.
For many knowledge workers, a hybrid
professional/personal online presence is desirable. Social media is not only
fun, it is an extremely powerful marketing tool. Used effectively, you can
build a meaningful personal brand by engaging the social media channels that are right for
When you venture into social media be
sure to manage potential pitfalls by arming yourself with tools to protect your online reputation.
Equal care should be taken not to run afoul of your company's personal use
standards for technology. Avid texters should take note: the Supreme Court will soon decide if
police department violated an employee's privacy when it inspected personal
text messages he sent using a work-issued pager.
Familiarize yourself with what is
permissible at your job.
In the end, judgment matters. The best
way to avoid violating your company's technology use
or with revealing too much personal information to professional contacts is to
use good judgment.
The old adage applies: If you wouldn't
want to see it on the front page of the New York Times, do not say it, or do
it...or Tweet it!
by Candie Harris
Technology is increasingly allowing digital nomads-location independent workers-to leverage the
internet and devices like smartphones, making any spot on the globe a
workplace. Whether your office is at the local coffeehouse, or in a far-flung
locale, digital nomads require certain tools in their backpacks for success.
Here are some tips for the nomadic life:
Make technology your
When your laptop is your office, you need more than yellow post-it notes
to make it work seamlessly. Leading social media marketer and proponent of the
"I-can-work-anywhere-movement" Chris Brogan says every nomad should pack five-must have tools.
According to DigitalNomad.com other essential services include a USPS box for snail mail, Gmail, an online storage service to
access documents remotely and Kayak.com
Learn from the experts. Journalist and work-lifestyle visionary Daniel Pink first coined the
phrase Free Agent Nation in a 1997 Fast
Since then, seismic shifts in the global
economy and technology have created legions of digital nomads and online
resources such as LocationIndependent.com which offers a collection of
road-tested resources and articles. For best practices for location independent
practitioners, follow the pioneers in Ten Digital
Nomads to Learn From.
Manage your mindset. Recognize that many of the old rules do not apply. In some offices
face time is expected. For location independent workers, time in an office
chair does not equal work. Work equals work. You can manage your time
efficiently with online tools such as calendars,
to-do lists and contact management software.
Police productivity and periodically
review goals. There is no corporate year-end performance review. You
define your success. Just be sure to take time to measure it!
Ready to say good-bye to the
corner office or cubicle? While the promise of
increased flexibility and greater productivity (good-bye commute time and
office politics!) is a tremendous lure, for some, the loss of office
camaraderie, lack of benefits and the stress of managing invoices is too great
Be sure to examine the pros and cons of being
location independent before making the leap.
Do you have tips or tales of life as
digital nomad? If so, we invite you to share them here and on the Beyond
Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.
by Carly Fadako
to an email.
contact in Outlook.
the same time.
are not an octopus. You are a typical multitasker at work.
the demands of our 24-7-365 culture, the latest research shows that the typical
human brain is not wired for multitasking. That is why multitaskers do not
perform as well as others on core abilities like memory, task completion and
switching from one task to another. Multitasking also has the negative physical
effect of prompting the release of stress hormones and adrenaline. So, when we multitask, we are more prone to stress and anger.
We are also more easily distracted.
The public has become attuned
to the perils of this distractibility courtesy of Oprah
Winfrey's No Phone Zone project In an April 24, 2010 New York Times Op-Ed piece, Ms. Winfrey cites
the chilling statistic that at least 6,000 people were killed by drivers
distracted by cellphones in 2008. She goes on to state: "So many issues that we
have to deal with seem beyond our control: natural disasters, child predators,
traffic jams. Over the years, I've done shows on just about all of them. But
this is a real problem we can do something about and get immediate results. All
we have to do is hang up or switch off."
are switching off in the car, we should also consider the benefits of curbing
our multitasking habit at work. Think about the last time you focused on a
single task or project for an extended time. Or, try to remember your last
uninterrupted conversation with a co-worker. If you are like many of us, you
might not have any recent memories to cull.
why we are challenging members of our Beyond Folders
Community to stop the multitasking madness. For at
least one week, commit to focusing on a single work task, project or
conversation for at least one hour each day. Close the door, hang a do not
disturb sign or cordon off the cubicle - anything that clearly communicates to
your co-workers that you are not to be bothered. We encourage you to keep a log
or journal of your activities and note how you feel as you go.
complete your one-week challenge, we invite you to share your experience with
us here, on our blog or at the Beyond Folders
Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.
by Bradley Eggers
I previously posted about the rise of a home
office workforce that favors an easy (or, really, non-existent) commute, more
flexible hours and a casual dress code. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, almost 52% of all small
businesses are home-based. If you are thinking of working from home, here are
some ideas for setting up your office space.
The first step is to choose the right area of your
home. This post from iVillage poses some key questions
to consider, including:
USA Today article
and a post from workshifting.com set out, once you choose
the physical space for your office, you need to consider what you need in it,
If being green is a priority, check out the tips in
this post on How to Set up a Green Office for $1000 or
Less. Planet Green
also offers this Comprehensive Guide.
One of the great benefits of a home office is
proximity to your family. But, if you have kids, you will probably want to set
some boundaries (physical and otherwise) around your workspace. This Fast
Company article on The Home Office, Kids Edition provides some good
Have you set up a home office? If so, please let us
know how you did it. Photos welcome!
For the better part of the last two years, we have
been inundated with the harsh realities of the economic downturn. So, it likely
comes as no surprise that
a recent survey showed that almost a quarter of all businesses are experiencing
low employee morale.
As this Reuters report on the poll sets out, survey
respondents attribute the problem to:
According to this post on the causes and cures of low morale in the workplace, another driving force is
If you are an employer or office leader, it is
important to be proactive in recognizing and remedying low morale in the
workplace. You can start with some guidance from this CareerBuilder.com post on
5 No-Brainer Morale Boosters. Topping the list is "do
as you say." Hypocracy is a very destructive force and "you should hold yourself
accountable just as you do your employees." More tips can be found in this HR World post on boosting morale, including:
As this TechRepublic post on team morale points out, no one should ignore
the uplifting power of being a good listener and saying "thank you." If you are
looking for a group exercise to raise office spirits, you should take note of
this post discussing the office morale-boosting effects
of NCAA office pools.
Do you have any suggestions about boosting office
morale? Please share them with us here or on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter
By Bradley Eggers
many times during your typical workday do you hear this question or its
equivalent in the form of an urgent email or a phone call requiring your
to a New York Times article on the chaos of modern
office life, you
probably hear it more times than you can count. Profiling a scientific study of
workplace interruptions, the article cites this finding:
"Each employee spent only 11
minutes on any given project before being interrupted and whisked off to do
something else. What's more, each 11-minute project was itself fragmented into
even shorter three-minute tasks, like answering e-mail messages, reading a Web
page or working on a spreadsheet. And each time a worker was distracted from a
task, it would take, on average, 25 minutes to return to that task"
Given this steady stream of
interruptions, it is no wonder that many of us feel unproductive and depleted
at work. But, we are not powerless. Although we cannot eliminate them, we can
take steps to minimize office interruptions so we can accomplish more and
to diminish these distractions is to block off an hour or so each day when you:
fortify this no-interruption zone by responding to emails only at designated
times. A little communication also goes a long way. If someone comes to your
office or calls when you are busy, you can politely, but firmly, say: "I only
have five minutes right now. Can we set up another time to talk at greater
length?" Another trick of mine is to use more 'quiet' times in the office to
work on projects where I need uninterrupted concentration. For example, first
thing in the morning or lunchtime both work well for me to focus with minimum
For more practical tips on taming office interruptions, take a
look at these posts:
As always, feel free to share your tips and tools
for minimizing office interruptions with us.
My last post discussed why problems arise in the
workplace and how we typically deal with them when they do. In this post, we
will take a closer look at the problem solving process.
"Nothing gives one so much advantage over another as to remain always
cool and unruffled under all circumstances."
A mediate.com article on
resolving conflict at work cites this Thomas Jefferson quote to point up the importance of keeping calm, cool and
collected in the face of a problem. As the article notes, we need to step back and try to see the bigger picture.
This perspective-taking includes a candid appraisal of what we might have done/be
doing to fuel the issue.
- and everyone else involved - have settled down, you can address the problem step-by-step. As an initial step, it is
important to pinpoint the issues by
fielding and clarifying different perspectives. A next step is to brainstorm solutions that satisfy
everyone's interests. To find the point (or points) of mutual interest, you
need some patience and creativity. You also need good active
When you engage in active listening, you offer physical and/or verbal signs
that you understand and appreciate what people are saying to you. Make direct
eye contact, nod your head and say "OK, go on" or "I understand." Clarity of understanding is critical here, you may even
need to repeat back, "This is what I understand and heard you say, " ---- " is
have some possible solutions on the table, you must collaborate to evaluate and select the best option or
options. To facilitate this part of the process, you can answer several key
questions set out in this article on How to Become an
Effective Problem Solver:
One added technique working well for us at our Esselte manufacturing facilities
around the globe is "Try-Storming" our options. By using mock-ups and simulations
built of various raw materials, we give the team a better, more realistic view
of the success of their idea. This process
takes mistakes and time out of the problem solving life cycle and shortens the lead time to successful outcomes.
After weighing the options and deciding on a solution,
you should memorialize the solution in a
written agreement. According to this article on
problem solving in the workplace,
any agreement should include
provisions for revisiting your solution on an ongoing basis to ensure that it still meets your
If you use a problem-solving process at work, we
want to know about it. Please share it with us here or on the Beyond Folders
Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.
In the film Up in the Air,
George Clooney's character, Ryan Bingham, is obsessed with the elite status that comes with earning
10 million frequent flyer miles. While we might not aspire
to be a Bingham,
many of us can relate to his life as an airborne business traveler.
48% of adults in the U.S.
traveled by air for business purposes. If you were among them, you know that
air travel can be challenging. As this New York Times
article details: "Flights on domestic jetliners are fuller than ever, as the industry's
fleet, shrunken from bankruptcies and other post-Sept. 11 travails, struggles
to accommodate demand that grows with the economy." With all these challenges,
it can be hard to get work done in flight. But, without much choice, we soldier
When I travel for business, I make sure to bring reading materials like business
articles for power-down times like takeoff and landing. To take full advantage
of the uninterrupted hours, I also take carry-on projects like document reviews
that require my undivided attention. It helps to have a notepad, pen,
calculator and paperclips handy. Here are some other tips
for working aloft:
comes to using laptops in-flight, things are looking up now that some 500
domestic airliners offer wireless Internet access
(usually for a fee). As a
practical matter, if I am traveling coach and need to use my laptop, I try to
get a seat in an exit row to avoid the perils of my front neighbor's reclining
seatback. If you are traveling with your MacBook (and iPad) in tow, take a look
at Guy Kawasaki's Ultimate Mac Road Warrior Setup. Additional tips can be
found in the Road Warrior Toolbox supplied by small business
marketing expert John Jantsch.
you work at 30,000 feet? Let us know in the comments area here or via our Facebook and Twitter
who you are.
around your office. On your desk. On the floor. On top of the filing cabinet.
piles and more piles.
is as clear as can be. You, my friend, are a piler.
are not alone.
half of all American employees claim that they organize paper by piling it on
their desk. As this Fast Company article on Piles
highlights, "[s]ome of the world's most productive people are pilers. Al Gore,
for example, is a busy guy, with mounds of paper to prove it. [And] many
creative workers stay productive by keeping their virtual piles spread out and
easy to glance at on multiple screens." One executive is so committed to
"managing through piles" that she had an industrial designer build a desk "that
acknowledges her stacking habit, yet gives it shape and structure."
good evidence that nature, as opposed to nurture, drives people to pile.
Typically, pilers are right-brain dominant, creative types who are
visually oriented. They crave stimulation and thrive in environments where
there is a lot going on. To them, forming and sorting through piles is soothing
and constructive. By sharp contrast, filers crave order, ease and calm. To
maintain their equilibrium at work, they methodically categorize, label, purge
and store papers. They need to organize and clear their workspace before they
can begin to focus.
they might appear to be swimming in a sea of chaos, pilers usually know exactly
where to find what they need at any given moment. But, if your piles seem to be
getting the better of you, this WomensMedia post offers some helpful tips:
If you are still on the fence about your identity,
you can take a filer vs. piler quiz. If you are a proud piler
and you know it, we would love to hear from you. You can share your piling tips
and tools here and on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates
passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization. Believing in "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.