August 2010 - Posts

Cyber Security: How Safe Are You?
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 2:23 PM

The business world is buzzing this month about the news that leading chip maker Intel is acquiring security software giant McAfee. http://bit.ly/bwZTkB  In a joint news statement, the companies said by joining forces they can better combat today's cyber security issues, which require "a fundamentally new approach to security"--mainly by integrating security into hardware via chips.

Protect Your Identity

Good news for PC owners sick of viruses and malware attacks. But the news also begs the question, how safe are our online identities now and what can we do to protect ourselves while Intel and McAffee look for future solutions.

Simple steps you can take to protect your computer from being hijacked include:

  • Make sure your Windows computer remains up to date on security patches.
  • Use antivirus and firewall software.
  • Be cautious about clicking on links or file attachments that arrive via e-mail or instant message.
  • Be careful what you download.
  • Find an alternate browser to Internet Explorer which is vulnerable to spyware.

Be sure to educate your children about cyber safety. They can inadvertently download items or click through to links that breach the security measures you've been so careful to maintain. And don't forget to limit your exposure on social media sites; private information should never be shared publically.

For more tips for protecting your online identity, we've assembled some great articles:

What steps have you taken to protect your cyber identity? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

By Carly Fadako

 

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Harness Back-to-School Energy
Monday, August 30, 2010 2:01 PM
Back to school season means unsullied notebooks and squeaky clean chalkboards. Fall is a fresh start. Tap into that "anything is possible" energy and set your students - and yourself - on an organized, productive path this season. Get in Gear...
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Let Labor Day Reboot Your Work Productivity
Monday, August 30, 2010 1:59 PM
Summer's swan song is called Labor Day for a reason: it's time to put aside the lazy, hazy days of summer and refocus on work. Fall is a season for fresh starts, so with your productivity batteries recharged after some summer downtime, it's...
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The ABC's of Organization
Friday, August 27, 2010 4:14 PM
This fall, send your kids back to school armed not only with new notebooks but with well honed organizational skills. Fall is a season for fresh starts and while reading, writing and arithmetic may be the main curriculum, the back-to-school season provides...
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Motivate Yourself!
Thursday, August 26, 2010 5:27 PM

As anyone who has ever thought about going to the gym can tell you, thinking and doing are vastly different verbs. The difference between the people who hit the gym every morning and those that mean to get there but rarely do is motivation: self-motivation.

Onwards

Self-motivation is a building block of success. Getting from A to Z requires an internal drive that propels one forward, especially when it's easier to hit the snooze button when the gym beckons. With summer in its waning days, and the fall back-to-school season upon us, it's time for some tips to get our self-motivation mojo back in form.

First, a status check. How self-motivated are you?  This revealing quiz from Mindtools.com provides a chance to assess your strengths and weaknesses.

If you feel in need of a tune-up, here are a few tactics to help shape up your self-motivation skills.

  • Start Simple: Set small, achievable goals and own them! Success breeds success.
  • Carrots & Sticks: Perform well and reward yourself. Pretty simple.
  • Consequences: Picture the negative outcome of not moving towards your goal. Don't overdo this, a positive attitude is necessary but a realistic outlook is a must-have as well.
  • Keep good company: Hang out with motivated people. Can-do is contagious!

Looking for inspiration? Check in with this wonderful Huffington Post piece from time to time: How to Motivate Yourself: 21 Quotes to Help You Refocus and Renew. 

How do you self-motivate?  Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Carly Fadako

 

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Organized to Learn: For Students
Thursday, August 26, 2010 2:10 PM
With five days full of classes to keep up with, not to mention homework, sports and after-school activities, family time and time with friends it's often difficult to stay on top of your schoolwork and manage free time. Gain control over your life...
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The Well Organized Classroom
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 9:58 PM
Organization makes every task go more smoothly, and teaching is no exception. In this article, you'll look at the different areas of the classroom -- from student supplies and files, to your own desk -- and explore ways to organize and maintain each...
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Wanted: Creative Thinkers
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 5:22 PM

What does it take to be a CEO? Brains, business acumen, vision, drive? All good guesses but according to a new study  by IBM, creativity is the most important leadership quality for CEOs.

Generating Creativity

At Beyond Folders, we frequently blog about how to enhance critical skills for workplace success. Reading about the IBM study's finding that creativity plays a crucial role in achievement has me wondering; is creativity an innate talent or is it possible to enhance or foster creativity? 

According to creative triple-threat Tony Schwartz, an author, entrepreneur and productivity expert, creativity can be trained and strengthened just as you would any muscle. In a recent Huffington Post article 6 Invisible Secrets to Fostering Your Creativity, Schwartz posits that there are six fundamental moves that anyone can take to fuel creativity. The steps include:

Meeting Your Needs. Creativity requires energy. Assess what unmet needs (sleep, diet, job, family dysfunction, etc.) are sapping your energy and take steps to ameliorate those obstacles.

Training Creativity Systematically. Understand what Schwartz and others call the five stages of creative thinking and work to train them: first insight, saturation, incubation, illumination and verification. Schwartz steers readers to Betty Edward's book Drawing on the Artist Within for more insight on the stages of creativity.

Nurturing Your Passion. Place yourself in roles that excite your imagination. Every job has aspects that are enjoyable, challenging and meaningful. Identify steps for spending more time engaged in the aspects of your job that nurture you. Creativity will follow.

Making Your Work Matter. Human beings are inspired when they contribute to something larger than themselves. How can you expend energy at work on contributing to others?

Making the Time. Creative thinking requires open-ended, uninterrupted time, to reflect, meditate or daydream. Schedule this time as you would any other must-do task.

Valuing Renewal. Understand that you are not a machine that can hum along working indefinitely. Schedule breaks - time to rest or move your body - these shifts in consciousness can allow creative breakthroughs.

How do you foster creativity for yourself?  Your colleagues or subordinates?  Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Bradley Eggers

 

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To Negotiate Well, Learn to Listen
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 2:25 PM

"The basic mistake people make in negotiations is not listening," said Steven P. Cohen, author of Negotiating Skills for Managers in a Forbes article The ABC's of Negotiating. "Information is the most important commodity that changes hands during negotiations," Cohen added.

In a past post Negotiate What You Deserve, we blogged about how negotiating is a fact of life, be it at work or home: everything from vacation calendars to raises to what to order in for dinner can be subject to the push-and-pull of negotiation and compromise. At the heart of any successful negotiation is skillful listening.

Hear, Hear

So how to listen effectively? Let's take a moment to suss out what constitutes listening. Broadly speaking "listening" incorporates two functions: receiving spoken information and interpreting that information.

Interpreting the spoken word is where things get tricky. A famous Russian composer once said "to listen is an effort, and just to hear has no merit. A duck hears also." The key to effective listening is not merely to hear but to understand what the speaker is conveying.

Listen Up

So how to move from hearing to understanding? Take time to be an active, engaged listener, not a passive recipient of information; ask questions and study nonverbal cues. Stay engaged and connected; make an effort to keep your mind from wandering. Take time to check in and engage in reflexive listening,  repeating what the person has said in order to help determine meaning, such as "you believe you need more time to complete the project?  Is that correct?"

For more advice on your improving listening and negotiating skills we've assembled the following resources:

Are you an active listener? Do you see a link between effective listening and negotiating? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Candie Harris

 

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When You Don’t Work with Mind-Readers
Thursday, August 19, 2010 2:14 PM

How many times in life have you wished you had a superpower? Leaping tall buildings in a single bound or seeing through walls? Nice work if you can get it but for those of us who can't read minds (and don't work with those who can) effective and clear communication skills are a must.

Great Expectations

Effective leaders set expectations for those who follow them. No matter your role-general, boss, teacher, parent-your underlings will not meet your expectations unless you clearly define them.

Expectations are milestones against which progress is measured. If expectations are not clear, people can become hesitant or indecisive. We've assembled a list of resources here that help managers effectively set expectations for their employees.

A tip that I found to be particularly useful was not to "over-operationalize a job" meaning don't put all of the focus on describing the steps to follow. Rather, define the outcome and let the employee get to a successful conclusion their own way. Sound advice. For more helpful tips, read the following articles:

How do you set and communicate expectations? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

 

 

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Downside of Disorganization
Wednesday, August 18, 2010 2:09 PM

"One of the advantages of being disorganized is that one is always having surprising discoveries."  A.A. Milne 

Stumbling upon a long forgotten pot of honey might have delighted A.A. Milne's most famous literary character Winnie-the-Pooh but for most of us, disorganization leads to unpleasant surprises. Unpaid bills. Overlooked invitations. Expired documents. The list goes on.

The Beyond Folders bloggers spend a lot of time offering tips and resources for turning piles into files and for clearing clutter from your desk tops (both virtual and physical!) but sometimes what's really needed is not how-to advice but why-to inspiration. 

Why be Organized?

Being disorganized is a luxury most of us can't afford. Late bills equal extra finance charges and fees. Lost receipts leads to footing bills for company expenses rather than getting proper reimbursement. Crammed cabinets results in duplicate and triplicate items piling up, unused. Read on for what being disorganized is costing you:

Being disorganized not only exacts a financial toll, it can cause unwanted stress and can even make you sick. Sound extreme? Consider how your blood pressure skyrockets when you're frantically searching for that must-have document that is who-knows-where? And dust mites and germs lurk in piles of clutter. Unclutter and unwind. For more about the link between being disorganized and your health read on:

Do you see a downside to disorganization? What inspired you to kick your clutter habit? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Carly Fadako

 

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Decision Making 101
Tuesday, August 17, 2010 1:57 PM

It's been said that the only things that are certain in life are death and taxes. I'd amend that famous dictum to add....decisions. From sunrise to sunset, the day is jam-packed with decisions. And while many are relatively unimportant-coffee or tea?-other decisions are more weighted requiring careful attention for successful resolution.

Effective decision making requires having a clear picture of the issue at hand. An organized approach also helps. For tips on establishing a systematic method for decision making read this constructive article Decision Making Techniques and Decision Making Skills Training. In short, the article posits that adopting a logical and systematic decision-making process makes it less likely that important factors will be overlooked and that better and more effective decisions will readily be made.

Basics steps for making an effective decision include:

  1. Create a constructive environment.
  2. Generate good alternatives.
  3. Explore these alternatives.
  4. Choose the best alternative.
  5. Check your decision.
  6. Communicate your decision, and take action.

While these six steps can be viewed as decision making fundamentals, different situations can require additional steps. Decision Making 101  is a collection of articles on making decisions on everything from finances, your marriage to how to know when it's time to leave a job. In future posts, we'll examine specific types of decision making that occur frequently in the workplace. 

For now, I'll leave you with some decision making advice from Suzy Welch,  a business writer and wife of business tycoon Jack Welch. In her book 10-10-10: A Life-Transforming Idea,  Welch advocates defining options when making a decision by considering how the decision will affect you in 10 minutes, 10 months and then in 10 years. Welch's theory is that viewing decisions through this prism prevents one from making decisions based on short term expediency or solely with the long run in mind; instead all factors must be considered. 

Interesting advice. What do you think? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Bradley Eggers

 

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Shorts Cuts that Don’t Short Change Productivity
Thursday, August 12, 2010 2:21 PM

Who doesn't love a short cut? Is there any better feeling than beating traffic on the back roads? Getting to the goal with less time and less effort is exhilarating. Harness that heady feeling at work with computer shortcuts that will have your productivity humming along with a few quick key strokes. We've assembled a list of resources on computer short cuts including:

Microsoft Suite of Products

PowerPoint

Excel

Do you make use of computer shortcuts? What is your go-to shortcut? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Bradley Eggers

 

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How to be a Better Boss
Wednesday, August 11, 2010 2:13 PM

The hit show "Undercover Boss" is rolling out a new season featuring CEOs from mega-brands such as NASCAR and Chiquita slipping anonymously into their companies' rank and file. These honchos get an up-close, warts and all look at their companies' inner workings and leave enlightened about how to better run their company and be more effective bosses.

While the show makes for entertaining TV, going undercover within your workforce isn't the only way to become a better boss. We've collected an assortment of resources that can inspire you to become a more effective and trusted leader. Subordinates should read on as well; these articles are a two-way street, providing useful tips for improving interactions with your supervisors.

Tune In

Stanford professor Robert I. Sutton, and author of the upcoming Good Boss, Bad Boss, says good bosses work diligently to "stay in tune" with how their employees-and superiors, peers, and customers-react to what they say and do. These bosses realize that success depends on having the self-awareness to control their moods and moves, to accurately interpret their impact on others and to continuously make adjustments that inspire hard-work, pride and a sense of dignity amongst their workforce. In short, good bosses have well-honed, well-practiced emotional intelligence

For more insight from Bob Sutton, read his blog post 12 Things Good Bosses Believe at the Harvard Business Review.

Coach, Not Control

Serial entrepreneur and columnist for U.S. News and World report G.L. Hoffman recommends bosses take a page out of the playbook of football coaches. Hoffman argues that the leadership qualities that translate into Super Bowl victories can be put into play at work.  Hoffman says that putting people into positions where they can succeed is crucial as is developing players: successful teams have MVPs and the guy who carries the Gatorade. All play a crucial role in the team's success. Sports enthusiasts, read on for tips that may win you Coach, I mean, Boss of the Year: Manage like a Football Coach-22 Ways to Be a Better Boss. 

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Author, executive and mother-of-three Shari Storm believes raising children is a powerful management training system. In her witty and wise book Motherhood Is the New MBA: Using Your Parenting Skills to Be a Better Boss, Storm shares tips for managing your workforce that were honed on the toughest of underlings, young children. Storm suggests bosses create a family environment where everyone is invested in the well-being of the whole, that they set a calm and collected tone for the group and that they hold the line on tantrums. Sage advice for both the work and home fronts. For more on Storm's parenting-***-leadership advice, read Parenting 101: How to Be a Better Boss at Work and Home. 

 

What makes a boss good or bad? Do you have tips for being a better boss? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Candie Harris

 

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Making the Most of Web Meetings
Monday, August 09, 2010 2:06 PM

We've posted in the past about how global teams and nomadic workers can successfully use tools such as web conferencing to work across wide geographies and multiple teams. In our recent post Dial in, Log on: Your Conference has Begun  we shared tips for web conferencing best practices.

Now we'll look at other aspects of web conferencing including how to make the most of your money and how to best leverage successful conferences.

Cost Conscious Options

When a team of executives needs to meet, you can book 20 first-class flights or hook up a web conference. The math is pretty simple; web conferencing saves money. Top-flight web conferencing options such as WebEx , GoToMeeting and IBM Sametime make virtual meetings virtually seamless. However, these premium products may be out of reach for small companies or independent knowledge workers.

Here are a few resources on free or low-cost web conferencing options that will have your Beirut-to-Bombay-to-Boston meeting underway in no time:

Leveraging Success

 In our Web 2.0 world, gone are the days when meetings were solely a small group of workers sitting around the conference table. Web meetings can now promote your brand to an external audience; use webinars and web conferencing for online product launches and analyst and press briefings. Be YouTube savvy and let your successful webinars or web meetings live on; record and post the presentation so a wider audience can receive your message. For more tips on promoting web conferences, check out the following helpful resources:

Have any tips for making the most of web conferences? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Carly Fadako

 

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About Beyond Folders™

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.

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