September 2010 - Posts

Disorganized? Stressed Out? You Could be Hurting Your Health
Thursday, September 30, 2010 1:50 PM

Google the phrase "disorganization and stress" and 384,000 results pop up. In .25 seconds flat. Whoa. But Googling isn't the only way of knowing disorganization is linked to stress, just feel your own blood pressure rise as you search messy desk piles for a crucial missing document. Stressed out? Heck yeah!

Being disorganized means more than just being messy, forgetful or chronically late; being disorganized creates stress which can have an adverse affect on your health.

Stress Mess

According to WebMD, people experiencing symptoms of stress may:

  • Feel cranky and unable to deal with even small problems.
  • Feel frustrated, lose your temper more often, and yell at others for no reason.
  • Feel jumpy or tired all the time.
  • Find it hard to focus on tasks.
  • Worry too much about small things.
  • Feel that you are missing out on things because you can't act quickly.
  • Imagine that bad things are happening or about to happen.

Combating stress is vital for maintaining good health. Heart disease, cancers, high blood pressure and mental illnesses are all linked to stress to some degree.

Ready to combat stress and improve your health? Tackle that to-do list and organize those files. Just as an apple a day keeps the doctor away, so too does being organized. Give it a whirl.

You may wish to review some of our past posts for help getting started:

And finally, we are big believers that organizing can be fun. We like the blog The Happiness Project for tips and techniques for combating disorganization, managing your time effectively and best of all, for its guidance on how to get happy. Start small, read The Happiness Project: Six Tips for Forcing Yourself to Tackle a Dreaded Task.  You'll be happy you did!

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

by Carly Fadako

 

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LEAN on Me: Using the 5 Whys to Eliminate Stress from Your Day-to-Day
Wednesday, September 29, 2010 1:45 PM

Eliminate the unnecessary. This could be a bumper sticker for the "stress less" ethos we advocate in the Beyond Folders Blog. From purging unused paperwork, computer files or jettisoning low-priority, time wasting tasks, the Beyond Folders bloggers advocate organizing your work and home life to achieve balance, efficiency and maximum productivity.

Regular readers of the Beyond Folders blog know that I am an enthusiastic advocate of the 5 Whys, a problem solving method used by proponents of LEAN manufacturing, a business practice focused on reducing waste and improving quality. The 5 Whys is a question-and-answer process that reveals the root cause of a problem and in turn, a solution. Try applying the 5 Whys to what is causing you stress. As you work through the 5 Whys, does an opportunity to ameliorate the situation present itself?

I would also direct readers to an eye-opening article by Peter Bregman for the Harvard Business Review. A Practical Plan for When You Feel Overwhelmed brings a certain rigor to the task of eliminating stress. The article suggests incremental, measurable ways to tackle tasks that appear insurmountable. Bregman demonstrates that all assignments, all situations, can be tamed a task at a time.

Finally, you may have heard the buzz about Google's new Priority Inbox; it's worth a look to see if it can help tame e-mail overload. Check out Google Priority Inbox Soothes Email-Overload Stress. 

Do you have a method for handling stress? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Bradley Eggers

 

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File for A Cure! Pendaflex Supports Breast Cancer Research
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 4:45 PM
Our "File for a Cure" Kit sample program has ended. Thanks for your participation and the wonderful, heartfelt comments. An email will be sent shortly requesting the street mailing address of all "File for a Cure Kit recipients.
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Balancing Work and Life for Better Health
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 1:39 PM

Modern life is a juggling act. Women in particular have many balls in the air: mother, wife, worker, caretaker, and my least favorite carpooler. When you consider that 70 percent of women with children under the age of eighteen are in the work force it's clear that the day-to-day routines of numerous women involve managing multiple demands.

While women often make the juggling act look effortless, being "on" in so many important roles can be exhausting at best and overwhelming at worst. When a woman's demands exceed her capacity for managing them, imbalance sets in, often with far more serious repercussions than a few dropped balls.

Negative consequences of too much stress, too little balance can include:

  • Strained personal relationships
  • Decline in physical health
  • Anger and hostility
  • Dissatisfaction
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Alcoholism

In past posts such as Stress Less: Keeping Work Worries in Check  we offer tips for coping with the demands of work ranging from better time-management practices to delegating. For out-of-the-box ideas on managing work stress spend time with Zen Habits useful tips in 11 Creative Ways to Avoid Becoming a Workaholic.  Finally, the Business and Professional Women's Foundation is actively pursuing policy remedies to address the problem of work-life balance for working women. Visit their web site for initiatives and resources to help working women balance their many competing needs.

How do you balance work and family obligations? What would make balancing your competing obligations easier? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Candie Harris

 

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From Superwoman to Balanced Woman
Monday, September 27, 2010 7:09 PM
Between careers, kids and carpooling, too many women spend their days in a heroic juggle. This fall, retire your Superwoman act and instead aim for Balanced Woman: a woman enjoying a better work-life equilibrium. Balanced Woman is someone who does a reality...
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Beat Stress for Women's Health
Monday, September 27, 2010 6:58 PM
October: a season of pumpkins and pink ribbons. It's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month , a reminder for women and their families that the spectre of breast cancer remains far scarier than any Halloween ghoul. While the fight against breast cancer...
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The Whys of Resume Writing
Thursday, September 23, 2010 1:19 PM

An up-to-date resume is a must-have for job hunter and job holder alike. Given today's uncertain economy, the smart employee is continually working to improve their personal brand, enhance their skills and have a marketable, well-written resume in their job hunting toolbox. 

Make the Most of Your Resume

Compelling resumes are more than just well-written and carefully proofed; a persuasive resume clearly articulates a candidate's strengths. Don't fall into the common resume trap of putting down a laundry list of jobs, rather carefully asses what information best highlights your strengths and sells you for the role you wish to fill.

What to Put in? What to Leave out?

When assessing your work history and successes, carefully examine each piece of information you are considering for your resume. If it sells you, keep it in; if its extraneous information, detracting from your overall message and branding, get rid of it. I like to think of this as "5-Whying" your resume.

The 5 Whys, which I've posted about in the past in Problem Solving with the 5 Whys is a useful business practice focused on reducing waste and improving quality. What better way to streamline and polish your resume?

So let's get started. Look at each bullet point or job description on your resume. Does it reflect well on you? Does it enhance your marketability? Distinguish you from the competition? Does each sentence "sell" you? Is it relevant to the position to which you are applying? If the answers to any of these questions is "no," the information either needs to be re-written or eliminated.

Consider 5-Whying your resume with a friend or a colleague. It's often difficult to assess ourselves or our work with dispassion and detachment. Ask your reader to apply the 5 Why's to your resume; this will help you gauge how another set of eyes perceive your resume and its persuasiveness.

For more information on how to decide what information should (and should not) be on your resume, I've collected the following useful resources:

What do you look for in an applicant's resume? Do you have tips for resume do's and don'ts? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Bradley Eggers

 

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Teen Jobs: An Important Rite of Passage
Wednesday, September 22, 2010 1:14 PM

School is in full swing and your teens are doubtlessly juggling academics and after-school activities. Consider adding another important activity to your teen's to-do list: job hunting. A first job is an important rite of passage, teaching responsibility and money management skills. Even the act of looking for a job is a teachable moment, so don't let the down job market deter you and your teen from embarking on a fall job hunt, or for getting a head start in thinking about summer jobs.

Parent Trap

Parents can and should help their children navigate their first job hunt but should take pains to avoid falling into the trap of "owning" the job search.  Try not to do all the leg work, or steer your teen to your preferred work, doing so will rob your teen of the chance to make their own decisions and mistakes. The act of looking is an education in its own right; let your teen dive in and take control.

Parents wishing to encourage and support their teens can help with resume proofreading and with big-picture thinking; for example, encourage your teens to think about what type of work they are well suited for and would enjoy. Shy teens might prefer a job shelving library books or working in a store stockroom rather than a role that requires people skills such as manning the library front desk or working the sales floor.  A teen who enjoys animals might work as a dog-walker and a sports enthusiast might work at a sports camp or gym. 

Job Snob

Parents can also help set realistic expectations. Many teen jobs pay minimum wage and often involve less than glamorous work. A teen may be surprised to learn how many hours it takes at a minimum-wage job to earn a coveted pair of designer jeans. Parents can help teens understand that all work has merit and that a job well done leads to increased opportunities down the road.

Encourage your teens to think outside-the-box. Jobs are harder to come by than ever and historically teen-friendly jobs such as retail and restaurant work are seeing adults vie for positions. Get creative: babysitting, dog-walking and other services such as digitizing photos or music are all jobs teens can look for in their own neighborhood. Many local libraries or civic groups sponsor teen jobs fairs or training. If a teen cannot find paid work, encourage them to volunteer to gain necessary experience for their go round.

Finally, take time to read through these resources we culled from across the web. Read these articles with your teen and discuss what tips seem most helpful and why.

Does your teen have a job? Do you have job hunting tips to share with teen job seekers? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Candie Harris

 

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How Much is Too Much? Managing Kids’ Sports and Activities
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 1:10 PM

Do you need a spread sheet to keep track of your children's extracurricular activities? Are your weekends spent coming and going, and going, and going to various sports matches? If you're wondering how much is too much, you aren't alone.

In examining the overscheduled child (and carpool-weary parents) for the article How Much Is Too Much? the San Francisco Chronicle stated:

"A study by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research found that from 1981 through 1997, children's time spent playing structured sports increased by 25 percent, and time spent in unstructured play fell by about the same amount. The study also found that kids have 12 fewer hours of free time a week, eat fewer family dinners, have fewer family conversations per week and take fewer family vacations."

Parents need to walk the line between providing children with enrichment activities and socialization opportunities and unwittingly pushing their children to burnout. Sometimes a soccer match is fun; sometimes it's the last straw. Read on for signs that your child may be too busy for their own good.

While every child is different, parents should be concerned if their children:

  • Feel tired, anxious, or depressed
  • Complain of headaches and stomachaches, due to stress, missed  meals, or lack of sleep
  • Fall behind on their schoolwork, has a drop in grades

If burnout is an issue, it's time to scale back. Parents wishing to provide a healthy balance for their children may find the following tips helpful:

  • Agree on ground rules: Have children pick one sport per season or limit after-school activities to 1-2 times per week.
  • Keep a calendar: Use your kitchen command center  to keep track of activities to avoid over-scheduling.
  • Skip sessions: A beautiful day or a birthday party can be a great excuse to skip a class every once in a while.
  • Carpool: Less driving, less stress. Enough said. 
  • Balance kid and adult activities: Schedule time for you to enjoy hobbies. Carpooling shouldn't be your only activity!
  • Create family time: Family game night, walks or hikes are a great and inexpensive way to spend important family time.
  • Set priorities: School should come first. If homework and grades suffer, activities have to be dropped.
  • Say no: Don't let your child over-schedule; say no or discuss dropping activities to make time for new ones.
  • Schedule downtime: Do-nothing downtime has value.

How does your family balance after-school actives with family time and downtime? Is your child over-scheduled? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Carly Fadako

 

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Cultural Differences in the Workplace
Thursday, September 16, 2010 3:17 PM

Our increasingly global world and workforce can put cultural differences in high relief. A recent Harvard Business Review post Cultural Intelligence captured the challenges posed when individuals see the world through vastly different perspectives. The article opened by quoting an international advertising campaign for global bank HSBC that shows a grasshopper and the message: "USA-Pest. China-Pet. Northern Thailand-Appetizer."

One insect, three vastly different images. Culture powerfully shapes not only how we perceive the world but every human interaction: gestures, speech and comprehension. In business, where teamwork and mutual understanding are necessary to forge consensus and operate productively, cultural barriers must be surmounted.

At our company globalization is more than an abstraction: we have subsidiaries in 31 countries, distribution in more than 120 and our global management and sales forces work from a myriad of locations. In past posts, we've blogged about the logistical challenges of managing remote teams. 

Here, we've assembled some resources to help employees navigate cultural differences.

How does your workplace deal with cultural differences? Do you have tips and techniques to share?

 by Candie Harris

 

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Assessing Your Daily Routine
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 3:09 PM

Be honest. How often do you hit the snooze button? We've all had days where the only time for quiet contemplation are the moments between the alarm's brrrring and when our feet hit the floor.

Stop moving on autopilot. This fall carve out time to assess your daily routine. Do a soup-to-nuts overview of where you are in your life and how it functions.

Take Time to Make Time

This assessment is going to look different for different people. Some of you want to squeeze fifteen more minutes of productivity into your day, others hope to create that much efficiency in an otherwise disorganized day. Regular readers of our posts may have time-management and organizing firmly in hand, but might be looking to add another dimension to their days, be it extra energy, sense of purpose or even greater happiness. Yes, happiness.

Writer Maria Robinson has observed "Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." So take a look at your day and work towards your new ending.

Create Extra Time

Are you a juggling, multitasker who has most bases covered but needs an extra 15 minutes? Tips for squeezing more productivity out of an otherwise organized day include:

  • Steal time from tasks. Emails take 20 minutes a day? Allot yourself 15.
  • Delegate. Older kids can take over certain tasks. Ditto spouses or hired professionals.
  • Take advantage of technology. Coffee timers can brew your pot while you shower. Grocery shop and pay bills online.
  • Remember good enough works, perfection is not necessary. This is crucial for the hyper organized amongst us to remember.
  • Say no

For more tips, read 15 Ways to Find Extra Time and 5 Time-Management Tricks

Organize Your Time

Do you move through your day haphazardly? Hoping to make it through your to-do list, running late and constantly in search of a missing item?  Taking the time to organize your time and belongings will make your days more productive and less stressful.

  • Make a to-do list and prioritize it
  • Set a schedule for tackling tasks
  • Schedule your day/week to include time for organizing and downtime

Find a personal organizing solution that works for you and stick with it. At a loss for where to begin? Consider hiring a professional organizer or try a popular system such as David Allen's Getting Things Done

For more tips, read our past post Tackle Your To-Do List with Time-Blocking and Time Management Training: How to Manage Time and Maximize Effectiveness. 

Add Meaning to Your Time

Effective time management adds productivity to your days and decreases stress but it can also do more. Spend time to add value to your days: organize your calendar to find time for exercise, meditation or that wholly American pursuit, happiness.

These innovative resources suggest ways to add what you value to your days:

What does your daily routine look like?  Do you have any tips for assessing your routine and making the most of your days? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Carly Fadako

 

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Job Hunting: A Work in Progress
Tuesday, September 14, 2010 2:41 PM

Labor Day is in the review mirror; a day off from work for many, for others a reminder there's not work to be had. We've all seen the headlines: the jobs picture in the U.S. remains far from robust. Unemployment hovers around ten percent and the uncertain economy is keeping consumer confidence low and workplace anxiety high.

While the job hunting climate may not be ideal, for the unemployed, underemployed or for those wanting a better or different job, the search cannot wait. So the Beyond Folders bloggers are pooling our experience as both hiring managers and former job hunters (and of course ongoing networkers!) to provide posts with job hunting tips and techniques.

References? Check!

The demise of the one-company-career and the rise of social media mean today's world, and today's job hunt, bear little resemblance to job searches of the past. When I entered the work world, hand-written thank you notes were de rigueur after an interview; now an email thank-you is considered acceptable.

Still, some things remain eternal: the importance of stellar references. A recent post-Labor Day article Singing your Praises: How to Manage Work References makes the point that not only are rock solid references key to winning a job, lukewarm or poor references can sabotage your chances.

References matter so be sure to line up good ones early in your job hunt.  Ideally your references will have the following qualities:

  • First-hand knowledge of your work and strengths
  • Ability to speak enthusiastically about you
  • Credibility in the industry or job to which you are applying

For more tips on making the most of your references, read The Keys to Choosing and Using the Best Job References and Do References Really Matter?  And be sure to check back for more posts on job hunting over the coming weeks.

What do you look for in a reference? Do you have any tips for making the most of your references? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Bradley Eggers

 

 

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Getting Back To Business
Thursday, September 09, 2010 2:34 PM

September is the time when America's workers put away the beach gear and renew their focus on work. Summer tans may be fading but smart employees can keep a glow by re-engaging at work. 

Author and employee retention expert Leigh Branham has made a career out of teaching employers how to engage and retain employees. But any successful relationship is a two-way street and employees owe it to themselves to self-engage on the job.

This September, commit yourself to focusing on Branham's five principles of employee self-engagement that he posits in Re-Engage: How America's Best Places to Work Inspire Extra Effort in Extraordinary Times. Branham argues that employees should take responsibility for engagement by:

  • Working for managers you respect in fields where you believe that you're making important contributions.
  • Understanding your strengths and pursing work that lets you use and improve those abilities.
  • Thinking of your job not as a static set of responsibilities but as a dynamic and growing relationship; identifying areas where you can contribute before you are asked. Seek opportunities; don't wait for them.
  • Learning to communicate assertively with your manager.
  • Learning to manage your stress and energy level. You are responsible for you.

Assess your job using Branham's five principles and see how you measure up. Use September to sync up your situation with these principles; you may find that commitment to self-engagement renews your vigor at work.

What steps do you take to self-engage at work? Do you have any tips for getting back to business after the lazy days of summer? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Carly Fadako

 

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Handling School Cutbacks
Wednesday, September 08, 2010 2:28 PM

School budget cuts are headline news as at least 46 states slash funds to address budget shortfalls. With federal stimulus money set to end this school year, teachers and students will have to do more with less. This isn't news to anyone who found basics such as paper towels, baby wipes and Clorox on back-to-school-shopping lists. When schools can't afford to buy their own cleaning supplies, parents may well wonder how their children's education will be affected.

Worried About School Budget Cuts?

If your school district has seen budgets slashed, you may be looking for ways to offset the impact on your child's education. Consider enrolling your student in after-school programs that support education through homework assistance or enrichment activities.

Programming varies state by state; the following resources may be helpful in locating after-school programs in your area:

  • YMCA: Offers homework and after-school enrichment programming as well as sports for preschoolers, elementary aged kids, teens and adults. Often offers child care.
  • Boys & Girls Club of America: Offers a wide-variety of programming including homework assistance.
  • After School Matters:  A Chicago-based afterschool programs for teens offering a range of innovative programming including theater and science workshops. While this program serves the Chicago-area, programs like it can be found across the country. Search the web using "after school" as key words or contact your school-district to ask if similar programs exist in your area.
  • Afterschool.gov:  A government web site providing information for afterschool providers about Federal resources supporting children and youth during out-of-school hours. Search the site for programs in your area.

Do you have any tips for offsetting school budget cuts? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Bradley Eggers

 

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Back-to-School Communications
Tuesday, September 07, 2010 2:22 PM

Summer is a time of togetherness for many families. With the back-to-school season now in full swing keeping up communications becomes more of a juggle.

But as multi-tasking moms and dads know, juggling is just one of the many skills in the parenting arsenal. So take time to make time: schedule one-on-one time with each child in the family and set up regular family meetings. 

Family meetings don't need to be formal; they can take place once a week at a family dinner or first thing Saturday mornings. Use this time to reconnect about important happenings during the week and for announcements that affect the whole family such as weekend plans or changes in chore schedules.

Once you've carved out time, use these tools to help make communication more effective:

Young children: Communicating positively with young children helps them develop confidence, self-worth, and good relationships. Try to get down on their level if you can. When giving commands or disciplining, avoid angry voices; try to use a neutral voice. For more tips on communicating with children, visit the Mr. Rogers' Family Communications resource guide for a wealth of tips.  

Teens: Don't believe the hype; teens want to talk to their parents about sex, drugs and rock and roll as well as a host of other topics. Studies show that teens want to discuss these sensitive topics but don't know how so it's your job as a parent to get the communication going. For tips, check out Communicating with Teens by FamilyEducation.com.

Kitchen Command Center: Keep family members in the communication loop by setting up an effective kitchen command center. Color code calendars to keep track of various sports and social commitments for each family member and use a white board or chalkboard for messages. For more tips on setting up a command center, visit our past post "Is Your Kitchen Your Home Office?

Finally, keep in mind that September is hurricane season in many parts of the country. The time to prepare for an emergency is before it happens; use this government guide to put in place a Family Communications plan for emergencies and review it with all family members: Ready.gov: Make a Family Communications Plan. 

Do you have any tips for back-to-school communications? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Candie Harris

 

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