organized for the holidays can be a big nut to crack. Luckily its Nutcracker season! If your
holiday to-do list is so long you're worried about finding time to enjoy
yourself, we posted some great holiday organizing advice last week and this week have
rounded up wonderful holiday tips from a few of our favorite bloggers.
down, grab a cup of hot chocolate and get ready for some rocking holiday
Remember the Reason for the Season: Zen Habits, the
blog about mindful living and doing more with less, shares thoughts on making
the season meaningful in How to Be Mindful During the
Holidays, in 350 words.
When Family is Frustrating: Not all holidays
are Brady Bunch-perfect. Family get-togethers can be stressful. The blog "The Happiness Project" dispenses sound advice on dealing with challenging family
members in 7 Tips for Getting Along with Your Difficult
Relatives Over Thanksgiving.
Give the Gift of Organization: What's better than
a book? A book that will get you organized and off on the right foot in 2011!
Creative Organizing recommends these reads in Holiday
Gift Ideas for the Organizer on Your List: Books.
Hooray for Useful Gifts!: Organizing maven
Erin Rooney of the Unclutterer doesn't want you (or your friends and family)
struggling under piles of useless junk. Rooney dishes out useful gift ideas in the
Unclutterer's 2010 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Practical
Twelve Days My Foot!: When the holiday
decorations begin to go up after Halloween, the season can seem a lot longer
than the 12 days of yore. And in truth, the shopping, baking, decorating and
wrapping can take weeks. Time for the handy planners on the blog Life, Your
Way. They're called Christmas planners but they work
for any holiday or major event you're planning.
Do you have any favorite
holiday organizing tips? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders
Community's Facebook page.
by Candie Harris
Dorothy Parker the famous literary wit once observed,
"I never met a deadline I couldn't miss." Most of us can't afford to be so
blasé about deadlines. At work (and in life) deadlines exist for a reason and
are expected to be met. If you find yourself repeatedly missing deadlines despite
your best intentions we have some helpful tips.
Care: To meet a deadline you have to care
about the deadline. Really care. Make the deadline a priority and you've taken
the most important step in meeting it.
Organize: Once you've committed to a
deadline, keep track of it. Have a calendar or a running list of deadlines and
dates and check it daily. A daily check-in keeps you on track and ensures you
won't inadvertently overlook a due date.
Define: The deadline's when? Make sure you are
on the same page as your boss or client. Be as specific as possible (i.e. don't
say sometime next week, or early next month.) Ambiguity has the potential to
leave one party feeling shortchanged.
Bite Size Pieces: Estimate how long the entire project
will take and then break it into smaller pieces. Giving yourself smaller deadlines
for each piece will help you stay on track.
Build a Cushion: This is for you procrastinators.
Okay, it's actually for everybody. Building in a cushion helps you meet
deadlines by allowing leeway to accommodate unforeseen delays.
Step by Step: You know what they say about the journey
of a thousand miles. Just take that first step and then keep on going. Focus on
that first step and don't worry about the rest until it's time for Step 2 and
Be Realistic: When it's time to tackle a specific step, make sure
you're realistic about how much time it will take. And make that time sacrosanct;
treat it like a cannot-miss appointment.
Don't Over Commit: Just say no to taking on unrealistic
you cannot commit to finishing a project on time, don't take it on.
Pull Out the Stops: Maybe you underestimated the time a
job needed, or perhaps you procrastinated. Now is the time to do whatever it
takes to finish on time. Stay up late, work weekends. Do what it takes.
Never Again: If your best efforts to make a deadline still fail, take
time to analyze what went wrong and assess how you can prevent future such
How do you stick to deadlines? Do you think
missing a deadline reflects poorly on someone? Share your thoughts here and on
the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook page.
by Carly Fadako
In a perfect world, everybody would get along
swimmingly including office co-workers. Alas, offices are full of people, and
people come with a range of personalities, and not all interact harmoniously. Snow
White may have watched the seven dwarves whistle their way to work but she
still had to deal with Grumpy. Some fairytale!
Getting along well with others is not just a skill for
the nursery-school set. The ability to work well with co-workers, clients and bosses
is a must for professional growth, no matter the differences in temperament and
work styles. So if your days are spent dealing with the office grump,
know-it-all, or another personality type that drives you bonkers, read on for
some tips for dealing with difficult personalities.
a Deep Breath: If a colleague is driving you crazy, take
a step back and try to understand if this is simply a "different strokes for
different folks" situation. If you see that the person in question simply has a
different perspective or style and is not deliberately trying to annoy or
harass you, you may find some of your animosity dissipate.
the Air: No one is a mind reader. If you've failed to
communicate that someone's behavior is adversely impacting you, how are they to
know? Take time to calmly and coolly explain how you feel. They may be unaware that
their behavior has upset or bothered you and may be receptive to your concerns.
to Disagree: Sometimes people are truly out of sync.
You can agree to disagree with a person's work style or opinion. Just be sure
to treat your co-worker professionally and politely and make clear that you
expect the same courtesy.
it Up with Higher Ups: If a co-worker is deliberately
sabotaging you, shirking work or
committing a host of other office sins, schedule time to discuss the situation
with your boss. Again, be sure to remain professional and objective. Your boss
will be more receptive to your concerns if you don't come off as a complainer
or an emotional wreck.
the Boss is the Bad Egg: Bosses are people too and sometimes
you wind up with working for a difficult personality. Again, communication is
key; try to dispassionately and professionally communicate your concerns and
work towards getting your relationship on a better footing. If the boss just
can't be tolerated, consider consulting with your HR department for guidance or
in a worst case scenario, explore other job options within the organization or
Have you had trouble dealing with difficult
personalities at work? Does your office have any policies that keep office
relationships harmonious? Share your thoughts here
and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook page.
We know, we know. It's been a tough few years. High
unemployment and unfavorable business conditions linger, the country just went
through a bruising election cycle and now the holiday crunch time is in the offing.
When life feels overwhelming, enthusiasm for digging in
at work can be underwhelming. If low morale is an issue for you (or your staff)
it's time to bust out of that slump.
Your Motor Running
a new challenge: Freshen up your daily routine by taking on
a different project or adding a new skill set. A break from the "same old, same
old" can be revitalizing.
a break: When the days seem long, break work into 90-minute
chunks and then take a breather with a trip to the office kitchen for a healthy
snack or a brisk walk around the block. Make a habit or recharging your
batteries every few hours.
a longer break: Consider using a vacation day for a
three-day weekend or an even longer time off. Vacations can be a perfect way to
reset and regroup.
a support team: Enlist a trusted co-worker, friend or
spouse to help you keep your chin up. Schedule time for blowing off steam and generating
positive energy. This group can be a sounding board for work challenges and can
also provide much needed non-work related diversions.
Yourself: Have you put in a good day's work? Reward yourself.
Treat yourself to delivery for dinner. Or plan a fun Friday night out after a
long week. Promise yourself a pedicure or a movie when you finish an
outstanding project. Incentivize yourself to get working!
Up Your Team
Thanks: When bonus money is tight, don't underestimate the
power of a heartfelt thank you. Everyone likes to be recognized for their
contributions so be sure to thank employees for a job well done. Get specific,
praise them for revenue raised or an event organized with polish and panache.
Things Can Go a Long Way: Show your staff you appreciate their
efforts with gift cards to local lunch places or pizza party Fridays. Can't
dish out big raises? Offer an extra paid vacation day on their birthdays. Small
gestures can go a long way.
Public Recognition: Has a staff member been burning the
midnight oil? Did someone recently land a big client? Give a public shout-out at
an all-hands meeting or staff retreat. Publically recognizing someone for their
efforts is a fantastic morale booster.
Training and Skill-Building Classes: Encouraging (and paying
for) your employees to undertake professional training or classes lets them
know you believe in their future and care about their career growth. That's
Memberships: Fit employees are happy employees.
Encouraging your employees to embrace healthy lifestyle choices such as
exercise and smart nutrition pays dividends for companies. Employees are
healthy, more motivated and happier.
So what do you think? Does asking for input make you feel like your opinion
matters? Of course it does! Solicit feedback and suggestions from your staff
about work projects and company policies. Everyone wants to be heard.
How do you keep your morale up during challenging
times? Does your office have any policies for boosting morale? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders
Community's Facebook page.
We all know honesty is the best policy so how come white
lies and fibs keep popping up on resumes? Lately, the papers are full of
stories about individuals ranging from Congressional candidates to medical
researchers to the Notre Dame football coach who have lied about (or distorted) their credentials. What gives?
In a tough job market, people may be tempted to embellish
their resumes to improve their chances of getting hired. But HR departments are
on to this phenomenon. A CareerBuilder.com http://bit.ly/ajuCTH survey found that nearly half of hiring managers surveyed
reported catching candidates lying on their resumes. That's a lot of resumes
hitting the trash can.
Ever been tempted to embellish your resume? You are clearly
Check out the top most common fibs popping up on resumes.
Catching a job candidate in a resume lie or exaggeration is
a red-flag for hiring managers. Outright lies and even distortions can
sabotage not only your chances of getting the job to which you are currently
applying but other jobs down the road. If headhunters find out you're
untrustworthy, they won't come knocking on your door again. Professional
circles can be small; don't tarnish your reputation.
Honesty is always the best policy.
Have you ever seen a
white lie or a whopper on a resume you've been given? How does your company
conduct background checks on prospective employees? Post your thoughts here or at the Beyond Folders Facebook
Think the office holiday party is a time to let your hair
down and blow off some steam? Think again. It's called an "office" party for a
reason: the end-of-the year holiday party is an extension of work and attendees
should conduct themselves accordingly.
The first rule of thumb: watch your alcohol consumption. The
odds of winding up with a lampshade on your head, or committing other
embarrassing lapses in judgment, are greatly decreased if you practice
moderation or skip the bar altogether.
Parties generally call for festive attire but leave
revealing looks for off-hours. Punch up your regular office apparel with bright
colors or party fabrics such as sequins and velvet, but keep covered up.
Likewise, keep party chit chat professional. You don't need
to break out power point presentations but you do want to avoid revealing too
much personal information or appear to be engaging in flirty banter with your
colleagues. Save your witty one-liners for close friends and keep your office
colleagues at a warm distance.
Finally, understand that the office party is a chance for
you to shine (and we don't mean on the dance floor). Senior level staff are
often required to interact with clients or represent the company. Navigating social
situations with polish and professionalism will get you noticed for the right
For more dos and don'ts, Forbes.com has an instructive gallery
of pictures: How Not To Behave At The Office Party.
Do you have any
office party tips to share? Post your thoughts here or at the Beyond Folders Facebook page.
Think you have it in you to become the boss? Consider these five leadership
traits from Entrepeneur.com and see how you stack
Effective leaders not only have a vision of where they're heading, they can
communicate that goal and bring others along.
Effective leaders do what they love and love what they do. A leader's true
commitment to their message, cause or company makes others willing to trust in
that individual to chart an effective course.
Decision Making: The
buck stops here. An effective leader can make the tough calls. A leader works
to achieve group consensus when appropriate but can take sole responsibility
Team Builder: If
you're going to be a great leader, you need followers (aka there is no "I" in
team.) Leaders designate effectively, encourage and promote their subordinates
strengths and inspire teams to do great work. And when need be, leaders step in
and guide by example.
thine own self be true. A great
leader has strength of character: they know their strong suits (and weaknesses)
and are not tempted by fads or expediency. A leader remains true to their
essential character and can be trusted to remain constant.
Finally, remember that other qualities can be important leadership
traits. Harvard Business Review blogger John Baldoni makes the case for humility as a leadership trait.
"A sense of humility
is essential to leadership because it authenticates a person's humanity."
Baldoni suggests that leaders, "Take pride in what you have done, but use it as
a platform to bring people together to do greater things, e.g. increase sales,
improve quality, or save the planet. Use your leadership for something other
What other traits
might be useful leadership qualities? How do you define leadership? Can
leadership traits be learned or are they innate? Share your thoughts here and at the Beyond Folders
by Bradley Eggers
If men are from Mars and women from Venus,
what planets do bosses and direct reports occupy? Smart workers strive to be on
the same planet, er, page as their boss. Direct, unambiguous and mutually
respectful communications are key.
often communication breaks down between bosses and direct reports because
neither is speaking the same language: expectations are out of sync. For
example, the boss may want an overview but the employee provides minute detail.
Or vice versa.
are five strategies to ensure that you are communicating effectively with your
Unless you're making casual water cooler chitchat, be sure to be
organized before all verbal and e-mail interactions.
Don't beat around the bush. Direct, unambiguous communication is more
professional than soft-pedaling information. Be polite, but be direct.
Likewise, if your boss gives you negative feedback, keep your cool and respond
Be a good listener.
Communication is a two-way street. You need to listen and truly
understand what you're being told. If you're at all confused, ask for
clarification. And maintain good eye contact so your boss knows you're
listening. Everyone wants to be heard.
Face-to-face conversations are a must for good
relationships. Don't allow the ease of e-mail to entirely supplant personal
Before ending your chat with your boss, make certain that each of you
understands the next steps, strategies, etc. that you have agreed upon. This
puts you on the same page going forward.
you communicate effectively with your boss? What tips do you have for keeping
open channels of communication? Share your thoughts here and at the Beyond
Folders Facebook page.
The recent election shook up the political landscape but
many of the newly minted elected, who ran on campaign promises of bringing
change to Washington, have their work cut out for them. Changing culture is no
easy task, as many business leaders could tell their counterparts in
An organization's culture
is formed over many years for a variety of reasons. Sometimes company culture
is rooted in the style of the company founder. Other times culture is established by
the prevailing management team. Since managers tend to hire people like
themselves, organizational culture is reinforced by new hires.
Changing office culture is difficult to be sure, but
not impossible. In How to Change Your Organization's Culture the "Wall Street Journal
Guide to Management" states "changing
an entrenched culture is the toughest task you will face. To do so, you must
win the hearts and minds of the people you work with, and that takes both
cunning and persuasion."
So how to begin? In their book "Blue Ocean Strategy,"
Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne suggest three initial strategies.
Finally, consider evaluating your company's personnel
structure. Too often only a small portion of workers' creative capabilities are
tapped. Spend time identifying employees' strengths and create task forces with
a tailored mix of talents and experience levels. And start to watch the needle
your organization have a particular office culture? Share your thoughts here
and at the Beyond Folders Facebook page.
Time in meetings isn't always time well spent. Studies
show that up to 50 percent of meeting time is wasted:
ineffective presentations, daydreaming and even dozing. Yes, people do sleep
during meetings. Want to make sure no one gets caught napping in your meetings?
We've assembled some useful tips for running productive, engaging meetings.
To begin, let's deal the myth that office workers universally
abhor meetings. In Why We Secretly
Love Meetings Harvard
Business Review blogger and management consultant Ron Ashkenas asserts that
most managers actually like meetings. Ashkenas says meetings happen again and
again for three reasons:
Okay, so people may like meetings more often they admit
but most folks would also agree they do not like having their time wasted. So
take time to create and run productive meetings.
Effective meetings boil down to three criteria:
for more ideas, read Inc.com's comprehensive How to Run
an Effective Meeting.
you think meetings are an effective use of your time? What tips do you have for
running productive, results-oriented meetings? Share your thoughts here and at
the Beyond Folders Facebook page.
We all know the expression: a picture is worth a 1,000 words. At Esselte, where innovation and enhanced efficiency are both company goals and the guiding principles behind the office products we create, we value products and processes that can do more with less.
Whittling down a thousand words to a single crystal image is exactly the type of efficiency we admire. That's why we put great stock in visual management, or the use of visual controls, to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our work.
Visual controls circumvent "out of sight, out of mind" and keeps what's important highly visible and top of mind. They also act as a "standard" giving all viewers the same visual cues and vantage point. Visual controls get everyone reading off the same page.
Examples of visual controls include color-coding folders or reminders posted on office cubicles. The cues don't need to be fancy; they just need to clearly communicate information needed to make effective decisions. In short, visual controls are useful for:
Does your office make use of visual controls? Share your thoughts here or at the Beyond Folders Facebook page.
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.