May 2011 - Posts

Productivity Plus: Making the Most of Your Days
Friday, May 27, 2011 1:53 PM

Put that extra "spring" in your step to good use. The season's longer days provide ample time for enhanced productivity as we posted about last month in Making Better Use of Longer Days. 

Stay on a productivity roll with our round-up of useful posts from across the web.

Productivity blog Stepcase has three new terrific posts worth a read:

Lifehacker, another site devoted to doing more with less, is taking a look at different productivity strategies linked to each the day of the week. For their seven-days-a-week strategy to a more productive you, read here. 

Does procrastination often get in the way of your productivity? We have a fantastic post  for you at Gretchen Rubin's blog, The Happiness Project. Read what Rubin, a NYT's best-selling author, learns as she interviews Piers Steel, the author of "The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Getting Stuff Done."  

Finally, we leave you with the thought that happiness can contribute to productivity. Leading Fortune 500 consultant Paul David Walker calls it one of the crucial ingredients. Read here  for more on the link between feeling good and performing well.

Have you come across any useful productivity resources on the web? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.

by Candie Harris

 

 

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Organize Your Grad
Thursday, May 26, 2011 1:48 PM

June's graduation season is right around the corner. Do the grad in your life a favor and equip them with tools to manage life's paperwork, bills and time-management demands. Organization is the gift that keeps on giving.

File in Style: Gift your grad with a filing cabinet or a portable filing tote. Better yet, fill it with files and labels and direct them to past Pendaflex posts for tips on becoming a filing maven.

Time Flies: Watches may be the classic retirement gift but for young grads, time-management tools are the better bet. Consider a PDA or leather day planner. http://bit.ly/knp4Gj Or gift cards let your grad opt for apps to organize the day.  Finally, past posts on time-management resources  will have your grad up to speed in no time.

Label Maker 101: Long-hand is so 2000. Gift your 2011 grad with a state-of-the-art label maker, perfect from organizing everything from files to dorm room cubbies.  This is one gift with a very long shelf life!

Grad or Nomad? Today's high tech grad bears a striking resemblance to a digital nomad, able to work and recreate untethered from traditional desks and phone cords. Equip your grad just as you would a digital nomad, with a wireless laptop, battery charger and even, gasp!, an old-fashioned pen and paper. Read on for more to make your grad a well-equipped nomad. 

What is the can't-live-without organizing gift for your grad? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.

by Carly Fadako

 

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Prevent Empty Office Syndrome, Coordinate Summer Vacation Schedules
Wednesday, May 25, 2011 2:04 PM
Summer 2011 kicks off June 21. Have you planned your summer vacation yet? With the lazy, hazy days of summer fun beckoning, it's officially time to start working on time off from work. Vacations are needed respites, crucial for both boosting morale...
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Memorial Day: A Day for Gratitude
Wednesday, May 25, 2011 2:00 PM
Memorial Day is a day for remembering. We pay homage to our fellow citizens who unflinchingly answered the call of duty, honor, country and who made the ultimate sacrifice. At Esselte, we remember both our active military and all those who served throughout...
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Keep Calm and Carry On: Managing a Crisis
Wednesday, May 25, 2011 1:44 PM

The headlines say it all: Give Apple "F" in Crisis Management  and Japan's Prime Minister Blasted Over Crisis Management. Crises come in all shapes and sizes: from natural disasters to management missteps to product failures. Fend off a tsunami of criticism by arming yourself with the tools to manage catastrophes before they happen.

Effective crisis management boils down to two criteria: the ability to make good decisions under enormous pressure and the capacity to manage crisis communications.

Looking for guidance on making decisions during those back-up-against-the-wall moments? We like the advice in How to Make a High-Stakes Decision. Tips include fact-checking your gut reactions and being wary of drawing on past experiences at the expense of underestimating current realities. Other wise counsel? Involving other smart thinkers in the decision-making process.

Weathering a catastrophe also requires the ability to navigate crisis communications with a sure hand. Communication missteps such as providing too little information or tone-deaf statements is like throwing oil on a fire: the resulting conflagration might well consume you. For must-heed advice read How to Communicate in a Crisis,  a soup-to-nuts primer on navigating crisis-communications before the emergency unfolds.

What is the toughest crisis you've had to manage? How did you and your team navigate the crisis? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.

by Bradley Eggers

 

 

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Coping with Extreme Stress
Thursday, May 19, 2011 2:36 PM

Having a bad week? Or 52 of them?

If stress is your constant companion, it's time to take steps to combat its harmful effects on the body and brain.

We all know that stress causes a host of ills, ranging from high blood pressure, to depression, insomnia and heart attacks. And most of us are familiar with tools to mitigate stress such as exercise and meditation.

While virtually every human being encounters stress fairly regularly, some face enormous pressures day in and out. Think President Obama walking into the Oval Office every day or CEOs tasked with managing multibillion companies. In the face of extreme stress, why do certain people survive, even thrive, while others buckle?

We've assembled some resources chronicling how individuals facing tremendous pressure handle the burden. We find these accounts to be instructive and we hope you will too.

How Top CEOs Cope with Constant Stress:  Author Justin Menkes examines business leaders who thrive under pressure and finds that they share common attributes including realistic optimism, or the ability to identify challenges but not be undone by them.

Stress Management for the CEO: This Forbes article looks at nine CEOS and how they combat stress, offering up tips for readers.

Finally, if you've made it through the above reading unconvinced that constant stress can truly be managed and must instead be endured, read the Fortune Magazine article The Last Taboo. It's Not Sex. And It's Not Drinking. It's Stress and It's Soaring.  The article chronicles the tale of an executive who worked 120-hours a week, sleeping only 2 hours a night. It took paralysis and a hospitalization for her to finally slow down and combat the stress in her life. If she can do it, you can do it.

Do you combat extreme stress at work? What tools help you get through a grueling workweek? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

by Candie Harris

 

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Relax! It’s Only Work
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 2:30 PM

Spring has officially sprung. Have you stopped to smell the roses? All too often we run at a breakneck pace, not stopping to savor small moments or even catch our breath.

Regular readers of Pendaflex's blog know we are advocates of tools to enhance productivity and doing more with less. But sometimes the best way to be productive is to pass on cramming more work into fewer hours and stop, unplug and tune out for a time.

We've rounded-up a selection of past posts to help you relax and embrace spring's season of renewal. Read on to refresh your productivity.

Work worries keeping you up at night? Or interfering with concentration during the day? Check out our advice in Stress Less: Keeping Work Worries in Check  for tips including time and task-management, to gain perspective on what seems like an overwhelming workload.

Saying yes when you should say no? Read From Superwoman to Balanced Woman for tips on putting the brakes on work-overload and putting work into perspective. Time to retire your cape, Superwoman.

Do you have more work than there are hours in the day? Find coping strategies in Too Many Irons in the Fire? Tips for Coping with Project Overload. 

Keep stress at bay with Easy Desk Stretches.  Gentle stretches throughout the day help prevent the all-too-common neck and back pains that plague desk workers.

Finally, consider checking the weather report and using one of your untapped vacation days to enjoy the beautiful spring weather. A healthy dose of Vitamin D, gleaned during a favorite outdoor activity will have you smiling in no time. Relax! It's only work.

How do you keep work overload in check? What tools help you relax during a grueling workweek? Share your thoughts and don't forget to Spring Free with us this season on our  Facebook page!

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The Toughest Decisions
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 2:26 PM

Turn on any news channel and the buzz is about a recent series of tough decisions capturing headlines: from Obama's decision to attack Osama bin Laden in his Pakistani hideout to the President's refusal to make public the photographs of the deceased terrorist. 

Most of us will never to grapple with decisions of this magnitude. But tough calls are made every day in business, from boardrooms to cubes. Are your decision-making skills up to par?

Refresher Course

Decision-making is a daily skill, from small choices-what's for lunch?-to bigger questions-who to hire for a key role? In our past post Decision-Making 101 we walk readers through the basics. For readers in search of a refresher, we also like the article The Fine Art of Decision-Making:7 Tips for Getting Decisions Made Easier  for concrete tips on getting you from a question to answer.

Extra Credit

Sometimes the basics just won't get the job done. You can walk through decision-making trees for days but often the most daunting calls require a gut check. Read Making the Tough Call for more on reconciling your values with your decisions and How to Make Tough Decisions in Eight Steps. 

Finally, we leave you with a wonderful piece that uses golf analogies to decode how effective decisions are often made. It's worth a read even if you can't tell a nine-iron from a driver: Three Steps to Making Better Decisions. 

What is the toughest work decision you've had to make? What tools help move you from question to answer? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

by Bradley Eggers

 

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Renew Your Commitment to Your Career
Thursday, May 12, 2011 2:46 PM

Flower buds and slender green leaves are popping up all over signaling spring's arrival. Take a cue from this season of renewal to take stock of your career. Too often, we're so busy punching the time clock, meeting deadlines and moving from project to project that there's no time to stop and evaluate where our career is heading. Do yourself a favor and put the spring-cleaning projects on hold for a weekend and instead take some time to assess your career and its trajectory.

Not sure of how to begin?  We've assembled some useful reading material to get you started.

Own It

We like the advice in A To-Do List for the CEO of Your Career. The article encourages people to understand that their skills and career are not static, but rather must be constantly reinvented.  Adding new skills and embracing new opportunities is not only smart, it's essential in order to remain marketable. In a nutshell, say good-bye to the notion of climbing a corporate ladder, rung after rung, and hello to the idea of a career lattice, composed of different paths and branches.

 

Be Prepared

Even if a job hunt isn't on your to-do list, advancing a career can look a lot like job hunting. For terrific tips on steps that all employees should take for advancement even when you're happy to say put, read Top 10 Career Moves Even the Happily Employed Should Make.  Advice includes networking ideas, building your online brand as well as resume updating.

 

Get Networked

Nurturing your career isn't just about adding new skills; it's about nourishing your network. Commit time and energy into building your network - both vertically and laterally. Vertical networking might be about finding a mentor and as well as extending yourself to mentees. And don't neglect lateral networking across your peer group. For more ideas on networking as a savvy career move, read Test the Strength of Your Network. 

How do you nurture you career? How often do you evaluate your career? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

by Candie Harris

 

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Guiding, Not Micromanaging
Wednesday, May 11, 2011 2:44 PM

Skilled leaders recognize the distinction between managing people and micromanaging them. Are you looking to lead your staff by example rather than by getting in the weeds, and doing their work for them? Take a page from the authors of Being the Boss: Three Imperatives for Great Leaders and practice the technique they dub Prep-Do-Review.

Prep: First, preview people's plans by asking questions. Delve deeply: ask about steps, strategies, anticipated challenges, how setbacks will be handled, etc. Thoroughly cover all angles, which will allow you to coach necessary changes and supply useful guidance.

Do: Based on information gleaned during the prep stage, managers can determine how deeply they need to be involved. With a new employee, you may wish to do the job yourself, allowing the novice to observe and learn. With more senior staff, you may only need to dip in on certain elements. Eventually, as employees become more seasoned, you can step back and only be involved in the prep/review stages.

Review: Assessing what worked, and what didn't, is a critical last step. Too often people do a post mortem only after a failure. Learning why something succeeded is just as crucial in future work. Conduct either one-on-ones or periodic group meetings for these reviews. Then, model what you learned going forward.

For a more in-depth examination of the Prep-Do-Review strategy, read the authors' article in the Harvard Business Review: How to Get Involved Without Micromanaging People. 

Are you a manager or a micromanager? How do you guide your staff without falling into the trap of doing their work for them? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

by Bradley Eggers

 

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Preparing to Present
Tuesday, May 10, 2011 2:38 PM

Few people truly enjoy public speaking, but in the work world presenting goes with the territory. Case in point: there are literally dozens and dozens of books on Amazon on the topic. A round up of the best can be found here but in the interest of brevity, this post looks at three short-and-sweet articles that will elevate your game in short order.

Winning Power Points

Corporate presentations are often accompanied by Power Point and reams of data. Avoid boring your audience to sleep by reading If You Must Use PowerPoint, Here's How To Do It: 5 Tips From Hans Rosling.  Tips include not speaking to the slides, speaking with passion and limiting distracting animation effects.

Learn from a Pro

Few business people in the world command the attention of Steve Jobs when he presents. Interested in adopting some of his presentation skills? Read 9 Quick Tips For Successful Presentations From A Steve Jobs Event.  Ideas include acknowledging the crowd, using lay people terms rather than industry jargon and having fun with your material.

Fear Not

Finally, for those of you who are deeply leery of presenting, or who feel that excellent presentation skills are out of their reach, read Why We Fear Public Speaking And How To Overcome It.  This useful article posits that talented presenters are made not born, and that excellent presentation skills can be honed through practice, just as a skill in sports is learned and improved by coaching and rote practice.

How do you prepare to present? Do you have any tips or strategies for improving your presentation skills? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

 

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Working It Out As A Work-At-Home Mom
Friday, May 06, 2011 1:47 PM

Work-at-home moms enjoy a paycheck and a more flexible schedule. But there's nothing enjoyable about an office that's equal parts play dough and presentations. Work-at-home moms looking to organize their work life at home should look no further. We've got tips to make you the CEO of your home office.

Establish a Dedicated Workspace. Don't make your kitchen table your home office. Find a quiet area of the home for your office (preferably with a door) and let kids know that a closed door means do-not-disturb. Establish a hands-off policy for work supplies in this area to prevent computer paper from becoming art projects or the lap top from being commandeered for video games.

Rules Made by Mom Are Made to be Broken (But Only By Mom): A caveat to the "dedicated workspace" rule of thumb is that sometimes work needs to be done while kids are supervised (in the basement/backyard/frontyard, etc.) Set up a portable office for just these occasions. Be sure to have a wireless ready lap top, using either a wireless card or a router in the house. Keep a file tote/box that has your office basics (pen/paper/etc.) and be sure to have a cordless phone with a headset.

Set Work Hours. By establishing set work hours, you can signal to your family the times when you are not accessible. Setting up a framework of regular work hours and sticking to it as best as possible will both decrease stress and allow you to carve out protected family time. Try not to fall into the trap of always "on" for work just because you are always home.

Nanny 911: Have a stable of babysitting options on speed-dial. Working from home doesn't mean you can work while the kids scamper about or while you drive carpool. School-aged children require babysitting after 3pm and the nursery school set needs constant supervision; be sure to outsource that task to paid help so you can concentrate on work. In a pinch? Call in a favor from a work-at-home-mom friend. What goes around, comes around.

Open in Case of Emergencies: When all childcare options fail and there is a pressing deadline or a conference call that can't be missed (or muted) break open the emergency box of treats. Stock it with inexpensive items such as sticker books, new crayons, a matchbox car, and even, gasp!, lollipops. We did say it was for emergencies.

Need more ideas for making the juggle work? We assembled some useful resources for working parents in our posts earlier this week: The Thank You For Being a Working Mom's Toolkit and Social Moms: Best New Media Tools for Busy Moms. Think of it as an early Mother's Day gift.

by Carly Fadako

 

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Social Moms: Best New Media Tools for Busy Moms
Thursday, May 05, 2011 1:43 PM

Moms love their children, and...their phones. Fully 91 percent of all moms never leave their house without their cell says a research study by leading parenting site BabyCenter. 

Smartphones, and other social media, are smart moves for today's busy mom. Recipes, reviews, time-management tools and even Dr. Mom medical advice is all just a click or a scroll away.

This Mother's Day take time to amp up your social media mavenhood with these resources. You'll soon be texting to the beat of a more productive drummer.

 

What are your favorite social media tools? Which ones help you navigate the motherhood and work? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

by Candie Harris

 

 

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The Thank You For Being a Working Mom’s Toolkit
Tuesday, May 03, 2011 5:56 PM

Mother's Day is fast approaching with its glitter embellished cards and kitchen-wrecking breakfast creations. The sweet offerings of children (often aided and abetted by dad) make motherhood worth it. What makes it possible is a whole other story.

 Working moms pull double-duty, managing both paying work and labors of love. Pulling it all off requires patience, planning and frankly, luck. Well this is your lucky-day: we've assembled a list of our go-to resources that every parent can use in a pinch. It's our "Thank You for Being a Working Mom" Tookit.

 Finding Child Care for Sick Kids: A Working Mom's Guide to Sick Kids:  Daycare for sick kids? Yup, it exists; here's how to find it before a little one's fever coincides with a can't-miss-meeting.

 Stress Management Tools for Parents: Stress-free working moms don't exist. Come to think of it, stress-free stay-at-home moms don't exist either. So moms, take a deep breath and read on for stress-busting tips, everything from parental date-night to effective time management tools to help keep stress at bay.

 Working Parents: A clearinghouse of information from leading web resource BabyCenter providing tips for working parents on topics ranging from childcare to managing mom-guilt.

 25 Parent Productivity Tools for Busy Moms, Dads and Kids:  Comprehensive list of productivity resources ranging from pet care to allowance trackers. Offers a productivity overhaul for virtually every aspect of family life.

 Mom Puts Family on Her Meal Plan: Healthy, home-cooked dinners every weeknight? You heard me right. This helpful article takes you through the planning process for dishing up dinner after work. And a new favorite blog Dinner: A Love Story  is a charming, nightly walk through healthy, foodie home-cooked meals made by a pair of working parents every night.

 What tools do you use to help balance the demands of work and motherhood? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

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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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