February 2012 - Posts

In Praise of Praise
Wednesday, February 29, 2012 7:56 PM

Want an easy and completely free way to drive employee engagement and increase profit? Turns out that praise-the simple expression of appreciation and gratitude-boosts morale and employee engagement which in turn drive profitability and productivity.

Praise Be!

To be most effective, praise needs to be tailored properly. We are big believers in recognizing hard work, diligent effort and simple kindnesses. So we want to be sure to deliver our kudos in the best way possible. We like the tips in The Power of Praise in Business -- and How to Do it Right. 

Do It Now: Closely link the delivery of praise to the timing of the accomplishment for maximum impact. Try not to let too much time pass before acknowledging effort and hard work.

Be Specific: Don't let a blanket "great job!" suffice. Spell out concrete details that demonstrate that you truly understand the effort that went into a project or a job. When you praise specific actions, you are more likely to see them repeated, creating a virtuous circle of excellent work.

Be Authentic: Praise needs to be heartfelt to be meaningful. Don't merely spout out platitudes or laud someone simply because you feel you should. When praise is rooted in true appreciation, it is easier to deliver and received more appreciatively.

Before we end, we leave you with a wonderful article on praise's close kin, the thank you. A sincere thank you delivered either by words or by gesture, elicits the same sense of appreciation and recognition for one's effort. Yet  often we overlook those who are most deserving of our thanks. Read Who Should You Be Thanking? and never leave someone off the list again.

Do you make it a point to praise your coworkers? What is the best way to deliver praise? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.


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Work Life Balance: Myth or a Must?
Tuesday, February 28, 2012 8:40 PM
Over the years, anyone interested in career development or the modern workplace has no doubt read countless articles on work-life balance. Some articles say you absolutely need it. Others claim it's impossible to achieve. So which is it? Recently...
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Best Career Advice I Ever Got
Tuesday, February 28, 2012 7:53 PM

Do you ever look at successful people-business honchos, inventors of must-have devices, celebrated authors and speakers-and wonder how they got there? What magic recipe transformed them from Average Joe to front-page news?

While there is no "secret sauce" for success, listening to career advice from people you admire comes pretty close. We've rounded up the best career advice you never got (at least in person anyway). Follow these gems and you will be well-served, both at work and in life.

Get Seduced: Passion is the key to balance says writer Susan Tardanico in this Forbes.com piece.When you love your paid work, and pursue other things you love, be it family or hobbies, you find time in your life for it all, says Tardanico. Other advice? Be resilient and don't fear failure: mistakes get made, things fall apart, you need to learn from what wrong and move on. Calling her entire career an "accident," Tardanico also cautions against spending time planning for the future and instead advocates cultivating one's own "brilliance." Bottom line: Find what you love, do it well and trust that the rest will take care of itself.

Pay Attention: Joyce Lain Kennedy's wonderful year-end career advice  piece can be summed up thus: pay attention. Don't coast along assuming job security is yours and that you remain employable. Rather, pay attention to your career; fight obsolescence by keeping your skills fresh, your network cultivated and overhauling your job hunting tools (i.e. when did you last update your LinkedIn profile?) Bottom line: Jobs are awarded by HR departments, not careers: be sure to nourish your own.

Be Yourself: Sometimes the best advice is to ignore bad advice. This tip was shared by many of the New York City women making up a recent list of Crain's Top Fifty most powerful women. Top executives in fields as different as education, the cultural arts and fashion, all revealed the bad advice they received over the years. Instead of heeding advice that didn't sit right, these women remained authentic and on-track by listening to their inner voice. Bottom line: Too thine own self be true. Props to Shakespeare for this solid career advice.

What is the best career advice you ever received? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.


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Simple Spaces, Productive Spaces
Tuesday, February 28, 2012 7:44 PM
Anyone who has ever had to root around a cluttered desk in search of a needed item understands a simple truth: too much stuff adds up to disorganization and compromised productivity. Take a minute to look around your work space; would you describe it...
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Healthy Office Eats. Yup. It's Possible
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 10:15 PM

Healthy office eats may sound like an oxymoron. After all, office snacks are as common as paperclips: pastries at breakfast meetings, chocolates in the break room. Unless one is careful, waistlines advance as quickly as careers.

But with careful planning, the savvy office worker can refuel throughout the day with healthy, energizing snacks that keep productivity high and calories low.

Keep away from the office vending machine with these eight healthy snack ideas, all under 200 calories. Parmesan popcorn, whole wheat crackers and peanut butter and mini pitas with hummus are some of the toothsome options.

Tired of the typical fruit and nut healthy snack ideas and in search of variety? This wonderful post has 49 out-of-the box snack options including eggplant spreads and homemade split pea crisps. We are also drooling over their double dark chocolate and ginger biscotti recipe. A delicious treat to combat the midday slump!

Don't forget to give your office lunch a makeover. Try not to wolf down lunch on the run, or to skip lunch altogether. Missing a midday meal will lead to poor food choices in later in the afternoon.

If possible, combine lunch with a brisk 15-minute walk or time on the office stairs. Simple stretches help get the blood flowing and reinvigorate energy. Ideas for healthy office lunches can be found here.

Finally, consider enlisting your colleagues' support for healthy office eating. When it's time to order lunches for meetings, ask your HR manager or boss to order a salads or a Mediterranean tray of healthy spreads such as hummus, tabbouleh and yogurt dips rather than high sodium and fat meat sandwiches. Request fruit baskets, granolas and yogurt for breakfast meetings rather than pastries.

Every little bit helps.

How do you incorporate healthy snacks and lunches into your work day? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.



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Teens as Time-Savers: Getting Kids to Help Around the House
Tuesday, February 21, 2012 9:59 PM

Working parents are chronically pressed for time, juggling the needs of family, home and work. Yet many busy families fail to take full advantage of a useful, free resource that can typically be found sprawled across the sofa, cell phone in one hand, snack in another. Yes, we're talking about your teen.

Savvy parents press their teens into service on a variety of tasks around the house: from lawn care to cooking, to shopping and cleaning. Requiring teens to pitch in on running the household is a win-win for all. Parents get needed help around the house and teens learn critical life skills for navigating the adult world.

What's for Dinner?: Turn the nightly "what's-for-dinner?" question over to your teens once a week. In My Sons, The Sous-Chefs,  NYT reporter Leslie Kaufman recounts how with some prep work (i.e. providing basic kitchen training and guidance on recipe selection) she was able to outsource two meals a week to her teen sons.

Bag Grocery Shopping: Teens and their bottomless-pit appetites make stocking the house with groceries an ongoing (and expensive!) task. Deputize your teen to take over the grocery run by buying a portable shopping cart they can walk to the store, list in hand. If groceries aren't within walking distance, drop your child off while you run other errands and arrange to pick her and the groceries up at a set time. Online financial site Mint.com has great tips for teaching kids to navigate supermarkets with a budget here. 

Live-In Housekeeper: Live-in housekeepers may seem like a luxury for celebrities and mega millionaires but when you deputize the multiple members of a family to pitch in on chores, it's like having your own live-in cleaning squadron. Read Who Needs a Housekeeper?  for tips on teaching kids cleaning fundamentals.

Laundry 101: Laundry ain't rocket science but then again knowing how to sort colors, choose water temps and follow garment care labels isn't instinctive either. Take time to teach your teen laundry basics; you are giving them a skill they will use until they are old enough to teach their own kids to take over laundry duty. Step-by-step instructions can be found in this useful post. 

Finally, we leave you with advice on setting up a user-friendly, equitable chore chart from our past post Why Scheduling Household Chores Works. 


Let us know how your new chore charts work. Does having teens pitch in help your household run more smoothly? Is your teen slowly acquiring needed life skills? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.


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The Case Against Multi-Tasking
Monday, February 06, 2012 9:41 PM

When your day planner is full to overflowing and you have more tasks than hours in the day, it's tempting to think multitasking is the answer.

Who doesn't love the idea of simultaneously ticking off as many to-do list items as possible? But when you're next tempted to e-mail and text while in a meeting, or to manage a conference call while you proof a business letter or put the finishing touches on a presentation, keep in mind that multitasking has its drawbacks. Errors, missed information and failure to pick up on subtle cues and subtexts are all too common when juggling too many balls at a time.  

Consider also that studies show the brain is less likely to retain information acquired when multitasking. Rather, single-minded focus on one task at a time produces greater memory retention and productivity.

Still not convinced that multitasking has its flaws? Perhaps you think concentrated focus is a natural gift, not a skill that can be cultivated? We like the advice in three recent articles on these topics.

Train Your Brain to Focus:  So if multitasking is out and laser-like focus is in, how can a recovering multitasker work to better hone concentration? This article offers three ways to improve focus; just like a muscle, focus will build up and strengthen with diligent practice.

Four Destructive Myths Most Companies Still Live By:  Too many work environments reward multitasking, since many workers labor under the misimpression that individuals who can juggle multiple tasks simultaneously are productivity superstars. Take time to educate your colleagues about the real costs of multitasking, armed with the facts in this piece.

Are You Training Yourself to Fail?  Productivity expert and author Peter Bregman  cops to not being naturally focused. He even goes so far as to say, "Left to my own devices, I rarely end my day with the satisfaction of a plan well executed." But Bregman counteracts his natural lack of focus-not with resolve, which often gets derailed-but with rituals, that is new habits, practiced day in and day out, that eventually take on the force of habit.

Are you a multitasker? Do you think you can change your many-balls-in-the-air ways and learn to focus on one thing at a time? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

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Reboot those Flagging Resolutions
Thursday, February 02, 2012 9:39 PM

Well, we're a month into the New Year. How are those resolutions holding up? Odds are your willpower and resolve is flagging. After all many of us quit on resolutions by February and all but a few have thrown in the towel by spring.

Looking to reboot those resolutions? We hear you. We're giving our own resolutions a shot in the arm with the ideas we picked up from these great sources. Onwards and upwards!

There's an App for That: Well, there isn't technically a willpower app, but these 25 apps  can certainly help you manage resolutions to be more productive, organized and fit. Every little bit helps right? 

Back to Basics: While most of us make resolutions, few of us stick to them. Studies show that successful resolution makers generally follow the steps outlined in this useful article.  By reviewing the basics, such as pick a partner, be realistic and break your resolution down into discrete, do-able steps, you arm yourself with a solid foundation for success.

Create Meaning: If you knew that for every mile clocked on the treadmill or for every cigarette not smoked, you were helping a needy child, wouldn't it make is easier to forge ahead during moments of weakness? Website 1purpose.com  lets you link your resolutions to specific charities; when you log hours spent working on your resolutions, donations are made to charities of your choice. Now that's motivating!


Are your resolutions flagging? What helps you recommit and regroup when it comes to resolutions? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

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