March 2012 - Posts

So You’re Finally on LinkedIn. Now What?
Thursday, March 29, 2012 8:30 PM

At 150 million members strong, the LinkedIn bandwagon is verging on standing-room only. But are you more of a bystander than a LinkedIn leader? Time to grab the baton and lead the charge to get your profile noticed and networked. Make the most of LinkedIn with these simple steps.

Get Going

The tips in 10 Things to Do Immediately on LinkedIn  will get you up and running-stat. Start by posting a professional photo and then dive into industry appropriate groups, cultivating a wide network by participating in threads and chats. Other tips include making frequent updates and actively seeking recommendations.

Get Recommended 

LinkedIn's recommendation features allows users to fully showcase their talents and abilities. According to a recent Forbes.com article Everything You Need to Know About LinkedIn Recommendations,  hiring managers do actually read and consider recommendations when vetting candidates.

Best practices for LinkedIn recommendations are similar to offline ones: recommend only those whose work you truly know and when requesting your own recommendation, it's best to do it person by phone, rather than sending a generic LinkedIn request. For more, read 7 LinkedIn Recommendation Best Practices for Your Job Search. 

Get Noticed

Savvy LinkedIn users understand that the platform is more than just a chance to list resume skills. In The Five Best Practices for LinkedIn Profiles: Network Ahead of Your Job Search,  the author suggests using your profile to share your own expertise learn and from others. This type of organic networking will serve you well in future job hunts. Also, create a profile that showcases your "voice" and avoid dull resume-speak. Other tips include documenting your experience using multimedia, links and other options that just aren't possible with conventional resumes.  Finally, read Get Noticed: 5 Steps to Writing a Perfect LinkedIn Profile for more ideas. 

 

How do you make the most out of LinkedIn? What catches your eye or impresses you about LinkedIn profiles you've seen? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

 

 

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The Trick to Staying Organized: All About Maintenance
Wednesday, March 28, 2012 8:29 PM

 

Staying organized is simpler than you think: it's all about daily maintenance. Too many of us expend energy and time creating filing systems or cleaning closets and then hang up our organizational hat. Little wonder things fall apart. But by committing to a simple daily regimen, you may find yourself in the enviable position of never being disorganized again!

 

Embrace a Schedule: Commit to a block of time daily to restoring order. A 10-15 minute window each night makes the most sense: recharge cell phones, check and update your calendar and return scattered items to their rightful spots. On weekends, schedule two longer 30-minute blocks for bigger projects such as filing paperwork from the past week and organizing the coming week's schedule and to-do lists.

 

Create a Donation Station: Keep a bag or box handy for donation items. When you have a spot to stash no-longer needed items, you increase the odds of successfully donating it to a cause or person in need, rather than allowing it to languish in your home as clutter.

 

Create a "To-Go" Spot: Designate a highly visible spot near the front door for items needed to run errands. That way when you're heading the door, you can easily see what needs to be returned, mailed, purchased, repaired, etc. and chores don't get overlooked.

 

Designate Helpers: Enlist family members in your maintenance program. Assign each family member to a specific task, rotating tasks to keep interest fresh. Deputizing family members makes them stakeholders in the process and betters your odds of maintaining order.

 

Reward Success: Incentives work so reward yourself, and your family members, along the way. Small rewards like an extra TV show or a later bedtime can be used at the end of Week One, and bigger rewards such as a family outing or a new purchase, can mark a successful month of maintaining order.

 

Keep in mind that experts say new habits take at least three weeks to form, so be diligent about practicing your organizational upkeep until it becomes second nature.

 

How do you preserve an organized home and a sane schedule? What daily activities keep the trains running on time in your world? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

 

 

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Recharging for the Work Week
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 8:28 PM

What do your weekends look like? Are they two days of rest and relaxation, allowing a chance to recharge for the busy work week ahead? Or are they jam-packed with chores, kids' sports and various commitments?

We know the laundry needs to get done but downtime is critical to your well-being. This weekend make a must-keep appointment with yourself: schedule a chunk of downtime just as you would any other important commitment. Time to get serious about relaxation.

Go Mental: Sometimes a mental break is all that's needed. Meditation, or relaxation techniques, can clear your head and provide relief from stress, anxiety and even mild depression. Not sure how to get started? Guided mediation tapes can be found online that walk you through the process. Practiced regularly, these moments of silence will recharge you for Monday's hectic pace.

Move It: Exercise is the best form of stress release bar none. Take a brisk walk, run with a friend or take a morning yoga class. Getting the blood pumping releases the physical stress that builds up during our desk bound work week. Start your day off with exercise to ensure it gets done before the day's activities distract you.

Unplug: Take a mini vacation by unplugging all your devices. Ignoring phone calls and e-mails during the week is a luxury that is next to impossible, so use the weekend to disconnect and savor the free time created from your self-imposed digital diet.

Give Back: The work week is dedicated to advancing the cause of your company and career. Make the weekend a time to focus on others; giving time and energy to others in need is incredibly rewarding and renewing.

Reconnect: Life is busy, work days are hectic. Chances are you don't have enough time Monday through Friday to connect with your spouse, spend time with your kids or hang out with friends. Reconnect with the people, and the pursuits, that matter most during the weekend.

How do you recharge for the bust week work ahead? Do you carve out time to reenergize during the weekend or are you on an endless chore treadmill?  Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

 

 

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Get Crazy: Courting Out-of-the Box Ideas
Thursday, March 22, 2012 7:24 PM

Twitter is the perfect example of a crazy, improbable idea-only 140 characters for communicating?!?-that caught fire, making early skeptics look positively antediluvian. 

But for every crazy idea that becomes a monster hit-Twitter is nearing 500 million users-any number fizzle into major flops. So how does one know when a big, over-the-top idea is destined for Twitter-style success or is destined to go the way of business dinosaurs like the Edsel, Betamax and Pets.com?

We've rounded up some reading from across the web that examines what Harvard Business Review writer Michael Schrage  calls "Goldilocks" crazy: not insane, not conventional, but "just right" crazy. 

We also look at articles that challenge readers to think outside-the-box, jettisoning clichéd ideas and conventional thinking. Use these tactics to come up with your own fresh and novel ideas.

How do you harness out-of-the-box ideas?  Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

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Brainstorming: Better Alone or Together?
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 7:19 PM

When do you get your best ideas? Does lightening strike when you're alone, either working solo or caught up in a day-dream? Or are you most inspired by the energetic give-and-take of a room full of smart, collaborative peers?

 We fall into the hybrid camp: sometimes inspiration strikes unexpectedly: surfing the web, commuting, or dare we admit it, hitting the snooze button again and again. Other times, we require the collaborative spark that comes from bouncing ideas around with bright, imaginative colleagues.

So we were intrigued by a recent New York Times piece, The Rise of the New Groupthink which asserts that the trend towards workplace collaboration is actually counterproductive to creativity. The author even goes so far as to say, "Brainstorming sessions are one of the worst possible ways to stimulate creativity." Instead, the article cites privacy, freedom from interruption and solitude as the keys to innovation.

Not surprisingly, the article stirred the pot, generating a number of counter responses.  Keith Sawyer, an academic and author of "Group Genius"  and "Explaining Creativity"   rebuts the notion that creativity is best left a solo endeavor, saying, "Decades of scientific research have revealed that great creativity is almost always based in collaboration, conversation and social networks - just the opposite of our mythical image of the isolated genius."

For more on this debate, read Fast Company's The Fortunes of Solitude: Susan Cain On Introverts, The "New Groupthink," And The Problems With Brainstorming and The New Yorker's Brainstorming Doesn't Really Work.

At the end of the day, we believe that both methods of harnessing creativity and spurring innovation have their merits. If you favor the collaborative, group approach, you might like the tips in our past post Light it Up: Brainstorming Techniques That Work.  For those more apt to fly solo, read Sometimes, It's Better to Brainstorm Alone  and the Wall Street Journal piece, Brainstorming Works Best if People Scramble for Ideas on Their Own. 

Do you favor group brainstorming or do you get your best ideas when working alone? Have you had any luck with particular brainstorming tools or techniques? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

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5 Things to Do Every Day
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 9:48 PM

If your daily routine has become humdrum, shake it up in as little as five simple steps. You may have caught the blogosphere buzz over a Fast Company post, 5 Things to Do Every Day for Success,  that quickly went viral last year. The steps themselves are hardly revolutionary-wake early, follow the news, reach out to a work contact, an old friend, and send someone a hand-written note. Simple indeed. So why the major buzz?

If the self-help shelf at your local bookstore is any indicator, people love advice on overhauling certain aspects of their lives. And five simple steps, practiced every day, falls into the category of manageable change. Too many items on a to-do list generally means some items never get crossed off. Five items? Well, that's doable.

Consider the tips in the Fast Company post as a way to jump start a stalled engine: rising earlier, keeping abreast of industry trends and news and interacting with smart colleagues and cherished friends creates a frisson of energy. Harness that momentum and you're off and running!

We've rounded up other great resources touting five-no more, no less-steps to reinvigorate your daily routine.

Get the Big Picture

We all have goals, but do we all achieve them? The wonderful post Five Golden Rules for Successful Goal Setting breaks goal setting down into what five concrete steps; we think the first is key: set goals that motivate you. When you truly have a reason that gets you up and going every day, the rest will fall into place.

Get Fit

No time for the gym? Reinvigorate your fitness routine with five easy exercises that can be done at your office desk. Yep, you read that right. Push-ups, leg lifts, simple stretches, even simulated jump roping are all possible, right in your very own office. What are you waiting for? Time to try those desk chair lifts.

Get Financial

Wish you had more money in your pocket at the end of the day? Trim your daily overhead with the tips in 5 Ways to Save Money on Everyday Expenses. Ideas include buying generic goods and comparison shopping for insurance plans. Other money saving ideas can be found in 5 Simple Ways to Cut Your Spending - And Still Enjoy Your Life!  Tips include canceling unused subscriptions and limiting window shopping (and its online equivalent, window surfing) to prevent impulse buys.

Get Happy

Finally, what's the point of overhauling your daily routine if you forget what's important in life? Focus on what matters with the advice in the Top 5 Daily Tips for Better Living. These tips are no-brainers: sharing a smile or laugh every day and doing a good deed for someone else is a surefire way to reap personal satisfaction and contentment.

What does your daily routine look like? Can you see incorporating any of the above steps in your daily routine? Or do you have others that work for you? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

 

 

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Boost Your Social Media Smarts
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 9:22 PM

Have you jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon yet? The social networking site is exploding in popularity and "pinning" is now giving "tweeting" a run for its money.

If you've only vaguely heard of Pinterest, its time to upgrade your social media smarts. Facebook isn't the only game in town you know.

Pinterest: An online "pin board," Pinterest lets users "pin" images from across the web to virtual bulletin boards on its site. Pinterest now has 11 million users, and unlike many other social networking sites, is most popular among women ages 18-34. For users, the site makes aggregating images, recipes and other content simple to collect and search. Businesses, particularly retailers, need to be paying attention; Pinterest is now driving more traffic to retail sites than Google+. This post provides a succinct overview of the site, why it's useful and describes its business model. See what Pendaflex is doing on our Pinterest boards here.

Google+: If you're a Gmail or Chrome user, you may be wondering what's the deal with Google's latest initiative Google+? Google's foray into social networking was strong out of the gate last June but is now languishing behind  the big three:  Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. The Wall Street Journal goes so far as to call it a "ghost town" in a recent article.  Still, the site offers options that others don't such as "Hangouts" which allow for video conferencing for up to 10 people at a time. Google says it's in for the long haul, so the site may get a chance to become more relevant. For more, read Time Spent on Google+ Dwindles While Pinterest Draws Growing User Interest.

Instagram: In a little over a year and a half, Instagram  has grown to be the most popular mobile image sharing application available. Translation: if you took a cell phone picture in the last year and a half, odds are good you shared it via Instagram. For users, Instagram offers users the ability to experiment with the high quality images and filters that mobile devices now offer, in a simple, easy to use interface. For businesses, Instagram offers more than just a chance to showcase product pictures, the platform provides opportunities to deepen brand building, so go ahead and post photos of products on the assembly line, provide a sneak peek behind the scenes of a fashion show, or share images of celebrities or regular customers interacting with products. For more read, Instagram: 10 Tips to Tell Your Brand's Story 1,000 Words at a Time. 

Foursquare: Never again wonder where everyone is hanging out without you: geo-location social networking site Foursquare  lets you track the people in your life. The site provides more than a virtual peek at where everyone is at any given moment, it offers user generated recommendations, coupons and other freebies from nearby businesses. For more, read Foursquare CEO: Not Just Check-ins and Badges. 

So consider upping your social media ante by giving some of these up-and-comers a try. And if you aren't yet a regular user of the major players-Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn- it's time to jump in and see just what Facebook's other 800 million plus users are up to.

What is your favorite social networking site? Are there some sites that make you think "no way, not for me" or "heck yea, sign me up." Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

 

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Tackle Spring Cleaning as a Family
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 9:05 PM
Ah, spring cleaning: an annual ritual that is often anticipated with dread but completed with satisfaction. Even the most mop-shy among us can relish the squeaky clean of a thoroughly cleaned and newly organized home. This year, recruit family members...
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How to Be Happy At Work
Friday, March 09, 2012 3:36 AM

Want the secret to being happy at work? Silly question right? When you consider how much of our day is spent at our desks, it's clear that if we aren't happy at work, we're discontent the bulk of our time.

Time to crack the happy code.

Choose Happiness

The secret to being happy at work (and in life) is simple: choose happiness says author and journalist Geoffrey James in his Inc. com article How to Be Happy at Work.  Could it truly be that easy you may be wondering? James seems to think so and makes a compelling case that happiness (and unhappiness) stem entirely from how individuals evaluate events. James argues that while certain circumstances may be out of our control, how we react to events is firmly within our grasp. So read on here for three steps to cultivate happiness.

Cultivate Happiness

Happiness must be nurtured says Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage.  Individuals can cultivate happiness for themselves by adopting positive habits such as journaling, meditating and exercising and practicing them over a period of time. Next, pay it forward by investing in those around you. By developing strong social support networks and investing in their happiness (i.e. thank people for work, nurture their professional development) you multiply your own happiness. Turns out the more you give to others, they more you get yourself in terms of personal satisfaction and productivity.

Practice Happiness

Did you know that the U.S. didn't make a recent Gallup poll list of the 10 happiest countries? Short of moving to Denmark, is there a way of ramping up one's happiness quotient?  According to this Harvard Business Review blog post, greater happiness can be achieved by practice. Brain scientist Jeffrey M. Stibel says simple steps such as smiling more and taking a regularly scheduled break during the work day can actually retrain the brain to be happier.

Do you think it's possible to be happy at work? How do you work to shore up your happiness quotient at work? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

 

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Creative Networking
Thursday, March 08, 2012 3:32 AM

We all know we're supposed to nurture our network. And while there's nothing wrong with the old school advice to cultivate and nourish your network with lunches and e-mails, handing over business cards at industry events and scheduling drinks with colleagues can have a whiff of the ho hum. Reinvigorate your networking with these outside-the-box ideas.

Play Ball

Tired of handing out business cards at industry events, one creative networker instead passed around a brand new volleyball and sharpie. You can bet he had some interesting conversations. In Start Focusing on New, Creative Networking Ideas  the volleyball idea vies with other inspired networking schemes such as interviewing colleagues for a blog post or creating a contest for a gift card drawing and soliciting cards from fellow event attendees. Bottom line: getting creative can get you noticed.

Timing is Everything

Make time for networking with creative time-management suggests Patti DeNucci, author of The Intentional Networker. We like her walk-and-talk idea,  where networking conversations are combined with hiking, running or walking. DeNucci also recommends taking a "how about now?" approach at industry conferences and seizing the moment for an immediate 15-minute-coffee-and-chat sidebar rather than swapping cards and agreeing to get together down the road. Bottom line: there's no time like the present for networking.

Hello, Old Friend

People often overlook an important existing network as they cultivate new industry-specific networks. Look to your college and graduate school networks as valuable resources. Best of all, universities and colleges are set up to help with networking, contact your alumni office to get started. For more ideas, read Don't Wait for a Reunion to Network with Former Classmates.  Bottom line: turn old memories into new contacts.

Just Go For It

Blogger and writer Scott Ginsburg of the blog site hellomynameisscott.com  offers seven fantastic tips  for networking that will have you saying "why didn't I think of that?" Ginsburg channels his inner moxie, bringing a "go for it" approach to networking. He approaches big shots when possible and cold calls for speaking engagements. He also practices the personal touch, responding to e-mails by picking up the phone within minutes. This speedy, personal response in an age of impersonal communication gets noticed. Bottom line: people err on the side of caution too often; go for it to get results.

What is the most unorthodox, yet effective networking tool you've ever tried? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

 

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