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Archives: June 2012

Working From Home? New Study Shows You May Not Be ‘Working’

Ah, we know it all too well. Working from home may not necessarily equate to working throughout the entire day.

Citrix, a Florida-based company that designs technology for companies to work remotely, conducted a study that shows people who work from home tend to sneak in other activities for their personal lives.

After surveying over 1,000 employees who work in an office, 43 percent watch TV or a movie and 20 percent play video games on days when they “work from home.” And parents are more likely to participate in these activities than workers who aren’t parents.

Among other activities, some even admitted to having a drink! While 24 percent indicated they have a drink, 26 percent take a nap. Other people are tempted by their environment: About 35 percent of respondents do household chores.

Although there certainly are temptations while working from home, one may argue they’re at least productive compared to some distractors at the office like water cooler gossip.

Even if workers haven’t worked remotely at all, according to the survey it appears they’re interested in relinquishing one perk on the job (i.e., lunch breaks or coffee) in order to work from home merely one day a week.

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New Book Reveals the Inside Scoop of Working at ‘New Yorker’

Want to know what it’s like working at The New Yorker back in the day? Janet Groth, a former receptionist at the magazine, worked there for 21 years and outlined the comings and goings, triumphs and tribulations of the 18th floor.

In her new book, The Receptionist: An Education at The New Yorker, Groth (now a college professor), dishes the inside scoop during her tenure from 1957 until 1978.

Groth told The New York Times her receptionist’s chair near the elevator provided her with “a bird’s-eye view of everything and a hot plate, which I brought.” Read more

Shepard Smith: My First Big Break

In the latest episode of mediabistroTV’s “My First Big Break,” Fox News anchor Shepard Smith recalls how he got noticed working as a local reporter in Orlando. The story involves puppies, explosions, and Mel Gibson.

For more videos, check out our YouTube channel and follow us on Twitter: @mediabistroTV

What Would You Do With An Extra 90 Minutes Per Day? Is It Possible?

Do you feel like there’s too much to do? Almost everyone does, which is surely why productivity expert Laura Stack wrote her new book, What to Do When There’s Too Much to Do. Released Tuesday, the book promises to teach you how to be so productive that you’ll gain an extra 90 minutes of time each day.

We got our hands on a copy of the book* for your enjoyment.

What to Do is a decent 160 pages before footnotes and such, and a lot of it is, quite honestly, stuff we’ve all heard before. There’s a lot in here about reducing email clutter and going to fewer meetings (oh if only it were that easy). Also, don’t multitask or procrastinate. And stop checking your email every 15 minutes (as Vicki has so handily pointed out). Easier said than done, Stack.

But there are some good ideas, and the book was less idealistic than many in this genre–you know, the ones that suggest just telling your boss you’ll never work on XYZ again–because yeah, that’ll work.

Stack suggests taking a serious look at everything on your to-do list. If you don’t know why you’re doing it, stop (and wait until someone screams). Okay, that might be a little idealistic. But if you’re filing information into a black hole that nobody ever looks at or sorting your boss’s email alphabetically, maybe you can trim some things from your to-do list.

And about that to-do list: you need two of ‘em. This was the good idea, we thought. Instead of one gargantuan list, you need a daily list and a master list. “You must separate what you need to do today from what you don’t need to do today,” Stack says. “Combining the two is very distracting and makes it difficult to determine what to work on next.” When you have downtime, you can review items from your master list and move them to the daily list, which should have no more than ten things on it, as needed.

Stack doesn’t endorse specific technology for managing your lists but we’ve found a combination of Evernote and Remember the Milk works really well. Where she does endorse technology (and where we found her going a little into the weeds) is in detailed discussions of to-do lists and other items in Outlook. Sure, Outlook is still widely used, but by focusing on Outlook to the detriment of others, Stack ignores the many Mac users, the PC users whose IT departments have allowed them to switch to Thunderbird or another client, and all the companies that have switched their mail to Google Apps so that users can access their mail from any client they want or the web interface. Not to mention mobile devices. So feel free to skip those sections.

Again, we found most of this book to be more realistic than most. She even mentions Tim Ferriss and “The Four-Hour Workweek” in order to point out that even the man himself works more than four hours a week; he’s just redefined “work” to not include everything he does for more than four hours. She also points out that while you ought to delegate as much as you can, say no as often as you reasonably can, and so forth, even making all these changes might not get you back down to a 40-hour workweek. “Today, a forty-hour week isn’t plausible for many people, given the expectations or structures of their jobs,” she says. Besides, “some people insist they function better with a more demanding schedule.” But demanding is one thing: breaking down because you’re working a seventy-hour week is something else. There’s surely a happy medium here.

Should you buy this book? At $10, the e-book seems fairly priced and if you need serious productivity help or inspiration, it may be worth it. If you’re unsure, read a sample and look at the “cliffs notes” at Stack’s website.

Have you tried any of these tips and realized you were getting more done? Tell us about it (we could use the help!).

*disclaimer: we got an e-copy through Stack’s publicist.

New Study Reveals Constantly Checking Emails Increases Stress & Reduces Focus

A new study published by the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California – Irvine revealed that being cut off from email during the work day reduces stress levels and focus.

This merely adds further proof as to how distracting (and dare we say addicting?) it is to constantly check your in-box and smart phone.

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine and the U.S. Army asked subjects to stop checking messages at work. Keeping in mind it was a rather small study with 13 subjects in total, employees without email access reported they felt better about doing their job and staying on task. Plus, there were less interruptions throughout the day. Here’s the scoop… Read more

Cristina Greeven Cuomo Becomes Editor-in-Chief of ‘Manhattan’; Says ‘We Will be Staffing Up’

The new editor-in-chief of Manhattan magazine has been announced and it’s none other than Cristina Greeven Cuomo. She replaces James Heidenry who left Modern Luxury Media to become the editor-in-chief of Star.

Prior to this new job, she edited PlumHamptons magazine before the parent company, Plum Networks, hit bankruptcy last year.

As pointed out by The New York Post, one of her first tasks on the job may be to hire staff! Currently, Manhattan only has two full-time editorial staffers.

In fact, Cuomo indicated the small staff could actually be a good thing so she can bolster it by adding freelancers and staffers. She told the newspaper, “I’ll be bringing in some people to work under me. We will be staffing up.”

Lessons Learned From ‘Wall Street Journal’ Intern Firing

Merely a few weeks ago we wrote about the importance of ethics regarding the former Yahoo! CEO and not fabricating a resume. Our post began: “Always tell the truth. In life, in job searching, in everything.”

Well, we’ll add one potent statement to punctuate the sentence by simply stating, “In reporting.”

The Wall Street Journal fired an intern who apparently fabricated sources and quotes, according to The New York Times’ Media Decoder blog. Whether you’re a full-time staffer, freelancer or even an intern who’s three weeks into the job, it matters not: It will cost you if you’re not abiding by one of the main tenants of journalism. As in, the truth. Read more

Why You Should Write a Vision Statement

Let’s face it, as journalists we’re accustomed to story telling. Why should our career path be any different? Why not create a convincing, confident vision statement to create a path to follow?

This blog post is inspired by the Simply Hired blog which relates to the often cringe-worthy question frequently asked during interviews: “So tell me, where do you see yourself in five years?”

When you prepare for the interview you typically get ready mentally to answer that question, right? Why should the “real world” be any different? Although articulating a carefully thought out goal-oriented answer is important during the interview itself, so is taking the question seriously after the fact. Read more

What to Know About Working in PR

For many journalists seeking the security of a full-time job, the PR industry is a viable option, with its emphasis on adept writing skills and attention to deadlines.  But, before you make the full-time switch to corporate communications, it is important to know the real facts about the biz.

For example, one truth about the PR industry is that it moves at a slower pace than journalism. “The corporate review [and] approval process is more challenging, because deadlines are sacrosanct for journalists but much less so for corporate managers and executives,” said Paul Nonnenmacher, director of public affairs for the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority and former reporter. At its worst, the natural inclination to rush and wrap a project can be construed as a half-baked effort by higher-ups that are used to far longer timelines.

Read more in What Journalists Should Know Before Switching to PR. [subscription required]

Andrea Hackett

How to Avoid the Cover Letter Slush Pile

Ode to the cover letter! Or maybe we should say the cover letter cringe? Although many job seekers find this piece of the job search the most challenging one, it doesn’t have to be.

According to J. Maureen Henderson, the author of a new Forbes eBook, Crash Course In Cover Letters: How to Adapt Old-School Cover Letters For The Brave New Digital World, there are several ways to avoid the slush pile. Read more