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Archives: December 2012

Four Ways to Maintain Your Weight Loss Resolutions at Work

Okay, it’s that time of year again! Although the new year often brings along many resolutions with it, one popular one is weight loss, fitness and overall health. Since we spend so many hours of the day toiling away at work, there are a few quick tips to stay focused while you’re working on deadline.

1. Brown bag it. Stay out of the cafeteria. And the coffee station with stale yule log that’s somehow calling your name. In other words, brown bag it at first. Until you build up enough willpower to stay away from the snack machine or insert your vice here, it’s wise to pack your lunch and snacks ahead of time.

2. Replace unhealthy snacks with healthy ones. This one sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Maybe you’re known for having a jar full of M&M’s at your desk? Although this may attract a lot of visitors throughout the day, you’re really not helping yourself. Although you may not be tempted to replace it altogether (grapes, anyone? Doesn’t have the same caché, right?), why not at least get rid of the tempting treats within your fingertips at first?

3. Go for a walk! The key to resolutions and setting any goal for that matter, is creating goals in small increments that may be measured and celebrated. Why not leverage your work day to at least get some steps in? Although a pedometer is certainly helpful, even if you don’t have one, no worries there. Give yourself a challenge such as setting a goal of walking for 20 minutes during your lunch time. It’ll be a much needed mental break as well so the 20 minutes may seem like a mini-vacation. Enjoy it and soon those 20 minutes can lead to 30 and even perhaps a 10 minute break in the middle of the day. Those minutes and of course, steps, truly do add up.

4. Enlist work buddies. If your colleagues have similar goals, why not keep each other accountable? If you have a buddy come by your desk every day at 1 p.m. no matter what to go for a quick walk, you’re probably less likely to blow off the opportunity to exercise. Also, co-workers can be great at calling you out. If it’s the admin assistant’s birthday for example and birthday cake is being served, if you don’t have the willpower, perhaps one of your colleagues will keep you in line and will remind you of your end goal.

In fact, some departments may be competitive and set up a Biggest Loser-type contest with weekly weigh-ins and prizes for the team who loses the most weight in the shortest amount of time.

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Want to Improve Your Tech Etiquette in 2013? Disable ‘Reply All’

Remember the NYU snafu in which one of their sophomores accidentally hit reply all to almost 40,000 students asking them to complete a tax form?

Well, if there’s anything we can learn from the error as we look back at the last 12 months, it’s one way to avoid personal embarrassment.

Nathan Zeldes, founder of the Information Overload Research Group, told The Wall Street Journal, “That button is responsible for more pain and suffering, except for the red button that launches the nukes.” Read more

Year-End Pointer to Get Promoted in 2013: Practice Your Job

You know the adage, “Practice makes perfect?” Well, as per one expert practice makes promotions.

As indicated in The Wall Street Journal, a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley rose from intern to principal in merely two years! Here’s how he did it (in addition to hard work, of course): He kept an Excel spreadsheet. He maintained it to track every hour spent during the day.

Mike J. differentiated his skills and work since not all work is created equal. As per the piece, K. Anders Ericsson, psychology professor at Florida State University, revealed that a person in a new job typically devotes time to get ramped up. After a period of time, the new employee has learned the job and reaches a plateau.

Although he or she gains more experience, the worker doesn’t get significantly better on the job itself. Read more

Management Tip: Make Work More Like a Game

According to the Harvard Business Review blog, there’s a tip today to nod our heads in agreement.

Have you ever felt like when you’re doing a great job and your team is collaborating, you’re all winning? Well, along the lines of winning, the piece advises managers to instill more fun and excitement into the job so essentially it feels like a game.

What does this mean exactly? Managers should provide a “sharply focused, urgent goal and a very tight deadline.” Let’s say there’s actually a long-term goal instead. Well, in that case, managers should break it down into smaller more immediate goals.  If there’s a deadline in three months, break it down into two-week intervals.

The piece adds the endeavor should encourage creativity and managers should “celebrate successes along the way.”

Year-End Tips For Freelancers

It’s almost 2013, and since the world hasn’t ended, if you freelance, you’d best consider how to close out the year in the best way possible. Here are a few tips culled from the Web:

  • If you’ve had a good year, buy some stuff you need. If you make the business purchase on your credit card before the year’s up, it counts as an expense for 2012, even if you don’t pay the bill until the next year, says attorney Julian Block. (Exception: store credit cards. Seriously.)
  • Again, if your year was great and you expect next year to be slower, hold off on invoicing for some things until the new year. You can spread out your tax liabilities this way.
  • Sock some money away for retirement. You can actually contribute to an IRA through April 15 of next year, so this one isn’t as important.
  • Fire a time-consuming, annoying, or cheap client. It’ll feel great.
  • Consider raising your rates. Even if you’re paying all your bills, you could always afford to save a bit more for retirement–or work a little less each week.
  • Figure out where your money comes from. If you’re relying on one or two big clients, perhaps it’s time to diversify a bit and target new markets. If all your money is coming from writing articles, maybe you’ll want to consider selling e-books or starting an ad-supported blog.
  • Finally, it’s time to set new goals for the next year. Did you make the money you wanted to? Did you work on the types of projects you wanted? If you didn’t, now’s a good time to start thinking about how to make it happen in 2013.

Best of luck, gig economy workers!

The Most Shocking Resignations of 2012 — Including Quitting on Live TV!

We often dole out advice such as not burning your bridges when you resign but we suppose a few people haven’t gotten the memo.

AOL Jobs outlined the most shocking resignations of 2012 — including a Bed, Bath & Beyond employee who typed a new price tag with a product description in all caps that read, “I’M QUITTING TODAY.”   Read more

Three Ways to Declutter Your Office For ‘Get Organized Month’

Although the National Association of Professional Organizers sponsors “Get Organized Month” every January to help people streamline their possessions, if you’re working in a quiet office this week it may be the perfect time to organize your work space before 2013 kicks into high gear.

Susan Fleischman, home stager, professional organizer from Chicago told CNN, ”As joyous as the holidays can be, the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is probably one of the most stressful of the year for people.”

Her solution? Spend the week after Christmas decluttering because it “really helps you recover and detox from the hustle and bustle of the holidays.” Read more

Four Freelance Mistakes That Keep You Stuck in a Rut

Ah, the catch-22 of freelancing. Yes, you get to have a flexible schedule and call the shots but yes, you have to do the hustle 24/7 and may find your so-called flexible schedule isn’t so fluid after all.

As pointed out on a post on Brazen Careerist, there are a few blunders freelancers make which keep them stuck in a rut.

1. Work for free. We’ve heard the argument all too often: “We can’t pay you for your blog posts, but the exposure is amazing.” Um, yeah. Exposure is one thing, paying your bills is another. Don’t get stuck in that rut and if you do decide to blog or work for free, make sure you’re getting something out of it like a link back to your Web site, etc.

2. Rely on job boards to gain new clients. As pointed out in the piece, instead of showcasing your creative work and shining on your own merit, you’re jumbled in a pool of other freelancers. There’s too much competition responding to job boards for gigs and it’s harder to justify your rates. They may be looking for the lowest possible price point and you won’t want to lowball your services. Instead of posting to gigs, your time is better spent networking and pursuing clients on your own.

3. Neglect to market yourself. Yes, you’re busy with clients — not only working with them but billing them and following up on payments. Therein lies the issue. In order to get to the next level, you’ll also need to market yourself, build your brand, get active on social media, the works. For instance, every morning devote the first hour or two of your day specifically for the best client ever: Yourself!

4. Take on every new client. This is a big one and may be difficult to get used to at first but we’re saying it’s okay to turn down a potential client. Walk away and throughout experience, you’ll become more adept at determining who can be a problem child so to speak before you take them on so you can avoid difficult clients altogether.

Three Ways to Quiet Your Mind at Work

Ah, the day after Christmas. Boxing Day, if you will. If you’re slaving away at the quiet office with leftover holiday Hersheys kisses by the printer, you’re not alone.

Chances are, your body is in the office and your mind is likely elsewhere. If you’re zoned out or still hyped up amidst the holiday hoopla, never fear.

We got inspired by this Harvard Business Review post on how to quiet your mind. If you truly start to think about when you’re most productive at work (looming deadlines aside), it’s likely when your mind is still and most creative.

1. Meditating. According to the piece and a recent study, meditation may make your brain bigger, faster and appear younger. As this relates to work, why not leverage that morning commute? Let’s say you’re a passenger in a car or hop on a bus. The piece recommends closing your eyes for 10 minutes.

Alternatively if you drive, allow for 10 minutes of peace time sitting in the car before heading into the office. Select one image like a waterfall, specific beach or tree and focus only on that image. As other thoughts bubble up, start to push them away.

2. Pulsing. The post also references another research study which points out top performers in their field work in cycles. Whether they’re musicians or athletes, they work in 90-minute cycles and then they take a break. Why not start to tackle a project and set the alarm on your mobile phone for 90 minutes?

This way, you’ll know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and there’s a break waiting for you. In the meantime, you can power through that project until you get pinged. As for the break itself, a few options include taking a walk, talking to a colleague, listening to music or getting a cup of tea or coffee. After five minutes, get back to work for another 90-minute interval.

3. Daydream walking. Get this — as per the piece, apparently people who daydream and simply let their minds wander score higher on creativity tests and simultaneously remain aware enough to recognize a brainstorm when it occurs. Yes, we should give ourselves permission to let our minds roam. Even though you may feel chained to your desk at work, resolve to take a break.

And it doesn’t even have to be every day — even if you walk away for 20 minutes two days a week during lunch, you can think about anything you want aside from work. You’ll tap into the creative side of your brain whether you’re thinking about your next vacation or the fun you had over the holidays. You can ramp it up to every day of the week but realistically start out with one or two.

If a colleague wants to join you as you head outside to walk, resist the temptation to have company (because let’s face it, you’ll likely start talking about work), and just say no.

New Survey Reveals More Companies Planned to Give Holiday Perks & Gifts This Year

Maybe this is a sign of the improving economy? According to a new CareerBuilder survey, companies planned to offer more perks than last year. And by perks we mean bonuses, parties and gifts.

The study conducted from mid-August through early September encompassed approximately 2,500 hiring managers and HR professionals and almost 4,000 employees across a variety of industries.

As for bonuses, 46 percent of employers anticipated giving employees holiday bonuses which is an uptick from 40 percent in 2011 and even a bigger increase from 2010 which reflected 33 percent.  Read more