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Archive for February, 2015


Boost Your Productivity with Exercise

You know that exercise is important for your physical health, and it also can keep you mentally sharp. Did you know that exercise can make you more positively productive?


Exercise pumps blood to your brain, which improves brain function and cell growth. The chemical mix from exercise increases learning, memory, decision-making and problem-solving ability, all of which improve productivity. According to a study in Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, there is a 20% improvement after intense exercise.

Do you have to hit the treadmill and sweat up a storm? Well, you do have to break a sweat, but you can do it with a bike ride, brisk walk, housecleaning, mowing the lawn—any activity that raises your heartbeat. Of course, you have to make sure you can exercise like this by first checking with your health care provider.

See my blog post Simple Tools for Greater Productivity for more tips.




Planning Special Assignments

Managing and planning your time are critical components for handling special assignments. Estimating the amount of time required for each task helps ensure that critical deliverables are completed when required, and the assignment stays on track. shutterstock_81109741

When estimating time, always allow wiggle room for emergencies, meetings, staffing changes, disruptions, sickness, and so on. Check with subject matter experts and vendors to ensure your estimates are accurate.

Start with the due date for the assignment and work backwards, allotting the estimated amount of time for each task and the length of time for each step. Identify milestones and critical dates.

  • Milestones:  These are dates when major parts of the assignment are completed. They allow you to assess the status of the project and identify anything that might affect deadlines for deliverables.
  • Critical dates:  These dates trigger other tasks.
    • Sequential:  Some tasks must be completed before other tasks can begin, so knowing start and completion dates is critical. If these dates slip, other later tasks will be affected, and deadlines may be missed.
    • Overlapping:  Some tasks must occur simultaneously. The challenge here is having the resources to do several things at one time.

An easy tool for this is a Gantt chart, which lets you see what else is occurring at the same time. There are many ways to create a Gantt chart. For example, Microsoft Project makes it easy to track and chart project timelines with a built-in Gantt chart view. Another option is to use Excel. While Excel does not contain a built-in Gantt chart format, you can create a Gantt chart by entering a time line along the x-axis and tasks in the y-axis.

Using a Gantt chart to manage an assignment helps you identify and monitor tasks, identify dependencies and critical paths, and lets you plan for needed resources.




Hire the Right People in the Right Way

Hiring the right people can be little like playing a slot machine—sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Even if you follow all the recommended best practices, you never really know what someone is like until they are doing the job. Here are some tools to help you improve the odds of getting someone right.Good fit

  • Carefully analyze the make-up of your team. What strengths do your current team members have and where do you need to bolster skills? Check candidates for the core competencies you need to make your team stronger and more productive.
  • Review the requirements of the job and decide if they still make sense. This is important if you haven’t had to fill the position in a while. Changes in technology, processes, and department direction may require a different skillset. Look to the future, too, and make sure new hires have what you need for the next 12 to 24 months.
  • Match candidates to your style. While you don’t want a team of yes-boss employees, you want to take your style and a candidate’s style into account. If you prefer a laid-back style that lets employees work independently to achieve their goals, you won’t like an employee who needs constant feedback. On the other hand, if you’re a hands-on manager who likes to work in the trenches with staff, a lone wolf, independent contributor won’t fit.

Getting the right person for the job is a challenge, but with some forethought and preparation, you can improve your odds of hitting a jackpot! See my blog post Find the Right Employees for more information.


Working with Rude Coworkers!

Our workplaces would be so much nicer, and we would be so much more productive if everyone got along with everyone else. It’s always best to work in an environment where our coworkers are friendly and courteous. Unfortunately, many offices aren’t idyllic. Even if you are easy-going and friendly, you may work with someone who isn’t. Here are some tips for working with rude coworkers. Woman yelling in megaphone

  • Don’t take it personally. Just because someone is rude, try to be objective. None of us can know what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. Family and financial problems make people out of sorts. If you let yourself be annoyed or offended by someone elses’s behavior, you’ll just ruin your own good mood! See my blog post Being in a Good Mood is Good Business.
  • Watch your triggers. Know what pushes your buttons. Some of us react badly when faced with a sarcastic, arrogant, or patronizing manner. It is tempting to be rude in turn, but that only escalates the situation. It’s best to remain polite and courteous. Take a deep breath and let it go, especially if they treat everyone this way. See my post Empathy at Work Works.
  • Set boundaries. No one should be bullied at work and if someone is targeting you and behaving badly toward you, be assertive. Either discuss the matter with them or take it to your manager. Make sure you document instances of bullying, so you can discuss the situation objectively and without emotion.

No one is in a good mood all the time. When someone is rude, give him or her some slack, knowing that their behavior could improve in time. If someone is chronically rude, take action if it negatively affects your ability to be positively productive or if you are being bullied.