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Happy Memorial Day Weekend

Just a quick note to say I hope you all enjoy this long holiday weekend and the official start of summer. Your vacation plans might not be what you had hoped but take this time to be creative and enjoy the outdoors. Stay socially connected, respect social distancing, stay safe and healthy!



Network within Your Own Organization

Many business people are active networkers in industry and business organizations, but they never think about networking within their own company. Informal networking is establishing mutually beneficial relationships with coworkers. This gives you access to experts in other areas of the organization, provides opportunities for finding mentors, and opens opportunities for advancement. Here’s how to form and cultivate an informal network.

  • Identify people who do your job in other areas and get to know them. Share best practices and help each other solve problems and meet challenges. Your peers can be valuable resources.
  • Reach out to those who are in positions you are interested in and ask for an informational interview. Exploring other jobs helps you with career planning and shows that you are interested in staying with your company for the long term.
  • Look for people who can mentor you. See my blog post Do You Need a Coach or a Mentor? for more information.
  • Establish mutually beneficial relationships with your connections. Make yourself available when they need help and offer assistance whenever you can. 
  • Meet frequently for coffee or a meal and get to know them as people and colleagues. Remember significant details about them by adding notes to their profiles in your contacts record. 

Networking within your organization raises your visibility so that people get to know you and your expertise. The more people who know you and what you can do, the more they will think of you when a job opening occurs.


Use Rules to Manage E-mail

Rules let you manage incoming e-mail by pre-sorting certain e-mails and sending them to folders you have specified. Every e-mail program has the ability to set rules although it might be called something different.

When you set a rule, you:

  • Identify the word or words you want the e-mail program to look for. For example, you could set a rule for your manager’s name or the name of a project or client.
  • Specify where you want the word(s) to appear. It could be the To, CC, BCC, subject line, or anywhere else in the e-mail.
  • Set up a new folder labeled with these same word(s).
  • Direct your e-mail program to send all e-mails with these word(s) to that folder. When you open your inbox, you can go directly to these folders and by-pass e-mails in the main inbox.

Rules will help you manage e-mail faster and easier and make you more positively productive.

Need more help with e-mail? Are you not getting the result you need? Check out our workshop Writing and Managing E-mail.


Save Time with Social Media

Many business people realize the value of social media as an important tool for marketing and customer service. One of the biggest challenges in using social media is finding time in your busy day to take care of it. Here are my recommendations:

  • Set goals. Decide what you want to accomplish with social media. The clearer your goals, the easier it will be to craft social media messages that meet them and reach the right audience.
  • Set specific times each day to handle social media. I recommend allocating at least two 15-minute sessions to connect with people and post updates. This helps you gain visibility, build meaningful relationships, and expand your reach. Consistency and frequency are two key factors in social media success.
  • Join pertinent groups. Find groups on LinkedIn that represent your target customers and join them. Become active and make connections with key people in the group. Share valuable information and establish relationships with those who can help your business, but avoid pitching to them. Instead, forge alliances that lead to business naturally.

Including social media in your marketing and customer service plans is a good way to grow your business. Doing it efficiently is a good way to be positively productive on social media. Also see my post Choose the Right Social Network for Your Business.


Enthusiasm is Contagious!

Today is life—the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto.    Dale Carnegie, Author

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, enthusiasm is strong excitement about something. You know what it’s like when you’re around someone who is enthusiastic. They practically bubble over with eagerness to tackle life and work and have a positive attitude. Like positivity, enthusiasm is contagious. (See my post Does Positivity at Work Really Make a Difference?)

  • Take action. Enthusiastic people make things happen and inspire others to do so, too. Set goals for both your work and your life that excite you and that ignite your passion.
  • Believe that what you do is important. It’s easier to be enthusiastic when you know you are making a contribution to your job, your family, or your community.
  • Look for the positive in everything that happens. I’m not talking about being a Pollyanna! Enthusiastic people see reality, but refuse to let it derail them. Even if they don’t succeed or achieve what they set out to do, enthusiastic people view the result as a learning experience; it doesn’t stop them from trying again and again. See my post The Value of Reframing for more information.

Ramp up your enthusiasm and not only will others around you feel it, they will become more enthusiastic in turn—and enthusiasm leads to positive productivity!





Stress Busters!

Stress is a part of life and work. Looming deadlines, limited resources, conflicts between team members, worry, and many other factors affect stress levels. Since too much stress or the wrong kind of stress negatively impacts productivity and health, it is important to find ways of handling and releasing stress throughout the day in order to stay healthy, focused, and positively productive!

Here are some quick stress busters:

  • Take a mental time out. We often feel stress when we ruminate about something. Just like a cow chewing its cud, we chew and chew on the stressor, making it worse. When you find yourself doing this, stop! Take a few deep breaths and refuse to think about the situation for a while. Get busy and focus on something else.
  • Gain perspective. If you are too close to the situation that is stressing you, you can’t see it objectively. This prevents you from identifying what actions you might take to rectify or mitigate it. Stress often arises when we don’t feel in control; objectively evaluating the situation, possible outcomes, and actions that can be taken will give you perspective and help you feel more in control.
  • Get help. Some situations are easier to handle with help. Talk to someone you trust or seek help from a professional. Getting additional points of view or gaining insight from an expert may relieve some of the stress you feel.

Stress can be dangerous if you don’t learn to manage it. See my blog posts Finding Time for Yourself and Distress or Eustress? for more information.



The Right Way to Apologize

It takes courage to admit a mistake or failing and apologize for it, but that’s part of being a professional. Here are some quick tips to make it easier to apologize like a pro!

  • Admit you made a mistake or committed something you shouldn’t have. For many people, this is the hardest part—taking responsibility and ownership.
  • Apologize as soon as you realize you have offended someone or a mistake has been made. Delaying just makes the apology harder.
  • State what happened and avoid defending yourself or making excuses since this diminishes the sincerity of the apology.
  • Be sincere and be brief.
  • State how you will fix the situation or how you will avoid it happening in the future. If you can offer any kind of reparation or alternatives, do so.

Don’t become offensive if your apology is not graciously received. If we have hurt someone or caused him or her harm, it may take time to rebuild trust. The best course of action is to be sincere and conscientious in the future.


Quick Energy Boosts for Productivity

Did you know that productivity suffers if you work too long on a task?

According to experts, after about 60 to 90 minutes of focused work, your attention flags, you become weary, and your productivity suffers. So if you think that working through your lunch to finish a report is a good idea, think again.

  • Stop working! Set an alert as a reminder to take a break every hour, step away from your desk, and move around. You will return refreshed and will be more productive than if you kept at it beyond the hour.
  • Clear the clutter off your desk. You are less productive when stacks of paper, open electronic files on your monitor, or open tabs on the Internet distract your focus. Close or file away what you aren’t working on. Afraid you’ll lose track of it? Set up a vertical file behind your desk for the paper documents you want to work on for the day and create a similar system for electronic files and e-mail. This way you won’t forget, and the document is off both your physical and electronic desktop. (Need help managing e-mail? Check out our program Writing and Managing E-mail.)
  • Take a walk. Get outside and get some fresh air. No matter how environmentally friendly your workplace may be, nothing replaces fresh air as a productivity booster. Take a short walk, breathe deeply, and feel yourself becoming more alert.

Remember, productivity improves when you take a break, not when you skip a break! Make sure your employees take breaks, too. They will feel better and get more done!


Is It Hard for You to Say No?

Saying no is hard for some people, but sometimes we have to be firm, especially with our time. If we take on tasks that we don’t want to do, we can end up resenting the person making the request. If we say yes when we need to say no because of time constraints, we may miss our own deadlines and fail to meet our deliverables. Saying yes when we should say no can sap our energy and productivity.

Here are some tips to help you be more assertive and in control of your time by saying no more often.

  • Focus on your top priorities and use them as criteria to help you decide when you should refuse someone and when you should agree to take on something new. Knowing what you need to accomplish and your own deadlines helps you communicate about conflicting demands on your time. See my blog post Focus to Be More Positively Productive.
  • Leave time in your day to take on the unexpected. When you agree to take on a new task, it is easier to stay on track if you have some wiggle room in your calendar.
  • Be forthright with your no. Give your reasons and, if appropriate, offer options, for example, maybe you can fulfill the request later in the day or tomorrow.
  • Assess the risks associated with saying no. Say yes if the request comes from someone you can’t refuse or if you feel that it would be politically incorrect to refuse.

Taking charge of your time is a key factor in your ability to stay positively productive, and your ability to say no graciously and firmly is a key factor in taking charge of your time!



Do You Need a Coach or a Mentor?

Sometimes in our careers, we need a little help to get ahead and be more successful. Some people use a coach; others choose a mentor. There are important differences that you need to understand before deciding who can best help you.

Coaching focuses on developing specific skills; mentoring focuses more on issues that affect your professional success. For example, a business coach can help you improve time management by teaching you new skills and helping you to recognize and eliminate time wasters in your day. A mentor, on the other hand, is more of an advisor or counselor who can help you with larger issues, such as managing conflicts between personal and professional demands, growing as a leader, and developing deeper expertise in your chosen field.

Generally, coaching is short-term. Once you gain proficiency in the skills you want to develop, the coaching relationship ends. Mentoring, however, requires time to build the relationship and trust needed for success. Some mentoring relationships go on for years.

Whether you choose a coach or mentor, investing the time and effort to advance your career and develop greater professionalism is a key factor in long-term success.