How to Pull the Trigger on True Happiness with Your Future

How to Pull the Trigger on True Happiness with Your Future

WARNING: Reading this will cause you to become a more positive, persevering person! Proceed with caution!

As a species, we are consumed by emotions. We fight with our consciousness on fears and reality. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), continued strain on your body from routine stress can trigger serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses, as well as mental disorders like depression or anxiety.

Dissecting a Terrible Cold Email

Dissecting a Terrible Cold Email

As I continually aim to master cold emails, I enjoy reviewing and dissecting those that come through to my inbox. While I have seen some stellar examples, there have also been some brutally awful ones crafted and distributed.

I decided I could learn a lot from dissecting one of the emails that I would normally delete without opening so I went ahead and poked through it, determining what went wrong and what—if anything—went right.

The Magic Behind Successful Conflict Management

As an expert communicator, many of my friends come to me seeking advice. One of the most common subjects they ask about is how to bring up potentially touchy subjects, because let’s be honest—nobody likes a rock hard confrontation.

Conflict management is tricky because as much as we don’t want to approach a potential conflict of thoughts and ideas, clearing the air can bring mutual understanding and awareness.

Here's the magic behind dealing with conflicts in a professional and productive manner.

Listen.

The most important piece in the puzzle of conflict management is to be a master at listening. Attentive listening is critical to communication and shows interest in the conversation while connecting you to your emotions. Listening allows you to step back and analyze a situation or conversation and process the information while abstaining from potential emotional outbursts.

Stay Positive.

Since emotions can stew at the drop of a misworded sentence, it is important to stay calm and positive. Approach the conversation with the understanding that all parties involved want the best possible outcome and it is up to you to help make that happen.

Focus.

After you have listened to your peer(s) it's time to deliver a response in a straightforward and sincere manner. Don’t get lost in details or semantics, focus at the key nuggets of the issue at hand, and don’t dwell on the past. Bringing up old grudges won’t solve anything, it will just make the situation worse.

Apologize.

I'm a firm believer in a genuine apology. Even if you haven’t necessarily done anything wrong, apologizing for any miscommunication demonstrates further awareness and emotional recognition while building stronger relationships.

 

I hope you are able to take a piece of this advice with you to make the conflict management process painless!

The Art of Organization

Do you dream of walk-in, color-coded closets and labeled storage rooms? Okay, that may be a little too type-A… but if you wish you could organize your daily responsibilities a little better, let me help.

 

Here are a handful of practical tips, techniques and strategies for getting organized and taking control of your projects that work like a charm.

 

Desk Cleaning Techniques

When I think about organization, I think about a clean house with labeled storage and mail filed nicely in easy-to-pick-through piles. Having a clean workspace is no different and it’s amazing how quickly piles of notes, project documents and post-its stack up! Here are a few tricks to organize your workspace:

Schedule Cleanings—on a weekly basis you should do a quick scan through your desk to dump anything you don’t absolutely need. Anything that takes up space is a stressful distraction. Dump it!

Toss the Sticky Notes—while Post-Its are super handy, they take up clutter and make reminders and to-do’s difficult to organize. Try keeping a central location for all task lists. I like to keep a list in my Outlook notes section while some co-workers prefer using One Note.

Turn Piles into Files—for all of those documents that you absolutely need to keep “just in case”, pick up some file folders, label them appropriately and file them into your drawer for easy access. It’s important to keep your desk clean to stay organized.

 

Time Management

Have you ever taken a break from a demanding project for a breather and a cup of coffee, got caught up in a conversation with a co-worker and minutes later found yourself back at your desk, trying to refocus? Getting back into “the zone” is tricky and refocusing takes time. In order to better optimize your time to organize your projects, here are a few tips:

Identify Time Wasters—are you getting caught up in 10-minute conversations regularly throughout the day? If so, it’s eating away at your productivity. Try scheduling weekly happy hours with co-workers to keep that time for projects and high-priority tasks.

Schedule Buffer Time—refocusing is tough and takes time. Make sure you have 5-10 minutes buffed into each task, project or meeting to get your thoughts together and get on track.

Use Your Calendar—do you have a hard time remembering quick tasks? Don’t put them on a post-it, book it on your calendar. This makes sure you stay on task and have the time set aside to complete the items on your to-do list. Oh, and don’t forget your buffer time!

 

Managing a Full Plate

This is where organization becomes critical. When your plate is full, interruptions can become irritating, especially when the interrupter is asking you to take on another task or project. Handling these interruptions in a professional and collected manner will help your peers better understand your needs.

Handling Interruptions—frequent interrupters may not know they are interrupting an important task so it is important to mention that you respond in a sincere tone... if you are on your way to a meeting, try walking and talking, ask to catch up for drinks later or put something on the calendar to discuss.

Saying “No”—when your plate is overflowing and deadlines are approaching, it’s important to keep a level head and remain calm. If you need to say “no” to taking on another task, say it clearly, honestly and authentically and makes sure to let your peer know your answer would be “yes” under other circumstances to avoid last minute requests and project interruptions in the future.

I hope you enjoyed these tips and tricks of getting and staying organized!

15 Hacks for a More Productive Work Day

Everyone wants to have a better and more productive day. Here are 15 hacks to break through your daily regimen and add more positivity, productivity and energy to your work day.

 

1. Clean Up!

My mother always told me, “mess creates stress” and I couldn’t agree more. Doing a clean sweep of all clutter on your desk will help reduce stress while enabling you to find things in a more effective, quick manner.

A study conducted by neuroscientists at Princeton University found that when professionals were exposed to an organized vs. a disorganized and cluttered work station, their productivity declined. Physical clutter actually competes for your attention, resulting in stress. Clutter knocks your stress hormones into overdrive and impairs your ability to think creatively.

2. Organize

Going along with cleaning up, organizing meeting notes and project details into color-coordinated folders will make your work station more aesthetically pleasing and enjoyable to work in. Try filing folders away and labeling them for easy access—this will get them out of sight and out of mind until you need the information in the files.

3. 20% Rule

This interesting productivity rule was published in an article by Fast Company, 15 Habits That Will Totally Transform Your Productivity. The rule suggests to save at least 20% of your day for top-priority projects. In an 8-hour workday, 90 minutes should be booked for the most important tasks. Scheduling this time and blocking it off on your calendar will make sure you don’t get taken away by other meetings or conversations. If you need more time—block off the entire afternoon!

4. Control Those Emails

If you are like me, you probably feel like your inbox controls you with hundreds of new emails each day. Don’t worry, you aren’t alone! I found this excellent resource with email management tips from Forbes, 5 Ways to Take Control of Your Email.

  • Turn off notifications – those pop-ups seem to surge anxiety through me every time I receive an email. Turn them off to prevent the distraction and urge to review and respond to the emails.
  • Scheduled check-ins – minimize interruptions by checking in on emails every hour or at specific times during the day.
  • Communicate via phone or in person – avoid sending emails and you will avoid receiving them! Does the person you are communicating with work with you? Run over to their desk and bounce some ideas off of them in person, this is usually more effective than email communication anyways. Or, pick up the phone and call the individual, human touch and conversation can also help morale/motivation.
  • Sort your Inbox – if you use emails as reminders for various things, use your “categories” tool to color coordinate and sort into various categories and file away in folders.

5. Cut Distractions

Did you know that your cell phone is probably your biggest distraction at work? Cell phones, texting, internet, gossip, social media, email and snack/coffee breaks are the most common things to distract you from priority projects. Try turning your phone off during the day (you have a work phone, right?) and avoiding the internet unless required for your job responsibilities… check out these distraction stats:

  • Average time spent on a task before being interrupted: 12 minutes
  • Average time elapsed before returning to work on the same task: 25 minutes
  • Average time to regain focus: 15 minutes

6. Get Some Fresh Air!

Exercise improves health and boosts productivity. Try going for a 20-minute walk on your lunch break to get some sunshine and you will return to work refreshed and more energetic than sitting at a table and eating alone.

Your brain function can increase up to 5% after physical activity. When your brain is functioning at full capacity, you will make better decisions with increased focus, critical to being effective and efficient at work.

7. It’s Okay to Say “No”

Well, in a nice and respectful manner… most of us have a built-in desire to be liked which sometimes causes us to stretch ourselves too thin in saying “yes” to every request. Don’t be afraid to step back and respectfully decline if you have a full list of tasks already.

8. Hydrate Yourself

Here’s a mini health lesson for you:

Hydration is an essential part of cellular regeneration—proper hydration keeps your blood at the right consistency and volume allowing for:

  • Efficient delivery of oxygen to muscles
  • Removal of waste
  • Proper hormone distribution

When you are properly hydrated, you’ll have far more energy… and get more done.

9. Establish a Routine

If your arrival/departure varies each day along with your job responsibilities, a routine might benefit you.

The morning is the most important time of day to start a routine in order to start and stay productive. Try starting a healthy morning routine followed up with arriving 5 minutes early to plan your day and read through emails. Then, put your emails aside and get at it!

10. Make it Fun!

The most common reason people procrastinate is because they find the task boring and have trouble motivating themselves to get started. Create a personal challenge, like completing the daily data-entry project in under 30 minutes. Continue to challenge yourself to make those daunting tasks more interesting!

11. Motivate Others

According to a study by Gallup, companies that engage their workforce noticed a…

  • 65% decrease in turnover
  • 21% surge in productivity
  • 10% increase in customer ratings

While maintaining a great attitude is contagious, others will notice and benefit from your positive energy, making the workplace not only productive, but a really pleasant place to be.

12. Multitasking is Dulling Your Sparkle

Multitasking has been proven to lower our IQ by an average of 5 points and decrease productivity by as much as 40%—proving that managing multiple things at once isn’t as effective along with it being more stressful. Try focusing on one singular thing at a time. You will notice productivity changes and the quality in your work go up!

13. Batch Those Tasks

After you have practiced direct focus and have become successful at avoiding multitasking, try batching similar tasks together. Schedule similar projects back to back so you don’t have to switch gears in thinking and you can Segway into the next project with more focus and stamina.

14. Daily Idea Dump

This is my favorite tool because at the end of the day, I feel the need to organize my thoughts and write them down for the next day of productivity. Grab a pen and paper and write down every idea, errand and thought that crosses your mind. You can prioritize and sort them based on relevance and topic but the idea is to do this daily in order to stay focused throughout the week.

15. Hire Help!

I know this one is a bit of a handful to imagine, but if you are under the gun frequently to get things done, missing deadlines and stressing out—enlisting help might be the most beneficial tool on this list!