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  1. Productivity boosters no matter how busy you are

    October 21, 2014 by Jenna

    When you are trying to get ahead at work it is important that you are productive and show initiative. Sometimes that can be difficult when you are busy balancing multiple tasks and find yourself feeling physically or mentally drained. However, there are some simple steps that you can follow daily to help you to continue to perform at your best.

    So what are the easiest ways you can stay productive daily? I have reviewed the article 5 Instant, Effective Productivity Boosters for Busy People and provided my own advice on each point below:

    1. Put things where they belong.

    Sometimes it can be as simple as clearing the paperwork from your desk and removing unnecessary clutter. It is much easier to manage yourself if items are clearly set up on your desk or surrounding environment and are easily accessible when you need them. The great part is, it usually will only take you five to ten minutes to do so. Avoid letting mess build up as it only makes it harder to manage your workload. This includes, cleaning out your inbox and managing calendar appointments.

    1. Pause before saying, ‘Yes’.

    I used to have this problem and still do at times where I like to be a people pleaser and say yes to everything that is asked of me. The truth is, my manager and colleagues will not know how busy I am unless I advise them otherwise.

    Often people think that by saying ‘no’ you will be letting the team down. On the contrary, if you take on something that you do not have the time for, you will be letting the team down if you when achieve the deadline.

    Focus on the important tasks you already have in front of you, and only agree to commit to additional work if you believe you can realistically achieve the outcome.

    1. Make technology your friend.

    You may be on the go and may not be at your desk to see your written to do list. So manage your calendar, set reminders, read from a tablet or smart phone while on the morning commute. With so many different methods of accessing data you don’t have an excuse not to be able to organise yourself!

    Another tip is to be realistic about setting your appointment times, for example don’t set your appointments too close to one another if you know there could be transport delays or if you think the first meeting will run over time. You want to appear reliable to clients. If you are arranging the meeting, nothing is more embarrassing then arriving late!

    1. Stay hydrated and nourished.

    This is one point that is very important but we tend to overlook it. We think that by putting off our breaks we will reach our deadlines faster. While it may allow more time, your body requires fuel to perform, otherwise you reach a slump and turn into a zombie.

    If you want to minimise that amount of time you get up from your desk, keep a bottle of water and small snacks in the drawer of your desk so that you can continue to hydrate and provide energy bursts when you need it.

    Sometimes though, it is important to get up and go for a walk for 5 minutes to allow time to clear your thoughts and come back to the task with a fresh set of eyes.

    If you are not managing your health and well-being you not only feel bad, but you may miss important opportunities because you are not in the right mindset to do so.

    1. Implement just one change at a time.

    Set your to-do list so that you are tackling the important assignments first and tick them  off your list when you complete them. Some assignments will require more urgency than others and there is nothing worse than showing up with a half completed assignment because you were trying to accomplish five things at once.

    If you organise yourself and stay focused you will achieve a whole lot more.

    What do you find works and doesn’t work when you are trying to keep productive? Do you keep a daily list or routine? What can you recommend for others to try?


  2. 4 Key Lessons on Teamwork

    September 24, 2013 by Jenna

    I am an only child, so naturally I have grown up to be quite comfortable working independently and doing things on my own. I don’t mind being the organiser, going on trips on my own, working on projects and deadlines to achieve what I need both personally and professionally.

    But there will always come a time where I tend to realise that ‘I can’t do it all’ and I get, well, burnt out. I am not superwoman, I am human, and while I am capable of achieving great things on my own, some of the experiences I have had in my life would not have been so successful without having a team by my side.

    I understand that some people will embrace teamwork with open arms and others shy away from the concept, and I can relate. Sometimes it can be awkward to work with someone you barely know or you may have a more introverted personality. But I think it is also important to consider the value of what teamwork can achieve for all of us.

    1. A sense of accountability

    I believe when you are allocated a task or responsibility in a group that you are driven to achieve higher standards because you know that you are contributing something to the entire team and not just for yourself.

    How often have you created a personal goal and then talked yourself out of it?

    It’s a lot more difficult to do that when you are in a team. You have someone to report to or you need to keep following up yourself to keep everyone on track. And based on personal experience, the ‘I’m too tired’ or ‘I’m too busy’ excuse is often met with a ‘toughen up princess’ response. We are all busy individuals with different responsibilities and excuses (or sometimes what I like to call the pity party) are not going to be passed for special people in the group, we are all on an even playing field. We are kept accountable.

    2. A helping hand

    Of course when you are experiencing a personal problem or a down period and are struggling, team members step in to encourage one another, provide advice and they will even help you share the workload if necessary to help you get back on track. I have had a few moments where I have been panicking due to deadlines rushing in and items not working out to plan, and sometimes have even broken down into tears due to a combination of stress and exhaustion. If you have built close relationships within your team, they can sense when something is wrong and sometimes without even asking, a helping hand is held your way.

    3. A competitive drive

    When I refer to competitive drive I’m not referring to competing against one another in your team, I have seen this happen firsthand in previous office environments and I have found it to drive the team further apart rather than draw them together.

    However, you may have a competing business in the same industry or an opposing sports team and the saying ‘strength in numbers’ comes into play. You stick your heads together and come up with new strategies, brainstorm new ideas and overall have a fresh perspective on goals and tasks. Once you have established the outcome you want to achieve as a team you feel stronger, more capable of taking on the odds of any challenges thrown your way. And you play to win!

    4. Personal development and growth

    I have to say over the years I have grown to learn a lot about myself in team environments. Interacting in a team environment involves:

    • Patience – As things may not go according to plan or there are delays. You are all in this together, so losing your cool at someone or having a tantrum in front of the group will not make the situation work more favourably, not to mention you are the one that will feel foolish afterwards.

    • Having an open mind – to new suggestions and perspectives, this also includes not being quick to judge one another if they take on a task differently to you.

    • Having a positive mindset and how it increases team morale – The ability to encourage others and support one another as much as they support you. Try to enjoy the experience and get to know one another, make an effort to be a team player.

    • How to respond in emergency situations – Thinking on your feet but also responsibly to look out for your team and their needs. Again the importance of keeping calm therefore being more aware of what is going on around you.

    • Communication to help solve issues and not to let tension build – especially if you are in disagreement with certain members of the team. Also to speak up when you need help or would like to assist.

    • The importance of being organised and punctual – Allowing yourself to be viewed as reliable within the team. The more reliable you are, the more responsibilities you can also take on amongst the team.

    What has teamwork taught you? When were some of your winning team moments?


  3. Three lessons I learnt from my mentor

    June 25, 2013 by Jenna

    You will find that even the most successful people in the world have someone that they look up to for inspiration and guidance.

    ‘Mentoring is always one step removed and is concerned with the longer-term acquisition of skills in a developing career by a form of advising and counselling’ – Eric Parsloe, J “Coaching for Performance” Nicholas Brealey, Publishing London 2002.

    For many having a mentor can be extremely valuable. Whether that mentor is your current manager, or someone in your family, or someone who trained you at work, we are always more compelled to achieve more when we have someone encouraging us to take the next step in our career.

    When I was just beginning my career in the events industry I took advantage of a mentoring program organised by Meeting and Events Australia (MEA) professional association.  As the mentee I was responsible for:

    • Attending the briefing workshop with fellow Mentees (a networking opportunity with other young professionals)

    • Attending the program launch to meet my Mentor

    • Coordinating meetings with my allocated Mentor a minimum of 4 times at a mutually agreed venue and time.

    • Communicating with the designated MEA personnel twice a month throughout the program

    • Attend a debrief workshop at the completion of the program to provide feedback for the development of future programs

    From the moment I met my mentor I was at complete ease and was able to openly communicate with him. I understand that this does not happen as easily for everyone. However, I would recommend if you have not found the right fit with your mentor, do not give up but rather continue to search for the right mentor partnership that can help you develop your own career.

    For mentoring to be successful the most important aspect is to show commitment to the mentoring program. The hardest part of the program for me was to arrange and commit to face-to-face meetings with both my and my mentor’s busy work schedule. Email would often be an easy fall-back position, however, I needed to show a level of discipline in setting meeting times and committing to deadlines so that I could gain the most value out of this program and time with my mentor.

    Each mentoring meeting I allocated an hour, whether that was at my office or a local coffee shop, I always ensured I took a notepad and made notes during the discussion and confirmed specific action plan items. I learnt that if I postponed meetings, the more the connection separates and the important information shared can be put aside instead of being utilised for career development. For mentoring to be successful the other key skills I had to develop were:

    1. Active listening – for many listening is a skill that we think comes naturally, but when we are being provided feedback on ourselves, we usually immediately go to a defensive frame of mind. I had to be open to the information that my mentor was sharing and asking open questions to elicit more information and increase my understanding of the feedback.

    2. Goal setting ¬ the mentoring program was a specific period of time, so as to get the most out of the six months, I had to set clear goals and commit to achieving the action plan that I developed with my mentor. I also had to personally take responsibility for my own professional development.

    3. Personal reflection – I had to reflect on my experiences and learn from the challenges I faced.

    4. Delivering results – understanding that while my Mentor would provide feedback on how to deal with issues it is still my responsibility to take action and make the decisions.

    5. Curiosity and enthusiasm – showing that I was interested in the program by turning up on time for meetings, responding with positive body language, building trust and rapport with my mentor.

    So what did I gain from my mentoring experience?

    As a young professional in the industry I was afraid of having a voice. I was afraid to speak up because I knew my expertise in the events field was limited compared to most and I was the youngest professional working in my department. My mentor helped me gain the confidence be able to express myself within my working environment not only to share ideas but to speak-up to address any issues within the workplace. By giving myself a ‘voice’ I was able to achieve results and progress in my career a lot faster than sitting on the sidelines and waiting for others to make decisions.

    I also had the opportunity to complete the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, which looked at my personality preferences. By understanding my personality type I was able to better understand how and why I manage my work and communicate the way I do. I also learnt more about the opposite personality preferences and developed strategies on how I could most effectively work with other personality types. I shared this information with my manager at the time and it helped both of us to better understand how to work most effectively together. If you haven’t had the chance to complete the MBTI, I would recommend it as a great way to find out more about yourself and your key strengths and blind spots.

    Most importantly I developed a strong connection with a valued and trusted advisor. Through this partnership I confirmed how important achieving a work-life balance was to me. My mentor was living, breathing proof that you could have a successful career, have a loving family and enjoy your personal interests and have them all co-exist to create a well-balanced life. I found it quite inspiring.

    If you maintain a good relationship with your mentor, you can keep in touch with them for years, and as we are always changing and developing in our roles, the pursuit of knowledge and guidance is ongoing and essential.

    Is there anyone in your life that you consider to be a mentor? If not, is there anyone that you look up to that you would like to connect to as a mentee? There is no time like the present to start making those connections, just remember it takes time and commitment to make it work.


  4. Small Talk At Work – Love It Or Loathe It?

    July 17, 2012 by Jenna

     

    I included the awkward elevator photo as my inspiration for this week’s blog as I often find this is the prime example of where we see small talk play out – those that love small talk are initiating conversations between levels, whilst those that loathe small talk are staring ahead waiting patiently for the doors to open at their floor.

    Turns out that just as the elevator shifts between levels, so do you between loving and loathing of small talk, with most of you decidedly sitting in the middle, here’s what you said:

    • Small talk at work can be beneficial at the right times. Everyone needs a social break now and then.
    • In the middle – I am happy to say hello and have a quick chat but no longer than that. It tends to eat into time when you are working.
    • In between – I love catching up with colleagues to connect but I hate office gossip, back stabbing and stirring.
    • Sometimes love, sometimes loathe – Depends on the topic and who I am discussing it with at work and how much time I have to do my workload – when you are under pressure from deadlines, it can be hard to enjoy small talk at work.

    What makes us love small-talk is that it helps build unique, interesting connections with our colleagues. Don’t we all feel more valued – when someone smiles at you, gives you direct eye contact and asks ‘how are you?’ and actually listens to the answer?

    So what is small talk then and how can we make it most effective? Severino Consulting outlines 5 easy steps to improving small talk at work:

    1. Make it real – Disclose something that is not too personal but something that is right now on your heart, head or hands (what are you feeling, thinking and doing?)
    2. Make it useful – Think of it as a time to get some ideas on things you are working on.  Share what you are stuck on and then pause to allow the other person a chance to comment.
    3. Make it a time to learn about the other person – what was the highlight of their weekend?  Where did they go on vacation? What was their favorite holiday gift?  Ask a good question and then pause and listen.
    4. Follow up – next time you see the person, ask about their home improvement project or their new pet.  Continue to learn more.
    5. Notice what you share with friends and family — you may find a snippet of the week to use elsewhere. Maybe you Tweet or Facebook. The process of writing creates a reflection about “current events” that I can then share with others.

    Small talk is a form of engaging with others and you will only get out of it what you put in. And by that I mean, if you often avoid eye contact with others in the workplace or the casual ‘hello/goodbye’ in passing, you will start to notice other staff members stop attempting to make that effort to approach you. I tend to find it’s a common courtesy to acknowledge someone, and regardless of what type of day you’ve had, sometimes small talk can be a great distraction and often make a bad day brighter.

    So yes, we can love small talk when we make it real and reciprocal, but not all topics should be included in our small talk repertoire. About.com outlines the 10 Top Topics to avoid when making small talk in the workplace:

    1. Financial – Asking personal financial questions of people that you have just met is inappropriate.
    2. Politics – The problem with talking about politics is that you never know who in the crowd may have strong opinions.
    3. Religion – Religion is another extremely personal and potentially sensitive topic that should be avoided.
    4. Intimacy – Talking about sex or asking questions of an intimate nature is inappropriate.
    5. Death – Remember that you are in the company of strangers and this is not the appropriate time to bring up emotional topics that have the potential to be upsetting.
    6. Age and appearance – If you have just met someone, do not ask her age. Although the question might seem simple to you, it can be a hot topic for some. In addition, avoid questions related to appearance.
    7. Personal Gossip – While celebrity gossip is fair game during small talk, gossip about people that you know personally is not
    8. Offensive Jokes – Save your off-colour jokes for your best friends (or better yet, replace them with clean jokes).
    9. Narrow Topics – Although you will want to tell interesting stories at some point during small talk, avoid talking at length about topics that are one-sided.
    10. Past relationships – unless you know the person well, this can often be an emotional subject that may be awkward for some to discuss.

    What do you think – are these topics off limits or what do you love about small talk at work?

    Don’t forget to participate in this week’s poll: Do you dread a performance appraisal or does it drive you to perform better? The results will be published in next week’s blog post so stay tuned!


  5. Is The Quarterlife Crisis A Myth Or A Reality For Today’s Generation?

    July 2, 2012 by Jenna

    It appears that our crisis of identity is moving from midlife to quarter-life. Last week we asked your thoughts on this quarter-life crisis – myth or reality?

    Some of you said yes, it is a reality – there is increased pressure to achieve it all by 30 – but it is up to you what you make of it. Reality – –

    – Career, travel and relationship goals all compete for time and attention in a world where we are told that we can have it all and do it all. Females have added pressure – reach those career goals before you choose to have a family. Quarter-life crisis, been there, done that. But I think I came through it with a better outlook and knowing a bit more about what is important to me – and that makes me a better employee (and person too).

    – It really depends on the person and what they want in life. Right now I have finished my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, secured a full time job, have been working hard for the last year to launch a new business and brand, and to top it off build a duplex on the land that I purchased two years ago! All for the glory of having it all by 30. With so much opportunity and things to have and do, I guess it is up to you to make the best of it!

    Whilst others felt that it is self-imposed myth, and in fact we don’t need to have it all by 30. Myth –

    – A myth because today’s generation are constantly changing jobs more often than previous generations, so any uncertainty in the form of a life crisis shouldn’t really affect someone’s career path.

    – Advertisers have discovered the one’s self-image becomes stagnant at 30. So when a 50 year old looks in the mirror, they see themselves as they were 20 years ago. To exploit this, marketers cast actors in their late 20′s for their advertising. This helps perpetuate the myth that turning 30 is a death sentence.

    According to my age bracket, I am due to soon hit this quarter-life crisis.

    But do we really need to achieve it all before 30?And does putting a cut-off on these goals really make your dreams simpler to achieve or simply add more pressure?

    I have set many goals in my life. The first of which was establishing a career and a name for myself the moment I left high school. I dreamed of working in Events and during my further education, I worked in various temporary and voluntary roles before securing the permanent role I had “planned” to be in – working in an exciting, action-packed role in Events. Little did I know that only a few years later I would change my career path, become a home owner, and now rather than encouraged to continue to achieve career success, am being constantly reminded to take advantage of the spare time I have before I “settle down” and my priorities/responsibilities in life change.

    According to a recent article in Guardian, I am probably somewhere around Phase 2 to Phase 3 in the typical “quarter-life crisis”:

    Phase 1 – defined by feeling “locked in” to a job or relationship, or both. “It’s an illusory sense of being trapped,” said Robinson. “You can leave but you feel you can’t.”

    Phase 2 – is typified by a growing sense that change is possible. “This mental and physical separation from previous commitments leads to all sorts of emotional upheavals. It allows exploration of new possibilities with a closer link to interests, preferences and sense of self.

    Phase 3 – is a period of rebuilding a new life.

    Phase 4 – is the cementing of fresh commitments that reflect the young person’s new interests, aspirations and values.

    But is this process of review new or even unique to quarter-life?

    Perhaps this process of review is reality but the importance of an arbitrary deadline is the myth. This may mean setting aside what society expects, and instead achieving goals in a time frame that is realistic for you.

    From my perspective, we get too caught in a constant cycle of information overload and seemingly endless opportunities at our grasp. We appear to be getting caught in a cycle that we must pursue it all at once instead of focusing on one thing at a time. The downfall with putting unrealistic deadlines or by adding pressure on achieving everything by 30 is that I am creating stress in a time that everyone keeps telling me I should be treasuring!

    And in the end, life doesn’t really end at 30, does it? Perhaps rather than being the end, the best things in life start at thirty because you learn from life’s earlier choices and you become wiser in your decisions about what is to come.

    I am looking forward to the adventure!

    Haven’t had your say? We would love to hear your feedback below. Or you can take part in our recent poll: Did you choose your career or was it by luck/chance? Remember, if you fill out the poll you increase your chances to win a Hoyts Cinema Double Pass!




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