10 Negative Habits to Get Over at Work

An assessment of where you may be overdoing things

CA-hurdle 1Ah, the stress we sometimes create for ourselves at work. Maybe it’s time to get over some things. Which of the following would be of most help to you to get over?

Overthinking/Over-analyzing: this is more of a challenge for analytical personalities, but we all can fall into a trap of overthinking or over-analyzing  a situation to the point of mental paralysis. Consider these thoughts that invade our minds:

  • What did she mean by that?
  • I wonder if my mistake on that task is going to cost me my job?
  • He seems subdued. Did I offend him?
  • I need more information just to be sure I’m doing the right thing.

Oversharing: there’s nothing wrong with sharing who you are and being reasonably transparent. But there’s a balance that is hard to achieve. For example, like it or not, what you share on social media will help form your digital personality and can affect your professional life. Also, being too willing to share your opinion can alienate colleagues, if you don’t share graciously.  Being verbose in your emails and voice mails can cause people to not want to read, or listen to, them at all.

Overdoing: we love to feel indispensable, sometimes to the point of overextending ourselves and making too many commitments. Are you serving on too many committees? Are you volunteering to cover for a coworker a little too much? Are you staying too late and working weekends so people think you are dedicated?

Overcompensating: if you make a mistake, do you go overboard by repeatedly apologizing and going far beyond reasonable steps to repair the issue?  Or conversely, do you try too hard to find excuses instead of just fixing it and moving on?  An over-compensater will try so hard to make up for a mistake or shortcoming that they end up drawing more attention to it.

Overconfidence: confidence is valuable, but overconfidence is a detriment. Do you come across as arrogant? (For more on having a balance between confidence and humility, see this great post: Humility Matters.)

Being Overcautious: this is for the person who is too nervous to step out and try a new way of doing things and prefers to stay very set in their ways. Their fear keeps them from learning a new skill or working with new folks in another department. Are you missing out because of caution?

Being Overbearing: do people wish you weren’t on that work team because you insist on your own way?

Overachieving: do you try extremely hard to impress your boss or others, or live up to some unrealistic expectation carried over from your growing up years? Who are you trying to impress the most?

Overreacting: when something doesn’t go your way, do you sulk, yell, or show other forms of extreme reaction?

Overbooking: is your calendar so full that there is no cushion between appointments? Do you run late on a regular basis? Maybe it’s time to pull back on how much you put on that thing!

I can find myself in some of these “overs.” How about you?

If you need some coaching on ways to overcome some of these stressful habits, contact me!

3 Times to Gift Yourself with Time Management Grace

Be patient with yourself--and others

CA-business womanEarlier this year, a friend of mine enjoyed a wonderful trip to celebrate a milestone anniversary. When she returned she hit the ground running. Really. On the way back from the airport after a late cross-country flight, her husband dropped her off at her workplace where she worked several hours before going home for the first time in 10 days!

We’re different that way. She can jump into the flow of life pretty quickly. I’m more of a “need time to transition” person. I think most of us have times when we won’t be at our best and we should give ourselves grace. Here are three:

Returning from a business trip or vacation: travel is great, but it is draining. It’s wise to plan at least a half day, if not 24 hour, cushion for “re-entry.” This can provide a cushion if a delay comes up, or give you time to catch up on mundane things like unpacking and laundry. It also gives the space to reconnect with family and friends that weren’t with you on the trip, get back on your own time zone, and calibrate your emotions and thinking to the regular routine again.

Morning or evening, depending on your makeup: everyone has their own high energy times. While writing this, I’m sitting at one of my favorite coffee shops. I try to get there on a regular basis, and due to my current schedule, I arrive around 6:30 or 7am after a 35 minute drive. Some people would feel like there was no way they could have the creative energy that early in the morning, but that’s my wiring. I know, however, not to plan any energy-requiring activities after 8pm or on weekends, whereas some of my friends may just be getting going then! I have to give myself grace if I don’t get things done in the evening. I know I’ll tackle them the next morning or even, another day.

Mid-day: When you first arrive at the office? Right after lunch? Expect those low energy times and try not to plan anything too taxing at those times. Get a spurt of energy the last hour of the day? Use it to clean up all the loose ends. I’ve learned that I do not like to have a meeting at the end of the day, because I like to have time to clean up the last of email and my task list. If a meeting goes over the allotted time, that leaves those things undone or my evening off to a later start.

While you are giving yourself time management grace, remember to extend it to others around you who are not wired the same way as you are.

How to Improve the Culture at Work

7 thoughts, tips, and ideas for a happier workplace

CA-happy employees


There’s a lot of talk about culture in workplaces, culture referring to the atmosphere created by the people who spend time there and the norms that everyone in that particular environment adapts to. Cultures vary widely. You’ll find a different culture at Google than you will on Wall Street. Part of that relates to the type of industry, the need (or not) for formality, etc.

There are several tangible elements to consider as you develop a sense of culture and teamwork unique to your organization.  Consider the following as you seek to improve your unique culture:

Purpose. Do your employees have a real purpose for working for you other than getting a paycheck? Do you get them excited about the mission of your organization?

Meetings. The type of meetings you have, when you have them, who attends…all those things contribute to a sense of teamwork, or lack thereof. I remember years ago when a new pastor came on board for the church I worked for. I was office manager and had not been included in staff meetings. He changed that and allowed me to start attending. That type of decision can bridge gaps between departments.  (At the same time, if you are making employees attend meetings for which they play no useful role, they may be grateful for you to release them from that obligation.)

Fun. Some workplaces have more fun than others. Within reason, can you allow for a bit of play time? Use bright visual aids? Bring in lunch occasionally or a special breakfast treat?

Gifts. At one workplace, within the first eight weeks I had already found a great tote bag on my desk one day and a Starbucks card on another. These items came from other business opportunities the bosses had been to and they decided to pass the treat along to me. At another, several branded items were waiting at my desk for my first day. It was great to feel appreciated with these little gestures. Are there product samples you can randomly give out? Treats you can stick in mailboxes?

Compensation. While a sense of purpose is important, most employees work to earn a living too. Review guidelines for average pay in your area for certain types of jobs and make sure you are not being a cheapskate. Consider additional compensation such as profit sharing or benefit perks that help the bottom line be bigger for that employee. This is especially nice when it comes as a surprise. For example, if you have a profit sharing or bonus plan, it can be great fun for employees to see what “extra” will be in their check this week. Talk about motivating!

Personal Workstation. Whether it’s an office with a window, a cubicle, or a desk in an open area, employees like to feel comfortable and have some sense of ownership in their work space. After all, they spend several hours a week there. Allow employees to decorate their space within reason and show their creativity. Try to provide privacy for those having to share a larger room, either through staggered schedules or room dividers. Make sure their workstation is ergonomically correct. Give them a reasonable budget to get supplies or equipment they need in order to do their job more comfortably and efficiently.

Common workspace. Take pride in the common areas in the workplace. Keep the break room and bathrooms clean. Provide beverages and snacks. Have meeting spaces that are uncluttered. If possible, have some view of the outside, keeping windows clean. Have some agreed upon standards for how the overall office/workplace is kept (i.e. reasonable standards of neatness.) Sometimes, you can assign an employee to maintain a particular common area. One place I worked gave this job to the receptionist and daily, she was sure to keep the workroom straightened up. In another, the staff rotated kitchen duty.

Make some effort to improve the culture and you’ll see productivity and loyalty improve, too! (For a handbook of lots of ideas, check out my book, Boost Your Workplace Morale: A Practical Guide for Employees (and their Managers.)

Helping Overwhelmed Professionals Excel: A Quote Quilt & a Quick Poll

Images you can share and enjoy and ONE question to answer

One question poll: I’d like to find out the best day of the week to share my newest blog post–based on when YOU would be most inclined to read and/or share it.  Please click here to select your favorite day. Thanks for participating!

 

In lieu of a standard post this week, I’ve put together this “Quote Quilt” of thoughts to encourage overwhelmed professionals! Please share it. (If you receive this by email and the image doesn’t come through, be sure to visit the blog!)

Quote quilt 1

 

 

 




8 Easy Ways to Encourage Introverted Employees to Engage

Show respect, be considerate, and encourage participation

Your more introverted team members willSometimes it’s like working with Eeyore.

You are trying your best to be friendly to that introverted coworker..to include him or her in teambuilding activities, to invite him to lunch, or to consider her opinion on projects.  But no matter what you try, they seem to prefer working alone, and can come across as moody. Why bother?  Before you throw in the towel, try these tips:

Consider his/her personality. Some people are just naturally more cautious, private and contemplative. This doesn’t mean they are a full-fledge Eeyore. They simply aren’t going to jump into activities right away and don’t mind–in fact even enjoy–being loners. Be careful about demanding they participate in all team initiatives with the same enthusiasm your outgoing team members will display.

Use variety. Don’t always default to high energy team building activities or require full participation all the time. Keep some initiatives low-key. For example, try this activity using a puzzle.

Talk one-on-one. When you can, spend some time with this team member in private and ask his or her advice or feedback on a project.

Avoid praising publicly. Some quieter team members hate to be publicly praised. Find what works for them–a thank you note or gift card left on their desk is appreciated more than having to get up in front of a crowd to accept a bouquet of flowers.

Don’t put him on the spot. You might think it is best to ask them, “Drew, what do you think of this?” but this may backfire on you. Again, talk privately, as in, “Drew, I think you may have a good idea about what we talked about at the meeting earlier. What do you think?”

Establish some expectations. While you don’t want to alienate these folks, don’t let them control your efforts either. From time to time, there will be required events for the entire team and as a leader, you may have to be firm about expecting participation.

Be considerate of personal time. Some employees are resistant to activities that cut into “their” time even if most perceive it will be fun. For example, I know of people who didn’t care to do an overnight retreat even though it was at a great location and costs were covered.  Since you don’t know the personal life of all your employees, avoid making “off time” events required. In turn, you may talk with the employee about an agreement that if you don’t require them to attend off hours functions, you would like to see their full participation in activities/initiatives that do fall within their normal work time.

Be sensitive to workloads. Some team building activities/meetings are seen as an unnecessary interruptions to an already heavy workload. Don’t add more stress by ill-timed meetings. There are other ways to show appreciation and build teamwork during especially heavy seasons.

In the end, as the leader, you will have to determine if this employee’s resistance is something you can work with or not. Being a team player is important, but having some grace with your employees is, too.

Is Your Computer Clean?

A guest post with a helpful cleaning calendar

SingleHop_Calendar

Today we welcome a guest post from Rick Talaver of SingleHop. Thanks Rick for submitting helpful content for my readers.

When was the last time you cleaned your computer. A week ago? A month ago? A year ago? For some people just the prospect of cleaning out their computer can be exhausting. They wait until their files are impossible to find, or worse – their computer becomes virtually unusable due to the extra glut of old files. If you’re one of those people, never fear! Here is an easy, 5-step guide to keeping your computer clutter free:

Delete

  • First and foremost, remove applications from your desktop that you never use.
  • Do a quick scan of your desktop and get rid of those programs. Not only are they taking up space where you can see it, but they’re also slowing down your computer by using hard drive space.

Organize

  • Create an easy-to-use system to organize your computer’s folders and stick to it!
  • Use the system to organize everything from your downloads, to your pictures, to your documents.
  • Make sure this system is easy for you to use. The easier it is for you to organize, the easier it’ll be for you to stick with it.

Protect

  • Make sure your virus scan products are up-to-date.  If your computer is not secure, anyone could gain remote access to your files or the data that you submit or store on your system, like credit card information.
  • Confirm that all of your current applications and programs are up-to-date to prevent hackers from exposing old security loopholes and, if necessary, invest in additional virus protection.

Back-up

  • Regular file backups prevent you from losing all of your important files in the event that your computer crashes, saving not only your most valuable files but also the time it’ll take to restore your computer once it’s fixed.
    • Make sure your backup plan follows the three cardinal backup rules: backup securely, redundantly, and reliably.
    • External hard drives are tried-and-true options in terms of redundancy and security, but have the risk to malfunction or break over time, which makes them a less reliable option.
    • An option like a hosted private cloud covers all of the cardinal backup rules. As a bonus, cloud storage is also incredibly accessible, allowing you to add, edit and access all of your important files from any computer.

Prioritize

  • Finally, prioritize what’s important by deleting files you know you’ll never access again, keeping files you use regularly on your hard drive, and uploading those files you need to save, but not necessarily access on a daily basis, to the storage option you chose.

All of these steps are covered in SingleHop’s three week “Clean Computer Calendar” with easy day-by-day steps (see above.)A  SingleHop is a cloud computing company that focuses on complete security of your data and wants to help you accomplish your organizational goals.  Each week on the calendar is paired with a theme and has questions to compliment your organization efforts.  If you want to declutter your computer and declutter your mind, this is a great guide to follow.

Pointers for Professionals: Tips for preparing for a trip

Getting ready at work before you take your vacation

Relax

Some of you are looking forward to a vacation that’s coming soon.

Others of you can’t wait to go on another one.

Whenever your next trip happens to be, it takes some work–at work–to properly plan to take a vacation.  Here are some tips from professionals like you!

Jessica Broadstreet of Triad Virtual Assisting   makes sure all her deadlines have been met and looks into what may be coming up to see if she can make a jump start. She also sets her email to respond with when she will return and if she plans on checking her emails etc. Connect with Jessica.

Meredith Jones (@thismeredithj) of MeredithJ.com shares that since she does client work, she makes sure her clients have plenty of prior notice that she will be going on vacation. While I do handle some work while on vacation, she makes sure that she completes any project work before she leaves.  Connect with Meredith.

Lori Schofer  (@LoriSchofer) of Level UP Now Coaching advises to delegate everything you can well in advance of your vacation. Be sure the major responsibilities are covered and communicate that to your boss.  Connect with Lori.

And a few from yours truly:

  • Since my tasks are established in Outlook and assigned to certain days (whether standalone or recurring) I can look ahead for days I’ll be gone and try to do some things that I could work on ahead of time. I love to return to a zero task list that picks up with the day I’m back to work.
  • Consider what tasks could simply be suspended altogether while you are gone. There are some things (i.e. office supply ordering) that don’t really have to be done EVERY week.
  • Try to truly unplug–or at least be hard to reach. Being a little less available may help coworkers and bosses stand on their own feet while you’re gone for a few days. Sometimes our penchant for checking in is really a cover for the security of feeling irreplaceable (or wanting to feel indispensible.) Life–and work–will go on while you’re out!

Also, you may want to check out this great post, The Go-to Strategies to Prepare Yourself the Week Before Vacation.

Whether you have a trip coming soon, or are already planning your next vacation, I hope it’s refreshing and restorative.

Thanks again to our contributors to this collaborative post. Pointers for Professionals will be on hiatus now until the fall. Watch for your opportunity to contribute again later this year!

Now you: What’s your best tip for preparing at work before going on a vacation?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

10 Tips to Help You Need Less Sick Time

Take care of yourself!

Cough. Sore throat. Low-grade fever. Should you go to work?

Let’s face it. Nearly everyone gets sick here and there and needs to take a sick day from their job (or allow themselves a low-key day if they run a business from home.)

But there are things you can do to boost your immune system to reduce the need for sick time in the first place. Here are a few tips, many of which have been working for me. (Please note…I am not a medical professional so please always consider your unique makeup, advice from your health care provider, etc. before adopting a regimen.)

Sleep and rest. Find out what you need in terms of hours per night and block off that time more nights than not. Take a day off each week from your regular routine of “rush rush get things done” and take a nap if you can. The world will survive.

Consider using essential oils. I use oils from a variety of manufacturers. I diffuse some in the bedroom at night and we also apply topically. There is lots of information on this…research for yourself. (I don’t sell them directly, but have added some of my favorites to my Amazon store.)

Eat an 80/20 diet (as in 80% whole foods and 20% processed, not 80% fast food and 20% dessert.) Unless you are ultra-disciplined, you probably can’t avoid processed foods altogether. It actually seems to work better for me to have some processed foods once in a while. But over time my diet has become more and more whole food based and I haven’t seemed to get sick much. I’m a regular subscriber to Blue Apron boxes, which allows me to get more whole foods into my diet. (If you are interested in a free box, contact me.)

Drink a lot of water. Start carrying water everywhere you go and sip throughout the day. My son gave me a fantastic flask for my birthday.  This is the BEST flask I’ve ever carried. It amazes me how the water stays cold all day even if it’s been sitting in a hot vehicle. It’s my go-to flask to keep by my bed at night so I have refreshing water to drink when I first get up, and to leave in the car to sip on throughout the day. (Interested? It’s in the Amazon store too.)

Consider taking supplements. I’m becoming more of a believer in getting your vitamins from food first, but I’ve taken some sort of supplements for years as well. Find what works for you…it may take some experimenting, but it can cooperate with a healthy eating plan.

Get probiotics in. I take a probiotic supplement every night before going to bed, plus use Kefif and Greek yogurt regularly. Studies have shown the value of good “gut bacteria” and I don’t seem to get sick very much since doing starting this regimen.

Exercise. Right now, I track steps daily and find that this is a good way to get in exercise rather than having formal, intensive workout plans. I’m also trying to stand more often during the day. Exercise has lots of benefits, including boosting your mood and immune system.

Develop a thankful and generous spirit. Sometimes I’m around people who have an “Eeyore” mentality and don’t even realize it. Their words, body language, and expressions give off a spirit of frustration, sadness, etc. I’m not discounting emotional issues that need to be dealt with. But in general, if we realize how very much we have, instead of what we feel entitled to, we can become happier, and possibly healthier.

Feed your spiritual life. Spend time to build your faith and realize life is much bigger than just about you. A widened perspective can energize us to diminish focus on not feeling so well.

Get help–and take that sick day–when you need it. Whether it be medical, emotional, or educational help or coaching to help you go forward positively–realize when it may be time to bring in a professional.  For example, I’m on the board for Life In Abundance that offers biblical-based counseling and coaching. I also provide services as a virtual assistant/consultant to help you stay on track with projects and business plans and alleviate some of your stress! And, if you feel sick, take a sick day!

A few healthy habits can help toward building your immune system and perhaps reduce the number of sick days you need to take. And employers, the following infographic from Sure Payroll shows YOU why it’s wise to offer paid sick time to your team.

Now you: What steps do you take to keep your immune system stronger?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

What I’d Look for in a Social Media Manager

A fictional job description for a real-life challenge

CA-social media.jpgTo begin…a personal confession: I’ve been on social media for about 7 years now. It’s a way of life for many–it certainly is part of mine and my business. But it has also probably been the single biggest contributor to my struggles with anxiety. Without going into lots of detail, suffice to say that certain posts or topics have the possibility of  “triggering” my mind to go down into worrisome, unsettled, and unhappy paths.

While knowing social media is not good for me all the time, I love parts of it. The lively and respectful conversations. The helpful hints. Praises for local businesses. Learning about fun activities. Being able to greet someone in person a little more warmly because I recently saw their post on social media. Trying to be an encourager of others. And, using it both for my own business and for those I support in business. So, I’ll not leaving it any time soon.

So what’s this professional–and human being–supposed to do? How do I balance the good with the not so good?

I’ve decided to start by creating a job description for a “social media manager”–for Beth Beutler. What would I look for if I were hiring someone to do my social media for me?

 

Title: Personal Social Media Manager

Objective: to use the tool of social media to improve the lives of readers, specifically overwhelmed professionals

Skills and attitudes desired:

  • Creativity
  • Writing skills
  • Ability to maintain objective distance
  • Positive outlook
  • Desire to Collaborate and build friendly relationships
  • Focused, able to control distractions

Specific roles/anti-roles

Dialog prompter, but not cultural commentator: Shares thought-provoking questions that are not directly related to whatever the latest trending gossip is.

Helper, not savior: Shares items that can be of service, primarily to overwhelmed professionals, but also to people in general. Does not feel the need to encourage every person who expresses a need or a prayer request, yet does provide support at times.

Boundary keeper, not nosy Nellie: does not click on links that she knows cover topics that will make her depressed, angry, scared, or nervous, or otherwise fall into negative emotion. Refuses to engage in pointless dialog where each side is very set in their ways.

Bearer of good news/not complainer: makes a point to share positive observations and news and rarely uses social media to whine or complain

Positive influence, not political strategist: generally refrains from sharing her political opinion but uses the energy instead to see good in our country and pray for our country’s leaders

Self-indulgent, not selfie-indulgent: has fun sharing occasional updates of her activities or even her photo, but keeps the ratio of selfies to a degree where “less is more.”

Bridge–not wall–builder: Considers each post’s ability to build, rather than tear down relationships and people and to connect people to other people and services and information that would truly benefit or bless them.

Implementer not infuser: carries out client’s wishes for their social media without feeling the need to absorb all that information into her own thought processes.

Specific Duties

Create meaningful, entertaining, and friendly content.

Filter all posts through the following criteria before posting:

  1. Will this post contribute toward positive relationships?
  2. Will this post invite healthy dialog even if people disagree?
  3. Is the information to be shared true/verified?
  4. Have I shared too many posts already today?
  5. Is there a reasonable balance of what I’ve shared about my personal life vs. what can be helpful to others?

And other duties as assigned. :)

Most job descriptions are fluid, as is this one. But I like where my mind is headed on this.

Now you: What would you want in a social media manager for your personal social media channels?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

An A-to-Z List of Important Character Traits for the Workplace

How would you like to be described by your coworkers?

if i asked

 

If I asked one of your coworkers to describe you at work, what words would they use?

Would they be words like these, which come from several of my Facebook friends as well as my own thoughts?

A – Affable, attentive

B – Benevolent, balanced, brave

C – Considerate, caring, customer-oriented, character driven, creative

D – Diligent, dedicated, dependable, detail-oriented

E – Efficient, excellent, eager

F – Flexible, friendly, fun

G – Gracious, genuine, goal-oriented

H – Hard-working, honest

I –  Integrity motivatedCA-ABC.jpg

J – Joyful, just, judicious

K – Kind, keen

L – Listener, loyal, leader

M – Meticulous, mindful, mighty

N – Nurturing, neat

O – Organized, optimistic, obliging

P – Persevering, professional

Q – Quality-motivated, qualified, quiet

R – Reliable, respectful

S – Servant-leader, skilled

T – Trainable, trustworthy, thorough

U – Understanding, uplifting, ubiquitous (available)

V – Visionary, Value-driven

W – Willing, wise, watchful

X – Xenial (hospitable, especially to visitors)

Y – Young-at-heart, yearning

Z – Zealous, zany

Question: Now you: What would you add to the list? You can leave a comment by clicking here.