Posts Tagged ‘productivity’


How to Re-Engage With Your Work

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Engage Work productivity press clipping media monitoring public relationsWe took a few opportunities this summer to remind you about the importance of unplugging and taking a break or vacation. It’s summer – that’s what it’s for. But the quickly dwindling days of August mean that summer is just about over, and that means it’s time to re-engage with your work.

Why re-engage?

It’s sure tempting to stay in summer mode all year long, but let’s face reality: you’re going to be at your job for a number of hours each day. Unfortunately, only 30 percent of employees are engaged in their work, and only 36 percent of white collar workers in a survey said their work had a level of meaning and significance.

Engaging in your job not only helps you excel professionally, but can also make your personal life richer. A healthy work-life balance makes people more satisfied in their jobs and encourages professional motivation and productivity.

And even if you feel you’re not in the best place in your career, approaching projects with a more ambitious positive attitude can help you build your portfolio and ignite passions for your current work..

Take breaks

To re-engage, you need to be more focused. To be more focused, you need to take breaks. That may sound counter-intuitive, but those who take a break every 90 minutes report levels of focus 30 percent higher than those who don’t take breaks, and also report a greater capability to think creatively.

Shorten meetings

If you’re in the position to change the length and structure of meetings, you should (and if you’re not in that position, consider making a few thoughtful recommendations to your manager). Most meetings are a waste of time. Good meetings need a specific purpose and a hard time limit. I used to work at an office where planning meetings were limited to 30 minutes; while they could have easily gone on for 45 or 60, awareness of the limit meant we often finished in 25. That meant everyone knew meetings would be quick, and we wouldn’t walk into the room dreading a giant time suck.

Fred Kofman suggests holding meetings only “to decide and commit” to something. No meetings for reviews, updates, evaluations, or reports. Those things can be done in ways other than meetings. While it may seem strange to go from lots of meetings to only the occasional meeting, doing so frees up a lot of time for you and colleagues to think creatively and get things done.

Recognize your talents and utilize them

Feeling underused makes it easy to disengage from work, but if your strong points aren’t part of your work, it’s up to you to make them part of your work. First thing is to identify your strong points, and that doesn’t necessarily mean your task-driven talents; strong points can be how you think or solve problems. Then, identify a challenge you’ve had in your life or observed in others that you want to help others solve. Putting your strong points and challenges together can help you find more fulfillment in all your work.

If this means taking the reins and reworking your job description, do it, but start small. You can’t change everything overnight. Start with taking on extra projects that speak to your sensibilities, then grow them and find more opportunities to help your colleagues, your manager, and your company grow.

Be willing to break your non-engaged habit

Think of your non-engagement as a bad habit that needs breaking. While you might have to continue working on projects that don’t challenge you, find a way to make them better and more rewarding leveraging your strengths. Taking that approach will raise your profile and the awareness of your profile and other teams to want to use you in a more diverse way.

Remember that being engaged at work is a habit and a skill. And once you get engaged with your work, don’t forget to take a vacation or digital holiday. It can only help you be more engaged.

How do you get engaged with your work?

 

What to Do on Your Digital Detox

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
Leave those devices behind

Leave those devices behind

Digital detoxes are all the rage, so you’ve disconnected wifi, silenced your devices, and put them out of sight and reach. Finally, you can be productive.

Now what? Whether you’re unplugging for a day or a week, the best way to take advantage of your newfound unplugged time is to know what the goal of unplugging is in the first place. Is it to brainstorm new ideas, forcibly manage your time, relax and recharge, or reconnect with a hobby? Your goal defines how to use your unplugged time.

Here are three ways to take advantage of your status as digital hermit and achieve your goal of getting it done or getting away from it all.

Free write

If your goal is to brainstorm, set aside time to sit down with a pen and paper for at least ten minutes and write whatever comes into your head. It’s helpful if it is related to what you want to work on, but it’s not mandatory.

This is an exercise I used to do at a writing retreat (and an exercise I should do more often), and it helps to loosen your thinking muscles – think of it as a warm-up to your productivity workout. Often, in what you wrote you’ll find a nugget, a great idea you hadn’t thought of before, which makes working that much smoother and more productive.

It’s important that during this exercise, you do your best not to judge what you write as “stupid” or “pointless.” It doesn’t matter what you write, just that you write something and get your brain whirring in a non-digital medium.

Savor the silence

So you want to relax and recharge; it’s not always as easy as you hope it will be. To keep from feeling unmoored once you unplug, think of what you do on vacation. Do you read, take a walk, nap, meditate, or play a sport? Do that!

If you’ve been so busy that you’ve forgotten how you unwind, you definitely need this unplug time, so don’t give into the digital withdrawal you’ll likely experience. The free writing exercise can help you relax your mind, but if you don’t want silence, consider reaching out (via telephone, not email or text!) to friends or family for a social visit (sans digital device). This can help you ease in to your unplugged state by constructively and beneficially occupying your mind.

Do your best not to give in to the voice that tells you you have to do something. Being connected tricks us into thinking we can do something all the time; connecting to the world outside your screen is doing something.

Manage withdrawal – or the dread of reconnecting

You may experience withdrawal, but the plus side is that it probably won’t last for long; people who are forced to disconnect often find their unplugged lives to be much more vivid and refreshing. If you feel withdrawal, put your device well out of reach. Some heavy Internet users experience a significant drop in mood once they’re disconnected, so keeping yourself occupied with friends or activities can help lessen that. If you’re only disconnecting for an hour or two – or even for 24 – moving to an unconnected area won’t rely solely on your willpower.

Chances are, you’ll unplug and never wish to go back. Unless your career and lifestyle can support that, it probably won’t happen, but you can commit to using your devices less. Delete social media apps from your phone and only connect on a computer; turn off notifications and only check email at designated times; or install an app on your computer that forcibly blocks you from the Internet.

How do you take advantage of your unplugged time?

Four Quick Summer Productivity Tips

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Four Quick Summer Productivity Tips Crystal DeGoede BurrellesLuce Fresh IdeasSummer is less than a month away, and that means schools will be closing, beach houses will be rented, and swim trunks and flippy floppies will be on as temperatures rise. As we sit at our desk and fantasize about being anywhere but here, like on a boat or at the beach sipping a margarita or just outside enjoying a hike or run, these summer distractions will curb our workplace productivity and creativity. Here are four quick tips to help you avoid the approaching dog days of summer and boost your efficiency at work.

Plan Time Away. Everyone needs to step away from the world of emails, social media, conference calls and projects. When planning to take time away from work, make sure that you have arranged to have back-up while you are out and that everyone you work with or manage knows you will be off the grid and who they can contact during your absence. Even leaving a couple of hours early during the summer to enjoy activities can help with those summer blues; arrive to work early and get everything done so there is no reason why you can’t leave at 3pm.

Prioritize. Your boss is on vacation but you really need approval on this one project, which may leave you feeling stuck and not able to focus on something new, but try to move on to projects that require in-depth thinking. “This may be a time of fewer distractions because of people being out. Capitalize on that by focusing on projects that require strategic thought and planning so you’ll be ready to proceed with your fall proposals at a time when the pressure cooker environment returns. You’ll be glad you took advantage of any lulls.” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant.

Keep Working. Many people fall prey to thinking, “The boss is out; I can’t do anything or there is nothing to do.” This especially happens during the summer when lots of your co-workers are also away.  You are still receiving a paycheck so you should still be delivering the same quality and quantity of work.

“If you’re not productive simply because things around the office are slow, use the time to get a jump start on upcoming projects, or to catch up on many lose ends that have accumulated,” says Anita Attridge, a Five O’Clock Club career and executive coach.Just keep in mind that achievements trump hours spent. Just because you’re in the office for the required eight hours, doesn’t mean you’ve done your job.”

“The summer is not a ticket for slacking off,” Taylor agrees, “so don’t do it!”

Take a Walk. Recent studies have shown that taking a walk during the work day helps boost productivity and get the creative juices flowing, and as we all know, “Sitting is the New Smoking,” so it’s not healthy, either. Instead of sitting in that drab conference room with a sweater on because the office doesn’t have controlled AC, take your team meetings outside for a walk around the building.

Not only do walking meetings amplify productivity and creativity, they also boost morale and endorphins. To quote the famous Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” And don’t forget that by soaking up some rays during your walk you are also getting a natural source of Vitamin D!

In her new book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, Arianna Huffington explains how walking has helped her navigate the many challenges of life. So don’t feel guilty for leaving your desk to enjoy a beautiful summer day when you can’t be on vacation.

What are your tips for staying productive during the summer months?

It’s In the Stars: Your Public Relations Horoscope

Monday, April 28th, 2014
by NASA Goddard Space Center on flickr under CC BY

by NASA Goddard Space Center on flickr under CC BY

In lieu of a crystal ball, we’ve consulted the BurrellesLuce “stars” to share what the month of May may have in store for you.

Find your birth month below and share the link with your peers so you’re all “aligned” in May.

January

This is the month to buckle down and start figuring out just what the heck people mean by social media ROI (hint: it’s sort of a misnomer. ROI is a financial figure) and what your metrics and methods are or should be.

February

Knowledge of the recent changes in the AP Stylebook – and an appropriate opinion thereof – can score points in your favor. A journalist who doesn’t have to go in and replace state abbreviations with full state names is a happy journalist.

March

You might be attending a panel, conference, or webinar coming up this month, and you’re in the mood to learn, so if someone tells you something basic like “know your audience” one more time, you might feel the need to deck them with your iPad. But stay patient and listen closely; there are always new things to learn, and buried in the repeated tropes and truisms of the trade will be a piece of advice that could really elevate your practice.

April

This is your month to revamp your social media swagger and take a broom to all your profiles and tinker with SEO and your images. Don’t go overboard with your makeover efforts, though – if you change too much, you’ll alienate a few key brand advocates.

May

You’ve got a lot of prep to do for a looming event or deadline, so hop to it this month. Sit down in a quiet place, put on your mood music, and get to work. But don’t forget to make time to party like you’re one year older.

June

You may be a networking master or shudder at the mere mention of networking, but either way, it’s the month to get yourself out there, so do your awesome but in-a-lull self a favor and attend a couple networking functions this month.

July
Focus on getting through your ever-growing to-do list.  It’s time to change up your productivity habits. Maximize your spring fever by taking some work outside. You’ll feel energized and reap the professional rewards.

August

Get back in touch with an old professional acquaintance this month. You may get not only an entertaining, nostalgic lunch or phone call, but also the chance to help or be helped by your friend. S/he may even let slip a key piece of industry gossip that will shed new light on things.

September

The extra work from clients and colleagues getting ready for summer vacation may be harshing your to-do list mellow, but a little extra planning and a happy hour or two will keep you on top of it. If you’re going on holiday take a cue and start planning ahead. If you’re not getting out of dodge for a few days, maybe you should, and if you can’t, consider a one- or two-day staycation.

October

Man, all these new apps and social media platforms you can barely keep track of make you feel old. So in May, put a little special time in to personal and professional self-improvement. Take a few minutes to find out what all that chatter about SnapChat is about, or learn just what the heck WeChat is anyway.

November

Remember that crisis communications plan you had? Yeah, it’s time to dust that off and review it again. If you just implemented a new or updated plan, consider trotting it out for a dress rehearsal. Don’t brush aside that absolute worst case scenario that has a miniscule chance of ever occurring – if you can think it, it can happen, unless it involves Godzilla (but maybe zombies; that could happen).

December

It might seem like a lot of people are asking you for things. So this month focus on selectively saying no. Some people might not take your polite and reasonable “no” very well, but that’s their problem, not yours. Just don’t get overzealous with your refusals; there are some things that just can’t be refused.