Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Happy Hump Hour!

“Hump Day” Wednesday is the day of the week which denotes halfway completion of the work week. By Wednesday, we are rejuvenated from the past weekend, get more accomplished, and are ready for the upcoming weekend only to start over again the following week. But what part of the day is your “hump hour?” This is the time of day when you are most productive and focused. It could be after you have a cup of coffee or two, had a bagel, or after the team meeting. You may have focal points that occur several times throughout the day. Here are a few ways to be productive when your “hump hour” arrives.

Schedule appointments or meetings.

Since this is the most productive time for you, use it to your advantage. This is the best time to schedule appointments and meetings because you will be focused and alert and will be able to approach the discussions more effectively. Most importantly you will be able to take good notes.

For those who manage their boss’ calendar, realize what time of the day is your boss is most productive. If your boss sees clients throughout the day, try to schedule the most “pressing” meetings during his or her “hump hour.” Be mindful to give your boss time to breathe between meetings so that they can take a break, read emails, or just relax to gather their thoughts for the next meeting.

Work on high priority, high importance tasks

John Maxwell, author of Leadership 101, suggests that high priority and high importance tasks should be tackled first. So why not work on them when you are at your peak. You will get a lot done and maybe even complete the project or two.

Update your To-Do /Task List
For some people, their hump hour is at the end of time when it’s time to go home. If this is you, this is the perfect time to update your task list while your mind is fresh and alert. You will be able to think clearly about what needs to be done in the future. Wherever possible, set deadlines because since you are more energized at the end of the day, you will need a clear list with deadlines of when items need to be done. Plus you will feel a sense of accomplishment when you cross of items on the list.

Recognize the time of the day when you are most focused and coherent. You will accomplish a lot and then just as the new work week begins, you will be prepared to do it all over again.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

College May Not be for Everyone, but Education is

So you’re thinking, “I don’t have time to go back to school” or “I won’t feel right being in a room filled with people who could be my kids or at least a very young sister or brother”. The fact of the matter is that in today’s economy, acquiring additional education and training is becoming a requirement from the employer and for your professional development. So if you don’t have time for a degree or traditional classroom setting, then seek knowledge in one of the following 6 ways. Getting educated can be as easy as 1-2-3-4-5-6!

1. Take an online course

There are a host of online courses available for the adult learner. Do your homework. You may want to make sure the course is a credit course so that in the future the credit(s) may be transferable. Check with your local educational institution for scheduling and times. Be ware online learning takes a lot of discipline and responsibility. You have the luxury of attending class whenever and wherever you like as long as you have access to a computer. Just think all from the comfort of your home in your jammies. You will definitely enhance writing, teambuilding, communication, and computer skills in the process.

2. Register for a professional development workshop or seminar.

I am sure you have received a brochure advertising a workshop in your area and you filed it in the “rectangular file.” The next time you receive one take a moment to read through the content. There are many topics offered in the realm of professional development. Topics include: communicating effectively, tips/tricks for MS Office software programs, business writing, etc.

Visit Skillpath Seminars and National Seminars Training are two companies that offer affordable seminars. These seminars may enlist 1-2 day training. In some cases, you can pay for one registration and bring a colleague for free! Also, if the program proves to be beneficial to you in the workplace, your employer may pay the registration fee. It doesn’t hurt to ask and this could be included in your performance review.

3. Join a professional development organization.

Professional development organizations will provide opportunities for networking with other like-minded professionals, receive publications and newsletters to keep you up-to-date with today’s office professional, yield leadership opportunities , and offer education programs that will give you the necessary tools for being a superstar professional.

The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP)
American Society of Administrative Professionals

These are just to name a few. These sites offer templates, tips, advice, webinars and allow you to connect with other members to get questions answered. Some will require a yearly membership fee; this is a small investment into your career, and the return on investment (ROI) is endless.

4. Check out Free training online.
Microsoft Office is great for providing FREE tutorials online such as in computer software programs Excel, Word, and Powerpoint. Another site that offers free tutorials and courses is HP. All you have to do is sign up and you can complete them at your leisure.

5. Get certified.

Getting a certification is another way to prove your skills in training. Microsoft Office offers various business certification programs, such as Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) and the Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS). Visit

The IAAP offers the Certified Administrative Professional and the Certified Professional Secretary certifications. Each shows off your expertise in the field and both certifications are recognized as official designations and serves as an added skillset to employers.

6. Join a Blog Community.

If you have gotten this far in this post, you are on the road to success. Subscribing to a blog will give you inside information on various topics. There are so many blog communities on the internet that inform their readers of a variety of subject areas. Here is a small list of blogs I have come across that give insightful information:

Laughing all the Way to Work by Patricia Robb
This blog discusses humorous office antics during a “not so typical” workday. Watch out! You may learn something.

Joan Burge’s Administrative Blog
Joan Burge, the CEO/Founder of Office Dynamics created this blog for the Star Assistant. She has written two books, is a professional speaker, and has hosted numerous seminars and workshops. This blog discusses many different topics relating to the office professional.

As busy, working professionals our lives are filled with deadlines, schedules, and unexpected surprises, we owe it to ourselves to remain competitive in today’s market. Staying connected is a part of our jobs, how will you?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Motivation to be Motivated

Motivation is an important skill that yields results. People who are motivated in the workplace will be more productive, influential to others, and highly regarded as the “go to” people. Simply put ‘they get things done.’ Here are some tips on how to get yourself and others motivated:

Rewards (the ‘pat on the back’)

Realize that for each task or project you complete you are entitled to a personal reward. Obviously, you will get accolades from your employer such as promotions or bonuses but you should also make a point to reward yourself.

Make it fun

Work doesn’t feel like work when there is some amusement instituted. This will make for a positive work environment and people will be more productive and want to get the job done and will be yearning for more.

Create Challenges

Completing the same task over and over again can be boring and people will lose interest with the same routine. Suggest ideas on how to acquire the same results or goal but from a different prospective. People will be more energized and enthusiastic about the project. In other words, think outside the box.

List short/long term goals

When we have a clear outline of how our goals are reached we perform better. It is important to write them down. Of course, they can be altered as the need arises, but putting goals in writing and a thought out plan of how to reach them will solidify what is trying to be accomplished.

Think Positive

The ability to think positively about work or personal life events can be tough when there are obstacles that attempt to block our goals. Since we cannot change others attitudes, it is up to us to change ours and adapt. Remember, accept the things you cannot change and change your attitude. Thinking positive will make you more productive and enthusiastic about your results.

Create Your Own Mission Statement

Creating a mission statement will provide a clearer purpose for what you want to accomplish in your personal and professional development. By frequently referencing your mission statement you will become enlightened and inspired to complete your stated goals. Here is a website to create your mission statement

Monday, September 7, 2009

You Can Be the Leader You Were Born to Be

Are you afraid to become a leader because you are afraid of what people will think of you? Do you think you are not “leader material”? Have you ever wanted to make a suggestion or comment and was afraid of what others may think? But then someone else said exactly what you were going to say and it was received well. Here are 7 tips you can use when developing your leadership skills:

1. Meet with your team immediately.

Getting to know your team players is the most important factor to being a leader. Get to know your team member’s strengths and weaknesses. This will provide insight as to how each member will be a strong asset to the team. For example, if a team member is not outspoken, but is proficient in computer software, they would a good person to organize documents. However, don’t ignore their weaknesses, these are just areas that need improvement, suggest ways for members to improve as well as prosper in their own development.

2. Delegate.

Once you know everyone’s strengths, it will be easy to delegate tasks. Set reasonable deadlines and follow-up with each team member. Utilize your team members to the best of their ability. It would be easy to take on a task yourself, but also stressful. Afterall, the Lone Ranger was called “lone” for a reason.

3. Know the difference between follow-up and micromanaging.

Follow-up does not mean frequent phone calls, emails, meetings, or standing over someone’s shoulder. Trust must be developed in the beginning by everyone. Members must be able to trust their leader’s judgment and leaders must trust that their team members will complete the tasks. If deadlines cannot be set, a good practice would be to let team members know when you will be contacting them for a status report.

4. Turn what may seem like criticisms into suggestions.

Remember the old saying, “You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” Everyone will not agree all the time. Some members are not open to change. Discuss suggestions and decisions with the team as a whole. It is important to accept feedback and reiterate the team’s mission and goals. Provide reasons for the decisions. A response “because I said so” is not a clear motive. However, don’t reinvent the wheel. Do what works!

5. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Good leaders acknowledge their mistakes and quickly correct them. Most people are afraid to make mistakes because they may feel incompetent; making mistakes just means there is room for improvement.

6. Develop a plan and set goals.

Creating a plan denotes organization. Setting attainable goals for the team lets each member know the objectives and what is to be expected. The blind cannot lead the blind. Be open to suggestions from the team.

7. Value your team members.

Show your appreciation for each team members’ efforts by taking them to lunch or at the end of the project give a gift of thanks or a certificate of appreciation. Even a periodic “pat on the back” shows you acknowledge their efforts. Members will value your appreciation.

As you develop your leadership style, realize that leaders are visionaries; they have the ability to see what others can’t. Recognize your inner strengths. There is another saying, “Leaders are born, not made.” Since we are all human, we were born; therefore, we are all capable of being leaders.