Monday, December 19, 2011

Not Paying Attention to Detail Could Cost You

As a young secretary in the late 90s, I was a new graduate from a technical school where I received a diploma in Secretarial Science. When I entered the workforce, I quickly found out that there were a few things that school didn't teach me: 1) how to use effective interpersonal skills, 2) how to deal with difficult people, and 3) paying attention to detail. My first week on the job, I discovered that paying attention to detail was going to make or break me in this line of work.
One day I was copying a fairly large document of about 60 pages and had to make 15 copies, double-sided, in color, and stapled. Simple, right? Not really. I heavily relied on the copy machine to do its job correctly.
After the first set of 5 completed copies, I was thumbing through one of the copies and noticed that a page was missing; 300 copies had already been completed! When I brought it to the attention of my supervisor, she asked me a simple, but odd question, "How do you make copies?" she emphasized the word, 'you.' I thought it was a trick question, so I replied, "I stand at the copier, load the document, input the specifics, and hit 'start.' My supervisor was not happy with that answer and I didn't know why at the time. I soon realized that she wasn't asking me about how the copies are made; she was asking me 'how do I make sure that the copies are being made.'
This is a question that we need to ask ourselves when we are working on projects, sending communication, completing daily tasks that seem mundane but can cost a hefty price if not observed. I realized that paying attention to detail is like looking under a microscope. Here are 3 ways to review the details in any given task:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

5 Ways to Impress Yourself

Looking to get ahead in life? There's one person who can make that happen — YOU. How you see yourself can mean the difference between you getting what you want and accomplishing goals … or you getting frustrated because you feel stuck in a rut. So it only makes sense that you'd want to do everything in your power to impress YOU.
  1. Reward yourself for your efforts and achievements
    How often do you treat yourself? Have you finished a task or accomplished a goal? By giving yourself a reward you feel better and spark motivation to complete the next goal. I took a 5 mile hike recently (which I had never done before) and as a reward bought myself a cup of coffee. Even the small rewards are huge motivators.
  2. Stop the negative talk.
    Negative talk begins in the subconscious. We mentally tell ourselves that we can't do something or we downplay ourselves into thinking we are incompetent. Henry Ford said, "Whether you believe you can or can't you are right." Start believing in yourself and you will accomplish more and others will believe in you too because it will show in your attitude and behavior.
  3. Learn something new and use it when the opportunity arises.
    How often do you attend a workshop or training session and soon forget what you learned? It's time to do some implementation; put things in motion, activate what you learned. Not only are you solidifying the learning and building your knowledge base, but you can also teach others and expand their knowledge. Knowledge really is POWER!
  4. Reward others.
    When you reward other people for a job well done, you are motivating them to do good again and you feel good about helping others reach their goals. Pay it forward and reward others and they will do the same. It's the domino effect of self-motivation.
  5. Document your daily activities by keeping a journal.
    We are charged with keeping organized documents for business purposes. These documents track the nature of business activities and transactions, etc. Why can't we keep track of our daily activities? Here is a cool online journal program that emails you daily to remind you to note what you did for the day. It's a collection of your life stories and you can reflect on your experiences.
We are always trying to impress others, giving them what we think they want, holding them in the highest regard, and making them feel appreciated and needed, but why can't we impress ourselves and feel good about who we are and what we do?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Accomplish goals: Write a P.O.E.M

In a previous article, I discussed accomplishing goals with a WIN list. Another method of achieving goals is by writing a P.O.E.M. (planning, organizing, executing, and managing objectives).
What is it you are trying to accomplish? What tools do you need to accomplish this goal? These are questions you can ask yourself in the planning stage. You may already do this when you arrive to work each morning. You sit at your desk and review your to do list, but there is more to the planning stage. In addition to looking at what you have to accomplish, jot down a summary of the process it will take to complete the task; this also helps in prioritizing the workload. The planning stage calls for more in-depth evaluation of your time and efforts, which is a valuable process because you will find out that you can get more done because you spent more time in planning the steps.
After the planning stage is complete, organize the tasks/goals. What can you accomplish immediately, in the next hour, two hours, or by the end of the day? Do you need to consult with someone or do you need additional information? If you can complete the task immediately, put an identifier by the task, such as a 'star' or '1.' You may find that you have more stars and can reduce your task list tremendously. If you need additional information, put a question mark and identify what is the next step you need to do to complete it.
Task #1: prepare for weekly team meeting
* -Create minutes from previous meeting – 1 hour
  1. -Send meeting announcement – email
2 - Order refreshments (based on RSVPs) – email catering service and F/U with phone call
* - Reserve room – email request
?- Get agenda from team lead – email request


In the example, the starred items can be completed immediately; all that is required is an email or effort on your part (constructing the minutes). The next items require input from others, these are indicated with a '?.' Then once the question marks are removed (responses are received), they can become starred items, and all that is left is to send the announcement and order the refreshments. You may use your own indicators, it is your P.O.E.M; use what works for you. In summary, starred and items marked with question marks are addressed first, followed by the numbered sequences.
Now it's time to put the task in motion to completion. Using the tools you have, complete the task according to the indicators from the organizing stage.
Once you have completed the task, follow-up with the appropriate parties who have been notified (supervisor, team leader, team members, etc). Did you mention deadlines for responses? Is it time to follow-up with a reminder email or phone call? The longer you wait for others, the longer the to-do list will be. Managing the task is the most important step in the P.O.E.M.
Writing a P.O.E.M is a great way to accomplish goals. It is an evaluative method that can be used to help prioritize the tasks in question so that they are completed in a timely manner, plus it sharpens organizational skills. Remember each time you cross off a task from the to-do list, you receive a rush of endorphins. Now how's that for a legal high!