ProductivitySelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Habits to keep you organized at work

A tidy work place not only looks good but actually helps you stay focused and productive. We’ve all spent time looking for things that get lost in the mess, so keeping a tidy desk will help reduce clutter which in turn reduces stress. Did you know that a clean desk actually saves you time, spurs on creativity and communicates professionalism. That’s right, it might actually have more of a benefit than just looking neat. These are some ways I like to stay tidy in the workplace.

What I organize constantly:

My deskDesk

I have a specific place for my bags when I come into the office at the beginning of the day. I keep one water bottle or glass of water on my desk, during the day, there’s no need for more than that really (unless I’m drinking coffee, then you can find my coffee cup as well.) I keep only one pen, and one highlighter along with my daily planner on my desk. Anything that comes out of my desk goes back right after I’m finished with it. My biggest tip is to clean off your desk at the end of the day so you have a fresh start the next morning. Keeping only the things you need on your desk eliminates unnecessary clutter.

 

 

My daily planner

I like my day to be planned out in front of me on paper. Once a task is completed I check it off or highlight it. This helps me balance my work load throughout the day. At the end of the week I make a plan for the next week (so I don’t forget tasks over the weekend) and when I come in on Monday I eliminate the ‘Monday fog’ and have my day already planned for myself. I update my planner frequently during the week and balance out my work load if any new tasks arise.

My Computercomputer

Instead of keeping all tabs and programs open, I like to filter through the things I am absolutely finished with, save and close them. If I have a few things on the go I simply minimize the programs until I am actually working on them. This way I don’t tempt myself to jump back and forth between projects. But can focus on one thing at a time and close projects when they are completed. I go through my emails/voicemails (like most people) at the beginning of the day and throughout the day I reply to the ones that require my attention as well as delete any junk mail that may come through.

 

What I organize occasionally:

Files

My whiteboard

I have a whiteboard on the wall by my desk and this is where I jot down things that I need to look at daily. I don’t update this as often as some things are analytics, strategies and reminders. I do however make sure that when I jot down things on my whiteboard, since they will be there for a while, that I keep it looking neat and legible.

Computer Files

This is something I will admit that I need to be more organized with. I have a tendency to save documents or pictures in the ‘all files’ or ‘all pictures’ category. I do however still go through and move files and pictures into their correct places. Just like your paper documents this keeps the clutter out of your computer files.

Desk Drawers

Desk drawers are sometimes a dangerous place! If you want something off your desk it gets thrown into a drawer as fast as possible, out of sight out of mind right! Cleaning out your drawers may be more rewarding than you think! You may find your favorite pen that you were sure was lost to the darkness behind your desk. I’m curious what the craziest thing was that you found in your desk drawer you didn’t even know was there!

Organization bonus:

Since I am the social media specialist at the office, I definitely organize my social media accounts. Going through your social media and cleaning up old tweets, Facebook posts or Instagram photos is a great habit to get into. Keeps your accounts looking fresh and professional. Once a year I go through the accounts that I follow, and I unfollow accounts that no longer serve purpose to me, are spam, or accounts that hinder my mental well being.

 

Share some things you like to do to keep organized or if you have some tips for me leave a comment below!

BloggingSelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Gratitude

As humans we seek happiness everywhere we go. In the people we are with, the things we buy, the jobs we work at, the music we listen to and so on. But do these things make you the happiest you can be? When you are away from the people who make you happy, can you still be happy? When you retire from the job you LOVED, can you still find happiness? And if the radio doesn’t play the perfect song on your commute, can your day still be just as happy? The simple answer is yes. In fact the answer is gratitude. This goes with you no matter the people you are with, the job you work at, or the weather that day.
grat·i·tude
/ˈɡradəˌt(y)o͞od/
noun
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
As Marc explains it; ‘Happiness is an inner feeling, focusing on yourself, whereas gratitude is an outer quality, focusing on others.’
gratitude
Gratitude creates happiness, but with better outcomes. Happiness may lift your mood, or improve your day, although gratitude improves your life. With Thanksgiving this weekend, it’s a great time to start practicing gratitude daily. Five minutes a day may not seem like it’s doing all that much, but over the span of a few months you will definitely start to notice the benefits.
Being grateful actually encourages patience, humility, and wisdom!
Say someone cuts you off in traffic, you can choose to be angry or you can be grateful you weren’t harmed and arrived at your destination safely. At times it may be more difficult to show gratitude, but this is when I feel it makes the biggest impact. When something doesn’t go our way, most of the time we let it affect us negatively and this has a ripple affect. Stop a bad day in it’s tracks and instead think of all the good things that have happened to you already, this will ripple out into other areas of your day and make a way better impact!

My Challenge To You

So my challenge to you is to start showing more gratitude in your everyday life! Start with the people who are close to you. Do something thoughtful for them, like offer to help clean up after the Thanksgiving meal! Give them a compliment on something you appreciate or admire about them. Don’t stop there, do something for people you interact daily with, like give a generous tip when you pick up your coffee, or bring flowers to a co worker and leave a note telling them they are appreciated and doing a good job. And definitely show gratitude to the people who challenge you. This might be listening to what they have to say without telling them they are wrong. Maybe you can use it as a lesson to practice patience, courage and compassion.

Gratitude Journal
A great way to practice gratitude is to keep a journal, write down the the things you are grateful for. Try it in the morning to set the mood for the rest of your day. According to Greater Good Magazine, it may be more beneficial for you to journal occasionally rather than everyday.
“One study by Lyubomirsky and her colleagues found that people who wrote in their gratitude journals once a week for six weeks reported boosts in happiness afterward; people who wrote three times per week didn’t. “We adapt to positive events quickly, especially if we constantly focus on them,” says Emmons. “It seems counterintuitive, but it is how the mind works.”
In conclusion, I think we all need a little more gratitude in our lives, and the best way to achieve it, it to be the one who practices it! It’s a ripple affect, showing gratitude and kindness to others will encourage them to do the same. You may not see it directly or right away, but your actions make a difference!

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” —Zig Ziglar

CommunicationSelf-Improvement

What place do personal beliefs and opinions have in an office?  On the one hand, conversations around the water-cooler about politics or religion can lead to tense working relationships to say the least.  On the other hand, conversations about the weather aren’t conducive to building strong friendships.  The heated nature of political and religious discussions arises because those beliefs are fundamental to who we are.  We have an emotional investment in them and when the topics come up we start speaking with our emotions.  So instead we discuss the regular small-talk and keep our work-life and our private-life as far away from each other as possible.

Nuclear Explosion
Don’t let your workplace conversations turn into this…

Now, personally, I think this is a fine status-quo for a large company.  Each employee represents the company first and foremost.  You aren’t going to be friends with the CEO so the office small-talk when you’re stuck in an elevator with him makes sense.  But I’m not so sure it’s the best way for a smaller business.  The biggest advantage of a small business is the personal connection between the company and the customer.  The most important tool in building that personal connection?  Seeming like a person.

The human connection is an amazing asset for small businesses, but it doesn’t come out of thin air.  It comes from building friendships between you and your coworkers and between you and the customer.

 

Donair
Now I’ve done it. Now I want a donair,

When I go to a big box retailer I’m not there to say hi to any of the staff, I’m there to get what I want and get out as quickly as possible, I’m polite to the staff of course but I don’t want to hear their life stories.  But when I go to a small family-run business like my local donair restaurant I want to know if the owner’s car got fixed, how is kids are doing, if his wife got back from her trip, etc.  Sometimes it seems I stop in because I want to catch up, rather than because I really want a donair.  Why?  Because, since he doesn’t have to represent a faceless corporation, he’s free to chat about life while he prepares my donair and to infuse his workplace behaviour with his personality.

Not to blow our own horn, but Panda Rose is another great example of that personal connection.  The other week I was sitting at my desk when the boss came over and said, “I need to see you in my office.”  A single sentence that is able to put the fear of God into any employee.  When he said it to me all I could think was, “What have I done now…”  I walked into his office, gingerly sat down in the chair facing him, and prepared myself for the worst.  “I need your help finding a Catholic priest to bless our offices.”

It goes without saying that I was taken aback ever so slightly.  This wasn’t quite the phrase I was bracing myself for.  But I rallied myself sufficiently to manage a simple, “Uh… what?”

Panda Rose Office Blessing
Even the server room got a blessing.

Because our office is such a tight-knit community, the boss knows that I’m Catholic.  We’ve seen each other at different Catholic events and I met him through a mutual Catholic friend of ours.  He also knows that I’m good friends with a lot of Catholic priests in the area.  So when he wanted to get a Catholic priest to bless our offices, he figured he could let me handle it.  I got my parish priest to drop by and bless the offices and as you can see, things went very well.

How did this happen?  Because in our office environment we’re comfortable talking about our opinions and beliefs.  They don’t dominate the discussion, and it’s never in an argumentative or confrontational way, but because we know we can have conversations on the stereotypical taboo workplace topics we’re able to understand each other and work as a team better than if we felt we had to walk on eggshells when talking about our personal lives.

One important thing to emphasize is that I’m not telling you to be obnoxious about your beliefs.  Don’t yell at your coworkers because they voted for someone else.  Don’t make every single conversation about your religion.  Don’t be annoying about it.  What I am saying is that if you are able to have friendly conversations about controversial issues where both you and your coworker walk away understanding each other better, you’ve strengthened your team, not hurt it.

ProductivitySelf-ImprovementTechnology

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty’—that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” – Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats

There is a lack of beauty in modern life.  “Form ever follows function,”  We’re told that Beauty is merely an unnecessary ornament.  Even though that ignores the full meaning of the quote.  In reality, according to the originator of the phrase, Louis Sullivan, “Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law.”  So, while the appearance of a thing should never be disconnected from its purpose, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be beautiful.  That would imply that beauty itself was without purpose and, as we shall see, it is not.

Food, water, warmth, and sleep are just some of the basic necessities of life.  It’s pretty obvious that we can’t survive without them.  I’d argue the same can be said for beauty.  In some ways it’s even more necessary.  As Dostoevsky said, “Man can live without science, he can live without bread, but without beauty he could no longer live, because there would no longer be anything to do to the world. The whole secret is here, the whole of history is here.”

Sadly, for many of us a lot of that beauty has perished from the world.  We wake up.  We drive out into the gridlock.  We sit in our cubicle next to our coworkers in their cubicles, above and below other workers in their cubicles on other floors.  All of us typing away on identical screens until we eventually go back through the gridlock and get home.  Maybe then we’ll finally have time to go to a park or play a game, or maybe we’ll just sit on the couch and watch the same show that are neighbours and their neighbours and their neighbours’ neighbours are watching.  Just another cog in an ever-expanding machine.  Where is the beautiful in our lives?  It’s been replaced by a drab monotony.

City skyline
A forest of man-made trees is a sight to behold

Now, what modern architecture does right, it does really right.  There is truly something awe-inspiring in a row of towering skyscrapers in the skyline.  The view from an airplane window as it comes in to land is breath-taking.  Cities from far away look amazing.  However, up close and personal, the drab monotony comes back.  And I’m not the only one who thinks so.  Here‘s an article from the NYT written in 1964.  We’ve been living and working next to these ugly buildings as they slowly but surely tear down the beautiful architecture of the past replacing it with more of the same.

Suburban Housing
I live in the house with two top floor windows in the front. …No, the blue one. No, the other blue one.

Suburbia doesn’t fare much better.  Let’s be honest.  Is there anything awe-inspiring of a row of houses of near-identical design?  Not really.  The only thing that makes you and your neighbour different is that you couldn’t pick his shade of green for your house so you had to pick that yellow that you don’t really like.  The endless variations on the same theme are enough to drive me insane.  (a short trip, according to my wife.)  and good luck navigating without an address.  In some parts of Canada addresses are meaningless.  The terrain and even the houses themselves are so unique that you can navigate by landmarks.  But try doing that in the city and you’ll find the opposite is true.  Addresses are the only way to navigate in a world where every street looks just like the last.

 

High Rise
I don’t think the elevator is working. It says we’re on the 23rd floor but it looks just like the 2nd floor!

It’s even more true of a high rise with identical apartments piled one on top of each other to fit as many people as possible inside.  The only difference between the 23rd floor and the 22nd floor is that the people down below are slightly smaller on the 23rd. Don’t get me wrong, with the high populations in urban centers high rises and apartment complexes are definitely necessary.  Without cheap mass housing, there would be a lot of people without places to live.  I just think we need to remember the costs as well as the gains.  We need to remember to provide beauty for their residents.  It’s easy for the well to do to live in an ugly city.  when they need to see something beautiful they can buy a painting.  Or go hiking in the mountains.

 

At one point, this lack of beauty wasn’t an issue.  The average member of society always did one thing every week regardless of their economic status.  They always went to church on Sunday.  Regardless of who they were or how much they owned, they could see beautiful statues and domed ceilings every week.  But gradually as society has become less religious and as religious buildings have begun to match their urban surroundings more and more, this source of beauty has faded as well.

Notre Dame, Montreal interior
They don’t build ’em like they used to, do they?

This has caused detrimental effects on our mental health as studies have shown.  This is one of the reasons why urban environments are a greater mental health risk than rural ones.  Without the beauty of nature we’re left with whatever the cities can or can’t provide.  Of course, the drab monotony of the city has an effect on our workplace productivity too.

Fortunately, life finds a way.  Though many of the traditional ways we’ve expressed beauty throughout society have faded, several of them are making a resurgence and new methods are appearing too.  With smartphones we have access to all of the classic books of literature in our pockets.  With gigapixel cameras and websites like 360 cities we can tour architectural and natural marvels without the costs of travel.  As museums digitize their contents, we can see the relics of our past from across the world.  As VR technology develops and becomes more mainstream this will only expand.  As we realize the importance of our surroundings on our productivity and well-being, traditional office layouts are being redesigned into more open concepts with a focus on aesthetics again.  That’s why so many modern office buildings are doing away with the drab row of cubicles lit by fluorescent lights and replacing them with natural lighting and greenery alongside more character and personalization for employee workstations.  Beautiful web design is replacing the clunky boxes of the past as we realize that beauty helps our companies stand out of the crowd.  We’re realizing that not only does beauty have a purpose in the professional world, but that it helps make every aspect of both our professional lives and our life at home that little bit better.

So all in all, I’m pretty hopeful for beauty.  We’ve realized that it’s necessary in the modern world, we’ve seen that without it mental health issues rise, and in response we’ve begun rebuilding society to include the beautiful once more, whether that’s through new techniques and technologies or by reinviting nature back into our cities.  We’ve realized the age-old truth that beauty should not be a privilege of the rich but a gift for the world.  For as Dostoevsky says, “Beauty will save the world.”

CommunicationEducationProductivitySelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Last week I was helping out at a local father-son summer camp outside of Calgary called Arcatheos.  A lot of theatrics and explosions and all those great things.  We like to joke that it’s a camp for teaching boys to become men and men to become boys again.

One of the characters with his fire sword
I mean a LOT of theatrics

Leadership Requires Service

This year the theme of the camp was “To Serve is to Reign”.  We really focused in on this theme of service with the teenagers who would become our version of camp counselors, called “knights.”  To be able to effectively lead the boys in their charge, they couldn’t simply order them around all day without a care for their well-being.  They had to be emotionally invested in both the boys they were in charge of and in the other members of their teams.  with that emotional investment, every order or directive is followed because the boys know its for the good of the camp and themselves.

I was struck by how well this carries into the workplace.  If an employee feels that his boss is invested in him and his life, that he’s not just another cog in the machine, the extra overtime needed to finish an important project becomes a lot easier to deal with.  It no longer feels like a forced task from a faceless overlord but like an urgent request from a friend.

Respect

Aretha Franklin
“Find out what it means to me”

We taught the “knights” that the easiest way to serve their boys is to respect them.  If you respect those around you, they’re more inclined to respect you.  If they respect you, they’re more likely to incorporate your feedback into their behaviour and truly listen to what you’re asking them to do.  They won’t merely sit around after completely a task waiting for you to hand them the next one, and instead they’ll proactively seek out ways to be helpful.

Don’t be a Drill Instructor (unless you are one)

Drill sergeant
Johnson! Did you finish that spreadsheet yesterday!

Meanwhile, if those under you feel they have to walk on eggshells around you with even the slightest mistake causing them to get raked over the metaphorical coals, they might try to work their hardest to not make a mistake, but a lot of their attention that could go towards doing their job right is now going towards watching over their shoulder to make sure they haven’t awoken the dragon.  In addition, if given a choice, people prefer leaders who are caring and compassionate instead of leaders who are taskmasters and drill instructors.  So if your employees have a choice, they will eventually leave for greener pastures.

Don’t be a Door Mat

Welcome
Please ignore all my directives on your way in.

At the same time, you won’t have respect if your employees feel they can walk all over you.  If missed deadlines are never a problem, unexpected absences are rampant, and no one listens to your instructions, sure, you won’t have employees flocking to leave your company in droves for better conditions, but you’ll also obviously end up with inefficient employees wasting the company’s time and money.  Resulting in them, and probably you, being let go.

Be a Compassionate AND Effective Leader

Cool dudes in cloaks

Instead of either of those two extremes, a synthesis of the two is required.  There are times when you need to lay down the law and reprimand the people working for you.  There are also times when those people need an ear to understand the problems and difficulties they’re facing and a helpful hand to guide them.  Using only one method or the other cripples your leadership abilities and it is only when you are both firm and compassionate as a leader that you will earn the respect and trust of those underneath you and unleash your full potential.

Ultimately, these leadership lessons we taught to the boys are vital for everyone, whether or not they’re currently in a position that requires leadership.  Everyone at some point in their lives will be in charge of something.  Whether that’s a multi-million dollar project or 10 children at a summer camp, no matter how large or small the opportunity effective compassionate leadership inevitably leads to further leadership opportunities down the road.

CommunicationProductivitySelf-Improvement

Allegorical painting from the 17th century with text Nosce te ipsum

Do you ever find communicating with other people difficult? Are you ever baffled by other people’s idea of a good time? Have you ever gone a whole year thinking one thing about someone only to discover a new piece of information about their personality and have to reframe your entire past relationship with them (for better or for worse)?

deborah or robot
Which one is Deborah? Which one is the robot? We’ll never know.

I don’t know about any of you out there, but I’ve got one of the more rare personality types. I’m socially introverted and extraverted thinking, or in the language of Myers-Briggs, I’m an INTJ, the Mastermind. Or as some people like to call me: I’m a robot. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that these personality measurements are the be-all-end-all of defining oneself, but they can be helpful for understanding yourself and others.

For example: I was acquainted with a girl for an entire year before she discovered that I was being friendly with her and didn’t hate her. She didn’t understand my extremely dry sense of humour (we INTJs tend to have a dry dark sense of humour). Once she got that, she looked back and realised I was making jokes the entire year and it was because I liked her rather than disliked her, and wanted to be friends. (And then we became friends.)

When it comes to the workplace, knowing about my own personality is helpful. I know that I work best when I have write out a schedule for myself — it helps keep me from getting bogged down in perfectionism. I can get a little obsessive sometimes. I’m good at knowing how to solve problems, and when to stop and return to the problem at a later time. I know that I work best alone, and that when I have to be around a lot of people, I should schedule in quiet time so that I don’t get burnt out.

I can also be pretty cold, direct, and bossy so I need to remember to be more gentle with people who might take that personally (it’s not unusual to hear me to tell someone, “no, you’re doing it completely wrong. No, that’s wrong too. No! Stop now! Before you make it worse! I will show you!” Yeah, tact: not a strong point for me, room for self-improvement). I’m also good at taking criticism about my work (the previous sentence directed at me won’t bother me). If a client isn’t satisfied with something, I want to know so that I can make them happy, so I make sure to let my clients know that they can be upfront with me.

panda wearing a panda
According to Youtopia, pandas are an INFJ

On the flip side of the coin, it can be helpful to know more about the personalities of the people you work with, including clients, co-workers, and managers. Are they introverted or extroverted? What are the best ways to communicate with them? What are habits that tend to annoy (or please) their personality type? Taking the time to understand the people around you can make a big difference in getting along in the workplace (as well as home and other interpersonal relationships). Sometimes looking outward can make a big difference, especially in a small workplace.

Have you ever known someone for a long time then had to reframe everything you knew about them after learning something about their personality? Has someone ever had to do that with you? What is your Myers-Briggs personality type? What are some other types of personality assessments that you find helpful?

*Note: I’m pretty sure that the maxim “know thyself” wasn’t originally about personality, but it seems to have evolved that way. Perhaps another subject for another day!

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job application tips

So you’re looking for a new job.  Maybe you’re just entering the work force and ready to put your fresh knowledge into action. Or maybe you just need a new start or a change in careers. It can be difficult for anyone to stand out from the crowd when you send in your application. But with these 4 tips you’ll be able to spark interest with your potential employer and possibly score an interview.

Cover letters aren’t optional

cover letter

Please don’t skim over the area to add a cover letter. Although some job posting say ‘cover letter optional’ this shouldn’t be the case in applicants minds. The chances you will be rejected almost immediately are quite high if you avoid adding a cover letter. Especially if the job posting specifically asks for one. A cover letter should show your personality. It’s your opportunity to talk yourself up without shame. Employers love to see personalized applications, it keeps you fresh in their mind and most importantly stand out from other applicants. Add why you are a good fit for the position, address the employer specifically rather than “to whom it may concern.” Let your personality shine. Tell your strengths, if you are outgoing, love learning new things, have talents that have served you well or could serve you well for the job, this is your chance to include them all.

Grammar

Grammar

If you wouldn’t want grammar mistakes in your reports to clients, college assignments, or Facebook posts then don’t allow them in your cover letter or resume. Attention to detail is included in most job descriptions. Employers want to know you are taking your time and doing your best.. Your resume is a short preview of the kind of worker you are, the effort you put into your work and the value you have for making a good impression when it matters most. Always double check your resume and fix mistakes even if it’s in the final draft stages. It’s noticeable when time and effort are put into an application.

Follow Instructions

Following instructions

Nothing is more frustrating for hiring managers when instructions are added to a job posting and they simply aren’t followed. If it asks for a short description of why you think you are a good fit for the job, add it. Say a cover letter is requested, please include a cover letter. Or maybe instead of clicking ‘apply now’ you need to send it straight to an email. If you really want the job it will make a world of difference to your employer if you can follow their instructions.

Be a Human

Be human

Well of course you’re human. Sometimes we get so caught up in making lists of things we are good at or the experience we have, we forget to be personal. If your resume is boring you, it’s probably 10 times more boring for your employer. Okay maybe not 10 times, but it will be a lot less interesting for the person reading it than it is for you. A well formatted resume is a way of adding personality rather than a blank page with a bunch of lists. It’s okay to use a template, but be sure to customize it to be your own. Don’t worry about making a lengthy resume with every single skill you obtain, but customize for the position you want. A quick tip, add where you can find examples of your work . If you’re a photographer, include your social media accounts, so they can get to know your style and you better.

It can be tough to stand out during the application process but these few things will go a long way with employers. Don’t let to the process discourage you, and definitely don’t take job rejection personally. Apply to each job seeing it as a fresh start and a new opportunity for your career.

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being productive while working from home

It’s becoming more popular for people to work from home instead, or in addition to the office. But with this freedom, comes some hurdles you may have crossed a few times or will come across as you work from the comfort of your home. It can be easy to over work, or under work when the you bring the office into your home. You don’t have distractions from coworkers stopping by your desk or clients dropping in unexpectedly, but you do have other things that can easily pull you away from your tasks. Here we’ll give you some tips that have worked for highly productive people who work from their kitchen, living room or home office.

Start Early

Alarm clock

The early bird gets the worm, and this also applies in your own home. Wake up, make a coffee and get right down to business. I find the sooner I get started in my work the less distracting other things are throughout the day. The longer you make the transition from your bed to your computer the longer it will take for your morning sluggishness to fade. Waking up early is key to being successful throughout the day and staying on track with your list of things to do.

Recreate Your Office Routine

Work from home

Without a commute to work, you have more time to get a few quick jobs done before you start work. The best thing to do to keep you on track is to create as much of an office space as possible. Work at a desk or your kitchen table instead of the couch. There you won’t have the temptation to turn on the TV. Listen to music while you work, if that’s what you do at the office. If it’s more distracting to work in complete silence turn on a TV in another room or the radio. If you like to sip on coffee or tea at work, do the same at home. I drink a lot of water at work so when I work from home I do the same, but I stay to drinking from a water bottle instead of a glass. This prevents you from leaving your computer so often and getting distracted by something else around your house.

Stay Connected

Stay connected

Keep close contact with your office, so if your coworkers need something from you they can easily reach you. The best way is to use a messaging program like Microsoft Teams or WhatsApp for the office. At Panda Rose the office is connected to Microsoft Teams so when one person works remotely you can easily contact them. It’s a great way to keep updated on whats going on in the office and still feel like a part of the team.

Keep a Schedule

Schedule

Either electronically or on paper. Keep track of your to-do list for the day. This will help you keep track of how productive you are. Actually, the busier you are the more productive you are. Once you are going it’s easy to keep going. And when you rest it’s easy to keep resting. Try to keep the downtime to a minimum and take on more tasks during the day even if they are small. It also helps make the day go by faster!

Set a Quitting Time

Quitting time

Working from home also means you can easily over work. It’s just as important to set a time that you log off as it is to take breaks from work during the day. To be the most productive during the day, take a break from screens and papers. Go for a walk, interact with other people instead of simply watching a few minutes of your favorite show. Setting a time to quit for the day ensures you are rested up for the next day. Try shutting off your computer, and closing your daily planner. Otherwise you will end up starting a task when you should be resting. Rest is just as important as work.

Enjoy Working From Home

Enjoy working from home

At the end of the day, enjoy having the freedom to work from your home. You get to drink your own coffee from your favorite mug, and wear slippers all day. You can come across just as many distractions in an office as you can at home. Learning to manage the distractions at home can be more difficult but once you get into a routine it will be just like working at the office, but better!

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Client Relationships

Have you ever bought from a business knowing full well that you could go somewhere else and get a better price? Some people have, but why?

Maybe it’s that they’re closer to your business, or the quality of the product, but the main reason people keep coming back is because of the relationship you have with the staff, manager, or owner. Sometimes companies buy from other companies because there’s a history between them. Maybe it’s a personal friend you want to support. But most likely, it’s because they have great customer service. Client relationships are valuable for your business and your customers. In fact, avoiding taking an interest in your clients or taking too much interest can hurt your business as much as a poor product.

Learn your customers

Client Relationships

Getting to know your customers helps you get to know more about their business, why they buy your product, and their buying habits. This helps you anticipate their needs and fulfill them. But on a deeper level, learn the person. Learn their interests, if they have a family, and how they got into the business in the first place. This helps you leave a lasting impact on them. I’ll give you a story of how asking about people and their lives leaves people feeling valued and wanting to come back.

I used to always go into the bank to do all my business, walk up and talk to a teller instead of stop at a machine and tap a screen. The one particular teller began to recognize me every time I came in. She recognized my mom and sister and took an interest in their lives as well as my own. This lady would ask about trips we were taking, offered places my (fresh out of high school) sister could stay as she traveled abroad. This teller became the person we all looked forward to talking with when we went in to do business. Before leaving she would always ask us to say hi to the rest of the family and knew us by name.

She started with small personal conversations, asking about our family, what we do for a job and how we like doing it etc. I’m not necessarily saying offer your home to anyone who walks into your shop or even at all, but you may share similar interests that you never knew about. You my gain a golfing buddy or a fellow sports fan of your favorite team. Building trust with customers is so important, you can easily ask questions about their life, go beyond the small talk, and bringing up the weather. That’s how you become familiar with clients but never create a relationship. 

Client loyalty

Shaking hands

These two seem to go hand in hand. If you invest time into the clients that walk through the door they will keep coming back. In a marketplace where your customer competition is high it’s vital to rise above the rest and show amazing customer service. Don’t promise too high and deliver low.

Recognize the people who buy from you, and remember things about them. If a person buys three cans of paint and is telling you about a project they are working on. Remember it and ask them how it turned out the next time you see them. As easy as it is to walk to the ATM machine, I preferred to go to a teller because of the positive experience I had. If you give this to your customers they will chose to buy from your flower shop instead of buying at a Walmart, or stop at your coffee shop instead of Starbucks.

Angry customers tell their friends

Angry Customer

People don’t generally say anything if they are satisfied. That’s because they aren’t blown away if their expectations are met. But if they are mistreated, the word will likely spread fast. If someone has a bad experience they will tell friends and family. They don’t want others wasting time and money if they are getting mistreated or their needs won’t be met.

 

Client relationships are extremely important when running a business. Building trust and community with your customers will keep people coming back and make it easier to get new work.

 

BloggingMarketingSelf-ImprovementSocial MediaTechnologyUncategorized

Social media engagement

Instagram is a visual platform, its important to catch a persons eye and quickly. Having a cohesive feed and a impressive bio is great, but you may need more than just that to make people stick around. So here’s some tips on how to get more engagement on your account.

Post consistently

Schedule

Its difficult for your followers to appreciate your content if they never see it. Make a schedule of when you are going to post, and plan your content. Include captions as well as the time, because posting at the right times is a game changer for your engagement. You can use apps like Buffer to schedule your content, this includes your image, caption, time and location. Posting regularly increases the legitimacy of your account. Many times users will bounce if the last post you shared was December 2017.

Respond to all comments

Comments

Yes, even (especially) the negative ones. Instagram has added a nice feature that you can now like comments, this is the least you can do to show appreciation for a comment. Try to make time to authentically respond to comments it makes your followers feel heard, and valued. Think how you feel when you comment on an account you admire or inspires you and they comment back. It’s a good feeling, you feel like you were important enough for them to read and respond to your comment no matter how busy they may be. Give that love back to your fans! In order to increase your engagement you need to be social too, leave comments on accounts other than your own.

Always use images

Pictures

This applies to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, as Instagram won’t let you post without a photo. Tweets with images get 150% more engagement than those without. Images capture more attention than just text or a link. Don’t just add any picture, post ones that are relevant to increase your engagement.

Ask questions

Questions

Include questions in your captions, it’s a fun way to encourage your followers to leave a comment. Ask fun and simple questions, for example ask about which they prefer, Apple or Android, if they are early risers or like to sleep in. These questions are super easy to ask, people can answer without really having to think about the answer. Where as a question that requires a long thought out detailed response, or that is too complicated to answer in just a short comment may not be the ones you want to start with. If your audience is really good with engaging, you can occasionally ask more detailed questions!

Use Emojis

Emoji

Using emojis on your social media accounts will result in higher engagement, but don’t use just any random emojis. Using certain ones will also increase your engagement. The smiley face can boost interaction by 25% whereas the grimacing emoji can boost it by 138%. Using emojis you will see an increase in your likes, comments and shares. This trick is really simple to experiment with and doesn’t require much extra work.

Get more followers

Followers

The more followers you have the more engagement you will most likely get from them. All things leading up will help you get more followers but an account with 100 followers compared to an account with 10,000 will get more interactions. Social media can be a numbers game but the quality of your content is the most important aspect of your posts.

 

Social media platforms are incredibly useful tools to help increase visibility for your business. It can although be challenging to get yourself noticed, these tips will help you become more legitimate on social media platforms so that your audience will begin to be more social.

BloggingEducationMarketingProductivitySelf-ImprovementSocial MediaUncategorized

Learning

Leah Learns has been in the works for a while now. What started as an office joke has grown into a fun opportunity. We finally released a new video on YouTube last week you don’t want to miss it. It’s comical, entertaining and educational all in one!

Leah is our SM (Social Media) specialist at Panda Rose, we have started a YouTube channel challenging her each week to learn something new. We have plenty of talent within our team, and community. She will be learning skills we never knew she needed to learn.

Origami

Our First Video

Last week a video was made teaching her how to open bottles without a bottle opener. It is both practical and fun! One method was placing the bottle in the heel of a shoe and forcefully banging it against a hard surface. The momentum pushes the cork out of the bottle and the shoe prevents the glass from breaking. After many swings it was surprisingly successful! The other, more risky, method was sabering. This includes a bottle of champagne (or sparkling wine) and a knife, or in our case a bayonet.  This idea here is to follow the seam of the bottle (which is the weak point of the bottle) and carry the knife in one quick swift movement up the seam and against the top of the bottle. This force will literally slice off the top of the bottle and cork. The other way to open a bottle which unexpectedly had it own difficulties was to simply twist off the cap. The trick here is to twist left, not right.

What’s Next?

In the future we will be teaching Leah a variety of skills. It’s exciting to get to know the small businesses around the community through learning small aspects of their work. You can look forward to a new video every week. Simply Subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss out and comment on the videos ideas you have for our next Leah Learns!

youtube image

We want to hear from you! Leave a comment with an idea for a new video!

BloggingMarketingProductivitySecurity & PrivacySelf-ImprovementSocial MediaUncategorized

screen time

Social media nowadays is more than just a social network. It is used as a tool for businesses and a way to communicate with others. Although sometimes, we can get too caught up in the scrolling world that we don’t realize how it could be affecting our well being, relationships and even work.

As a digital marketing specialist I work with various social media platforms every day. It’s my job to scroll, to build community and relationships with people. Social media is a business tool so deleting it just isn’t an option… or is it?

The answer is yes. Yes, you can delete social media and you know why? Because it’s good for you.

community

 

The average person will spend nearly two hours a day on social media.

Want to to see if you fit the average? Take a look at your Screen Time feature (if you have an iPhone.) The results will likely surprise you. You can see which categories you spend the most time on. Entertainment, productivity, social networking etc. You can also see how many notifications you get a day and how many times you pick up your device. As someone who works on social media for work, my times may be a bit above average but I want to give you a look at what my statistics look like.

Average Screen time per day: 4 hours 33 minutes

Social networking (you will be knocked off your feet here) 24 *hours* 20 minutes! (Time for a social media detox!)

Pickups: 92 per day

Notifications: 59 per day

This is a lot of phone time! Most of it is social networking.

So here’s why it’s so important to take some time away from social media, even if you use it as a business tool. And some tips to get around the business aspect of it to put your mind at ease when you step away.

 

1. Social media tends to make you focus on others more than yourself

You mindlessly scroll, coming across a picture of how your co-worker bought a new car, or that your friends went out and had sushi on Saturday night. Are these things you really need to know about? No, not really. It’s entertaining, for sure. But this tends to just make you more concerned with what others are doing with their lives, rather than what you are doing with yours. Weekends spent working towards your personal, or business goals may not be glamorous or Instagram worthy. But it’s good for you. Taking the time away from social media means that you have to go out of your way to find out about other peoples lives. Its not just information accessibly to you. So if you need to know what others are doing you will have to be intentional.

private

2. Too public

Privacy has gone out the window, that is usually when it comes to social media. Of course as a business, keeping people in the loop about new offers or features you offer is key to your account and potential leads. But are you being too public with your personal account? Or finding it draining when others are too public with their lives? This could be a sign that you need to take a step away from the screen. Realigning what is appropriate to post on social media platforms and what is private to you or your family sometimes comes from taking a step away and realizing that you can still have a good time, without having to post about it or update your Facebook status.

3. Distorted version of reality

I can tell you that many accounts you follow on Instagram or Facebook are not all they say they are. Not that they are lying to you with their words, but sometimes it can be hard to differentiate whats real and whats not in an image. You see it in magazines, on billboards, TV ads and so many more places, especially on your own device. With the apps available to literally anyone, you can’t trust what is real or not. I can make the trees in the fall look more radiant than they actually are, my skin more glowing, even make water move in a still image. False images are thrown to you left and right and sometimes it’s exhausting. Even if you don’t realize it.

photoshop

4. Live in the moment

Ever been to a wedding and can’t actually see the beautiful bride because of all the phones popping up all over the place? Cellphones have actually changed how professional photographers do their job. Some couples have asked that people put their phones in a basket because the photographer won’t be able to get beautiful pictures without arms stretched all over the isle trying to get pictures or live videos for the world to see. We have sometimes forgotten how to truly live in the moment. Taking a social media detox will make events or scenery more fulfilling for you. Try going outdoors for a hike and just breathe in the fresh air, take in the moment.

Resist the temptation to pull out your phone to document the event or share it with your friends. Do it for you.

you are here

5. Free up your time

Now that your phone doesn’t have 410 notifications (okay maybe that an exaggeration) a day from Facebook or Twitter what do you do with all your free time? You can read a book, try yoga, go for a long walk with your dog… the possibilities are endless. You may even notice your energy go up, with removing yourself from comparison and false reality.

 

Quick tips to take a break from social media if you need it for work:

  • Get a scheduling app. Apps like Buffer or Tailwind can schedule your content for you if you need to be on top of posting for your business. Put in a bit extra time to retrieve content and caption your posts. Schedule them for times that suit your audience, simple as that!
  • Only delete your personal account to cut down on time you spend endlessly scrolling on the platform. Restrict your time limits to only work hours or only to answer messages or comments. (check in once a day for only a few minutes and avoid going into the feed. Only check notifications or places that actually need your attention.)
  • Hire someone to manage your social media accounts for you, so your account is still active even if you aren’t. This will make it easier if you want to make it a routine to get unconnected with the digital world more often.

social media

Taking a digital detox (more specifically social media) has multiple benefits to your personal well being.  The world will not end if you don’t upload a picture of your food. Allow yourself to step away from time to time. It’s becoming more and more important as social media grows to set boundaries with what’s private and what’s public. Start with one day, then a weekend, and adjust accordingly. Some can go a month, while for others, a day is just as refreshing.

 

If you are looking for someone to manage social media for your business, send us an email or call us at 780-652-1190