Home office organization is something we don’t think much about until it’s too late. You need a home office, so you create one. And over time, as you work in your home office, things stack and layer around you – used coffee mugs, a stack of files you keep meaning to put somewhere, software boxes, bills, orphaned pens – until one day, when something gets in your way or disappears for the umpteenth time, you suddenly realize that getting your home office organized is long overdue.
Full home office organization is a big job. It tends to be overwhelming at first glance (and even the second and third). If you feel up to it, you can follow a 12-step plan to make your office space functional and attractive again. But if you’re not quite ready for a full makeover but desperately need to be able to find things, here are five small manageable things you can do to organize your home office right now.
Pick Three Things and Throw Them Out
We’ll start our home office organization with something easy just to get you in the mood and clear some space. There’s probably a lot more than just three things either on your desk or scattered around your home office that can go from your workspace right to the trash or recycling bin.
Look closely. Do you really need those old magazines? That pen that doesn’t work? Those used snack pudding containers? No. Get rid of them!
You don’t need to stop at just three things. If you see more obvious candidates for the trash, throw them out, too. You could even use author and celebrity organizer Marie Kondo’s method of asking yourself, “does this paperweight, photo frame, gel tipped pen…spark joy?” If it doesn’t spark joy, toss it.
Weed One Filing Drawer
Filing cabinets are the kings of clutter for most home offices, which is ironic because we think of them as clutter solutions. In reality, though, we stuff them with whatever we can’t find a place for or whatever piece of paper we don’t need to deal with anymore but don’t want to throw away. So our filing cabinet becomes our own personal landfill and when it’s full, we just move in another one.
Sorting through the standard-sized four-drawer filing cabinet can resemble an archeological dig with years of accumulated stuff to sift through. So let’s start small. Organize your home office by choosing one drawer and weeding through it, removing anything that’s no longer current or necessary. (Remember, though, that you need to keep your business records for six years.)
Documents and papers that you no longer have to keep should be shredded. You may be able to re-use old file folders.
Take it a step further by buying a cardboard file box and use it to store old files that you need to keep but don’t have to have immediate access to. Store the box in a spot away from your home office.
Clear Your Bulletin or Message Board
Bulletin or message boards are a feature in many home offices. Alas, rather than keep us posted on up-to-date events and helping us to keep our lives organized, they often degenerate into cluttered time capsules.
Look at yours right now. Is there anything posted or written there that relates to something you need to do today or even this week? What do you see instead? Pictures drawn by the kids? Photos from last summer’s camping trip?
Keep the purpose of home office organization in mind. We’re not just decluttering; we’re creating a workspace that will help you be more productive. There’s nothing wrong with having the kids’ pictures and family photos displayed in your home – but your home office is not the place for them. Take them down and move them elsewhere. Then clear all the old messages off the board. You’re ready to move forward.
Organize One Desk Drawer
Drawers tend to be dumping grounds anyhow but in a home office. Start small. Select one desk drawer and taking everything out of it.
Sort through the contents, throwing out whatever is no longer useful and moving whatever is misplaced back to its better location. (The recipes, for instance, are probably best located near the kitchen rather than at your desk.)
Then insert a plastic organizer tray (available at any office supplies store) and put things back into the drawer, using the different sections of the organizer tray to keep things separate and easy to find.
Clear Your Desktop for a Week
Start by getting a large cardboard box (or two). Now take everything off your office desk except for items that are absolutely necessary for your work, such as your computer and phone. Put everything you remove from your desktop into the cardboard box(es).
Put the box(es) somewhere accessible but out of the way so you’re not tripping over them. Then go to work just as you normally would. As you’re working in your home office, if there’s something you need that’s not on your desk, fish it out of the box and put it in a logical place on or around your desk. For example, if you find you’re word processing from typed copy, get your desk copyholder out of the box and put it back on your desk.
By the end of a week, you’ll have everything you need to work efficiently on your desk or close to hand – and nothing else. As for whatever’s left in the box, it belongs somewhere else, properly filed if it’s a necessary piece of paper or thrown out if it’s something that’s just cluttering up your workspace.
Your Home Office Organization Can Stop Here
If you want it to. That is, as promised, five small manageable things to organize your home office. Take your home office organization further if you like. Organize all your desk drawers. Master your filing system. Go through the full home office organizational makeover if you want to.
Learn how to create a document management system. But that’s for later. Right now hopefully the organizing you’ve done is doing what it was meant to do – letting you get more done more easily when you sit down to work in your home office.
Article published on February 6, 2019 on thebalanacesmb.com
As recruitment agencies compete for top talent, it has become increasingly necessary to use social media in talent acquisition. Indeed, over 90% of all recruiters now use social networking sites in their recruitment process. The following are eight benefits of using social media as part of your recruitment advertising strategy:
picture thanks to digitalhrtech.com
1. Increases job visibility
Today, practically every ideal candidate you could consider for any position at your company is on social media. Facebook enjoys an active user base of over 2.19 billion. Twitter is popular for the ability to host job search chats and many millennials and Generation X demographic are active users of LinkedIn as a job hunting platform.
Wherever you look, you see social networks serving as incredible platforms for identifying and recruiting talented individuals to work for your clients. Certainly, few other platforms can reach as many people as social media, meaning that you are likely to get the caliber of talent other platforms can hardly match.
2. Higher quality candidates
Self-reported statistics from many companies show that they get high quality candidates whenever they recruit via social networking sites. One big reason why this is the case is because most people you will find on social media are tech-savvy, a fundamental requirement to land any job in today’s marketplace.
Additionally, they are likely to already be in the know regarding emerging business trends, adding to the skills they bring to the table. What’s more, if you choose to use your employees to announce new openings at your company via social media, chances are that the people you will hire will not only stay longer at your company, they will also be more productive than those you would hire through other platforms.
3. Better employer brand awareness
Social recruiting is effective, not just in finding you the ideal candidate, but also in increasing the visibility of your brand. By advertising new positions on social media, you strengthen your brand and create some level of trust among potential employees.
People view brands that have a strong social media presence as more trustworthy. Therefore, it would serve your business well to establish a robust social media presence, not just because you want to find good employees, but also because doing so will build trust among potential customers as well as make it a coveted place to work.
4. Reduce cost of hire
Recruiting can be a very expensive undertaking. Social recruiting is cheaper, but can still cost you significant amounts of money. All the same, the value you get from the hires you find via social networking platforms makes this approach extremely cheap.
Without a doubt, recruitment costs via social media are almost always, lower than those of other methods. A simple Facebook ad can for instance get you over two times more visibility than the traditional recruitment methods like classified ads in the dailies and job boards.
5. Opens the door to engagement
Imagine a brand that has taken its time to grow its audience, even using tools like Growr to organically grow on social media, but finds itself struggling to engage with the followers it has gathered. Such a brand can benefit from a social media post of a job opening.
As interested individuals seek out more information regarding the job opportunity, your social media page gets more engagement. Some interested parties will post on the comments section, others will share with their friends and followers, while others will send you a direct message to your inbox.
These conversations keep your page active and give you the opportunity to engage with potential employees. Some of these are people who would never have applied for a job at your company had you used any other recruitment platform.
Recruiters who know how to make the most of the recruitment opportunities available on social media will tell you that some of these social conversations are better than one-on-one interviews.
In any case, you can have several chats with several potential candidates on social networking websites, and only call a few of them to further the conversation in person at your business premises later. Furthermore, there are several social recruitment tools you can use that will help you do it fast and stress free. These include Jobcast, Work4 Labs, Jobvite, Bullhorn Reach, and LinkUp.
6. Allows you to target your vacancies more
Social recruitment comes with incredible ability to laser-target certain groups of people for the available vacancies. On LinkedIn for instance, you can try to share the job postings in certain industry-specific LinkedIn groups.
On this platform alone, there are thousands of groups for professionals in practically every industry you can imagine: from engineers to HR workers, to writers, to finance experts. That said, remember to post your recruitment messages in a way that would not be deemed annoying.
The idea is to attract potential candidates, not overwhelm them with promises of bliss if they get a job at your company. Though such promises might be true, potential employees could start to view you and your company as con artists or spammers, ultimately undermining your credibility and ruining your chances of getting top talent via the social platform.
Twitter hashtags also make for clever recruitment methods. You can also consider asking your employees to share the available vacancies within their social circles.
7. Screen your candidates
It is now an open secret that employers use social media to get an in-depth understanding of the people they have hired at their companies. Many people see social media platforms as free spaces where they can express their frustrations, talk about their causes and share their experiences as they go through the days of the lives. What you might not know is that potential employers also check out candidates on social media.
Social networking sites give them a deeper view of who they are about to hire. It gives them insights into the person’s personality even allowing them to figure out what their ambitions are and what they can expect once they hire them to work in their business.
Other recruitment methods cannot help you do that. Screening potential employees ensures that you work with those people who align with your company values and culture.
All the same, it is important to note that you should resist the temptation to review someone else’s social media profiles without them consenting to it. That said, most people now include links to their social media profiles in their CVs, a decision that implies that they are comfortable with potential employers reviewing their social media profiles.
8. Shortens hiring time
The traditional methods of recruitment generally take longer than social media recruitment methods. This means that when you have an open position that you need filled in the shortest time possible, social media is the platform to consider. Social networking sites not only make it easy and fast to communicate with candidates, it also allows them to respond faster. As a result, excellent work relationships often emerge.
What’s more, recruiting in a talent pool that has people who share common values, interest and work styles with the hiring manager or company often accelerates the speed with which you will find the ideal person for the job. This is great news for both the hiring party and the candidates hoping to get an opportunity to work at your organization.
Our theme for this month is Online Presence and Branding, so I wanted to share an article with you that I found very helpful in reminding me what things to consider when looking to market an employer, your own business, or, if you’re a job seeker, yourself! I hope you can glean some insight from this list of tips!
Zach- Monroe Personnel Service, LLC and Temptime
And now without further ado, the article, originally written by Rebecca Riserbato and published on blog.hubspot.com on Oct 29, 2019:
The other day I was trying to find the perfect dress pant yoga pants because I wanted comfortable, professional clothing options.
When I searched for “dress pant yoga pants” on Google, I found the brand Betabrand.
Amazingly, the company dominated the top four search results. The first two results were their website, the third was their Amazon page, and the fourth was a review of their product.
Deciding I wanted to look into it further, I searched for Betabrand on Google and found their social media pages, a Wikipedia page, their website, their Amazon store, and reviews.
They were impossible to ignore online. Ultimately, I ended up making a purchase.
My buyer’s journey is not unique.
In fact, according to Adaptive Marketing, 97% of consumers use the internet to find a business.
That’s why having an online presence is important.
It helps consumers find your brand before they are aware you exist and it helps them learn about your reputation before making a purchase. Eventually, all of this information will play a role in your customer’s purchasing decision.
Below we’ll review what an online presence is, and explore 16 effective ways to build your online presence.
Download Now: Free Brand Building Guide Online Presence Definition An online presence can be defined by how easy it is to find a brand or company online. It’s important for building your brand’s reputation, increasing brand awareness, and providing visibility to your products or services when users are searching for related keywords.
How to Improve Your Online Presence: Build an email list Master SEO Create value Be active online Analyze your results Adopt new forums Have a social media presence Make a website Produce content Personify your brand Experiment with online advertising Research influencer marketing Be competitive Develop relationships Show up where your audience is Automate your process
Build an email list. One of the top ways to build your online presence is to create and grow an email list. An email list will enable you to engage with current and potential customers on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
To grow your email list, you can create gated content that users have to sign-up to receive. Additionally, you can use a call-to-action (CTA) on your website and social media pages to promote your email newsletter. With a newsletter, you’re able to collect leads’ emails — additionally, it shows your leads and customers are interested in your content.
You can use tools in your content management system (CMS) to create forms, slide-in CTAs, or popups that are designed to gather email addresses. For example, HubSpot offers an email marketing tool, free pop-up forms, and a free online form builder to help build an email list. Alternatively, you might consider checking out MailChimp or GetResponse. To find a tool that works for your business, check out The 12 Best Email Newsletter Tools in 2019.
Master SEO. With algorithms changing every day, search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the best tactics to build your online presence.
The first step to showing up online when people are searching is to master SEO.
SEO can be divided into two categories — on-site SEO, and off-site SEO.
On-site SEO is all about the content. You’ll want to use keyword research, include internal and external links, and create educational content that likely matches your target audiences’ search queries.
With off-site SEO, you’ll pay attention to the more technical side of things. For example, you’ll want to make sure your site is set up correctly, has simple URL structuring, and loads quickly. Additionally, off-site SEO also includes building credibility with backlinks.
Lastly, if you want to show up on Google, create a Google My Business account, and use Google’s keyword planner.
Create value. Overall, your brand or company’s goal is to make money. But before you can make money, you have to create value and be customer-centric.
One way to create value is to provide educational, free content online. Not only is this helpful for your customers, but it’ll also improve your online presence.
To get started, write out a list of your customer’s pain points and motivations. In other words, take a look at your buyer persona.
Then, brainstorm content that would answer their questions. What information would help your customers? This will be the basis for your content strategy.
Another way to create value online is to give advice. You could do this through guest posting, responding to comments, or appearing on a podcast. Wherever your customers have questions, you should be answering them.
Be active online. In order to show up online, you have to be active online. This includes regularly posting to your owned properties, including your website and social media accounts.
Additionally, you should be active in other areas, as well. For example, you should engage with followers and subscribers on social media. If there’s something that everyone is talking about in your industry, you can engage in the conversation.
Analyze your results. Once you get started with a few tactics to build your online presence, it’s critical you analyze your results. I would suggest testing your strategies so you learn what works and what doesn’t.
In order to test your results, start out by deciding what metrics you’re using. If you’re working on your SEO, you might track your search engine results on Google. On the other hand, if you’re building an email list, you might track the number of subscribers, plus your open and click-through rates.
Keep in mind that these are long-term strategies. Some may take time to produce results. Additionally,, some may be harder to track, like brand awareness. But that’s okay — just because results may be hard to track doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.
Adopt new forums. When new social media or popular websites emerge, be an early adopter. There are many benefits to being an early adopter.
First, if you’re an early adopter, there’s less competition. Second, most of these websites start out free and have high engagement rates.
To be an early adopter, make sure you’re always in “the know.” Read industry news and research new, up-and-coming sites.
Have a social media presence. Being on social media is a necessity in this day and age. In fact, in 2019 there are now 3.2 billion people on social media globally, so social media is a key tool for reaching your intended audience on whichever platforms they prefer.
Having a presence on social media instills trust in your current customers and prospects. Personally, if I see that a company doesn’t have a presence on social media, I lose trust and feel unsure if they even exist.
Plus, social media is a great way to build your credibility and reputation and showcase your brand. When potential customers are researching your brand, the first place they’ll look is social media to see what you’re putting out there and what people are saying about you.
Make a website. Not to be repetitive, but again, to show up online, you have to have a website online. Besides social media, one of the first places people will go to find out more about your company is your website.
Your website is where you can show off your brand through colors, fonts, text, video, and images. You’ll appeal to your buyer persona’s pain points and present a solution to their problem.
To make a website, there are many CMS sites you can use, including HubSpot, Wix, WordPress, and Squarespace.
Produce content. The more content you produce, the more opportunities you have to show up online. Having an online presence is all about showing up in search engines, on social media, and sites like YouTube.
To start producing content, strategize what places you want to show up online. Do you want to be on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Etsy, Poshmark, Goodreads, or Amazon?
Prioritize the sites your customers are active on (based on customer research) and start brainstorming content that is best-suited for those mediums.
For example, with YouTube, you’ll come up with video ideas — whereas on Instagram, you’ll come up with photo and caption ideas.
Personify your brand. Building an online presence is a lot like building a brand. One tactic many companies use to build a brand is to personify their brand.
For example, The Skimm, a daily newsletter, personified their brand when they were founded in 2012. The founders created a persona called The Skimm Girl. This was the personification of their brand. They knew her likes, dislikes, age, job, financial situation, and sense of humor.
By personifying their brand, the company was able to appeal to their target demographic while staying true to their mission and values.
Having a clear brand helps users relate to your company and makes them want to engage with you, whether through a social media comment or by signing up for your email newsletter.
Experiment with online advertising. A faster solution to building an online presence is through online advertising. If your ad shows up in the top search results, you’ll build brand awareness and increase your visibility online.
You can advertise on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Additionally, you can look into social media advertising. Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are well-known for their advertising options.
Before you begin advertising online, brainstorm what you want to promote. Do you want to promote a certain content offer? Alternatively, perhaps you want to advertise your email newsletter?
Once you choose what it is you want to advertise, you’ll also need to decide on the platform that is best-suited (i.e. has the right audience) to promote that content on.
Research influencer marketing. In order to stay active in your community, it’s important to engage with the most popular figures in your niche.
For instance, if you sell beauty products, you might consider researching beauty influencers on YouTube and Instagram. Many consumers look to influencers for their honest reviews and promotion before purchasing a product.
Additionally, influencer marketing will get the word out about your brand online. The more people are talking about you, the more often you’ll show up online.
Be competitive. When you’re building an online presence, remember to be competitive. Look at what your competitors are doing and discuss whether or not that’s a good strategy for your business, as well.
You can also use your competitors to see what they’re missing. Is there a gap they aren’t filling? What information do customers want that your competitors aren’t providing?
Researching your competitors should give you ideas for content and strategies. You won’t be able to compete with or one-up your competitors if you aren’t sure what they’re doing.
Develop relationships. Developing relationships with those in your industry is an important way to build your online presence.
For instance, if you have a relationship with blog writers or podcasters in your industry, they might feature you in their content. Perhaps they’ll ask you to guest post or appear on their podcast.
Forging relationships with others in your industry will ultimately help you show up online.
Show up where your audience is. To show up online, you have to figure out where your audience is.
If your audience is on Instagram, but they aren’t on Twitter, you shouldn’t be putting all your efforts into Twitter. On the contrary, you should be focusing your content and promotion strategy on Instagram.
If you show up where your audience is, you’ll build a strong online presence that customers can’t ignore.
Automate your process. Lastly, building an online presence includes a lot of tedious tactics.
In order to ensure the system runs smoothly, automate some of your processes. For instance, you can schedule your content to go live on your CMS and social media.
Additionally, you can curate other people’s content, which enables you to provide valuable resources for your audience without constantly creating fresh content.
You can also plan your email marketing newsletters in advance, and set up email sign-up forms on your site that show up automatically.
These marketing strategies can help you build your online presence, create brand awareness, and develop a strong reputation. Building an online presence requires effort, but over time it will pay off with increased sales and better brand awareness in your industry.
Gone are the days where you could send your resume to a few dozen companies, pour yourself into your best suit for the interview, and have a steady, 9-to-5 job with benefits and a pension.
Now, you’ll have to be a bit more inventive to get your dream job, said The Muse expert career coach Evangelia Leclaire.
“Job seekers need stop believing that a linear and congruent career path and long term employment at one or a few companies is what will give them a competitive edge,” Leclaire, who is also founder and chief evangelist of Ready Set Rock Academy, told Business Insider. “That’s just not the norm anymore.”
When you’re looking for a job, you don’t need to wear a suit to an interview or ignore opportunities that appear outside of your comfort zone. Plus, the advice “follow your passion” isn’t always the best.
picture thanks to insights.dice.com
Here are some more outdated job tips to discard:
“No matter what, follow your passion!”
You quit your job to open a cupcake bakery, because you love cupcakes. But then it doesn’t take off — so you give up and go back to the cubicle mines.
It didn’t have to be like that. Following your passion doesn’t always mean turning your most beloved hobby into a job.
Instead, think about why you enjoy baking cupcakes. Is it because you enjoy the chemistry behind baking? Serving others?
As Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson put it: “The important point is to not just follow your passion but something larger than yourself. It ain’t just about you and your damn passion.”
In other words, did the world need another cupcake store? Or could your “passion for cupcakes” be expressed in a more constructive fashion that could help others while being fulfilling for yourself?
“You really SHOULD get your MBA.”
We all know someone who insists that they should learn Chinese or get an MBA or start writing a novel.
Career and wellness coach Joanna Echols calls it “should-ing all over ourselves.”
“It starts with an assumption that somebody else knows better what’s right for you and what you should do,” Echols told Business Insider. “Claim back your personal power and let your own choices and decisions guide your job hunting process.”
And, above all, even if you think you should go into business, you probably won’t be very good at it if you’re just there because you think you should do it.
“All you need to do is make your résumé better, then you’ll get any job.”
Leclaire said you can re-design, beef up the key words, and edit your résumé all you want. It’s not going to make or break your career.
“That’s just a small sliver of the pie,” Leclaire said. “It’s not what moves the needle.”
She added: “Look at the big picture and take a holistic approach to your job search. Work on discovering and pursuing opportunities that fit you. Focus on your mindset, building relationships, networking, LinkedIn, job search strategy, your communication, maximizing your time, and more.”
“Networking is so awkward. It’s better to just avoid it.”
We often view networking as a bunch of people in a room being “fake.” But that’s only if you make it so.
“Share a concise and transparent version of your story, ask questions, and actively listen,” career coach Marc Dickstein told Business Insider. “Authentic curiosity is your ticket to a worthwhile conversation and a meaningful connection.”
Leclaire underlined curiosity, as well. She said you should try asking people, “What are you focusing on?” or, “I’d love to explore how I can support you.”
“These simple phrases take the pressure off of feeling like you need to sell yourself or have some polished elevator pitch every time you connect with someone,” Leclaire said. “Go about connecting with people from a place of curiosity and contribution.”
“You majored in Spanish, so clearly you’re not really a numbers person. Better stay away from those business analyst roles.”
People who believe that their abilities and interests are permanent are less likely to be interested in new information and fields, Business Insider’s Shana Lebowitz recently reported.
For instance, you may have concluded that you could never go into programming simply because “your brain doesn’t work like that.” But you don’t know if you would like coding, art, or some other field until you try it.
“If you apply to 30 places, for sure you’ll get a job somewhere.”
This is also called the “spray and pray,” Dickstein said.
It seems smart: you increase your odds by just increasing the number of recruiters who have your application in their pile. But alas, recruiters can usually see through this — and they won’t be calling you in for an interview.
“It’s easy for recruiters to identify thoughtful applications that are tailored to the opportunity,” Dickstein said.
“You should end your cover letter by saying, ‘I will call you on the 12th to schedule an interview.’”
You may have been told that you should end your cover letter with a “call to action” — or, tell them that you’ll be calling them to schedule an interview. It seems like a way to appear passionate about the position, while also guaranteeing an opportunity to explain yourself beyond the written word.
But don’t do it.
According to The Muse’s Lily Zhang, this cover letter line will make you seem “egotistical and possibly delusional.”
“I have no idea where this (threatening) advice originated from, but ending your cover letter like this will not give the impression that you’re a go-getter who takes initiative,” Zhang wrote.
“Hard skills are most important.”
There’s no denying that hard skills are important — but they’re not all that’s important. Maybe you know the right programming languages, speak Italian fluently, or can plow through projects.
Dickstein said those are all givens when you’re applying for highly competitive roles. The next step: Showing that you’re passionate, have the right social savvy to be a great leader, or are an amazing public speaker.
“That job hasn’t been posted online yet, so you probably shouldn’t apply.”
Maybe you caught wind that your dream company is opening a position that’s right for you.
Don’t hesitate just because there isn’t a link online to apply, Dickstein said. In fact, that’s really the opposite of what you should do — ask a contact or who you think is a hiring manager about the opening and how to apply.
“Hiring managers often know about functional needs and opportunities before they are made public,” Dickstein said. “In many cases, recruiters begin to fill the pipeline early and even begin to screen potential candidates.”
“Make sure your application is full of buzzwords!”
Lavishing on the buzzwords won’t make you look in-the-know. It will just annoy whoever is reading your application.
Buzzwords have become so overused that they’ve lost all meaning, Mary Lorenz, a corporate communications manager at CareerBuilder, previously told Business Insider. So, even if you are a “social media influencer” or someone who “thinks outside the box,” that really doesn’t mean much.
“Using some of these words won’t necessarily disqualify you, but make sure that you’re telling your story — not decorating it for the holidays,” Dickstein said.
Go for action words that actually communicate what you did. Dickstein recommended words like “achieved,” “negotiated,” “budgeted,” or “improved.”
“It’s just a job. Find something that pays well, even if it’s not all fun and games.”
You’ll spend around 90,000 hours of your life at work. If you hate every passing minute of your job, that adds up to a lot of misery.
Looking for a new job can be the perfect opportunity to seek out something that aligns with what you want to do with those 90,000 hours. Don’t just seek something that pays well — look for something that fulfills you.
“Your career choices can have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing,” Echols said. “Lack of job satisfaction or work-related stress are major causes of anxiety, depression and other mental and physical disorders.”
Doing what’s meaningful — acting on what really matters to a person — is the antidote to burnout.
This article by Jane E. Brody was originally published on May 18, 2020 by the New York Times.
Maintaining motivation is becoming an increasing challenge for many people slogging through life curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Initially facing weeks confined to our homes, we tackled, with some satisfaction, long-neglected chores like weaning closets of clothes that no longer fit our bodies or lifestyles, reorganizing drawers and emptying pantries and refrigerators of forgotten foodstuffs.
But as the weeks morphed into months with no clear end in sight for much of the country, the ennui of Covid-induced isolation can undermine enthusiasm for such mundane activities, however rewarding they may have seemed at first. I’m among a growing number of people I’ve spoken with who admit to a lack of motivation for tasks they know need doing but now are unable to face.
For some, even working out can seem daunting when preferred activities like swimming or spin classes are no longer accessible.
Too many days I wake up wondering why I should bother to get up, a feeling contrary to my normal determination to use every waking moment to accomplish something worthwhile.
A friend schooled in Buddhist principles suggested that during these trying times I should cut myself some slack. But a laid-back approach doesn’t suit my goal-oriented, people-centered personality. I chose instead to consult a former New York Times colleague, Daniel Goleman, a psychologist and author of the highly influential book “Emotional Intelligence.”
Dr. Goleman explained that there are two kinds of motivation, extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation refers to acts done to receive an external reward or outcome like wealth, power or fame, or in some cases to avoid punishment.
Intrinsic motivation involves behaviors done for their own sake that are personally rewarding, like helping other people, participating in an enjoyable sport or studying a fascinating subject. With intrinsic motivation, inspiration comes from within a person. It tends to be more forceful and the results more fulfilling.
“The stay-at-home edict has pushed so many of us into an external motivation mode that is making us face something that feels like lethargy and meaninglessness,” Dr. Goleman said.
“At the same time,” he added, “it’s a ripe opportunity to think about what really matters to us.” He cited the inspiring outlook of the legendary Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl, who survived four years in Nazi concentration camps sustained by a deep sense of purpose. Dr. Frankl’s rediscovered masterpiece, “Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything,” just published in English, offers a path to finding hope even in these dark times. It urges people to reflect on what really matters to them and search for ways to act on what is most meaningful.
“Doing what’s meaningful — acting on what really matters to a person — is the antidote to burnout,” said Dr. Goleman, who wrote the introduction to Dr. Frankl’s book. He suggests to those who are feeling bereft of motivation: “Face what’s happening. What does it mean to me? What really matters to me now? Is there a way I can act upon what’s meaningful to me?”
Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, former Surgeon General of the United States and author of the recently published book, “Together,” explained this month on “The Brian Lehrer Show” on public radio, “Our fundamental worth is intrinsic. It’s based on kindness, compassion and generosity, the ability to give and receive love. Service to others has a powerful effect on how we feel about ourselves as well as on how it makes others feel. There are many opportunities to serve, to switch our focus from ourselves to others.”
As Dr. Goleman put it, “The news of the day constantly provides an unconscious reminder that we are all mortal. This can result in negative thought patterns — harsher judgments, blaming the victim, greediness and us-versus-them thinking. But if we consciously reflect on our own death, none of this matters. What really matters is the people we love and helping people.”
Richard J. Davidson, professor of psychology and neuroscientist at the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has demonstrated that “when individuals engage in generous and altruistic behavior, they actually activate circuits in the brain that are key to fostering well-being.” In other words, caring for other people can be its own reward.
He reports that people whose emotional outlook is focused on the left side of the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which is activated by altruistic behavior, tend to be more positive. They’re more likely to become frustrated and irritated when their goals are thwarted, but this helps to mobilize their energy and ability to overcome the obstacles getting in the way of achieving their goals.
On the other hand, the right side of the prefrontal cortex acts as what Dr. Davidson calls a behavioral inhibitor that prompts people to give up more easily when the going gets tough. Such people tend to be overly cautious, fearful and risk-averse as well as not highly motivated.
Fear that we may never escape the threat of the new coronavirus can lead to feelings of futility. What is the point of doing anything if it will all come to naught in the end? Such thinking can certainly thwart motivation and result in a joyless, unrewarding existence. Instead, adopt a more positive approach by selecting goals that are attainable but still present a challenge.
For the many millions of us now limited by Covid-19, motivation might best be fostered by dividing large goals into small, specific tasks more easily accomplished but not so simple that they are boring and soon abandoned. Avoid perfectionism lest the ultimate goal becomes an insurmountable challenge. As each task is completed, reward yourself with virtual brownie points (not chips or cookies!), then go on to the next one.
But even more important than personal tasks you consider tackling, think about what you could do for other people within the constraints of social distancing or lockdown. If you can, contribute money to efforts to get more food, especially nutritious food that too often now goes to waste, to people who don’t have enough to eat as well as to our essential workers.
Perhaps bring a homemade meal or order a meal to be delivered to a friend or neighbor who is reluctant or unable to go beyond the front door. Susan McGee called from Bethesda, Md., to ask for a good recipe for cabbage soup. She had made pea soup for a 107-year-old friend who, after profuse thanks, said she really loves cabbage soup.
That got me thinking. I too could make my turkey-cabbage soup for a recently widowed neighbor who, while mourning the loss of her husband, is now having to weather coronavirus isolation all alone.
Hello! Wondering how you’re doing these days. Here’s what is happening for me after six weeks of sheltering in place. One day last week, my body and mind behaved like the French bulldog my neighbor takes out for walks. He often just stops in his tracks and refuses to budge. My mind was just done, tired of pushing through no matter what to get things done, to figure out what the best things to get done are, and to keep the wheels turning. I decided to pay attention and took a mental health day. Once I made the decision, I was able to get a few emails answered and the day was not a complete loss but it seems that respecting the French bull dog in me is wise. The next day I woke up and wasn’t feeling 100% but better so when 9 am rolled around, I hesitated to follow through and watch a webinar I’d registered for earlier in the week. It was featuring Brene Brown, an author I’ve long admired. I hesitated to attend because over the past six weeks of Covid-19 captivity, I have lost track of the number of webinars I’ve attended and I sometimes question if my time would be better spent on other things. I was also still feeling some French bulldog resistance. However, I remembered that inevitably when I do attend a webinar, there will be a really useful nugget or a veritable treasure trove of new and useful information waiting for me there.
I am learning as much as I can about the employer’s responsibilities and best practices during a pandemic so that we do what we need to do and so I can also offer our clients and employees helpful information. Many times I also leave with renewed hope about the future and a reminder that I’m not the only small business owner dealing with all this uncertainty and that we all really are in this together.
I decided to join the webinar. There was a Q and A area on the website and the audience of 30,000 was encourages to ask their questions for Brene and to include your name, title, company name and city. Because of yesterday’s experience, the question that was top of mind was this: Could you ask Brene to speak to stamina? As a small business owner I have a lot of experience dealing with crises but this crisis is going on for a much longer duration. Close to the end of the seminar, the moderator said she wanted to ask just one or two more questions and asked mine! It was so exciting to hear my name, company name and question asked and then to see Brene looking right at me through zoom and say, “I am a CEO too and I know what you mean. You’ve got to understand this isn’t a crisis, this is a marathon. What I recommend is a soccer term, which is taking time to ‘settle the ball.” The idea is sometimes in a game or in life or in business it’s important to pause, look at the field and reassess or decide what the next sensible move is. Not all moves will lead to a point scored but your odds are much better if you take a minute to settle the ball and make a calculated play. This reframe is an important one to remember. We’re in a marathon, and for some of us, probably more of an Spartan or Big Mudder, so we need those days where we put on the brakes and take a pause, regroup, settle the ball and charge forward again with renewed gusto. I’m sharing a link to a recent episode of Brene’s podcast where she speaks about our collective weariness and expands on the idea of settling the ball.
So after listening to Brene’s wisdom, now I see that my French Bull Dog self was telling me to stop and take a pause. I’m glad I listened and I’m glad I watched the webinar too.
Please take good care of yourselves and pay attention to your self care needs. None of us have been through a pandemic before and we are all doing the best we can. Let’s take it one day at a time and remember, today, we are one day closer to the end of this thing.
As we’ve started to figure out a new normal in the time of social distancing, we’ve been enjoying virtual happy hours and catch-up chats with friends and family members. But after a few weeks, we’re getting fatigued by days spent staring at a screen. Given that, people started to get creative and mix up our virtual social lives with themed events!! Check out these ideas to refresh your virtual meetups:
Cookie club: Invite a few friends to make cookies together (but separately!). Choose a fairly simple recipe and follow the steps together, then catch up on life while your cookies bake. Finish with a glass of cold milk and enjoying the fruits of your labor.
Tea party: Invite your family members to join you for a virtual tea party. Wear hats, make yourselves a cup of tea, and settle in for a cozy chat about the good old days.
Beer night: Crack open a cold beer with a few buddies and talk about anything except coronavirus.
Smells like teen spirit: Gather some old friends and ask them to join you for a middle school dance-themed virtual get-together. Wear something your 13-year-old self would’ve considered the peak of fashion and queue up a vintage playlist on Spotify. Come prepared to share a heartwarming (or mortifying) memory.
Bust a move: Grab a few up-for-anything friends and try out a dance-inspired workout together. Getting your blood pumping is great for your mental and physical health–and now’s the perfect time to finally take all those ballet, hip hop, or Latin classes you always wanted to try.
As the new coronavirus continues to spread, so do anxieties about COVID-19, the illness it causes.
Joseph McGuire, Ph.D., M.A., a child psychologist with Johns Hopkins Medicine, shares some tips for you and your family on how to manage coronavirus-related stress.
Prepare, don’t panic.
From the news to social media, a lot of information is circulating about the new coronavirus. Some is true, but much of it may be misinformed or only partly correct, especially as information rapidly changes.
McGuire recommends using credible sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization to obtain up-to-date, scientific information about the illness and how to prevent it.
“Knowledge and preparation can help reduce feelings of panic,” says McGuire. “Individuals can use information from trusted resources to develop personal plans of action.”
Talk to your children.
Children may feel afraid or anxious about the new coronavirus. It’s important to validate feelings of worry and not dismiss them outright, advises McGuire. He offers the following tips:
Listen. After hearing their children out, parents can fill them in with correct information to calm their worries.
Provide accurate information. Determine what your children already know about the virus and give them accurate information to reduce their risk of catching it. “This might include asking children about specific concerns or what they know about the coronavirus, and providing practical solutions to help them minimize any risk,” explains McGuire.
Focus on prevention. Keep discussions focused on preventive actions. Set up and praise healthy hand-washing habits, and maintain regular routines for playtime, meals and other activities.
If someone in your family is sick with COVID-19 or another illness, it can be hard for children to understand. “This is where it is important to have an established plan to minimize the worries and keep focused on proactive solutions,” says McGuire. “You know your child and how they learn best — make sure that your explanations are clear and helpful.”
Stress can affect the immune system, but it is uncertain whether short-term stress makes someone more likely to catch the new coronavirus, says McGuire. Taking steps to reduce your stress in a healthy way is important.
One way to lessen worry is to ground yourself in the present moment through mindfulness. “Mindfulness is a great technique that can help reduce stress during challenging times,” says McGuire. You can practice mindfulness by sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing and senses.
Another way to manage stress is by limiting computer screen time and media exposure. “While keeping informed about current events is important, too much attention can cause problems,” explains McGuire. “Setting boundaries can prevent feeling overwhelmed by the situation.
“It is important to not let fear control your life.”
Written by Joseph F McGuire, M.A., Ph.D. for hopkinsmedicine.org
By now, your entire office is probably working remotely because of the coronavirus. And if you’ve never done this before, it’s almost certainly an adjustment–for you, your employees, and your organization at large.
How’s it going so far?
In the past few years, I’ve talked to a $2 billion company that is entirely remote, collected tips on how to build great remote leadership habits, explored the challenges of maintaining strong data security when you have people working from home, and gathered tips from founders who manage their productivity and sanity by drawing clearer lines between when they’re “in” and “out” of the office. Still, there’s a difference between talking about remote work and actually doing it.
So earlier this week, I took an informal poll of my Inc. co-workers, now that we’ve all been working from home for several days. I asked folks with extensive work-from-home experience for their advice, and relative newcomers for their biggest surprises so far. Their responses generally fell into three categories:
“Bewilderingly–even though I have fewer distractions now–it feels like there are fewer hours in the day. It could just be that routine tasks like answering emails are taking a bit longer since all my tools aren’t quite as streamlined in my work-from-home setup, and a minute or two per task adds up. I feel like I’m having to be more diligent about writing down and following my daily to-do list, because otherwise I’ll fall behind.”
“I find myself wanting to make small comments throughout the day about work and what’s in the news. Instead, I turn to social media and immediately get sucked into a distracting loop. Before, I could just make the joke, hear a chuckle, and move on. Now, I find myself saying, ‘Oh, shoot, how did I just spend 15 minutes checking Twitter?'”
“The one thing I do when working from home: I get dressed for work. I’m not one of the pajama people. Getting dressed and going to my desk–as opposed to sitting on a sofa with a laptop–gives me the sense of a workplace, of punching in, if you will.”
“Replicate your office experience as closely as you can at home. Structure your day exactly as you would a workday, starting, taking lunch/breaks, and signing off around the same time you normally would. Set up your workspace in a similar fashion, eat the same kinds of snacks, and check your email after hours the same way you would on office days. Also, don’t have children.”
“No TV, no matter what. You cannot get anything done with CNN on in the background. This goes double for Mad Men on auto-play. Save TV for later.”
Maintaining communication and connection
“I miss making small jokes to my co-workers sitting immediately around me to help break up the day, tedious tasks, work anxiety, etc. Slack doesn’t have the same feel, unfortunately. I took that casual workplace back-and-forth for granted!”
“Take short breaks and call friends who are also stuck at home. They’re bored and isolated too, and they’d like to hear from you, even briefly.”
“If you take 15 minutes to reply to an email in-office, no one notices. The same delay out-of-office sets off a chain reaction of pings and where-are-you’s. Successfully working remotely requires a high level of attentiveness to communication, much more than in a face-to-face environment.”
Taking care of yourself
“I didn’t expect to have ergonomic issues. I’ve got my laptop placed at eye-level height atop of a Scrabble collector’s edition box.”
“I’m surprised by how easy it is to just not wear pants. I’m starting to rethink my wardrobe around the fact that I’m just no longer wearing them.”
“At the office, I’m good about having a salad for lunch every day and limiting snacks to fruit, granola, etc. At home, it feels like every day is the weekend and the usual rules don’t apply. I’ve found myself making big sandwiches or going through the cabinets for something unhealthy to munch on. Kind of crazy that it takes just a few days at home for something that’s been a habit for years to go out the window.”
“Do something physical every day, preferably something that also improves your posture, because you’re likely sitting a heck of a lot more than you were before.”
“Take a real lunch break. Set work aside for a little while to eat food away from your computer. A break is good for your eyes, your sense of how to do is going, and for your sanity. You should also set aside your phone and stop looking at Twitter. This time is called a lunch break for a reason.”
“Because you’re not commuting, you ought to adjust your working schedule to reflect that you’re probably getting more done in less time. This goes back to avoiding burnout. I get online at the same time every morning and log out at the same time every evening.”
There are two camps when it comes to working from home. One group usually thinks that people will get nothing done, and the other group believes workers will be happier and more productive. Chances are, your answer greatly depends on how you personally fare when working from home. While some people swear by 40 hours a week in the office, there is growing support for the second camp of workers who find they are more productive working from home.
Recent studies have supported the idea that working from home—for the right people—can increase productivity and decrease stress. Research also suggests companies that encourage and support a work-from-home protocol actually save money in the long run—an added bonus on the employer side.
The tech industry is well known for its flexible schedules and telecommuting opportunities, which makes sense, considering most tech companies are web-based and technology is the greatest resource when working from home. With video chats, conference calls, VPN networks, and wireless Internet, we can constantly stay connected as though we were sitting in our office, rather than at home.
Tech is also experiencing a shortage of talent for a number of jobs, and hiring remote workers opens the talent pool for companies seeking STEM workers. Boris Kontsevoi, founder and president of Intetics Co says, “In the tech sphere, the majority of the work happens on the computer and online. As a result, the location of the person is no longer as important, as long as they have a reliable Internet connection.”
Nature of tech
While remote workers can be found in a number of different industries, it’s more prevalent in the tech-sphere. It could be due to the nature of most tech jobs—especially jobs for developers and programmers—that require a strong attention to detail and long hours of focus. Working from home can reduce the amount of distractions these workers face, allowing them to get more done during work hours.
“As a programmer, I need large chunks of time to really make progress on a project,” states Ann Gaffigan, CTO of Land Pros Systems, Inc., “In an office, there are so many potential distractions, with people knocking on the door or customers stopping in. This way I can control when I answer calls and emails and when I ‘go silent’ to get some work done.”
For employees who can’t afford to be distracted a number of times a day, having a controlled environment can be key to their productivity. Working from home can allow workers to minimize distractions and increase the time they spend focused on a project. It stands to reason that, in the end, companies benefit from these remote employees by getting projects completed faster with fewer mistakes.
Employees aren’t the only ones who benefit from working from home; a company can benefit just as greatly from a remote employee. “For employers telecommuting can limit absences, increase productivity, and save money. This is most common in the tech sphere because tech companies have the infrastructure to maintain remote workers. With telecommuting the idea of the office space is changing but many are saying that it is for the better,” says Ari Zoldan CEO, Quantum Networks, LLC.
Simon Slade, CEO and co-founder of Affilorama has experienced first hand the benefits of having remote workers at his company, “By allowing employees to work remotely,” he says, “you can hire the best of the best while not limiting yourself by geographical restrictions. At Doubledot Media, 19 of our 28 employees work remotely, and I have seen no difference in job satisfaction or work performance. If anything, my remote employees’ production rate is higher because they are better equipped to avoid distractions.” The benefits also extend to his bottom line, “telecommuting saves me money because they pay for their own computer, electricity and other utilities.”
In fact, opening the talent pool seems to be one of the biggest employer benefits when it comes to a work from home policy. Jessica Greenwalt, Founder of Pixelkeet and Co-Founder of CrowdMed says, “Pixelkeet has been able to attract very talented designers and developers who want to live the freelance lifestyle without having to fish for work on their own. It’s also been easy for us to work with clients from around the globe because we have a team member in a timezone convenient for communicating with most clients.”
For some companies, working from home can be a matter of more hours in the day. This is especially true for small businesses and new companies where they can’t afford to waste even one minute of the workday. “Being a small startup, every hour of the day is important,” says Tim Segraves, co-founder and CTO of Revaluate, “If we all spent an hour of day commuting, that would be almost 20 hours a week that would go to commuting instead of building out our product and business.”
Companies might also retain more employees if they enact a work from home benefit. Stanford professor, Nick Bloom, conducted a study to evaluate the benefits of working from home. He found workers were more productive, got more done, worked longer hours, took less breaks, and used less sick time than their in-office counterparts. These employees were also happier and quit less than those who went into the office on a regular basis. He estimated that, on average, the company saved about $2,000 per every employee who worked from home.
People who work from home have an easier time eating healthy and striking a manageable work-life balance. Eating healthier and having more time to spend with your family can help you feel less stressed, which will make for a happier more productive workday. A 2011 study from Staples found that employees who worked from home experienced 25 percent less stress. Employees also reported that they were able to maintain a better work-life balance, as well as eat healthier.
Cofounder of SimpleTexting, Felix Dubinksy, notes the health benefits of being at home, “It’s much easier to keep a healthy diet while eating at home. You save a lot of stressful hours that would have been spent commuting. You can construct a comfortable work environment for yourself. Spend more time with family.”
It’s a common answer when you ask people why they like to work from home. Most will respond that their flexible work environment relieves the amount of stress in their lives and gives them a healthier work-life balance. Today, our offices are constantly on, it isn’t the same as it was decades ago, when you left the office and work actually ended. Today, most of us can work at any hour wherever we are located, so it makes sense that the line is starting to blur between work and life. But it stands to reason that working from home can help redefine—or at the very least, rebalance—that line.
Alessandra Ceresa, Marketing Director of Greenrope, finds he can balance his work and life much easier when he works remote, “Because much of what we do is not constrained within the hours of 9-5, I am able to go to the gym in the middle of the day, take a walk, do errands. When I take these sorts of breaks, the moment I sit back down to work, I am focused. My life is balanced because I get all of my work done and have time to actually live my life.”
Maybe you have a commute that makes you frustrated before you even hit your desk, and all you can do while you drink your morning coffee is fantasize about what you could buy with all that gas money. For employees who work far from the office, cutting out the commute can make a world of difference for their stress and overall health. For Charlie Harary, CEO of H3 & Company and professor at the Syms School of Business at Yeshiva University, cutting down on how many days a week one of his employees needed to commute allowed one employee to get more done in her working hours. “I have an employee that has a two-hour commute to the office each way. Once day, she mentioned to me that she had to leave early to get home in time to make a family obligation. I asked her why and she detailed out her daily commute. I was shocked by the sheer difficulty it was for her to get to the office each day.”
He immediately proposed a work-from-home option. At first, the employee wasn’t sure how well working remote would work for her or her boss, but after coming up with a suitable arrangement, both Harary and his employee were happy to see how well it worked. So happy, in fact, that she now works from home twice a week.