The (Previously) Unwritten Rules of Office Messaging Etiquette

The (Previously) Unwritten Rules of Office Messaging Etiquette

Real-time messaging applications have become extremely popular in the workplace. As you use any tool more frequently, there’s a greater possibility of making mistakes.

It’s so easy to just type out a message to your boss or co-workers and send it without considering the consequences. Save yourself from embarrassment by following these simple rules.

Don’t Flood the Feed

It is annoying to receive multiple messages from the same impatient sender when you step away from your phone for a minute. It is just as annoying (if not more so) when it happens at work.

If your coworker isn’t responding at first, don’t keep prodding them. They will answer you when they have a moment, and will appreciate you giving them time to respond.

Don’t Overuse Emojis

Emojis shouldn’t be part of every message. It’s okay to use one occasionally, but your coworkers don’t want to see forty laughing emojis when you think something is funny. One has just the same effect.

If someone has done something great, then emojis can give expression to your enthusiasm. When you use emojis judiciously, and thoughtfully they enhance your communication. However, using them for everything is unprofessional and not effective.

Emojis are like salt. Adding them to your conversation in moderation makes it flavorful, while overdoing it leaves a bad taste.

Punctuation and All Caps

One exclamation point or question mark will do. Also, as with most online communication, if you use all caps it’s as if you’re yelling.

Don’t Forget You Can Still Email

If you have large attachments or huge blocks of information you need to pass along, put it into an email instead or a text. When you clog the feed with huge verbal chunks, people can’t keep up with all the details.

Carefully crafted email allows for important information to be more appropriately organized. Readers can easily find the information later when they need to remember what the sender said.

Be Aware

  • Don’t use swear words – It isn’t uncommon for people to use curse words in their texting. With your friends and family, it may not be a big deal. At work, you should avoid even acronyms that stand for swear words. Mainstream phrases and abbreviations that are funny outside of work don’t always seem that way in professional conversation.
  • Use caution with slang and acronyms – Stick with plain English and standard grammar unless you’re positive the receiver will understand what you’re sending and the language nuances behind it.
  • Remember everyone can see it – Your coworkers and your bosses can see the conversation, so don’t share personal information about yourself or others. Avoid gossip and refrain from criticizing your coworkers.
  • Tailor your speech – Be aware of who you are speaking to. If you’re talking to your coworkers, it’s usually okay to be a bit more casual than you would be if you were talking to your boss. Don’t let the form of communication take away from your level of respect.

Every Bit Counts

Everything you say to your boss and coworkers can be recorded by office messaging applications, so keep that in mind when you communicate over text. Apps can be a tool that helps you work more efficiently, or they could waste time and damage your professional image.

Don’t let your instant messaging take away from the hard work you put in. Be your most professional self when you’re on the job and save more relaxed communication for after hours.

Better Listeners Make Better Employees – Here’s How to Get There

Better Listeners Make Better Employees – Here’s How to Get There

Listening skills are treasured in the workplace and are key to becoming an effective leader. Active listening takes practice, but it’s worth the effort because in return, you gain effective working relationships. Keep reading to find out how better listening skills benefit you and how to start becoming a better listener today.

Why is it Important?

People in every role should know generally what’s going on in the workplace. Your ability to listen can significantly impact your working environment in a number of ways.

Gain Information

Listening is about gaining knowledge and acting on it at every level. You need good listening skills whether you’re an interviewer evaluating an interviewee or employee collaborating with your team. When you demonstrate good listening skills, the workplace runs more smoothly.

Build Trust

If you have good listening skills, your co-workers, employees, or supervisors trust you with information. The opposite is also true. When someone doesn’t listen to instructions, they make mistakes. Managers can’t trust them to do the job right because they don’t pay attention to important details.

How Can You Improve Your Skills?

There are a few simple steps you can take to start becoming a better listener. When you do, you’ll start to see improvement in your relationships with other supervisors, employees and customers.

  • Focus – Make sure to give the person to whom you are speaking your full focus. Keep your phone in your pocket and resist the urge to look at other distractors in the room. Electronic notifications and office fires vie for your attention, but deal with one issue at a time. When you repeatedly look away from someone who is trying to talk to you, it sends a message that you are bored or don’t care.
  • Don’t interrupt – Interrupting is rude, and it also makes the other person feel you don’t think what they have to say is important. It can lead to resentment and later conflict.
  • Ask for it in writing–When a conversation has a lot of details say something like, “I want to make sure I get all that right. When you get a minute, would you send me a text or an email with the details of what we just talked about?” Or write down the conversation yourself and ask if they could review it.
  • Pay attention to nonverbal cues – The speaker’s facial expressions, their posture, and their tone of voice will tell you what they are saying and perhaps more importantly, what they aren’t saying.

Take note of your own nonverbal cues as well. Make eye contact, stay turned toward the speaker and lean just slightly in. These sorts of things communicate whether you value their input.

Impacting Your Environment

A bad listener causes problems in the workplace. They might neglect to follow instructions when working with a group and cause the entire project or process to fail. In contrast, a good listener is aware of what is going on and follows instructions, leading to success.

Your experience as an employee relies strongly on your listening skills and can mean the difference between whether you are hired and promoted or demoted and fired. Better listeners make better employees.

The next time you speak to someone, first stop and think. You can practice your listening skills even in the simplest of conversations, and who knows? You may encourage others to do the same.

Good listeners make valuable employees. Employers may be looking for someone like you. Apply today.

Personal Tragedy in the Workplace – Showing Support While Respecting Privacy

Personal Tragedy in the Workplace – Showing Support While Respecting Privacy

When you spend 40 hours a week with the same people, you share success and stress, trials and triumph. You get close. But when someone experiences a personal tragedy, it can be hard to know how to react.

When a co-worker experiences a death in the family, divorce, serious illness or other difficult circumstance, you want to show you care, but you also don’t want to overstep boundaries. They may take some time off, but that’s not long enough to heal from a crisis. Here are tips for showing support.

Stay Away from These Phrases

When you don’t know what to say, it’s tempting to use phrases you’ve heard before. Avoid statements like the following:

  • I know exactly how you feel.
  • At least now he/she is in a better place.
  • Everything happens for a reason.
  • You can always try again.
  • God never gives us more than we can handle.

Your goal is to be supportive and say the right things, but those statements minimize what they’re going through. Plus, they’ve probably heard the same clichés from others, and it gets harder each time they’re repeated.

Avoid Comparisons

There may come a time when you can share what happened to you, but immediately after the tragedy, try not to compare what happened to your co-worker to what you or someone else you know experienced. Also, try not to offer advice unless your co-worker asks for it.

Every loss happens differently, and mourning is an individual process. You can let them know you experienced a similar loss and you’re available if they want to talk, then just leave it at, “I can’t imagine what this is like for you.”

But Don’t Avoid Your Co-Worker

Every time you see them, you hurt for what they’re going through. You don’t want to say or do the wrong thing, so it’s tempting to try and stay away. There’s nothing you can do to “fix” what they’re feeling, but you can let them know they’re not alone and that you care.

When you have a chance to talk in private, make eye contact and offer your condolences. Listen if they want to talk, and if not just be there. Send them a text every so often to let them know they’re in your thoughts.

Mail a Card

Tangible evidence of support matters. Buy a greeting card with an appropriate message and give everyone at the office time to write a brief message, then drop it in the mail. That allows everyone to express their concern and willingness to be available. Written words get read again and again. They end up as keepsakes that later, when the person has had time to heal, are evidence of the people who were there for them at the very worst times.

Start a Meal Train

It’s almost always helpful to bring food, and believe it or not, there’s an app for that. Meal Train has a free plan that allows you to create an online meal calendar, designate where co-workers should drop off food, warn about food allergies or meal preferences and send invites through email or social media. People who don’t cook but still want to participate can show support with a gift card or restaurant meal.

There’s no timeline for healing from a tragedy, and the process is difficult. Your co-worker will appreciate your support and concern throughout the process.

How Would You Answer These 7 Common Interview Questions?

How Would You Answer These 7 Common Interview Questions?

A job interview can tie your stomach and your nerves in knots. How nervous you get is often directly related to how badly you want the job. The better the opportunity seems, the more you worry about saying or doing something that will blow your chances.

Our East Texas staffing firm does quite a bit of interviewing. We have decades of experience identifying the perfect candidate for each position. We’ve also heard responses that have us disqualifying candidates. Here we share common interview questions and advice for formulating answers that show who you are and what you know.

Interview Questions Do’s and Don’ts

Before we get to the list of interview questions, you need to know how to use it. There are countless articles online that tell you questions and what to say. It’s great to do your research, but you don’t want to just memorize a script.

Don’t just pull up what Monster or Indeed say about how to answer interview questions and parrot that back to an interviewer. Those resources are out there for everyone. Your interviewer has likely heard them from some of the applicants they met with before you. If you bring the same canned response, it says you’re either lazy or ingenuine.

Do look over the list of interview questions and make them into a mental exercise. Picture yourself in the interviewer’s office. Come up with your own answers and connect them to a work experience you’ve had in the past. Offer real-life examples to show you have hands-on experience with what they’re looking for.

Don’t stop at the end of the list. Here we’re providing common interview questions for the general portion of your interview. It’s always better to over-prepare than to under-prepare.

Do research the company and position requirements. Every profession has skill and job-related questions specific to their industry. If you’re searching online, be specific. For example, you might search for “Interview questions for accounting job” or whatever title is appropriate for your interview.

Frequently Asked Interview Questions

Tell me about yourself. Succinctly outline your most recent role. Highlight past accomplishments or contributions.

Why do you want to work here? Your interviewer wants to know whether or not you did your homework. Prepare an answer that relates to company values or how your skills pair well with their specific products or services.

Why are you leaving (did you leave) your current (or previous) job? Don’t trash your old boss or complain about your previous employer. Prepare a response that mentions how you learned new skills there and are looking forward to contributing in your next position.

What are your biggest strengths? Look at the list of job requirements. Offer examples of skills and character traits that make you a good fit.

What are your greatest weaknesses? Your interviewer isn’t looking for huge personal failings. Think where you would like to improve professionally and answer candidly. For example, a teacher might say, “I plan to work on giving students more detailed feedback this year” or an office assistant might say, “I’ve realized I’m better at number crunching and data collecting than I am at writing. So I’ve started using grammar apps to make sure I don’t miss little mistakes in email and office documents.”

Tell me about a difficult work situation and how you overcame it? Your interviewer wants to know how you solve problems and deal with personal conflict. Think back through your employment history and share an example that shows your human side.

What are your salary expectations? Have an idea what’s normal for your profession and experience, then just answer frankly. Try not to overshoot or undershoot on desired salary.

Why should we hire you? Again, look over the job requirements and prepare a related answer.

Search East Texas Jobs

Brelsford Personnel has a range of job openings to fill. Browse our online postings and submit your application online today.

Training Tip – Teach Soft Skills to New Hires

Training Tip – Teach Soft Skills to New Hires

When you hire someone for your entry-level position, you expect to provide training on tasks the job requires. However, many employers often overlook teaching soft skills when they hire someone who is just entering the workforce. Teens and college students may know how to use a computer, provide correct change and stock shelves, but not understand the basics of professional communication and collaboration.

The problem isn’t just with teens. A recent survey found 44 percent of executives said soft skills are the biggest gap they see in the U.S. workforce. They might be the most important skills for new hires to learn, since 67 percent of HR managers said they’d hire a candidate with strong soft skills even if they were missing abilities in some other areas.

Recognize We’re Not Born With Soft Skills

To some people, soft skills seem like just common sense and good manners. But if you think back, you may remember when you started forming the foundation for things like good communication or respect for authority. Soft skills are taught, and some new hires just entering the workforce need a crash course.

Take, for example, something as simple as answering the phone. Teens and college students seem to be constantly on their cell, but they get confused when they have to answer a landline and talk to strangers, something common in corporate America. Employers wonder why they say hello, look puzzled, then turn to someone else for help.

If that seems strange, think back to when you were young. Most likely someone coached you on answering the phone and taking a message. They explained the rules and supplied phrasing.

You were to say something like, “My mom isn’t available right now, may I take a message?” Or, if mom said she’d be there in a minute, you were expected to make polite small talk until she was ready to take the call. From an early age, you became comfortable answering the phone in an unknown situation.

But what if that wasn’t the case? What if you were born years after caller ID became the norm, and when everyone answers their own cell phone or lets it go to voicemail? The teenagers and college students just coming to work at your business may have rarely answered a landline, and they haven’t yet developed solid communication and problem-solving skills.

Understand Where They’re Coming From

You didn’t hire them to raise them, but you need reliable, dependable employees and they have skills. Look through their eyes for a minute to gain perspective and develop patience.

If it’s their first job, and before now, the adults in their life have been teachers and family members. They asked questions like, “What are your favorite subjects in school?” “What sports do you play?” “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?” “What do you think you’ll study in college?” Until now, conversations with people other than their peers have been primarily about them.

Also, a huge percentage of the information they receive is electronic, so they haven’t had to develop listening skills the same way as previous generations. If you try to give verbal directions to reach a destination, they don’t have the patience for it.

They briefly skim emails and text messages knowing if they need to use the information, they can go back to it later. So when a customer at your business wants to voice a complaint or explain what they need, new hires might not have had enough practice really listening to be able to respond appropriately.

Teach Skills Explicitly

You offer training that takes new hires step by step through operating the cash register, restocking merchandise or closing the restaurant. You might even have checklists that break down your expectations. Take the same approach to teach soft skills.

Communication Basics

In addition to spelling out how to answer the phone, take a message and relay that to the appropriate party, teach new hires other basics of verbal communication. Give them examples of when to ask for help, how to ask for clarification and how to persist in communication until a problem is solved.

The Importance of Eye Contact

If your new hire doesn’t look people in the eye when talking to them, it comes across as either rude or shy, but he or she may not understand it’s a big deal. Explain and rehearse making eye contact when greeting customers, talking to co-workers and approaching administrators.

Flexibility and Teamwork

Give examples of how your new hire might be asked to adapt to changes in scheduling or duties and supply your expectations. Define what it means to be proactive and work toward the good of the team. For example, if the employee sees a spill on the floor and it’s not his or her job to take care of it, he or she is still expected to take action instead of leaving it for someone to slip on.

You also may need to train employees on conflict resolution. At work, they can’t just block or unfriend someone who disagrees with them. Explain what it means to have a reasonable discussion in a proper tone, whether it’s with a co-worker or someone higher up.

Problem Solving

If your new hire has been shielded from some things in life, they might not yet have developed the ability to handle hard things. Teach employees to troubleshoot instead of giving up.

At your business, you probably have certain types of situations that come up regularly. During training, give new hires a series of steps they can follow to use as a framework. Then offer them a new problem and ask them how they would solve it using the same principles.

Work Ethic

Employers complain about younger workers who miss deadlines, show up late and gripe about their duties, yet expect promotions and raises. Let new hires know at your business, the people who move forward aren’t the ones who just meet basic requirements. Your expectation is that they strive to do their best work, to go above and beyond.

They may not recognize the satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from giving more than they thought they could. Instead of assuming younger workers are just lazy and sloppy, set clear expectations and provide the training they need for success.

Find Qualified New Hires

Brelsford Personnel has an extensive screening and selection process, so we supply knowledgeable, productive employees that already have the skills your business needs. Skip the hassle and headache that goes with finding the right candidates when you contact us to find out more.

How to Deliver Bad News Without Breaking Up Your Team

How to Deliver Bad News Without Breaking Up Your Team

Some conversations you’d give almost anything to avoid. It’s great to celebrate when you meet goals, pass milestones and break records, but some days things go the opposite direction, and you’re the one who has to talk about it with your team. Nothing can completely take away the sting, but if you must be the bearer of bad tidings, careful delivery can minimize the fallout.

Anticipate Questions

Put yourself in your employees’ or teammates’ shoes. When you tell them something went wrong or that things are about to change, their first thought is going to be, “how will this affect me?” Think what questions they might ask and be prepared to answer honestly, tactfully and with respect.

You might have the task of telling employees their raise request was rejected, their evaluation didn’t go well or a project fell through. If you made the decision, be prepared to take responsibility and explain the reasoning behind what you chose. If the bad news comes from someone higher up, try to learn their rationale so you can pass that on.

Talk in Person

If your bad news has an individual impact, talk to each person separately and in private. Don’t communicate electronically through email or text, have a face-to-face meeting if at all possible. When bad news or unwelcome change applies to the whole group, you still might want to have one-on-one conversations if the impact is different on each teammate or a group discussion could lead to conflict.

Be Clear and Direct

This is the hardest part. Don’t ease into the conversation, just deliver the bad news in simple words and plain language. Tell them what’s going on and why. Don’t downplay, sugarcoat or place blame. Don’t try to spin it as a positive, your team needs time to process bad news the way it is.

What happens after you tell them the bad news is as important as your delivery itself. Allow discussion, but don’t get involved in debate. Communicate clear timelines or deadlines for the change. You might have to repeat information as employees or team members mentally break it down. Show them courage and calm, even if that’s not what you’re feeling inside.

Listen

If your employees are going to feel anxiety and stress during the change or because of bad news, acknowledge that. If the bad news means less money or more inconvenience, don’t try to talk people out of being upset.

Realize their negative reaction is normal and give them time to process. You can’t change the news, but you can listen to how they feel about it.

The best leaders show they’re willing to face personal discomfort to do what’s best for their organization. When you deliver bad news with empathy and respect, your team knows they can trust you to be honest even when the truth hurts.

What Not to Wear to Your Next Job Interview

What Not to Wear to Your Next Job Interview

Your resume got you in the door, and you’re already thinking about how landing the job will make your life better. The next step is the interview. The person you’re meeting with will be watching everything you say and do to evaluate whether you’re the right fit for the job. If you wear any of the following, the first impression you make might not be what you hope.

Wild and Flashy Attire

When you select your interview attire, stay away from loud colors and wild prints. No cheetah or tropical print, no neon colors, and no large logos or slogans. It’s better to stick with simple and classic.

That goes for accessories as well. Avoid big earrings and chunky necklaces and bracelets. Nothing you wear should jingle when you move.

Don’t put anything flashy on your head. Big hair bows and beanies are distracting. Also, leave your sunglasses and headphones in the car.

Makeup can be wild and flashy too. It’s better to wear light, neutral colors so your interviewer remembers your intelligence, not your eye shadow.

Strong Scents

Don’t wear heavy perfume or cologne. If you’re not sure how scented you are when you apply your favorite fragrance, ask someone you trust or skip it altogether when you go for your interview.

Tight or Baggy Clothes

How your clothes fit matters. If you have to struggle to get into any part of your outfit, choose something else. You’ll look much more professional if you avoid attire that’s form-fitting. Also, stay away from clothing that shows cleavage, your midriff or tattoos and body piercings.

You can go too far in the other direction as well. Baggy pants and oversized tops can make the wearer look sloppy. The interviewer could infer your work might be sloppy too.

Uncomfortable Shoes

Flip flops are too casual, but they aren’t the only type of shoes you should avoid. Choose something simple, professional and basic. You can’t predict how much walking you’ll do before, during and after your interview, so it’s best to avoid new shoes or tall heels. If your feet hurt, it’s harder to focus on the interview.

Anything Transparent

Don’t wear clothing that has material you can see through, no matter how trendy it is. Undergarments should never be visible when you go for an interview. Also, don’t wear clothing that has holes in it.

The best idea when planning interview attire is to research the company you hope to work for. Check their social media pages to see if they have pictures of employees at work, or drive by the parking lot a few days before your interview. See how current workers dress, then choose attire that’s slightly more formal than what you see.

At Brelsford Personnel, we want candidates to have all the tools they need for success. For more on typically acceptable attire, visit our resources page.

Managing the Workload When You’re Short-Staffed

Managing the Workload When You’re Short-Staffed

Sometimes you just have to make it through a few days or weeks because employees are sick or on vacation. Other times, you’re short team members for a longer time frame, and it causes issues.

Maybe one of your top producers gets put on bed rest, followed by a long maternity leave, or you lost a highly trained employee and you’re unable to find a replacement. There are several steps you can take to manage the workload so you can still provide the same goods and services.

Identify Essentials

When you have more tasks to complete than employees to complete them and you’re looking at a long-term situation, something has to give. Your staff can put in extra hours for a time, but if they’re overworked for months, you’ll have more problems. They’ll burn out and resent you, the quality of what you offer will suffer and you probably still won’t get everything done.

Identify critical tasks and ones you can temporarily put on the back burner. For each employee doing double duty, try and take something off their list so they have less to juggle.

Talk With Your Team

Employees and team members will be more motivated if they know their contribution is meaningful. Have a frank conversation about the fact that you’re short-staffed. Let them know what you’re going to do about the situation and what, specifically you need from them.

Then, ask for each member’s help in sharing the load. Emphasize teamwork and let them know how important each person’s effort is to reaching business goals.

Outsource and Automate

Put technology to work to shorten the list of tasks for which your staff is responsible. Consider using a virtual phone assistant to manage calls and other interactions. Use productivity tools like Trello or Monday to streamline workflows and collaborate on projects.

If there are small projects you can outsource, technology helps there too. Find a freelancer places like Fiverr or Upwork to fill in for that missing staff member one small project at a time. Or, let Brelsford Personnel find the perfect temp candidate to work until your employee returns.

Be Empathetic and Appreciative

When you ask your team to give extra and they do, thank them sincerely. Track successes and celebrate them with public recognition, a hand-written thank you note, a financial bonus or a meaningful gift of some kind.

Employees will get tired, stressed and frustrated if you’re short-staffed for long. Let them know you recognize you’re asking a lot, and that the job is tough.

Keep Crunch Times Brief

Almost every business has times they’re shorthanded and everyone just has to do the best they can. However, that shouldn’t be the norm. Employees will be more motivated if they know the situation is temporary.

Brelsford Personnel offers personnel-direct hire, temp-to-hire, temporary and contract staff to quality Texas companies. We can match your business with highly qualified candidates whether your needs are short or long term. Contact us to find out more today.

Summer Jobs in East Texas

Summer Jobs in East Texas

Some people think summer is just about hot days at the lake, leisure and vacation. Others view the season as an opportunity to make extra income. Teachers have a few months to supplement their salary with seasonal work. High school and college students can take advantage of time away from the books. Retirees may choose to work a few months to pocket additional income.

Sometimes Tyler seasonal employment even provides an opportunity that lasts into fall. These summer jobs are available now in East Texas.

Food Server

Restaurants often experience a traffic surge during summertime. The days are longer, schedules are packed with summer activities and no one wants to heat up the kitchen. Food server jobs provide summer income. They also help workers develop customer service skills, multitasking abilities, situational awareness and active listening.

Back of house food service employees prepare dishes and clean up after. Front of house employees interact with diners. Small restaurants might ask staff to do a little bit of everything. Look for area restaurants with a “Now Hiring” sign in the window, but also think outside the box. Places like Christus Trinity Mother Francis and Tyler Junior College also frequently advertise a need for food service workers in their cafeterias.

Camp Counselor

Summer day camps provide childcare and activities for kids when the school year is no longer in swing. East Texas has several, and they all need camp counselors and childcare workers. A camp counselor job allows workers to mentor kids and spend the summer in a fast-paced, high-energy environment. You’ll hone transferrable skills like communication, leadership and conflict resolution. Here are a few of the summer camps hiring counselors in East Texas:

Retail Store Jobs

Area retailers are always looking for good employees, whether it’s seasonal or otherwise. If you’re looking for a Tyler summer job hiring now, here are a few of the roles you might want to consider.

  • Cashier – Use the store’s point-of-sale system to check customers out. You’ll need a positive attitude, solid math skills and good interpersonal communication abilities.

  • Stock clerk – If you excel at keeping things neat and organized and have strong attention to detail, apply for a summer job as a stock clerk. Your store will rely on you to keep shelves full, put back scattered merchandise and track inventory.

  • Merchandiser – Merchandisers set up product displays strategically to draw attention to featured products and sales. Workers need strong design and organizational skills.

  • Retail associate – These workers answer questions, help customers find what they’re looking for and act as a general store ambassador.

Look for summer retail jobs at places like Dillards, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Best Buy and as well as smaller retail stores.

Summer Internships

High school and college students can use the summer break to learn skills that could help them land a more professional role later. Some summer internships are on a volunteer basis, but many of them are paid. If you’re a student, visit your school’s career center to find local opportunities in your chosen field. It also doesn’t hurt to make a dream list and go directly to company websites.

Summer is also a good time for job shadowing, where an individual works alongside professionals to gain knowledge in a particular field. Financial corporations, legal firms, manufacturing facilities, medical institutions and other industries sometimes offer job-shadowing for qualified candidates. Observers or interns get an inside look at what it’s like to work for one particular employer and gather firsthand information on must-have skills.

Positions Available Now

At Brelsford Personnel, we match East Texas job seekers with top area employers. Here are just a few of the positions we’re hiring for now. (They are not summer jobs.)

View other available positions when you visit our job board today.

3 Time-Wasting Habits to Break Now

3 Time-Wasting Habits to Break Now

This month it seems like everyone you know is posting vacation pictures from the beach. You’re stuck at the office, with more work to do than ever. Instead of beating yourself up over what you’re not doing at peak efficiency, focus on eliminating distractions. Here are the top three time-wasting habits to break.

Getting Sucked Into the Smartphone Vortex

Most people know they spend too much time on their cell phones. Combined research from Nielsen, Pew Research Center, SmartInsights and other organizations that gather data on screen time shows the average person spends more than four hours a day on their cell.

How do you break that habit? Take these steps right now.

  • Turn off notifications for everything you can – That little bubble saying you have something new will suck you in every time. For most phones, go to Settings, then choose Notifications.
  • Limit social networking – Don’t allow yourself to check or post on social feeds except during set times like your lunch or at a break. Importantly, understand and abide by your employee’s policy on cell phone use, including texting and social media. Policies vary widely from company to company.
  • Switch to grayscale – All those colors are eye candy. When you get to work, make your phone screen and online browsing less rewarding by enabling grayscale while you’re on the clock. To do so, search for instructions by phone model.
  • Remove time wasters from your home screen – Shuffle distracting apps so they’re harder to get to. An alternate solution is to remove them from your cell phone altogether and only use them on your phone’s web browser or your desktop. If you make them harder to access, you’re less likely to find yourself scrolling mindlessly when you don’t mean to.

Losing Time to Meetings

Meetings are time wasters when there are too many of them, they take too long, there’s no focus or they’re attended by people who don’t need to be there. If you have a choice, look over your meeting calendar and cancel the unnecessary ones. Try to decline those you don’t have to attend.

For necessary meetings, treat everyone’s time as the valuable commodity it is. Start each meeting with an agenda. Share it ahead of time, and stick to it.

Only invite staff who play an active role in what’s under discussion. If you can cover a topic in 10 minutes, don’t feel like you have to stay for 30 just because everyone gathered in one place.

Procrastinating

We all have tasks we dislike. Just thinking about doing them makes you feel like you’re wearing that lead vest they put on when you get an x-ray. You know you should get started, but you go grab a cup of coffee or check your email instead. If you’re serious about eliminating time wasters, try the following:

  • Write out your plan. Put your goals and to-do list on your calendar. Mark deadlines.
  • Schedule for efficiency. Most people have times during the day when they’re at their best. You have more energy and focus. If you schedule tasks you normally put off for those parts of the day, you’ll get through them more easily.
  • Give it five minutes. Don’t make yourself complete the whole task if it’s not necessary. Work in sprints.

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