Category Archives: Administrative Support

Work Better, Not Longer

Work Better, Not Longer

 

Let’s put an end to the mindset that people who stay at the office and work longer hours are extremely hardworking and productive people. People who say they’ve spent long hours working at the office no longer impress me. My first question to them is…WHY? My second is…do you need help with time management?

 

At the risk of sounding like an arrogant machine OR a lazy slacker, please allow me to explain why long work hours no longer impress me.

 

In this age of productivity apps and ergonomic workspaces, employees should be given all the tools they need to manage their time properly. We now have word processors and computing machines so that we no longer have to use typewriters. We have smart phones and CRMs so that we no longer have to sift through files and Rolodexes. We have video conferencing, instant messaging, and online collaboration tools so that we no longer have to physically attend meetings or travel to get team documents done. All these things have been invented to save time and help us work more efficiently. Instead, we have swapped out these time savers for proverbial time wasters.

An infographic from SocialCast [1] lists the reasons people waste time at work. Nobody would be surprised to find that all these activities are online activities that are unrelated to work.

  1. Social Networks
  2. Online Games
  3. Email
  4. Web Portals
  5. Instant Messaging
  6. Videos & Movies
  7. Search
  8. Online Shopping
  9. Adult Sites
  10. Fantasy Football

The internet is supposed to help us get our work done – but access to it also exposes us to huge time wasters that cut through our productivity and generally leave us scrambling to finish the work we should be doing in the first place.

I know, I know…all work and no play makes Jill a dull girl. I’m not saying that each and every minute at work must be used for work with military precision and inhuman like self-control. I’m just saying that we could all do with some help in avoiding workplace distractions.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you’ve already finished your work week by Thursday? It would be a huge morale boost to know (in a secret place in your mind) that you have a “bonus” time to get ahead of the next workweek instead of spending the whole week trying to put out fires you created in the first place.

So stay focused on priorities and block out distractions. There are apps that can help you tune out social media for a while. There are apps that can help you focus on work. There are tools that can block out websites and (if you really need to hunker down and get to writing those reports) there are apps that can block out the whole internet entirely.

Here’s the funny thing – you can use the internet on pointless online activities, but then again, you can also use the internet to help you get back on the productivity. It’s up to you – choose wisely. Whatever you choose, I hope you always choose to stay humble and hustle hard!

 

Reference:

http://www.youtern.com/thesavvyintern/index.php/2017/03/15/wasted-productivity-workday-infographic/

 

Written by Jaie O. The Help

Minimalist Ways to Maximize Your Workspace

Minimalist Ways to Maximize Your Workspace

Everything functions efficiently when you have systems in place. Establishing systems is easier to do in your homes where you have better control of who goes in and out, and what stays or gets thrown out. However, it might be harder to organize your workspace when you share it with a dozen (or a hundred) other employees.

Offices already come with built-in systems, cubicles, and workspaces and sometimes, it might be hard to customize your own workspace to your preferences. But fear not, there are a few ways you can customize your workspace. Don’t worry if it’s just a piece of real estate in a long open table set up. You can still tweak it so that it looks and functions exactly how you want it – plus points if you have your own cubicle and major plus points if you have your own office!

Here are a few minimalist ways on how you can maximize your workspace:

If your workspace comes equipped with staplers, copy paper, pens, and other office supplies – you might want to consider returning those you don’t use on a regular basis to the supply room. You might not need the ream of copy paper lying around on your desk – and this is true for all offices who are going or have gone paperless. This frees up space and makes your workspace feel less cramped. Just keep the supplies that you regularly use conveniently nearby.

Consider “reducing.” If you can’t eliminate items out completely off of your workspace, then consider reducing the number. I mean, do you really need 15 pens..and are you sure all of them are even working?! How about keeping 3 and stashing the rest in a drawer or pen case? Keep your favorite ones and make sure they’re all working.

Here’s a minimalist tip that’s universally true. If you haven’t seen it in and used it in 6 months – you didn’t need it in the first place! So go through your drawers and toss out or give away anything that you have not used in 6 months. Sure, the gold and pink stationery is beautiful, but if you haven’t used it in half a year, give it to someone who will appreciate it just as much as you do. It’ll make a nice gift for your co-worker’s daughter or for your mom who still writes handwritten “thank-you” notes.

Stop buying things just because they’re on sale. Do not – I repeat – do not buy that organizer just because it’s on sale when you already have two on your desk. One for organizing the office stuff and one for organizing the organizers for the office stuff.

Keep as much of your worktable clear as best you can. Not only is clutter cramping your style but unnecessary objects on your workspace creates visual noise that might be distracting not only to you but for everyone who can see it. On that note, if you buy something new – get rid of something old. This will keep clutter to a minimum.

Keep a trash bin nearby. Every time you feel the need to purge, do it immediately. Keeping a trash bin nearby will help you make that decision and not hesitate or leave it for another day. You’ll either forget or make up an excuse as to why you’re still holding on to that chipped mug from two Christmases ago.

Keep these tips in mind when you’re looking at that pile of papers and what-not on your desk and free up your precious workspace! Keep your workspace clutter free. Remember also to stay humble and hustle hard.

 

Written by Jaie O.- The Help

 

A Different Perspective

A Different Perspective

 

 

 

It’s Friday, and you’re exhausted but proud of yourself for finishing everything that’s ever listed on your weekly to-do list. You’re especially proud of finishing a project that been handed to you “last minute” because a co-worker missed the order alert and gave you the instructions late. Now, you’ve cleared your email, and you’re ready to start the next week off with a clean slate.

 

Fast forward to the middle of the week. You are harried and frazzled because things have been creeping up on your to-do list. Some items are from other people, and some are from to-do items that you have overseen. You’ve definitely dropped the ball on those.

Now, you’re thinking to yourself, “maybe I should have a better system for keeping track of things to be done instead of a list and a calendar?” But the truth is, this system has always worked for you. Here’s one thing you can try…how about you start being proactive rather than reactive.

What’s the difference?

As an adjective, Merriam-Webster defines the word reactive as “done in response to a problem or situation: reacting to problems when they occur instead of doing something to prevent them.”[1] Meanwhile, proactive is defined as “acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes.”[2] See the difference? One is responding to problems as they occur, and the other is acting in anticipation. The difference is one of perspective.

It’s nice to not stress yourself out and just go with the flow. The problem is that when the flow takes you to unchartered waters, uncertainty and fear sets in. That leads to more stress in the long run. Wouldn’t it be better to prepare in advance?

If you’re one who always anticipates a last minute change to their agenda, I salute you. Tell me how you can predict the future, I’d love to know the secret. But for most of us who do not have the superhuman power of clairvoyance being able to predict when unexpected tasks will spring up is just not possible. However, you can map out a battle plan for when the unexpected comes.

You can delegate the task when it comes. This doesn’t mean making it someone else’s problem but sharing the workload utilizes other people’s skills and let you manage your time efficiently. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Good leaders recognize this and leverage the best people who they know can do more for the project than they can.

You can create a system. Again, this helps you manage your time better and helps streamline processes and responses to an emergency. With practice and some fine tuning, you can create a system that can ensure that work gets done smoothly and without hitches.

In the case of projects and deadlines and other tasks that creep up during the workweek, it would be better to schedule some free time on your calendar to take care of ad hoc tasks. Or pencil in an entry in your to-do list like “take care of ad hoc tasks” or “prepare side project”. This way, you won’t have to be blindsided by immediate and urgent tasks that weren’t on your to-do list in the first place. And you can go back to having things in your agenda under control.

Lastly, take a breather. Clear your mind so that you can get into a more productive headspace. You’ll be surprised at the benefits you can gain by taking a step back to see the bigger picture. And as always remember to stay humble and hustle hard.

 

 

References:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reactive

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/proactive

 

 

Written by Jaie O.- The Help

How To Create A Self-care Plan And Why You Need One

How To Create A Self-care Plan And Why You Need One

 

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There will be some days in your lifetime when you will be overwhelmed with everything going on in your life, and you’ll be tempted to quit all your activities and let go of everything you have on your plate. This might mean a number of things like underperforming at work, neglecting your family, or just saying no to any and all social gatherings altogether. While most people would tell you to take a breather when that happens, what you have to do is to be proactive and anticipate that these things happen to any well-rounded individual and you need to be ready when that day comes. You don’t have to lose it and resolve to be a hermit. What you need is a self-care plan.

 

 

What is a self-care plan?

A self-care plan can help you enhance your health and wellbeing, manage your stress, and maintain professionalism as a worker.[1]

Everyone has a different self-care plan, but all of these plans have one thing in common – it involves doing activities that you enjoy so that you can holistically develop your wellbeing. These are things you do so that you can improve yourself and be able to meet personal and professional commitments.

 

What I did.

To anticipate the time when I would need to break off from the pressures of work and other commitments, I decided to make a self-care box. Most people have a list of go-to activities that they find relaxing. Me, I made a box. This box would contain things or reminders of things that would help me relax and clear my head to get into that healthy mindset and be able to re-engage in daily activities.

 

What’s inside.

The contents of the self-care box would be different for everyone. For me it contains the following:

  • Art supplies – Copic markers, felt-tipped pens, a few sketch pads of various sizes, oil pastels, coloured pencils, pencils, compass, templates, rulers, coloured pens, an eraser, charcoal pencils, cartographer pens, and a set of origami paper (origami is a very fun activity, I promise! [2]).
  • Old pictures – postcards and snips of old drawings and images for drawing inspiration.
  • Movie DVDs – all of my favorite cartoons.
  • Guitar picks – in varying materials and thickness.
  • Books – mostly graphic novels.

 

What to do with your self-care box.

Every time I feel the need to decompress and take a break, I open the box and pick one activity. I usually default to mandala drawing.[3]

You can start your self-care box, or more conveniently, make a list of all the activities or hobbies you enjoy doing. List down all the things you can do to clear your mind and bring back your sense of perspective. Here are some suggestions:

  • Go for a walk.
  • Go to church/ temple/ service/ mosque/ worship.
  • Exercise. Do yoga or pilates.
  • Have coffee with a friend (pick one you enjoy talking to – if, for anything else, you’ll enjoy the conversation).
  • Get a massage/ back rub/ foot rub/ shoulder rub.
  • Start/ go back to journaling your thoughts – keep them from buzzing inside your head by committing them to paper.
  • Engage in a non-work related hobby – drawing, sketching, sports, gardening – generally things that you do with your hands and create with your mind.
  • Meal prep – this may sound silly, but meal prep is a very relaxing activity – try it!
  • Take your pet out for a walk or play with your pet.

 

As I said, self-care activities would be different for everyone. Take the time to sit down and reflect. Find the activities that you think will help you clear your thoughts and get into a more productive workspace. You’ll feel better and lighter for it. As always, remember to stay humble and hustle hard.

 

References:

 

 

 

Written by Jaie O.- The Help

Small Business CRMs: Special Features and Capabilities

Small Business CRMs: Special Features and Capabilities

Here are a few special features and capabilities to consider when deciding on a CRM to use for your Small to Medium Business.

Customer Information

A good CRM should at the very least be able to hold records of all your customers. The key features to look for are:

  • Relationships: the ability to relate contacts to their companies and companies to accounts are all important features
  • Record keeping: your CRM should be able to hold pertinent contact information along with individual and company details
  • History: your CRM must be able to record all interactions on all instances of contact with the customer
  • Organization: your CRM must be able to organize all your contacts into groups (e.g. prospects, active clients, follow-ups, newsletter sign ups, etc.)
  • Others: extra features such as links to the contact social networking pages, display maps of client locations with travel instructions,

Sales and Marketing Tools

A CRM is not simply software. It is a business tool that helps you automate both sales and marketing and, importantly, speed up the buying cycle.  Look for these functions:

  • Invoicing: the ability to print and email invoices and statements
  • Account alerts: during sales, inform you if a customer is in arrears so you can make an informed decision regarding incurring more risk
  • Direct marketing: create automated email campaigns and produce mailing labels for direct marketing campaigns
  • Customer segmentation: identify customers by any number of categories, the products they buy or location, so that unique marketing and sales activities can be better targeted

Business Intelligence

At the very least, a CRM should be able to show you where your sales and marketing efforts are most effective.  Look for the following features:

  • Sales Tracking: Allow sales performance reporting
  • Targets: Manage sales targets by salesperson or team
  • Customer Segmentation: Identify groups of contacts for specialized marketing programs
  • Product reports: Provide product sales trends analysis and recommend stock reorder quantities
  • Profitability reports: Produce reports that help you strategize how to maximize your profits

Productivity Features

Of course, it would greatly help your staff CRM had features that could enhance their productivity as well. Look for the following:

  • Email: the ability to capture all email between your team and customers
  • Calendaring: daily schedules and to-do lists and  integration with staff calendars (i.e. Google Apps or Microsoft Outlook)
  • Mobility: the ability to access contact information via a tablet or mobile phone
  • Telephony: A ‘click to dial’ ability that lets staff simply select a phone number on a CRM record, and have it automatically dialed on their phone, while simultaneously recording the details of the call. Also, links to phone systems so that an incoming brings up the appropriate customer record automatically

Deployment options

A cloud-based CRM deployment will allow your staff to access the CRM from anywhere and on any device. However, cloud-based solutions require a reliable internet connection. If you are an in an area where broadband is patchy, you may wish to consider an on-premises solution instead.

Try before you buy

Use the free demos that are available from most CRM vendors. Frequently, these free trials allow you to experiment with a small set of your customer data, so you can test how well each solution works for your business.  Be on the lookout for small, add-in features that make a big difference.  Ask yourself “How does this tool help my business?”

That’s it for my tech series on Small Business CRMs. If you have questions or CRM recommendations, please feel free to leave a comment. Stay humble and hustle hard!

 

Written by Jaie O.- The Help