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10 Online Courses That Professionals Everywhere Can Use

10 Online Courses That Professionals Everywhere Can Use

The Great Recession may be behind us, but years of economic instability have left their mark on the workplace. Now, more Americans are freelancers or working on contract. Meanwhile, managers have yet to hire new employees at the pre-recession rates, leaving current employees with multiple responsibilities and job titles. What does that mean for us worker bees? We have to constantly improve our skillset, develop professionally and stay on top of our game to remain valued and employable. Yet many of us do not have the time or the money to participate in a traditional college or continuing education course.

Online courses are becoming more popular, and what was once seen as a questionable credential is now recognized as quality education. According to this infographic from Vista College, an estimated 25 million students will take at least one online class this year, and 77 percent of academics rate online courses equal or superior to the bricks and mortar classroom. No matter your profession, it’s critical to stay current with best practices, skills and technology. Here are 10 online courses that professionals everywhere should consider:

Intro to Social Media, Constant Contact

social media online course

    Is Facebook a mystery to you? Do you hear colleagues talking about the company’s digital footprint but have no idea what it means? If you were hoping Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and other social media sites were just fads that would quickly disappear, you are mistaken. And everyone from family owned businesses to multinational corporations are working to improve their online presence and reputation through these sites. Social 101, an online course put together by email marketer Constant Contact, explains popular sites, blogging, QR codes, email marketing and more.

    Project Management Course, Vista College Pro

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    project management courses

      Vista College’s online classes are perfect for busy professionals. This course can help enhance the skills needed to be successful in project management, including initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and closing. This course can also prepare you for the project management professional certification through the Project Management Institute. If your boss has been reluctant to put you in charge of a project, take this course to sharpen your skills.

      Google Analytics Academy, Google

      SEO and analytics

        Website analytics have advanced well beyond merely counting the number of visits. By taking this course, you’ll learn how the data collected by Google about those visiting your website will help you direct advertising dollars, grow your e-commerce, and create in-depth analysis. Just by adding the analytics code to your website, a whole new world of big data will be open to you.

        Time Management Class, Franklin Covey

        Time To Learn

          Franklin Covey is famous for its courses in productivity and business skills. Their Time Management Essentials online course can help busy professionals learn to prioritize responsibilities, think through problems more efficiently and make good decisions. These courses also teach students how to use technology to make life more productive, instead of adding distractions to an already busy schedule.

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          Writing Course, Utah State University

          writing course

            Clear and well thought out writing is hard to find. Even in an age when it seems everyone is a blogger, or at least a microblogger, quality writing is rare. Yet it’s necessary to get ahead in the workplace: presentations, emails, proposals and even employee reviews all depend upon a solid writing foundation. Take this course to help understand and develop writing skills.

            Photography Training and Tutorials, Lynda.com

            photography online course

              Photography is a wonderful personal skill that can take a family photo album from dull to inspiring. But a few photography skills can also help set you apart at work. Facebook posts with photos enjoy a higher level of engagement than those without. The annual financial report is read by more people when a compelling photo is on the cover. The company website is always putting out calls for event photos. By taking photography classes, you can set yourself apart at home and at work.

              Public Speaking, University of Washington via Coursera

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              Communicate Definition Magnifier Showing Dialog Networking Or Speaking

                Do you get knots in your stomach when presenting to the Board of Directors? Does the idea of representing your company at a trade show terrify you? Then it is time to take a public speaking class to get over your fears and advance in the workplace. This course is a partnership between the University of Washington and Coursera, and will help you become more succinct, persuasive and confident in your speech.

                Finance and Capital Markets, Khan Academy

                Finance

                  Even the most artistic among us has to face the reality of a budget and bank balance. So while this coursework may not apply to your job right now, as you move up the corporate ladder you will also be responsible for an office budget one day. Learning about interest, debt, accounting basics and financial statements will set you apart from colleagues who’ve never heard of the word “amortization.”

                  Business Etiquette, The Emily Post Institute

                  business course

                    One poorly handled work lunch or a flubbed interaction with the CEO can set any employee back. On the other hand, when a boss sees you handle a potentially awkward or stressful situation with grace and ease, you’ll be commended. The Emily Post Institute offers classes in business and workplace etiquette, communications for business professionals and dining tips for business dinners or events. Sure, you may know your company inside and out, but do you know how to make the best impression?

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                    Sewing Class, Craftsy.com

                    hobby classes

                      OK, maybe it won’t be sewing for you, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box when looking for an online class. If you talk on the phone all day, it is relaxing to take a sewing class in the evening and work your creative skills. Maybe for you it would be an online course about car repair, an online cooking class, instruction in a foreign language or a DIY home repair course. These outside interests will give you something to talk about at work, and show the boss that you are a well-rounded employee. C’est bon!

                      It may seem like you have no free time during which to take on an additional class, but putting time into your professional or personal development will reap benefits for years to come. If you won’t invest in yourself, who will? Sign up for a professional development course today. What course have you taken to aid in professional development? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

                      Featured photo credit: Aleksi Tappura via unsplash.imgix.net

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                      Last Updated on January 21, 2020

                      How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

                      How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

                      We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

                      So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

                      While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

                      Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

                      What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

                      How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

                      But what does being productive actually entail?

                      Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

                      Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

                      It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

                      Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

                      9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

                      1. Avoid Multitasking

                      Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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                      Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

                      If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

                      2. Turn off Notifications

                      According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

                      Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

                      The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

                      Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

                      3. Manage Interruptions

                      There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

                      Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

                      If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

                      By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

                      4. Eat the Frog

                      Mark Twain once famously said that:

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                      “if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

                      What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

                      We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

                      Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

                      5. Cut Down on Meetings

                      Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

                      You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

                      The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

                      But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

                      If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

                      6. Utilize Tools

                      Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

                      If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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                      And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

                      Some examples of tools that could be used:

                      Communication
                      • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
                      • Samepage for video conference software.
                      • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
                      Task Management
                      • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
                      • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
                      • Wekan for an open source option.
                      Database Management
                      Time Tracking
                      • Clockify for a free tracker.
                      • TMetric for workspace integrations.
                      • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

                      You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

                      7. Declutter and Organize

                      Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

                      Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

                      Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

                      Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

                      8. Take Breaks

                      Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

                      As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

                      Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

                      Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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                      9. Drink Water

                      Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

                      Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

                      Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

                      A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

                      If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

                      You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

                      The Bottom Line

                      The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

                      After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

                      In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

                      A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

                      Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

                      More About Boosting Productivity

                      Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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