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5 Ways to Be More Productive in the Office

5 Ways to Be More Productive in the Office


    Have you ever felt like you’re constantly chasing your tail at work?

    Too many scheduled meetings and then there’s the emails flying into your inbox so fast you barely have time to look at them? And yet, at the end of the day you haven’t got much done. Nothing to show for the hours of ‘hard work’ you’ve put in.

    There’s nothing worse than having an unproductive day at the office. And yet in my opinion it’s pretty easy to waste a lot of time in an office environment.

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    There are ‘unsaid’ rules that we abide by:

    • Meetings are important.
    • Email is king.
    • We must ‘look busy’ even if we’re not.
    • We must ‘look stressed’ — otherwise we can’t possibly be busy.

    The best thing you can do is throw all of these outdated rules out the window and replace them with one rule:

    Focus on output

    Not how many minutes or hours you ‘put in’, but the ‘results’ you ‘get out’ of your day.

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    The thing is, a lot of people don’t really care about results – they just care about ‘feeling busy’ and working long hours for the sake of it. But when you switch from a ‘busy’ mindset to a ‘results’ mindset your whole world starts to change.

    You have more time to spend on the important things, which equates to more results.

    Here are my top 5 tips for being productive in the office:

    1. Prioritize

    Focus on a maximum of 3 priorities each day.

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    This means ‘ignoring’ everything else on your list…until tomorrow. When we’re distracted and overwhelmed by a long list of ‘to do’ items, we can find it hard to focus on getting ‘anything’ done and procrastination takes over! Cut back and focus on the 3 most important things ONLY.

    2. Always do the most important things first

    Never, never, never start your day with your easiest or most liked tasks. Always start off with the hardest, most important task. Because this is the only way you’ll get it done.

    If you leave the hardest task until last guess what happens? You run out of time and it doesn’t get done. By tackling your hardest task first you can be certain it will get done no matter what happens.

    3. Take control of email

    For many of us, email is like a wild beast that takes over our office life. Take control of your email by limiting the time you spend checking and replying to emails. Just because there are emails there, doesn’t mean you have to reply to them all immediately. The world won’t end if you reply to an email an hour or two after it was sent.

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    I recommend only checking email 3 times a day max. Once in the morning, once just after lunch and once late afternoon. You’ll notice how much quicker you reply when you do it in bursts too. See my recent email tips for more tricks to control your emails.

    4. Make all meetings 20 minutes long

    Meetings can be the biggest waste of time. There’s an unspoken rule that all meetings must be for an hour. Why? How can all ‘topics’ neatly fit into a one-hour time slot?

    Cut down meetings to a 20 minute maximum. One way to speed them up is to do meetings standing up – people seem to magically get across their point much quicker when they’re not lounging around a board room table.

    5. Always have an agenda for all meetings

    Many meetings run over because there’s no structure to them. Insist all meeting owners provide a full agenda before any meeting detailing exactly what they want to discuss. This forces the meeting owner to do a lot of the work before the meeting and reduces any time wastage during the meeting itself.

    (Photo credit: Fast Typist via Shutterstock)

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    Zoe B

    A strategist, coach and blogger who shows people how to stop what isn't working for them in life and to start to plan the life they really want.

    6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills How to Increase Brain Power: 10 Simple Ways to Train Your Brain 12 Inspiring Quotes from Richard Branson that Enrich your Life 7 Irritating Thoughts That Throw You Off Track How to Overcome Boredom

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    Last Updated on August 19, 2019

    20 Critical Skills to Include on Your Resume (For All Types of Jobs)

    20 Critical Skills to Include on Your Resume (For All Types of Jobs)

    A resume describes your critical skills in a way that compels a hiring manager to want to meet you. That is a resume’s sole purpose.

    And make no mistake: Writing a resume is an art.

    Today each corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes on average, and somehow yours will need to rise above the competition. It’s actually harder to snag an interview from an online posting than to get into Harvard. But don’t let that intimidate you. Instead, open your laptop, roll up your proverbial sleeves, and let’s get to work!


    Employers generally prefer candidates with skills that show leadership ability, problem-solving ability, and perseverance through challenges. So in the resume, you should demonstrate that you’re a dynamic candidate.

    Refine the skills on your resume so that you incorporate these resume “musts:”

    1. Leadership Ability

    Even an entry-level employee can show leadership. Point out how your skills helped your department ascend to a new level. Capture leadership attributes with compelling statements.

    Example:

    “Led change that drove efficiency and an ability to cut 800 error-free payroll checks.”

    2. Problem-Solving Ability

    Most employees are hired to solve problems. Showcase that ability on your resume.

    Example:

    “Led staff in campaign to outrival top competitor’s market share during a down cycle.”

    3. Perseverance

    Have you been promoted several times? Or have you maintained margins in a down cycle? Both achievements demonstrate persistence. You look like someone who can navigate roadblocks.

    4. Technical Skills

    Consider including a Key Skills or Technology Skills section in which you list computer and software skills.

    Example:

    “Expert-level knowledge in Java.”

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    5. Quantified Results

    Nothing is quite as attractive as objective results. Did you increase sales by 25 percent? Win three new clients? Surpass the internal goal by 15 percent?

    Use hard-hitting numbers to express your point. State the result first, and then provide a sentence or phrase describing the critical skills you applied to achieve the milestone.

    Example:

    “Boosted sales by 200 percent by developing new online platform that made it easier for customers to compare and contrast sizes, textures, and fit.”

    6. People Skills

    Employers prefer congenial staff members to prima donnas or mavericks. Relate your strongest soft skills.

    Example:

    “Organized, hard-working staffer who listens well and communicates effectively.”

    7. Passion in the Field

    Recruiters and hiring managers can intuit whether candidates care about their career performance by the dynamism behind the descriptions of their skills on their resumes. Are your efforts “transformational” or merely “useful?” Were your results “game-changing” or boringly “appropriate?”

    The tenor of your words reveals whether you’re passionate or passive. (But don’t overdo it. See the “Hyperbole” section below.)

    8. Being the Entrepreneur within the Corporation

    Whether you took the initiative to create a new synergy or worked independently to land an opportunity, share how you furthered organizational goals through your self-directed efforts.

    9. Your Adaptability

    Have you switched career paths? Weathered a corporate takeover?

    Make it clear that your resilience helped get you and your organization through the turbulence.

    10. Confirming Your Expertise

    Every job posting states experience requirements. Ideally, you want to meet these requirements or best them. But don’t exaggerate.


    While proving that you possess the credentials described in the job posting, you can still stand out if you are able to offer additional special skills to showcase your personality.

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    Consider adding any of these special accomplishments, if true:

    11. Referencing Award-Winning Talents

    If you played center on your college basketball team that made it into the Top 10 finals, then working collaboratively and cooperatively are among your natural callings. Be sure to say so.

    12. Unveiling Your Work Persona

    If you were repeatedly singled out for your stellar performance in work settings, becoming employee-of-the-month, top revenue generator, and so on — it’s worth mentioning.

    13. Capitalizing on Commonalities

    From Googling the hiring manager, you discover that she was formerly a Peace Corps volunteer in Belize. Listing your Spanish immersion course in Central America may draw her attention to the other outstanding skills on your resume.

    14. Highlighting Creative Tactics

    If, for example, in your HR role, you piloted an employee incentive program that became an industry model, include it. Such innovative thinking will command an employer’s attention.

    15. Specifying All Accolades

    Listing any honors received instills confidence that you will bring that level of perfectionism forward in a corporate environment.

    16. Transferable Skills

    You spend your spare time conducting your community orchestra. Highlight this after-hours pursuit to show that you have the critical skills needed to keep a team on task.


    Take note: Hyperbole can hurt you. So, show your credibility.

    Although it may be tempting to use embellishments to boost your experience, improve your job title, or enhance your education, resist. These days, a five-minute search will reveal the truth. And taking self-inflation too far could easily come back to destroy your career.

    Hiring managers have their antenna up for resume hyperbole. A survey shows that 53 percent are suspicious that candidates are often dishonest.

    Follow these guiding principles when writing your own resume:

    17. Accurately Describing Your Degree

    Make sure to differentiate between certificates attained and degrees earned, along with the name of the institution awarding them.

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    18. Stating Job Duration with Honest Dates

    Honesty is the only policy when reporting the length of a particular job. If you’ve been out of work for an extended period of time, state the reason you have gaps.

    Whether you traveled, had to cope with a family emergency, or went back to school to change your professional track, communicate the positive outcome that came from the hiatus.

    19. Claiming Only the Skills You Truly Possess

    Unless you’re proficient in a software program or are fluent in a second language, leave any mention of them off.

    Conversely, if you feel like you must include them, then accurately qualify your level of competence.

    20. Being Honest About Your Role in a Project

    You may think you were the lead person because you did most of the work, but chances are your supervisor thinks otherwise.

    Besides the 20 critical skills to include on your resume, here’re some important notes for you.

    Bonus Tips for Writing a Resume

    You Only Have 6 to 7 Seconds to Impress the Employer

    Hiring managers and artificial intelligence “bots” may spend only 6 to 7 seconds perusing your resume, which means you need it to teem with essential skills, quantifiable achievements, and action words.

    If, in fact, you believe that a “bot” will be analyzing your resume before it even lands on a hiring manager’s desk, be sure to include some of the actual key words from the posting in your document. There’s no reason why you can’t customize your resume to each job posting.

    Another tip: Be sure to show your resume to a few individuals who work in your field, so that you can fine-tune the information as needed.

    Starting at the Top

    The Objective at the top of your resume is optional if you’re seeking the same job you already have, just at different company. However, if you’re switching fields, it’s critical to include an Objective, which is a one-sentence summary of the job you want.

    For example:

    Objective: To become web editor at a thriving news website.

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    If you’ve been in your field for ten years or more, you will probably want to include an Executive Summary. This is a one-sentence takeaway about who you are, including the critical skills you amassed throughout your career.

    For example:

    Executive Summary: Award-winning creative director with over ten years experience managing teams on three continents.

    Depending on your field, you may also want to add some skills as bullet points in the Executive Summary section.

    And what about your Education? If you graduated from college within the past ten years, include your Education just below the Objective section (and forgo the Executive Summary). If it’s been over ten years since you graduated, then include your Education at the very end of your resume. Only cite your grade point average (G.P.A.) if it was exceptional—3.7 G.P.A. or higher, or if you won scholastic awards.

    Ideally, the critical skills you amassed during college, at your previous job, and throughout your career will add up to a riveting portrait of a professional who’s ideally suited for your dream position: You.

    Tailor, Tweak, and Fine-Tune

    If you’re targeting different kinds of organizations, you’ll need customized resumes for each outreach.

    Don’t be afraid to parrot some of the words on the list of requirements back to the company. Many times, organizations will actually use the key words mentioned in the job posting when screening resumes.

    Approach Your Resume as a Skills-Based Story

    Like any good storyteller, lay out the framework at the beginning. Include the skills you’ve mastered and state how you can add value—wording your sentences in a way that reflects the specific job you’re seeking.

    Are you vying for a sales position? Quantify your results: “Responsible for 50 percent of all sales that resulted in $750,000 in annual revenue.” Use your critical skills, peppered throughout your resume, to tell the exciting story of your distinguished professional career!

    Researching the organization that you’re targeting will help you make your examples specific. Does the company cater to a particular audience or clientele? Be sure to note any experiences you’ve had with similar audiences.

    Putting It All Together

    A resume is not a laundry list. It tells a cohesive story. Your story should highlight your qualifications and critical skills in a way that makes a logical, well-constructed case for your compatibility with the organization and its advertised position.

    Packaging your story into the concisely prescribed format of a resume means that it will read as a synopsis — one that will hopefully land you the job.

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    Featured photo credit: Bram Naus via unsplash.com

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