Friday, August 31, 2012

De-Stress Your Work Day

Career stress? Here's how to simplify your 9 to 5.
1. Get a Head Start
Leave home 30 minutes earlier than normal. Studies find that the less rushed you feel in the morning, the less stressed you'll be for the rest of the day.
2. Bring Snacks
Bring a spill-proof coffee cup filled with your favorite brew to the office, and have a bag of nonperishable snacks on hand (try protein bars, dried fruit and nuts, juice boxes, or pretzels). Going for more than a few hours without a snack can cause your blood sugar levels to drop, and you'll end up exacerbating stress. This way, even if you have to work through back-to-back meetings, you'll be able to grab some fuel.
3. Give Yourself Some Credit
Most of us don’t take enough time to praise ourselves for doing things well. So when you’ve completed an interim or long-term goal, tell yourself—out loud—what a good job you’ve done. You’ll get a burst of confidence that will go a long way towards helping you maintain your cool amid the workplace madness.
4. Schedule 10 Minutes of “Worry Time”
Close your office door or go sit in an empty conference room and think about what's stressing you out. Bring a sheet of paper and divide it into three columns: My Worry; Why It Worries Me; Worst Thing That Could Happen. Once you confront the worst-case scenario, and realize that it probably won't ever happen, you can get back to work with your worry load lightened.
5. Manage Your Email
With about 5.5 trillion emails sent each year, it's no wonder your inbox is overflowing. To keep from stressing out, cut down the amount of time you spend reading and sending emails. Don't waste a message acknowledging receipt of an email, and put responses in the subject when possible so you don't have to compose a new message. Finally, use the “rule of three”: if you’ve gone back and forth on a topic three times and you’re still confused or have questions, pick up the phone.
6. Stretch
This is especially important if you have a sedentary job. Try lifting your legs up and stretching them for 30 seconds. This movement reduces the risk of blood clots that can result from sitting too long in one position. Another useful exercise is to put one arm behind your neck and stretch it by holding on to the elbow with the opposite arm. Switch sides and repeat.
7. Have a “Perspective Reminder”
Stress can overpower you at times, but your troubles are smaller than they seem. To remind yourself of that, keep a picture in your office—the earth taken from space, a starry night or the ocean—and look at it whenever you feel overwhelmed. Amid countless stars and the timeless crashing of waves against the shore, how important is that deadline, really?
8. Plan Ahead
When work is challenging, devote some of your down time, like weekends and evenings, to making a to-do list for the next week. Make a list, place boxes next to each item, and tick off the boxes as you get things done. You’ll avoid forgetting anything, you’ll stay focused on the job, and it’s very satisfying to tick off those boxes.
9. Socialize With Colleagues
Suggest a once-a-week gathering with your co-workers where you can talk about a particular work issue. Use your collective brain to figure out how to do something better, enhance productivity, or improve relationships.
10. Remind Yourself Why
Make a display in your office to remind you of your personal life. Include pictures of your spouse, children, and pet, a photograph of yourself doing something fun, plus a memento that reminds you of a special occasion. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed and stressed out, take five minutes and simply enjoy the display. Recall the day each picture was taken. Hold your memento and return in your memory to the day you got it. Now you’re ready to return to work.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Two Most Important Practices in Life

The two most important practices in life necessitate the proper management of time and the continual development of personal relationships. 
Possessing an elite social status with an abundance of money, a solid education, and even perfect health will seem irrelevant in the face of routine loneliness.  What’s the point in striving for personal success if you don’t have anyone to share your story with, or enough time to enjoy it? 
All too often in the news we read success stories supporting the endeavors of young career professionals that put “their lives” on hold while in pursuit of the prestigious career and job title of their dreams.  I’m not saying it’s wrong, I truly believe you should pursuit your dreams.  Putting all your effort into achieving something you truly desire makes sense… it is basis behind the every person’s dream.  However, there must be a balance.  The time spent on business matters can never be recovered.  If sufficient time is not allocated to fostering new relationships and nurturing current ones, will the end result suitably reflect the original envisioned dream, or will it leave something to be desired?
Remember, you can easily invest your time in exchange for money, status, education, and health; but nothing can buy you more time.  Make sure you spend it wisely, leaving enough time for the people you care about most.


1. Feign sincerity with eye contact and repetition: Make eye contact, echo what the person is saying to you back to them, and nod in understanding (even if you're not).

2. End a conversation with body language: for example, simply standing up (or crossing your arms, or speeding up to a "fast walk") to indicate it's time for that person to go and you're busy.

3. Ask sensitive questions indirectly to skip awkwardness: Use it when the info you need from someone is somewhat sensitive, use the bluff ("the breakup must've been hard, huh?") or blame others ("so has anyone asked about your prison time?") or the indirect inquiry ("what year did you get divorced?")

4. Use silence to win arguments and nail a negotiation: for example, when the other party offers a price, opt for a long pause to indicate hesitation, which might prompt them to go lower. In the case of arguments, prolonged silence may frustrate the other personal but it'll also make you look like the winner.

5. Soften critiques with the sandwich method to soften the blow: start with a compliment, then mention your critique, then end on a positive note.

6. Say "no" gently or say "yes, but....": For example, "I'm in the middle of several projects right now" to "I'm not the right person for that job."

7. Ask questions well

8. De-code office jargon: Client want to "touch base"? Manager want to "get on the same page"? Search Google for "Office Slang".

9. "Pace and lead" an irate person: Instead of remaining calm, match the other party's emotional intensity to show you're empathetic, then lead the complainant to a calmer level of discourse.

10. Become a human lie detector: Note sudden changes in voice pitch, rate of speech, or "ums" and "ahs," a change in eye contact, and body position.