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Does Mindfulness Matter in the Workplace?

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Fri, Aug 26, 2016 @ 09:24 AM

Pierre_Khawand_100x100_2016.jpgby Pierre Khawand, Founder and CEO

You probably have heard about the benefits of mindfulness for our physical and mental health — lower blood pressure and cortisol (stress) levels, a stronger immune system, improved sleep, and enhanced emotional stability. These benefits alone are enough to indicate that mindfulness would be an integral addition to our lives. And yet, while many of us acknowledge these benefits, we hesitate or don’t know how to practice mindfulness where we need it the most — at work. Could mindfulness contribute to our work experience, and if so, what might it contribute, and how can we achieve it?

First, to make sure we all on the same page, let’s define mindfulness. Alicia Maher, MD, author of From Scattered to Centered: Understanding and Transforming the Distracted Brain, defines mindfulness as paying attention to what is happening around us and within us without reacting to it. It is the ability to be in the present moment without distraction and without judgment. In other words, it is about paying attention to what is happening NOW! Unless we pay attention to what is happening now, how can we be effective and how can we positively impact the future? Recent research has shown how mindfulness practices can benefit us at work.

Mindfulness at work

Mindfulness practices have been shown to help workers excel in dynamic work environments. In a field study conducted by Dr. Eric Dane from Rice University, trial lawyers used mindfulness to gather critical inputs from the courtroom environment — such as the reactions from the judge, the jury, and the opposing lawyers — in order to build their cases. Dr. Dane argues that the wide attentional breadth associated with mindfulness helped these lawyers unite numerous streams of information in order to make a strategic response. Outside of the courtroom environment, he expects mindfulness to benefit individuals who work in “dynamic task environments.”

Our modern work environments are increasingly dynamic, requiring us to “multi-task” to juggle multiple tasks, projects, and sometimes even multiple jobs. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve performance under such attention-dividing demands. Researchers from the University of Washington tested participants’ ability to perform multiple tasks in a work setting. They found that mindfulness practices over an eight-week period improved the participants’ ability to switch between tasks and to monitor their attention resulting in a more effective overall management of attention and related mental resources. Aren’t these exactly the capabilities we badly need in today’s overloaded workplace? Wouldn’t you describe your workplace as a “dynamic task environment”?

If you believe increased stability and control of your attention may increase your working potential but don’t know where to start, you’re not alone. Breaking old habits and achieving the benefits of mindfulness at work requires some tools and some consistency, but the rewards are immense. To help cultivate mindfulness at work, I developed a method called the Perfect 15-Minute Day Method (PDM).

All that is required is a journal, a timer, and the method itself in order to get started. PDM uses “tags” and 15-minute increments to encourage mindfulness of tasks, goals, time, in addition to thoughts and emotions. Most importantly, PDM provides a method for recording distractions of all kinds. It is like a new “language” that makes mindfulness achievable every step of the way. There are four core techniques through which the PDM promotes mindfulness at work.

First, when you start to work on a task, write down on your journal a NOW tag and the name of the task. The NOW tag prompts you to be decisive about which task you will focus on for the next 15 minutes at least. This, as journalist and meditation practitioner Dan Harris asserts in his book 10% Happier, is a critical part of being mindful as it allows you to work assertively rather than reactively. This engages your active thinking and brings you to the present moment. Instead of hastily making decisions based on temptation, anxiety, or acts of randomness, you make more informed decisions based on wisdom by taking into consideration current reality and desired results (mindful task selection). Once you decide on the NOW task and write it down, the timer keeps you aware of time and keeps your attention on the NOW task throughout the 15-minute time frame (mindful task execution).

The Perfect 15-Minute Day Method Chapter3 Pg24 Illustration
Second comes MicroPlanning™. MicroPlanning is a PDM technique that involves breaking down the task that you are about to undertake into smaller steps and jotting them down in writing right under the NOW task. This helps you dissect the NOW task, which might otherwise be overwhelming or ambiguous, into smaller steps that are digestible and actionable. This breakdown also deepens your understanding of the NOW task, engages your active thinking even further, and provides you the framework you need to be able to recover when your mind wanders or you get otherwise interrupted, thus allowing you to return to the present moment.

The Perfect 15-Minute Day Method Chapter5Third, the NEXT column, CAPTURE page, and TODAY page all help you notice and capture thoughts about things to do. Having a designated spot to jot down these items allows you to quickly return to your NOW task and thus return to the present moment. The NEXT column for instance is a column that you create on your NOW page in your journal so you can quickly and easily “park” interrupting thoughts about things to do after your current 15-minute focus session, instead of doing them right away and getting distracted from your NOW task. A study published in the American Psychological Association found that when distracted, people forget their intended task up to 40% of the time. Therefore avoiding these distractions is a huge step towards completing your priorities and feeling accomplished.

The Perfect 15-Minute Day Chapter6 Journal1Fourth, PDM encourages you to notice distracting thoughts and emotions by using the THOUGHT and EMOTION tags to label, rank, and move beyond them. MRI scans show that labeling emotions engages the higher order parts of the brain associated with thinking and planning; this indicates an awareness with less reactiveness to the emotion (remember, mindfulness is being aware without reacting). According to Chade-Meng Tan, author of Search Inside Yourself, How to Master Your Mind, and Joy on Demand, holding on - whether by refusing to let something go or by refusing to let something come - is what Buddhist meditators identify as the main cause of human suffering. Instead of holding on, PDM encourages you to welcome and transcend your thoughts and emotions, and, consequently, experience moments of happiness that quickly add up.

The Perfect 15-Minute Day Method Chapter7 Journal1Enough said! Mindfulness at work is needed and is achievable. It is the path to happiness and accomplishments and the best response yet to our work overload. PDM and the teachings of mindfulness thought leaders like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dan Harris, Chade-Meng Tan, and the research of Dr. Eric Dane, the University of Washington, and the other thousands of individuals and organizations who have undertaken this topic are all here to guide us in undertaking this essential journey to happiness and accomplishment at work.

Take your productivity to the next level
with The Perfect 15-Minute Day
book, eBook, journal, or eCourse!

Article originally published on The Huffington Post.

Topics: career, stress management, business results, time management tips, productivity, leadership, managing stress

When Work is Oh-So Boring: 5 Ways to Stay Focused and Beat ADHD

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Wed, Aug 10, 2016 @ 11:01 AM

Pierre_Khawand_100x100_2016.jpgby Pierre Khawand, Founder and CEO

When you landed your current job, you were so excited to get started. You had so many plans, so many ideas, and so much passion. Eventually, that passion fades and not even your second cup of coffee can give you enough motivation to start the long-term project that you were so pumped about just a few months ago!

Adults with ADHD know their strengths. They are an asset to any team with their out-of-the-box thinking, ingenuity, and creativity. Their high energy is infectious and can carry big ideas to fruition and make impactful changes within a corporation.

But, as adults with ADHD also know, with the highs come the lows. While some days are focused and productive, other days are blanketed by brain fog, hopelessly distracted, forgetful and altogether disorganized.

When ADHD throws you lemons, you do what you can to stay focused at work and make the most you can out of it. Here are 5 tips to make work bearable and even fun and to keep you engaged and productive in the face of ADHD.

Distracted and bored at work

1. Make a Game Out of It

Games are inherently fun and engaging. Work isn’t necessarily so. Stay on your toes by making work a game. First, break your project down into small, discrete tasks. Second, set a kitchen timer for 15 minutes--or your smartphone timer of course, and try to finish your task or a portion thereof before the time runs out. This adrenaline-pumping activity will keep the boredom at bay and help you finish your tasks for the day.

2. Keep a Record of Your Activity

When distraction strikes, keeping a record of your activity, and yes, even your distractions, can help you get back on track. I developed a tool to help me and my clients remain engaged whether the workday is long and repetitive, or hectic and variable. I call it “The Perfect 15-Minute Day Method” (PDM). PDM incorporates the 15-minute technique of tip #1 and a simple journal system of “tags” for recording current tasks and managing distractions. This encourages goal-setting and time mastery, both essential for motivating your work.

The PDM method of recording your activity helps you to better focus and regain focus after distractions or interruptions. For instance, when you begin to work on a task, note this down with a NOW tag followed by the name of your task, then set your timer for 15 minutes. Simply writing down what you want to work on helps quiet your mind to focus on the task; setting the timer solidifies your intention to work on that task. During the task, if you are interrupted or distracted, note this down as well with the applicable PDM tag. By becoming aware of your interruptions, external or internal, you can learn to better manage your focus.

Take your productivity to the next level
with The Perfect 15-Minute Day
book, eBook, journal, or eCourse!

3. Clear Your Environment to Clear Your Mind

Having irrelevant materials in your workspace can subconsciously distract you from your current task. Metaphorically declutter your mind by clearing your desk and computer screen. Then, repopulate your environment with only the information that is relevant to the current task. Remind yourself of your current task by consulting your Activity Record (see tip #2). Pro Tip: keep all documents related to a certain project together in a paper or electronic folder, either in a file cabinet or on your computer desktop.

4. Take a Mindful Moment

Taking a 5-minute break before starting a new task can help decrease the impact of “attention residue” on your productivity. Attention residue occurs when thoughts of your previous task linger and divert vital attentional resources away from your current task. According to a recent study, 5-minutes of mindfulness (shifting your attention to your breath or the sensory input in your environment) can reset your brain and enhance concentration on the present task. On days when distractions and boredom are already eating away at your attention span, use this technique to take control of your attention and hit refresh.

5. Reconcile at the End of Each Day

If you make a to-do list every morning and are keeping a careful record of your daily activities (see tip #2), it should be easy to go through the list and determine which tasks are still incomplete and need to be reassigned to another day. On especially distracted days, there may be more items than usual requiring reassignment. Don’t let this worry you. Variations in day-to-day performance are a normal part of being human. Forgive yourself for having an off-day and don’t dwell on it. Instead, remind yourself about the things you enjoy about your work and the achievements you’ve made. Hopefully, your boredom subsides by tomorrow, but if it doesn’t, use these tricks and tips to help you stay focused and stimulated.

To learn more,
check out The Perfect 15-Minute Day!

Article originally published on The Huffington Post.

Topics: career, stress management, business results, time management tips, productivity, leadership, managing stress

Mindfulness at Work Meets Time Management with “The Perfect 15-Minute Day”

Posted by Melissa Sweat on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 @ 12:27 PM

melissa_sweat_100x100.jpgby Melissa Sweat, Online Community Manager

I have a confession to make: I consider myself pretty darn productive and organized at work, but I have to admit that I do tend to let myself get distracted from time to time… Whether it’s checking social media, my smartphone, or popping back into email. And I feel a bit guilty about it—that I’m not performing at my best.

But, even more than that, on those days when I succumb to the temptations of distraction, I find myself far more tired and stressed out at the end of the day.

Why?

One, because I likely haven’t accomplished all the tasks I intended to by being distracted. And two, because our minds don’t perform at their highest capacity when engaged in constant “multi-tasking,” which is essentially “task-switching.”

As People-OnTheGo Founder Pierre Khawand writes in The Perfect 15-Minute Day, “Multi-taking contributes to stress and overwork. Studies show that those who multi-task feel like time moves more quickly and that their workload is much heavier than those who focus on a single task.”

So, how can we train our distracted brains to focus on a single task and not be tempted by all the various interruptions in the workplace of co-workers, technology, and even our own thoughts and emotions?

 

Sign up for our FREE webinar July 7, 2016, "The Perfect 15-Minute Day Method:  From Scattered to Accomplished and Happy!"

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(At the webinar, we'll also be having a special giveaway!)

 

Getting Focused Just 15-Minutes at a Time

A few months ago when I first experimented with the “The Perfect 15-Minute Day Method” (or PDM), I was amazed at the results I saw in my reducing my stress level and increasing my productivity in just a few days.

With only a journal, a timer, and the method, I was able to drastically reduce my distraction and get much more accomplished each day. The key, I realized, was how the method combined mindfulness at work with strategic time management.

The_Perfect_15_Minute_Day_Method_Time_Management_at_Work_Pierre_Khawand.jpg

Here’s a quick summary about how PDM works:

“PDM helps you a) be always aware of what you’re working on and b) stay focused on the task at hand by working in highly productive bursts of short 15-minute increments. The method includes the use of tags to help you track your tasks, manage interruptions, manage thoughts and emotions along the way, and be able to reconcile and close the loops on unfinished items at the end of the day.”

The most compelling aspects of the method for me were the use of tags to keep me aware of exactly what I was working on, combined with the use of the 15-minute timer. Setting the timer and focusing for just 15 minutes at a time made each “focused session” feel like a success! No longer was I tempted to turn to another distraction at work. I could successfully focus on the task at hand and get so much more done because that task had my full attention.

When I needed to keep working on a task, I would start another 15-minute increment and keep going. If I needed to attend a meeting or was starting to feel overwhelmed or stressed, I’d also mark that in my journal and could easily get back to what I was working on when I returned.

With The Perfect 15-Minute Day Method, I had a clear game plan that enabled me to navigate through all the potential interruptions at work and achieve a whole new level of “workplace Zen.”

To learn more, check out The Perfect 15-Minute Day book or join us at the complimentary webinar on July 7!

Sign up for the FREE webinar!

 

Topics: career, stress management, business results, time management tips, productivity, leadership, managing stress

What makes someone feel fulfilled at work? Asked SC Moatti, author of Mobilized

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 @ 05:14 PM


BookSigning.jpg

SC: What makes someone feel fulfilled at work in your view?

Pierre: There are many factors that make us fulfilled ranging from feeling recognized by our manager and our team, having work friends that we trust, being able to leverage our skills and experiences, feel that we are learning and developing, accomplish meaningful things, and more!

However, I would like to focus on one specific factor which is "accomplishing meaningful things." The challenge is that accomplishing something meaningful takes time, sometimes a long time, so what do we do in between? Another challenge is that when we accomplish something, most often we immediately and without even noticing what we accomplished, get into the next thing and start chasing the next accomplishment.

The idea behind the Perfect 15-Minute Day Method is to pause briefly every 15 minutes, and have the opportunity to reflect even for a moment and notice what we’ve accomplished. Even if it is a tiny step, this helps us experience a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. As a result we are happy now and equipped with extra energy that can propel us forward towards the next 15 minutes. The result is accomplishment and happiness at work.

Need some inspiration? Check out SC's podcast for the full interview.

What makes you feel fulfilled at work? Your turn!


 

Topics: wellness, produtivity, happiness, accomplishment

Moving through ADHD with the Right Exercise

Posted by Melissa Sweat on Thu, May 19, 2016 @ 10:28 AM

Dr_Alicia_Maher_100x100.jpgGuest post by Alicia R. Maher, M.D. 

Being an integrative psychiatrist, I treat patients using western medicine, alternative treatments and a wide variety of lifestyle interventions. When treating ADHD, I find that bringing all of these practices together is the most beneficial approach. One powerful, yet often not implemented practice, is that of exercise.  As someone who has had ADHD myself, I know how difficult it can be to follow through when someone makes a wonderful suggestion such as ‘go exercise’. However, years of exercising and the great effects in my clients who exercise have convinced me that this is essential for those wanting to recover from, and thrive with, ADHD.

We know that symptoms of ADHD include restlessness, decreased concentration, poor follow-through, emotional reactivity, and others. We also know that these symptoms are related to an ineffective processing of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, in the brain. Exercise not only increases the amount of dopamine available to help with concentration and follow-through, but exercise also produces natural endorphins that give one a general sense of calm and well-being. This can help with the restlessness that one with ADHD seems to have, always feeling like they need to be doing something. That sense of well-being can also decrease the emotional reactivity. Throughout the day and especially for the period of time right after exercise, there is calm and a greater ability to focus.

 

Sign up for our free webinar June 2, 2016 with Dr. Maher, From Scattered to Centered: Understanding and Transforming the Distracted Brain

Click now to register!

 

So how can one with ADHD use exercise to help improve their symptoms? Often the temptation is to sleep in as long as possible before work and stay seated throughout the work day, leaving exercise for afterwards, when it might not do the most good. Exercising before work and then doing the high concentration tasks first thing when arriving to work will have this same effect, as will using the lunch hour to work out for those who have trouble concentrating in the afternoons after lunch. It is ideal if adults can work a couple of breaks, or ‘recess’, into their day. This might mean running up and down the stairs of the office building a couple of times, or taking a vigorous walk around a one story building. If you have a private office or are unconcerned with what others think, you can get up and dance at your desk for 5 to 10 minutes of music.

atos-healthcare-employee-health-and-rehabilitation_12.jpg

So what kind of exercise is best? Obviously, any movement is better than nothing. As a ‘prescription’ I would say 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise 5 days a week (preferably the school or work days) is ideal. It is important to experiment with one’s self as to which exercise is the right amount to have increased concentration and an increased sensation of well-being in the brain, without the body being so tired that one just wants to rest afterwards. Usually this involves running or other cardio, that one builds up to 30 minutes as they are able. Joining a class, such as Zumba, where there is someone to follow and a group of people around can help with decreasing the boredom that causes those with ADHD to give up on an activity. Meeting someone to exercise with you can help with motivation and follow through, as will paying a personal trainer to guide you through workouts. The important thing is always to find what works for you and to keep making changes as you go along.

Figure out what makes you feel good, and then how to make it something you will actually do. Given someone with ADHD’s need for novelty, plan to change what you’re doing every month or two, whether that be through your trainer, taking a new exercise class, or just choosing new activities. If you plan to change it, every so often, right from the beginning, there is less chance that you will get bored, habituate to your current exercise effects and then be in risk of not continuing to exercise.                                            

As always, if you are concerned about ADHD, in yourself or a loved one, you are advised to seek treatment with a healthcare professional.     

Alicia R Maher, M.D.  is an Integrative Psychiatrist at the Akasha Center for Integrative Medicine in Santa Monica, CA. She is also the author of the self-help guide for ADHD entitled, From Scattered to Centered: Understanding and Transforming the Distracted Brain. Dr Maher enjoys helping people to understand the neuroscience behind our conditions and transform our lives, rather than just "fix" the disorder. For more information, please visit www.FromScatteredtoCentered.com, or sign up for the webinar on June 2, 2016.

Sign up for the FREE webinar!

 

Topics: wellness, stress management, business results, time management tips, productivity, Lunch & Learn Webinars, managing stress

How Mobile Makes Life Better and Easier

Posted by Melissa Sweat on Wed, Apr 27, 2016 @ 12:10 PM

SC_Moatti_100x100.jpgGuest post by SC Moatti

We are all wired with anxieties that get triggered when we least expect them. In fact, psychology professor Roy Baumeister explains that it takes a lot of energy to keep this stress under control. He calls that energy willpower, which is also the title of his best-selling book.

“Some people imagine that willpower is something you only use once in awhile, such as when you are tempted to do something wrong. The opposite is true,” he says. “Most people use their willpower many times a day, all day.”

It all adds up to depletion of energy. That’s when we most feel that we lose control. “Depletion seems to be like turning up the volume on your life as a whole,” Baumeister says.

Great mobile products turn the volume down on our life, and they do it by knowing a lot about us. The more they know about us, the more personalized they get. The more personalized they get, the better able they are to cater to our individual wants and needs.

Sign up for our free webinar May 5, 2016 with SC Moatti, "Human First: How Mobile is Becoming an Extension of Ourselves"

Click now to register!

(At the webinar, we'll also be giving away 5 copies of SC's new book, Mobilized!)

By being constantly connected to our environment, mobile products sort through the millions of information bits we are bombarded with to show us only the ones that matter right here, right now. We give them permission to make these decisions on our behalf because they know enough about us to personalize everything.

This personalization is essential to what makes mobile products successful. It puts us in complete control of the experience.

Sometimes, the experience we get from mobile is so personalized that we wouldn’t be able to reproduce it otherwise. Life suddenly gets easier, because we are no longer hampered by circumstances beyond our control. Our stress level goes down, as in this example.

Mobile personalization success

Not too long ago, I had an important meeting with a major partner, and as I was leaving my apartment it started raining. I decided to hail a cab.

Of course, there was no cab in sight. It took me a while to finally find one and by then, I was soaked and already late for my meeting. On top of this, when it came time to pay the fare, I didn’t have enough cash so we had to stop by an ATM.

All I could think about was that I was going to lose my client. I blamed myself for not planning enough. I was upset at the rain for messing up the traffic. But really, I was afraid of losing a significant source of income. All because I couldn’t find a cab.                                               

Now that I started using Lyft and Uber, I no longer get stressed when I need a ride. All I need to do is pull up the service on my phone when I’m getting ready to go somewhere, get in the car when I’m notified that it’s here to pick me up, and get out when I’ve arrived. It optimizes my itinerary in real time by routing around delays that before would have left me stuck in traffic. It even tells me ahead of time how much the fare will be. I no longer even need to “pay” in the traditional sense, because the fare is automatically charged to my credit card. I feel cared for, even pampered, because the service eliminates all the previous hassle of getting from point A to point B. It feels good.

Feeling taken care of in ways we cannot provide to ourselves is a reflection of what is important to us, of what has inner meaning to us. A bond naturally develops from this extreme personalization, similar to any relationship. This connection lifts our spirit, not unlike intense feelings such as love. And what gives us more meaning than being in love?

To learn more about the formula for mobile success, including how to apply it to your own company, read my book, mobilized: an insider’s guide to the business and future of connected technology, visit scmoatti.com, or join us at the free webinar May 5!

Sign up for the FREE webinar!

Topics: emerging technology, giveaway, Technology, business results, productivity, Lunch & Learn Webinars, collaboration

More Rules or More Freedom for Greater Employee Productivity?

Posted by Melissa Sweat on Mon, Apr 04, 2016 @ 09:57 AM

Heard about our summary+commentary (s+c*d) format? Learn more!

Summary

bigstock-Productivity-Doodles-25491734.jpgIn his recent post, “What really hurts productivity?,” on his Recognize This! blog, Derek Irvine makes a compelling case for how too many rules can lead to a decrease in employee productivity. His argument is geared toward employee recognition programs, which he says can have an inadvertently negative effect on productivity and engagement—particularly for programs that focus on creating strict eligibility criteria.

“It is not a stretch to assume that many employees—particularly those already showing up on time—would perceive these criteria as unnecessary rules placed on how and when work is accomplished,” he writes. “These employees most likely value their autonomy at work, and consequently, will be more reactive toward any perceived restriction in freedom.” So these types of program, in Derek’s view, can essentially backfire.

Commentary

While we agree that more freedom can be a positive, in our findings and work with organizations for over a decade, we’ve found that many employees struggle managing day-to-day tasks without stress and lower productivity. Combining structure and freedom for focused work, collaboration, and play can lead to much greater productivity overall. This is particularly so with structuring one’s workday, taking breaks, not requiring instant email responses, and using alternative tools like webinars and cloud-based documents, instead of just email.

Discussion

What do you think about the balance between freedom and structure at work when it comes to employee productivity? Do organizations need a combination of both? Do you yourself find that you’re more productive with either more or less structure? What about your department or team? Please share your thoughts below.

Sign up for our Productivity Webathon on  April 12, 2016! Just $12.95 for a full day of webinar-based training! Find out more.

Topics: human resources, summary-plus-commentary, time management tips, productivity, leadership

5 Free Social Media Tools You Can't Live Without

Posted by Melissa Sweat on Mon, Oct 19, 2015 @ 09:26 AM

People-OnTheGo_socialmediatools_timesaving_productivity

When it comes to social media tools, it pays to know the difference from the "nice-to-haves" and the essentials. Of course, if you're managing social media for a larger organization or at an agency, you're going to need more robust, enterprise-level tools and software to truly maximize your efforts at a higher level -- tools like Simply Measured, Sprout Social, and SocialBro, to name a few.

But if you're looking for the right tools to save time and effort while managing your personal social media channels or for a smaller business, you can accomplish so much with just a handful of free tools. And although they're free, it doesn't mean they're not powerful. Any professional social media marketer will be using either some or all of the tools on this list.

And once you start using them, you'll probably wonder how to ever managed your social media without them.


The five essentials for your social media toolkit

1. Hootsuite

Want to seamlessly manage all your personal social media profiles across channels, so that you don't need to have each and every dashboard up for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the like? Well, that's exactly what Hootsuite enables you to do, and it works like a charm.

What's even better is that you don't need to write a new social media post for each channel, you can simply send the same post -- at the same time -- across all your profiles at once. Hallelujah! As for productivity, you can even batch your posts by creating them all at once, say on Monday morning so you can have all your posts ready for the week. You can then "set it and forget it" by scheduling the posts to publish throughout the week. An amazing time saver!

2. Buffer

Buffer's browser extension will be your new favorite buddy that follows you all around the internet and is ready to help you share any interesting article or blog post you come across with your social networks at the click of a button. Just install the extension into your browser's toolbar, then click the Buffer icon when you find something you want to share. It's that simple.

You can adjust the pre-populated text if you like, add a comment, or hashtags. And you can easily share across channels, as well, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+.

3. Feedly

Don't want to fumble around the internet searching for fresh content to share? Miss your Google Reader much? Well, Feedly is a much-improved and fantastic solution for getting all your RSS feeds from your favorite websites, media outlets, and blogs all in one place. As a side benefit, Feedly can also help you cut back on your email subscriptions so your inbox doesn't become overcrowded!

4. Canva

Social media has become increasingly visual -- and using click-worthy images in your posts is not just for Pinterest and Instagram. Even Facebook and Twitter have become more image-reliant, and statistics show that visual content will really help your posts stand out and increase engagement.

But if you're not a fully fledged graphic designer, it can be daunting to keep up with the production of visual content for you social networks. Enter Canva to the rescue! With easy-to-use templates, and a bevy of free backgrounds and professional quality text design options, you'll be amazed at how easy it can be to create eye-catching social content.

5. Hashtagify

With social media, sometimes it's hard to keep up with the trends, but first and foremost you have to clue into the conversation. Hashtagify can help. As you likely know, hashtags are what unite conversation and social media posts in each channel around a certain topic. #SocialMediaTools, for example.

Well, if you don't know the right hashtags to use, or are in need of diving deeper into your niche so you can better hone in on the topics and discussions you care about, then Hashtagify is a great solution. Type a keyword or tag into the platform and Hashtagify will create a beautiful hub chart of popular hashtags related to this topic (just like the image at the start of this post). Then add two to three relevant hashtags to your posts to increase reach, engagement, and click-through, and to also help you stand out in your area of expertise.


We hope you enjoy exploring and benefitting from these essential social media tools -- while saving time, money, and stress in the process!

Topics: social media, productivity, time on social media

Play in the Workplace? Three Radical Reasons For More Play at Work

Posted by Melissa Sweat on Mon, May 25, 2015 @ 01:25 PM

If having lots of levity and play in the workplace points to signs of happiness and longevity and work, look no further than the tenures of the longest running late-night show hosts as a guide.

  • Jon Stewart: 17 total years
  • Jay Leno: 21 total years
  • Conan O’Brien: 21 total years
  • Johnny Carson: 30 total years
  • Dave Letterman: 33 total years!

Source: Vocativ.com

Dave_Letterman_late-night_career_Michelle_Obama

Now, we all know that hosting a late-night comedy and entertainment show is not exactly the nine-to-five—but isn’t that the point? Don’t most of us office and knowledge workers come home feeling burnt out and wanting more from our day? And for managers, aren't your teams and employees lacking a certain cohesion and spark?

The data tells us the average worker is just plain burnt out.

And senior management is not immune. A May 2014 New York Times article, “Why You Hate Work," cited a recent survey of 72 senior leaders by Srinivasan S. Pillay, a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist and professor studying burnout. The survey reports that nearly all of the senior leaders polled are experiencing some form of burnout at work.

It’s a growing problem in the modern workplace spurring studies and headlines everywhere from major international publications to niche industry blogs—like this one from the HR-focused TLNT: “Will 2015 Be the Year of Worrying About Employee Burnout?"

Clearly, we should be worried. The overall wellness and productivity of our employees and organizations are at stake. So, what to do about it?

"Unleashing the Power of Play" with
Emmy award winner Gwen Gordon
June 4, 2015, 12-12:40pm PT
Sign up for the FREE webinar! Fortunately, there are many forward-thinking experts leading the movement for more play and joy in the workplace, helping to illuminate the many benefits of a work-play balance.

Here are three reasons why we need more play at work—now, more than ever:

Reason #1:  Happiness inspires productivity.

Shawn Achor, CEO of GoodThink Inc. and bestselling author of Before Happiness and The Happiness Advantage, doesn’t want you to be average. In his research in the field of positive psychology, Achor focuses on the outliers: those who exhibit exemplary levels of happiness, productivity, and success, and what we can learn from them.

We need to raise this average up in our workplaces and escape “the cult of the average,” Achors states in his 2011 TEDxBloomington talk, “The Happy Secret to Better Work." We can do this by reversing the formula for happiness and success from, If I work hard and gain success, I’ll be happy to the much-more sustaining, If I’m happy, I’ll be more productive and successful.

Reason #2:  Play is essential to our well-being.

Gwen Gordon knows a lot about play. The Emmy-winning writer and creative director began her career in a world of play on none other than Sesame Street, building muppets for the landmark show. She then went on to bring her insights to the business world at an Apple research group at MIT Media Lab, and later at Xerox PARC, IDEO, and PepsiCo.

In a 2013 Huffington Post article, Gordon writes about the need for “restoring the playground,” our well-being, and bringing us adults back to our naturally playful natures.

“The playground is our true habitat,” she writes. “Within it we become truly human, without it we perish... Perhaps the most important project of our time is to restore our own habitat, to wake up to our deep need for the unbridled joy, freedom, and fullness of play... and take it seriously.”

Gordon is currently producing a PBS special about the need for play in our modern lives and workplaces called Now Playing. Watch the trailer below.



Join Gwen Gordon as she presents at our
free webinar, "Unleasing the Power of Play"
June 4, 2015, 12-12:40pm PT

Click now to register!

Reason #3:  Play makes us more creative.

In his talk at the 2008 Serious Play Conference, CEO of powerhouse design firm IDEO, Tim Brown, shared some revealing truths about adults and play. We’re embarrassed about sharing our ideas to our peers as adults, he says—we’re reluctant, in a sense, to go out on a creative or playful limb.

But exploring in this way actually leads to greater quantities of idea generation and much better ideas. Openness leads to play, and play leads to creativity and innovation.

“Playful exploration, playful building, and role play. Those are some of the ways that designers use play in their work,” says Brown.

But play is not anarchy, he cautions. Play has rules that help lead to productive and constructive play. In the adult work, he asserts, we need to learn that we can do and be both. We can transition from play to work, divergence to convergence, and achieve markedly successful outcomes.

Play in the workplace clearly has some huge potential to achieve practical, real-world results—and dramatically transform the success of our organizations at large. Are you game?

What are your thoughts about bringing more play into the workplace? Do you think play will help improve your work performance, teams, or employee engagement? Share your comments below.

Learn more about the free webinar, "Unleasing the Power of Play," taking place June 4, 2015, 12pm PT.

Topics: wellness, human resources, business results, productivity, collaboration, managing stress

How Women Can Get Ahead at Work: Develop Your Voice

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Fri, Dec 05, 2014 @ 10:51 AM

Pittman.headshotby Marilyn Pittman, Voice Coach at ScreenPresence

Women for the most part do not have the deep low registers that men do. In a professional setting, especially one in which women are a small minority, we sometimes have to fight to get heard. Yet when we raise our voices, we don’t necessarily get more respect or attention. Many of us don’t know how to use our voices to engage the listener and lead the team.

Developing your voice and your presentation skills of all kinds, for that matter, requires training and technique. Start with knowing your strengths and weaknesses and learn how to maximize one while you fix the other.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I remember to breathe when I’m making a speech or presentation?

  • Do I get people’s attention and keep it?

  • Do I sound nasal and high-pitched, or do I sound authoritative?

  • Do I speak with confidence? Do I feel confident?

  • Do I vary pitch and rhythm when speaking to sound dynamic?

woman speaking work resized 600

Photo by dfid (Flickr/Creative Commons)

Once you can identify your weaknesses, you can begin to chip away at fixing them. Recording your voice whenever you can and playing it back to yourself will help you hear your voice how we hear it.

Also, finding good public speakers to emulate will help you develop your ear so that you can be a better coach to yourself. Do they vary the pitch and rhythm and emphasize the right words? Do they seem authentic and engaged? Do they project the volume of their voice enough? How’s their diction, is it crisp? Paying attention to these variables helps your ear distinguish between what voice commands attention and what doesn’t.

When it comes to your own voice, notice how you talk when you leave voice messages. Experiment with playing them back before you send them if you can, and pay attention to the clarity of your speech and thoughts, as well as the tone in your voice.

When you’re preparing for a speech or presentation, or even just a meeting with a few people, make time in your schedule to rehearse it out loud, practice it, finding the pauses and the meaning of words. Record it and listen back, pretending you’re in the meeting or audience. Keep at it until you’re satisfied that you sound cogent, present, committed to the content, and confident in your manner. When it’s show time, do something fun or relaxing just before you go on or enter the room. Stretch out the facial muscles, do a few tongue twisters, sing, hum, laugh. That’s right, laughing helps you stimulate the endorphins or pleasure chemicals so you can present from a more relaxed and confident place.

Ready to use your voice more effectively at work? Contact Screen Presence for a consultation: bizpresence@gmail.com.

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