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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.

Resources & Workshops/Webinars

Topics: career, guest bloggers, leadership

How to Create a Professional Image in Social Media and Online

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 @ 02:47 PM

Marianne small headshotby Marianne Wilman, Founder/Principal of ScreenPresence

If a professional photographer is responsible for the images you use on your social media profiles, that was probably a smart move. You’re also in a tiny minority.

Most people find a photo taken of them by a friend, family member, or even a smartphone “selfie” shot that they don’t absolutely hate, and use that image. Others might go for something arty or mysterious, but it may not be eliciting the intended response.

Here are some tips for improving your social media profile images, and presenting a professional image of yourself online:

  1. Don’t use the same image for all your social media profiles. As we know, the intended purpose for LinkedIn is different than Facebook or Twitter, and your image should reflect this fact. For example, your LinkedIn photo should look appropriate for your line of business and career. Does it?

  2. Review your pic and ask yourself what it says about you. Your image will dictate how people are going to perceive you. If you’re not sure what the image projects, ask a friend for feedback.

  3. Change your profile image regularly. If you haven’t changed your profile pic since you first signed up for a service, now might be a good time. Actively updating your images keeps you interesting. On LinkedIn it will also trigger a post saying, “Kate has a new photo” – so it might be worth doing just for the incoming compliments!

Most profile pics could do with some image editing help, such as brightening, cropping and color correcting.  Rules of thumb include being able to see your eyes and avoiding the bobblehead look by including at least your shoulders. So, if you’re not ready for a new image you might start by re-working the one you already have.

However, if you are ready to hire a photographer to capture a picture of you for your website or your social media profile there are several things to consider. It’s easy to imagine that you’ll show up looking your best and the photographer will do the rest. That’s one approach, and you may get the result you’re looking for, especially if you’ve chosen a photographer for a specific shooting style.

On the other hand, if you’re going to be working with a photographer who has come recommended but you know little about, figure out what you really like for a self-portrait so that you can communicate your preferences in advance.

Take a look at photographs of other people on their company websites or on LinkedIn and consider the following:

  • Do you prefer images that are shot within a professional environment or those taken in nature?

  • Do you respond to naturalistic photographs or do posed images do more for you?

  • Do you like images with blown out or abstract backgrounds, or do sharper backdrops appeal more?

  • Do standing or sitting poses speak to you?

It’s possible to pick and chose. You may be a company owner who prefers a standing, posed image taken on a beach with a soft background. Or you may be a manager who relates to professional looking images taken under studio lights with abstract backgrounds.

Take a look around and observe what you’re drawn to. This will inform the conversation you’ll have with your photographer about the location for the shoot. “People are more particular about what they like and don’t like than they want to believe,” says Screen Presence photographer Stefanie Atkinson.

Recently we worked with a client, Ronda, who was interested in an updated headshot. Ronda had previously been an actress and a singer but has for many years been working very long hours in Learning and Development at a Fortune 500 company. It’s a job she’s great at, but she was ready to re-capture her inner creativity and project her more theatrical side back out into the world.

In the pre-shoot call with Screen Presence photographer Stefanie Atkinson and hair & makeup pro Sarah E. Hyde we discussed the feel for the image. Ronda’s keywords for the shoot were “inviting,” “magnetic,” and “twinkle.”

Here’s Ronda, before and now:

rondav3 2

Ronda looks great in both the before and after images! So, what’s the real difference here?

Sarah says that in the “Before” image Ronda doesn’t look professional, “It looks more like she’s just had a cocktail with friends!” Ronda’s hair is flat, her lips are shiny. In the “Now” image we’ve smoothed out her hair and gone with a modern looking blowout. In terms of makeup, Ronda looks clean, fresh and dewy. Sarah enhanced Ronda’s best feature, her eyes, framing and defining them but not overpowering them, and she went with a matte lipstick. With her mouth closed Ronda is more serious, and she looks friendly, warm and approachable. “There’s more depth and self confidence in the new image,” Sarah says.

Stefanie notes that the lighting in the Before image is flat and the image has been taken with a flash: “There’s glare on her lip, nose and face and there are bars behind her head. It’s not a professional image,” Stefanie says. “There’s dimensionality, depth and warmth in the Now image. The eye goes directly to her, and it feels like she’s really looking at me.” The cleaner background, softer lighting and hair and makeup also accentuate Ronda’s beauty.

So, how did we do?

“I feel like you captured the real me… it is so reflective of me, both inside and outside,” says Ronda.

Creating the right image of you may be as simple as editing a photo you already have. Or it may be time to go further and have an image made by a professional photographer skilled at capturing the essence of you. It’s easy to lose oneself in the business world, so honor yourself with an image that represents who you are now.

For more information, visit Screen-Presence.com. If you're interested in a headshot consultation, or a full business makeover for 2015, contact Marianne at bizpresence.gmail.com

 Additional Resources & Webinars

Topics: career, social media

7 Easy Ways to Make Your Business Writing Stand Out

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 @ 11:39 AM

describe the imageby Lynda McDaniel, Your Inspired Writing Coach, and People-OnTheGo Faculty Member

We all suffer from TMI these days—too much information makes us skim and skip as we read. That means in business writing, we need to grab our readers’ attention to keep them reading.

Try one or all seven of these easy ways to hook your readers:

1. Write from your heart. Writing has changed. Over the past four decades, the accepted style of writing has morphed from the stuffy corporate-speak of the ‘80s to the slap-dash texting of the 21st century. A good balance is somewhere in between—a style that is more conversational and personal—though still professional.

2. Tell tales. “Let me tell you a story.” That’s how the late Steve Jobs often started his presentations. He understood the power of story and used it to capture attention—even before he told the first story! Stories come in different shapes and sizes, from case studies and lengthy chronicles to similes and short anecdotes. Whatever form they take, stories captivate us, in part, because they take us out of our critical left brain so that we’re no longer on the sidelines listening—we’re right there with the storyteller.

Steve Jobs Telling Storiesphoto by Matt Yoshe (Creative Commons)

3. Tie your articles, reports, whatever you write, to current events. When you can, write about how your subject relates to what’s going on in the world. Is it in sync with or in opposition to a current trend?  Does it offer a solution or an opposing view?

4. Practice. Writers love to tell this joke:

A writer and brain surgeon meet at a cocktail party. The brain surgeon sips his martini and says, “I’m planning to take next summer off and write a book.” The writer nods. “What a coincidence!” she says. “I’m planning to take next summer off and do brain surgery!”

Writing is a profession, just like being an engineer, doctor, or teacher, and it takes time to perfect. Keep practicing. Your writing will get better and better.

5. Observe. Remove those ear buds, take the bus, walk instead of drive, hang out where people buy your product or service, listen in the lunchroom, eavesdrop at cafés, go to a library, pay attention. You’ll be amazed at the anecdotes and inspiration you gain.

6. Capture your ideas. Carry slips of paper, buy a small (and refillable) notebook, or record on your cell phone. Don’t assume you’ll remember creative ideas and inspiring observations.

7. Think like your audience. Get out of your own head and get into the minds of your readers. If you’re writing to:

• Support staff: Make sure you know what they’re thinking, not what you want them to think.

• Clients: Survey them to get on their wavelength.

• Potential customers: Get back to “beginner mind” and write to them from that perspective.

And here’s a bonus tip: Read voraciously. Read writing that inspires you, and by osmosis, you’ll become a better writer. What a fun way to make your business writing stand out!

This blog is excerpted from Lynda McDaniel’s latest book, How Not to Sound Stupid at Work: 52 Writing Skills to Turn Ordinary Business Communications into Extraordinary Career Boosters

 Additional Resources & Webinars

Topics: business writing

9 Rules for Emailing by Google's Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg (TIME, 9/24/14); summary + commentary by Melissa Sweat, Online Community Manager

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Thu, Oct 02, 2014 @ 04:44 PM

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

Summary

Rules for handling email at work

Last week, Google Executive Chairman and past CEO Eric Schmidt and former Senior VP of Products Jonathon Rosenberg released their new book, How Google Works. In it, they give a robust, inside look at the company’s culture, from talent to innovation to how to deal with disruptions. Sharing management and business insights at both the macro and micro levels, the book offers a rare “how to” into Google’s success.

At the day-to-day micro level, Schmidt and Rosenberg have specific rules for email and how to avoid the “foreboding” email often causes. They’ve shared these in a recent TIME article, 9 Rules For Emailing From Google Exec Eric Schmidt. A few, include:

  • Respond as quickly as possible.

  • Constantly clean out your inbox.

  • Make following up easy with a label.

  • Email should be handled in “Last In First Out” (LIFO) order.

Commentary

The article offers great email advice, notably on cleaning out your inbox and labeling. “Inbox zero” is possible. People-OnTheGo has a similar system of categorizing emails as “Today,” “Tomorrow,” “Waiting For” (and you can handle easy items right away). We differ about responding quickly. Do be quick and brief, but don’t have email up all the time and check it constantly. This greatly decreases focus and productivity.

Discussion

How about you? Do you handle email with your own unique system? Are you struggling on a daily basis with email or distraction? Do you agree or disagree with the ways to manage email suggested here? Please share your thoughts in the section below, or tweet us @pierrekhawand.

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Topics: time management tips, productivity, information overload, email management

4 Steps to Be a Productivity Champion at Work—Right Now

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Thu, Sep 04, 2014 @ 12:31 PM

Pierre Khawand 100x100By Pierre Khawand, People-OnTheGo

The modern day workplace is overloaded with distractions and technological temptations that dramatically reduce our productivity and results at work. Our brains simply can't recover and maximize our efforts from these "start-and-stop" work habits taking over our day.

Ask yourself: When was the last time you sat down at your desk, undistracted, and accomplished 40 minutes of continuous, uninterrupted work?

describe the imageYou're not alone. Countless professionals simply haven't been trained in the art—and science—of workplace focus. And while it can seem challenging, changing your work habits doesn't have to be hard.

Here below, I've outlined five steps you can take, right now, to become a productivity champion at work.

1. Prepare.

Create a distraction-free zone at work. Make sure your desk is free of clutter. Shut down email, social media, even your smartphone (or set it to silent, if you need it on for emergencies.) Hang a sign on your door to let co-workers know that you're in a "focused session," and when you'll next be available to collaborate. These quick and simple preparations will help set you up for success.

2. Focus.

Now that you've made your environment free of distractions, you're ready for your first focused session. Set a timer and challenge yourself to focus for 30 to 40 minutes. Don't let yourself get distracted by technology, your thoughts, or another task. Focus on one thing at a time. If you happen to get distracted or are interrupted, try to get back to the task-at-hand as quickly as possible. You can do it! The timer will help hold yourself accountable and encourage you to cross that finish line.

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3. Collaborate.

Success! You've just completed your first focused session. Now it's time to collaborate. Take 10-15 minutes to check email, social media, or collaborate with your co-workers, if needed. For managers, this is a great time for your to make yourself available or check in to your team.

It's important to "come up for air," after each focused session, so that you can assess if any priorities have changed, or if you need to bring in any stakeholders to help you complete your task or move to the next phase. Working much longer than 40-minutes at a time will not improve your results—in fact, results have been shown to drop off after 40 minutes of focus! You need to take a rest, regroup, and recharge.

4. Play.

Take 5 minutes or so to break, stand-up, stretch, meditate, eat a snack... Whatever it takes to re-engergize and prepare again for the next focused session. If you're just starting out, make sure to reward yourself for accomplishing your first round of focus, collaboration, and play!

5. Bonus!

Be can advocate for workplace productivity—where you work, and beyond. Vote for "The Results Curve: Focus, Collaborate, Play!" to head to SXSW Interactive 2015! Voting runs through end of day 9/7/14.

Click to vote now.

Topics: time management tips, productivity

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