The month of November and Thanksgiving holiday are a natural time to reflect on those things for which we are thankful. Not that thanks and appreciation should be limited to just one month per year, but it’s when it becomes front and center for many. Amongst being thankful for friends, family, security, and a roof over my head, there are many things from a professional perspective for which I’m grateful as well. Sometimes it’s easier to focus on the parts of our jobs that irritate or annoy us, so I thought I’d take a moment to focus on the career-related things for which I’m grateful.
I’m grateful for parents who raised me to have an appreciation for the satisfaction of working towards something, rather than waiting for things to be handed to me. That’s a value I’ve carried with me into my adult life, a value which set the stage for me to pursue an education and a career, ultimately allowing me to make a contribution to something beyond myself and support the life I love. I’m proud that I’m a woman who has the ability and ambition to provide for myself. I’m grateful that I like to work and enjoy being busy, and that I’ve been taught that there’s a difference between laziness and well-deserved downtime. I’ve learned to recognize when downtime and recharging is necessary and justified, but that true laziness isn’t productive or an acceptable way to live my life.
I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work for a company filled with employees who understand the value of an honest day’s work. They’ve taught me what it means to hustle and have pride in a job well done, no matter how simple or menial the task may seem to someone else. You don’t always need to be changing the world to be proud of what you do; sometimes the smallest gesture can make a difference.
I’m grateful to work for a leadership team whose actions embody the meaning of commitment. Commitment to the business, to the communities in which we operate, and to the people who make the company what it is. They inspire me, every day.
I’m grateful to have worked for people who’ve invested in me, and allowed me to grow and develop in my career, and for those who saw something in me early on and encouraged me down the path I’ve taken. I can’t imagine not having taken the path I did or how different my life would be if I had taken another. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, for those that didn’t pan out that ultimately kept me on my path, and thankful for where I am right here, right now.
I’m grateful for the phenomenal network of colleagues and connections that make up my professional network, for those in my network who have also become friends, and for everyone who generously shares their knowledge and experiences and makes me a better HR professional, and better person, every day.
I’m grateful for a career that allows me to have an impact on people. I’ll never forget when years ago, a few weeks after one particular training class I facilitated, having a participant approach to tell me how something I said in the class changed his entire outlook on life. As HR pros, we have the opportunity to have this kind of impact every day, sometimes with just the simplest of actions or a few right words at the right time.
Do you often enough stop to count your blessings? What are you grateful for today?
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has 15 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry. She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.
While the thought of trading in the rat race of an office building or major corporation, and working from home, may sound highly appealing, the reality is, this transition is often more challenging than most people believe. When you’ve gotten used to the all-work structure of an office, coming home and working in the midst of your kids and home life can be like a splash of cold water. How do you manage your family life, without sacrificing work ethic or the deadlines that don’t slow down?
I know from personal experience that working from home is no walk in the park. Whether it’s kids pulling on my arm, ready for a snack, or my husband calling from his office, asking me to pick up the dry-cleaning, remaining task oriented has been something I’ve had to learn as I go. Although I know there are times when I need to remain flexible and allow for interruptions, for the most part, my work must remain a priority.
If you’re transitioning from office to home and are worried your work might suffer, the key is balance. Without it, you’ll feel as if you’re juggling ten glass plates all on your own. The following tips have proven helpful in my own work journey and I’m able to keep my family life in order while maintaining my profession.
Dedicate a space to work.
There is a reason why office buildings and cubicles exist – they are dedicated spaces where people complete work-related tasks. If one of the reasons you’re considering working from home is to escape the cubicle, trust me – I’ve been there. Although I’m not suggesting replicating a cubicle in your home, I am saying that a dedicated work space in your home is absolutely essential to success.
If you have a room you can turn into your office, do so. If not, dedicate a corner of a quiet space to your office. The kitchen table or the living room couch is probably not the best space to spread your stuff out. Papers are easily lost or spilled on and the distractions are numerous. For me, going out and buying a room partitioner when I first started saved me from hours of insanity and distraction.
Have all the essentials in place.
The great part of working at an office is that everything you need is right there. A printer? No problem. Fax machine? Your corporation probably has several. When you transition home, however, you may need to go out and buy these essentials. Do this right away, so there’s no scrambling at the last minute when an important deadline comes around.
I like having everything in my workspace. That means the printer is right where I can reach it, and my fax machine is just steps away. Even though other members of my family make use of these items every so often, they still remain in my office, regardless of who needs to use them. Whatever your tools are – keep them where you work.
If your office is a mess of supplies and papers, then set aside some time to get it in pristine condition. Purchase supplies and containers to keep your things attractively organized. Knowing where everything is helps me keep my cool and manage my work more effectively.
Organization is essential.
If you’re a naturally organized person, this tip is like second-nature for you already. However, I know that I need every other tool out there to keep myself on track. When you’re managing work deadlines at the same time as soccer practice and doctor appointments, a planner will become your go-to.
Purchase a large calendar and write out all your tasks for the month. Try to do this at the beginning of every month, for as far out as you can plan. When dates are nailed down far in advance, you know what’s coming up and therefore, what you can say yes, and no, to. I’ve found that a daily planner is helpful, as well. Being able to create and check-off items from a daily to-do list makes me feel more accomplished and in control of my day.
Set your hours.
Working from 9-5 certainly has its drawbacks, but truthfully, the structure of a workday is often what keeps people successful. The same applies when working from home. Not having a set work time really throws a wrench in your success, something I learned the hard way.
I find it’s best to plan your work day around your family, especially if you have kids. When your kids are off to school for the day, settle down in your office and get to work. If you work steadily through the school day, that’s a good chunk of time spent on work-related tasks. As important as it is to start when you say you will, it’s equally important to finish on time, too. My kids find it frustrating when I say I’ll be finished by four, and I’m still pounding on the keyboard come 5 o’clock. Stick to your hours. You’ll have a happier family because of it.
Make it clear you’re working.
Just because you are home doesn’t mean that you are free. Although one of the hardest things to learn about working from home, it is also one of the most essential. When I began working from home, friends felt free to call and talk for hours, and I often let myself get caught in this trap. However, your friends, and your family, need to understand that work must get done even though it’s getting done from home. Let your loved ones know that you have a job that needs to get done, and you’d love to socialize, but after work. Difficult? Yes. But necessary? Absolutely.
At this point, you may be wondering if working from home is really worth it. Let me tell you from personal experience – yes. While it does require a high amount of discipline and time to learn how to manage the balancing act, in the end, you’ll find much more joy in your work and in your family. Begin setting boundaries early, and working from home will become a breeze.
About the Author: Naomi Shaw is a freelance writer in Southern California. As a mom who works at home, she knows how challenging it is to keep a balance and distinction between family and work. These tips have been some of the most helpful when transitioning to working at home, and she enjoys helping other women find success in their work ventures.
As an executive, we have two assets which rival as to which is most valuable to us. Both our time and our team are the two most critical components in achieving our objectives, personally and collectively. This article is going to focus on our time and a few suggestions on how to get the greatest return on our time.
As true transformational leaders, in order to accomplish our mission, it is critical we spend our time doing the right things. We know this; yet, we often struggle with what is most important, how to prioritize, and how to keep our eye on the ball when distractions arise which they invariably do.
A few thoughts to consider and discipline ourselves around:
1. Manage and filter the interruptions
I recently read an article which touted that we spend only about 10 minutes on a task before we are interrupted by various issues. How can we curb these interruptions? What if we turned off our phones, asked our team to do the same, and instill a mutual respect for ‘sacred time’ to actually get work done? What if we actually say ‘no’ when these distractions arise? I know what you are thinking, how can we say no to our bosses? I am certainly not suggesting that is the standard answer every time; however, there are scenarios in which we must say no. A book I have found especially helpful, The Power of the Positive No, gives excellent tips on how to say ‘yes’ while saying ‘no,’ while preserving a strong relationship with the other party. Check it out.
2. Stop the multi-tasking.
Many studies actually state that multi-tasking is one of the worst things we can do to maintain brain health. The sad reality is that the trend for multi-tasking is going up not down. With the increase of smart phones, email, texting, working mothers, and the quest for ‘work/life balance,’ the quest for balance has led to just doing more at one time, versus prioritizing and saying ‘no.’ One study has actually stated that our IQ’s can fall as much as 10 points when we are juggling so many projects. Of course, that leads to ineffective leadership, production, and overall results. We need to make a commitment to stop the multi-tasking. We need to focus. We need to choose one project to work on at a time. We need to have one centered conversation at a time. We need to leave our phones in the car or at least turn it off when meeting or visiting with another person. Let’s show them the respect they deserve, and that we would want, if we were in their shoes.
3. Focus and stay disciplined to the chosen priorities.
This is where it gets tough. Everyone is pulling on us to do ‘this, that, or the other’ now! I get it. What I know for sure is that if we allow everyone else’s priorities to dictate 100% how and when we spend our time, we will never get where we want to go. Period. We have to be ruthlessly determined to focus on what we believe we need to do to achieve our goals. We have to plant our flag as to where we are going, determine our plans and our goals on how we are going to get there, and then, publicly state where and how we are going to spend our time to get there. By stating the ‘what and the how’ of where we are going publicly, it makes it much easier to say ‘no’ when distractions arise.
4. Feng shui your office and your mind.
This is probably the single most effective way to help clarify where to spend your time. Recently, I spent time (yes, the asset in which we are discussing) completely clearing out my office, my outdated files, and my next month and second half plans for the remainder of 2013. I found myself struggling to keep up with all the projects I have underway, and my ’piles’ and ‘folders’ were simply not working for me anymore. I was frustrated, stressed out, and was working every weekend trying to keep up. Sure, we all have our way of organizing, which is up to you. My point is to just do it. Organizing papers, searching for contacts and not having a clear way to find information can simply exhaust and zap our mojo. Recently, I revisited Stephen Covey’s First Things First to develop a leadership development workshop, and it was a fabulous refresher.
At the end of the day, it takes guts to make the hard calls as to where to spend our time, and when to say ‘no.’ It is all about declaring where we want to go, deciding what are the few key things we must do to get there, and prioritizing how we will get these things done. Then, we must continue to verbalize this to ourselves and our troops to keep us focused, committed and to avoid the distractions which are guaranteed to present themselves.
About the Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken?, centers on her global experiences seeding her journey toward alignment. The book is scheduled for release in November 2011. Kristin is on Twitter as @KristinKaufman.
Professionals in the field of human resource management help to contribute to the success of any business by strategically managing its human capital. Moreover, as a potential career, it is gaining in popularity and increasing in stature. In fact, in 2006, Money Magazine listed the role of the Human Resource Manager as being at number 4 of its best jobs in America list, based on factors such as difficulty, flexibility, creativity, and future job growth in the next decade.
Getting into the field of HR will require the right level of education and training for the role. Since the profession is expected to grow in the coming years and according to Business Insider the salary is also likely to increase, the competition for these jobs will become more fierce, meaning more and more students entering higher education courses specific to this field.
Education and Training
HR People from Monster.com has found that HR employees come from a wide range of backgrounds from an educational standpoint. However, while the subject and content of your degree program won’t necessarily limit your ability to gain access to an HR job, it is recommended that you complete a full University degree to be considered for many jobs in this field. For the best possible training and preparation for a career in HR About.com advises a bachelors degree in HR will be best. This will give you a foot in the door, and will invariably be more highly looked upon by hiring managers than other unrelated subjects. Regardless, most degree programs will open the door to potential employment.
It must be noted, though, that many highly successful HR managers will not have gone through higher education or got a degree. A recent article by the NY Times addresses the increase in demand for job candidates with degrees, suggesting that in a majority of the cases where these successful employees did not obtain degrees first, they will instead have developed their successful career before the post-grad landscape became too highly populated and competitive. These days it is increasingly difficult to obtain an HRM job without having completed a degree first, so this should be your first port of call.
Those who are keen on pursuing a specialized career in HR or a managerial position will want to consider enrolling in a business degree that has more of a specific focus. If you do a more generalized degree to keep your options open, focus on taking extra courses to make you more employable. You can do this after completing your degree, or even during it if possible.
In addition to completing a degree at college, many HR professionals will look to become certified in various disciplines. HR Daily Advisor published an interview based on a survey that revealed HR Certifications are providing many advantages. If you do complete a professional certification, this could lead to higher earning potential – the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHM) and Professional in Human Resources (PHR) are two examples.
Finding work within this field isn’t really any different from looking for a job in any other industry. Using online career search websites is a good place to start. However, these online career sites are fairly general in nature, and so looking for specific HR related work is more appropriate and targeted. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is one option that is designed for this specific field.
Bear in mind that some companies will tend to recruit from within as suggested by an article about the benefits of internal hiring published by Forbes. If you are working within a larger company and are interested in moving into HRM then keep an eye on any internal job boards and network with HR managers to see if any potential jobs come up. Networking outside of your company at industry specific events is also a good idea.
As with most professional jobs, however, the easiest way in is to complete your degree and then seek a professional certification via a reputable company. This will give you the best head start in the industry.
Dee Fletcher is a freelance and ghost writer. See also enjoys guest blogging, and does it as often as she can to build her online presence. Dee writes mostly about current trends or events relating to business and technology, but will occasionally write about various industries as well. She works from her home in Southern California and loves to visit the beach as often as she can.
Photo credit iStockphoto
There are many aspects of your personal life that can spill over into your professional one. Although you try to reduce this intermingling of worlds, there are some that you simply cannot avoid. When it comes to the foods you eat, the effects they have on you can cause more of an impact than you may realize. Nutritional values don’t just follow you around the house and stay locked behind the door when you go to work.
1. Loss of Energy - Eating poorly can make you feel tired and lethargic even after a full night’s rest. This loss of energy can impact your career and cause you to perform poorly in your tasks. Keep in mind that eating poorly doesn’t mean not eating enough. You can fill your stomach with various edibles and still be eating poorly. If you are feeling worn down at the beginning of the day, perhaps you should take a look at what you’re eating for breakfast. A couple of eggs, a glass of orange juice, and a slice of wheat toast followed by a vitamin or two can provide a far better start to your day than a bowl of sugary cereals.
2. Stresses - Not getting the right kinds of vitamins and minerals could impact your stress levels while on the job. Foods that help the brain such as berries, fish, and even spinach can make a great impact on the amount of stress you experience within the day. This isn’t saying that healthy foods are a shield against the ravages of the workplace, but it is a good place to start in order to face the day with a clear mind.
3. Quick and Cheap - Eating healthier doesn’t mean you have to be on a diet to lose weight. It means that you sacrifice junk foods in order to provide the nutritional level your body needs in order to function correctly. For example, look at the gas pump. Although the lower grade of gasoline is cheaper, it is also full of extra gunk that your car doesn’t necessarily need flowing through its system. The premium gasoline is cleaner and better for your engine, but it costs a bit more. This isn’t saying that all healthier ways to eat are more expensive, but don’t be tempted by the quick and easy drive-through window to sustain yourself. Although that dollar cheeseburger is quick and easy, it’s not nearly as healthy for you as other foods that you could easily make yourself.
4. Concentration - The way you eat at home can impact the amount of concentration you have at work. Those who eat poorly don’t have the focus needed compared to those who practice healthier eating habits. If you have trouble with concentration in your job, the first thing you should look at is your consumption of foods. Did you know that food allergies could be detrimental to your mental stability? Those who are allergic to gluten have been known to lose focus and be irrational during elevated moments.
What you consume at home will undoubtedly affect how you perform at your career. If you don’t eat well, you will have a harder time at your job than others. It doesn’t take much to alter your state of mind or your energy levels by eating the right kinds of foods. It could be in your best interest to see if you are suffering from a nutritional deficiency if you are suffering while at work.
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Ken Myers is the founder of http://www.longhornleads.com/ & has learned over the years the importance of focusing on what the customer is looking for and literally serving it to them. He doesn’t try to create a need, instead he tries to satisfy the existing demand for information on products and services.
I’ve been watching the TV series Mad Men lately and it’s gotten me thinking about how many of our work habits have changed over time. We laugh when we see the characters taking a drink in their office, or smoking a cigarette while working. These sorts of behaviors are just not acceptable in any way, anymore. Drinking alcohol at work would probably get you fired and smoking in the office is illegal!! But in that TV show, you might also see them taking a nap during the day on their beautiful office couch, or just sitting down on a comfortable chair beside their desk doing nothing. These behaviors would also probably be unacceptable in most work places today.
But why not? I know the majority of us probably don’t have a couch in our office, but what about just sitting down without looking at our computer for a few minutes…just relaxing and thinking? Do you agree with me that this would look bizarre? But why do we consider it a bad thing to stop working for a few minutes to reflect on some things we need to deal with?
Today, with our computers, our many email accounts, our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts, etc. we are always always looking at our computer or working on something, and we never stop. It’s action after action after action. And to convince you of that, let’s do a test: take 5 minutes and go take a walk around the office and try to find someone not looking at a computer, talking with someone, or looking down at something they’re working on.
Do you ever see a colleagues at their desks, not looking at their computers or documents they’re working on, and just sitting to pause and think? Imagine what you’d think if you saw one of your colleagues looking at the wall and thinking for a few minutes.
Wow, that would be surprising!!
I find it so amazing how half a century goes by and brings so many changes in our working behaviors! And honestly, with all the amazing things technology brought to us, I think we’ve lost something really important…the act of doing nothing and taking the time to think. Taking a step back to reflect on what we did today and what we need to do in the future. Thinking more strategically, and having a better understanding of what is going on around us and what is the best way to go about a situation.
I think that we would live in a better world if we all took some time to step back and think more… and stop just reacting at all the emails and messages we are receiving on our computers and telephones.
We are now totally connected thanks to technology, but are we still connected with ourselves?
Photo credit iStockphoto
Sophie holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from HEC and specialized in HR. As an HR professional, Sophie has more than 15 years of experience working in the field of technology and places great importance in investing time in the advancement of her profession. She has been a member of the ORHRI (Quebec’s HR professional association) since 1996. You can connect with Sophie on Twitter as @HRSophie and on LinkedIn.
With the qualified talent pool shrinking across the globe, the pressure on businesses to retain talent grows. In hopes of retention, companies across most industries are accommodating for generation X and Y’s desires by building a flexible, fun, informal environment that includes summer Fridays, remote work days, casual attire, and more. Start-ups are going to great lengths to mimic the Google and Facebook environments that attract and retain talent across the globe. I benefit from, and am a proponent of these environments. Some companies, however, particularly start-ups, must be mindful of, and guard against allowing informality to result in a lack of accountability, misalignment, and ambiguity. Now more than ever, it is critical to keep talent aligned with a clear company mission and hold them accountable. The flexible, fun, informal environment can only keep talent interested for so long. There must be something deeper for talent to identify with.
Talent must first identify with a company’s mission and core values. It is critical that veterans of the organization all understand, communicate, and embody the same message. Remember, Millennials look for guidance from those above them and as we know, businesses are constantly evolving to remain competitive. It is imperative that managers and executives keep these messages consistent. We cannot expect talent to feel secure and have the desire to commit to an environment that has a mission that continually changes, or a list of core values that is adhered to only when convenient.
Secondly, there must be a “fit to role.” When talking about a fit to role, most people will identify with qualified talent fitting the role; however, the fit to role actually starts with the role being appropriate for the department, division and company. Does the role benefit the company, and can it be successful within the current confines of the environment? With the ever-changing business environment, talent acquisition should ensure that an assessment of true business needs occurs or has occurred with each and every job requisition. It would be extremely challenging, if not impossible, for someone to remain engaged in a role that doesn’t make sense for the organization and is not aligned with its mission.
After identifying the appropriate role for the company, the appropriate candidate should be determined for the role. Many companies focus on the technical skills of the candidate and hope for a plug and play that will ensure the business doesn’t miss a beat. However, hiring managers cannot omit the importance of assuring alignment and engagement with the role by determining what the potential hire enjoys, doesn’t enjoy, and what drives her to achieve. This can be accomplished through conducting a personal assessment (such as the Harrison Assessment), as well as through technical assessments that assess her technical skill sets for the role.
Hiring the candidate is just the beginning of ensuring engagement and alignment exists throughout the talent’s tenure. There must be a clear relationship among the talent’s job description, career path and development. As soon as talent does not have clarity and understanding around their job descriptions and career paths, one can expect highly desired talent will begin their search for the next step in their career elsewhere. Generation X and Y have had information at their fingertips that allows them to learn; however, simply learning is not enough. It must have a purpose. Aligning short-term, tangible goals to reach the mission at hand will help ensure long-term engagement. Managers should anticipate the need for feedback and the desire to know how this newly acquired knowledge helps talent get from here to there in a career path.
In this fast-paced, ever-changing world, it is more important than ever to keep your talent aligned with your business and working for a greater purpose. Increased retention rates will be accomplished by creating an aligned environment that is buttressed by accountability across the organization. In addition to the fun, flexible environment that is permeating business places across the globe, leadership must establish and maintain a clear path and hold the talent accountable for accomplishing the plan. After all, how can they be recognized for their accomplishments if their objectives aren’t being established and tracked?
Photo credit iStockphoto
About the author: Amanda Papini, Recruiting Director at Response Mine Interactive started her career in recruiting at Medical Staffing Network in 2005, and moved over to a corporate recruiting role at BKV and Response Mine Interactive in 2007, where she built an internal recruiting practice for both companies. Amanda has since staffed over 250 full-time employees within both companies; an average of 50 hires per year. After assisting with RMI and BKV’s growth over the last 5 years, Amanda decided to move over to focus solely on RMI’s talent acquisition and take on a role more dedicated to employee development.
Being a stay at home mom has its perks – you don’t have to get dressed up, you can work out on your own schedule, and you don’t need to have the children’s lunch ready at 7 a.m. However, the most amazing and obvious benefit of being a stay at home mom is the opportunity to intimately know your children and to share all of the milestones of their young lives. No one can truly understand and love a child like their parent. Choosing to stay at home had its financial and career limiting consequences, but it’s a choice that I will never regret.
Being a stay at home mom however does not mean that you must put your brain or skills on hold. Especially in today’s modern world where there are countless ways for you to expand your horizons. And that’s exactly what I did. After driving many, many miles to practices, games, lessons and recitals, making sure that the homework was done and dinner was prepared, I spent countless late nights looking on the computer for ideas to sharpen my skills, and technology is what I came to love.
I am a problem solver. I love when I am given a challenge; know how to fix it, and how to fix it better. It started with setting up my own home wifi network. To most of my friends and co-workers, it’s probably no big deal, but in the stay at home mom arena – I was “big stuff”. Everyone wanted to know, “ how did I know how to do that?” Before I knew it, I was helping my neighbor, her friend, and then their elderly parents. And so began my journey, I became even more motivated to challenge myself. From school sports teams to the theatre department, the needs, as well as the expertise grew. I taught myself HTML, CSS, and how to create a Joomla site.
With each growing project a new skill such as Photoshop and Gimp emerged. I began to get noticed and was offered a position by my local principal in the Career Tech Department. The launching pad was perfect, it allowed me to further develop my skills and opened my eyes to the world of other opportunities out there. With my newly minted resume, an opportunity presented itself. The Global HR consulting firm, Exaserv, was looking for a Product Manager and the job description fit me perfectly. Some of the main requirements were organizational skills and the ability to prioritize, and all those years of being a stay at home mom had definitely helped to hone those skills. Not to mention my developed computer expertise!
It’s been over a year now since I’ve been back in the workforce and I have loved every day of employment. I am constantly learning and growing in my new role and enjoy all the “doors” that are opening for me. Staying at home to raise my children was the best decision I ever made, but taking that time to also sharpen my skills has given me the opportunity to go back to work and grow my career. It’s an experience for which I will forever be grateful.
About the author: Sophia Lidback is Product Manager at Exaserv, where her responsibilities include managing product development, writing and editing technical and functional user manuals and managing customer relations with respect to product implementation. Sophia is a wife and mother of 4.
Everyone faces distractions at work. Very seldom do any of us ever enjoy the luxury of eight to nine solid hours to dedicate to focusing on priorities and projects without something coming up to draw our attention elsewhere.
Maybe it’s a phone call from school to let you know your child is sick; maybe it’s your significant other calling to vent about some frustration; maybe it’s a co-worker who’s just in the mood to chit-chat about the latest reality TV show. Or maybe it’s self-inflicted distraction as you find yourself day-dreaming about that long awaited vacation that’s just around the corner.
These types of distractions are common, but also typically easy to deal with. You make arrangements for the sick child, your listen to the venting, you politely break away from the conversation with the co-worker, or you tell yourself if you can just focus for a few more days that vacation will be here soon enough. You do what you need to do and soon after return to the task at hand.
But what happens when you’re faced with a distraction that’s not quite so easy to deal with? What happens when it’s a more major crisis in your life, or even a series of significant distractions that all but sap any hope for concentration you might have?
I was faced with this kind of distraction a few months back. It came at a time of year that usually leaves me a bit melancholy anyway; as the long, warm, busy days of summer transitioned into the cooler, more mellow days of fall and winter, I found myself facing a particularly difficult time with an unexpected brief illness and subsequent death in my family. And because I have been very fortunate in my life to not have had to face many experiences like this, the loss hit me
During this time, there were days that I found myself struggling to focus on much of anything, nonetheless work. For the most part, I was able to accomplish what I needed to do to get by - but there were days when more than that was just not possible. Sometimes that meant finding busy work to make the hours pass. Sometimes it meant leaving the office and taking a book to Starbucks for a coffee and a 30 minutes of reading to force my mind to focus on something.
As time went on, I was able to start powering through and get myself back on track, but it led me to wonder if there was a better way? Were there any tricks I was missing, any secrets to pushing past the distraction?
Beyond that, it made me contemplate how do we as HR professionals and managers help our employees through their distractions? Every day, around us there are likely numerous employees who are attempting to deal with their own personal struggles, some of whom may be very good at hiding that fact. How do we recognize the signs and support them through it?
What about you? How do you manage your distractions when faced with them? How do you get yourself back on track? And how do you help those around you manage theirs?
About the author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR is experienced in employee relations, employment/staffing and training & development. She currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry and is honored to be in the company of such talented and seasoned Women of HR bloggers. Jen is a fan of happy hours, hockey, traveling and connecting with interesting people. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn as Jennifer Payne, SPHR.
Photo credit iStockphoto
As busy HR professionals we use the word focus in many ways, whether it be in terms of what project we need to focus on next, what the focus of our next meeting should be or where our overall focus should be to keep in line with strategy.
What if we find ourselves having trouble with focus in the more literal sense though? We have very full schedules to maintain, and at some point we may lose sight of what is at the center of our day and miss a cue. Here are some tips that I employ to keep my productivity up when I find myself having trouble zeroing in on the task at hand:
Get organized. If your mind is racing and all you can think about is everything else you need to accomplish it will be hard to give your full attention to what you need to work on right now. Take a few minutes to organize your work area and update your to-do list. Prioritize, update deadlines if necessary and cross off tasks you’ve completed. When you have things in order it is easier to give your full attention to one specific item on the list so you can complete it and move on to the next.
Get a small project out of the way. Now that you are organized look at your list and see if there is something simple you can cross off right away. Perhaps there is an email that can be easily answered, a meeting quickly scheduled or some papers cluttering your desk that can be filed. Knowing that you got something accomplished, no mat
ter how small it may be, will give you a boost of confidence to tackle something bigger.
Refuel and recharge. Think back to your last meal; did you skip it altogether or was it not satisfying? If your stomach is grumbling or you are feeling light-headed it will be tough to make progress in your work. Take time to eat lunch or fit in a small snack. With the proper nourishment we have the energy necessary to make it through the rest of the day.
Not hungry? Get up and take a walk instead. Move around the office to check in with co-workers or step outside for fresh air. Either way, when you come back to your desk you’ll be reinvigorated and ready to tackle your inbox.
Turn on the music. This may not work for those that require quiet to get their work completed, but I’ve always found that putting light music on in the background can drown out all of the other office noise and allow me to focus in on my work.
Everyone has a different approach to get back on track. Find what works best for you and make your day as effective as possible.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
About the author: Heather Rose, PHR is an HR Professional with over 7 years experience supporting top organizations' HR functions. In addition to her career in HR, Heather enjoys writing about her life adventures, reading and traveling. You can connect with Heather on LinkedIn.