Use These 6 Tips to Limit Distractions While Getting Work Done

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Thanks to technology, there are more distractions than ever before while you’re trying to get work done. Many people do most of their work from computers, from which they can access the internet, chat with coworkers, or browse interesting articles. Most people also carry smartphones, which are constantly ringing with emails, phone calls, texts, and app notifications. If you aren’t careful, it’s easy to lose entire hours to these devices and realize you’ve accomplished nothing. However, there are some great ways you can face as minimal distractions as possible while working.

Schedule your day

The first step you can take to minimize distractions when you need to get tasks done is carefully scheduling out your day. Set aside time at the beginning of the week to plan out your schedule for each day. You may have to adjust it as other priorities come up, but planning out your day as specifically as possible helps you focus on what needs to get done every hour.

Ditch the smartphone

One of the biggest distractions is your smartphone. Know when it’s time to set it aside and focus on what you need to accomplish. Instead of keeping your smartphone on your desk, put it away in a bag or drawer or somewhere else that you won’t be tempted to look at it every few minutes. Even if you’re just checking a single message, you’ll likely also check any social notifications you have, some emails, and plenty of other distractions. Avoid using your smartphone as much as possible when trying to concentrate on a task.

Utilize extensions

There are plenty of extension available on your browser, especially if you use Google Chrome, that can help you stay focused. Some extensions block specific websites for set amounts of time or won’t let you access sites until you complete whatever you’re currently working on. Other extensions keep track of how much time you’re spending on each task, so you know if you’re completely your work efficiently.

Ignore email

Thanks to technology, you can check your email at all times and often receive push notifications while you’re focusing on something else at your desk. Avoid the temptation to check your email while doing something else; if it’s an email, it can wait. Consider turning off email notifications and closing the window so you only check it at set times. Encourage people to schedule calls with you instead of sending multiple emails back and forth to discuss something.

Change your workspace

Many people can get bored by where they’re trying to do work and become distracted since they do not have fresh scenery. If possible, move to other locations to get work done. Investing in a standing desk and using it intermittently is also helpful when trying to regain your focus. Take time to invest in decorating your office space in a pleasing manner and regularly change it so you have new views and surroundings. If you work at home, make sure you have a quiet, designated area to work in so you do not get distracted by home responsibilities.

Minimize socialization

When you’re working, it can be incredibly tempting to message your coworkers, friends, or family. You might find yourself chatting to the person sitting next to you or running into someone in the hallway and spending a considerable amount of time discussing your weekend with them. While these socializations are important to a healthy social and professional life, it’s also important that you recognize there’s a time and place for them. Keep long conversations to breaks or outside of work hours. Focus on work while you’re there.

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5 Sustainability Tips for the Office

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Now more than ever there is a growing desire to embrace more eco-friendly living and thankfully businesses are looking to do their part as well. It can be a little overwhelming when trying to figure out how to get started so we’ve put together a list of the best tips for creating a more sustainable and eco-friendly workplace.

Start a team dedicated to maintaining a sustainable office

A group of people designated to maintaining a sustainable office can get a lot more done than just sending out a memo. The team should be assigned projects such as putting together a recycling program, stocking up on green cleaning supplies, and making more energy-efficient options available for appliances. They can also engage other employees hands-on, providing them with the information they need to do their part in creating the most efficient office environment possible.

Create a challenge for everyone to participate in

Introduce a monthly challenge to the office to get everyone in the spirit. A type of challenge could include going a month without using plastic utensils and offering a small gift card as a prize. Or, you could encourage employees to use reusable coffee mugs when getting their caffeine fix.

Turn off all electronics at night

This includes lights, computers, and any appliances that could use energy while no one is using them. Make sure that the last person who leaves the office turns off all the lights. Better yet, set everything on a timer so you don’t have to worry about someone forgetting to turn off something that takes a lot of power.

Invest in office products that are better for the environment

There are all sorts of products that can have less of a negative impact on the environment from recycled office materials to more energy efficient computers. There are options for everyone no matter the size of the budget and any switch is better than no switch at all.

Research green power sources

Solar and wind energy are more available now than they ever have been and businesses both small and large can make the switch. If this is out of budget you can look into your energy provider and see if they offer a more sustainable energy plan.

There are many other ways to make the office more sustainable such as going paperless, adjusting the thermostat to run less, and even adding office plants and utilizing natural light to clarify the air and conserve energy. Don’t be afraid to get creative and applaud your employees for doing their part!

3 Ways to Get Your Team to Work Together

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Teamwork is a skill that is sadly neither taught nor practiced well enough in the modern workplace. Some might argue it isn’t taught well enough to children in school either, which leads to issues in the workplace. This is an odd state of affairs given the obvious and proven benefits of good teamwork and the well understood principles of teaching and practicing it in all areas of life.

Unless you’re dealing with a group of wildly dysfunctional people, it is not difficult to get a group to work together, especially professionals who are being paid to do a job. Teaching teamwork is a combination of knowledge, leadership, basic psychology and will. Once you instill these ideals in your team, you’ll see a drastic improvement.

Camaraderie

Anyone who has watched an inspirational film or read a story about one or more characters facing difficult circumstances has likely experienced camaraderie. Those who have participated in any kind of ensemble activity like a team competition has as well. The battle cry of “we’re all in this together” is designed to inspire people to realize they won’t make much progress alone.

Instilling this sensibility in a group of people is the first step towards building a team.

Leadership

Selfish instincts must be replaced with regard for the people around the individual. The fastest way to make this happen is to identify strengths in each individual and require every person to teach their strengths to the others. This egalitarian approach to leadership forces team members to rely on each other instead of wandering off to look for a solution on their own. Teaching also encourages the natural leaders to step forward.

Rebuilding

One needs to only look at the armed forces to see this dynamic in action. A new platoon of recruits is broken down by the drill sergeant and then built back up. The key to the process is the fact they are all experiencing these dynamics together. They get stronger and more capable together. They earn the opportunity to take charge of the barracks, the gear, the weapons and the uniforms. Each recruit gets a chance to lead. This brings camaraderie and leadership together into a powerful mixture.

The measurable result of great teamwork is indisputable. There are decades of stories in team sports, military victories, and even academic settings that prove there are few things more effective in any environment where goals are set and achieved. Teaching teamwork is therefore one of the most generous and powerful things anyone can do.

7 Questions to Ask Before Changing Careers

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If you are considering a career change, you are not alone. Many people change careers more than once in their lifetime and for various reasons. However, if you want to make sure you make the right choice, there are seven questions you should be asking yourself before making this major decision. If you do not take these questions into account, you might make the wrong decision and waste time and effort in a career that doesn’t satisfy you when you could have been working toward something better. So go through the steps below before jumping ship and then decide what path you’d like to take.

What

You have to define what it is exactly that you want. Without this, you will be fluttering in the wind without a direction. What is the ideal outcome that a new career will bring you? Evaluate the types of tasks you enjoy doing and figure out what you definitely do not want to do. Then, search for careers and jobs that best fit your preferences.

Why

Once you’ve defined what you want, it’s time to hone in on why you want it in the first place. If you want more autonomy for example, it might be because you want room to grow. So therefore perhaps a company that is young and rapidly expanding would be a good choice. Understand the reasons behind why you want to change careers or why you’re looking for a specific job can help you determine what steps are the best to take.

When

Without a timeline, dreams die. Don’t think you will do it “someday.” Schedule your move and stick to it. Learn to manage your time effectively and force yourself to work hard and get through the monotonous steps to finding a new career. Do you need more education or to speak with a mentor? Give yourself clear steps and deadlines and it’ll  be easier to transition.

How

Now it’s time to figure out how you’re going to get there. What actions do you need to take? Do you need to upgrade your resume? Buy a new suit? Answer this before the next step and you’ll be better prepared to move to a new career.

Who

There is probably someone who has done what you want to do. Try to get their mentorship. At the very least, read about their story for clues. Talking with someone who has more knowledge and experience than you can be incredibly beneficial and help you avoid any major missteps.

When it comes to changing careers, it can be overwhelming at first. After all, you are completely shifting gears. Your old routines need to change. And most of all, you have to ask yourself the seven questions above which can take some time and energy. But don’t worry, if you go through the right process you will be able to find your ideal career and succeed in a way that fulfills you for the long term.

Wisely Choose Your Business Partners

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Becoming an entrepreneur offers special freedoms and opportunities that an individual can pursue on an individual basis. However, as a company grows, the option of hiring a business partner is often considered, and in many cases, necessary. While assistance in running a business may seem desirable and advantageous to the company, a partner should be carefully selected to ensure the best match for professional success; not anyone can succeed at this job.

Look for company-oriented compatibility

A partner should share the same degree of interest in the company as the owner, although their interests may vary. For example, one person may prefer the day-to-day operational tasks, while the other enjoys handling the creative side of things, such as marketing and community relations. If one person has only a casual interest, the other will probably be burdened with most of the work, which creates animosity.

Divide the duties

Write a company mission, strategic plan, or business plan to organize the operations and goals. Make sure it clearly spells out who is responsible for what. The plan should also specify how disagreements or conflicts will be handled. Profit-splitting and other financials should likewise be addressed. Never assume anything in running a company, and put everything in writing, updating as needed.

Keep it professional

Some experts recommend social activities with your business partner, and perhaps even taking vacations together. While this works for some individuals who knew each other before their joint business venture or who automatically get along perfectly, it can backfire. Spending too much time together could lead to relaxing the rules at work by allowing the partner to arrive late or leave early, or take a pay advance if that is not the usual practice. Some partners may expect perks or not fully understand how to conduct business professionally. While it is okay to have fun out of the office, be careful that it does not jeopardize company operations or the work environment.

Don’t expect perfection

If your business partner has less education or experience than you do, he or she may need some time to adapt to the job. Special training might be needed to get your partner up to speed. While you don’t want to necessarily relax the rules or lower your expectations, a degree of patience could be needed while your partner adjusts.

Have a back door

Agree up front on an exit strategy if the partnership doesn’t work out. Keep interactions amiable and respectful, no matter the outcome because you never know when you may have to work together again in the future. Make sure you have an agreement that protects you and your business, no matter what happens.

5 Ways to Deal with that Insufferable Employee

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When you’re running your own company, you’ll need to work with a variety of people with extremely different personalities. You must learn to work with various kinds of people and treat them the same in order to work toward your company’s goals. Though, it’s inevitable that you’ll eventually have an employee you simply do not like. Sometimes, you’ll have an employee that you absolutely cannot stand. Maybe you don’t know exactly what it is that makes you not like them or maybe they have an attitude and are rude to other people, but do great work. If there isn’t a clear reason for firing them, you’ll need to learn to work with this employee. Before trying to move forward, you should take time to evaluate the situation and ask yourself some questions

Is there a specific issue?

Before taking any sort of steps to try to fix the issue, take time to seriously evaluate the problem. Why don’t you like this specific employee? Can you figure out the exact reason why you think they’re difficult or is it just a general feeling? If you simply get a weird vibe from the employee, but have no specific reason for feeling this way, try to move on because it might just be something minor. Though, if you notice that the employee is rude to co-workers or is distracting, these are clear reasons that you feel negatively toward them.

Does it impact others?

If your employee’s behavior makes it difficult for others to complete the tasks they’re supposed to, you should do something to change their behavior or get rid of the problem. If someone is just annoying or rude, but doesn’t seriously negatively impact the office, it’s okay to let it go or take time trying to resolve the issue.

Can anyone help you?

You likely have an assistant or other managers or someone else who’s in charge of the employees. Consider asking this person for help in managing the difficult employee. Maybe they feel more comfortable working with this person or know how to get the employee to change their behavior. Maybe you simply need a break from constantly handling the employee. Even if you do not have someone who can directly help you, consider speaking to your mentor or a trusted family member who might be able to help you approach the problem in a different way.

Can you change yourself?

There’s a chance that you’re the reason your employee is so difficult. Maybe they observe your behavior and are trying to imitate it or impress you. Maybe they get the impression that you don’t like them very much. If there’s anything you think you could change about yourself that would help the situation, go ahead and try it.

Have you talked to them?

After you’ve taken time to evaluate the problem, consider whether or not you’ve done anything to directly address this behavior. If you’re considering firing the employee, you should probably talk to them first because there’s a chance they aren’t even aware that their behavior is an issue. Carefully plan out what you’ll say and do your best to not get angry, no matter how they respond. See if their behavior changes after you have a conversation with them; if it doesn’t, you have an even stronger case for firing them.

Support Rising Entrepreneurs to Ensure the Future of Business

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Entrepreneurship has significantly risen over the past few years with more and more people deciding to pursue their passion and become their own boss. Entrepreneurs continue to strive to change the world and make things better for everyone. In order for innovation to occur, entrepreneurship needs to be encouraged, allowing people with great ideas to share them with the world. Here are some rising entrepreneurs to keep an eye on moving forward.

Shradha Agarwal

Agarwal co-founded Context Media (now called Outcome Health) to help people with chronic diseases manage their health. Agarwal assists millions of patients every month. Agarwal has even been honored by the White House and the United Nations, among other prominent organizations.

Kayla Sanders

Sanders is the CEO of ReMyHealth, a cloud based solution that automates compliance and regulatory activities for health insurance providers. Sanders also assists with non-profit organizations that have the goal of building a healthier community.

Hope Horner

Horner is the CEO of Lemonlight, a company that works with clients to create high-quality videos for digital marketing. Horner has been featured in a number of different media publications. She has also opened three businesses in the Silicon Beach Community the past few years.

Anthony Smith

Smith is the CEO of Insightly, which provides cloud based software to millions of people around the world. Smith created Insightly using his past experience of constructing and implementing CRM software.

Neil Patel

A conversion expert and marketer, Patel is the founder of multiple businesses, including Quick Sprout and Crazy Egg. President Barack Obama has honored Patel as one of the top young entrepreneurs in the world. Patel has contributed to Forbes and Techcrunch, along with various other publications.

Jonathan Long

Long is the co-founder of the teeth whitening company, Sexy Smile Kit. Long is also the CEO of Market Domination Media, an agency that helps companies improve and utilize search engine optimization and online marketing.

Roger Bryan

Roger Bryan has run many successful e-commerce businesses. His most recent venture, Enfusen, uses analytics to help marketing agencies increase traffic for their clients. Bryan has become one of the top young entrepreneurs in the world.

Chalmers Brown

Brown helps businesses receive and send payments in the most efficient ways possible. He relies on blockchain technology and partnerships with different leaders to create one of the best payment solutions on the market.

Ramon Ray

With over 20 years of entrepreneurial experience, Ray speaks to aspiring entrepreneurs around the world about marketing and branding and helps them improve these aspects in their business or on a personal level. Ray is also a best-selling author.

Elise Mitchell 
Elise Mitchell has helped her firm, Mitchell, become one of the fastest rising communications firms in the world. Mitchell has received numerous awards and continues to ascend.

The Skill Most Professionals Lack: Communication

Technology has made it easier to connect with people and discuss business and current issues, but an important skill has suffered. That skill is communication. More and more people find genuine communication difficult since they’re used to using technology to talk with others and lack experience in solving issues. As a professional, it’s important to develop strong communication skills that you can use in your business ventures. Dealing with people is vital in any profession and it’s a skill employers find valuable and can make you stand out. You’re probably wondering how you can improve your communication skills, so read on for some tips to make your communication outstanding.

Know your point

Before you begin trying to convey an idea, make sure you know what your point is going to be. It’s common for people to begin speaking, stating facts, and offering their thoughts, but then trail off because they do not have a clear understanding of what they were trying to say. If you’re going into a meeting or having an important conversation, think about what your end goal is and what you would like to convey.

Gauge your audience

As you’re speaking, gauge your audience. Do they seem engaged in what you’re saying? Is your topic appropriate for the group you’re in? If it seems that no one is listening to what you’re saying, back off or approach the conversation in another way. Consider stopping and asking people for their input to give them a chance to speak.

Keep it short

No matter what you’re saying, if you’re attempting to communicate it to other people, do your best to keep it short, whether it’s a presentation or a speech. No one wants to listen to another person drone on for half an hour about something they may not care much about, so plan out what you’ll say beforehand and keep it as succinct as possible.

Know how to listen

While communication depends on what you say and how you conduct yourself, an awful lot also depends on knowing how to listen and engage with other people. If you’ve been speaking for a while, stop, and see what the other person has to say. It’s vital that you know when to be quiet and listen to others’ opinions or information on a topic. Make a point to sincerely listen to what they’re saying, even if it isn’t well-thought out or is difficult to understand. People greatly appreciate another person who listens well.

Ask questions

Finally, ask questions when you’re having a conversation with someone else. People like when others show interest in what they’re saying and the best way to do that is through thoughtful questions that relate to the topic at hand. As someone’s speaking, make a note of a point you might need clarification on or something you agree with and have similar experiences.