How to Make Your Weekends Work for You

How to Make Your Weekends Work for You

The workweek can be tiring and when the weekend finally hits many people are not sure what to do with their time. Some try and get even more work done while others completely check out until they step back in the office Monday morning. Studies have shown that humans need a break about every 5 to 7 days or else their productivity, focus, and creativity can suffer. A break does not have to mean laying around in your sweat pants for two days and sometimes working through the weekend is unavoidable, but here are a few ways that you can enjoy your two-day break while still being productive.

            The most important thing to understand about the term “break” is that this does not just refer to taking a nap or watching TV all day. A break can be anything that is different from your daily routine. Saturday and Sunday are days designated for your enjoyment and spending time the way you want to, but do not waste the free time you have been given.

  1. Take away some personal errands that you would have to run during the week: getting your oil changed, buying groceries, cleaning your house, going to the doctor, etc.
  2. Do something physical that will allow you to move around and work muscles that you do not use at work: go to the gym, hike a trail, play a round of golf, etc. Anything that will get you moving and out of your second place of work: your house (because sometimes even home can be stressful and tiring).
  3. Have social interaction, and preferably it should be with people outside of your workplace. It is great to be friends with your coworkers but try and spend time with non-work friends. These are the people that you can talk about kids, sports, politics, or basically anything that does not have to do with the project you are on.

This does not mean you cannot have a weekend routine, just make sure whatever you do that it is separate from your weekday activities; its important because different activities cause other pathways in your brain to fire and exercise places not normally used. This can make you a better well-rounded person and actually help your work abilities.

Admittedly, there are many positions where people worry if they do not know what is going on at work. It is perfectly fine to read your email over the weekend, but DO NOT ANSWER IT. Many people find it beneficial to read it on Saturday or Sunday afternoon, so they can prioritize what they do on Monday. 

A bonus activity to do on the weekend which will make your work week so much more productive is to meal prep. Go to the grocery store and buy ingredients to make some of your favorite meals that you can refrigerate and pop in the microwave as needed. This means less time spent eating out, eating fast food, or not even eating at all. Prepared meals mean no more late nights coming home from the office where you are too exhausted to make anything besides cereal or a frozen pizza. Also, this is a great helper for working parents! Have snacks prepared ahead of time for when the kids get back from school, do lunch prep so you are not up late at night making their sandwiches, or make and freeze some casseroles that you can cook in the oven when you get home from work. This will ease the strain on your already limited time at home and help you to stay healthy while being kind to your wallet. 

Practice Practice Practice Your Presentations

Practice Practice Practice Your Presentations

Presentations. The word itself sends a chill down the spine and you can feel your blood pressure spike. This is one of the most dreaded aspects of the business world and unfortunately, all of us have to give presentations or speeches to small to large groups at some point. To avoid the panic that ensues when this occurs, it is highly recommended that you practice making speeches and presentations often so you are in “good shape”. Just like exercising at the gym, creating presentations comes down to practicing until it is all muscle memory. Almost any volunteer organization or activity you get involved in will give you the opportunity to practice. This can be from your local Rotary Club, to teaching at church, to organizations like Toast Masters.

Join groups and organizations to take the opportunity of practicing how to be able to quickly pull together a presentation on some topic. It does not matter if this is related to your job or if you have joined the Earthworm Enthusiasts Society; all that counts is you taking the time to pull together your sources and being able to deliver your presentation to a crowd of listeners. You know your business well; it is the difficulty organizing into a presentation that this practice will give you. Get used to knowing your material and content and then formatting it to present in front of a crowd. Many people who are used to a weekly Bible Study can do a quick presentation on a project situation because they are used to short deadlines and speaking in front of an audience that is not always interested in what they have to say. Martin Luther King Jr. did not give his famous “I Have a Dream” speech as his first public presentation. He was accustomed to preaching to a congregation every week, the only difference was a matter of scale.

With time, practice should help you be able to quickly organize your thoughts and clearly explain and display it, so your audience can understand what you are saying. Remember: practice practice practice makes perfect. 

Tips for minimizing workplace negativity

Tips for minimizing workplace negativity

Negativity in the workplace is never good, but it happens all too often. Taking steps to avoid or resolve workplace negativity is crucial to your team’s survival. Here are six ways to reduce workplace negativity:

Treat All Employees Equally

Negativity energy in the workplace can often stem from employees feeling that others are being treated better than them. If all employees are treated in the same manner, following the exact same rules than employees will be less hostile, making them more likely to get along, reducing negativity in the workplace.

Allow Employees the Freedom to Express Their Opinions

Allowing your employees to give input in decision making, helps make them feel more like they are a part of the team. It also helps employees feel like you are listening to them, and you care about what they have to say. Overall, listening to your employees allows them to feel more involved, making their feelings about the workplace more positive.

Help Promote Team Building

By encouraging camaraderie among your team through team building exercises, you allow employees to become more familiar with one another. As a result, employees will be more likely to get along, thus making them more positive towards one another overall.

Do Not Allow One Person’s Missteps Reflect the Team

When one person breaks a rule, or does something bad, do not make a new rule or take it out on the team as a whole. If you take one person’s mistakes out on the whole team, you will cause the rest of the team to gang up against that one person, making the workplace environment extremely tense and negative.

Give Employees Opportunities to Advance

If employees are held in the same position with no opportunities for advancement, they will start to resent the company and have a more negative attitude. Allowing employees the opportunities to advance makes them more excited about coming to work and doing their job.

Recognize Hard Work

Reward employees, within reason, when necessary. When an employee really shines, it is important to let them know that you appreciate all of their hard work and you are happy for them. Letting employees know when they're doing well makes them more excited to keep doing their job, which not only makes the company more productive, but it also makes the workplace environment focus more on positivity.

The Importance of the 5 Whys

The Importance of the 5 Whys

If you have ever had something go wrong, then you have to fix it. What happens if something similar goes wrong? This means you never got to the root of your original problem. This can waste time and resources because to make a mistake once is a lesson if you make the same mistake twice that is a choice. Choose to learn your lesson the first time and dig deep to reach the true root of your problem; it is as easy as asking “why?” five times.

The 5 why method is a tried and true way of digging past the obvious answers to see what is actually causing your problem. The reason this method works so well is that it requires some deep thought and advanced problem-solving skills which will test your employees on their ability to think both logically and creatively about an issue. The first why is going to scratch the surface of an issue.

Let’s look at it through a hypothetical situation: a grocery store gets their delivery of produce for the week and the majority of the product is rotten.

  1. Why? Well, the fruit must have rotted in the transport stage.
  2. Why? It was not properly stored or preserved for transportation.
  3. Why? The fruit arrived at the distributor already ripe and they could not prevent it from rotting even with refrigeration.
  4. Why? The growers harvested the fruit late in the season.
  5. Why? The farm or company does not have enough workers to harvest the fruit in a timely manner.

We have taken an issue and boiled it down past the grocery store, past the delivery, past the distributor, to the source of the product which is the farmers that grew the produce. This is just an example, but it demonstrates the importance of asking “why?” enough times to find a real solution for the problem. This will prevent your employees from repeating the same mistake and that will save you time and money. 

Resolving Communication Problems Within The Office

Resolving Communication Problems Within The Office

Communication, or the lack thereof, within a company can lead to many issues. Lack of communication causes frustration with the team and causes the company to be less effective as a whole. Here are a few ways to better manage communication in the workplace:

Have Regular Meetings to Discuss Happenings

Meeting with staff regularly to discuss problems and other happenings in the workplace will help keep everyone involved. Meeting not just one on one, but with everyone at once allows everyone to be involved in the conversation, keeping everyone equally informed. However, not all issues can be solved publicly.

Have An Open Door Policy

It’s one thing to tell employees that your door is always open, but actually following through with an open door policy is crucial in maintaining healthy communication in the workplace. Having an open door policy allows employees to come to you when something is bothering them, without having to air their grievances in front of other coworkers. This will overall make employees feel much more comfortable, making them more likely to communicate openly with you in the future.

Follow Through

When an employee communicates with you to let you know that something is wrong, is important that you take that communication seriously and follow through on coming up with a solution. The quickest way to lose the trust of employees and stifle future communication is by not taking their complaints seriously and putting off handling things that are bothering them in the workplace. Even if you think a complaint may not be valid, you at least owe it to the employee to investigate their claim, so they know that you take what they have to say seriously.

Top Tips for managers to engage employees

Top Tips for managers to engage employees

To keep employees productive and committed to the job, is vital to keep them engaged. Here are some ways to help keep employees more engaged in the workplace:

Support Your Employees

Getting to know your employees lets them know that they are not just another employee, but an actual person that you have taken a personal interest in. This will make them feel more comfortable coming to you when they may be having issues, allowing them to feel overall more comfortable in the workplace. Also, no matter how qualified or experienced the employee, everyone needs a little help sometimes. It is important to let employees know that they will not be punished for asking for help, but instead will be helped to the fullest extent of your abilities. It is also vital that when an employee comes to you with an issue, be it personal or workplace related, you support them and try to resolve any workplace conflicts they may be having.

Leave Room For Them To Grow

Employees will not be dedicated to a job if they know that no matter what they do or how hard they work that they will never be able to grow within the company. Giving employees equal opportunities for promotion and growth will keep them overall more committed to the job and the company. Also, it is important to let all employees lead at some point in their career, even if they may not be the best one for the task. Trusting employees to lead a task will let them know that not only do you trust and support them, but you are also willing to take a chance on them to push them farther in their career.

Reward Hard Work

Recognizing your employees’ hard work helps them feel more like they are a valuable member of the team, making them more committed to the team as a whole. Rewarding employees doesn't even have to be monetarily, a simple thank you can go a long way to make a hard-working employee feel appreciated.

Employee Motivation ideas that won’t break the bank

Employee Motivation ideas that won’t break the bank

Monetary rewards are not as motivational in the long run as letting someone know they're doing a great job. Here are a few simple, free ways to motivate your employees:

Allow Them More Autonomy

Allowing employees to make more decisions on their own motivates them to be more responsible. Also, when employees are working towards a goal they set themselves, they are more motivated because they want to prove that they can do what they set out to accomplish.

Celebrate Their Successes

When you celebrate your employees’ successes, it makes them feel good about the work that they have done and they will be more motivated to continue. Celebrating successes doesn't have to extravagant either, simply calling someone out in a team meeting for doing something well can be more than enough motivation for your employees.

Get to Know Your Employees

You want to keep the workplace professional, however, treating employees like they're simply placeholders in your team won’t encourage them to do more for the team. Getting to know just enough about all of your employees to be able to connect with them on a more personal level will humanize you and allow them to feel more like they belong in the team.

Encourage Friendly Competition

Allowing your employees to have a little friendly competition here and there will motivate them to do better, as they are no longer just competing against themselves, but someone else. However, it is important to not let things get too out of hand, as competition can easily go from friendly to negative very fast. Make sure to always keep competition professional, and it will be a great motivator for employees.

Why happy employees are more engaged and productive

Why happy employees are more engaged and productive

Happiness is essential to workplace productivity. Being happy in your everyday life makes it more easy to engage at work because you do not have other troubling things on your mind. However, being happy at work can make employees more productive overall.

Employees are more engaged when they're happy in their personal life, and while as an employee you can't do anything to determine their personal happiness, you can do things to make employees more engaged while they're at work. Finding ways to make tasks more enjoyable and interesting can help keep employees engaged. Also, allowing employees to take breaks to do something relaxing or fun when tasks get frustrating can help keep employees engaged with their tasks.

Also, if employees actually enjoy what they do then they will be more likely to do it well. Making sure your employees are happy in their job will increase their overall productivity because if they enjoy working for a company they will be more likely to work harder to see that company succeed. However, simply enjoying their job is not always enough; positive reinforcement is necessary to keep employees engaged. When employees continually go above and beyond with no positive reinforcement it can be discouraging, so telling employees when they are doing well and letting them know you appreciate all of the wire they're doing can be incredibly beneficial in keep employees engaged and productive.

Best tips for training new employees

Best tips for training new employees

New employees can be a great asset to any team, their fresh mind can offer the team a new perspective that no one may have considered before. However, new employees are only as great as their training, so below are three of the best tips for training new employees:

Introduce The Team

Introducing new employees into a team can be difficult at first, so it is important to let staff know beforehand when a new employee is expected to start. Once the new employee starts, it is important to introduce them to the team. Formally introducing new employees to the team as a whole helps the new employee fit in faster and it helps them to get to know the team, so if they need help in the future they know that the team is there to help and they know exactly who they need to go to.

Give Constructive Feedback

New employees may not be used to doing things the way that your company does them, so it is important to give new employees a variety of tasks to practice with. However, the whole point of practice is to learn from your mistakes, so it is important to remember to give new employees constructive feedback at the end of each task so that they are able to learn from their mistakes to help them going forward in the new job.

Don’t Stop Training After A Few Days

Training a new employee should not stop after the first couple of days or tasks, it is important to follow through and continue training employees until you know they're ready for more independence. However, even after you give new employees the freedom they earn, it is still good to continue checking in from time to time for a little longer. There may be something you didn't cover in the initial training that they're struggling with months into the job, so it is important to check in to make sure that they have everything handled.

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Tips to Become a Better Leader

Tips to Become a Better Leader

Leadership, despite what everyone thinks, is situational. Often people assume that only certain people have the necessary skills to be leaders, but that is a myth. A leader is someone who has a vision of the opportunity or challenge and the courage to take action based on that. Someone who is a leader in one situation may be a follower in another because the most important tip to become a better leader is to recognize your own skills and understand when you should take charge and when you should be a follower. Here are a few tips to help prepare you to be a better leader:

  1. Know your skills- In order to be a good leader, take stock of your strengths and continue to learn everything you can. Know your leadership style, improve on your weaknesses, and periodically update your knowledge to make sure that you are up to date on new technology, processes, etc.
  2. Be willing to let someone else lead- Every person has individual talents and skills that they bring to a team, and the leader should be the best suited for the challenge or task that needs to be completed. The leader should always be changing to the person who can best lead the group during that time.
  3. Pay attention to opportunities to take action- Always be aware of obstacles, tasks, or challenges that may arise during a project and be willing to step up and take charge. A good leader does not wait to be appointed; a good leader finds an opportunity and takes action.
  4. It is not about directing others, but about getting something of value done- A good leader does not order people around for the sake of doing it. The purpose of a leader is that they have skills and a deep understanding of the task that allows them to direct others to accomplish the task. A leader should always be thinking about how can the team move forward and use their skills to successfully complete their work. 

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