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Time Management Article

Posted on | April 9, 2014 | Comments Off

I saw this the other day from the Muse and thought I would share. I am going to try to incorporate some of these ideas.

https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-bite-off-more-than-you-can-chewand-get-it-all-done

 

How to Bite Off More Than You Can Chew—and Get it All Done

By Sarah Chang, April 06, 2014

Some days, I wake up and feel like everything is just moving too quickly. Dozens of emails poured in during the night. A handful of meetings, coffee chats, and calls are scattered throughout the day. There are so many people to get a hold of, errands to run, and loose ends waiting to be tied up. Life seems to be hurtling forward and propelling me with it.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling.

But then I remember a line by racing legend Mario Andretti, “If everything seems under control, then you’re not going fast enough,” and I realize this sense of not having everything under control may not be a bad thing. After all, feeling like you’re on the fast track simply means that things are getting done, and things you had been planning are now set in motion.

The key, I’ve learned, is to not resist the speed of everything that’s happening, but to stay mindful to make sure it’s not getting the better of you. If you’re starting to feel a little overwhelmed, but cutting back isn’t exactly an option, try some of these seven tactics to keep getting important work done—without going crazy.

1. Find Ways to Compartmentalize

Quite often, the feeling of being overwhelmed is amplified mostly by your perception of the situation. It could be the case that your list of to-dos is actually a mile long, or more likely, that it simply feels like it is—especially if everything from different parts of your life is all tossed in together.

Because how much you’re able to tackle shifts based on where you are and what you’re doing, it makes more sense to compartmentalize and “block off” the tasks or worries that you can’t do anything about at the moment, focusing instead on only one item, task, or project at a time. Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan have been known to use this technique with success. Keeping a mental barrier to separate your feelings of responsibility allows you to break down your obligations in sizeable chunks. This way, you’ll be able to deal with them individually when it makes sense to, and preserve a peace of mind at all other times.

 

2. Carve Out Time to Think Deeply

A lot of the stress of moving too quickly comes from not knowing exactly where you’re headed. Being too caught up in the white noise of constant activity makes it hard to get quality thinking time in to determine where you’re trying to go and if the work you’re doing really contributes to that.

It may help to reorganize your schedule by how thought-intensive your activities are, and schedule less intensive events (such as one-on-one catch-ups) before or after your prime time for productivity and thinking. If you find that you’re most likely to get in the zone early afternoon or late morning, make it a point to preserve a block of uninterrupted time for these key intervals. By identifying your working rhythm and protecting your peaks of clear thinking, these valuable opportunities to truly tap into your brainpower won’t fall to chance or interruption.

 

3. Evaluate the Nice-to-Haves Versus the Need-to-Haves

In other words, make sure you’re working on the right stuff that will actually take you toward your goals. Determining what’s absolutely necessary to get there suddenly reduces the scope of the problem and helps you filter out distractions, effectively letting you reallocate time to what is truly essential. While this may seem obvious, you’d be surprised at how much of your time ends up being devoted to gaining fringe benefits that seem nice to have but actually divert you from what actually matters.

There are so many opportunities for distraction that isolating what is actually necessary is akin to finding the “big rocks.” Once these are in place, your priorities are immoveable and everything else will fall into place—or, at least as much as will fit—and you’ll discover the rest was probably all extraneous anyway.

 

4. Prioritize Based on Others

Another good way to prioritize is to make sure that anything on your overloaded plate isn’t preventing anyone else from getting work done. In other words, if someone else’s job is contingent on something you do, get that piece done first.

For example, if I know I’m getting behind in emails, I take a moment to sort out how likely my lack of response will hold other people up. If others are waiting for my reply to complete the next step, then those tasks are my first priority. This way, progress will be made as soon as you hand off the baton to others, lightening your guilt (and perception of stress) for holding them up.

 

5. Don’t Mistaken Busyness for Productivity

Busyness mimics the actions of productivity, but one gets results where the other, well, may not. Make sure what you’re doing is actually consistent with getting results that you need.

The most common way to fall into the busyness trap is by filling your time with small, unimportant tasks. Checking things off your to-do list may strike a sense of accomplishment, but they may be things that are better delegated to others, or worse, don’t actually matter. Thinking critically about whether the tasks you’re working on are actually important or if they’re just filling your time can mean the difference between feeling like you’re getting stuff done and actually getting stuff done.

6. Focus on the Mission Behind the Tasks

A long string of tasks seems daunting to anyone, but those who are able to push forward are probably not thinking of the tasks in and of themselves, but as small pieces that fit within an overarching goal.

For instance, seeing yourself as the agent in the context of a larger mission allows you to focus less on how much you’re taking on and more on the vision of how your work will have an impact. Often, putting your day-to-day responsibilities in the context of why you’re doing them and how they align within the bigger puzzle can lend more meaning to your individual assignments—and give you the extra oomph to forge through.

 

7. Opt Out of the Resistance Mindset

A lot of the discomfort that accompanies feeling swamped comes from resistance. The more you expect everything to be manageable but find yourself buried under mounting work, the more you feel the contrast between your idealistic expectation and a tough reality.

It’s counterintuitive, but sometimes trying to maintain control when things are spinning out of control just makes it worse. Accepting that more deals, engagements, or projects are happening more frequently for the next few weeks is an effective way to take a fast-paced life (and everything that comes with it) in stride.

Perhaps actor Paul Hogan says it best: “The secret to my success is that I bit off more than I could chew and chewed as fast as I could.” Taking on more than you can handle all the time certainly is not advisable. But sometimes it’s necessary for moving forward—and when you do find yourself in a situation where you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’ll have some strategies to help you stay level-headed.

And hey, who knows? Maybe you’ll even take yourself by surprise after seeing how much you can gracefully take on under pressure.

NY Times Article: Telecommuting

Posted on | March 12, 2014 | Comments Off

NY TIMES

WE all know what telecommuting is and who does it. It’s working from home (or maybe a Starbucks), and it’s usually done by someone in their 20s, or a mother with small children.

Well, no. Actually, the typical telecommuter is a 49-year-old college graduate — man or woman — who earns about $58,000 a year and belongs to a company with more than 100 employees, according to numbers culled from the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey.

And the phenomenon appears to be growing. The annual survey last year by the Society for Human Resource Management found a greater increase in the number of companies planning to offer telecommuting in 2014 than those offering just about any other new benefit.

This winter might help push the trend even faster. Federal employees in Washington who worked from home during four official snow days saved the government an estimated $32 million, according to Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, and its research arm Telework Research Network.

And as this movement grows, being clear about what we mean by telecommuting is important. It’s the only way companies will know “how to build workplaces and design work practices and decide what technology is needed for support,” Ms. Lister said.

What we do know is that telecommuting isn’t limited to one sector of the population. Men, women, parents, people without children, young and old all participate.

We also know that those who work at home tend to put in longer hours and are often more productive. It works best when a company has developed a plan, including the best technology to use. But we also know it can hurt an employee’s promotion chances and that some combination of working at home and in the office seems ideal.

The first thing to tackle, however, is the slippery meaning of the word “telecommuter.” The most complete definition is someone employed full time at a private, nonprofit or government organization, who works at least half the time at home.

By one estimate, telecommuting has risen 79 percent between 2005 and 2012 and now makes up 2.6 percent of the American work force, or 3.2 million workers, according to statistics from the American Community Survey. That includes full-time employees who work from home for someone other than themselves at least half the time, Ms. Lister said.

But that definition has at times been expanded to include the self-employed; those whose work has to be done outside an office, such as taxi drivers, plumbers, truckers and construction workers; companies where everyone works remotely, so there is no brick-and-mortar office; and those who work at home one day or less a week.

If all of those workers are included, the number of Americans who work remotely can reach as high as 30 percent.

“No one would disagree that the U.S. work force is increasingly mobile,” said the Telework Research Network in a 2011 paper on the state of telecommuting. “But, beyond that broad statement, we know little about the rate of increase in mobility — how often people are out of the office, where they are, and what they’re doing. For that matter, there’s no agreed-upon method of defining who they are.”

Jennifer Glass, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas, Austin, who has studied teleworking for two decades, said her research shows that much of what managers and professionals call telecommuting occurs after a 40-hour week spent in the office. These people check email, return calls and write reports from home, but in the evenings and weekends.

“Let’s be honest about what we’re talking about,” she said.

So what is agreed upon? For one, that it is not predominantly women who telecommute. Most research says it is at least equal between men and women, while Cali Williams Yost, chief executive of Flex & Strategy, said a telephone survey released last month by her company found that more men than women said they worked remotely.

Kipp Jarecke-Cheng fits right into the typical teleworker profile. He is 44, and for the last year has been director of global public relations and communications for Nurun, a design and technology consulting company based in Montreal. At his old job, he commuted about 45 minutes to Manhattan from his home in Maplewood, N.J., but he chose to telecommute to be closer to his family.

It took some time to get used to working at home, he said. Like many teleworkers, he found that communicating with his colleagues and subordinates was more difficult, at least initially.

“Probably one of the biggest transitions was that in a physical office, you can stroll by and ask questions,” Mr. Jarecke-Cheng said. “Here I have to accumulate a list of questions.”

But it helped tremendously, he said, that after he was hired, Nurun sent him to its national and international offices to meet people face-to-face.

“I’m not just a name on an email,” he said.

David Haddad of New York City began working remotely as chief executive of a nonprofit start-up in 2011. His company is made up solely of remote workers, with no centralized location.

Mr. Haddad likes the flexibility, but there are downsides.

“It’s difficult to keep tabs of what everyone is doing, as well as keep myself motivated to constantly report on my goals,” he said.

While technology can’t replace the human connection, both Mr. Haddad and Mr. Jarecke-Cheng say it helps. Skype is used, as is Google Hangout, which provides a virtual place for people to drop in and “visit.”

Mr. Jarecke-Cheng also communicates with his boss through Voxer, which he described as a combination of a walkie-talkie and text messaging.

For some people, virtual connections are enough, while for others nothing takes the place of being able to chat with a colleague over a cubicle divider.

Nicholas Bloom, a professor of economics at Stanford University, teamed up with Ctrip, China’s largest travel agency, to test some ideas about telecommuting. Over nine months, about 250 workers volunteered for the experiment; half were randomly chosen to work at home and half in the office.

At the end of the experiment, employers found that the home-based employees worked more than office workers — 9.5 percent longer — and were 13 percent more productive. They also were judged to be happier, as quitting rates were cut in half.

But those working at home were also promoted at half the rate of their colleagues working in the office.

“It may be a case, ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ ” Professor Bloom said. “Or it might be that you’re not drinking in the bar with your boss. Or it could be you’re not managing your employees as well if you’re not around them.”

Also, by reducing office space, Ctrip saved what would amount to $2,000 an employee annually.

However, at the end of the experiment, 50 percent of those who worked at home asked to come back to the office. They said they were lonely and didn’t like being passed over for promotion.

It does seem, Ms. Lister said, that most people like to have some combination of home and office work.

“That’s the sweet spot,” she said.

Job Postings

Posted on | March 12, 2014 | Comments Off

Here is some advice taken from Dice.com on job postings – Do’s and Dont’s

Job Descriptions that Attract Candidates – A Technologist’s Perspective  / The Do’s and Dont’s of Creating Great Job Descriptions

KateMatsudaira2
Kate Matsudaira, former CTO; founder of Popforms

By Kate Matsudaira

As someone who is a technology professional – and has hired tech staff and built teams at the senior level – I know first-hand that with any good job description, you first want to get inside the minds of your potential candidates. You want to zero in on the factors that matter most to those that are a perfect fit for the position. What elements are important to them in a job and company? Do they care about growth opportunities? Exciting new challenges? Working with a phenomenal team? You need to focus on what they care most about (which may not be the things you like best).

Note: Sample job descriptions are located at the bottom of this post.

Do’s and Don’ts

As an HR professional or recruiter, you already know the basic elements that are required in a job description, like including an attention-grabbing title, details on what sets your company apart and a clear call-to-action. But for every good description you read, there are 10 awful ones. Here are some guidelines from a technologist’s perspective to make sure your posting is one of the greats.

Step1

DO provide some specifics.

You want to give your candidate details about the role, particularly what makes this position in this company different from every other company. Let the candidate know if they’re qualified up front and what tools they will be using.

Also, don’t be afraid to get specific or friendly. For example, instead of just mentioning a “fully-stocked snack area,” why not tell what the office’s favorite treat is? Sharing details lets candidates begin to know your company, which makes them care about working for you. The job description should reflect the personality of your organization.

Step2

DON’T fill your job description with requirements that are really desires.

I can’t stress enough how important this is to tech professionals. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and energy by giving serious consideration to the must-haves of a position. Make a list of everything you think is absolutely required, then consider how many are absolute requirements, and which are just desired qualifications.

The reason for asking this is that listing something as a “requirement” may cause some viewers to skip over the posting, even if they are only missing one of the items. This can cause you to miss out on candidates you might otherwise have considered.

So for example, if extensive experience deploying the cloud is essential for the job, then list it as a requirement. But, if you’d be willing to consider an applicant who instead has five years of coding experience and hosts their own website, consider making that cloud experience a desired qualification instead.

Also, make sure the years of experience you’re requiring is reasonable. Too often employers make themselves look foolish by asking for five years of experience with a brand new technology and it exceeds the time the skill has actually existed.

(Hint: Make sure you also list the tech skills you desire in the “Required Skills field” on Dice, so your job posting is easily found by search engines.)

Step3

DON’T forget the details of the day-to-day role.

Whether you’re hiring for one specific role, or growing a team with a number of available positions, candidates need to see what kinds of tasks will be filling their days. This is easier for some, but it needs to be a priority when you’re hoping to attract the best and brightest.

While you want to let them know that they’ll have “challenges” and “opportunities” and other vague-but-important “responsibilities,” people want to know what kind of duties their position actually entails. It may not be the most glamorous section of the post, but it’s important to break down what this position will involve day-to-day. For example: writing code, collaborating on designs, managing releases and deployments, or writing technical specifications.

Step4

DO get insights from recent hires.

Here are some questions you can ask new staff members to determine what you should emphasize in the description:

What did they like most about the company?
What convinced them to take this role versus others?
What are the best parts of their current role?
What would they say to their friends if they were trying to get them to join the team?
What makes this company special compared to other places they have worked?
Has the job lived up to the promise that was offered in the in the original posting?
Once you have these details, weave them into each of the requisite parts.

Step 5

DO have the team review your job description.

When we write job descriptions, we’re frequently in a hurry to get them posted and start the flow of candidates. However, it’s always worthwhile to have the team review it. Does it accurately reflect the needs and the role? Did you miss specifics that should have been included? Is there something else that would entice them to apply?

Step 6

DO add some character, but DON’T get too friendly.

This tip sounds so simple, but it’s amazing how often the person drafting the job description doesn’t think about it. Every time you write a posting, imagine you are the candidate reading it. Are you going to apply to – or even finish reading – a post that’s vague or lacking personality? (No.)

However, in an effort to be engaging some companies swing too far in the “fun job posting” direction and focus too much on their wild workplace or how hard their team partied after the last launch. While it’s good to share your culture, you don’t want that to be the only thing they learn about you. If you put too much emphasis on your fun side, office perks or even salaries, you’ll attract people who are interested in other things first, before the job itself.

Putting the do’s and don’ts into practice

Of course, writing an amazing job description is less about following every single rule, and more about picking and choosing the ones that are most important for the role and the candidates you’re hoping to attract. Just make sure to include the details that make tech candidates tick:

What problems will they be solving?
What tools will they use to solve those challenges?
What are their opportunities for professional growth?

Microsoft One Note talk – Feb 19th

Posted on | February 18, 2014 | Comments Off

I will be speaking on Feb 19th at the Big D Chapter of the IAAP (International Association of Adminstrative Professionals) about MS One Note. This is an introduction to the program for those who aren’t familiar with it.

What is OneNote?

How to setup OneNote.
Creating Sections & Notebooks
Using OneNote for projects
OneNote for collaboration
Using OneNote with MS Office
Using tables & files in OneNote
Using OneNote on your mobile device
Find information faster

Dice Annual Tech Survey is out – 2014

Posted on | February 13, 2014 | Comments Off

Dice Tech Salary Survey – 2014

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Dallas IT / Startups

Posted on | December 4, 2013 | Comments Off

Cool graphic on the Dallas Information Technology.
http://thedec.co/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/WhyDallas-Startups-1.png

 

 

 

WhyDallas-Startups-1

Improving Enterprises recognized as Best Places to Work – 5th Year!

Posted on | November 18, 2013 | Comments Off

 

Best Workplaces < —- Dallas Morning News Best Workplaces Video

top100_2013

Dallas Radio / CBSRadio – IT Job Market

Posted on | September 20, 2013 | Comments Off

I was recently asked to give a quote regarding the Dallas IT Job market and it is currently playing on the Career segment for 105.3, 103.7, and 100.3.The IT market has been very good this year. The search for good talent across all areas is very high talking to recruiting peers and candidates. Many candidates are seeing multiple offers and can weigh their options of money, location, perks, benefits, technology, etc..

Here is the quote from the segment.

“I have seen a very steady IT job market so far in the Dallas area for 2013 and I forsee that continuing through Q3 and Q4. The demand for experienced IT professionals is high for contract needs and direct hires. I have seen this in all areas from programmers to systems administrators.”

Are you using the Highlight mobile App?

Posted on | July 29, 2013 | Comments Off

Are you currently using the Highlight App? This is an App for the iPhone and Android. It has been around for a little while but I am seeing more activity lately. If you are a job seeker, it might be a good idea for you to create a profile and let people know you are looking for a new position. You can also be very specific about what you are looking for an include a Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin Profile Link to your Highlight profile. This way it makes it easy to find you from a hiring manager or recruiter. Try it out and see how it work for you.

Highlight is a fun, simple way to learn more about the people around you.

If someone standing near you also has Highlight, their profile will show up on your phone. You can see their name, photos of them, mutual friends, and anything else they have chosen to share. When you meet someone, Highlight helps you see what you have in common with them. And when you forget their name at a party a week later, Highlight can help you remember it.

As you go about your day, Highlight runs quietly in the background, surfacing information about the people around you. If your friends are nearby, it will notify you. If someone interesting crosses your path, it will tell you more about them.

Highlight gives you a sixth sense about the world around you, showing you hidden connections and making your day more fun.

Highlight is available for free in the App Store and in the Google Play Store.

Dice Salary Survey – 2013

Posted on | July 3, 2013 | Comments Off

The new Dice Salary survey is out for IT salaries in major cities and averages across the US. Some interesting information for candidates.

Dice_TechSalarySurvey_2013

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