Validation for Veterans

A reader writes:

Good Morning, Anita,

Recently, I returned home from a deployment to Afghanistan. Since coming home and taking a much-needed break, I feel that I am ready to join the civilian workforce and begin supporting my family again. Like many other veterans, I am running into some difficulty finding gainful employment and paying the bills. What advice can you give to me and other veterans looking for employment and experiencing the hardships of transition? Thank you!

Dear, Valued Veteran:

First and foremost, thank you for your service to our country and for the sacrifices you have made in the name of freedom. I can speak for many reading this blog that we greatly appreciate your efforts and dedication to the United States of America.

Unfortunately, as you mentioned, transitioning into the civilian workforce and regular life after serving in the armed forces can be difficult. Not only do you face the same challenges as those currently unemployed, but you must also Army_Bootsacclimate to new surroundings and hone your military training to fit open employment opportunities.

To get the ball rolling, make sure that you register with Veteran Affairs (VA) as soon as possible after you are discharged. You should qualify for medical and dental insurance. These benefits will diminish your financial burden significantly if unexpected medical emergencies arise. Co-pays for preventative medicine and routine exams are relatively low for this program and maybe expunged if you are unable to afford them.

Next, I suggest that you take some time to sit down and write a strong and compelling résumé and cover letter describing your skills, experiences, and work ethic. These items are job hunting gold and are necessary in landing your next career. For tips and advice on how to create and perfect these documents, take a quick look my posts How to Tailor Your Résumé and Covering the Cover Letter. If you feel like you need additional help, you can look into services such as CareerPerfect  to write your résumé and cover letter for a nominal fee. The VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Program also has services that can help.

Some strong qualities and experience to highlight are:

  • Military efficiency
  • Overseas experience
  • Problem solving skills
  • Flexibility and decision-making abilities under pressure
  • Leadership roles
  • Other relevant experiences

Also, take your military occupation code (MOS), area of concentration (AOC), Air Force specialty code (AFSC), or Navy Soldier_Saluteenlisted classification (NEC) and enter them into a skills translator, like those found at www.vetsuccess.gov/military_skills_translators, to turn them into commonly desired skills in the private sector.

Now that you have a strong and noteworthy résumé and cover letter, head on over to my friends at Select Staffing for employment assistance. Visit their website (www.selectstaffing.com), fill out the online application, and call your local office to schedule an appointment with a recruiter. Select Staffing is actively seeking skilled, dedicated, and versatile veterans for a wide variety of positions. They highly value the characteristics, commitment, and skills possessed by servicemen and women and are determined to do their part to help.

I know that they are currently recruiting for the following positions:

  • General Professional
  • Security Services
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Legal Assistant/Paralegal
  • Accounting
  • Data Entry Operator
  • IT Auditors
  • Utility Workers
  • Project Managers
  • Business Intelligence Analysts
  • And much more!

If you are looking to sharpen your skills and become educated in your field of interest, sign up for the GI Bill. Once you have done so, get in contact with Veteran Affairs Education and apply for benefits online to help cover tuition, books, and living expenses while you are in school. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this benefit as you will strengthen your résumé and have better chances of landing a lucrative career.

I found a great webinar that I think would be great for all veterans to watch, titled “Job Search Tips: Webinar for Military Veterans Transition to Civilian Careers” by Lida Citroën. It is a bit longer than my typical videos but worth the time.

Readers, what advice do you have for our recently-returned Veterans?

Veterans, what have you found to be the most helpful with you return to the civilian workforce?

Working With the Office Monster

Dear Anita,

I have been at my job for a few years and have finally become fed up with working and dealing with my horrible co-worker every day. To our supervisors and higher ups she is overly nice, but she treats the rest of us like dirt.  I cannot stand her antics and the bullying she is doing around the office. Can you please offer some advice and shed some light on this awful situation?

This reminds me of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!

It looks like you have a very difficult and unbearable co-worker on your hands. As much as we wish the office to be a safe and drama-free workplace, unfortunately a few poisonous apples can manage to slip through the cracks. These are Witch of Workpeople that you do everything in your power to avoid and they still manage to weasel their way into your day. They are incredibly difficult to please, nasty, unethical, and are on a mission to make others’ work lives miserable. They are also incredibly skilled at manipulating others around them. Luckily, your pal Anita has a few tricks up her sleeves to help handle these intolerable creatures.

Do your best to remain as far away from them as possible. This does not mean you need to switch jobs, hide under a rock, or flee to the closest neighboring country. If there is an open desk away from the office monster, talk to your boss or human resources manager about making the switch. If you feel comfortable, you may want to mention the reasons why you are requesting the move — something along the lines of “I feel that my current location is not a neutral or conducive environment for me to work as efficiently as possible.” If a new location is not an option, invest in a pair of noise-cancelling earphones. It is one way to drown out the chatter and unpleasantness.

It is important to remember that most bullies will end up digging a hole so deep, they will find themselves out of a job. Many act the way they do to get an edge over potential competition by emotionally and professionally damaging their co-workers. Do your best to avoid engaging with this individual. If you have to interact with him or her on a daily basis, be prepared to handle any disagreements or friction ahead of time. When we are caught off guard, emotions kick in and we are less likely to think rationally. If you have a strategy, you can handle the situation like the professional you are!

As any normal person would, you may begin to feel that retaliation is in order. After putting up with and being put downScary! by this behavior, it only seems fair to fight back. It is very important that you hold back with all your might and do the opposite; kill them with kindness. It is the best way to handle your emotions. They will have little-to-no reason to continue to engage you in their antics or become frustrated with not being able to get a rise out of you.

Hopefully by now, this individual has begun to back off of you, and you are getting back to what is important: work. But don’t, for a single second, think that the situation has left the premises. Most unpleasant people are habitual bullies. They will wait until they see you at a weak point and will attack like a wild animal. Ever hear of the saying, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”? The manipulator will wait until they have an opportunity to exploit you or bring you down again. In short, keep up your guard and continue to watch your back.

If further action is needed, I suggest you call a meeting with your boss and human resources manager. It will be more meaningful to all parties involved that you are being proactive, and it will be a big wake-up call to your horrible co-worker that you are no longer going to tolerate this bad behavior. Again, leave your emotions at the door. Be strong and stand up for your right to a psychologically safe and sound workplace. State your case, but try not to point fingers. Your boss or human resources manager may request further explanation or encourage you to briefly go in to detail about how you are feelings. It will be helpful to check out my post on Tackling Employee Tensions to be prepared for a conflict resolution meeting.

Have you ever encounter an office monster? If so, what did you do to diffuse the situation?

Have a question? Ask Anita Clew! Visit http://www.anitaclew.com/ask_anita to submit your tough one!

Have a Spook-tacular Halloween!

-Anita Boo

Money for Mileage

A reader writes…

Hi Anita,

I have recently been promoted at my job and the new position requires that I spend quite a bit of time on the road. I need some help understanding the proper procedures and in-and-outs of mileage reimbursements and hoping you can help. Thanks, Anita!

Dear On-the-Move,

What great news! I love hearing about success stories. Congratulations on the promotion. Many companies have moved away from providing company cars to their traveling employees due to budget cuts and insurance/liability issues. More often than not, employees are asked to use their personal vehicles for on-the-job transportation and in return receive monetary compensation per mile driven or are given a car allowance for renting vehicles.

Each company has the choice to reimburse mileage expenses. There is currently no government mandate that requires what a company reimburses employees per mile. The reimbursement is not only intended to cover the cost of fuel, but also
wear and tear on your vehicle, tires, or engine parts. As a general standard, the Internal Revenue Services has issued a guideline payment for the following businesses:

  • 55.5 cents per mile for business miles driven
  • 23 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

The next question I often get is where to start calculating the miles driven. I always start from the location of your office. This would exclude any mileage driven on a typical work day to and from your job. If, for example, you are scheduled to travel on a sales call that is 30 miles away from your home but 25 from your office, you will clock the distance traveled from work to the final destination and back. On the other hand, if the site is 5 miles from your house and 35 from your work then you will still start at the office. It is a general rule of thumb that I follow personally.Money for Mileage

To make sure you have enough money set aside for maintenance and unexpected automotive expenses, I would deposit the money that you receive from your company into a savings account. Let’s say it is $4.00 a gallon for gasoline and your car gets 20 miles to the gallon on average. This means roughly you will be spending about 20 cents per mile on fuel, leaving you 35.5 cents to cover maintenance costs for your vehicle (assuming your company follows the IRS standard).  Do yourself a big favor and put about 70% of your reimbursement into savings. Trust me, you will be thankful you have it someday.

I know we are all trying to save some money at the pump these days. I found a great video with some tips to improving your gas mileage and keeping more money in your pockets. See below!

What are your thoughts on personal vehicle use for business purposes? What are the policies of the companies you work for?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Looking forward to your input,
Anita

Bring Your Own Lunch, Bandit!

A reader writes…

Dear Anita,

I always thought people stealing food at the office was just an old wives’ tale…but this morning I was proved wrong! It looks like there is a thief in my office building who has gotten their little stealing hands on my lunch!!!! *Annoyed* What can I do to feel safe about putting my lunch in the company fridge again?

Dear, Hurt and Hungry,

Thanks for the question and so sorry to hear about your snatched snacks! It is hard to believe that in this day and age, people (much less, adults) have not yet learned the principle of what’s mine is not yours. I always thought it was just a formality at the workplace to remind everyone that food theft was not to be tolerated and against the rules.

I cannot for the life of me figure out why people continue to feel entitled to the things that are not theirs. As much as I would like to become Anita Clew, the caped crusader out to defeat the Lunch Sack Snackers of the world, I can’t. But what I can do is give you a few tips to discourage thievery and bring peace back to the lunch room.Lunch Bag

One way to deter those who are eyeballing your next meal is to go with a frozen entrée or a self-stable meal, like soup, for your lunch selection. These foods are not easily concealed and require a microwave to make them edible again. I would think, hopefully, that the culprit would know that it would be a risky move to wait at the scene of the crime to heat up their booty. Just the scent of the food while it cooks and is being enjoyed would be a dead giveaway.

Another option is to bring your lunch disassembled. If, for instance, you bring a sandwich every day, take the time to separate out the meat and cheeses, the bread, the vegetables, and the condiments. It may seem like a lot of work to do, but that is the whole point. As mentioned above, most thieves are looking for a quick and easy escape to cover their tTuna Sandwich Named Kevinracks. Assembling your afternoon masterpiece will probably not fit into their busy schedule.

Bring your lunch in clearly labeled non-disposable containers and in a reusable bag. Not only is this
earth-friendly, but they are easily recognizable. You will be cutting down on the cost (financially and environmentally) in the process and make your delicious lunchtime treats distinguishable. This will rule out any excuse that someone had “mistaken” your lunch for theirs and be harder to conceal while someone is unlawfully devouring it.

Give these tips a try and if you still have no success, maybe you could convince your boss to let you move your desk to the lunch room or install a “Mission Impossible”-esque, thievery deterrent system to keep robbers at bay! Well…that may be a little extreme, but it can’t hurt to dream!

For a few laughs, check out this video from Westaff about the things bad employees do by viewing below or clicking here.

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Best,

Anita Clew

Networking Know-How

A reader writes:

Hi Anita! I am new to the area and in search of a new job. I have heard and learned from reading your blog that networking is one of the most important aspects of job hunting. Can you offer any advice to help break the ice and get the most out of professional networking?

Dear, Need-to-Network,

Thank you so much for the great question. I have said time and time again that networking is extremely important when it comes to finding your next position. The more people you know, the more likely you are to bridge the gap between Business Man with Cardbeing a stranger or being the candidate that comes highly recommended. Getting your foot in the door and your résumé to the top of the pile is an incredible advantage in today’s world.

First off, get yourself a professional set of business cards with your contact information on them. Even if you are not currently employed, you should still be prepared. Being able to exchange business cards is networking gold! Think about it. How embarrassing is it to be empty-handed when you finally meet the CEO of the company you are dying to work for and he/she asks for your info. You just blew that first impression. Companies like Vista Print offer deals where you get 250 business cards FREE! All you pay is shipping and processing. Now you have no excuse not to have them! Include your name, address, telephone number, email, and other vital contact information.

One of the big No-Nos in networking is focusing your attention elsewhere, as in playing with your phone or carrying on a text messaging conversation. It makes you look Thumbs up from Womandisinterested, unapproachable, and worst of all, unprofessional. Do yourself a huge favor and leave your phone in the car or keep it in your pocket on silent. You are networking to meet new people, not to catch up with old ones.

Many of us, including me (I know, HARD TO BELIEVE), can find ourselves at a loss for words when placed under pressure or in a new social setting. Before you go to an event, prepare and arm yourself with what we call an “elevator speech.” When a hiring manager or person of interest asks you “what do you do?” or “what are you future career goals?” you will be ready to give them a response with a punch. You will leave them with an impression that you are smart, confident, and maybe even their next star employee!

Keep your spiel short, sweet, and strong for the most impact. Also be ready with follow-up questions to keep the conversation moving. (Check out my “Sell Yourself… Quickly” post for more tips.)

Finally, don’t be afraid to speak up and talk to others. This is probably the most difficult part of networking. It would probably be easier to be a wallflower and blend in with the crowd, but that is exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. If you see a group of people talking, pick up your head, perk up your posture, and stroll over and introduce yourself. The more you do it, the less awkward it gets. Before interrupting their conversation, however, do be sure you read their body language; if they’re having a serious and intense discussion, wait a bit before going over.

Check out this video on Networking’s Golden Rule for one final tip:

Readers, what tips and tricks have you found helpful during networking opportunities?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Rewards From Retreats

A reader writes…

Hi Anita,

I have a team of about 10 people who have been working incredibly hard over the past few months. I want to reinforce their positive attitudes and keep the group productivity and focus flowing through a department retreat. But I am in need of some pointers to make sure the outing is both rewarding and beneficial to our group. Please help!

Dear, Retreat Ready,

Department retreats are a great way to step out of the office setting and focus on reinforcing strengths of a group or addressing areas for improvement. They help
re-center and boost creative thinking and break through the monotony of daily activities and tasks, so your employees will return to work feeling refreshed and rejuvenated by the change of pace. Retreats also promote team unity and strengthen the commitment of the group toward a common goal. I suggest you schedule a retreat at Handsleast once or twice a year.

To make a retreat produce top results, your group must be comfortable, the presentations interactive, and the topic relevant. Here is a list of things you can do to put together a fun and productive staff retreat:

Provide breakfast or morning snacks, such as coffee or muffins. Your employees will appreciate the gesture. Added bonus: Now they will not have an excuse for low energy while participating in the activities.

Encourage participants to dress comfortably and on the casual side. It can help set a tone of relaxation and remove any stuffiness that should be left at the office.

Ask your team to be prepared with real-life work achievements and issues. Sharing successes and troubles will help the group come together as one to revel in wins and to find solutions to obstacles standing in the way. Make sure you give your team enough time to prepare before the meeting – don’t spring it on them in the room – and make sure they know you expect them to participate in the discussion.

Start the retreat with an “ice breaker.”  To start your meeting off on the right foot, play a fun game or activity that brings your team closer together. The more fun and crazy, the better! One example is to have each person share something about them that is not work-related. To keep everyone at ease, be sure to make a point to say that sharing is encouraged but not required. Check out this list of funny questions to integrate into your ice breakers. My personal favorite is “If you were a vegetable, what vegetable would you be?” Some may disagree, but I am going along the lines of a chili. I like to think I am spicy!

Get people involved. Create a space for open discussion and creative thinking. Challenge your team to stir the creative juices and really think outside the box. Sharing thoughts with the team and encouraging feedback and input are where great ideas are shaped and big accomplishments take place. Keep your eyes out for a post I have in the works about hosting a successful brainstorming session.

Don’t just stand there; get up and move. Plan to have lunch off-site from the retreat. It will give your group time to stretch their legs, socialize with group, and develop relationships outside of the office. Make sure to pick a place that isn’t too loud and has a little something for everyone in attendance.

Provide visuals whenever possible. These are great for keeping the energy up and tstimulating the creative parts of the brain. Plus, I wouldn’t want to listen to me yap all day long. Throw monotony out the door and bring some images and videos into the mix.

Build in some competition and some prizes. Offer some goodies for good ideas shared, the quickest right answer to your question, and more. People love to win free stuff, and it will get your group talking and volunteering information faster.

End with a bang! People will most likely be starting to wind down after all the fun activities and discussions you have had during the day. Give everyone a little something to take home with them that ensures things end on a positive note! A card acknowledging their hard work and dedication to your team and a bag of M&Ms is just the right thing to accomplish this.

Managers, what interesting activities or ideas have you come up with to create a rewarding retreat? What were your results?

Employees, what types of activities have you participated in that worked well and others that fell short?

I can’t wait to hear from you all.

Best wishes until next time,
Anita

Stopping Work Space Soreness

A reader writes…

Dear Anita,

I have just started working at a new job a few months ago. I went from working outside and being on my feet all day to spending my day seated at a desk. I have heard that even though you may not be doing much physically, you can still cause serious injuries to your body. What can I do to prevent ailments such as neck and back soreness or carpal tunnel syndrome?

Uncomfortable Woman at DeskThanks for the question! Over the years with the increased use of computers and other technology, a significant number of folks in the workplace have settled in to a more stationary work style behind a desk. But spending 8 hour or more a day sitting is not the way our bodies were designed! Many people are facing aches and pains from inefficient and inadequate workspace set-ups. The official word for this sort of thing is “ergonomics.” Proper ergonomics can make a world of difference in your office life by reducing the potential for accidents, injuries, and poor health. To top it off, being ergonomic makes you a better performer and increases productivity. Who doesn’t like that?

Here are some key areas you need to keep in mind when redesigning your current workspace or moving into another one.Happy Woman at Desk

  1. Keep your feet flat on the floor. As much fun as it may be to dangle your feet during the day, it will not be much fun recuperating from an injured back due to lack of support.
  2. Make sure the top of your monitor(s) is just below eye level when you are seated. This will save you from neck strain and discomfort.
  3. Keep your head and neck in line with your torso and spine. Maintaining this balance will better distribute the weight through your spine and torso.
  4. Try to keep your shoulders as relaxed as possible when seated at your desk. Try rolling your shoulders forward and backward every 30 minutes or so to keep them loose and unwound.
  5.  When typing or using your computer, have plenty of room for your mouse and keyboard. Monitors should be 18-24 inches away from you. Keep wrists and hands in line with your forearms — all while having your elbows close to your body.

If your space needs updating to make it meet your ergonomic standards, talk to your supervisor or human resources representative. Remind them that good ergonomics makes good economic sense. Fewer injuries or illnesses equal a more productive and profitable workforce.

One thing I found to be very helpful is to get up and move throughout the day. Take a walk around the block, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or replace your chair with an exercise ball for half of the day. Not only will this help you feel more comfortable at your desk, but it will often lift your spirits and give you a rush of energy to help you power through projects on your plate.

Here is a quirky video I found on ergonomics in the workplace.

Now I want to hear from YOU! What do you do to keep yourself comfortable and healthy throughout the work day?

Wishing you wellness,

Anita

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

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Snoozer or Loser?

A reader writes…

Dear, Anita,

I have been at my current job for about 6 months. I absolutely love working here and want to be the best employee for the company. As much as I try, I have trouble getting to work by 8:00 a.m., and my boss has pulled me aside to discuss the issue. I do not want to lose my job and disappoint my manager and the team. Please help!!

Dear, Sleepy,

Getting yourself moving in the morning can be a difficult task for the non-morning types. It is far too easy to reach over and snooze your alarm 4 times or to stand in the shower for an extra 10 minutes while you wake up. These and other time-takers can cause serious delays. It is very important that if you are required to be at work by 8 a.m., that you are. In fact, I’d say it’s important that you be at your desk ready to work by 8 am; nothing impresses a manager more than someone who’s reliable and eager! Punctuality and time management are ranked very highly by employers and your peers.

Before we get started, I want to hear from you!

So what are some tips to stop sneaking into the office 10-15 minutes late? Here are a few that I have found helpful in the past.

Prepare at Night for the Day Ahead

Before you settle down for the evening, make plans to organize a few things for the next day. If you bring a lunch to work, go ahead and get it ready for the quick grab-and-go on your way out for the day. Check the weather and select the clothing that you want to wear the next day. Have your shoes and jacket by the door, along with your car keys and briefcase/purse, so you won’t be searching frantically for them when the morning minutes begin to disappear. If you can, shower at night to save yourself about 10-20 minutes for other things that may come up.

Set an Alarm or Two

It is sometimes as difficult as raising the dead to get out of bed in the morning.  Sometimes, the only thing that would get us out a slumber would be an atomic bomb or the smell of crackling bacon and fresh chocolate donuts. Do yourself a favor and set two alarms. Just in case the first one fails (or you subconsciously give it the silence smack), you will be sure to wake up.

Make and Maintain a Routine

If you make a plan for your pre-work mornings, you are more apt to anticipate and adapt to changes and upsets that may occur. When a plan is place, you can be more certain that you are not forgetting your cell phone on the kitchen table, or to let the family dog back in the house, or leave with two different shoes on. The more established your routine is, the easier and quicker it will become second nature.Snooze

Be Aware of Other Routes to Work

We all know that accidents happen and hope that it isn’t while we’re on the way to work. Hitting traffic is a common occurrence with commuters but can happen unexpectedly and put a damper on your daily drive. If a traffic jam rears its ugly head, be prepared to take an alternative route to work. Navigate these roads and clock how long it takes you. One day, it maybe your saving grace between being on time and arriving past the opening bell.

Plan to be Ahead of Schedule

My final piece of advice is to always plan your morning schedule around arriving at work 15 minutes before you are supposed to be there. If you need to be at your office by 8, plan your morning around being there at 7:45. It will make your morning less hectic, and if you have some time to spare, you can enjoy a cup of coffee at your desk or take some time to unwind before the day gets moving.

A Few Additional Tips

If you just can’t get the above changes going, trick yourself by setting your clocks ahead 15 minutes.

Also, if you are going to be late, let your boss know rather than trying to sneak in behind his or her back. Trust me, bosses know when you’re not there on time – and if you lie about being on time or try to hide your lateness (or worse – give a different excuse every day), it just makes matters worse.

Readers – What do you do to streamline your morning routines? I’d love to hear about them!

Best,

Anita

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Rules for Requesting R and R

A reader writes…

Hi, Anita,

I am looking into taking a vacation this fall with my husband to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. For the dates we want to travel, I will need to take off 5 days from work. I am always nervous to ask for time off for appointments so a whole week has become very daunting. What can I do to ease my stress and get the time off with my hubby?

Dear Getaway Gal,

Every once in a while, you may run across the need to ask your boss for some time off from work. We all need a few days off to spend with family and friends, or a week off to celebrate an anniversary, or just some time away from work to recharge our batteries.  For some people, this is stress free and a no-brainer; for others, it can be full of anxiety and nervousness.

Couple_On VacationTo start, it is always best to present your request in writing. Many companies will have a template available for you, but if not, you can create your own or use a template such as this one provided by Microsoft Office. Fill this form out with your signature and date, and ask that your supervisor do the same, noting his or her approval or rejection. It will be helpful in case a discrepancy arises and your time off is contested.

Before you ask for time off, make sure you are prepared to answer any questions that may arise during the discussion with your boss. Evaluate and understand the current status of projects and your general workload.  Be mindful of the impact that your absence may have on your work and on those on your team.

Reassure your manager that you are prepared to take on any negative impacts that may arise as a result of your time off. It would be helpful to work out a plan with a co-worker to assist you when you are gone in exchange for helping them in the future. Try your best to come up with a great solution or an acceptable alternative course of action for issues that may occur Suitcaseswhile you are away.

Be aware of the amount of time that your employer has allotted you for vacation/sick days. Typically, it is not an issue for an employee to take time off as long as it is covered by the time given in your employment contract. If your need exceeds this amount, be prepared to explain clearly why you need extra time off, but remember that you do not need to expose all the details about your absence. You are entitled to maintain your privacy.

Finally, follow up! Just because you discussed it, got approval, and have it set in stone on your end, it can’t hurt to remind your supervisor as the date approaches. If you have a calendar that is shared with your boss, send an appointment request to be added to their calendar. Also one week prior, send out an email to your co-workers informing them of your upcoming absence to allow them time to get input or materials from you before you leave.

Readers- What are some issues you have run into when requesting time off? Was the stress of coming back from vacation worth the time off? I would love to hear from you.

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

-Anita

Place of Productivity

A reader writes:

Dear, Anita,

I have been on a mission to revamp my office space from one filled with distractions to one that encourages productivity. I am having difficulty clearing out and organizing my desk and removing clutter off of my desktop. Do you have any suggestions or tips that may help?

Thanks for your question. For many of us, we are bound to our desks 8+ hours out of the day, 5 days a week. The typical American has a little more than 16 waking hours per day, meaning that 50% of our workdays we spend at a desk. It is important that this space be a work environment that harbors and promotes productivity so we can get the most work done in tPlace of Productivityhe time we have. Here are some tips for making your space as functional and productivity-friendly as possible:

There is almost nothing more difficult than trying to streamline your thoughts when your desk is a cluttered mess. Have you ever tried running through waist-high mud? Neither have I, but I assume it would be much more difficult than running through air. Discard any memos, Post-its, or other unnecessary items, and develop a system for organizing incoming papers and papers for current, future, and completed projects.

With the usage of electronics in our lives and work place, we are beginning to have our desk overrun by power cords, phone chargers, USB cords, etc. It is becoming a wired jungle! To keep these wire weeds at bay, start by rearranging your desk so that the appropriate cords are closest to the electronic they are paired with. It doesn’t make much sense to run your phone cord across your desk when you could just move the phone closer and save the cord space.

Set aside some dedicated work time where distractions and interruptions are kept to a minimum. I suggest taking about 2 hours per day to strictly focus on work. Inform your employees that you are not to be disturbed unless it is an emergency or an urgent matter.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different work station arrangements. Many people have tried and raved about swapping out their office chair for an exercise ball a few days a week. Try working from a different side of your office every few months to change your outlook. Brighten up the color palette in your space to breathe new life into your surroundings. Bring in pictures of your friends and family, or a few shots from a recent trip you just took.

For an example of an office redesign, check out this video on Feng Shui for the Office:

The opportunities to create just the right space for your productivity are endless. Take the time to put your own personal touches on your space, dedicate time to yourself and your projects, and free yourself from wire entrapments and cubicle clutter.

Do you have an interesting work space, or are you trying out any new unconventional office furniture arrangements? Post them in the comments!

Well wishes,

Anita

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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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