Efficiency – Step 1

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“Efficiency is intelligent laziness”
– David Dunham

Being the CEO of a company rolling out an efficiency staffing software product puts the pressure on to be efficient across all lines. Being resourceful at work and capable is one thing. Getting through your tasks in a manner that creates time saving and cost effective measures is ideal. For me, 2015 is and was all about super efficiency, both professionally and personally. If efficiency and productivity is what you’re after, then I strongly suggest starting with step 1 – Plan Ahead!

Research indicates that those who plan ahead get ahead. If you plan as soon as tonight for tomorrow, not only will you sleep more soundly, you’ll be more effective the following day. Writing out tomorrow’s ‘to do’s’ means that you can rest knowing what’s expected of you in the morning and throughout your day. Where do you start? If you haven’t yet listened to or read Brian Tracy’s “Eat That Frog”, I would highly recommend it! In his book, Brian makes 21 recommendations, each of which aids you in avoiding procrastination. Number one on that list is his description of taking your biggest and hardest task (your frog) and putting it at the top of your list. Make it your priority and once it’s done, you’ll be able to freely focus on all of your other tasks. By removing that one road block, you allow yourself to get everything else done without ‘your frog’ getting in the way. So when planning your next day, don’t forget to list that big task you’ve likely been avoiding. That’s the key to a more efficient and productive day.

Let’s recap: list everything; personal and professional that you need to accomplish tomorrow, figure out your biggest task and then prioritize the rest of your tasks and then… sleep soundly! Complete and repeat tomorrow night.

MelSignature

10 Tips to Overcome Blogger’s Block

10 Tipsto OvercomeBlogger's Block (4)Almost two months ago, our company implemented blogging into our social media strategy as a way for our employees, customers, and community to learn more about our incredibly dynamic team. I’ve enjoyed the process so far, but some days I experience the crippling effect of blogger’s block and the symptoms associated with it—restlessness, frustration, stress, and—even though I’m not proud to admit it—occasional complaining. Desperate to overcome these symptoms, I’ve tested a variety of different tactics that I figured might help, and in the process I’ve noticed that the once daunting task has become easier each week.

Below are a few tips to help you combat blogger’s block:

  1. Take a timed break. If you’ve been working at it for over 30 minutes and you only have a few words on your screen it’s best to take a break. Forcing yourself to write probably won’t result in a high quality blog. Give your mind a 30-45 minute break to relax. It’s important to allot yourself a maximum amount of time for a break…don’t procrastinate!
  2. Speaking of procrastinating…don’t do it! If you know your blog is due in a week, set aside time in your schedule to work on it. The added stress from procrastinating will likely hinder your productivity even further.
  3. Change your environment. If your work environment is too hectic and you can’t seem to get any blogging done, switch up your location! Try writing on the weekend from home, or after work at your favourite café.
  4. Keep a notebook for ideas. Sometimes on my drive home or when I’m out in public, I come up with new ideas for my blog posts and write them in my planner. Writing in a notebook can help you in the long run when you feel like you’ve run out of ideas; simply flip through your notes and be inspired.
  5. Change the way you write. If you’re struggling to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, then use the opposite method. While I feel like I am much more productive when typing on my laptop, I know many “high-tech” individuals who are more effective writers when they’re using the traditional handwritten approach.
  6. Write backwards. It may sound silly, but writing the conclusion or the most substantial part of your blog first might help you complete the rest. Individuals often get stuck when they focus too much of their attention on the blog title or introduction so work on these things last!
  7. Switch it up. There are many different types of blog posts you can create. Try choosing from one of the following:
  • Reviews: Give a fair opinion of a product or service that relates to your blog theme. If you usually write about productivity, review some productivity apps that you think may help your readers.
  • Instructional: Tutorials and how-to’s are very popular on the web. Individuals are always seeking solutions to problems, so why not provide them with one?
  • Lists: I’m sure you’ve read these titles before: ‘7 Ways…’, ‘5 Tips To…’, and ‘10 of The Best…’ Lists provide useful information to your reader in a way that’s easy to read and act upon.
  • Informational: Simply provide information on a select topic in an intriguing way.
  1. Find inspiration. Listen to music or podcasts, read what others are writing about, or even research relevant trending topics. When I’m not too sure what to write about, I search for images on Google using general keywords such as ‘social media marketing’; looking at the images and captions helps me draw inspiration from sources that are relevant to my theme.
  2. Change your attitude and just write. It’s true—we’re our own worst critics. Sometimes the only thing holding us back from writing is ourselves. Think positively and just write. Don’t worry about grammatical or spelling errors, or the way your words flow; it’s easy to edit these things once you have the words down.
  3. When you’re on a roll don’t stop. If you can create a great blog in 30 minutes and still have time to spare then get started on another one! It’s easier to write once you’ve already started and are feeling inspired.

Try some of these tips out and see what works well for you!

MeganSignature

8 Things to Focus On When Writing a Resumé

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8: Is my experience relevant?

Always be sure to list experience that is relevant to the position that you are applying for. For example, I hire Registered Nurses and Practical Nurses, as well as Personal Support Workers. I often receive resumés that list experience from places like Lawn Care companies or Dog Walking businesses. When applying for the position of a healthcare professional, whether you have experience in the field or not, be sure to list experience that can be seen as beneficial for the position you are applying for.

Another thing to consider is to keep your experience recent. Listing experience from 10 – even 5 – years ago, is sometimes a turnoff for employers. If you have nothing recent, they will wonder why.

7: Is everything spelled correctly?

There is nothing worse than printing out a resumé and having to decipher the hidden message that applicants are trying to get across. Not only does it make you look unprofessional, but it also makes it look as though you rush through things without focusing on the outcome. No one wants to hire someone who lacks attention to detail.

6: What format am I submitting it in?

Receiving a resumé that you cannot open is irritating. Recruiters are busy and constant communication back and forth due to a document file format is time consuming. Use a format that is basic and recognized by most operating systems, such as PDF. Creating work for the Recruiter before even meeting them does not create a good impression, even though it’s not your fault!

5: Do I have an objective?

I often receive resumés with no objective and I think, “What position are they applying for? What are they hoping to gain out of this position?” An objective doesn’t have to be long. One or two sentences at the beginning sets the stage for the rest of your resumé. From here, they are able to make their decision on whether to call you or not based on your experience, education and skills.

4: Am I telling the truth?

Don’t lie. What’s the point? If you don’t have any experience, don’t list any. Your lack of experience will show if you get the position.

If you had a gap in employment dates, don’t extend your last unemployment date to hide it. Chances are, recruiters will find out. Your references may give it away without even knowing it.

3: Is the length acceptable?

An acceptable length for resumés is one to two pages. I have received resumés that are up to seven pages in length. When writing your resumé, always take into consideration the content that you’re adding to it. A resumé is meant to be a summary of your skills, education and qualifications regarding the position; it is not supposed to be a list of everything that you have ever done.

2: Does the layout make sense?

One mistake that many resumé-writers make is using a layout that doesn’t make sense. It’s important to remember that whoever receives your resumé will be reading it like anything else, top to bottom. To begin, you want to catch the readers’ eye. If you place ‘Volunteer Experience’ at the beginning and your ‘Education’ or  ‘Objective’ at the end, you may lose their interest before they get there. As previously mentioned, Recruiters are busy. Your resume is not the only one that they are looking at that day. Try to keep everything laid out in a way that makes sense:

• Objective • Education • Experience • Skills/Qualifications •

1: Am I providing proper contact information?

In previous years, the only type of contact information that candidates would put on their resumé was their home phone number. Nowadays, there are many different ways to contact potential candidates and, when considering how busy our lives get, it’s better to give them as many ways to contact you as possible: home phone number, cell phone number, email address etc.

One mistake many people make when writing resumés is using unprofessional, personal email addresses. When Recruiters or Employers are looking to get into contact with you, using an email address like bacardiluvr82@hotmail.com will not create the best image. If you have to, create an alternate email address specific for resumés. Use something simple like your first and last name; not only is this professional, but it’s also easier for them to remember!

TessaSignature

Maybe That Customer Isn’t So Difficult After All

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We’ve all experienced times where we thought “this customer situation will not be rectified”, or “this customer is just too difficult”, or “there is no way to please them”. I believe that nine times out of ten, a customer situation can be diffused and it is all in the approach you take with that customer.

Here are five tips that you can keep in your back pocket the next time you are faced with an unhappy customer.

  1. Listen.  It is imperative to listen intently to what your customer says. The information being shared may not be easily digested; however one must adjust their mindset. Adjusting your mindset includes setting aside your opinions, judgment and feelings toward the situation. By adjusting your mindset you can now actively listen. Apologize for the feelings they are experiencing; this provides the customer with the awareness that you are supporting them as a customer.
  2. Empathize. When a customer has a conflict, problem or concern it is important to understand their point of view. It may be helpful to place yourself into their shoes to better understand their perspective. Understand their problem and re-iterate their concerns, advise them that you understand where they are coming from. Advise them that you are prepared to devise a solution. By empathizing, we can diffuse their feelings and bring them to a level where solution forming and or negotiation can begin. If we shift our perspective and gather all details we can start the path to the solution.
  3. Respect. It will always work in your favor when you can provide your customer with respect above all else, regardless of the level of their concern. By offering respect you gain trust. Advise your customer that you will do your very best to determine a fair solution in a timely manner.
  4. Quick Response Time. This can make or break your trust and enhance or deteriorate your relationship. Running into the fire with a sense of urgency demonstrates to your customer that you are taking their concerns very seriously and are eager to provide a solution and resume business activities. Providing an explanation to their concern with a willingness to help come to a solution will help alleviate their feelings.
  5. Present a Solution. After collecting all details it is time to come to a solution. A solution that is fair for all parties involved and in line with company policy will ensure continued trust and respect from your customer. Providing your staff with the freedom to slightly tweak or adjust the solution to a certain degree to ensure customer satisfaction will allow for quick resolution and continued customer success.

Every difficult situation presents a gift—something that can be learned. The situation can be utilized as a learning tool for similar situations in the future and can be recognized as growth for the employee(s) involved.

mandyblog

 

Unleash the Beast!

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My business is built on creativity and resourcefulness.  I have never appreciated how creative I could be, but I tap into it daily, and it is a big part of the foundation that has led to my company’s success.

After four years in business, we’ve reached a crossroads where it takes imaginative and inventive thinking to keep up to the growth and momentum.  To be my most creative self, I need to keep my mind free to dream big.  I’ve implemented the following rituals into my daily routine which gives me a clear focus on ways to improve what we do.

Some of the things that I do to free my mind to dream big about our vision are:

Rest: Get some sleep. Listen to your body.  If you’re fighting to stay awake, one more hour of work won’t help you, but sleep will.  Studies have proven that people who get 7 hours or more of sleep are the most productive.

Laugh:  Often, long, and many times a day.  I love to laugh!  In the good times and through the bad times, it is a game changer when you can stay positive through anything.

Relax:  This isn’t sleep…this is doing NON-WORK related things that you really enjoy.  My weekdays are extremely busy but my weekends are focused on my little family, friends and making memories.  It can be a dinner party, participating in our local family skate or date night with my partner.  Whatever it is, my goal is to be in the moment which means putting work (and the phone) away for the duration.

Listen to audio motivation, inspiration and innovation:  I listen to something that moves me every single day.  Some days it a 15 minute TED talk and other days it’s a 1.5 hour webinar with Brendon Burchard.   The point is that I want to be motivated every day and audio for me is the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to do that.   Some of my other favourites are Robin Sharma, Brian Tracy and Zig Ziglar.

Surround yourself with like-minded people:  Ideas breed more ideas – simply put.  When you surround yourself with happy, positive people who have goals and who are doing things to charge their life, you have no choice but to be charged up too.  Surrounding myself with people who like to deliberate ideas or discuss solutions is my way of keeping myself excited for what’s to come!

Get out:  A change in scenery keeps me stimulated.  I start my day in my home office and each day I make my way to the Plan A office.  I also use café’s, restaurants, and events as places to connect with people, have meetings or just to get caught up on my own reading.  For me, it keeps things interesting!

Nutritious Eating:  Energy plays a big part in my level of creativity so I am conscientious of what I put in my body.  Lean meats, protein, fresh fruit and vegetables make up my daily choices.  Eating for energy takes discipline but it works!

These are some of the things I do to unleash my creative beast.  Tapping in to your creative side takes practice but once you do you will express one the greatest qualities that you have.   When you allow your creativity to prosper, you will find that it’s easier to do exactly what you love to do, and that will excite and challenge you every day.  A bonus is that it inspires the people around you to to tap into their creativity and charge their life as well.

SheriSignature

Music is Key

Music is Key

Music is the key to focus…for me anyway!

Sitting on a plane, opening up your laptop seems like an ideal place to get some work done!  The movies make it seem so simple and something to strive for when flying out for business or pleasure. Today, I sat down in aisle 29, seat B and slowly watched as the nightmare next door neighbour passengers made their way in front, behind and next to me!  An extremely excitable bride in the back who’s voice could rival any loud talker, a mom of 2 young children (they watch their children’s shows on their iPads without earphones and their mom sings, poorly, to try to soothe them—this does not work). And then, a gentleman who’s already complained to another passenger that he’s squishing his luggage in the upper cargo compartment in a very aggressive, tone that’s uncomfortable to everyone else.  This does not seem like a productive environment and feels hopeless until that ‘seat belt fastened’ light comes off! Faster than you can say “go”, I’ve got my earphones and my laptop out. I plug the earphones in, select my favourite playlist on iTunes and get typing.  What first seemed like an impossible situation slowly develops into the ideal pod for 4 hours of complete productivity!

While not for everyone, music provides the perfect arena for me to find razor sharp focus. Music is my go to and I know I’m not alone! I’m brought back to an episode of Grey’s Anatomy where McDreamy’s requests for his favourite music to be played as he performs complex surgical procedures is central to the plot line. Truth be told, that’s not reality, but on August 6th, Vice published an article describing actual studies that listed positive outcomes (relaxation, accuracy…) and concerns (distraction, need for repetition between nurses and doctors…) of music played during surgeries.  A whopping 16 out of 20 surgeons played music during one of the studies, confirming that it’s a preference among the profession. The study and the article conclude that it’s likely not a matter of if you listen to music or not that’s linked to negative effects but the type of music you listen to. White noise, ambient music and classical tend to be ideal. For me, I opt for my favourite Songza playlist: Acoustic Versions of Pop Songs.  My favorites from the playlist include the following (give it a listen – it’s free if you’re connected to wifi, or download any of them on iTunes):

  1. Stay With Me by Jasmine Thompson
  2. I Won’t Give Up by Lennon
  3. Let Her Go by Jasmine Thompson
  4. Into The Dark by Spencer Barnett
  5. Dancing Queen by Frank Turner
  6. XO by John Mayer
  7. Chariot (Stripped Version) by Gavin DeGraw
  8. Crazy by Daniela Andrade
  9. Mirrors by Andrew Ripp
  10. Higher Love by James Vincent McMorrow
  11. Watcha Say by Michael Schulte
  12. Ignition (Remix) by The Wind and The Wave
  13. Call Your Girlfirend by Lucy Wainwright Roche
  14. The Girl (Acoustic) by City and Colour
  15. Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready) by City and Colour
  16. Not Over You Acoustic Cover by Collin McLoughlin
  17. When I Was Your Man (Feat. Fifth Harmony) by Boyce Avenue
  18. Mirrors (Feat. Fifth Harmony) by Boyce Avenue
  19. Sweet Child O’ Mine by Jasmine Thompson
  20. (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay by Sara Bareilles
  21. Kiss Me by Jason Walker
  22. Princess Of China (Acoustic) by Coldplay & Rihanna
  23. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by Sleeping At Last
  24. Nothin’ On You / My Love / Rocketeer by Boyce Avenue
  25. It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday by Jason Mraz
  26. How To Save A Life (Live From Soho) by The Fray
  27. Use Somebody by Laura Jansen
  28. Bad Blood (Live Piano Version) by Bastille
  29. Wonderwall by Ryan Adams
  30. Sunday Morning by Maroon 5
  31. Billie Jean by The Civil Wars
  32. We Can’t Stop (Feat. Bea Miller) by Boyce Avenue
  33. Chasing Pavements (Live At The Hotel Cafe) by Adele
  34. Latch by Daniela Andrade
  35. Never Gonna Leave This Bed (Acoustic) by Maroon 5
  36. Over The Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
  37. Boom Clap by Lennon & Maisy
  38. Time After Time by The Wind and The Wave
  39. Titanium by Jasmine Thompson
  40. Dancing In The Dark by Ruth Moody
  41. Shots (Acoustic (Piano) / Live From The Smith Center / Las Vegas) by Imagine Dragons
  42. All Of Me by Spencer Barnett
  43. Skinny Love by Birdy
  44. Escape (The Pina Colada Song) by Jack Johnson
  45. We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off by Ella Eyre
  46. Chandelier by The Wind and The Wave
  47. The Scientist by Jenny & Tyler
  48. Demons (Acoustic Live In London) by Imagine Dragons
  49. Hallelujah by Spencer Barnett

For you, it might be different or it may be nothing at all. My point is this: any environment can be the perfect work setting, you just have to make it work for you. For someone like me who prefers a quiet work environment, have your headphones ready, download a relaxing playlist and hit play.

melblog

 

10 Pet Peeves on Social Media

1682570-poster-1280-hater-appHave you ever scrolled through your social media feeds and stumbled upon content from people or brands that instantly annoyed you?  I know I have.  The nature of my career requires me to spend upwards of 30-40 hours per week scanning through feeds on various platforms.  Spending that much time on social media has made me hyperaware of the way both brands and individuals interact.  It also means that I come across annoyances on a regular basis.  I have complied a list of some of the top pet peeves that I encounter on almost a daily basis.

  1. Linking your Facebook account to your Twitter account. In my last blog, 5 Twitter Tips for Any Business, I explained how important it is to keep these two accounts separate. The reason? The formatting between these platforms is completely different. When you post a photo with a caption on Facebook, the photo will not appear on your Twitter feed, and the caption will likely not either if it exceeds too many characters! Twitter will automatically generate a link that leads your followers back to the Facebook post. The problem? If you post frequently on Facebook, your Twitter feed will be flooded with links that look like spam.  Plus, your Twitter followers are on Twitter for a reason.  They likely don’t want to leave their Twitter stream to visit your Facebook page.
  2. Auto DM (Direct Message). While many people believe direct message is a great sales tool, it should be used correctly. When I follow someone on Twitter and I automatically get a direct message from them that is very generic, I likely will unfollow them immediately. If you’re trying to sell your brand, it’s important to create value for consumers. Sending your followers a message outlining all of the features of your product likely isn’t going to cut it. Personalize your message! Let your new follower know how your brand can create value specifically for them.
  3. F4F (Follow-for-follow). I cringe every time someone @s me or sends me a direct message letting me know that they followed me and that I should follow them. The great thing about social media is that you receive notifications for new activity—that includes receiving notifications for new followers! Asking people to follow you for the sake of increasing your follower count is silly. Follow brands and individuals that relate to your brand, product, and industry. If you want people to follow you back, interact with them!
  4. People/brands who can’t stop selling. Yes, the whole point of social media marketing is to market your brand. However, there’s no reason to always be selling. Switch it up a little! Interact with consumers, post content that relates to your industry, and share content from others.
  5. Posting content all the time. It’s okay to take a break! Tweeting 20 times in an hour is never a good idea.
  6. #Overusing #Hashtags. #It’s #just #not #necessary #to #hashtag #every #single #word.  Think of hashtags as keywords; use certain keywords to attract your target market. Chances are people aren’t searching for the keywords #just or #not.
  7. Lack of social customer service. Don’t send cookie-cutter replies to your customers when an issue arises. Foster the relationship you’ve built with your customer by personalizing your response, and assist them until the problem is solved.
  8. Only posting quotes. Quotes definitely work. Whether they’re testimonials from your customers, or motivational quotes from Steve Jobs, they’re a great form of content you should definitely use…just not all the time.
  9. Keeping your account private. If you’re a brand, your Twitter feed should always be public. People shouldn’t have to request to follow you…it’ll likely turn them away.
  10. Posting the same content on every platform. It’s okay to post content across all of your platforms in order to reach different people on various networks, but you shouldn’t post the same update on your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest account at the exact same time.

So…what bugs you on social media?

MeganSignature