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10 Referral Tips for Bagging Big Business

Need to grow your business?

Is marketing taking too much of your time? Want a powerful way to increase business with low resistance?

Check out my guest article today at Dumb Little Man for some tips on how to get referrals and how to ensure that you never forget to ask for one!

DumbLittleMan.com: 10 Referral Tips for Bagging Big Business

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How to Recover from a Fumble at Work


How to Recover from a Fumble at Work

 

This is a guest post written by Chrissy of The Executive Assistant’s Tool Box.

 

Let’s be honest: we all make the occasional mistake at work. Some of us, more than others.

 

I prefer to call them “fumbles” because it just sounds nicer. Some people say things “fell through the cracks” or they “dropped the ball”. Whatever you call it, making a mistake at work is a stressful, frustrating experience. Yes, it happens to all of us from time to time. The important thing to remember is that mistakes can not simply be ignored. They must be dealt with. How you deal with and recover from your mistakes can say lot about your character and your work ethic.

 

 

Here are a few pointers for how to handle the inevitable (though hopefully occasional) fumble:

 

Acknowledge Your Mistake Immediately

Time is of the essence when dealing with a fumble. Once you’ve realized that there is problem, consider who will be impacted by your actions (or lack thereof). What will the result be for them? Approach them immediately with honesty about what has taken place. Be straight forward and concise. Don’t beat around the bush and don’t wait. Often, we get in the habit of thinking no one will notice or we just hold our breath that circumstances will change and the mistake will no longer be important. That might work on the rare occasion. But consider the time it doesn’t work and the problem explodes. Do you want people coming back to you asking why you didn’t notify them of your mistake earlier? Acknowledging your mistake to the appropriate parties allows them the opportunity to:

 

a) Help in fixing the problem

b) Prepare for damage due to the mistake

c) Prevent further damage from being done

 

Don’t Give Long Winded Excuses

No one really cares about what caused the mistake. Sure, you and your boss might go over it again in the future in an effort to determine how to prevent it from happening again, but right now, people only care about one thing: dealing with it (i.e. accessing and fixing the damage done while also preventing further damage). Giving a long, drawn out excuse looks like you’re trying to rationalize your fumble. Keep the reason for why it happened short unless it is absolutely necessary.

 

Don’t Blame Others

While it’s tempting to give a long, detailed explanation of why the mistake happened, it’s even more tempting to slide a few other people into the mix so you don’t look solely responsible. Newsflash: people see right through that. Even if you aren’t the only person responsible for the fumble, step up and take the responsibility. Your team mates will appreciate it and remember your loyalty in the future.

 

Bring Solutions

Think about how to resolve the situation. Also, consider future problems that could happen as a result of your mistake. Take solutions with you when you address the mistake with co-workers or supervisors.

 

Apologize….Then Move On

It’s important to say that you’re sorry. No one wants to mess up but it still helps others to hear that you don’t feel good about it. They are then more likely to feel a desire to help out. One word of caution though: don’t over do it. Nothing is more frustrating than someone who continues to apologize over and over again. Say it once, then move on.

 

Learn From the Experience

Sometimes the only good thing to come out of a mistake is the lesson it teaches you. Believe me, these lessons are engrained in your psyche. It’s such an awful and uncomfortable experience, you won’t soon forget it. More than likely, you’ll be replaying exactly what happened and how a million times in your head. That’s good! It will help you identify the problem and prevent it from happening again. But don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember that we’re all human and life is nothing but a series of lessons.


 

Written by Chrissy of The Executive Assistant’s Tool Box. Check out her site for more information on professional and personal development. Popular posts include How to be a Good Listener and 10 Ways to Build a Better Team.

 

Please Share!

How do you handle workplace fumbles? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

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If you want to Support Life Learning Today, you can visit one of my sponsors, make a donation, or make a purchase at Amazon through one of my links. Thank you!

 

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26

25 Tips to Become More Productive and Happy at Work

25 Tips to Become More Productive and Happy at Work

Have you gotten into a rut at work? Would you like to be more engaged, satisfied, and fulfilled in your work? Would you like to be more productive and feel a greater sense of accomplishment at the end of each day? Well you can. It just takes a desire and commitment to renew your habits and routines. Follow these tips and you’ll see your work life improve. And that improvement will trickle into the rest of your life too.

  1. Planning. Establish a routine of planning your week and your day. This will allow you to have your most productive week all the time. Start your day an extra 15 minutes early to do this planning everyday. Write down the top 1-3 important things you must do that day. And most importantly, set and reach your Goals! Use the power of intention to get there! (This is what adds jazz to your life! And focusing on your future helps you get through challenging times.)
  2. Power Question. Keep a question like this at your desk to help you stay focused: “Am I making the most of my time right now?” or “Is this the most productive use of my time?”
  3. Accept That You’ll Never Finish Your Task List. For perfectionists and overachievers this is as frustrating as a greyhound forever chasing the mechanical bunny around the track. Get off that track. Just make sure you work on your most important stuff first. Let the fluff slide, not your priorities.
  4. Turn off Your Computer. “What?!” you say. “Everything is done on my computer!” Well is it really? What percentage truly is? Plan to have your computer on only for that amount of time each day. Plan out blocks of time for different computer tasks and work from a checklist to keep you focused. Giving your eyes a rest from the screen will give you more energy for creating. Even if you just close your eyes as you think of a response to an email can help too.
  5. Don’t Check Email First Thing. Unless this is required in your job, then let it go until after you’ve completed your top priority of the day. And then process email in batches, say two or three times a day.
  6. Take Breaks. It’s a fact that taking breaks will increase productivity. It’s been proven in studies. If you need to, find someone to help ensure you take a morning and afternoon break.
  7. Make the Most of Your Commute. How do you spend your commute? Make it positive time. Use it for reading, writing, creative thinking, creative projects, listen to audio books, or, heck, write your own book! If you enjoy your commute, that happiness will spill over into how you feel at work.
  8. Drop Unimportant Tasks. Delegate or delete the non-essential items from your to-do list. The best way to do this is to always do your most important things first. Somehow, miraculously, extraneous things will fall away.
  9. Transitions. Make sure you plan in enough time between activities and appointments, and find ways to fail proof being on time.
  10. Choose Happiness, Humor, Enthusiasm, Gratitude, Kindness, and a Positive Outlook. Being productive and competitive in business doesn’t mean that you have to be serious all the time. Smiling doesn’t mean you’re not working hard. Enthusiasm doesn’t mean you’re not competitive. Being positive doesn’t mean you’re blind to challenges. Choose to enjoy your time at work. Find others who are like this and spread good cheer. It’s contagious and it grows. Try to avoid gossip and negative chat. It can be tempting, but it doesn’t serve anyone well, including yourself.
  11. Cultivate Compassion for Negative Coworkers. People who are negative are that way for a reason. They may have difficulties you don’t know about. Try to be compassionate and non-judging. If you’re a manager, people still need to meet benchmarks, but you don’t have to dislike them if they are not cutting it. When you encounter a negative person, you have the choice to either be affected by the negativity or to be the one who influences the other person. It’s a decision. Choose to stay positive. Instead of saying (in your head or out loud) “Oh, that Suzy-Q! Her negativity always ruins my day,” try thinking “Poor Suzy-Q. She must have some difficulties. I wish her peace. In spite of her negativity I will try to be a positive influence around her.”
  12. Pace Yourself, Especially on Bad Days. Go slow. Don’t be in a hurry. Just take one thing at a time and keep moving forward. If you’re having a really low day, you might even want to take care of yourself by playing hooky ! 🙂
  13. Take Everything in Stride. Deadlines, tough bosses, rude clients, slow computers. Don’t make them into large dramas. Don’t lament the challenges of the world. Simply accept that they are there, and just keep moving forward.
  14. Conflicts with Others. Let your goal be “to make progress.” Don’t get caught up in trying to “be right” or to “win” the argument. That will just slow you down. In your mind ask yourself, “what will move this conflict forward right now?” And then get busy doing that.
  15. Take Your Vacation Time. Try doing something different. If you always go on a trip, try taking a more local vacation, and really get some good rest time. Or if you always stay local, try visiting a new place. Variety is one of the keys to happiness.
  16. Pick Your Battles. Cliche, but true. It’s kind of like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” When you complain or fight on everything, then your power to ask for things is diminished. Save it up for when you really need it.
  17. Share Your Results. This is not about bragging, but about ensuring that you get credit for the hard work you do. Don’t keep quiet thinking that the right people know what you are doing. Speak up and find ways to let the right people know how you are contributing to the success of the company.
  18. Ask for Help. Don’t be afraid to collaborate with others. Don’t wait for your company to tell you what to do. Think creatively about how you can work with others to generate a greater result than if you had each worked on this alone.
  19. Face the Tough Stuff Head On. If there is something difficult that you must do, just bite the bullet and do it. Don’t put it off. Do it first thing in the day. It’s like jumping into a cold pool. Just count to three and do it!
  20. Ask for More Time. If you are asked a question that stumps you or surprises you, never feel like you have to answer it right away. (unless you absolutely must) Seek more time to think about or research your answer. Simple as this, “I’ll have to get back to you with an answer later.” This will save you from giveing an answer you will regret.
  21. Breaking Negative Habits. For one day, observe yourself. Where do you face difficulties? With people? Certain people? Certain circumstances? Take notice and then later on during some quiet time, think about one or two things you would like to work on. Set up some kind of reminder system to fail proof it, such as a simple yellow sticky note next to your computer.
  22. Learn from Criticism. Don’t immediately reject critiques from others, even if you don’t like or respect them. Sometimes people you don’t like may be giving you more honest feedback than you can get from others. Don’t take it personally. Even if it is personal, who cares? Listen, process, and then decide what positive action you might want to take.
  23. Adapt. Adaptation is the number one survival skill of living organisms. Those that don’t adapt, become extinct. In the work world, the same is true for companies, whole groups, and for individuals. Be open to change. Give it a chance. Adapt to new things while using your experience to guide you, and you will have great success.
  24. Learning and Improving. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to learn and improve your skills. Look for good seminars and training. Then ask work if you can attend and will they pay for your admission. If your company pays for education, use it! Borrow books from your local library, the company library, or even from your boss. Borrow some motivational audio tapes from your local library. Keep learning to continually renew your enthusiasm.
  25. Creative Thinking. Is your job boring? If so, take some responsibility in changing that. How can you make it more fun, more creative, more varied, etc.? What can you do that no one has done before? How could you grow enthusiasm at work? What is a new way that you could do old things? What processes could you alter to save time, work and money?

Please Share!

What makes you more productive and happy at work? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

If you found this post valuable, perhaps you’ll be kind enough to vote for this with a Stumble or Delicious bookmark. Votes are always appreciated!

If you want to Support Life Learning Today, you can visit one of my sponsors, make a donation, or make a purchase at Amazon through one of my links. Thank you!

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142

Slow Cook Your Business Goals for Success

successful Business Goals

Along the “slow down theme” of this week, I have a guest post over at DumbLittleMan.com.

The article is for anyone who is frustrated with their rate of progress on their business goals. It can also apply to many other types of goals.
The suggested solution may seem counter-intuitive, but I’ve found it has worked well for me.

Check it out. Think about it for a few days to let it sink in, and then determine if it might work for you.

DumbLittleMan.com: Slow Cook Your Business Goals for Success

Please Share!

What goals are you struggling with right now? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

If you found this post valuable, perhaps you’ll be kind enough to vote for this with a Digg, Stumble or Delicious bookmark over at DumbLittleMan.com. Votes are always appreciated!

If you want to Support Life Learning Today, you can visit one of my sponsors, make a donation, or make a purchase at Amazon through one of my links. Thank you!

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Working Parents Survival Tips – Part 1

Working Parents Survival Tips – Part 1

I have a guest post over at eMomsAtHome.com this week that was inspired by my sister. She is the queen of Getting Things Done and she’s never even read the book! Lucky for her, it’s natural. Lucky for me, I can learn from her. Now you can too.

If you are a working parent (or know one) that is struggling with managing your time, I think you will these tips quite useful. In Part One of this two part series, we cover Morning Routines, Daytime Routines, and Nighttime routines. Please head over and share your time management tips for working parents too!

Please check it out today! As a bonus I think you will love this popular blog which covers “starting, running, and succeeding in home business and blogging.”

emomsathome.com: Working Parents Survival Tips – Part 1

Working Mother

photo by bogers

Please Share!

What are your best working parent tips? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

If you found this post valuable, perhaps you’ll be kind enough to vote for this with a Stumble or Delicious bookmark over at emomsathome. Votes are always appreciated!

If you want to Support Life Learning Today, you can visit one of my sponsors, make a donation, or make a purchase at Amazon through one of my links. Thank you!

 

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0

Should You Start Your Own Work at Home Business?


Work at Home: The Dream

Ah, the dream of working for yourself out of your own home! What could be better, right? Well it turns out there are major pros and cons to having your own work at home business. This article will provide the elements of working from home that you should consider before making the leap. I have been working from home as a freelance writer and blogger for 3 years now so I have personal insights that you will hopefully find valuable.

Work at Home: The Reality Pros and Cons

1. Work in your PJ’s.
Pro: This is the ultimate, right? Getting up and doing your work in your PJ’s and slippers. Sounds good and sometimes it is good. Being able to do work anytime in any clothing is convenient.

Con: The reality for many people is that your level of productivity is often influenced by how you are dressed. Yes, you can work in your pajamas, but once you’re doing this for a while, you’ll probably find that you get a little more motivation from getting out and exercising first, showering, and putting on clean clothes before starting work.

2. No Boss.
Pro: It’s true that your boss is not in your home looking over shoulder.

Con: However, we all have a “boss,” someone that we answer to:

  • Bloggers have their audience to please.
  • Freelancers and service providers have their clients to please.
  • Product sellers have their customers to please.
  • Writers have their editors, publishers, and readers to please.
  • Inventors have their end-user to please.
  • We all have ourselves, family, and financial needs that we must live up to.

3. Flexible Schedule.
Pro: This is a major benefit. You can decide when you work. You can take time off whenever you wish. Doctor appointments? No problem. Your child is sick? You’re already home to take care of them. But there is a catch.

Con: You need to make up the time somewhere. The work must get done. You can make it up on nights and weekends, but then balancing work and home can become quite challenging. If you have a family you might run into resentment of the extra time you spend doing work. If you’re single, this is less of a problem in terms of people putting demands on you, but you certainly run the risk of work edging out your personal time. So you need to think about how you will define the line between work and home life. And it’s not as easy as you might think.

4. No More Office Politics.
Pro: You won’t have to schmooze for that promotion. You will make your own promotions. You won’t have to watch Suzy-Q and Dapper-Dan get ahead because they are good at working office relationships. But….

Con: You may watch competitors get ahead for the same reasons. You may lose clients, contracts, readers, deals, etc because you are not working smart enough on the relationship building front. The bottom line is politics is not good or bad. It just is. By definition it exists as part of all human interactions. The only question is how you navigate and leverage it. Politics is human relations. It doesn’t mean you have to bend your morals. But it may mean that you need to work with someone you’re not crazy about in order to bring about a mutually beneficial outcome.

5. No Limits on Income.
Pro: No longer will you have to wait some silly prescribed timeframe in order to be eligible for a raise. The quality of your work will determine your income. By working hard and smart, you’ll have unlimited earnings potential. Really.

Con: It’s not easy. You will need to have a smart business plan. You will need to adjust your plan as you progress, especially when you hit roadblocks and plateaus, which will inevitably happen. You will need to be super organized, focused, and persistent. Income is especially hard in the beginning, so what you gain in upside potential you lose in security of income, retirement plans, health insurance and other benefits.

6. No More Interruptions.
Pro: You won’t have to worry about Chatty Cathy stopping by your cubicle every day, interrupting your productivity. You won’t have to worry about endless non-productive meetings anymore.

Con: But you’re not entirely off the hook. There’s still two potential challenges:

  • First, if you have family or roommates, inevitably there will be interruptions. When you’re using some of your flexibility to work nights or weekends, they’ll be there either getting miffed about you working again or they will be tempting you to slack off. If you have children, forget it, especially if they are young. It’s a real challenge. You need to establish boundaries and you will likely find times when you want to keep working, but you must stick with your promises in order to keep a happy family.
  • Second, if you live alone, then you will face the problem of isolation. With isolation you have no “local” colleague with whom to bounce ideas, ask advice, or consult. You will need to develop these types of relationships elsewhere. No man is an island. You will gain strength from having a virtual “team” of people you can go to for guidance. The other problem with isolation is you must provide your own motivation. Whether we like it or not, we all need to be pushed from time to time. Without interruptions or a boss you must create this for yourself. Yes, interruptions can serve as a motivator at times! And they force breaks on us too which is good for productivity. You’ll want to consider how you’ll ensure that you take breaks.

7. I’ll Work Less Hours. It Will Be Easier.
Pro: Perhaps eventually you will work less and it may be easier down the road. Maybe you’ll become like Tim Ferris and design your life so you only work 4 hours per week. Or it may be that you choose to live on a lower income. In that case you might work less sooner rather than later.

Con: For most of us, starting a business means hard work and long hours! Of course those hours are all for your business so that’s a beautiful thing. But it’s also your time and money at stake too. Work is work and it must get done. The other good thing is that if you are choosing the right business, i.e. something you love, then the work will feel like play. That’s a great thing. But at the end of the day, you will be tired, you will struggle at first and wonder “Did I make the right decision?” You’ll need to stick with it, adapt your plan when necessary, and smile even when you feel like you’re not making any progress.

8. More Creative License.
Pro: You will be in charge. You’ll make the decisions in your business. Your creativity can run free and wild. There are, however, conflicting forces at work that you’ll need to content with.

Con: You must please someone in addition to yourself in order to make money. So you will need to balance your income goals, your desire for creative authority, and the desires of your clients, readers, vendors, users, etc. It may be that your creativity is right in line with what your clients want or it may be that you’ll need to sacrifice your creative freedom a bit in order to meet your income goals. The bottom line is that for most, the client’s needs and desires will highly influence how our creativity manifests in our product, writing, services, inventions and so on. It’s a matter of prioritizing your income goals in balance with your desire for maximum creative license.

9. No Selling Things I Don’t Believe In.
Pro: There will be no more product/service of the month that you’ll be required to sell. Sometimes you like the company you work for, but occasionally you squirm at the thought of selling this quarter’s featured product. Ugh. No more of this! Hurray!

Con: No matter what your business is, you will still need to sell. And boy will this be important to your success or failure. Selling is not hard if you believe in what you are selling. Presumably this will be the case with your own business. If not, then maybe you don’t have the best business idea yet. True “selling” means helping people meet their needs. Focus on meeting clients’ needs and you will sell a lot. But of course there is a lot more to it than that. Stay tuned by subscribing for an upcoming article on How to Be a Great Salesperson.

10. No More Nightmare Clients.
Pro: If a client is beligerant, unreasonable, or otherwise unattractive to deal with, you will have the decision power to say, “Bye, bye!”

Con: At the same time, you will never be free of difficult client circumstances. And in each of these circumstances you will be required to decide how to handle them. Some examples:

  • Freelancers: Your biggest client turns difficult with the addition of a new general manager. What do you do?
  • Writers: Your editor seems to have turned sour on your writing, finding fault all the time. How do you handle this?
  • Bloggers: How will you handle mean comments, blog hecklers, and the like? How will you handle a negative campaign against you?
  • Selling products: There can be shipping problems, returns, complaints, lawsuits and more. You’ll need to deal with all of these.
  • Inventors: If you produce your product, you’ll need to manage relationships with manufacturers, distributors, and marketing companies where you will face issues of trust, control, and quality. If you sell your idea, you will likely face tough negotiations if you want to get the most value for your invention.

How to Meet these Challenges

Two words: Business Planning. (Subscribe for an upcoming Business Planning article) The best way to meet these challenges is to have a business plan. It doesn’t have to be formal if you’re not sharing it with financiers, but you’ll do yourself a favor by having as much detail as is necessary to be ready to take the plunge. See the resources below for links to business planning help, most of which is free!

The Bottom Line

This article is not meant to discourage you from pursuing your dream of starting your own work at home business, but rather to prepare you for the realities, both good and bad, so that you can decide whether you’ll be comfortable with this decision. If you do make the decision you’ll be able to plan how you will handle these challenges. Having a home based business can be wonderful, but it’s not for everyone. The other thing to consider is that if things don’t work out you can always go back to working for someone else.

Further Resources

Here are some helpful business planning resources if you decide to move forward with plans to start your own work at home business.

  • SBA – The Small Business Association has many online resources, services, and tools to help you with your new business.
  • SCORE – check out this resource in your local area. They usually have free business planning seminars. Retired business people provide free guidance and consultation to aspiring entrepreneurs. Don’t pass up this free resource!
  • Free Business Plan Templates
  • Fast4Cast – a free online business planning tool.
  • Govt of Canada Interactive Business Planner – a free online tool that will help you create a 3 year business plan.
  • Links to several Business Planning Freeware
  • Business Plan Pro Business Plan Pro (highly rated by PC Magazine and Inc. Magazine.) There is a cost with this program. I have used it and it is excellent. It makes the process very easy. And it is handy to have it right on your own computer.

Please Share!

Tell us about your business plans! You’ll get a link to your site! All comments big and small are very welcomed!

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