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Category: Efficiency

How to Ace Your Phone Interview

Filed under: ambition, Best Advice, Career Advice, Communication, Confidence, Efficiency, Focus, Goals, Good Habits, Hiring, How To, Interviews, Job Market, Persistence, Personality, Productivity, Professional Development, Quick Tips, Success, Thought Leadership, Your Career

Hiring managers are more often opting to start the interview process over the phone in interest of saving time and resources. Some even choose to hire a candidate based solely on a phone screen. Although efficient, these interviews can sometimes put a candidate at a disadvantage because they don’t have the opportunity to impress the hiring manager with a face-to-face interaction. Gregg Gavioli, Managing Director of the Accounting & Finance division of Solomon Page, offers the following tips on how to improve your phone interviewing skills and increase the probability of being called back for an in-person follow up.

Be Prepared

Most individuals often underestimate the significance of a phone interview in the hiring process and therefore do not prepare adequately. This mistake can lead the hiring manager to believe you are indifferent or uninterested in the position. To avoid missing out on a job opportunity because of this, try out the following tactics:

  • Research the company: Be sure to learn everything you can about the organization and be prepared to talk about it.
  • Research the person you are speaking with: Always look up the person you are scheduled to speak with on LinkedIn, Google, and the company website, if applicable. Look for common interests that may be useful to bring up if the timing is appropriate.
  • Find a quiet place: Make sure you are in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for the duration of the interview. If you cannot do the phone screen at your home, check with your local library to reserve a private room.
  • Confirm logistics of the call: Make sure you know the exact time of the call and who is calling who. If you plan to take the call from your cell phone, make sure you are in a place with good reception that won’t cut out during the interview. Test the location for the quality of the reception prior to the interview.
  • Reference your résumé: Be sure to have a copy of your résumé printed out or on screen in front of you to reference during your conversation.
  • Take notes: Keep a paper and pen nearby and jot down notes when the hiring manager is talking—refer back to them when it is your turn to ask questions.

Be Awake, Alert, and Enthusiastic

The downside to phone interviews is the interviewer cannot see your face and therefore your facial expressions. This can hinder them from getting an accurate gage of your interest in the position. To help, try the following:

  • Stand up: It is easier to project with our voices when we are standing. Standing will help you sound more engaged and articulate.
  • Smile: Your voice will sound more enthusiastic if you simply smile while you’re talking.
  • Wake yourself up: This is most relevant in early morning interviews, especially if you are not a morning person. Make sure to give yourself ample time to wake up and try drinking coffee, taking a shower, or exercising before your interview.

A phone interview is one of the initial stages in obtaining a new position, and can also be one of the most important. To ultimately stand out to employers be sure you are prepared and engaged—because what was once a job opportunity, can soon be a job.

By: Gregg Gavioli, Managing Director, Accounting & Finance division of Solomon Page

4 Behaviors That Slow Down Productivity

Filed under: Behavior in the Workplace, Efficiency, Focus, Productivity, Strategy, Stress, Time Management
You know that work is supposed to be challenging—but there’s no way it’s supposed to be this challenging.

Even the simplest of tasks take you twice as long as anybody else in your office, and you’re beginning to think that you’re the problem.

Here are four ways that you might be making things way harder than they need to be.

1. You’re clinging to outdated processes

Change is hard—I get it. Sometimes it seems way easier to hang on to your standard way of doing things than to adjust to your company’s new process.

But, here’s the thing: That change was probably introduced because it’s better and more efficient. So, white-knuckling that tired and outdated workflow is really only slowing you down—not to mention frustrating your colleagues.

The Fix

Figure out what you need to do to familiarize yourself with that new approach. Do you need a tutorial from a team member who has already mastered that piece of software? Do you need to write detailed instructions for yourself so you remember what to do next time?

Getting up to speed can take a little work, but I’m willing to bet it won’t be long before you’re glad that you did it.

2. You’re seeking everybody’s stamp of approval

Personally, I thrive on confirmation that I’m on the right track. It not only makes me feel like I’m knocking things out of the park, but it also prevents me from sinking too much elbow grease into something that’s heading in the wrong direction.

However, if your boss has already given you the go-ahead, that should be enough for you to move forward. You don’t need that same affirmation from every department manager, your entire team, and even the UPS delivery guy. Seeking that is only adding unnecessary bloat to your work.

The Fix

Perhaps much of your desire to get a stamp of approval from a dozen different people is the fact that you aren’t sure who has the final say on whatever project you’re working on.

When starting a new task or assignment, figure out exactly who is the key decision maker. That will give you the confidence you need to move forward—without hearing from absolutely everybody involved.

3. You’re forgetting previous feedback

You’re beginning to feel like you have to complete every assignment twice. There’s your original attempt, and then your second one after everybody has torn your work apart with a red pen.

Revisions and constructive criticism are inevitable. But, you might be adding extra hassle by not remembering or implementing feedback that was offered previously. There’s nothing more frustrating for you (and everybody else!) than needing to change the same thing time and time again.

You can continue reading this article on The Muse.

How to Work More Efficiently (Even When You’re Feeling Unmotivated)

Filed under: Efficiency, Focus, Good Habits, Productivity, Strategy, Time Management

Research shows that kids experience a “summer slump.” When they’re out of school, they’re not actively focused on learning, and their brains check out. But they’re not the only ones susceptible to summer slumps. Adults seem to channel their inner child during the summer, making it hard for them to be productive at work.

A 2012 study by Captivate Network reveals that workplace productivity drops 20%, workers are 45% more distracted, and it takes 13% longer to complete projects in the summer. Also, 53% of workers who leave early on Friday report a decline in productivity. People often work longer Monday through Thursday to make up for leaving early on Friday, and 23% of them believe that schedule causes an increase in stress.

So how can you stay productive during the summer and throughout the year? We asked Dana Brownlee, the creator of the New Time Management Model. She’s the president of Professionalism Matters and a corporate trainer and speaker..

According to Brownlee, the New Time Management Model involves four questions:

  1. Should I do this?
  2. How should I do this?
  3. What’s the right level of effort?
  4. How can I increase my efficiency?

Should I Do This?

Brownlee recommends starting every week by assessing the most important activities for the week. Then, every day, do a reassessment. “Resist the temptation to just add a task to your to- do list because someone asked you to do it,” she says. “There must be a mental ‘vetting process’ to determine if any activity should be on your list.” Her own to-do-list only includes five items for each day.

“Another technique that I sometimes use in my classes is to ask each person to write down each of their tasks for the next day on a small slip of paper.” Then she tells them that one of those items can’t be completed – and they have to decide which one it will be. The participants have to throw away that sheet of paper and start over with a shortened list. They continue the process, until the list is down to five items. “These types of activities are just meant to reinforce the mental process that you’d go through weekly and daily to identify your truly important activities,” Brownlee says.

She also recommends using the 80/20 rule. “Figure out which 20% of your efforts will yield 80% of the results.” For example, you may need to determine which clients or client types are providing most of your revenue, and then adjust your business model or activities accordingly.

How Should I Do This?

This is a strategic step that encourages you to work smarter, not harder. Should you do it alone or with a group? Should you do it yourself or delegate or outsource it? Could the task be automated or streamlined in some way?

“As a small business owner, I often resisted outsourcing because I didn’t think I could afford to pay someone else to do things for me,” Brownlee says. “However, when I started using assistants, freelancers, and other specialists, I quickly realized that I couldn’t afford not to outsource (particularly those time-consuming tasks where I had little expertise — like website updating and newsletter formatting).”

She says that pausing to answer the “how” question can save a lot of time later. “For example, if you’re developing a client list, consider putting the information into a simple database so that it’s easily retrievable, sortable, and exportable later (and you’re inputting the information only once).” Next to each task, Brownlee recommends making a note of how you can work smart to complete the task.

What’s the Right Level of Effort?

When deciding how much energy to expend, consider assigning a percentage (from 0% to 100%). Another option is to set a time limit for each task. Brownlee uses this method with her assistant. “Instead of using vague terms like ‘don’t spend too much time on it,’ I’ll often say, ‘don’t exceed 90 minutes.’ Those limits can be helpful for us as well.”

It’s also helpful to add the times together to see if your daily plans are realistic. “If you add up your to-do-list tasks and it adds up to 4 hours of tasks (to be completed outside working hours) and you have a 1.5 hour round-trip commute, that list probably isn’t realistic.”

You can read the rest of the article on TalentCulture.

3 Efficient Strategies to Be More Productive When You’re Overwhelmed

Filed under: Efficiency, Productivity, Strategy, Stress

You’re absolutely swamped–there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. And, despite the fact that you know your to-do list is overflowing with things that require your attention and action, you’re frozen. You have so much to do, you only feel paralyzed.

We’ve all been there. Dealing with a plate that’s far too full isn’t fun. But, while your first inclination might be to head for the couch and curl up for a lengthy nap, you know that’s not necessarily the most effective strategy for tackling your workload.

Instead, you need to take a deep breath, chug a few mugs of hot, strong coffee, and get to work. Here’s how to best wade through that daunting to-do list of yours–categorized by what exactly you need to accomplish.

Click here to read the rest on Inc >>

How To Make To-Do Lists Better, Faster, And More Fun

Filed under: Efficiency, Good Habits, How To, Productivity, Time Management

It’s the oldest, simplest, yet probably still the most effective method for making sure you get everything done: the humble to-do list. But is there a way to get more out of your daily check list? We asked the experts: How can we make our to-do lists better, how can we streamline them to get things done faster? Is is possible to make a to-do list fun?

Check out their answers below:

BETTER
Use a to-do list as an intake document and not as a working tool, says Peter Bregman, author of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done. Make a list of what you need to get done and assign it a time on your calendar. Then run your day from your calendar, not your to-do list. “You’re more likely to complete a task if you give it a when and where,” he says.

FASTER
Use a to-do list app to record your errands and shopping items, and get an automatic reminder when you’re near the appropriate location, says ­Carley Knobloch, Today show tech contributor and digital lifestyle expert.

Click here to read the rest on Fast Company >>

5 Tips for Working Smarter, Not Harder

Filed under: Best Advice, Career Advice, Efficiency, Strategy

Regardless of our background, location, or profession, there is one language that is the same, and that language is the language of progress.

Progress certainly comes from putting in the hard work, but working hard is not enough. To achieve our desired outcome, each one of us needs to find our own ways to work smarter.

Working smarter requires a combination of critical thinking, discipline, and techniques that we can employ for making continual progress.

Here are a few techniques that I find helpful:

  1. ASSESS EVERYTHING THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE

There is a saying that 80% of our accomplishments come from 20% of our efforts. So what 20% of our work is the most valuable? Once we’ve identified it, focusing the lion’s share of our time and energy in that direction creates progress.

Selecting the right success indicators to drive our activities creates the tasks we can knock out first for greatest impact. Here are three fundamentals for assessing potential for success:

Click here to read the rest on FastCompany >>

10 Simple Things Productive People Do Better (And So Can You)

Filed under: Career Advice, Efficiency, Good Habits, Productivity

Productive people appear to have the ability to do it all, but that’s only an appearance. The truth is they’ve figured out some important lifestyle habits, that while simple, most of us have not yet mastered.

Here are 10 simple things that productive people are doing better than you — at the moment:

1. Get enough sleep. Your body literally restores itself during sleep. In the four stages of a healthy sleep cycle, the first three are all dedicated to what is called Non-REM sleep and specifically act to restore the physical body. You know from experience what a bad night’s sleep feels like the next day. You feel slow, sluggish and foggy. Your brain isn’t firing on all cylinders. You body is craving carbs and sugar. You need to make sleep as important of a priority as your waking day and devote yourself to at least six hours of good sleep a night.

Click here to read the rest on LinkedIn >>

5 Ways to Give Your Brain a Break Right Now

Filed under: Efficiency, Focus, Productivity, Stress

Hip Silicon Valley tech companies started the growing trend of offering their employees unique perks that seem to encourage stepping away from the desk. Google’s free massages, Twitter’s rock climbing wall, and Dropbox’s gaming tournaments come to mind. Some may dismiss these initiatives as ploys for PR or to impress new recruits, but there is solid evidence that fun creativity breaks actually improve employee productivity.

I was recently interviewed for an Entrepreneur article about how pursuing varied interests can make you a better entrepreneur, but the same basic principle applies to all employees. Human brains are not meant to focus on the same task for hours at a time, yet most Americans work at least 8 to 9 hours per day on the same thing.

The eight hour workday became the norm after the Ford Motor Company found that number resulted in maximum productivity at its factories. But there is a major problem with this: the idea of an eight-hour day with a short lunch break is based on the most effective formula for physical labor, not mental work and certainly not creative mental work. The brain is much more active – and therefore much more likely to drain – than any other muscle or organ in our bodies. Evidence shows that the brain cycles from highest attention to lowest attention approximately every 90 minutes. This suggests that you should hit the reset button about that often.

One of the best ways to recharge is to engage in something different. 

Click here to read the rest on LinkedIn >>

How to simplify your future

Filed under: Best Advice, Career Advice, Efficiency, Productivity

We live in a volatile world, so the future makes many people nervous, instead of excited. Here’s how to increase the odds your future will be bright:

Be generous and expert, trustworthy and clear, open-minded and adaptable, persistent and present.

I’d like to suggest that you commit that sentence to memory, and that you do your best to live by it.

Let’s break it down.

Click here to read the rest on LinkedIn >>

Organizational Attention Deficit Disorder

Filed under: Behavior in the Workplace, Distractions, Efficiency, Productivity

Many leaders in large organizations manage global teams. The group may include contract workers, or team members from a merger. Face-to-face interactions aren’t always possible. Getting a group in sync with the project’s goals can be a job in and of itself. As a result of these and other obstacles, managers are often forced to operate in good faith that professionals will act accordingly.

But along the way, there are unfortunate breakdowns. Friction arises from constant missed deadlines, miscommunication, or mismanaged budgets. Managers have a hard time comprehending – or responding to – careless errors from professionals. Such breakdowns are a sign of organizational attention deficit.

Click here to read the rest on LinkedIn >>