3 Unexpected Secrets for Being More Productive at Work
From The Managers Minute
Most of us have our own workplace productivity-boosting tricks. Sure, there might be a few things that could make us more organized or help us prioritize better. But we’re not talking about how to be faster at your job here. Instead these are three productivity boosters that have nothing to do with managing your time or staying on task.
Science has tracked, time and again, our daily productivity highs and lows. So, what are the tricks that help you clear your head or give you more focus
Here are 3 Unexpected Productivity Boosters
- Take regular breaks. Leave the work (and your desk) behind for a few minutes several times a day. This could be a chill kind of break where you meditate or sit in a cozy chair napping for 10 minutes. Or you could choose to get outside and be more active. At SkillPath, breaks are a mixed bag. You’ll see employees outside on a nearby walking trail, napping or reading peacefully in a comfy chair or snagging the air hockey or ping pong table for a quick match. One department has a whiteboard where a monthly theme is chosen and drawing is encouraged. A department jigsaw puzzle or a never-ending scrabble game could also encourage a nice mental break.
- Consider what you’re eating. Not just any food is fuel, writes Ron Friedman Ph.D. in an article for psychologytoday.com. A poor decision at breakfast or lunch can trip up your whole day. He explains by reminding us that our bodies convert everything we eat into glucose, which gives our brains the energy needed to stay alert. “When we’re running low on glucose we have a tough time staying focused and our attention drifts. This explains why it’s hard to concentrate on an empty stomach.” Here’s the interesting part Our bodies process varying foods at different rates. Carbs and sugars release their glucose fast—giving a burst of energy and then a slump. Meals higher in fat (meat, cheese, etc.) give us a more sustained energy flow but take longer to digest, reducing the oxygen in the brain—leaving us groggy. Friedman suggests grazing throughout the day to avoid letting your glucose bottom out. Nuts, protein bars and fruit or veggies are on his snack list. A side benefit of the fruit and vegetables is that they “contain vital nutrients that foster the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in the experience of curiosity, motivation, and engagement. They also provide antioxidants that minimize bodily inflammation, improve memory and enhance mood.” And speaking of happiness ….
- Find ways to be happy. Happy employees are more productive and engaged. Happy managers are important as well. Irate, forceful managers who are encouraged by leaders to always be cracking the whip, cause workers to be stressed. And stressed out workers aren’t usually happy or motivated. Research at Harvard Business School has “shown that leaders who project warmth—even before establishing their competence—are more effective than those who lead with their toughness and skill. Why? One reason is trust. Employees feel greater trust with someone who is kind.” The article also notes that self-sacrificing bosses lead to pay-it-forward behavior in employees.
Other little ways to help increase happiness at work include: Decorating your workspace to make it inviting and interesting and encouraging and building work friendships through socializing and team-building. Amid the flurry of suggestions on how to be more productive in the office, consider the less obvious productivity boosters of eating the right things, giving your mind an occasional break and considering how to make your work time happier. Productivity isn’t always about making the most of your time—sometimes it’s about the right mindset.
HIKE YOUR EYE-Q
By Sheryl Kraft
Our eyes may be small but they do a huge job collecting the images that create our visual world.
Every 2 to 4 years That’s how often people age 40 to 64 need a comprehensive dilated eye exam. If you’re 65 or older, go every 1 to 2 years. This is the only way to know for sure if your eyes are healthy and to detect diseases like glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration (which often have no warning signs) at their earliest stages. Dilating, or widening, your pupil allows your eye-care professional to see into the back of your eye and check for any signs of damage or disease.
35 years old Hit this age and the odds go up for developing presbyopia, a common condition that makes it hard to read small print. As you get older, the lens of your eye hardens and muscle fibers around it weaken, making it more difficult to focus up close. Reading glasses, which can be prescribed by your eye provider or purchased at a drug store, help by changing your eye’s focal point. They come in powers ranging from +1 to +4 in increments of +.25 (1.00, 1.25, 1.50, etc.). The numbers indicate the distance that will be in focus, measured in fractions of a meter, with a +1 indicating 1 meter, +2 indicating 1/2 meter and so on. Lower powers are better for things like looking at a computer screen, while higher powers are better for fine detail, like reading small print or threading a needle. Try the lowest power first, experts say, and choose the glasses that help you see most clearly at the most comfortable distance.
What’s the 20-20-20 exercise? The average person sleeps 8 hours a night, which means their eyes are open – and working – for 16 hours a day. To reduce eyestrain, every 20 minutes, look away from what you’re doing and look about 20 feet in fron of you for 20 seconds. A study of almost 800 university students found that this helped relieve computer vision syndrome, which can lead to eyestrain, blurry vision and headache.
15 times per minute That’s the average number of times most people blink (about every 4 seconds). The average blink is just a quarter of a second.
Résumé Dos and Don’ts: 10 Tips For Screening Job Candidates
By Leslie Lockhart
Résumé dos and don’ts abound for job seekers. But what about the hiring managers, HR directors and other business leaders tasked with screening candidates? Are résumés still a useful recruiting tool? Although many experts predict that networking and job-hunting websites may one day render résumés obsolete, it will probably be a while before they go the way of wagon wheels and telephones with cords.
Why? Because they play a vital role in helping companies and job candidates find one another. Résumés provide those seeking employment with a way to showcase their skills and qualifications in a summary format that allows for easier screening on the other side of the interview table.
Even as technology continues to evolve, there will likely always be a need for résumés – or some futuristic adaptation of them. The look and feel may change over time, but the underlying concept will still be the same. So, when you’re screening candidates in search of your next new-hire superstar, consider these 10 résumé dos and don’ts.
1. Do – Expect an error-free résumé
Whether you’re talking about a soft-copy or hard-copy résumé, it’s your candidate’s first chance to make a good impression. And some old-fashioned principles will never go out of style, no matter how technologically advanced the recruiting world becomes. That means no formatting errors, inconsistencies or typos. Any résumé you receive should be well-written and explain the candidate’s work experience clearly and concisely. When a prospect takes the time and effort to produce a polished résumé, it sends the message that they take pride in their work.
2. Do – Make sure candidates’ offline and online information match
Discrepancies between a candidate’s paper résumé and online profiles should raise red flags. Look for matching titles, dates of employment and other details. While some discrepancies may be honest mistakes, such as when a company name change is reflected on the résumé but not the LinkedIn profile, it’s a good idea to always check. Even if your recruiting process is paperless, you should still make sure the résumés or job applications your candidates submit online include accurate information. At best, a discrepancy is just a careless error. At worst, it’s a deliberate attempt to be dishonest. A background check can be invaluable for helping you discern the difference when you’re doing your due diligence on prospects for employment.
3. Do – Check dates of employment and look for gaps
Missing or inconsistent dates of employment may signal that a candidate is trying to cover up periods of unemployment or a history of job-hopping. However, longer gaps may reflect legitimate career breaks, such as a gap year, maternity leave or family leave, or continuing education. If a candidate’s experience seems like a good fit, but their dates of employment have been omitted from their résumé, ask if they would mind supplying the dates.
4. Do – Include keywords in job descriptions and postings
Keywords serve three key purposes:
First – keywords allow job candidates to find your job posting online.
Second – keywords allow your recruiters and hiring managers to scan résumés quickly to find people with the most relevant experience.
Third – if your company scans and stores résumés, keywords will help you pluck them out of obscurity when they match the skills you’re currently seeking.
For example, if you’re looking for someone specifically with inside or outside sales experience, make sure those words figure into your job posting and job description. This will help candidates find and apply for your open position, especially if the official title is something vague – like “business development rockstar.” The smart candidates will also parrot your keywords back to you by using them in their cover letter and résumé.
5. Do – Utilize industry-focused websites
Most industries boast multiple websites that focus on a particular career field or area of expertise. The petrochemical industry, for example, has used this type of forum for years to recruit engineers. Likewise, advertising and marketing agencies often recruit creative professionals through websites that target them.
The reality is, many professionals now keep their résumés posted online at all times, not just when they’re looking. And industry-specific websites can be a great resource to find potential job candidates because you can search – you guessed it – by keywords. Specialty sites can also be helpful if you’re searching for employees who’ve worked for a particular company that has a reputation for training its people well. Or, maybe you’re looking for someone who specializes in “gas well engineering” or “consumer goods packaging.”
6. Do – Pay attention to recent accomplishments
If an applicant just graduated from college, it’s OK for them to pad their résumé with their GPA and college leadership positions. But, once someone has been working for a while, that information becomes outdated and should be eliminated in favor of professional accomplishments. At the other end of the spectrum, if a candidate has 20-30 years of experience, don’t expect them to provide intricate detail about their first jobs or college affiliations. Look for detailed descriptions only for their last 10-15 years of work.
7. Don’t – Limit seasoned professionals to one page
Someone new to the workforce or early in their career should have no problem keeping their résumé to one page. But, for a seasoned professional, a two-page résumé is acceptable, even expected. Anything beyond two pages, however, can become a drudgery to review. Unless you’re in academia or a research field, this level of detail probably isn’t necessary.
8. Don’t – Give the objective much weight
That wordy paragraph at the top of the résumé that used to be popular? That information is obsolete, or at least it should be. It just takes up space and no one really reads it. Since the professional objective usually focuses more on what a candidate aspires to do, versus what they’ve actually done, consider it fluff and skip to the candidate’s employment history and list of accomplishments.
9. Don’t – Expect or require personal details
The old-school practice of including a photo, marital status, number of children or other personal details on a résumé has long been abandoned – for many reasons. As such, your company shouldn’t expect an applicant to provide these details, and you certainly shouldn’t ask for them. And on the outside chance a job candidate voluntarily provides this type of information, you may want to redact it before reviewing their résumé. Blind hiring allows you to make a decision based solely on a candidate’s merit, without the influence of unconscious bias. The one exception to this rule: If your company values community service, you may want to give extra weight to résumés that outline volunteer efforts, especially if the person serves in a leadership position.
10. Don’t – Overlook the benefits of working with a recruiting professional
Hiring managers are swimming in résumés these days. It’s not unusual for even moderate-sized companies to receive up to 500 résumés within the first few days of posting an opening. That’s because numerous services crawl the web looking for new job postings and automatically submit résumés stored in their system. A professional recruiter, particularly one who specializes in your industry, can save your company’s managers countless hours by evaluating résumés for you and conducting your initial screening to identify the best candidates.