How to Balance a Job Search Plus Your Freelance Work

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Job Search

Job hunting can be a long and tedious process that can be difficult to find time for on your Calendar. Especially if you want to land a job that compensates you well, provides a schedule you can live with, and allows you to enjoy your job. It can be challenging to find a job that combines most of the things you want in any situation. If you are working at a full-time job or already doing freelance work, you will need to balance a job search plus freelance work.

As a freelancer with all the other demands on your time, it can be even more difficult to find a day job that meets your requirements. If you struggle to find time to job hunt while freelancing, try some strategy listed below to find space on your Calendar. Of course, it is easier said than done — but it’s definitely possible.

How to find time for job hunting while freelancing.

A job hunt can be difficult under any circumstance, but it can make it even more difficult when you add freelancing into the mix. It can be a struggle to find time to hunt for jobs, let alone find time actually to land a job. Instead of continuing to struggle, take action to find the time in your Calendar.

Find your reason.

Before you start applying for jobs, decide why you are applying. The simple answer is usually money but try to look beyond that. Think about your career hopes and your plans for the future.

A few reasons to start job hunting include:

  • Bored or tired at the current job. Sometimes you outgrow your job; you’ll know when it’s time to move on.
  • Location. You do not have to live in a particular place if you don’t want to. Maybe you want a change of scene or have a specific person to move closer to. Either way, where you live your life is a huge decision, and if you want to make a change, then you should.
  • Money. If you feel under-compensated at your current job, then you may want to start looking for a new job.

Apply to jobs that fit into your general plan. Of course, be open to new opportunities but avoid things you already know will make you unhappy.

Decide what you are looking for.

A job hunt is not just for any position that will hire you; the position should also be something that meets your requirements. Before you start job hunting, decide what you are really searching for. Although every circumstance is different, you likely have a set of requirements for your future job. The more carefully you think about what you what, the less likely you will have to repeat the process in the near future.

Some things to think about include:

  • Time commitment. You may be looking for a full-time job that will take up the majority of your time. Alternatively, maybe you hope to transition into a part-time role that will allow you to focus more on your own business. Whatever your needs, remain realistic about the amount of time you are willing to commit to your future role.
  • Compensation. All jobs will compensate you somehow, but you need to make sure that you are being compensated in a fair way to you. Otherwise, you may be unhappy in your new job before you even start. Think carefully about what compensation you would need from a job for it to be worthwhile. Don’t just think about financial compensation; consider healthcare, retirement, and other benefits that some companies offer. Be realistic and fair about this thought process based on your skills and the financial responsibilities you have.
  • Environment. A job could be housed inside a corporate cubicle, in a comfortable, well-lit office, remote from your home office, on a factory floor, in a warehouse, or even outside. During job interviews, make sure to ask questions about the work environment. Try to stick to work environments that would make you comfortable.

Determine how quickly you want to land this new job.

Depending on your situation, you may be open to a longer job search than a short one. If you are in immediate need of a job, you will need to ramp up your job search efforts to full strength immediately. However, if you are just hoping to transition into a new job in the next couple of months, then you may not have to devote as much time every week. Be honest with yourself about how quickly you want this new job.

Take a hard look at your Calendar.

Now for the hard part, take a close look at what you already have on your Calendar. If you are a freelancer, you likely have several meetings and deadlines on top of your day job’s workload.

Sometimes it can be exhausting to keep up with the freelancing without adding another responsibility to your plate. Think about how much time you currently have to commit to a job search with your current freelancing commitments. The answer might be that you do not have a lot of spare time, so you will need to get creative.

You may consider holding off on any new freelance commitments if your time is limited. However, that may not be an option for you. In that case, you will need to power through the job search. It can be a busy and challenging time but remember that it will come to a close when you land the right job.

If possible, set aside time each day to work on your job search. Even if you only have a few minutes to check the job boards, make use of that time.

Create a list of jobs that you intend to apply to. When you have more than a few minutes available in your schedule, take the time to apply. The key is to only apply to jobs that you would be happy with and have at least most of the qualifications.

Take advantage of all spare time in your Calendar. You may need to add additional time to your day to job hunt effectively, which may mean giving up some of the fun things on your Calendar for some time. Utilize the weekends to spread out your job hunting activities as a way to make the process less overwhelming, but most of all, take care of your well-being.

Create a killer application package.

An excellent way to maximize your time is to focus on creating a killer application. Before your job hunt is in full swing, the first thing you need to make time for is building a fantastic resume, LinkedIn profile, and cover letter sample.

As you apply to jobs, the premade package can be tweaked when appropriate. Instead of creating an entirely new resume, and cover letter for each job, tweak small things to make your application stand out.  It is more time-efficient than taking the time to create an application package from scratch for every single job.

Start applying.

Whenever you have time available, make that job hunting time. Find the small spaces of free time between other things to look for jobs and apply. You may want to set a goal of a certain number of submitted applications per day or week. Staying on a submissions schedule will help you stay on track with your job hunt even if you are crunched for time between freelancing and a traditional job.

Good luck.

Job hunting can be time-consuming and exhausting, but you will land the right job at some point. Just keep looking for the right opportunities and making the timing to apply on your Calendar. At the end of the hunt, you will be thankful that you put in the time to land your excellent new job.

How to Balance a Job Search Plus Your Freelance Work was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie

7 Reasons Reminders Are Crucial Before Meetings

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The Right Appointment Reminders Will Get Your Customers Through the Door

Every time I book a trip, I receive a useful reminder, like when my flight departs or when to check in. Since I’m a planner, I already have this information down pat. It’s still nice to ensure everything’s in order. There have been times when life has gotten in the way. An appointment, event, essential to-do item has slipped my mind. It’s times like these when I appreciate these automated reminders. Without them, I would have dropped the ball. Most importantly, reminders are crucial before meetings.

Reminders aren’t just for appointments, tasks, or travel. Reminders are crucial before meetings because of the following 7 reasons.

1. Reduces no-shows, last minute cancellations, and waiting lists.

How many times have you forgotten all about a meeting? Maybe you misplaced an appointment card. Perhaps you didn’t review your calendar the night before. Many other things are going on in your life, and you straight-up forgot all about the meeting.

As a human, this is bound to happen. The result is that either you run late to the meeting or don’t show up at all. Both are unfair to the other person or attendees. They’ve taken the time to prepare and arrive on time for the meeting. If you couldn’t make it, they could have spent their time on something else instead of wasting waiting on you. This action is disrespectful and displays a lack of professionalism. But, a simple reminder could have prevented your goof-up.

Whether you’re using appointment scheduling software or an online calendar, you can modify when and how you receive reminders. For example, you could receive an email 24-hours in advance so that you won’t forget the meeting in the morning. Or, you could be sent a push notification an hour prior to your event reminding you that it’s time to leave for the meeting.

While this won’t impact all businesses, as an additional perk, this can reduce waiting lists. Let’s say that a client canceled the appointment the day before after receiving an automated reminder. You could notify the clients on your waiting list that there’s an open appointment slot. It’s an effective way to keep your customers and clients satisfied because you’re offering them faster service.

2. Gives everyone the time to plan ahead.

Another reason why reminders are crucial is that it gives everyone ample time to prepare. Think back to your days in college. There’s no way that you just rolled out of bed and went to your exam. You had that date circled on your calendar and studied relentlessly to prevent any surprises.

The same is true of meetings.

Everyone should not only be aware of the date, time, and location, but also have an agenda. The agenda will let participants know exactly what’s going to be discussed and what work needs to be done in advance. Knowing this allows everyone to develop any questions or concerns before the meeting gets underway.

Also, it informs invitees what materials to bring, such as performance reports or legal documents, as well as what tech to prep. You want to make sure that your slide presentation is working. And, if it’s a remote meeting, you need the extra time to double check that the phone lines or video chat are running so that participants can join in.

3. Makes the meeting more productive.

When everyone shows up on time and knows what work had to be done, meetings are much more effective. That’s because the meeting starts and ends on time. And, it ensures that everyone isn’t wasting time preparing or getting tech up and running.

All of this information is handled when attendees received a reminder telling them when and where to arrive. What’s more, the reminder lets them know what to do ahead of time so that everyone can dive right into the meeting.

4. Improves office productivity.

Office productivity may not be an issue for all business owners. But, think about the time spent personally reaching out to meeting invitees. Whether if it’s you, an office administrator, or co-worker, automated reminders eliminate this tedious and time-consuming task.

You and your team can focus on other responsibilities. What does growing your business look like to you? Growing your business or finally getting around to cleaning out your inbox. Whatever you chose to do, you’re spending your time more productively instead of reminding people about an upcoming meeting.

5. Maximizes revenue and reduces waste.

The less time you or someone else is on the phone or emailing clients reminding them about a meeting means you have more time to spend elsewhere. You could use this time to strengthen your customer relations. Or, you could improve existing products or services and look for new ways to generate revenue.

In short, you’re improving your bottom line.

Additionally, reminders reduce waste in your business. If you know in advance that a client has to reschedule, then you’re not going to waste time preparing for the meeting with them. Considering that your time is your most valuable resource, this is key.

6. Allows you to track cancellations.

Thanks to automatic and SMS reminders, you can track how often a customer cancels, postpones, or reschedules. That may not sound groundbreaking. But, when you’re armed with this knowledge, you can stop doing business with unreliable people. More importantly, you can focus more on your most loyal and dependable peeps.

7. Reminders build stronger relationships with employees, customers, and clients.

If you want your business to thrive, then it’s a given that you need to have healthy relationships. These relationships include the lifeblood of your business, and you need your employees to be loyal and satisfied. But, how exactly do reminders achieve a better relationship?

Take, for instance, appointment reminder software like Weave. It lets you create unique and personalized messages. For example, you can add their first name, appointment time, and when it should be sent. Remember, customers are demanding a more personalized experience. When delivered, a personalized experience will increase customer retention, loyalty, and revenue.

7 Reasons Reminders Are Crucial Before Meetings was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton

5 Ways to Make Your Webinars More Conversational

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Make Your Webinars More Conversational

When done correctly, webinars are a tired and true way to engage, inform, and generate quality leads for your organization. And, while there are plenty of resources available that can guide you in creating an effective webinar, most gloss over an important detail; your webinar needs to be conversational to make it an unforgettable and valuable experience for participants. You can make your webinars more conversational.

To make your webinars more conversational, start with the following five tips.

1. Use AI to establish audience connect.

Although it may seem like a recent development, artificial intelligence has been around since 1956. And, considering that AI will contribute $13 trillion to the global economy by 2030, there’s no denying this AI is here to stay. The reason? It’s completely changed the business world for the better — including webinars.

By tapping into the power of artificial intelligence, you can personalize the webinar experience from start to finish. For example, you can use AI to determine everything from which topic your audience wants to discuss, their preferred format, the speakers you should invite, the ideal date and time, and how long it should run. AI can also be used to reduce friction in the event awareness and registration process by orchestrating conversations via platforms like Drift.

More promising, AI allows you to get to know your audience in advance so that you can build some rapport with them personally, so that they feel comfortable asking questions or adding to the discussion. Let’s say that an attendee jumped on a couple of minutes before and you know that they live in Seattle. You could discuss the weather, the Mariners or Seahawks, or what your favorite restaurant is in the Emerald City.

This technology can also analyze your webinar once it’s concluded to provide information like when the audience was most engaged and which participants hung around until the end. It will then make smart suggestions on how to improve your next event, like who to invite and how much time should be allocated for the Q&A portion.

2. Kick things off with an icebreaker.

In a previous Drift article, Mark Kilens suggests that you begin the event a couple of minutes early. This way, you can“Break the ice, talk to the audience through the chat feature on your webinar platform.” You can also ask your audience where they’re calling from, what their favorite food is, or what they’re most interested in learning.

“One question should do the trick,” adds Kilens. And, don’t forget to, “Call people out by name and let them know you know they’re there.”

Sounds simple. But, this lets the person know that the webinar is going to be conversational. Kilens also recommends that you drive this point home by creating slides that say “Today’s Conversation.”

3. Tell a story.

Who doesn’t enjoy a good story? Whether if it were cave paintings, The Odyssey, or The Avengers: Endgame we’re just hardwired to react to stories. And, that’s because of how our brains respond to stories.

Unlike slides, stories activate the language processing parts in our brains and light up our sensory cortex. They can also “plant ideas, thoughts, and emotions into the listeners’ brains.” But how can you use that to make your webinar more conversational?

For starters, think of yourself as a storyteller and recall a personal experience at the beginning. It’s an effective way to hook attendees and emotionally connect with them. Next, identify a common problem that your audience has, think of this as the antagonist of your tale, and what the solution is. The answer is the product or service that flies in and saves the day. Finally, provide a clear call-to-action so that they can see how great the future is when the big bad has been defeated.

You probably learned that back in your high school English class. But, it works because we’re wired to think in terms of cause and effect. That’s why we’re continually creating narratives in our daily actions and conversations. It’s been found that “Personal stories and gossip make up 65% of our conversations.”

4. Don’t stick to the script.

You want to prepare for your webinar to make sure the audio is working and that the webinar will not exceed the time allocated. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t mix things up a bit.

For example, you could scrap the slides and script and host a discussion-style webinar or a full-blown Q&A. Doing so will keep the event less formal and more conversational while still providing valuable information to attendees.

If you want to stay on track, however, you should poll your audience or create a landing page where they can vote on what topics they want to be discussed. This way, you know exactly what they’re most interested in and can plan accordingly.

5. Keep the audience engaged.

I think we’ve all attended an online event where you put yourself on mute and focused on something else like email. The problem is that when your audience is disengaged, they’re not going to be a part of the conversation.

To avoid this, keep your audience engaged by:

  • Encouraging them to turn on their cameras so that you can if they’re not paying attention.
  • Breaking the content into easy-to-digest bite-sized pieces.
  • Planning for interaction, such as a Q&A at the end, and breaks.
  • Doing frequent check-ins to make sure everyone is still attentive.
  • Skipping the industry jargon and speaking plain English so that they can understand what you’re saying.
  • Adding a little humor and personality to help attendees relax.
  • Quizzing the audience several times throughout the webinar.

That’s by no means an extensive list. But, the list above is a great starting point for you to get your audience to be more alert and interactive during your webinar. And, as a result, they’ll be more likely to participate in the discussion.

5 Ways to Make Your Webinars More Conversational was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton

How to Stay Productive When You Don’t Have WiFi

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Stay Productive

We’ve all had it happen. You plan for a busy day with all these items on your to-do list, and the WiFi goes out for most of the day. Or, you’re catching a flight and have plans to work on the plane, but the WiFi connection is spotty.

Whether you’re experiencing an outage at your main workspace or while traveling, it can make your schedule pretty hectic as you lose the risk of getting productive work time in.

With it currently being summer, my work schedule is all over the place as I stay busy with taking my son to camps and programs. I am often stuck without WiFi or have to rely on the local library or area coffee shops to stay connected. Luckily, I’ve become a pro at making it work and want to share with you some ways to stay productive when you don’t have WiFi.

Catch Up on Organization Tasks

You don’t need the internet to stay organized. You can still check your calendar when you’re offline and move things around. If you’re at home or your office space, catch up on some organizational tasks you’ve been putting off.

Sort through papers and file them correctly, clear off your workspace, and update your calendar. Also, take the time to work on some tasks that don’t require internet. I’ll share more ideas below. Taking the necessary time to get organized will help you keep track of what you have to do so you can work efficiently when you have internet access again.

Check and Respond to Emails on Your Phone

If you need to stay connected with others via email, you can likely do so on your phone. If you have Gmail, it’s easy to access messages and receive notifications. You may not be able to go through dozens of emails but choose the top 10 crucial messages and take care of them to stay productive when you don’t have WiFi.

You can also delete and sort through emails by filing them away in the appropriate folders. Keep in mind that this will require the use of your mobile data, but you can still make a lot of progress if you limit this task to just 30 minutes.

Write a Newsletter Draft From Scratch

You don’t need WiFi to share creative thoughts and ideas. If your small business publishes regular email newsletters, challenge yourself to create the content for a few when you don’t have WiFi.

Consider sharing company news, promoting the features or new products and services, or sharing tips or advice that will help your audience. Helping your audience can be easy to do when you know your audience and customers well.

A typical marketing email can include you taking a recent piece of content that you liked or didn’t like and share your opinion about it along with some helpful tips for others. Last year, I took a short email course about engaging with your audience, and it prompted me to focus on four different types of email strategies: motivational, kick in the pants, relatable advice, and practical solutions.

These are all email structures that you can draft copy for freehand without the use of WiFi.

Outline Some Content

Do you have upcoming blog posts, articles, or marketing copy to publish? While you may need the internet to perform some research and contact others, you can still outline and even start the content without it.

I find that outlining blog posts before writing them saves me a ton of time. Outlining can also help you stay productive when you don’t have WiFi because you don’t need actually to worry about writing the content yet. Still, when you do get started, the process will be much more efficient.

Sometimes I write articles without WiFi or at least get the draft or the introduction prepared for the piece — if I know the topic well. Keep in mind that an initial draft of a piece of content can be just that. You can always edit and reframe it once you get connected to the internet again but having a headstart is excellent.

Have an Impromptu Meeting

One day, the power went out at my job, but my boss didn’t want us to go home just yet. We had a ton of stuff to do, and he was able to get most people connected to the internet again via his mobile hot spot. Still, the connection was spotty, and we ended up having an excellent meeting until the power came back on

Sure, we all know that the best meetings and scheduled, planned for, and have a clear agenda. However, you can still have a pretty productive impromptu session as well. Keep a running list of meetings topics on your desk to start with.

You can even begin by having your team share a status update and ask questions that have been on their mind. From there, see if you can narrow down an issue that everyone can work to overcome by the end of the meeting. Whether there’s a plan in place from the start or not, ending a meeting with a practical solution to a significant problem or obstacle is always a success in my book.

Make a Phone Call

Catch up on calls to stay productive when you don’t have WiFi. Make all your business and personal requests for the day when WiFi isn’t available and remember you can always take notes by hand if needed.

Knocking out business calls can still be a great use of your time, especially if they are discovery calls, coaching calls, or even necessary inquiries to gather information. If you usually meet with someone over Skype or Zoom but don’t have internet access, ask if you can meet over the phone or virtually — when you don’t have WiFi so you can still get your meeting taken care of.

No Internet, No Problem

In today’s world of constant and often instant connection to the web, it may seem nearly impossible to get anything productive done in your business when you don’t have WiFi. On the contrary, being able to stay productive when you don’t have WiFi is all about getting creative, tying up loose ends, and optimizing what you do have.

You may not get the same amount of work done, but you can still keep busy and make some progress during the day, which is better than nothing.

How to Stay Productive When You Don’t Have WiFi was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton

How to Make Sure Your Personal Life Doesn’t Negatively Affect Your Business

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Let’s be real. Sometimes, your personal life can wreak havoc on your business. As much as we try to keep personal and business separate, we’re human. The problem is when the issues in our personal lives affect our productivity. In recent weeks, I’ve engaged in multiple conversations with business owners who have all been dealing with things in their personal lives. No one makes it public, of course. However, when they are in circles with other business owners they trust, all the personal life dramas are shared. I’ve also had my fair share of drama in my personal life in recent months. As such, I’ve learned several strategies for not allowing it to affect my business. Here are some of the strategies I find work best.

Always prioritize savings.

As a business owner, the amount of money you make can be directly correlated to your output. Sometimes, things in our personal lives do require more of our attention and it causes us to take a temporary step back. That’s why it’s always good to have savings in the bank. For example, a couple of years ago I had to take a step back from my business to help my family with some things. Because I had savings, I was able to do it without any issue.

Give yourself a set period of time to feel your emotions.

Making sure your personal life doesn’t affect your business doesn’t mean ignoring things. This can actually escalate conflict and make everything worse.  It simply means managing them. For example, if you’re going through an emotional period in your personal life, give yourself a set period of time to feel your emotions. Christine Hassler, a life coach for millennials, suggests giving yourself a few minutes each day to really feel your emotions. This way, you’re not ignoring them, but you’re also not letting them affect your business.

Be careful who you surround yourself with.

Sometimes, issues in your personal life can be traced back to those you surround yourself with. While you may be careful who you surround yourself with your business, perhaps this is a lesson you’re still learning in your personal life. I know I definitely am. If you notice that drama always seems to surround one or two people, then it’s time to cut them out. The last thing you need as a business owner is to always be involved in some mess because of the company you keep. Keeping your personal life out of your business becomes impossible when the people in your life consistently drag you down. Toxic people can easily overrun your life with their energy, which is why they need to go if you plan on running a successful business. Bottom line is if you don’t want your personal life ruining your business, then you need to take the preventative measure of making sure unnecessary drama won’t be caused.
Originally published here.

25 Ways to Make Your Meetings Less Productive

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Meetings Less Productive

Unfortunately, we have all sat through meetings that did not accomplish anything. Many of us probably have one or two of these time-wasting meetings on our Calendar. At present, many of our calendars are filled with unproductive meetings, and here are 25 ways to make your meetings less productive.

We know the low productivity meeting is coming, and many are not sure how to stop that big ball rolling down upon you in the meeting “cave.” Typically these unproductive meetings have many participants and few outlined objectives. Here is a look at the ways that you can potentially make your meeting less productive. Now, all you need to do is the opposite. You can always Implement the “good” strategies appropriate for your workgroup.

1. Forget to set an agenda.

It is easy to assume that everyone knows what is supposed to be happening at the meeting. That is usually an untrue assumption that leads to all around confusion. It is always a good idea to set up an agenda and send it out to the participants before the meeting. An early agenda warning gives everyone a chance to come prepared. If no one is sure what the meeting will cover, then they will be less likely to be aware of the current status of agenda items.

2. Don’t bother taking notes.

Although we wish that we could remember everything talked about during a meeting, that is just typically not possible. It is a good idea to designate a note taker before each meeting starts. The note-taker should send out their summary of the meeting to the participants soon after it ends. New AI-enabled calendars will record your meeting and send out the actions needed for the meeting — plus your notes. Everything recorded and noted will make subsequent meetings more productive because everyone should be on the same page.

3. Start late.

This one is obvious. If you start late, then you set a lousy precedent for all meetings. Bad starts are never a good thing, especially when it comes to meetings. Start on time – end on time. Period.

4. Don’t create a time frame.

When you are creating the agenda, you should set up time frames for each topic. Of course, there is some room for adjustment during the meeting. However, these time frames allow people to see approximately how much time each subject will take. It is especially important to let any presenters know what their time limit is. Otherwise, someone could take over the entire meeting with their presentation slides.

5. Invite Everyone.

Instead of inviting the entire office or team, just invite critical team members. Anyone that does not have a direct in the meeting or project is just someone that does not need to be there. It is possible they will take valuable time and resources away from the meeting.

6. Disregard introductions.

If anyone in the room is new or unfamiliar with the project, then it is a good idea to break the ice. Of course, it can be as simple as introducing everyone, especially if prospects are present.

7. Overdo the icebreaker.

Do not spend too much time on icebreakers because it can potentially cut into your actual meeting time. One time I went to a meeting with a three-hour icebreaker. What a time-suck. It ended up running into the rest of the meeting and forcing us all to stay late. Keep an icebreaker to a couple of minutes and very, very simple.

8. Skip breaks.

Although breaks are not strictly productive, it is important to give everyone a chance to breathe. Even if it is just a five-minute coffee break, it will help. Typically people come back refreshed and ready to dive back in following a break.

9. Forget the snacks.

If you are planning to host a long meeting, then you should provide some light snacks and beverages. No one can think on an empty stomach.

10. Invite distractions.

Everyone is accustomed to having their phones and laptops at the ready. It is too tempting to get distracted by the internet instead of focusing on the meeting.

11. Don’t address action items.

It is essential to create action items. It is also important to follow through. Do not just write them down, actually address these and quickly run through them. Your AI-enabled notes and assignments will take care of the rest.

12. Ignore deadlines.

Just like action items, you need to keep all deadlines in mind and be precise. Set deadlines for team members and follow up during meetings.

13. Start the conversation.

Although the leader of the meeting may need to say a few words, it is a good idea to open the floor to the group. Opportunities to address issues and concerns that you may not have been aware of are crucial to stay connected to your team.

14. Stay too formal.

Formal meeting settings have their place. However, it is usually a good idea to invite discussion from the team and build on the ideas presented by team members. Most of the meeting can be formal but allow for a little discussion time or round robin that will include team members and their opinions.

15. Get sidetracked.

Try to avoid going down any rabbit holes. If there is a problem that needs to be addressed at a different time, then make that an agenda item for the next meeting.

16. Create long sessions.

No one wants to sit through a six-hour meeting. It may be required for certain situations, but attempt to keep the meetings as short as possible.

17. Throw out the agenda.

You can adjust the agenda if needed, but it should only be as a last resort. If at all possible stick to the agenda and work through the items on that list.

18. Squeeze in everything on your to-do list.

Typically you cannot squeeze an entire project into one meeting. You can (and should) spread of the process across multiple shorter meetings.

19. Have meetings for no reason.

Sometimes we can get into the habit of having a meeting scheduled every week or every other week. Although this is a good way to keep the time open on your Calendar, sometimes these meetings are not necessary. Make sure that your scheduled meetings have meaningful and productive goals before you get started.

20. Keep the spotlight on a few people.

Some projects will have a few key players that present at every meeting. However, you should make an effort to involve everyone. It will help to keep everyone interested and engaged in the meeting.

21. Ignore the next steps.

After every meeting, the participants usually come away with tasks or action items to focus on. Make sure that everyone is clear about the next steps before they leave the meeting.

22. Figure out the technology at the last second.

Many of us use virtual meeting systems. It is excellent to involve long-distance team members. However, you should test out the technology before the meeting starts. Technical errors are a great way to harpoon the productivity of your meeting before you even get started.

23. Set it for lunchtime.

No one wants to sit through a meeting on their regular lunch hour. Everyone is hungry and just not interested in the meeting.

24. Leave no room for error.

In your agenda, you should schedule some buffers into the time frame. People talk and get off track; this built-in time will ensure that it does not affect the productivity of the meeting too much.

25. Have hours of PowerPoints — sometimes — but rarely.

PowerPoint is an excellent tool for some presentations. However, not every meeting needs hundreds of slides. It is an easy way for your audience to start tuning you out as you flip through your presentation.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you can avoid these productivity zapping activities in your next meeting.

25 Ways to Make Your Meetings Less Productive was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton

15 Ways to Increase Your Freelancing Success

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In some ways, freelancing can seem like a battle happening within your Calendar. As a freelancer, you have a million things to do, and your Calendar dictates that you only have a certain amount of time to accomplish all of your freelancing goals. It can be challenging to find the time to freelance successfully. Try implementing a few of the 15 ways to increase your freelancing success.

Best ways to increase freelancing success

Successful freelancers are a particular type of person that is extremely resilient and adaptable to changes. It may take time to see progress, but remember that Rome was not built in a day and neither is a successful freelancing career. Although it can be a long journey to success, the rewards will be worth it for you. You may even find out that you’re an entrepreneur.

1. Build your brand

It takes time to build a brand that people can identify with. However, it is a crucial part of a successful freelancing journey. Potential clients are likely to value your skills more if there is a brand to back up your story. A small pool of people can complete most freelancing assignments quickly. Clients are more likely to hire people with a proven track record that predicts a successful outcome for their project.

2. Pitch (a lot)

Pitching new clients is a crucial part of earning new business. Without pitching, many freelance careers would have never gotten off the ground. However, many new freelancers are nervous to start constantly pitching because it can be hard to receive rejections continuously. Although it is usually uncomfortable, pitching often is one great way to improve your freelancing career. You never know until you ask, so it is essential just to send the pitch and hope for the best. You will win some and lose some, but it is worth the effort in the end.

3. Use your Calendar well

Communicating with your clients through a variety of meetings is typically a part of freelancing. Think of all the emails you have sent attempting to set up a meeting a mutually convenient time. Just the act of setting up a meeting can take up a lot of time that could be used more productively. Use your Calendar well.

Use Calendar to help you plan your meetings more efficiently. Once you have all of that time back, you can use it to do more productive things for your freelancing business.

4. Set up systems

Do not just “wing it.” Throughout your freelancing career, you will encounter obstacles along the way. Try to create systems for your freelancing that makes things easier. For example, set up an invoicing system that allows you to track everything without a hassle.

5. Just say no

You cannot do everything, so do not even try. It is impossible to please everyone, and it is very difficult to achieve success when you are being pulled in many different directions. Try to create a vision for your freelancing career and stick to it. It is good to adapt along the way, but try not to jump entirely off course. You can balance your help for others and still get things done. Just say no.

6. Make time for the work

Any freelancing involves a lot of work. If you are determined to be a successful freelancer, then you need to be ready to work hard to achieve that dream. Without hard work, it is just improbable to happen. To do the job, you need to make time for it. Set aside time each day, week, or month to work on your freelancing. Remember, you will get out what you put into the business, so be honest about what you want out of your freelance career and set aside the appropriate amount of time.

7. Ignore the haters

As a freelancer, you are going to encounter some haters. I cannot count the number of times someone has told me that freelancing is a bad idea, a “nice hobby,” or a waste of time. Each time, it is tempting to believe them but don’t. Remember, the haters will hate, but as you achieve your dreams, you will hopefully realize that it does not matter what other people think about your freelancing. As long as you believe in the vision, then it is no one else’s business to judge your freelancing passion.

8. Work hard

Okay, this one is obvious, but it is worth mentioning. Some freelancers think that success will come with little to no effort on your part. Freelancing is not a get quick rich scheme, but it can be a way to improve your life, follow a passion, or increase your income. To achieve success, you will need to put in the work.

9. Network

Do not think of other freelancers as your competition; think of them as potential allies. Many job leads and tips can come through a close network of freelancers in the same area. It is tempting to try and ignore the other freelancers in your space, but it is better to work with them and share success.

10. Set boundaries

It is very tempting to let freelancing take over your life. If you are continually working on your freelancing, then it can be hard to time to do other essential things. You should not ignore your other responsibilities, family, or friends. Set clear boundaries for your freelancing and stick to them.

11. Take care of yourself

In a similar vein, do not let freelancing ruin your physical or mental health. Although you may feel that you need to work yourself to the brink of exhaustion, that is not the best way to freelance. Remember to take care of yourself. Without a happy mind and a healthy body, it can be challenging to perform at your best. By taking care of yourself, you will likely be able to complete your freelancing duties even more effectively.

12. Attend events for in your field

One of the fastest ways to achieve success is to meet clients, but where do you meet them? Look for events in your area that will bring you into the same room as your potential clients. Go to the event and find clients in person.

13. Create a morning routine

Starting your day off right can set the tone for the entire day. Creating a morning routine that leads to a productive day may help your freelancing to go more smoothly each day. Set up a great place to work so that you can ignore distractions.

14. Use your natural energy to accomplish more

In addition to making time in your Calendar, try to do the bulk of your freelancing when your energy levels are naturally high. If you are a morning person, try to accomplish big tasks in the morning. Night owls may want to plan their work for later in the day. Build the schedule that harnesses your natural energy and sticks to it.

15. Acknowledge your success

As you make progress, make sure to celebrate it along the way. It is unlikely that you will build your dream freelancing career in a few short days or months, it may take a while to reach the level you desire. However, each part of the process is important progress, and you need to acknowledge that small success along the way. Otherwise, it is easy to give up when you feel like you have not accomplished anything.

Give yourself a pat on the back each time to hit a milestone.

15 Productivity Hacks to Get More Done Each Day

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productivity hacks

In an ideal world, you would breeze through your to-do’s and still have time to do everything you enjoy. Unfortunately, many of us come home from working feeling discouraged because we wish that we could have gotten more done. Instead of beating yourself up for not getting enough done in 2020, start using these 15 productivity hacks to get everything you want, accomplished.

1. Become a time management ninja using your Calendar.

If you want to be more productive then you should only be focusing on activities that deserve your time. The best way to achieve this is by effectively managing your calendar.

As Renzo Costarella writes in a previous Calendar post, “On a basic level, most people use their calendar to schedule meetings, with each empty slot representing a time when you’re available. If you only had a couple of meetings scheduled in a day, this leaves considered free time.”

“A great strategy to use for calendar management is time blocking. As you schedule meetings on your calendar block out times throughout the day for finishing specific tasks,” adds Costarella. “That way you’ll accomplish what you need without over-extending yourself to meetings or unfocused tasks.”

2. Stick to a “work uniform.”

Yes, he gets in hot water over and over, now. But, as a business professional, did you ever wonder why Mark Zuckerberg used to wear the same outfit over-and-over again? The same orange t-shirt was because it saved him time and stress. Instead of spending 20-minutes looking for an outfit and worrying how he looked in it, Zuck already knew what he was going to wear and how’d he look.

As an added perk, wearing the same thing ensured that he was saving his energy for more important decisions. “I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community,” Zuckerberg said. He also mentioned that he had “multiple grey shirts.”

When it comes to your work outfit, it can actually be whatever you prefer. Steve Jobs wore turtlenecks, while some professionals have a handful of suits on rotation. The idea is to have a minimalist and comfortable wardrobe that also reflects your industry. Grey t-shirts may be acceptable in Silicon Valley, but times are changing. And even an incredible t-shirt is not okay in the courtroom. I see the millennials looking quite snappy these days. Do cast a critical eye around every once in a while — so you don’t look like you are homeless.

3. The Pomodoro Technique

This is one of the most well-known hacks out there. And, for good reason, it’s been used by successful and productive people for decades because it helps:

  • You focus on the task at hand.
  • Eliminates multitasking.
  • Develops a sense of urgency.
  • Helps you stop being a perfectionist.
  • Reduces stress because you’re doing one thing at a time.
  • Gives your brain a chance to relax and recharge.

If you’re new to this concept, it’s simply where you break all of your tasks into 25-minute blocks of time. After those 25-minutes are up, you take a 5-minute break. After four of these 25-minute blocks you take a longer break — usually 15-30 minutes. Of course, people have modified this technique to better fit their own personal preference habits — but the idea is the same.

4. Keep one-day a week meeting free.

“One of my favorite hacks is No Meeting Wednesdays, which we borrowed from Facebook,” writes Dustin Moskowitz, CEO of Asana. “With very few exceptions, everyone’s calendar is completely clear at least one day out of the week. Whether you are a Maker or a Manager, this is an invaluable tool for ensuring you have some contiguous space to do project work. For me personally, it is often the one day each week I get to code.” This also eliminates the time wasted at unproductive meetings.

5. Group “like” jobs.

Also known as batching, this is a productivity hack where you group similar tasks together and complete them at the same time. This way you’re using the same frame of mind and not constantly shifting focus. For example, checking all of your emails, texts, and social messages first thing in the morning. Another example would be doing most of your cooking for the week on a Sunday since this involves not just preparing the meal, but also cleaning up afterward.

6. Follow the two-minute rule.

From David Allen’s bestselling book, Getting Things Done, this rule simply states that if something takes under two minutes to complete, then you should just do it. With the two minute rule, you can cross off all of these small tasks before they consume your thoughts and time.

7. Limit your phone usage.

What’s your biggest distraction? It’s most likely your phone, and that makes sense. Every time you phone buzzes, you stop what you’re doing and check out the notification — whether if it’s a text, email, or social media notification. That may not sound like a big deal, but considering that it takes 25-minutes to return to the original task, you can now see why you should limit your phone usage.

If you have the self-discipline, put your phone on silent on airplane mode. If you can’t then use the Moment app. If you’re Android 6.0 Marshmallow then make use the Do Not Disturb mode. Schedule in specific times to check your phone, like eight a.m., noon, and 4:30 p.m. and you’ll still remain in the loop without checking your phone every five minutes.

8. Listen to music.

Music has been found to maintain focus and help you stay productive, but, pick your music wisely. Listening to pop music may not be effective since you’re singing along. There’s a nifty app called Focus At Will that can help determine which type of music helps you concentrate best. As a result, you’ll boost your productivity.

9. Use a bullet journal.

Most productive use notebooks to jot down their thoughts and ideas. It’s a surefire way to help them remember these things. But, instead of a notebook, start bullet journaling. This strategy is basically an empty notebook that is your calendar, to-do list, sketchbook, and a diary in one location. What makes it so useful is that it can be organized any way you want.

10. Set macro goals and micro quotas.

There was a study on motivation that shows abstract thinking can be an effective method to help with discipline. In other words, you need to balance “dreaming big” with intrinsic motivators, aka the self-determination theory.

The best course of action here is to set “micro quotas” and “macro goals.” While your goals should relate to your big picture, the quotas are the minimum amount of work you must do daily to achieve those goals. For example, if you’re writing a book, then your quota could be writing two pages a day.

11. Chew more gum.

I love coffee. It’s delicious and gives me a much-needed boost — like I’m sure it does for you. However, like everything else in life, too much of it can be a bad thing. For example, coffee has been found to trigger anxiety — and you don’t want that when you’re already stressed. Instead of pouring another cup of Joe, chew some gum. Studies have found that chewing gum can helps with concentration and retaining information.

12. Use red and blue.

Your workspace has a major influence on your productivity. That’s why you should always keep it organized and clutter-free — along with getting some plants and exposing yourself to natural sunlight. However, you should also incorporate some red and blue around your workspace. According to a Science Daily study, red can help increase attention to details while blue can spark creativity.

13. Procrastinate productively.

You turn on Netflix to decompress or clear your head. Next thing you know you just watched an entire season of a show. That’s not good. Here’s the thing. We need to procrastinate occasionally. It’s a great way to recharge and refocus. But, you should be procrastinating productively. As opposed to watching Netflix, pick-up a book or take your dog for a log-walk.

14. Find your “golden hours.”

You’ve probably heard that you should eat a frog each morning. Not literally. It actually means that you should get your most important task done and over with first thing in the morning. We tend to be focused and energetic in the morning. Instead of eating that frog, schedule your most important tasks for the time that works best for you. If you’re unsure about your own “golden hours” then check out “The Perfect Workday to Maximize Motivation.”

15. Just be you.

Darrin Brege, the Creative Director and strategist at HelloWorld, encourages his team to design, build, and race paper boats. Adrienne Weissman, the chief customer officer of G2 Crowd, choreographs a dance routine to her favorite song in her head.

While these hacks are able to make you more productive in 2020, the truth is they may not work for you. If there’s something you do that keeps you pushing forward, then go ahead and keep doing it.

15 Productivity Hacks To Get More Done Each Day was originally published on Calendar by John Hall

10 Ways to Stay Productive During a Move

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Stay productive

It is easy to get stressed out during a move, especially if you already have a busy Calendar. When are you supposed to find time for moving activities? Moving starts with finding a new place that suits your needs and working out the financial logistics. First, you have the packing of everything you own into boxes and physically moving your stuff to a new space. Once you get to the new place you have to unpack, which will take hours of effort. But here are 10 ways to stay productive during a move.

Ways to Stay Productive During a Move

1. Find your new place early.

Moving can be extremely stressful if you wait until the very last minute to find a new place. Although you cannot always predict when you will need to pick up and move — renters that know when their lease will expire should prepare in advance. Otherwise, you will be scrambling for a place which can be very time-consuming.

Instead, line up a place months before your current lease ends. Not everyone has this option, however, but you can start looking for a new location early. Finding a new home in advance allows you to spread out your moving activities and leave more time on your Calendar for other responsibilities.

2. Be realistic about your time.

DIY moving can be the most cost-effective way to get into your new place. However, doing everything by yourself can be extremely time-consuming. Even if you enlist the help of a few friends, moving your things will take a lot of time.  If your Calendar cannot fit moving boxes and furniture into your schedule, then consider hiring movers. A moving company can help make the logistics of moving less overwhelming and give you more time to work on other tasks.

3. Simplify your belongings.

Instead of waiting until moving week to go through your belonging, slowly declutter your home. This concept is simple; the less stuff you have, the easier your move will be. Simplifying could be as simple as throwing out old magazines or as daunting as purging your entire closet.

Any effort to reduce the number of your belongings could make your move easier. With less stuff to move, you may find more time to work towards other goals. Think of the old TV show, “Hoarders” and throw out anything non-essential.

4. Simplify your schedule of moving activities.

Before and after the big moving day, you will have countless small moving tasks to accomplish. Make a complete list of everything you need to accomplish and make time in your Calendar. You can find the time to schedule 15 minutes here and an hour there that can be explicitly dedicated to moving tasks.

You may have to tackle these tasks onto the end of your workday, but try to accomplish at least one moving related job a day. Otherwise, the little things can add up and leave you with no choice but to focus on moving activities when you really should be working on other things. The easiest is to pack and clean as you go — you want that cleaning deposit back.

5. Enlist help.

Even if you cannot hire movers, inviting friends and family over to help with packing could save you tons of time. Having people there also helps you not to get depressed. You have helped them all out through the years — it’s okay to ask them to help you. (Yes — make sure you have helped them out through the years.)

Not only can the friend and family help make a difference to accomplishing the primary task of packing the boxes, but you can also spend some time with them. Most true friends are happy to help, be sure to provide pizza and drinks as a thank you for their efforts. All of this saved time can be dedicated to your other responsibilities.

6. Pack the most important things last.

As you start packing up your life, leave the necessary things for last. Keep everything that you need to function available in one box that you always keep with you. Make sure that you don’t leave yourself with only that giant mountain of boxes to unpack.

Try pulling out a small number of essentials to set aside before you start packing. Ensure that you have what you need available throughout your entire move. Your computer, phone, all charging cords (I always have a medusa with a long cord), work assignments and work clothes, maybe pajamas, toiletries, medication and essential documents (driver’s license, passport, birth certificate). I like to have a few photos with me of people I care about.

Think about this what you like — when I move, I want to have my lucky rock and lucky coin in my pocket. Always have about a shoebox-sized box with food and your favorite treats in it — such as protein bars, and other easily edible foods. Having access to these basics will help to avoid extra stress. With less stress, you’ll be more productive.

7. Schedule working days.

If you have a flexible work schedule, it can be especially challenging to stay productive. When you know your move out date, it is easy to let the mountain of moving tasks to take priority. Setting up a strict working schedule can be critical. Block off days that can be dedicated entirely to work. Focus on your work tasks first, then moving tasks. Forcing yourself to accomplish work tasks first will help your day stay more productive — and everything will move along relatively smooth.

8. Unpack your essentials first.

Once you have all of your boxes in your new place, start unpacking the most important things first. Basic kitchenware (I stick-in paper products, plates, cups, and paper towels) clothes, your workspace, and pet supplies should be the first thing you unpack. The unpacking process does not need to happen in just one day.

Focus on the essentials of getting settled and get your work assignment done early. You don’t have to unpack quickly — unless you are an “all in one day” kind of person. Include one item a day on your “settling” task todo list, and everything will shape up reasonably quickly.

9. Stay calm.

There will always be an emergency. Just count on this hiccup and don’t let the unexpected bother you too much. Understand that unless you are a fortunate person — not everything will go according to plan. Flat tire, pulled-over, ticket, run out of gas, your dog gets car sick in your car (yes, really).

Think — your boss assigns something extra or you don’t have power and your WiFi isn’t up (hit Starbucks in town). Stay calm — or go out for a run. Something unexpected will happen, but you can handle it. Reevaluate the situation and adjust the plan on your Calendar. Reschedule things as often as necessary. Deploy your emergency back-up plan if you need to.

10. Enjoy the change.

Change is usually hard — even for those who like it — and moving is also hard for those who are used to moving. Moving to a new home is often accompanied by a new chapter in your life. It’s a transitional period — so stay out of your head and keep to a schedule and you’ll be fine. A firm wake up, work, and sleep schedule fixes most things. Eat right, Sleep right, and Exercise. Keeping a positive outlook can help to keep your productivity high.

Conclusion

First, Good Luck. Using your Calendar to plan out a move can be an essential way to minimize stress during this important chapter in your life. It may be a stressful time, but you can get through it. Take proactive steps to make your move easier and to keep your head in the game.

10 Ways to Stay Productive During a Move was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton

11 Best Tools and Tips to Promote Teamwork

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There are a lot of good things about working with other people at your job. For one, having a co-worker allows you to share common goals for your company or employer. Another is fostering a good working relationship with other people and turning them into friends. But anytime you work with other people there’s bound to be conflict from time to time too. Fortunately, there are certain tools and tips you can use to promote teamwork and get along better.

1. Shared Calendar

One of the best tools to promote teamwork in an office environment is to use a shared calendar. In fact, there’s more than one advantage to using a shared calendar. Working on group projects is easier with a shared calendar. All team members can see when certain tasks are to be done and who is doing them. In addition, project meetings can be scheduled once on a shared calendar that everyone has access to. This saves time and keeps everyone on the same page, so to speak.

2. Business Website

Another way to promote teamwork is to have a business website. Even if there are only two or three people in your company, they can be featured on the site. This is helpful in making them feel like an important part of the business. It also allows other people, such as the public, to see what role they play in the business.

3. Scheduling System

Whether you’re a business owner, manager, or simply an employee, you can help promote teamwork in your business. One of the tools you can use to do this is a scheduling system much like Calendar has been named in the past. Scheduling systems allow all team members to see the various tasks involved in a large project. What’s more, as tasks and sub-tasks are completed and marked off, everyone knows it. If one or more tasks seem to be holding things up, all team members can see which task it is. They can then go to that worker and offer help or suggestions to get it finished. There are scheduling systems that allow messages to flow back and forth among team members. This is particularly helpful on projects that involve several people. It allows everyone to easily stay current with the project.

4. Workload Sharing

If you want another tip to promote teamwork, try workload sharing. In other words, a worker without enough to do could offer to help another who is overloaded with work. Obviously at times managers will have to step in and redirect workers to other projects. Either way it happens, the redistribution of work improves both efficiency and productivity. Workload sharing encourages teamwork as workers communicate where projects left off for seamless continuation of work tasks.

5. Limit Distractions

When you’re constantly getting phone calls or noisy notifications it disrupts your train of thought. It can also distract other employees around you who are trying to work. If neither you nor your fellow workers can concentrate, you won’t get as much done. Consequently, to promote teamwork in your place of business, try to limit distractions and productivity killers. Turn off your cell phone, put it away, or set it in another room entirely. While you are at it, shut off email, text, and social media notifications if possible. Set specific times of day when you can check for voicemail messages, emails, and texts. Completing this task in batches a couple of times a day enables everyone to be less disrupted by task changes. Your co-workers will appreciate your thoughtfulness whether or not they think to mention it. Not only that, but everyone will get more done.

6. Track Time

Did you know time tracking can promote teamwork in your workplace? When you track the time it takes to complete tasks, work can be assigned more evenly. This keeps one worker from being given too much work and another too little. An uneven workload can cause resentments among those who work together. Therefore, to build a better team you should track how long it takes to finish work duties.  

7. Brainstorming Sessions

Sometimes when you have a work problem it requires brainstorming to solve it. Since two heads are often better than one, try asking a co-worker to brainstorm with you. You may come up with the right solution to the problem quicker. In addition, two people can bounce ideas off each other increasing creative ideas.

8. Cross-training

Cross-training can also promote teamwork, increase productivity, and improve moral in the workplace. Having one co-worker train another pushes them to work together and learn from each other. Through cross-training, employees can coordinate, as a team, to give businesses better work schedule flexibility. Workers can plan together so everyone enjoys time off for personal appointments and family events. Yet, while staff members are absent, none of the important work in the business gets neglected. Unexpected events, such as personal emergencies and sickness, won’t keep work from being completed as it needs to be. Other trained workers can fill in for the employee who is gone enabling coverage of the company. Productivity will increase, and the team, as a whole, will be stronger.

9. Job Swapping

If you really want to promote teamwork, try job swapping in your business. Job swapping lets one employee take-on the unfamiliar duties of another for a short duration. Obviously the positions being swapped need to be somewhat comparable. Otherwise, the results could be disastrous. Still, job swapping, unlike cross-training, is not necessarily done so employees can back up each other’s positions. That can be one benefit of a job swap, but it isn’t the only reason to do one. Alternatively, the idea behind a job swap is for workers to gain greater appreciation for their fellow employees. This is especially helpful for staff members who don’t always see eye to eye. Walking in each other’s shoes highlights the difficulties each person encounters on a daily basis. This can strengthen worker relationships and teamwork in your business.

10. Team Building Workshops

At times when you are trying to promote teamwork in a business you must seek outside help. That’s where team building workshops come into play. Off-site workshops allow team members to work together without the pressures of the workplace. Sometimes they can work together in different ways through team building activities. These types of activities allow co-workers to help each other and work cooperatively. Staff members may even improve any weak areas they possess with the help of team mates. At the same time, previously unseen strengths may come to light to managers and supervisors. Finding hidden knowledge and talents is a bonus to any business. It could even spur reassignments in the workplace later on.

11. Fun Activities

You can further your business and improve co-worker relationships with outside fun activities. Company picnics, Christmas parties, potlucks, and other activities help employees get to know one another. They also serve to let your hair down a little. It isn’t always possible to let loose and joke around in a high stress work environment. That’s why having a few fun activities away from the business are important. They allow workers to socialize together and see each other in a different light. Sometimes staff who didn’t necessarily get along in the past become friends through these events. That is why they are a great tool for team building as well as just being fun. There’s no doubt that when everyone in your business operates as a team you’ll enjoy greater success. Use these tools and tips to promote teamwork and that success won’t be far behind.
Originally published here.
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