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Curing corporate A.D.D. caused by being overly connected

With the connectedness of modern society, it seems like work never ends, and the sense of pressure can lead to corporate A.D.D., but there are ways to circumvent this from happening or continuing in your life.

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What is corporate A.D.D.?

It’s not uncommon for work to take over your life in today’s world. Gone are the days where at 5:00, you leave work and enjoy a relaxing evening at home. Today, with cell phones, laptops and tech tablets, you have access to your work email at all times, and if clients have your cell phone number, forget it. They know how to reach you at all hours. These are helpful technology tools, but they also can become distractions that actually take away from your work productivity. Enter Corporate A.D.D. — the common disorder that is stressing you out.

Corporate A.D.D. refers to the stress that you feel to get a large number of tasks accomplished each day. Instead of remaining focused on the work that you need to get done, you get easily distracted by the phone ringing, emails flooding your inbox and the text messages that seems to create an endless buzzing on your cell phone. When you add these additional stressors to your workload, it is easy to see how you can actually spend a longer time on any given task, thereby slowing you down and taking some of your much-needed free time away.

Three tips for overcoming corporate A.D.D.

So, what is the cure? Well, while we can’t ignore these tech tools altogether (although some days, you might be temped to), instead, you should try employing some of these time management tools:

•    Try to stay in the “Proactive Zone.” Think of your stages of activity as being proactive, reactive, distraction, or waste. Reactive refers to urgent demands. In my opinion, the definition of “urgent” has gotten far too relaxed. If a client is genuinely upset and panicked, then yes, by all means, make them a priority and stop what you’re doing to help them. If they simply want a question answered within the next 24 hours, finish what you’re doing and then address it.

If you spend all day in the “Reactive Zone”, you’ll never get anything done. Proactive refers to planning and preparing for your day and executing the important tasks that need to be done. This also includes down time and re-charging your batteries. Your quality of work will never remain high if you don’t take some time to relax. Try and stay away from the distraction and waste zone, as they refer to unneeded interruptions or excessive trivial activities. If you focus on staying proactive all day, and know when to enter the “reactive zone”, you’ll get more done even faster.

•    Try time-blocking. Whether it’s your weekly Zumba class or time spent checking and responding to emails, block a few times each day or week to do important tasks. Whether the activities are personal or professional, you need to block time for the things that are important to you. Here’s the kicker: don’t compromise that time block for anything that isn’t urgent. This isn’t easy to do, but it’s important to staying stress-free and positive.

•    Keep your personal time personal. No, really. You can claim to be spending time with your loved ones but if you’re spending the whole time on your phone checking and responding to work emails, are you really using it as free time. Unless there is something urgent that needs to be addressed immediately, (again, this is REALLY urgent, not a false sense of urgency), just stay out of your inbox and let work calls go to voicemail. Your quality of work will go down if you’re burnt out, so your personal time is important. Don’t be afraid to take it.

Improving productivity, curing corporate A.D.D.

If you can put some of these practices into use as you go about your work week, (and stick to them), you’ll find that you’re less stressed out, more productive and able to grow your business. Cure that corporate A.D.D. by managing your time and knowing when to ignore outside distractions. This won’t be easy to implement-it’s easy to give in to the temptations of distractions both inside and outside of work, but if you stick with it, you’ll find yourself easily able to get things done. Best of luck!

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Carrie Gable & the Real Estate Virtual Assistant team at RealSupport, Inc. work virtually for many top real estate agents & brokers nationwide, offering marketing campaigns, branding, website & logo design, listing marketing efforts, lead management, technical support, marketing presentations, social media setup & management, copywriting, blogging and much more.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. matthewloewen

    May 21, 2012 at 1:36 am

    Great article.  With all the distractions nowadays, we definitely have to be proactive and block out time for important tasks.  Good advice.

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How to conduct a proper informational interview

(CAREER) Informational interviews comprise a technique in which you ask an employer or current employee to explain the details of their job to you. Try doing this before you transition into your next occupation!

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At some point in your career, you may ask for someone’s time to do an informational interview — a process in which a job-seeker asks questions about a field, company, or position in hopes of receiving information which will inform both their decision to go into the field and their responses to the specific job’s actual interview. Since the power dynamic in an informational interview can be confusing, here are a few tips on how to conduct one. Not how to obtain one, but how to conduct one once both parties agree to connect.

The process of an informational interview typically starts with finding a person who works in your desired field (and/or location if you have a specific company in mind) and setting up a time during which you can ask them a few questions about things like their job responsibilities, salary, prerequisites, and so on. Once you’ve set up a time to meet in person (or via Skype or phone), you can proceed with putting together a list of questions.

Naturally, you should understand the circumstances under which asking for an informational interview is appropriate before requesting one. Your goal in an informational review should be to ask questions and listen to the answers, NOT pitch yourself as a potential hire. Ever. Nobody appreciates having their time wasted, and playing on your contact’s generosity as a way into their company is a sure way for your name to end up on their blacklist.

Once you’ve set up an informational interview, you should start the conversation by asking your contact what their typical day is like. This is doubly effective: your contact will most likely welcome the opportunity to discuss their daily goings-on, and you’ll be privy to an inside glance at their perspective on things like job responsibilities, daily activities, and other positive aspects of their position.

They’ll also probably detail some drawbacks to the position — things which usually aren’t explained in job postings — so you’ll have the opportunity to make a well-informed decision vis-à-vis the rigors of the job before diving head-first into the hiring process.

After your contact finishes walking you through their day, you can begin asking specific questions. However, unless they’ve been unusually brief in their description of their duties, your best course of action is probably to ask them follow-up questions about things they’ve already mentioned rather than asking targeted questions you wrote without context. This will both indicate that you were listening and allow them to expand upon information they’ve already explained, ensuring you’ll receive well-rounded responses.

You should save the most specific questions (e.g., the most easily answered ones) for the end of the interview. For example, if you want to know what a typical salary for someone in your contact’s position is or you’re wondering about vacation time, ask after you’ve wrapped up the bulk of the interview. This will prevent you from wasting the initial moments of the interview with technical content, and it may also keep the contact from assuming a strictly material motive on your part. And be willing to ask “what does someone with your job title typically earn in [city]?” instead of their specific take-home salary which might not be reflective of the norm (plus, it’s rude, and akin to asking someone their weight).

This is also a good time to ask for general advice regarding breaking into the field, though you may want to avoid this step if you feel like your contact isn’t comfortable discussing such a topic or if you’re intending to apply as someone with experience.

Of course, you won’t always be able to meet with your preferred contact directly, especially if they work in a dynamic field (e.g., emergency services) or have a security clearance which negates their ability to answer the bulk of your questions. If this happens, you have a couple of back-up options:

1. Send an email with a list of questions to the contact, or send them your phone number with a wide-open calling schedule. This is useful if your contact has a random or on-call schedule.

2. Ask your contact if there is someone else you could connect with (it could even be their assistant).

3. Speak to the company’s HR branch to see if you can request a company-specific job requirement print-out or link. These will usually be more particular than the industry requirements. But don’t ask for something you can find yourself on the company’s Careers page online.

Nothing beats an in-person interview over a cup of coffee, but — again — wasting someone’s time isn’t a good way to receive useful information about the position in which you’re interested.

Before transitioning to your next position or career field, consider conducting an informational interview. You’ll be amazed at the amount of insider information you can glean from simply listening to someone discuss their day in detail.

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The sad truths you missed about the US Women’s Soccer Team lawsuit

(NEWS) The US Women’s Soccer team dominated headlines by suing for equal pay, but there was so much more to the lawsuit that could have a ripple effect in the business world.

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Recently, on International Women’s Day, the United States Women’s Soccer Team (USWNT) filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation. The timing of the suit is not only a sign of the team continuing their decades long fight against the organization (only three months before they are set to defend their World Cup title in France), but a recognition of the symbol that they have become in the larger battle that women and other minorities are waging in order to be given the same resources as the men leading in their fields.

It should go without saying that the women’s soccer team is unparalleled in its athletic success: over the past twenty years they have won three World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals. These players, as ESPN acknowledges, are among the most accomplished and best known women athletes in the world.

Their counterpart, the Men’s National Soccer Team, leaves much to be desired (they failed to qualify for last year’s World Cup, for example) yet they consistently receive much more support from the US Soccer Federation.

Although the pay disparity between the USWNT and the male soccer team is certainly stark, the “gains” that the women athletes are fighting for go beyond monetary compensation.

According to Mashable, “This [suit] includes how women frequently play on a dangerous artificial surfaces when the men do not, fly commercial when the men travel by more convenient, comfortable charter flights, and the alleged allocation of fewer resources to promote women’s games compared to men’s.”

As if being the best players in your sport in the world and having to share hotel rooms after getting torn apart by the seams astroturf and receiving less-than-world-class medical care wouldn’t be infuriating enough, it’s truly this final point that highlights the glaring mistreatment of the USWNT.

Without support from the US Soccer Federation, not only in the form of payment but in promotion of their games and general good-will toward their players, the USWNT will not be able to grow their following so that they can establish a consistent revenue near what the men’s team attracts. This “lack” of revenue continues to create the chicken/egg excuse that the Federation has for not propping up the USWNT like they deserve.

It’s simply the opposite of “sportsmanship” for the US Soccer Federation to use these players’ love of playing the game (that, again, they are the best in the world at) and their country as a way to gaslight them into playing for less.

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Think about automating tasks instead of replacing workers

(BUSINESS) Automation is great, unless you obsess over it and try to cut down on payroll – there’s a smarter approach that successful businesses take.

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automating tasks not people

The concept of automating your workflow is a tempting one — especially as payroll continues to be one of the evergreen highest costs of business. However, in contemplating how to streamline your workflow, you may do better to step back from the idea of “replacing workers” and instead think about you can optimize your existing employees by strategically tweaking their workflow.

As Ravin Jesuthasan and John Boudreau write in The Harvard Business Review, if the goal of automating is to ensure that your company is operating at its most cost effective and efficient levels, then chances are you’d still need knowledgeable employees to help you scale and capitalize.

Where automation can truly help your business is by transforming the ability of your organization to focus on the tasks that truly require a human touch or deep knowledge. For example, automation will not help your employees perform complex, interactive, or creative work like collaborating with clients to come up with solutions or designs.

However, it can help the process of brainstorming or co-designing these solutions easier by replacing some of the mechanical tasks that aid this high-level workflow.

For example, it may be helpful to automate basic research tasks for your designers. If your designers must create a client profile to help them launch their projects — basic information must surely exist at some other point in the process before this point. Maybe your firm has an intake form or contracts where a basic description of the goal of the contracted service has been created. By automating the sharing of that data between departments, perhaps in a content management system, you’d be able to free up time that the designers might spend on basic data collection so that they could instead use it for their more complex, empathetic work.

Jesuthasan and Boudreau offer up other advice for thinking about which specific tasks within your company’s workflow are the best candidates for automation.

Is a task simple? Routine? Does it require collaboration?

These kinds of inquiry are not only useful when thinking about your organizational processes, but they are good refreshers for thinking about the individual value and skills that your organization and its workers offer clients.

So instead of looking at how to cut down on payroll, consider automation as an option to improve the value you’re getting from your team, and freeing them from mind-numbing tasks that have nothing to do with their expertise. Win-win!

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