Saturday, February 06, 2010
Friday, February 05, 2010
Posted: 17 Jun 2009 05:25 AM PDTUnless you’re just counting down the days till you can quit, chances are, you want to do well in your job. Perhaps you’re making an effort to manage your time well in the office, to network with colleagues, and to bring energy and enthusiasm to your projects. If you’re self-employed, you might be working long hours, pushing yourself to get the boring tasks done and figuring out where your next motivation will come from.
You’re doing all the right things during the workday. But, are there actions you could be taking outside work in order to boost your performance? No, I’m not talking about checking your Blackberry every few minutes and responding to emails within seconds, I am talking about taking some time to improve you.
Here are five things you might like to consider. Admittedly, you will have to find some time in your schedule to work on these, but many times, the payoff for accomplishing just a few of these is greater than the payoff you'll receive for having a tidy desk or being an email guru.
- Take a Public Speaking Course
It’s not exactly a secret that most people hate public speaking. Whether it’s delivering a presentation to a roomful of clients, or simply speaking up in a meeting, being confident and competent at public speaking really will get you noticed at work.
People often think that public speaking is either something you’ve “got” or you haven’t – but it’s just a skill, like any other. You can be taught public speaking skills and you’ll also find it becomes much easier as you practice.
Look for an evening class or course in your area that relates to public speaking, or find a local Toastmasters group (these can take you from absolute beginner to expert paid public speaker).
- Attend Meetings of a Professional Organization
Whatever your field, there’s a good chance that there’s some sort of organization related to it that meets regularly. Look for opportunities in your area. In many cases, you will need to pay a membership or attendance fee.
The advantages to getting together with other professionals include increased knowledge and building up contacts. If you’re self-employed, this can be particularly valuable, as you may feel that you miss out on the “buzz” that comes from being around like-minded colleagues.
It’s worth asking your line manager whether you can claim back any meeting costs on expenses.
- Spend Time Improving Your Skills
Most of us find that there are one or two areas of our job where we don’t feel very confident. Perhaps you’ve never really got to grips with a particular software package. Maybe you’re perfectly happy writing emails and reports, but the thought of writing a press release is enough to make you want to hide under your desk.
Whatever your particular weak area, it’s worth considering how you might be able to spend some time improving it outside the office. The typical workday, whether as an employee or a freelancer, doesn’t allow much room for reading, training or learning.
There are books available on any topic you can imagine (and you can often get DVDs on subjects which are best shown visually). Check out what’s around, find something that comes with good recommendations or reviews, and give it a go.
- Get Enough Sleep – and Watch the Caffeine
How often have you struggled through the day at work, feeling like a zombie, because you’ve not had enough sleep? If you’re working a typical 8-4 or 9-5 job, you can’t stay up till 2am partying or playing computer games like you did in college and not suffer for it.
Getting into a good sleep schedule can make a big difference to your motivation and productivity levels at work. Turning up tired and cranky isn’t doing you or your colleagues any favors. Try forsaking your weekend lie-in, and get up at a similar time as you normally do for work. This ensures that you’re not struggling to reset your body clock on Monday.
Don’t use coffee as a replacement for sleep, either! You might get a brief jolt, but it’s likely to be followed by a deep slump in productivity. Try cutting down on the amount of coffee you drink, and see if you feel a more sustained energy at work.
- Take a Look at Your Appearance
Have a look in the mirror. If you were a client or manager, would you be impressed with what you see? What messages does your appearance send?
Think about your clothes – depending on your industry, it might be appropriate to wear a smart suit, or you might find that a suit says “stuffy” and “too formal” for your particular field. Aim for a “smart” look rather than “sexy”: no-one wants to have colleagues who seem to have dressed for a night out on the town. (This goes for both men and women.) If you’re self-employed, you may need to dress up a bit when meeting clients.
If you’re seriously overweight, you might want to take action too. I’d urge this purely for your health’s sake, but there’s also the unfortunate fact that overweight individuals are often discriminated against in the work place:
Workers who are heavier are paid an average of $1.25 less per hour, and overweight women make about 24 percent less than their thinner counterparts. - (Fat chance: Obesity in the workplace, Colorado Springs Business Journal)
Other aspects of your appearance to consider are personal hygiene: this is one where asking a close and honest friend might help!
Thursday, February 04, 2010
Posted: 16 Jun 2009 05:11 AM PDTWikipedia is an ocean of information. While you may still want to seek secondary information sources before trusting it entirely, you cannot argue that the site contains a plethora of useful information.
That said, it's tough to navigate through so much data. You can get much more out of it in less time if you decide to ditch the conventional way of using the built-in Wikipedia search for scouring through the information. The following ten tools will help you search and use Wikipedia like never before. I am sure you'll love using some of them.
Navify is an excellent web service which shows a lot of additional information related to a Wikipedia article like related images, videos and articles.
So if you are searching for Barack Obama, you can see the Wikipedia article on him, his photos, and the Youtube videos of his speeches, all on one page. Hence it can be used as a good research tool.
Powerset is a Wikipedia search engine which certainly produces much better results than Wikipedia's in-built search. It finds keywords related to your search term and also displays various articles and categories which could be relevant to your query.
AgainButSlower is an innovative tool which modifies Wikipedia articles to make them simpler and easier to understand. So if you are looking to gain some knowledge about "Quantum Mechanics " and the Wikipedia article looks intimidating with all the heavy scientific terms, then AgainButSlower can help you. In fact just try that term. You'll find it to be really cool.
VisWiki (formerly Visual Wikipedia) is one of my personal favorites. It is an incredible tool which can take your online research to new levels. Not only it pulls up extensive information about your query but also produces interactive maps showing connection between articles and terms which is really awesome.
Need a quick and uncluttered print out of a Wikipedia article ? Lexisum will help you do that. It displays print-friendly Wikipedia summaries which can be easily formatted and adjusted according to your printer settings.
Another innovative and useful site. PedioPhon converts Wikipedia articles to mp3 recordings. So next time you feel like listening to something from Wikipedia while jogging then you know what to do.
Snapask delivers Wikipedia articles to your cellphone via email. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the corresponding command in the subject line and you'll receive the information in 30 seconds.
Similpedia provides a new way to search Wikipedia. Instead of typing search terms, it asks you enter a url or a paragraph of text of at least 100 words and then it displays relevant Wikipedia articles related to that text.
Would you like to know which are the most read articles on Wikipedia and the trending articles in last 30 days ? Wikirank will show you. As I write this, the Beatles seem to dominate the scene. :)
And finally, if the current article database in Wikipedia can't satiate your hunger for information then you can browse through DeletionPedia, an archive for deleted Wikipedia articles. You might come across some interesting articles there.
Hope you like the tools. If you know of some other such cool Wikipedia tools then lets hear about them in the comments.
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Especially when I see my bike in the garage, every time I hop in my car.
Going anywhere requires some effort. Ride on a flat street and you pedal to move forward. Go up a hill and it really takes some effort and endurance. The only time you can coast is when you are going downhill.
Going up hill sometimes requires us to shift into a lower gear and keep pedaling which means you travel at a slower pace with more effort. But have you ever tried to coast uphill? Doesn't work.
Coasting downhill can be fun. It feels good to take a break and feel the wind as you relax. Until you have to start applying the breaks because you are going downhill too fast.
Apply this to life in general with some help from Seth Godin:
If you've got an idea worth spreading, I hope you'll consider this random assortment of rules. Like all rules, some are made to be broken, but still...
- You can name your idea anything you like, but a google-friendly name is always better than one that isn't.
- Don't plan on appearing on a reality show as the best way to launch your idea.
- Waiting for inspiration is another way of saying that you're stalling. You don't wait for inspiration, you command it to appear.
- Don't poll your friends. It's your art, not an election.
- Never pay a non-lawyer who promises to get you a patent.
- Avoid powerful people. Great ideas aren't anointed, they spread through a groundswell of support.
- Spamming strangers doesn't work. Spamming friends doesn't work so well either, but it's certainly better than spamming strangers.
- The hard part is finishing, so enjoy the starting part.
- Powerful organizations adore the status quo, so expect no help from them if your idea challenges the very thing they adore.
- Figure out how long your idea will take to spread, and multiply by 4.
- Be prepared for the Dip.
- Seek out apostles, not partners. People who benefit from spreading your idea, not people who need to own it.
- Keep your overhead low and don't quit your day job until your idea can absorb your time.
- Think big. Bigger than that.
- Are you a serial idea-starting person? If so, what can you change to end that cycle? The goal is to be an idea-shipping person.
- Try not to confuse confidence with delusion.
- Prefer dry, useful but dull ideas to consumer-friendly 'I would buy that' sort of things. A lot less competition and a lot more upside in the long run.
- Pick a budget. Pick a ship date. Honor both. Don't ignore either. No slippage, no overruns.
- Surround yourself with encouraging voices and incisive critics. It's okay if they're not the same people. Ignore both camps on occasion.
- Be grateful.
- Rise up to the opportunity, and do the idea justice.
Monday, February 01, 2010
Posted: 31 Jan 2010 08:19 PM PST
Here in the States, February is Black History Month. So we decided to commemorate the month with a special edition of our motivational posters series, featuring some of history’s most influential African-Americans and their powerful words of wisdom. An excellent way to start off your week! Enjoy.
DownloadThe Art of Manliness Free Man Cookbook
DownloadThe Art of Manliness Guide to Being a Gentleman
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Posted: 04 Feb 2009 05:47 AM PSTIt’s unfortunately very easy to get so caught up in life and routine that you forget to show affection to those most important to you. This trend starts honestly enough but quickly you realize that years have gone by.
If your relationship has become stale or if you tend to take your friends for granted, here are some ways to show your love for those around you. As you consider these, some of you may find that the time is not the issue; it's the technique and act of verbalizing your feelings.
Therefore, go in knowing that you can accomplish these without saying a word. As most of us know, actions can speak louder than words...
- Leave Notes (in Unusual Places)
Perhaps life has become so busy that you feel like your schedule rarely coincides with that of your partner or kids. How about leaving them a note somewhere unexpected? You’ve probably all heard of kids having little notes from their mom’s in their lunch bags – that’s one place to start, but how about a note by the kettle, in the fridge, on the pillow, on the computer screen...? This can become a bit of a game as you compete to leave a note in the most unusual places!
- Hug Someone
Physical gestures mean a huge amount, and a hug can be just what a loved one needs to put a big smile on their face. Whether it’s snuggling up on the sofa with your partner or giving your kids a goodnight hug, being held and warmed by another person is a perfect way to feel loved.
- Write A Poem
A time-honored way to say “I love you” is to write a poem. You don’t have to be Shakespeare – look for sincere, original ways to tell someone that you love them. Try not to fall back on hackneyed phrases about their beautiful blue eyes or their rosy red lips; write about something that’s meaningful to you, perhaps that dimple on their chin, or the way they laugh at your jokes.
- Give An Unexpected Gift
I’m sure you give your loved ones gifts on their birthday, at Christmas, and on special occasions like Valentine’s day. But how about bringing a gift completely at random? An unexpected present is a moment of pure joy for the recipient and the giver, and it needn’t be anything expensive. A few of their favorite chocolates, a small bunch of flowers, a book which you know they’ll enjoy ... for a few dollars, you have the perfect way to say “I love you”.
- Do The Chores (Without Being Asked)
For many people, another extremely welcomed gift is someone else doing the chores! If it’s your partner who usually cleans the kitchen, why not do it and surprise him/her? If you normally have to be nagged to vacuum, get it done without being asked. Finding little ways to make someone else’s day smoother lets them know how much they mean to you.
- Hold Hands
Like hugging, holding hands is something that we often neglect to do when a relationship becomes cozy and familiar. Try taking your partner’s hand when walking down the street, or hold their hands across a table in a restaurant. Being in contact physically helps you feel closer emotionally. This is especially important if you need to talk through a difficult issue or problem. Holding hands can also be a visible demonstration of support if your partner is upset or feeling down.
- Make A Special Meal
If Friday nights usually mean ordering takeout, why not offer to cook for a change? Make a special meal for your partner (you don’t need an excuse for this – it doesn’t have to be Valentine’s day or an anniversary!) Include their favorite foods, take a few minutes to set the table, to light candles and put music on, and your usual forgettable evening slumped on the sofa can become a night to remember...
- Dress Up
In the early stages of a relationship, you probably made the effort to look your best. Of course it’s nice to get to the point where you can lounge around in your jammies or your over sized, hole-ridden t-shirt... but occasionally getting dressed up can rekindle that early excitement in the relationship. Why not go out to a “swankier” restaurant than usual (it doesn’t have to be much more expensive), or just get dressed up in your party clothes for a special meal for two at home?
- Give a Foot/Shoulder Rub
Modern life is stressful and many of us have aches and pains caused by tense muscles. A shoulder rub, back rub or foot rub is a wonderful way to tell your partner “I love you”. It demonstrates that their physical well being and comfort is important to you, and it’s also a great way to reinforce physical and emotional closeness.
- Listen to Them
It’s easy to talk over people or to tune out most of what they’re saying whilst reading the newspaper or chatting online with friends. Listen actively to your partner – when they want to talk, put down what you’re doing, and focus all your attention on them. Listen for what they don’t say; unvoiced concerns or worries, or hints at what they’d really like. Nod and make eye-contact to show that you’re paying attention.