Saturday, May 29, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Is Working Driving you Crazy?

Well, here's some ideas from the DLM Blog:

Is Your Job Driving You Nuts? Then Fix It!

Posted: 17 May 2010 05:06 AM PDT

Hate Job
Ever heard the joke which runs "So you hate your job? There's a support group for that. They're called "Everyone" and they meet at the bar."

Okay, it's a bit corny, but it does point at a cultural truth: we're often taught it's normal to hate our jobs. We might moan about work to colleagues and family, but we don't necessarily do anything to fix it.

Because we're convinced that hating our job is "normal", we carry on each day, going through the motions, getting irritated by all the usual things, and going home feeling a bit fed up ... but never really thinking that we can change anything.

The truth is, there's plenty you can do to fix your job – and much of it is considerably less drastic than quitting. The first step is to stop expecting to dislike your work, and to start looking for ways to change the things which are driving you nuts.

Fixing the Little Things

Sometimes, a job that's sapping your energy can be fixed with just a few little tweaks.

Let's say it's a real drag for you to be at your desk by 8am. You have to force yourself out of bed every morning, you never get time for breakfast, you hate driving in rush-hour traffic, and you find it hard to concentrate when you get to work.

Instead of accepting this as an inevitable part of your job, look for ways to make it easier:
  • If your workplace is at all open to flexi-time, can you start later (8.30am or 9am) and finish later?

  • Could you work from home one day a week?

  • Can you carpool with a friend, so that you don't have to drive every single day?

  • How about taking public transport?

  • Could you have breakfast at your desk – perhaps by keeping some fruit and granola bars, or similar, in the office?

  • Would you have much more energy in the mornings if you set yourself a bedtime – and stuck to it?
With almost any little problem, there will be multiple ways to make it easier. So stop telling yourself that "this is just how it is", and start looking for solutions. (If you're really stuck, post about your problem in the comments, and see if someone else can come up with an idea for you!)

Fixing Job-Related Things

Sometimes, what really bugs you at work is some particular aspect of your job. Maybe you have a routine task which always frustrates you. Or perhaps you've just ended up bored in your particular role. Maybe you're overwhelmed and struggling to get through all your work.

Again, it's very easy to just assume that this is how things are, and that you can't change it. But have you even tried? Let's say you're swamped with work. Could you:
  • Delegate some tasks to other people in the office

  • Take a time-management course to help you learn tips and tricks for coping with your workload

  • Refuse to look at your email before 10am, so that you can focus on what really needs to be done

  • Plan an after-work commitment, so that you leave the office on time for once

  • Talk to your manager about your workload

  • Ask for help from a colleague
Don't assume that other people in the office will necessarily realize that you're struggling. Often, busy people end up with more work on their desk because they're recognized as being efficient and hardworking. Yes, make sure that your efforts are being noticed – but don't let people use this as an excuse to expect more and more from you.

When Big Fixes Are Needed
Sometimes, no amount of tweaking is going to make your job better. Perhaps you went into a career which, in retrospect, is never going to make you happy. Maybe you have an irreconcilable personality difference with your manager. You might have simply lost all interest in a job which you once enjoyed. You may have experienced significant changes in your home life (such as marriage, a new baby, or illness) which mean that your job is no longer a comfortable fit for your lifestyle.

You may want to think about much larger steps like:
  • Moving into a different career

  • Asking for a transfer to a different department or area

  • Starting your own business, perhaps based on a hobby or interest of yours

  • Taking a sabbatical (an extended period of leave)

  • Working from home for at least part of the week
Of course, all of these require serious consideration. But don't rule them out. You can find work which you enjoy and which uses your real talents, skills and interests.

Is there anything about your job which is driving you nuts? Share it with us in the comments ... and see if anyone has an idea for how you can fix it!

Written on 5/17/2010 by Ali Hale. Ali writes a blog, Aliventures, about leading a productive and purposeful life (get the RSS feed here). As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing.Photo Credit: Lara604

Fort Wayne Site-of-the-Day


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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shipping

I'm borrowing a term from Seth Godin's Linchpin book. Seth mentions that all of us have some genius in us, the difference is, do we ship?

Ship refers to finish the project, deliver the goods, or do we let the ideas die before they are complete?

This post from the DLM Blog has some ideas on the subject:

How to Finish What You Start

Posted: 09 May 2010 09:03 AM PDT


Do you have a whole bunch of half-finished projects gathering dust?

Perhaps it's that fitness routine which you swiftly abandoned (along with all the accompanying equipment). Maybe it's a craft project which has been taken up space for months. You might have musical instruments which you never learned to play, college courses left unfinished, websites half-created, a novel that you started writing and never finished.

I used to be great at starting things, and really bad at following through. Over the years, I've learned to get better at finishing what I start.

Step 1: Decide Whether it's Just a Whim

Sometimes, you'll have a great idea for some new endeavor. Maybe you want to:
  • Learn to play the trombone
  • Take up fencing
  • Become fluent in French
... and so on. Your interest might have been sparked by something you read, or by a movie you watched, or a friend who's passionate about a particular hobby.

Before you run out and buy a ton of stuff, and before you sign up for evening classes or dedicate every weekend to this, give yourself some time to figure out if it's just a whim. However keen you feel right now, wait a few weeks. Sometimes, an idea which seemed great at the time just doesn't last.

Step 2: Make a Firm Commitment
If you are going to start something new and finish it, you need to really commit to it. I wouldn't recommend spending large amounts of money (though that definitely can make you feel a stronger attachment to something) – instead, I'd suggest that you block out some time to spend on this project on a regular basis.

That might mean that you have to take a hard look at your diary and get rid of some other activities. You're not suddenly going to find a spare hour or two every day ... you need to think about what you're already spending your time on.

Step 3: Keep Track of Progress
It's easy to start off keen, spending a diligent half-hour a day on your project for a week or two ... only to hit a busy patch in life. I'm sure you've had projects which got put aside "just for now", only for months to go by without any progress at all.

It's easy to lose momentum when you're working on lots of different things. If I've got a project which I really want to move forwards on, I find that the best way is to keep track of the progress I'm making.

There are all sorts of ways to keep track, depending on your project. Here are some possibilities:
  • Keep a food diary, a spending log or a gratitude journal to focus your attention on a particular goal in your life.

  • Use an online tool like Joe's Goals to tick off the days when you accomplished a particular task (e.g. going for a jog)

  • Ask a friend to keep you accountable by having a weekly check-up session

  • Write a checklist for your project and tick off tasks as you complete them. Make a note in your diary to review the checklist every week (or whatever interval suits you).
Step 4: Have an End in Sight
It might seem like a silly point, but if you're going to finish what you start, you need to know what "finished" looks like!

Some projects have a natural end point – but many don't. For example, when have you "finished" with a diet? When have you "finished" learning to play the piano?

If your goal is to "write a book", be clear whether you mean "write a draft" or "finish it to the best standard I can" or "get it published". These are all different goals and different endpoints. If you're doing your first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, every November), then just finishing a 50,000 word draft is a great achievement. If you're aiming for a career as a professional writer, then you'll be looking at an end point of publication.

You might find that your goal doesn't have a finish line at all. If you're getting fit, you don't suddenly achieve fitness and then stop! With goals like this, set yourself some targets to keep you going. You might want to run a half-marathon in two years' time, and a marathon the year after that. You might aim to bench-press a certain amount of weight.

Finally ... if you have lots of half-done projects, don't feel bad about letting some of them go. That might mean throwing out old materials, selling those books you'll never read, or formally resigning from that course. Quitting is a way to finish a project – and it can free you up to take on something new.

Written on 5/09/2010 by Ali Hale. Ali writes a blog, Aliventures, about leading a productive and purposeful life (get the RSS feed here). As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing.Photo Credit: cole24

Fort Wayne Site-of-the-Day


I may have featured this organization during the Winter Games.... Looks new to me! Click on Pic.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gettin' The JOB


Wisdom from Harvey:

How to spend your first day in the job market

By Harvey Mackay

When I scrolled through the unemployment data recently, one number stood out for me head-and-shoulders above all the rest. More than a quarter of our young people are out of work.

What young adults need to worry about is not how to shine on their first day on the job. It's about learning to excel your first day on the job market. If you're a young person entering today's job jungle, it's a little like suiting up for an episode of Survivor in the outer reaches of Borneo.

Here are some tips that can help drain the pain from your job market debut:
  • Don't bulk e-mail your credentials or résumé to everyone and their cousin. In the e-mail age, a résumé is just another bunch of digital clutter. Every day, companies are using more and more sophisticated tools to block the inflow of unwanted applications.
  • Intelligently use snail mail to differentiate yourself. I'm not just saying that because I'm in the envelope business. Make the letter you send as distinctive as you can. Address it to a particular person. Link your cover letter into the recipient's school affiliation, hobbies, or -- best of all -- an acquaintance you have in common.
  • This is all about making the A Team. Maybe you had the valuable experience of playing a varsity sport in school. If you wanted to excel in athletics and make the academic grade, you learned pretty soon that the first skill to master is time management. Getting a job is a job. Plan out every precious day. When you climb out of the sack, commit yourself to making X number of calls and blocking out time to study business news on the Internet. When your head hits the pillow at night, you should think: "Clothes in shape? Appointments confirmed? Schedule set? Sign off. You've had a busy day."
  • Don't waste time on the Internet, and don't upload stupid self-damaging information on social sites like Facebook. Stay away from game sites. They can addictively suck away valuable hours day after day. Will your instant recall of the latest dish about Lindsay Lohan or Justin Timberlake get you a job? The party animal photo you're keen to upload to Facebook may be fun for your pals . . . but eliminate you from a firm that is about to extend you an offer.
  • Build human networks. What are your career goals for the next 1-2 years? Find people in your community and on the Internet who are already where you want to be. Learn exactly what it took to be where they are.
  • Volunteer. Killing time is suicide. If you don't have a job, volunteer to help others. You'll feel good about the contribution you make. If you're asked to raise money for a good cause, you'll learn what kinds of salesmanship works . . . and, when it doesn't, how to accept being rejected. If you're a positive, high-energy volunteer; you might even impress a community leader who can help you find a paying job of the sort you're after.
  • Learn specific credentials and get them. Find out what certification is required for the job you want and why it's important. Talk with people who have gone through the certification program and exams to learn the biggest challenges. Keep your credentials up-to-date. High tech fields upgrade their standards constantly.
  • Give people good reasons to recommend you. Professional recruiters will tell you that your best assets in a job search are the enthusiastic recommendations of employed, well-respected experts in your field. Learn what skills and attitudes these people value and what they look for in an up-and-comer.
  • Stay in shape. Being in top condition will keep you energized and improve your overall sense of discipline. Working out is also a great way to channel the frustration of being rejected into a positive result.
  • Prepare for every job interview as though it were a trip to the Super Bowl. Research the firm inside out. Ready yourself with intelligent questions to ask. Be poised and on-time for your meeting. Debrief yourself and grade your performance immediately after the encounter.
Mackay's Moral: You may not be after a sales job, but you have to be one great salesperson to sell yourself.

Fort Wayne Site-of-the-Day


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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tech Tuesday Tip

This week it's all about Facebook.

From Windows Secrets:


TOP STORY

Tighten your Facebook privacy settings

Scott Mace By Scott Mace

In their hunt for market dominance, social networks Facebook, Google Buzz, and Microsoft Live are redefining what social means — and in the process, straining the bounds of personal privacy.

Facebook, the big daddy of these three, has made quiet changes to its privacy settings, ones that members need to understand if they are going to manage the distribution of their personal information.

I find Facebook useful, mostly as a way to stay in touch with a select set of my friends and former co-workers. It's not my public soapbox nor a window into my personal life, left open to the world — for that, I have blogs and Twitter.

As much as I like Facebook, it has a flaw that I'll never see in my blogs and hopefully never see with Twitter. It seems the proprietors of Facebook find it necessary, desirable, or profitable to change member privacy settings, usually with little notice to members. In every case I can think of, privacy settings have become more relaxed — more open, if you will.

What's beneficial for Facebook, however, is not necessarily good for members — their personal information might end up in places they never intended. The world is filled with marketers who would love to know increasingly more about you. And if that doesn't concern you, the world also contains stalkers and hackers who might use that personal information toward evil ends.

You should take your Facebook (or any other social network) privacy as seriously as you do protection from malware on your PC.

Keep in mind that all the big social networks continually tweak privacy settings. This is not just a Facebook problem.

Review and lock down your Facebook settings

In a typical good news–bad news scenario, Facebook's privacy settings have become more granular over time — and consequently far more tedious and complicated to manage. Even more irritating is that, as Facebook adds new categories of settings, it often uses Everyone as the default. (And Everyone means just that — not only all Facebook members, but anyone viewing associated sites).

New Facebook members are especially likely to give out private information unintentionally. Working through a slew of privacy settings is not foremost in their thoughts as they first build their new Facebook wall. Unfortunately, that means they get the default, wide-open Everyone privacy setting.

When deciding what personal information to share, you have two choices. Either don't put it on Facebook to begin with (no, you don't have to fill out every personal information field), or put it up but restrict who can see it.

Start with the simple setting for personal info

If you're going to post information you don't want the whole world to see, or if you just want to generally tighten up your privacy settings, start with the following:
  • Personal Information and Posts: Most settings in this section default to Everyone or Friends of Friends. For a balanced level of privacy, I recommend selecting either Only Friends or Only Me, depending on your comfort level.

    Here, Facebook makes things difficult for new members. Initially, the settings dropdown list does not contain Only Me. You must select Customize and then Only Me from another dropdown list — for each privacy setting. (See Figure 1.)

    Facebook custom privacy  setting
    Figure 1. If you want to use Facebook's most-restrictive setting, Only Me, you must go into custom settings.

    Furthermore, some of these settings affect the level of your friends' privacy when they interact through your wall. For example, when a friend posts a comment on your wall, Posts by Friends controls who else can see that post — everyone, friends of friends, and so on.

  • Contact information: Facebook tightens its default settings for direct-contact information to Only Friends, but if you don't care to share your IM screen name, mobile or other phone number, or current address, change it to Only Me.

    The last three settings on the Contact Information page — Website, Add me as a friend, and Send me a message — are all preset to Everyone by default.

    If you include your Web site URL on your wall but don't want it showing up on a search engine list, consider adding a robots.txt file at your Web site. (Instructions for creating this file are contained on the robotstxt.orgs site.)

  • Friends, Tags, and Connections: This section controls what information people see on your profile, and the options are relatively simple. Items such as Friends, Family, Relationships, and Photos are set to Only Friends by default, and that's probably how you'll want to leave them.

    Some information (such as your Pages and list of friends) is still public and can be accessed by Facebook applications you and your friends use.

    Facebook Pages offer a convenient way to stay on top of your favorite interests from within your profile page. The key is to carefully consider which Pages you choose to Like and which applications you agree to run.

    Liking a Facebook Page is different from, liking a post, photo, or link. When you like a Page, Facebook automatically subscribes you to a feed from that page — which often represents a commercial product or company.
Manage the murky realm of Facebook applications

How your privacy is kept or lost when using Facebook applications is probably the least-understood and most-worrisome aspect of this social network. The privacy controls for apps are found in the Applications and Websites section.

To put it simply, don't run Facebook applications if you don't want to distribute personal information beyond your friends. The following example shows what happens when you run an application. I'll use Farmville, a popular game application, as an example.

When you first run Farmville from within Facebook, all your profile information and photos, your friends' info, and other content it requires to work is pulled into the Farmville system. You have only two choices: Allow this to happen, or leave the application. If you let it happen, a vast amount of your personal information is now governed by Facebook's privacy policies and by Zynga's — the company that owns Farmville. Those policies may differ.

According to Zynga's privacy policy, it generally doesn't collect personally identifying information; in any case, it can collect only what you provide.

Bottom line: Each new application you link to in Facebook could add another layer of privacy management. This could be another argument for not posting sensitive information where it's not fully under your control.

Facebook applications have no middle ground — if you run an app, you're automatically sharing at least some information. You can't run an application just for yourself, as you would a spreadsheet or database. For this reason, I subscribe to few of them.

The most-important app settings fall under What your friends can share about you through applications and websites. By default, nothing can be shared except your name, sex, and profile photo — plus any information that fell under the Everyone option in the other privacy categories. I leave all boxes unchecked.

Should you choose to run Facebook applications, consider changing the Activity on Applications and Games Dashboards control's default setting from Only Friends to Specific People, or even to Only Me.

If you don't want to show up in the search results of unknown Facebook members, tighten the Search setting from Everyone to Friends of Friends or Only Friends. Unchecking Public Search Results also helps keep unknown Web surfers at bay.

Aside from the obvious anti-stalker benefit Block List enables, it also has a Preview My Profile button that displays how most Facebook members see your profile. It gives a good view of how tightly you're locked down.

New privacy leaks from Instant Personalization

Recently, Facebook opened up Instant Personalization, another way for strangers and outsiders to view your personal information. Currently, there is a setting at the bottom of the Applications and Websites page called Instant Personalization Pilot Program. If you opt into this service, selected Facebook partner Web sites can instantly personalize their applications, based on your personal information.

This list of partners is constantly expanding. Even if you opt out of Instant Personalization, your Facebook friends might still share Facebook information about you if they opt in. As far as I can tell, your only recourse is to block each of the application sites.

This could mean going to each apps page and clicking on Block Application, if it even exists. So far, the apps include the recommendation service Yelp.com, Microsoft Docs.com (a Web-based document creation and sharing system), and the music-streaming service Pandora.

No wonder so many Facebook users are annoyed. If Facebook adds dozens of these apps within the next month, a significant investment in time will be necessary just to tighten up these newly loosened controls.

For the tightest privacy, you should log out of Facebook before visiting these or any other Web sites partnering with Facebook through Instant Personalization. It's certainly inconvenient to monitor whether you're logged into Facebook, but people who wish to share as little personal information as possible with these third-party sites are force to take these steps.

Other resources:

Zesty.ca's page, "What does Facebook publish about you and your friends?," shows you what — if anything — public Internet users can see of your Facebook activities. It's a useful tool for managing the personal information other members are allowed to view.

Fort Wayne Site-of-the-Day


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Monday, May 24, 2010

Video Time: Young Comedians

Actually, these guys are pretty old now...

Fort Wayne Site-of-the-Day


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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fort Wayne Site-of-the-Day


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