6 ways to overcome distractions

Originally posted by Erin Bramblett, HR specialist with Insperity, an HR outsourcing firm on https://ebn.benefitnews.com.

If anyone knows a thing or two about multitasking, it’s benefit managers. From understanding the compliance complexities of the Affordable Care Act to navigating the nuances of ERISA, benefit managers are experts at juggling several priorities. Yet multitasking and having to deal with constant interruptions can negatively affect work quality, according to a recent study from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

1. Prioritize.

“Prioritize what you need to get done as an employee and do those things early in the day,” says Bramblett. “Focus on what needs to get done, whether it’s three things or five things, and focus on those until they’re done.”

2. Create a to-do list.

“Write that bulleted list, include scheduled breaks and cross them off as you complete them. That will help you stay focused,” advises Bramblett. “And taking a mental break in between tasks will help employees shift gears a little more easily.”

3. Don’t check social media during the day.

A five-minute break to update your status can easily turn into a 30-minute waste of time, says Bramblett, who advises keeping social media pages closed during the work day. But if you absolutely can’t go all day without seeing what those crazy cats on Instagram are up to, then schedule it as part of your break on your to-do list.

4. Learn the power of ‘no.’

“It’s hard to not say ‘yes’ to every assignment that comes your way,” says Bramblett. “But you’ve got to make sure you’re keeping your to-do list at a realistic level.” She advises communicating with your team, your boss or your clients to make sure your daily priorities are correct and that you’re finding out which things are most important for you to get done each day.

5. Don’t think you’re capable of multitasking.

“It is scientifically proven that individuals work better when they are single-tasking,” says Bramblett, citing an American Psychological Association study that showed multitasking undermines efficiency by as much as 40%.

6. Create a workplace that doesn’t expect multitasking.

“If employees feel like they have to multitask because their boss keeps coming at them with multiple projects and asking for updates on 15 different things in a day, that would certainly be something that would create that environment so you want to ensure you create that work-life balance,” advises Bramblett.

6 bad habits holding you back from success

Originally posted on  https://eba.benefitnews.com

Do you feel stuck in a rut? Expected to be shooting up the HR/benefit career ladder at this stage in the game? We all have bad habits, but bringing your baggage to the office can be the difference between soaring or stalling in your career. Ilya Pozin, an entrepreneur and founder of Pluto.TV, Open Me and Ciplex, offers six common workplace bad habits to break if you want to continue moving up the career ladder.

Being a lone wolf

Workplace collaboration is key to success. Even though you prefer working solo, which is in itself a value commodity, it shouldn’t be your only speed. Break the habit by finding a project near and dear to you and ask to be part of the team. Do your best to keep everyone involved and in the loop, and stretch those collaboration muscles.

Saying sorry too much

If you find yourself apologizing too much, it implies you’re making too many mistakes and can undercut your position within the organization. Own your mistakes and reserve the word “sorry” for the truly big mistakes.

Taking on every project

Challenging new projects should excite you, but do you find yourself overdoing it? Learn your limits … if you say yes to every project, you may soon yourself unhappy, burnt out and badly overworked. Nip this habit in the bud. The word “no” is powerful and doesn’t make you look like a slacker when you turn down a project. Be protective of your time and abilities and know when you’ve reached your limit.

Being negative

Nobody is friends with Negative Nancy. If you have a rain cloud over your head every morning, it’s no surprise you’re stuck where you are. Enthusiasm and passion are traits managers look for in their superstars. Sit yourself down and ask the hard questions you’ve been avoiding. If you hate your job, it might be time to look for another opportunity. Ask yourself what would make you wake up excited about your work day, and chase after your dreams.

Doing things the way they’ve always been done

Innovation is a thriving company’s life blood but, for most, doing the same old thing and getting paid for it is enough. Sit down with your boss and ask for an open-door policy to offer feedback. Try to chime in once a month with something new that can help your company grow. Even if some of your ideas aren’t used, you’ll stand out as a forward thinker who cares about the company’s future.

Being disorganized

It’s estimated an average of 9 million hours are spent looking for misplaced things. The impact of that on your work life can really eat away at your true potential. So on your next slow day, take the time to organize your work space and set a plan to stay organized. One of the hardest parts of reorganizing is the initial clean-up of clutter.




6 self-motivation techniques

Originally posted August 11, 2014 by Daniel Williams on https://www.lifehealthpro.com

Chances are you have an idea where you’d like to be in your career. If you’ve gotten stuck somewhere along the way, take heart. These 6 self-motivation techniques from sales and motivation expert Bob Urichuck’s book Motivate Your Team in 30 Days will get you back on track:

1.     Have an attitude of gratitude. When you awake in the morning, ask yourself how you are today. Your answer should be “GREAT!”—Getting Really Excited About Today. You never know which day will be your last, so make today the best day of your life.

2.     Begin self-motivating first thing. Find something to do for yourself immediately upon waking. Take time out to do something to productive or nourishing yourself so that you’ll have the energy to be there for others.

3.     Reinforce your positive behavior. Now that you have done something for yourself, reward your effort with a morning treat. If you follow up your self-motivating actions with coffee or breakfast, you will be inclined to repeat the behavior.

4.     Recognize that no one else can motivate you. Yes, you may find fleeting motivation from external sources. But lasting motivation—the kind that bears fruit—comes from within. Dig deep to access your reserve of willpower.

5.     Decide to live your dreams. Do want to live your life according to someone else’s idea of what you should be? Decide to take responsibility for yourself and aim for your truest desires. It’s your life; take charge of it.

6.     Take control of yourself. In order to be self-motivated, you must be in control of your life. There are many things outside of your control, and those you must accept. But there are many things over which you do have control, chief among them your attitude. Become the master of your thoughts and reactions.

When it comes to achieving your goals, you can succeed. You just need a little push in the right direction.

5 Reasons to Make Friends with Your Competitors

Originally posted July 21, 2014 by Marla Tabaka on www.inc.com.

When I owned my coffeehouse (2001-2004) people frequently asked me if I hated Starbucks. I didn't. After all, Starbucks is responsible for re-introducing the culture of coffee in the United States and for establishing it in countries where the cafe culture never before existed. Starbucks put the romance into the coffee experience. Without those romantic notions consumers wouldn't have given a second look at my drive-thru, or stop by for a fireside chat over a delicious cuppa joe with their friends. Thank you Starbucks!

Still, the truth is that the coffee giant made it impossible for an independent coffee retailer like me to compete, so I didn't. Instead my business became what Starbucks is not. It too became a household name but for reasons far from its convenience and fast service.

Stop viewing your competition as the enemy and instead use it as the catalyst to brilliance. Instead of investing your precious energy into hating or envying your competitors use it to become the very best entrepreneur you can possibly be. Here's how.

Give your customers another reason to choose your brand.

I knew that my delicious, fair trade coffee wasn't enough to bring customers through the door so I gave more dimension to the consumer experience. I added open mic nights, brought in great bands, and did art shows and book signings. I even opened a private conference room to local businesses and organizations.

What can you offer in addition to your products or services? When you stand out from the competition by offering something of value that your competitors don't, you give your customers a better reason to choose your product or service. How can you help your customers go beyond a simple purchase and truly experience your brand?

Keep the price down to remain competitive.

When I purchased my coffeehouse I knew that I would have to bring down the cost of goods. It forced me to move outside of my comfort zone and negotiate with vendors. In many cases I found new suppliers, and I never stopped negotiating.

Don't get complacent about costs. Just because your suppliers have served you for years doesn't mean they can't do better. Also keep an eye out for new materials, parts, or products that will create a cost savings.

Innovate, innovate, innovate.

What sells today may not sell tomorrow. I've had too many entrepreneurs come to me for coaching because their once successful business became a cash drain.

Watch what your competition is doing to stay ahead and learn from their wins, as well as their failures. Don't get complacent! Don't get so caught up in the day-to-day operations that you neglect coming up with the next great idea. That's the mistake these entrepreneurs made and, sadly, it's often too late to breathe life back into the brand.

Upgrade your skills.

When you allocate all available cash and human energy to your business it's virtually impossible to invest in training and education for yourself. Keeping abreast of the latest technology and trends, and constantly honing your leadership skills will help you gain and maintain the competitive advantage.

Make a list of your weaknesses and make a plan to build upon the skills you need to overcome them. If you cannot acquire those skills yourself, then outsource or hire someone who can provide necessary skills to compete effectively.

Embrace new technology.

As technology improves and evolves the marketplace changes, sometimes drastically and often overnight. You must be ready to adapt or change according to industry trends and business in general, or your competition will leave you in their dust.

Social media is a great example. Believe it or not I still hear from people who don't even have a social media presence and don't believe they need one. Last year I worked briefly with a caterer whose business took a nose-dive over a period of two years. We narrowed down the cause to a lack of online presence. Her closest competition added a customer-facing backend to their website and aggressively engaged in social media. But she simply refused to understand why this would make a difference and sadly, made no attempt to catch up with her competitors. Her doors are now closed.

Embrace competition and your whole world can change. This simple shift in your mindset will keep you engaged, aware, and in the lead.

Do or die: Make a plan and stick to it

Originally posted July 11, 2014 by Sandy Schussel on https://www.lifehealthpro.comcompany-business-300x336

My friend and colleague, Steve Chandler, author of Wealth Warrior: The Personal Prosperity Revolution, places professionals into two categories: “Doers” and “Feelers.”

Doers come to work having planned out what needs to be done, and no matter how they’re feeling, they do what needs to be done.

What Feelers do, on the other hand, depends on how they feel at any given moment. They take their emotional temperatures throughout the day, checking in on themselves and figuring out what they feel like doing. Their financial securities, outcomes and lives are dictated by the fluctuation of their feelings. Their feelings will change constantly, of course, so it’s hard for Feelers to follow anything through to a successful conclusion, no matter how passionate they may be.

As Chandler puts it, “The success of Feelers depends on everything that can change their feelings… biorhythms, gastric upset, too strong a cup of coffee, an annoying call from home, a rude waitress at lunch, a cold, or constipation. Those are the dictating forces—the commanders—of a Feeler’s life and of his or her success.”

A Doer, however, has a plan and a system for her success, and she works the plan no matter how she feels. She knows in advance how much time she will spend on the phone and in the field, what new clients she will cultivate and which existing relationships she will strengthen. Regardless of her mood, she looks at any project lacking completion and asks, “What do I need to do?”

A Feeler may have a plan, too, but will only follow it on “sunny” days—when things are going well and she’s in the right mood. She will tell herself she just can’t make those calls right now because she wouldn’t be very effective unless she was feeling good about making them.

As Chandler explains, each of us has a Doer and a Feeler within us. While many of us vacillate between the two types, some may be predisposed to being either a Doer or a Feeler, and over time, some may even unconsciously commit to one type or the other.

If you recognize yourself as a Feeler and you’re not having the success you want, consciously commit to becoming a Doer instead. Set a goal, create a plan to reach it and have a daily system that you follow—no matter which way the wind is blowing.

Sandy Schussel is a speaker, business trainer and coach who helps sales teams develop systems to win clients. He is the author of The High Diving Board and Become a Client Magnet. For more information, go to www.sandyschussel.com.

10 secrets to success

Originally posted April 17, 2014 by Michael Goldberg on www.lifehealthpro.com.

A piece in Investor’s Business Daily caught my attention. Anything titled 10 Secrets to Success will do that. Of course, there’s no such thing as a secret and there’s nothing new under the sun. But sometimes, sometimes something you read or heard or pondered over reminds you to think differently. It wakes you up. Reboots you. Gives you a jumpstart. Offers perspective.

Below are the 10 Secrets from Investor’s Business Daily that inspired me to offer my two cents.

1. How you think is everything. 

There’s a great audio of Earl Nightingale called The Strangest Secret  which was first recorded in 1956. He first played the recording for his sales team at his insurance agency. The response to the message had such an impact on his staff that requests for copies to share with friends and families grew. Columbia Records filled the requests and within a short period of time sales soared to over a million copies, earning a Gold Record — the first and only spoken word record to ever reach Gold! Today, more than 50 years later, The Strangest Secret remains one of the most powerful and influential messages ever recorded. It continues to transform the lives of everyone who hears and heeds it. The message is simple: We become what we think about. If you spend enough time thinking about something important, there’s a good chance your thinking will drive your actions.

2. Decide upon your true dreams and goals. 

Your goals (or goal — less is more) should reflect what you spend most of your time thinking about. If you think about making more money (how much?) then come up with a goal that you must accomplish to get you closer. If you’re looking to become more established in a marketplace, perform better in a sport, compete in a triathlon, or master a specific skill, craft it in the form of a goal. Write the goal on an index card and look at it every day. Every single day. Again, we become what we think about.

3. Take action. 

What do you need to do all day every day to continue thinking about your goal? Do you need to join an association? Hire a coach? Read a book? Get certified in an industry, profession, or area of expertise? Take a class? Meet and ultimately build relationships with people that are doing what you want to do? Thinking the way you want to think? Being who you want to be? Where do you need to go to meet these people? What do you need to say? And with whom? Goals are nothing without action. Don’t let excuses get in the way. Don’t convince yourself that you can’t. Think of all the reasons that you can. Don’t be afraid to get started. Just do it.

4. Never stop learning. 

Go back to school or read books. Get training and acquire skills. I’m always in the middle of a good book. Sometimes it’s about boxing (my passion) but usually it’s about business, or the business of business. As a speaker, coach, and author, my focus is helping sales agents grow their business through networking (my other passion!). That said, I’m always looking for better ways of doing that so when I’m not speaking and writing, I’m reading. I keep a stack of books on a shelf in front of my desk so when I’m in my office, I can’t help but to see them. As I write this and gaze at the books, the topics are pretty consistent — sales, relationships, public relations, finance, building a great business, referrals, and creativity. I try to tackle a new book every couple of weeks. And my index card that contains my goal is my bookmark.

5. Be persistent and work hard. 

Never give up! Get up early and set aside that time to work on your goal. Set a schedule for yourself over the next 30 days. If you wake up early and get to work over a cup of coffee in your dining room at 5AM and work until 6:30AM Monday through Friday, that’s an additional work day that you’ve carved out for yourself by the end of the week. And that’s not counting weekends!

6. Learn to analyze details. 

The devil is in the details. Figure out what you need to learn. Ask great questions. Talk to all the right people. Give yourself deadlines. What gets measured gets done! Have a system of checks and balances so you know if you’re on the right track. How do you know you’re going in the right direction if you don’t have a GPS? What’s the GPS that you need to create to insure you’re on the right path? Knowing you’re moving in the right direction will inspire you to keep going.

7. Focus your time and money. 

Stay focused! If a boxer loses focus, he gets caught with the hook. Professional athletes make investments in both time and money to do everything possible to become the best. If you know that it makes sense to invest in a book, program, course, certification, diet plan, coach, practice management system, pair of running shoes, whatever — do it! 

8. Don’t be afraid to innovate; be different. 

Staying in the middle of the road will get you hit by oncoming traffic. Those that are successful often have found a creative way to get their message across or goal accomplished. Think of comedians that have a unique style, or a baseball player with a different stance, or the financial advisor with the unique marketplace. How about the Facebooks, Googles, and Apples that have changed the world forever?

9. Deal and communicate with people effectively. 

Everyone is different. How can you best relate to the specific needs of your prospects, clients, and referral sources? Learn to understand and motivate others. Help other people develop and achieve their goals. Listen! Ask questions and listen some more. We all know people that go on and on about themselves and never ask about you. (Are you one of them?)

10. Be honest and dependable; take responsibility. 

It’s important to know that others can count on you. Otherwise numbers 1-9 won’t matter!