Organized365: September

Fall has arrived, back-to-school routines are established and we are in the home stretch with our 2018 goals. Maintain your progress and continue to move forward with this month's strategic organizing tips and tricks!

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Try a new organizing strategy from this summary of our August tips:

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Wondering if your garage needs a clean out? Check the dust, cobwebs and watch for mouse droppings. If your findings make your skin crawl and you find you hesitate to reach for needed tools, it's definitely time to give the garage some attention. Keep in mind that as the seasons change, the tools you need change as well. Bring those rakes to the front!!

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Plan, Divide & Conquer

If your yard and home projects happen 'weekend warrior' style, list all tasks to be tackled. Next mentally acknowledge that your list is too long and vow to get as far as you can and appreciate your progress. Then divide the tasks to that you and the SO are not working on the same project in the same space at the same time. Lending a hand for a specific step is one thing, working on top of each other for an entire project is a recipe for conflict. Work on different aspects of the overall list and plan to meet in the middle with much progress made. Take time to step back and admire your work.

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Embrace the Unexpected

Halt yard work for a surprise opportunity to encounter nature and add a lasting memory to your weekend. Taking an hour to relocate the turtle babies your pup discovered provides a nice break and a great story to share. Renewed awareness of the treasures found in outdoors is an added bonus.

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F2F For the Win!

A glut of programs, apps, and devices can result in thinking that digital communication increases productivity. It is true that this may lead to an uptick in messages sent and received. However, that does not mean that you are more efficient or effective if a 5 minute walk to your colleague's desk would have resolved the matter. Be prudent about your use of technology to replace in-person connections.

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Don't Be A "Don't"

A top business etiquette no, no is arriving late. Start times, whether for arriving at the office or for a meeting, mean being ready to get to work at the appointed time. Pulling into the parking lot does not qualify as being at work on time. Entering the room does not count as a timely arrival. Be at your desk or in your seat when the clock strikes and you will earn a place in your employer's and colleagues' good graces.

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Volume Control

It is easy to get caught up in a passing conversation with a colleague however the whole office will appreciate your awareness of your surroundings. A quick conversation in the hall can be a loud distraction to colleagues working with doors open or in a common space. Walk the conversation to a meeting space or your office to avoid creating a disruption for others. Modulate your voice so that others are not inadvertently brought into your exchange. Your workplace will benefit and appreciate your efforts.

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Linger After Meetings

Meeting leaders & facilitators will learn a great deal about attendees ideas and reactions by lingering in the room after a meeting. Allowing everyone to depart before you provides quieter or diplomatic attendees to share their thoughts, concerns and suggestions privately. If your schedule prevents you from providing this time, invite others to be in communication with you following the meeting.

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Whether leading or attending, meetings with ongoing side conversations can be distracting. Avoid engaging in side conversations yourself, unless it is relevant to the current topic and then raise your point to the group after a brief consultation. Tangential side conversations can be managed with the provision of a 'parking lot' or holding space to track valuable insights and maintain focus. Do not have a side conversation to make or confirm social plans during your meeting!

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Arrive with a solution

No doubt your work can be frustrating. Rather than stew, brainstorm solutions from the ridiculous to the sublime. Select 1 or 2 of the most reasonable and draft an action plan and outcomes. If the result is a plan that you feel makes sense, take it to your next check-in meeting or run it past a colleague to test feasibility. Moving forward will relieve some of the frustration while highlighting problem-solving skills and can-do attitude.

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Welcome Questions & Suggestions

Listening to others is possibly the single most valuable action you can take either personally or professionally. Fielding questions will not only tell you with is unclear but also where colleagues may not wish to follow your lead. Remember that suggestions do not have to be adopted whole sale but often have a gem or two that will enhance the plan already in place. Listen, Learn and Move Forward!

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Celebrate the Win & Learn

An award, accolade recognizing a colleague's achievement is a win for the whole company. Positive appreciation reflects well on everyone. Let the star shine, extend sincerely congratulations and if you want some of that spotlight, watch and learn. Award-winning skills & behaviors can be learned. Build collegial relationships & go for it!

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Schedule Your Resources

Reserve meeting space, virtual or physical, in advance. If tech equipment is needed make sure it will be available at the appointed time. Schedule any advance set up and communicate with colleagues to ensure that all necessary materials and refreshments have been planned. With bases covered you are one step closer to a productive, well run meeting.

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Get a Jump on Tax Season

It really never is too early to prepare. Read our Tax Prep guide to start on a path to a stress free tax return.

With a nod of appreciation to @marydegroot

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If you are new to a profession, industry or business, you will have questions. Relying on your new colleagues to provide insight and guidance is a great way to build relationships and learn. However, Do NOT fall into the habit of asking someone a question you can answer for yourself with a bit of effort. Attempt to find answers independently FIRST, then clarify or ask colleagues for more detail.

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Bring It Home

Those diplomatic, team player skills that have colleagues singing your praises at work can be just as effective at home. Don't leave your thoughtful communication and can do spirit in the company parking lot. Friends and family will appreciate your support and collaborative efforts as much or more. Be attentive to the challenges those around you are facing and pitch in.

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Send A Reminder

If scheduling meetings is part of your professional life, chances are you have experienced the frustration of no-show colleagues. It seems impossible that others would forget commitments and yet in reality it happens quite often. Without regard to the cause (lack of concern or legit emergency), you can reduce your own frustration by sending reminders. Think of it as a self-care action rather than enabling the unreliable. You will benefit and most often you will earn the gratitude of an overwhelmed colleague.

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Arriving early for a meeting or appointment is good for your professional reputation AND any wait time can be used to catch up on email. Pad your start time and provide yourself with a small window of quiet time for uninterrupted work or final prep.

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Bolster your successful meeting outcomes with a follow up action plan. Reiterate decisions made, timelines agreed to and responsible parties assigned. Want further insurance of success? Put a reminder on your calendar to check back in on progress being made.

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Dread checking your email inbox due to the crazy number of outstanding messages? It turns out that you may be part of the problem. Take a moment to review your 'sent' folder. Do you reply all? Send long winded messages? Comment unnecessarily on email updates? Make sure you are not contributing to the overflow of messages and if you are brush up on your email etiquette.

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Ensure you are providing the services/products your clients want/need by asking questions. Asking questions is critical to understanding. Learning and understanding are not magic they happen only with hard work and often are based on confusion and error. In order to move forward professionally, you must ask questions.

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Designing document or communication that will represent your whole team? Solicit input and feedback. Your colleagues will want to be involved and provide assurance that the perspective feels right and accurately represents their piece of the project. You will need these colleagues goodwill down the road. Don't do this solo.

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Waiting on a team member to provide content or information can be frustrating. Once your portion of the work is completed, it can be tempting to check in with others. Try to avoid putting pressure on your colleagues when they still have time before their deadline. Don't assume because you are ready they should be too. Everyone prioritizes their workload differently. Until that deadline is looming assume they will be delivering their material on time.

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Friday Freedom Failure

While it is tempting to block off Fridays as meeting free or email free, in reality there will be situations in which scheduling a meeting or communicating via email will be unavoidable. Declaring Friday freedom is demoralizing when your Friday feels anything but free. Block off time to address the workload in front of you in a realistic manner. This strategy should help you avoid the stress that makes a free Friday so tempting.

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Have a colleague who assumes you will stop for lunch after a client meeting? Don't leave the question out there until the last day. Once you have identified this or similar patterns, you can head them off. Mention to your colleague, in advance, that you will need to return directly to the office due to other demands. Then on occasion, you can inquire, again in advance, if your colleague might have time and be interested in getting lunch. Maintain your collegial relationship AND avoid a frustrating situation.

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Sending an email that requires a response? Bold the portion of the message with the critical information. You will allow your contact to quickly locate the most important portion of your message and respond quickly. Sending an email with multiple paragraphs to sift through is frustrating for your contact and for you when you don't receive a response.

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Managing a conflict? Determine your ideal outcome. Is it resolution or dissolution? There is a lot of middle ground to consider. Make a list of your behaviors that have contributed to the conflict. What are you willing and able to alter?

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Avoid confusion (and possible conflict) with clear, concise communication. Avoid over explaining when communicating with colleagues. Be direct and then ask if they have questions. Then you can provide information that addresses the questions without wasting time.

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Year-end reviews are fast approaching. Get ahead by collecting evidence of your work achievements now. Your review is a 2-way conversation. If you hope for more responsibilities, greater involvement, perhaps a promotion, you need to gather evidence to support your request. Do you have concerns about how the past year unfolded? Frame them as opportunities to grow and bring ideas for moving forward in a constructive manner.

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The third quarter ends today! How has year shaped up? Are you on pace to achieve your goals? Should you refocus and reframe, identifying objectives and strategies that will make the most of the remaining 3 months? Browse the @p2gconsulting blog "Organized365" for ideas and tips that keep you headed for success.