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Stress - woman stressed with headacheThe pen clicker. The close talker. The over sharer. The loud eater.

Depending on the size of the company or the team you work in, most offices have one or all of the common office pests who can make your work environment just a little bit crazy and hard to maintain your sanity.

So what’s the answer? How can you stay sane in a crazy office when you have little escape from people and noise and activity for upwards of 7 hours a day?

Try one of these three strategies to try to keep your focus and remain effective in a crazy environment.

Tune in and tune out the chatter.

As long as you are not a call centre operator, front line staff or customer service professional, headphones are your new best friend. Not only will a little light listening drown out the office noise and distraction that can be so annoying, but it also sends a signal to your co-workers that you need to concentrate and blinker up to focus on the task at hand. Don’t play your music so loud your co-workers can hear it or you add to the office chaos, or at a volume you can’t be interrupted without jumping through the roof in fright. If possible, try using just one ear bud so that if your attention is needed, it is easily achieved. You might also considering clearing this strategy with your team leader or supervisor, stressing that the goal is to be more productive and focused. Once you get the go ahead, pop in some discrete ear buds at a reasonable volume and avoid the craziness that comes with office life.

Walk it out.

If you’re lucky enough to have your own office and the noise outside exceeds levels you can cope with, the most obvious solution is to close the door. Problem solved for you but not for others, however it sends a clear message that the volume has boomed above what is acceptable which might be all it takes.

If you are in an open plan environment and door closing isn’t an option, just get up and remove yourself from the noise instead. Take a trip to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, or the water cooler for something more hydrating. Hand deliver the memo you need to share with a colleague instead of emailing it or step out on the terrace or walk around the block if your presence will not be missed. Fresh air and exercise will not only resolve the noise and haze in your head, but will in fact make you more productive when you return. If your supervisor is agreeable you may in fact negotiate a different break system than the usual 3-4 hours on, 1 hour off, perhaps a 15 minute break every 2 hours instead.

Talk it over.

Sometimes people just don’t get the message and are so busy being social, or noisy, that they don’t notice your subtle and even not so subtle signs that you’d like them to pipe down and focus on their own work. If this is the case you might need to step it up and ask them to keep the craziness to themselves or at least out of your area. Be polite and engaged, show an interest in the discussion and say it with a smile, but explain that your deadline or project requires all your attention and the loud activity around you isn’t helping your cause. Noise, energy and activity can be the signs and byproduct of a collaborative and motivated team, but when the sounds around you feel more like a dentist’s drill than an inspiration, then take whatever steps necessary.

You don’t want to be the party pooper, unless in fact you’re in charge and crowd control is in your job description, nor do you want to alienate the rest of your team. But sometimes a little honesty goes a long way and stops you adding to the chaos by blowing your lid and cutting through the noise in a less than helpful way!

Depositphotos_19770067_xsEvery company, from the top earners to the latest start-up, needs entrepreneurs to continue to grow, develop, and succeed. If you have, or can develop the attributes of an entrepreneur, you will be a real asset to your organisation and will find yourself at the exciting forefront of its growth.

Entrepreneurs are highly curious people. They ask a lot of questions, and undertake careful studies. Market research and consumer surveys inform them, and they guided by their own analysis of independent results. They also draw conclusions from social observation and are able to recognise important trends in the earliest stages of development.

Entrepreneurs welcome complex problems, and can manage them systematically without losing too much time in decision making. They recognise opportunities and challenges, and can prioritise in order to gain benefits from both. Entrepreneurs manage risks before they become detrimental to operations, and are endlessly resourceful when it comes to addressing problems, always able to find another angle, or give it another go.

Entrepreneurs are creative thinkers whose methods may not always be conventional, but they still take deadlines seriously. Understanding their success relies in part on their reputation; entrepreneurs work ethically, and harmoniously as part of a team when required.

Entrepreneurs tap into their personal passions to apply themselves to their professions, and seek personal fulfillment from professional success. They are guided by their own motivations, and by all those who have a stake in their work leading to success. They believe they can make a positive difference in the world, and are not discouraged by failure.

Part personality, part mind-set, part skill-set, some entrepreneurs are born, others grow through time to be the movers and shakers in organisations worldwide. What about you? Are you, or could you be your organisation’s leading entrepreneur?

Whether you are being interviewed for the job or conducting the interview, it pays to do your ground work first.

See what I mean?

DeathtoStock_Creative Community6According to Harvard Business Review writer, John Coleman, reading broadly is one of the most important habits aspiring business leaders should cultivate. Constantly seeking to improve general knowledge, flex comprehension muscle and increase vocabulary will reap many benefits for business leaders. There is no better way to develop all of the above, and more, than to dive between the pages of, well, just about anything you fancy.

In the article, “For Those Who Want to Lead, Read”, Coleman encourages business leaders to read publications of many different types, claiming that their organisations may “innovate and prosper” with influence from the benefits extensive reading brings. Extensive reading promotes creativity and enhances complex reasoning skills, two of the most important tools in the business leaders’ belt.

Reading widely also results in a broad knowledge base. Coming into frequent contact with new information and ideas, leaders who read are able to assess and possibly integrate them into their businesses. Fields such as economics, psychology and sociology all contain concepts that are likely to be useful to a business leader when applied wisely. Even reading fiction, Coleman says, will benefit business leaders, by helping them develop empathy that can be helpful when dealing with employees and clients.

Not only are avid readers more likely to understand the needs of colleagues and clients better, they are also more adept at communicating their understanding. Avid readers tend to be more articulate and have a wider vocabulary to choose from, so are able to express themselves more exactly.

Coleman also notes that reading for leisure keeps stress levels down, and so is a healthy way for people in high level positions to relax. It is also supposed to help ward off Alzheimer’s.

Although reading in “unrelated” disciplines or reading for fun might seem like a waste of time, for a savvy aspiring business leader, the opposite is in fact the truth. Spending time reading is investing in the multifaceted intelligence true leaders require; an investment that is bound to pay off.

stack-20241_640According to a new report released by Hudson, ‘work life balance’ tops the list of priorities for Australian workers in 2015. No longer just a buzz word, work life balance is sought by 70% of professionals interviewed. Whether it’s working parents hoping to spend some quality time with their children, or people with time-consuming hobbies, workers make no secret of the fact that they may like their job, but time to pursue their ‘real life’ is important too. Work life balance now beats out higher salary or career advancement to be the aspect of employment considered the most important.

A feeling of belonging, or fitting in to an organisation’s culture also ranks high for workers at all levels, actually topping the list for senior executives. It seems workers at this level appreciate the sense that they are in the right organisation, and find more fulfillment in their jobs if there is no stress from workplace cultural clashes.

A good benefits package is also in the top five things job seekers look for in prospective employment. Generally workers are seeking to better the deal they currently have, whether it be receiving a higher salary, switching to a more prestigious brand or  earning a more impressive job title. Aussie workers like to feel that they are heading towards the top, and many will part ways with a company if they get stuck at the same level for too long.

If the cultural fit is not right, or the work life balance is off kilter? The report says 8 out of 10 workers have an up to date CV ready to show recruitment firms and headhunters, even if they are not actively job seeking.

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Even the world’s best collaborators sometimes need some time to themselves. Alone time, whether it is at home or at work, is almost impossible to come by, unless you have your own space. These days office environments are often geared towards lots of communication between colleagues, with individual cubicles being dismantled in favour of open plan offices where everyone can be a part of the team. This is great in theory, and most people prefer the democratising and social benefits of the shared space. But what are you losing if you give up your personal space?

Having your own space makes a big difference to the way you think and feel. While nothing new is created in a vacuum, people often need time and space to themselves to come up with original ideas, or solutions to problems. Having personal space allows for deeper relaxation and greater concentration, both extremely helpful mental states for many types of work. Many tasks can be completed with greater accuracy if they are attempted without interruption or distraction.

One of the great benefits of a personal work space is the ability to decorate it to your liking. Purely individual touches, like photographs of family members, are great motivators to some workers. Others aim to improve the feng shui of the workplace by adding plants, crystals or mirrors in strategic places. These personal items can individualise sections of shared spaces, giving individuals further focus, and ultimately be a positive influence on workplace practices.

People attempting to work from home can find the home office (which is often used for a combination of activities) a tricky place to get work done. If having your own space designated solely to work is impossible, see if you can designate some particular times for that space to be for work only.

Taking the time and space to work alone when needed will mean you can come to team meetings better prepared and ready to share your personal best when collaboration is in order.

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Somewhere along the line, “ambition” has become a dirty word. It conjures images of money-hungry men with no personal lives, or women with out-of-date shoulder-pads, striving for recognition in a “man’s world”. But it is time to rethink “ambition”, and align it once more with the related ideas of enthusiasm, hope, and hard work. Too many people wander through the years without drive or purpose because they fear being seen as status-seeking or greedy. But nobody wins when we deny our ambitions, and the experiences that come with recognising and fulfilling them.

Listening closely to our inner voices, we will all find there are things that we would like to achieve. It is only if we let ourselves grow in the direction of our dreams that we become the people we are meant to be. Who is that ideal? Someone who has made peace with being vulnerable (i.e. human!), someone who has found freedom from fear of failure, and someone who is not overly concerned about what others might think.

It is prudent to check your motives. Self-serving ambitions, or those born of lust for money or notoriety are not going to take you closer to your authentic self. But ambitions related to your life’s work and increasing the impact it has on others are probably motivated by more than glory.

When we are honest with ourselves, we notice that the things we are drawn to do are usually those that harness our talents and play to our strengths. Our ambitions are usually exactly in line with our true potential; our loftiest goals are just in reach when we are performing at our very best. We need to remember it is more than okay to set our sights high and work towards achievements that are personally meaningful. And in the words of Marianne Williamson, it is helpful to remember that “as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

Ambition is back!

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