7 Free or Almost Free Things to Do as a Family

Today’s post is perhaps a sidebar to leadership development. However, work-life balance is a key factor in being able to give strong leadership to others.

Right now, we are finding our way difficult circumstances as we work to contain the virus outbreak. Schools and businesses are closed. People are working from home, or e-learning.

Maybe you’re finding yourself with more family time than you might usually experience. Here are 7 things to do as a family that have little or no cost.

  1. Catch up on your reading – take advantage of the extra daylight and free time to dig into those books you’ve been putting off reading. Make sure you add some fiction to the list.
  2. Have a movie or television binge-day – pop some popcorn, get everone in the family room, log onto your favourite streaming service and watch some movies, together. Or maybe it’s time to introduce your children to some classic television shows from your youth.
  3. Tune up your photography skills – dust off the camera(s), read some photography tips and spend some time taking pictures of everyday objects. Take a photo “walk” around the house or property.
  4. Get active – Turn off the small screen and get the whole family active. Depending on your circumstances and location, it may have to be indoor activity; dust-off Wii Sports and get playing. Maybe you’re able to get out into the yard toss a ball or play some badminton. Even raking and yard-work would do.
  5. Start a blog or a Facebook page – Blogging may be past its peak, but there are still lots of blogs out there. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, why not start a family blog to keep the rest of your relatives informed as to what is going on in your life? Or, if blogs seem passé, get the family connect via Facebook.
  6. Watch online concerts or plays – In this time of closures and self-isolation, many performers and venues are streaming content online, at no charge. Pick your favourite genre of music or live performance and check out Facebook pages, or artist websites to see what’s available.
  7. Plan special family meals – skip the turkey or roast beef dinner. Now’s a great time to get everyone involved in the kitchen. Have a DIY pizza night. Spread out a variety of fixings and everyone designs there own pizza. Now’s a good time to experience variety by having family members take turns making meals.

We have great opportunity to work on building a strong family. Don’t bury yourself in all the negative media reports. Take this opportunity to grow closer as a family.

How to Motivate and Inspire Others

The Green Bay Packers were a lacklustre team prior to the arrival of Vince Lombardi. The now legendary coach turned the Packers into the dominant NFL team of the 1960s. Why such a turnaround? Frank Gifford says it wasn’t Lombardi’s knowledge that made the difference, it was his ability to motivate the players. “He could get that extra ten percent out of an individual,” Gifford says. “Multiply ten percent times forty men on the team times fourteen games a season—and you’re going to win.”

We have all known those people who bring out the best in others—coaches, teachers, parents, bosses. They seem to possess a knack for inspiring people. How do they do it? How do they inspire and motivate people?

Here are four actions that will help motivate and inspire others:
  1. Identify with people. Don’t say, “Look at the challenge you face,” but rather, “look at the challenge we face.” If you want people to look at a problem from your point of view, don’t stand across from them and yell. Go to their side and identify with them and guide them to your side.
  2. Acknowledge the seriousness of the situation. Don’t hide things from those you’re working with or try to sugarcoat the problem. Face the facts.
  3. Have a call to action. Challenge others to specific action. You can think, discuss, investigate and plan all you want. Until you get people to take action things are not going to move forward.
  4. Assign tasks. Once you have a response to action, lay out the plan. An effective leader can cut the problem down to size. Assign each person a task that they can manage.

The people who make an impact on the world don’t have to be geniuses or the best looking or the most talented. They are those who can inspire others to action.

7 Ways to Develop Your Employees

One of the ongoing challenges of operating a business or running an organization is that of employee recruitment and retention.

One strategy that can improve recruitment and retention is training. Investing in staff training and development can alleviate skill shortages by improving your current staffs abilities to handle increased or new challenges.

Training may sound expensive, but the cost of turnover is even more expensive. Replacing and employee can cost between 50 and 100 percent of a positions’ annual salary! With this in mind, take a look at the following 7 ways to develop your employees.

  1. Training
    • A well-designed training program that maximizes learning before, during and after instruction translates into positive, lasting changes on the job.
    • Effective programs should include orientation, on-the-job training and classroom instruction.
    • Internet-based learning is an option that allows employees to learn at their own pace and on their own schedule.
  2. Self-directed learning
    • This approach puts individual employees in control of their own learning, allowing for personal differences in learning styles and encouraging ownership of the learning process.
    • When using this approach, many employers work with employees to develop a learning contract or personal development plan. The contract or plan, which is signed by both parties, outlines clear learning goals.
  3. Coaching and mentoring
    • Demonstrated benefits of these approaches include improved quality and quantity of work, transfer of learning and, for employees, improved communication and problem-solving skills.
    • Effective coaching and mentoring programs depend on the skills and personality of the mentor or coach, adequate time for coaching and mentoring sessions and established time-lines and goals.
  4. Job enrichment
    • Job enrichment increases the employee’s authority or responsibility within their current position. Examples include committee work, special assignments or serving on cross-functional teams.
    • This approach increases interest and motivation by allowing employees to try new skills, build new relationships and explore new areas of specialization.
  5. Job rotation and cross-training
    • Job rotation moves an employee through one or more different positions. The rotation can last several hours, several months or even a year or two. Cross-training is a specific type of job rotation where an employee learns the skills of a different position.
    • These approaches can effectively add diversity and interest, prepare individuals for promotion, rejuvenate work units and improve communication.
  6. Lateral moves
    • In a lateral move, an employee moves to a different position with similar status, pay and responsibility. A lateral move may offer new challenges or encourage the development of different skills for an employee who may not necessarily want increased responsibility.
    • This approach increases flexibility and communication among work units and, in small businesses with few opportunities for advancement, helps to retain valuable employees who might otherwise leave.
  7. Job aids
    • Job aids include checklists, tip sheets, wallet cards, posters, pictures, code lists, flow charts and diagrams—anything that offers on-the-spot practical help or reminders. Job aids can reduce the amount of information employees need to recall by providing easily accessible facts.
    • Well-designed job aids are concise, written in plain language and make good use of white space and graphics for easy interpretation.

Effective training and development better equips an organization to meet business challenges from filling staffing shortages to retaining current staff. Developing employee skills help generate the kind of performance that carries employers and employees forward.

Put Things in Their Place to Get Organized

One of the oldest organizing adages is often attributed to Ben Franklin, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Whether Ben was the first to say it is debatable, the truth of the saying is not. The single-most important step you can take when organizing is ensuring you have a place to put everything.

Containers organize things by type: pens and pencils, cosmetics, groceries, tools, etc. They keep food fresh. They are effective for document storage and retrieval. They make clean-up easier. From the office to the home, from the boardroom to the bathroom, containers make organizing easy.

Before you run out and stock up on containers, you need a plan. You need to know the types of things you’re going to store, along with size and shape. You can then determine the type of storage option to use:

  • Cabinets
  • Shelves
  • Drawers and dividers
  • Bookcases
  • Magazine racks
  • File cabinets or drawers
  • Baskets
  • Boxes

It’s also helpful to consider the material the container(s) is made of in relation to its use. Wooden file boxes might be impractical for lifting in and out of archive space, while cardboard file boxes might not be sturdy enough for daily use.

Start with a plan

Analysis how you spend your time in the office. List of the tasks you perform there and the functional zones in your office. For example: paperwork, computer work, telephone use and reading. Ideally, these zones should not overlap.

Determine the equipment and material you need for each zone. For example computer work requires a computer and monitor; perhaps a printer or scanner. For paperwork, you will need pen, notebook, etc.

Now, work out how best to assign your office layout to each of the zones. The computer work and paper work could quite easily be side by side or even overlap. Figure out the best arrangement of your office to suit your needs.

You can start organizing your office by keeping the essential items on your desk: your computer, scanner, telephone and in box. First, you need to clean the desk. Clean out each drawer of your desk to increase space for other office supplies. Organize supplies like pens and paper clips in different containers to make them accessible for you whenever you need them.Use trays for organizing papers and storage boxes for your dated files. You may also use a separate drawer for your personal items. For the magazines and catalogs, keep them in magazine boxes.

Sort the Clutter

Go through all the material in your office; or at least, sort through the piles of unorganized material. Ideally, you go through everything. Practically, you may need to get organized in stages. Place boxes on the floor and start sticking items into the boxes. Sort items in a way that makes sense. For example, put filing together, shredding in another box and so on.

Get rid of the old items you no longer need or use: old bills, receipts or other paperwork, outdated software manuals, equipment you’re no longer using or books that you will never read. Recycle those items that can and dispose of those you can’t recycle. Shred confidential papers that don’t need archiving.

Give Every Object a Home

Set up appropriate containers for items. Look at the list above, determine what you need and go to your local office-supply store to stock up.If your space is limited, look up. Many storage options can be mounted on walls or stacked vertically. Also look at space below. Containers can be put available space under furniture or equipment.

Put It Away

Once you’ve gone through you clutter and sorted things into the right containers, assign convenient locations for everything and put everything away. This should be easy if you’ve made the right decisions in advance. Don’t cut corners, you’ll pay a price for that later.

Disorganized people make life difficult by having to always make a decision on where each item should go. Organized people have systems so the correct place for each item is obvious, requiring little thought in processing.

Firefighters talk about “containing” a fire. In the same way, containers can help you control your organization fires.

7 Steps Towards a More Satisfying Life

Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, of the University of California, has conducted considerable research in the area of personal satisfaction. The following seven points summarize her findings.

There’s a lot of common sense wrapped up in these steps. Unfortunately, our calendars and to-do lists often get in the way of common sense. If you find you “can’t get no satisfaction”, try any or all of the following.

1. Count your blessings. One way to do this is with a “gratitude journal” in which you write down three to five things for which you are currently thankful—from the mundane (your peonies are in bloom) to the magnificent (a child’s first steps). Do this once a week, say, on Sunday night. Keep it fresh by varying your entries as much as possible.

2. Practice acts of kindness. These should be both random (let that harried mom go ahead of you in the checkout line) and systematic (bring Sunday supper to an elderly neighbour). Being kind to others, whether friends or strangers, triggers a cascade of positive effects—it makes you feel generous and capable, gives you a greater sense of connection with others and wins you smiles, approval and reciprocated kindness—all happiness boosters.

3. Savour life’s joys. Pay close attention to momentary pleasures and wonders. Focus on the sweetness of a ripe strawberry or the warmth of the sun when you step out from the shade. Some psychologists suggest taking “mental photographs” of pleasurable moments to review in less happy times.

4. Learn to forgive. Let go of anger and resentment by writing a letter of forgiveness to a person who has hurt or wronged you. Inability to forgive is associated with persistent rumination or dwelling on revenge, while forgiving allows you to move on.

5. Invest time and energy in friends and family. Where you live, how much money you make, your job title and even your health have surprisingly small effects on your satisfaction with life. The biggest factor appears to be strong personal relationships.

6. Take care of your body. Getting plenty of sleep, exercising, stretching, smiling and laughing can all enhance your mood in the short term. Practiced regularly, they can help make your daily life more satisfying.

7. Develop strategies for coping with stress and hardships. There is no avoiding hard times. Religious faith has been shown to help people cope, but so do the secular beliefs enshrined in axioms like “This too shall pass” and “That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” The trick is that you have to believe them.

5 Tips for Efficient PowerPoint Presentations

5 Tips for Efficient PowerPoint Presentations

Creating a PowerPoint presentation requires skill, knowledge and creativity. Here are five tips to help you create an engaging and fun PowerPoint presentation.

Share a story.

All PowerPoint presentations should tell a narrative which includes a beginning, middle and end part. The initial part of the presentation should give a brief introduction of the problem. Try to ask yourself the question—“What are the things that you want to solve today?” Key findings should be presented in the middle portion of the presentation, but these facts should tie back to the main issue that you want to solve. By the end of the presentation, the audience should feel they have learned something and have a good understanding of the solution.

Always remember, less is more.

More often than not, people have this tendency to over-complicate a simple presentation with quirky transitions, too much text or flashy images. Some of these features are unnecessary. Try to make each slide free of clutter, using only a single image to sell an idea.

Branding is the ultimate key.

Create a PowerPoint presentation that will reinforce your brand image. Use the same fonts, logos, and color schemes that you use for the business. Treat a presentation like a marketing or advertising campaign. Don’t skimp.

Take a break.

Based on a research conducted by the University of Tennessee, the average adult’s attention span lasts for 20 minutes. It is best to keep your presentation brief and straight to the point. If you think you’ll use more than 20 minutes, give the audience a minute or two to relax. Steve Jobs often allotted a blank slide as a way for the audience to maintain their focus.

Practice and practice some more.

A wonderful presentation comes down to its speaker’s ability to capture the audience’s attention and keep them focussed on the topic. The best speakers are the one who don’t stare at their notes and don’t read scripts. Try to focus on the main points and let handouts outline the rest. Brilliant speakers don’t convey information; they sell ideas.