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Improve Your Concentration in 5 Ways
Thursday, March 01, 2012

The average length of a person's attention span is roughly 20 minutes so it's no wonder you find yourself snapping out of a daze in the middle of the workday. Some people have a hard time just retaining their focus for those 20 minutes but no energy drink or amount of caffeine can give you the focus of a bomb detonator.

No one can be expected to remain 100% focused throughout the entire workday, otherwise there would be no need for lunch break. Who's cares about food when all you can think about is the task for hours at a time? In reality, that doesn't happen, sooner or later you're bound to get hungry or distracted and have your thoughts taken over by miscellaneous thoughts. Here are some ways to help keep you on track when you're struggling to do more than stare at your screen.

1) Create a To-Do list
Right when you get in, if you don't already know what you're supposed to be doing, get a list together of what you want to get done that day--for the rest of the week even. Once you have a plan of what your agenda looks like you canget right on it and have something to refer back to when your mind gets lost while wandering. Your to-do list also gets you going right away when you have what you have your tasks listed right in front of you. You'll have no reason at this point to get distracted.

2) Save personal email for later
Checking personal email right when you get can be distracting for hours making it hard to build momentum for getting any work done. Instead, get right on a task until you feel that you can no longer go, then refresh yourself by switching over to--no, not your email--another task. You'll find it easier to get more done in more time and still have time to check your email later on in the day, like just before your lunch break.

Looking at it the first thing when  you get in can get you side tracked before even getting started. Starting your day this way will commence a domino effect of reading one thing that leads to another which then leads to doing some unrelated work research that gets you looking into something else you saw and so on.

3) Plug in and tune out
Listening to music can be helpful but make a good choice. Your number one preferance may not be classical but have you ever noticed how it doesn't make you feel like you're doing your work in the middle of a mosh pit? Choose music without a lot of lyrics because the words will take your thoughts off track. Or, if sound is way too distracting whether it be music or just the sound of others typing, plug in your ear buds to keep the sound out and keep your concentration going.

4) Just 5 more...
It's like when you think you just can't take another step during a run but you keep pushing yourself just a little bit further and you realize that if you can go that much further maybe you can go a little more...and a little more. If you do it enough pretty soon the sky's the limit. The same goes for your concentration and focus. If you continue working at it and tell yourself to stay the course, you will and that momentum will build up again. Don't fall for the temptation of checking statuses or chatting with someone. Doing that will only perpetuate your habit of doing five minutes of work and 10 minutes of whatever else.

5) Make work fun
This may sound cliche but if you think of work as work it's no wonder you're less than willing to jump right into it. We're raised in a world where work is a a four-letter word (even though it technically is). Most of us grow up hating to do homework and that disliking of doing work tends stays with us throughout our lives.

But life can't all be play, we need to put something in to get a reward. Remeber,no one is forcing you to do anything. You applied for the job so you should be more than happy to do it. Whatever your position, they put you in charge of getting it done so take the bull by the horns instead of feeling at like you're doing chores. Conquer your work, don't let it conquer you.

Focusing at work doesn't have to be a challenge. Everyone needs a mental break once in a while but there's a difference between break and vacation. It's easy to get drawn away from your tasks but when it happens more than it should it can be a problem in getting any work done. The main thing to remember is that you should always look forward to getting things done and reaching those goals whether they be your own or your company's. You are your only obstacle.

Mixing Love and Work is a Good Thing
Thursday, February 23, 2012

There's no better feeling than the one you get when hearing the words, "You're hired." Well, there may be a few other contenders but nowadays this places near the top. After a while that 9 to 5 routine can start to wear you down and make you forget why you wanted to work there in the first place.

Maybe you had other plans you had to stifle because of the economy. Either way, you can find that euphoric feeling again and start going to work like it was your first day all over again. Here are some tips that will help return the warmth and fuzziness back in your belly:

Start With the Man (or Woman) in the Mirror
Probably the easiest thing to do right off the bat is to give yourself an attitude adjustment. Look on the brighter side of things, try to get up on the right side of bed. Become a more positive person even if you have to just go through the motions at first. Soon, you'll start to notice that the positivity is coming from a natural place and not just robotic movements. Sounds cheesy, but wake up with a smile. Be glad that you're getting out of bed with a job to go to rather than out looking for one. Essentially, count your blessings and let your attitude reflect them.

Balance Out a Healthy Work-Life
If you're overworking yourself there's no wonder you're over it. The better balanced out your work-life is with the other aspects of it you won't become overwhelmed and hate what you're doing. Don't dig yourself a hole you can't get out of while putting your happiness at stake. Life can be hard enough as it is, but finding the right balance will help you avoid making it even harder.

Volunteer for Some Cheer
Giving back to society out of your own will is a rewarding feeling. That's pretty much why people do it anyway. They feel good that they accomplished making a difference just because they wanted to. A good place to start is at work by organizing a volunteer initiative, a project that will create a bond between you and your coworkers.

Seek Out a Sensai
Mentors are great motivators because they serve as good examples to strive for. Having one can make all the difference in your attitude at work. Some companies have programs but you can also find them outside of work as well. Mentors can teach you a lot and the more you know about your industry the more you'll be able to achieve and work toward.

Make More Friends
This one is pretty simple. If you don't know your coworkers well or have little interaction with them, try to be more engaging. It won't feel like work so much if you actually interact with the people you spend most of your day with. Five minutes here and there on a regular basis will create friendships and solidarity in the company. Take up an invite to go to lunch or happy hour. You just might enjoy yourself.

Connect With Your Boss
Being able to talk to your boss can alleviate a lot of the strain you might be feeling at work. Getting feedback helps you be a better worker in knowing where your strengths and weaknesses are. Plus, giving your boss a chance to get to know you on a personal level by hearing feedback from you will open up the doors for communication. It will start to feel more like cohesive team rather than a staunch chain of command.

Make a Plan for Yourself
Stop for a minute and ask yourself what your goals in life are. Create a list and plan out for each goal how you're going to get them crossed off. Whether or not you stick to your plan is up to the circumstances in your life, as things are always subject to change, but having one is a good place to start. A five, ten-year plan places your life back on the ground running. Life is short, don't watch it go by before making it to the finish line.

Work doesn't have to be a negative thing nor should it be. Your job is your livelihood and the key word there is "live." Work should be an integrated part of your life that you enjoy as much as you do with other parts like home and recreation. The more you like what you do, the less it will seem like actual work.

Research Shows Motherhood and Academia Don't Mix
Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Imagine trying to juggle the pressures of running an academic lab and staying up late at night writing grant proposals with all the demands of motherhood. Doesn't sound like a picnic you want to go to does it? Well, neither do a lot of other women after all, they're only human.

Even after earning advanced degrees in science and math, many women just can't handle being full-time on and off the clock. Eventually, they have to make the choice of one or the other and you can guess which choice they went with.

Many full-time academics strive towards securing a tenured position. And while they still need to get funding for their research, their employers can't fire them without a just cause. Coupling that with the duties of motherhood, that pressure can be too much to bear and they either give up going down the tenure path or on having children altogether.

Researchers from Cornell University found that in the top 100 U.S. universities, women held 4.4 to 12.3 percent of the institutions' full professorships and just 16 to 27 percent of assistant professorships in math-focused fields such as physics, chemistry, and engineering.

For their study, they looked at data on the academic careers of men and women who were and weren't parents. Their findings showed that women had equal success in their careers as men before becoming mothers.

According to the report, having children has such an effect on women's academic careers that it become a contributing factor in their under-representation in academic science. Even plans to have children in the future plays a hindering role in leaving the research behind double the rate of their male counterparts.

They also took into account a number of policies in university science departments that tend to be unforgiving toward female professors who want to have children and what they suggest may be behind the dropout rate. These problems, however, are not beyond rectification. For example, if these women were given the option to follow a part-time tenure track or work from home and still achieve tenure, some of the pressures may be lessened.

For many women, these jobs can be stressful enough to work and compete for and to intensify those pressures with restrictions on life-choices, one such choice as important as motherhood,  it seems that the others they are left with aren't really choices in the end.

Job Gap Growing Between Young & Old
Monday, February 13, 2012

Talk of the job market go hand in glove with the current state of the economy and the looming recession. But the layoffs and slim hirings aren't only afflicting the heads of households. Young individuals armed with fresh degrees are faced with struggles of their own. They, in fact, have suffered bigger income losses than other age groups.

The Pew Research Center recently released its findings on the impact of the recession on the attitudes of a generation of mostly 20- and 30- somethings. The Pew study based its research on Bureau of Labor Statistic data combined with a poll of 2,048 adults surveyed in December 2011. 

One of its surveys discovered record gaps in employment between the young and old with 41 percent of Americans believe that younger adults have been hit harder than any other group, along with 29 percent saying middle-aged American and 24 percent looking at seniors 65 and older. About 69 percent of the public pointed out the increased difficulty for today's younger generations to pay for post-secondary eduation, get a job, or save for the future.

In 2004, pre-recession times, about half of both young and older adults highly rated their own financial situation. Now, only a third of these young adults from ages 18 to 34 rate their situation as "excellent or "good." Young workers early in their career already start at the bottom so it's an added challenge when trying to overcome the disadvantages of a recession on top of that. To release some of their frustrations many have join the Occupy movements going on nationwide.

And yet, many young adults were still optimistic about the future. Only 9 percent said that they didn't think things would be turning around while 28 percent of adults 35 and older were hoping to at least get by.

These latest numbers paint a blurred picture for young adults, a large number of which are minorities. With the fear of becoming a "lost generation," many are turning to going back to school or finding side jobs to help make ends meet.

Take a look at these figures:

Young adults working full time have earned a weekly average of $48, about 6 percent less than in 2007. Employers find it easier to cut back on wages for entry-level jobs than for those of more experienced workers. Other age groups either didn't experience any changes or only modest increases in pay during the same period.

Fewer than half of young adults who are currently employed say that they have the education and required skills to advance in their careers. They also feel more vulnerable than they used to as 43 percent said that were confident in being able to find another job if they lost or left their current one. This is up from 25 percent in 2009.

Even though the data indicates long-term economic problems for young adults there remains a positive outlook among many. As they turn to alternative ways of coping, they are viewed as short-term ways of coping until the economy starts seeing better days.

Jobs Performing a Disappearing Act
Tuesday, February 07, 2012

After so long, many have gotten used hearing disappointing news, but recent U.S. job reports have suggested that the market is beginning to stabilize. The unemployment rate dropped this month by 0.2% to an optimistic 8.3%.

All the while, the digital age continues to advance its innovations and alter our society as we know it. Futuristic ideas are becoming increasingly present and changing the way things are done. Many jobs that were once man-powered are now being machine operated. It's a revolution that's been going on for decades and is only expected to continue at an ever growing pace.

In this economy especially one that's still picking itself up from rampant unemployment, businesses have to find means of cutting costs. The highest cost for a company? Compensation. If they can put a machine to work at a one-time cost that will do everything without needing a break or feeling the effects of old age you can expect to not see any hesitation there.

New projections from the U.S. Bureau Labor Statistics (BLS) these are the fastest declining jobs through 2020. At the top of this list is agriculture hitting farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers nationwide hard. It's expected that the industry willl lose about 96,100 jobs (8%) by 2020.

And since unskilled manufacturing jobs take little to no education, outsourcing them also save companies big compensation bucks. Sewing machine operaters ranked third on the list as their occupations are expected to decline by 42,100 jobs (26%). Behind them are electrical and electronic equipment assemblers #11 falling by 6% and prepress techinicians and workers at #13 by 16%.

Government jobs haven't been made immune to this list either. You may have already guessed that U.S. Postal Service jobs are in less of a demand with paper documents being made available electronically saving on the cost of paper. Positions that are on the decline include mail sorters, processor, carriers, clerks, and postemasters and mail superintendents. They face a whopping loss of 182,000 jobs.

As modern professionals take charge of their own typing, filing, and phone calls office and administrative workers will also take a hit. In the #4 spot are switchboard operators (23%) trailed by data enty keyers at #7 (7%) and word typists at #8 (12%).

Most of the jobs seen suffering are those that only require a high school degree or its equivalent. On the other hand, jobs requiring more education are expected to grow with jobs that require an associate's degree projected to increase by 18%, master's degrees by 22% and a doctoral or professional degree by 20%.

With that being the case, job hunters are advised to obtain additional education if possible with the main emphasis on certificates and associates degrees since they provide the best value. Industries likely to grow the fastest through 2020 are projected to be in the health care services, personal care and social assistance.

As the job market makes it gradual recovery, job hunters need to stay up-to-speed with the changing demands and look toward making themselves upgrading their skills to being 2.0.