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I've been working from a home office for over 25 years. Here are some tips I've learned from that experience:

Staying Productive While Working Remotely

There are so many people who believe that working from home is a “dream” situation. The reality is that while working from home does offer you some flexibility and freedoms you can’t get in a traditional office, there are challenges that could turn working remotely into a nightmare situation. At the top of this list is, “How do you stay productive without the discipline of an office setting – especially when so many distractions are right at your fingertips?”

I’ve been working from a home office for over 25 years. Here are some tips I’ve learned from that experience:

1.   Create a consistent schedule – and stick to it.

Consistency in your daily work routine helps you feel organized and increases productivity. Start at the same time each day. Plan your day to include your work responsibilities and deadlines as well as recurring and one-time personal commitments. Prepare for meetings and telephone calls just as you would in an office. Edit your written work carefully. And as you finish your day, prepare a ‘to do’ list for tomorrow.

Then just stop. Avoid the temptation to drag a few minor items to your living room to work on while you relax in the evening. Remember, you are working from home – not living in your office. I've been working from a home office for over 25 years. Here are some tips I've learned from that experience:

2. Block out a specific space to work – and protect it.

Block out your work space. This is your home office and it should be treated as a place reserved for business. Piling personal bills, mail, shopping lists, and your child’s school science project on your work desk is a recipe for distraction and inefficiency. In short, block out your time; block out your space.

3. Prioritize your tasks based on when you’re most effective.

Are you a morning person like me? If so, schedule your most important and creative tasks in the morning. Perhaps you operate better after lunch. If so, plan your most demanding tasks to be completed in the afternoon. There are likely going to be other, less-demanding tasks that you can accomplish during your “less effective” time periods. But it’s important to understand when you do your best work and which tasks are your priorities so you know when you can give them your fullest attention.

4. Keep focused on what you need to accomplish.

Be ever mindful of the pull of the ‘distraction box’ – also known as computers, tablets and handhelds. Never forget that just because you are alone, you are still working. Limit the amount of browser tabs you have open, and keep instant messaging services turned off. If music or television will distract you, leave them off. Focus your time, your energy and your attention. My favorite practice is limiting what’s on my desk to what I have to do right now. EVERYTHING else get put in a place where it can’t catch my eye until the task at hand is completed.

5. Turn off your email.

That’s right. I said it! The big heresy of business.

Consider starting your day by checking your email and limiting your start-of-day time to the most important messages that demand a response right now. Then turn it off for a few hours and focus on other important tasks that have to be done today. Check messages again before lunch, and then again at the end of the day.

Brendon Burchard – one of my favorite business coaches – refers to email as a wonderful system for other people to interrupt what you need to get done. Be respectful of the needs of others, but limit how much of your day you let get consumed responding to their email needs.

Try this trick. Plan the last hour of your day to respond to email. You’ll be amazed how efficient you can be when you are trying to shut-down and enjoy your evening.

Working from home can be great, but you really need to work at the way you manage your time for it to be the dream scenario that you want it to be. Common sense is pretty much all that’s needed to make it work. But as in so many areas of our personal and business lives, common sense seems to be in short supply.

Make common sense common practice, and if you’re like me you’ll love the flexibility of working from home.

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA

 

 

 

 

 

 

John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events.

Throughout his 35-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”

Problematic Employees in Your Workplace

How to Deal with Problematic Employees in Your Workplace

Sooner or later, everybody’s going to work with someone that they simply don’t get along with. This becomes even more problematic when you’re the manager or owner of a company, and it becomes your responsibility to put out any fires that get started because of this person’s behavior.

So the question is, how do you go about resolving conflicts and deal with problematic employees in your workplace in an efficient way that doesn’t make the problem even worse?

Here are some steps you should consider when dealing with problematic employees:

  • Never ignore the issue. The longer you let a bad situation fester, the worse it will get. Sooner or later it will start to impact the effectiveness of your other employees and your organization as a whole. As the old Problematic Employees in Your Workplacesaying goes, “if you aren’t part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.”
  • Get involved as soon as you hear about the issue. As soon as you become aware of a negative pattern of behavior, you need to intervene. It may be a situation where the employee has no idea that he or she is being difficult. But regardless of what the situation is, it’s on you to jump in as soon as possible.
  • Conduct a personal investigation into the problem. One tactic I recommend is bringing the employee in question into your office or a conference room where you can have a private one-on-one conversation about the issue at hand. This is also where you can give the employee a chance to respond to the allegations. If he or she refuses there’s a problem despite evidence to the contrary, focus their attention on the presence of a problem and less on the blame or resolution at this point.
  • Do what you can to help the employee correct his or her behavior. Hopefully after this discussion, your employee will understand that his or her behavior has caused problems. Take some time to coach the employee in appropriate behavior and give them time to adjust. Be sure to give feedback and positive reinforcement to help the adjustment process.
  • If the employee cannot or will not change, it may be time for more serious action. Nobody likes to discipline or fire an employee, but it’s better to let one person go than to let a problem spread throughout a business and damage the morale of your workplace. Be sure to document all instances of bad behavior, and follow any protocol in place at your organization when taking the discipline or termination route.

Whenever possible, your goal should be to resolve conflict situations that arise and help problematic employees to correct their behavior. But sometimes, this simply isn’t possible. The key is getting involved as quickly so you can put an end to the negative behavior right away.

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA

 

 

 

 

 

 

John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events.

Throughout his 35-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”

smart goal setting

How to Enjoy Work More as a Business Owner

Entrepreneurs who start their own businesses are often motivated to do so out of a particular passion. However, as you get beyond the formative stages and deal with the daily challenges of building your business, it’s easy to lose sight of that passion and, in turn, your motivation to be as great as you can be.

So how can you preserve that passion and enjoy your work more as the owner of a small business?

Here are some tips:

  • Don’t judge your success by what competitors are doing. I’ve seen it again and again: small business owners who seem to have an unhealthy obsession with matching the success of larger and more established smart goal settingcompetitors. But guess what; if you only measure your success by what these companies are doing, you’ll never be truly fulfilled with your own work. When you’re just getting started, you need to stay focused on your own growth, your own successes, and how you can improve based on what you alone are doing. Don’t compare your results to those achieved by others. Simply outperform them.
  •  Keep a narrow focus in the early going. When you’re just getting started with your business, you’ll have a gigantic list of goals and other tasks that you want to accomplish. However, trying to tackle all of these tasks at once is guaranteed to burn you out. Instead, focus on what needs to be done today, and only move when these tasks are finished. Not only will this help you to stay motivated, but you’ll be more productive over time when you’re not working on dozens of distracting tasks at once. Make your daily goal.
  • Keep moving. Don’t over-think your tasks or your goals; over-thinking often leads to inaction. Instead, leap into action and keep moving. You’ll be much more likely to produce results, which in turn will keep you motivated to keep working and growing. Take a moment to celebrate the small wins every day. But keep moving forward.
  • Keep your lines of communication open. You’d be amazed at what communicating with your customers can do for your motivation levels. It can be incredibly rejuvenating to hear even one or two small compliments about what you’re doing with your business. It’s also important to stay in constant communication with employees and colleagues. The more involved they are, the more they will go the extra step to support your goals.
  • Take breaks and reward yourself. Sometimes, it’s good to get away and give yourself the gift of time to recharge. Nothing wrong with that. In fact it’s pretty much critical to block out formal recharge time. If you’ve been working hard and have seen some success, reward yourself with a break in the action and come back ready to get even better.

Don’t fall victim to interim plateaus in your success; recognize them, smile, and then push forward to the next goal target.

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA

 

 

 

 

 

 

John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events.

Throughout his 35-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”

How to be Attractive at Work

Oh, I would love to know. Did that title catch your eye?

If I saw it flash up on my computer screen, I would think – exactly where is he going this time???

Well, here’s the answer – just so you can relax.

It’s been 35 years since they pushed me out of college and into the real world of business with an accounting degree. I’ve worked in major public accounting firms, huge companies, boutique consulting companies, and I’ve been self-employed for most of the last 25 years. I’ve seen thousands of employees, managers and executives succeed, and just as many – perhaps more – flame out, stall and fail.

With these many observations in mind, for my book Do What You Can! we made the subtitle “Simple Steps – Extraordinary Results”. It’s a catchy phrase, but to me it’s the guiding statement for much of my work. Here’s why.

I’ve always sought solutions that are fundamentally effective, relatively easy to implement, and cost far less than their likely benefits. One of my favorites is that in business – and in life – you will find your effectiveness attractive at workdoubled, tripled or beyond if you cultivate the ability to attract the people and other resources you need to advance toward your goals.

So we’re clear, I’m not talking about conning people into supporting your schemes and plans. I’m talking about being so ‘attractive’ in your work that the people you need are lining up to work with you.

Here are some examples of being attractive in a work setting:

  • You are reliable. You never leave supervisors and co-workers in the dark wondering about the status of your work. And you finish your work – on time and in a high quality manner.
  • You prepare for meetings and discussions, and bring something unexpected and positive to business projects.
  • You are all about finding solutions to issues.
  • You have a reputation of willingness to help other people succeed – not someone who can be taken advantage of or walked over. Rather, you are seen as a guide, coach or mentor interested in helping others grow in their own work.
  • You have a habit of improving your technical, interpersonal, communications and administrative skills. You take it upon yourself to get the meaningful performance feedback you need, identify the blind spots and weak points in your own performance, and take daily action to improve.
  • You are positive – even optimistic – in what you say, what you write and what you show others about yourself.
  • You are focused on the task at hand. Not frantic. Focused.
  • You project a calm confidence in your abilities. Especially when you are tired, stressed, frustrated, under the gun, against a deadline, or correcting others’ mistakes. Not cocky. Confident. In a calming manner.
  •  You are conscious of being a person others want to be around and support. Not in a fake or put-on manner. But instead by following these three Simple Steps:
  •  You are Present – You’re not distracted in meetings and discussions. Others notice that you put down the ‘distraction-box’ mobile device when others are present.
  • You are Intentional – You act with Purpose. You eliminate unnecessary distractions. You produce high- quality results in your work.
  • You are Helpful – Every businessperson I have ever met has some knowledge or skill that others in their workplace need. You know this as well, and you look for the daily opportunities to help someone else. You are amazed how many of them look for ways to help you as well.

This isn’t a complete list of what to do, but it will get you started towards accelerated success.

And it certainly doesn’t hurt to look your best, too.

How you present yourself to others shows that you respect them (and yourself!), and took the time to be aware of how you appear to them. Yes, appearances are often surface level and superficial; but they can matter in a business setting and should be attended to within reason.

Look, you and I both know it’s not really fair to judge people by their appearance. But it happens – so why not just eliminate any concerns by decision makers about how you might present yourself to customers and others. Show them your best in your work and your appearance. Start with a genuine smile – finish by pressing your clothes and shining your shoes!

In short, be attractive to others. Draw them to you with your positive energy, outstanding work and helpful disposition. Be the person they want to work with and support. Take these Simple Steps. Every day.

Best wishes for your success – however you define it.

Two Questions

  • In your work, what do you do so well that everyone recognizes your expertise in this one area? Who do you know who needs this skill? How could you teach them?

Start with a genuine offer to help them? Go and have that conversation right now. Right away. Today. But be ready for their offer to help you. It’s not why we offer to help, but it’s going to happen. Think in advance – what does that other person know that would help you improve you skills?

  • What’s the one skill you’ll need to master in your next job? Is it a business or administrative skill? Communications or interpersonal (writing, speaking listening, presenting, coaching)? Or maybe your internal consulting skills?

Who do you know who is already a master at this skill? Approach them about coaching you. Be specific. Prepare and present a one-page proposal. Include how you will help or repay them for their efforts.

  • Think of just one person in your work life who is able to attract others to them? Not because they are funny or pretty, but because they have a track record of teaching and helping others. Who is it? And what do they do each day that makes you feel ‘attracted’ to them and their work results?

Let Me Know What You Think

My purpose is to give you ideas you can use on your terms to advance your performance towards your goals. Please let me know what you think. Just click here to leave your own Better! ideas.

Best wishes for Better! results on your terms –

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA

 

 

 

 

 

 

John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events.

Throughout his 35-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”

take a hike

Ever Been Told to ‘Take A Hike’?

On January 1, my wife Kris and I decided to take simple steps (literally) each day towards a wellness goal we share. That is, we’re walking a minimum of one mile every day for this entire year.

365 miles minimum. One year.

That’s just about the distance between Boston and Baltimore for you US east coasters, or from San Francisco to Los Angeles in California (if you stay inland and walk down Interstate 5 – which is DEFINITELY not advised!).

Now, if you were to tell me to start walking in Boston and not stop until I hit the suburbs of Baltimore, I’d probably tell you to ‘go take a hike!’

But instead, if you asked me to walk just one mile each day – which takes me just under 20 minutes – for one year to accomplish the same extraordinary goal, well them I’m all in.

In fact, many days Kris and I find time to walk quite a bit more once we get started. And we’re tracking our results. Being the two CPA nerds that we are, we built a basic Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to track our progress. Today is Memorial Day in the US – May 26 this year. That’s day 146 according to my spreadsheet. And so far we’ve walked 158 miles (including today’s two miles right after breakfast). So I guess I’m almost halfway to Baltimore or LA. And I know that as the summer weather gets even better, our numbers will improve as well.

Of course walking to get your heart rate up a little bit is good for you. But I’ve found another benefit that I really didn’t see coming.

Like many of you, I work very long hours. Often as many as 70 hours a week.

That’s just the nature of being self-employed and pursuing work that I love. I also travel a lot for both business and personal reasons. As a result I’ve found that time to exercise is often difficult to carve into an already packed day. And taking a few minutes each day to clear my mind and let creativity take over almost never seems to occur as I’m constantly staring at the next deadline.

Well, I’ve found that literally walking away from my desk for 20 minutes solves both problems. Result: a little exercise and a major clearing of the mind clutter that occurs without conscious effort as the rhythm of each step takes place. Every time, I come back to my work or my next appointment refreshed, more alert, and more open to the possibilities that were there in front of me all the time.

To keep up with this goal, I’ve walked through snowstorms, down long hotel hallways, around the internal decks of a cruise ship, in shopping malls, across hotel parking lots, and far too often in crowded airport terminals. (The United terminal at Dulles in Washington DC is just about a mile from end to end – good planning on the architect’s part!). If you’re lucky, all you’ll have to do is walk around your neighborhood or office building.

Now, as with any new physical undertaking – even the modest one mile daily walk – make double sure that your body is ready. If you’ve been away from physical activity of any kind, if you have a history of health challenges, even if you just live at high altitude like I do, make sure your doctor agrees that you are ready for this change in your daily routine. And for those who simply can’t walk a mile each day, think about something you can do in its place. Something extra you’re not already doing that can provide the same benefits of Better! physical and mental health in even the tiniest of ways.

Then wipe away the easy excuses, push away from your desk or TV, and find a place to stroll for 20 minutes.

To me, our mutual goal in business and life is Better! Better tomorrow than today; better next week than this week; better next year than this year.

Simply – Better! Every day.

Let’s take a few Simple Steps towards Better! health together. I’ll even join you each day. Let’s keep track together.

Two Challenges for You

  • We all have a list of things we know we should do, but never seem to get to. Exercise is on that list for many, many people. If you are sitting and reading this right now – and you KNOW you should get some exercise take a hiketoday, what’s the real reason why you don’t? Think about it and own up to it. Busy? Tired? Lazy? The kids? The weather? Don’t have the right thing to wear? It’s crowded at the gym? Whatever it is, be honest with yourself and acknowledge it. Now push all excuses to the side because they simply don’t matter. If you’re physically able, get up right now and go for a 20-minute walk. Take the kids with you – they could probably use the exercise as well. I’ll wait for you right here.
  • Give yourself the gift of five minutes of absolute peace and quiet. Allow your mind to drift towards just one choice you could make today that will point you toward better health. Think about what you consume, how often you make your body work, what causes you recurring negative stress. And then just make one decision that will help you ‘feel’ Better! Then take action on that one decision today. Just one new action. Repeat this exercise tomorrow and every tomorrow until it becomes your favorite five minutes of your day – five minutes just for you. What a great gift to yourself.

Let Me Know What You Think

My purpose is to give you ideas you can use on your terms to advance your performance towards your goals. Please let me know what you think. Just click here to leave your own Better! ideas. And if someone you know might benefit from our ideas for Better! results, please send them the link to my website www.JohnHallSpeaker.com and have them sign-up for free to receive the blogs, videos, white papers, and other special offers we’re building right now. Or just send me their email address, and I’ll reach out for you. Best wishes for Better! results on your terms –

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA

 

 

 

 

 

 

John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events.

Throughout his 35-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”

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