5 Tips for Writing Fantastic Emails

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While we all spend time writing countless emails for professional and personal reasons, many people do not know how to write quality emails. We’ve all received emails, often in a professional capacity, where we aren’t sure what the person is trying to communicate or what they need from us. Sometimes, emails get confusing in the daily hustle and bustle of life, but there’s no excuse for many of the common mistakes we see in emails. If you want to be viewed as a competent professional, it’s important that you craft good written communication, no matter who you’re emailing or what you’re discussing. Here are some tips for crafting fantastic emails that can enhance your professional image.

Consider if an email is necessary

Before sending your email, think about whether or not you actually need to send the email. Could the issue be better handled through a phone call? Could you wait until the next time you see the person? Too often, information gets lost through email and tone is misunderstood. If it would be easier to ask your question or provide an answer to something, simply get on the phone with the person. You’ll save yourself time and can avoid possible issues.

Meaningful subject line

As you start your email, make the subject line relevant to the email you’re sending and keep it clear and concise. People too often send emails without a subject line, which makes the receiver less likely to open them since they do not know what they’re about. Create a short, clear subject line such as “meeting this Friday” or “quick question about x project.” Emails with a meaningful subject line make communication much easier and are clear on the topic being discussed.

Think about what you’re saying

When you write your email, put thought into what you’re saying. Make sure your tone is what you want it to be and that you’re not writing excessively. Consider different ways your message could be interpreted and edit it to make it as clear as possible to avoid confusion.

Make the words matter

Every word in an email is important. Avoid writing extra sentences that do not actually pertain to what you’re trying to say. While you do not want to be too short and you should be polite, it’s also important to make it as concise as possible so your question or response is clear and doesn’t get lost in fluff.

Proofread before sending

Finally, once you’re done with your email, proofread it. The last mistake you want to make is sending an email filled with grammar and spelling errors or that’s missing an important part of the message you wanted to convey. Make sure you’re spelling your recipient’s name correctly and that you’re actually sending the email to the correct person!

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How to Cultivate Communication in Your Office

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Communication is key to a successfully functioning workplace. It can be challenging to encourage employees to talk to their supervisors and one another, especially as new people come into the office and others are promoted or move on to different companies. Having strong communication in your business is the best way to make sure any issues are taken care of as soon as possible and more serious problems are avoided. Employees who feel comfortable communicating also feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. Follow these tips to enhance communication at your company.

Provide constructive guidance

Communication can be seriously impaired if employees feel their ideas are only being criticized and that management is not open to suggestions. As you interact with your employees, make sure the criticism you’re providing is constructive and doesn’t deter them from bringing new ideas to you or trying innovative things. If it seems like none of your employees are communicating, it could be an indication that the office culture doesn’t encourage it.

Encourage open feedback

Too often, employees have ideas they’d like to bring to management, but feel as though they cannot provide this feedback. Make sure your office is a place workers feel comfortable expressing ideas or even disagreements with how something is done. Have office hours and an open door policy to make management more approachable and consider periodically sending out an anonymous feedback form to get a genuine read on the atmosphere of the office.

Practice good listening

A huge deterrent for communication is that no one actually listens. People often think they are listening when others speak, but they aren’t really paying that much attention. It’s important to teach all employees at every level active listening skills that they should use no matter who they’re speaking with. Learning to be engaged in conversations is a guaranteed way to improve communication in the office.

Make transparency a priority

If your employees feel like there’s no transparency in the office, it’s going to negatively affect communication. You may not even realize that employees do not think you’re transparent, so it’s important to consciously work to improve this issue. Be clear about the company vision, how employees fit into it, and keep them regularly updated on major (and minor) changes and decisions within the company. Simply making sure that employees are up-to-date with what’s happening shows them that you value communication and encourages them to do the same on their end.

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6 Pieces of Advice for Dealing with a Difficult Manager

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In your professional life, there’s nothing worse than having a difficult manager. The attitude of who you work for can make or break your enjoyment of your job. All too often, difficult managers lead to great employees leaving companies and finding better opportunities somewhere else. If you have a difficult manager, you can certainly try to find a job elsewhere. However, if you otherwise like what you do and where you work, here are some tips for successfully dealing with a challenging manager.

Learn if there’s a reason

Before writing your supervisor off as a bad boss, consider whether or not there’s a reason for their current attitude. Have they always been difficult? Was there a recent change in their life? There could be a specific reason your boss is being difficult and it could have nothing to do with you. Before reacting to their attitude, make sure you’re correct in identifying their behavior as difficult.

Examine your own behavior

Is there something you could do to improve your interactions with your manager? Are you giving off an attitude that says you’re difficult to work with? Make sure you’re not the person causing a problem and fix anything on your end that you believe you could improve to help the situation.

Keep working hard

Regardless of your relationship with your manager, do not let it affect the quality of your work. Keep working hard and doing great work; it makes it that much harder for your manager to find something tangible to criticize you about. Throw yourself into doing the best work possible while trying to resolve the issue with your manager.

Set your boundaries

When dealing with a difficult manager, you may have to begin setting boundaries. Be clear about your schedule and what you’re doing. Avoid unnecessary meetings if you can. Avoid all conflict. It’s also important to learn to say “no,” especially if you feel that your boss is dumping too much on you and not giving you space to actually do your job.

Consider communication

If your situation seems like it could improve with a conversation, it wouldn’t a bad idea to talk to your manager about how you feel. Avoid placing blame on them and making it seem like they have a problem; talk about feeling overwhelmed and like you need more autonomy at work. Find ways to broach the subject with your manager without putting them on the defensive.

Plan ahead

Finally, if the situation simply does not improve and you don’t see a way out in the near future, begin planning for what you’ll do. You could switch to another position or department within your company or simply go somewhere completely new to work. Even taking small steps, such as preparing your resume, can help relieve your stress at work and make it easier to decide on what to do.

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4 Tips for Finding Balance Between Work and Life

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It can be challenging to successfully balance work and the rest of your life. Some people make it look simple, but most struggle to find this balance. If you do not learn how to balance your job and your life outside of work, it can lead to burnout at work and issues in your personal life. It’s important to do your best to find a work-life balance that helps decrease your stress while allowing you to excel in all areas of your life. Here are some tips for finding a great balance between work and the rest of your life.

Create a strict schedule

The key to a successful work-life balance is setting clear hours for when you’re at work and when you’re at home. While there might be times you have to adjust these hours, such as business travel or time off for a doctor’s appointment, you should stick as close to the schedule as possible. Have set working hours and then avoid doing work once you’re home. Keep your professional and personal lives separate and you’ll find it easier to balance the two. Begin carefully scheduling each day and week so you know what’s ahead of you. Keeping a careful schedule and sticking to it makes you more productive and helps achieve balance.

Learn to prioritize

As you work through your to-do list for each day, evaluate the tasks you have to complete and identify what’s most important. Avoid getting bogged down on projects that can wait and be done at some other time. Prioritizing your most important work to get done first makes it easier to breeze through other tasks and feel relaxed. If you tackle the hardest projects first, you’ll feel less stressed as the day goes on and find it easier to leave the office at the end of your workday. You’ll also avoid feeling stressed out at home because you didn’t finish something important or are worrying when you’ll get it done.

Take time for yourself

A vital aspect of work-life balance is taking time to relax and focus on yourself. That could mean exercising every day, reading for fun, or spending time with family and friends. Regardless of what helps you relax, find ways to integrate it a little into each day. Constantly working wears you down if you avoid taking breaks and simply relaxing.

Communicate with others

In order to achieve real balance, you need to talk to the people around you. There are likely tasks that can be delegated to someone else, whether at work or at home. Share responsibilities with whoever you live with and communicate who should be responsible for what. You can do the same at work; speak up when you need help and trust others to complete some tasks you’re trying to do on your own.

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5 Ways to Foster Your Creativity at Work

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Regardless of the industry you work in or what your position is, creativity is vital to your job. However, when you’re putting in full work days, it can feel like you’re simply doing enough to finish all your tasks in the day and get by. Even if you enjoy being creative, you can’t force it and you won’t feel creative every second of your work day. Instead of giving up on using creativity in your job, find ways to foster it and use it to your advantage. It’s time to snap out of your mundane routine and take back your creativity. It’s important to always work on your creativity and find new ways to do your job that make you and your work more effective.

Start your morning strong

If you’re rushing around in the morning to get to work on time, it can throw your mind off for the entire day. Even setting your alarm back by 15 minutes can make for a better day. Consider using a sleep tracker to find out when the best time to wake up is and set your alarm for that. Then, once you’re up in the morning, spend time doing something interesting, such as reading an intriguing article, writing, or some time exercising.

Keep learning

We should all strive to embrace lifelong learning. You do not have to go to school your entire life to keep learning; you can achieve this goal without ever leaving your home. There are plenty of online resources, such as webinars or classes that you can take to learn something new. You can also take single classes at a local school or attend workshops. Find a way to stay creative and learn something new and you’ll see the benefits at work.

Do something on the side

Whether you get a side hustle or a hobby that allows you to embrace creativity, doing something outside your regular job is beneficial. It can be an alternative way to earn income or it can just be something interesting. You have a chance to take a break from your regular job and learn new skills that could help you there.

Schedule time to brainstorm

If you want to foster your creativity in your current position, find time to brainstorm. It can seem a bit forced to schedule time for creativity, but it simply means you’ll stop what you’re doing and give yourself time to take a break and think instead of rushing through your to-do list. Giving your mind time to wander can have fantastic results for your creativity.

Find inspiration

Whether you find inspiration through other people or something else is up to you. Surrounding yourself with creative people helps foster your creativity and can motivate you to work harder on creative projects. You can also find inspiration through books or images; surround yourself with what helps you be more creative.

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6 Benefits of Open Office Setups

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Open office setups – your employees either love or hate them. People have drastically different opinions about open offices and sometimes these opinions can change in a matter of hours. However, there are lots of benefits to open office setups. If you manage this type of office layout correctly, you’ll see the many benefits and help your employees see them as well. If you have a smaller company or lots of younger workers, an open office plan is definitely worth trying out and can work well for your business.

Easy collaboration

Collaboration is the key to innovation in an office. When everyone is hidden away in their own offices, it’s incredibly difficult for employees to make the effort and collaborate on projects and ideas. Making it as easy as possible for employees to work on projects together encourages collaboration and the quality of work.

Flexibility in movement

There’s flexibility in movement for employees and for the physical aspects of your office. If desks need to be moved around because new teams are formed or the office grows, an open office plan makes reorganizing simpler. It also makes it easier for employees to switch to new seats or simply get a change of scenery while working.

Less of a hierarchy

While those at the highest levels of management may still have an office, individual managers and supervisors can sit with or close to the employees they’re managing. Instead of closeting away your entire management team, an open office reduces the sense of a hierarchy and makes management seem more approachable and leads to open discussion of issues.

Improved mental health

Being around other people means employees are less likely to feel isolated and struggle with mental health issues that go along with that loneliness. An open office allows workers to feel connected with the people around them and supported. Sitting close to other people means employees feel less alone and better connected to those around them.

Networking in the office

In more closed-off offices, it’s incredibly difficult for employees to get to know one another, especially if they work in separate departments. An open office makes it easier for employees to talk to one another and simply just identify other people who work at the company. Employees can network with each other, find new opportunities, and share useful information.

Better communication

A major issue in many offices is that people simply do not talk to one another. If people communicated better, many issues could be avoided and more easily resolved. An open office makes is easier for someone to simply walk to another desk to discuss a question or idea instead of trying to communicate over email.

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3 Tips for Keeping Your Smartphone Secure

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Your smartphone may be a small device, but it is a powerful piece of technology that you can use at your disposal to access the Internet, make important phone calls, and a litany of other things to increase your productivity. However, if you are not careful, your information and other pertinent features can be compromised by would-be criminals. Smartphone security is so very important, but not many know how to adequately make sure their phones are secure. Here are the best ways to go about properly securing your phone.

Make your PIN strong

Your smartphone’s PIN number is the first line of defense for security. If you are able to properly make a PIN that no criminal would be able to guess, you can protect your smartphone from infiltration. You have to make sure that your PIN isn’t short or predictable. Avoid making this number a date of graduation or a date of birth. The general rule of thumb is to make a PIN that is at least six digits in length. There are also smartphones that have multi-faceted security checkpoints such as facial ID and touch ID, so take advantage of those as well. The harder it is to unlock your smartphone, the more secure it’s going to be.

Avoid Third Party Stores

While you may have heard the temptation to download apps from third-party stores that are not a part of your smartphone’s main software, this could potentially lead to malware or other viruses being downloaded onto your phone because it is considered foreign material. This issue bodes especially true for iPhones, because the possibility exists to “jailbreak” it, causing it to be exposed to a many more harmful viruses that wouldn’t otherwise have access to it. Stick to your main party’s app store and platform, and do not run the risk of third party apps.

Permissions

By knowing how your phone’s permission system works, you can limit how much data a certain app can collect from your person and who can access it. These limitations can be extremely important, because sometimes the app will request permission to access complementary features on your phone such as the camera and microphone, and that can be used to collect data without your consent, even when you aren’t using the app. Go to your “Settings and permissions” tab to undo anything you do not want to subscribe to.

Follow some of these tips, and increase your smartphone secure today. Avoid having your private information stolen.