Monthly Archives: October 2011

What’s Your Excuse?

Excuses are the worst enemy of productivity, and they are best friends with procrastination. When procrastination and excuses buddy up, productivity doesn’t even stand a chance. I probably wouldn’t be too far off to estimate that 90% of all excuses aren’t even legitimate. They are just what we use to justify our procrastination, and we even convince ourselves that it is a totally valid reason for not doing what we know we should be doing.

Do you ever find yourself thinking about something you don’t want to do, and then suddenly all these reasons pop into your head for why you can’t do it right now? Excuses are your mind’s natural defense mechanism for protecting you from undesirable things on your to-do list, like getting started on that overwhelming project or writing that dreadful term paper due next week. There is always some excuse you can use to get you off the hook, but for how long? Eventually, you have to beat the procrastination, stop making excuses, and get shit done!

The best way to do this is to take a look at why you procrastinate. There are 2 main reasons for putting things off:

  1. It’s something you don’t enjoy doing
  2. It’s something you don’t really know how to do

In both cases, it’s likely that your mind is making it seem worse than it really is. There are some tips for kicking procrastination and excuses to the curb:

Just get started

It usually just takes making the first move to get a task going, but it’s this first step that’s the hardest. Once you start, you will find that it’s nowhere near as bad as you thought. Make a commitment to yourself not to accept anymore excuses, and you will find that procrastination will back off and let you get to it.

Break things up

We tend to put off things that are intimidating or overwhelming. In this case, break the tasks into pieces or set small goals that will make you feel more at ease. Beware that doing tasks in a start-and-stop manner opens up more opportunities for pesky procrastination to swoop in. To help with this, try setting firm deadlines for yourself.

Dangle a carrot

Rewards motivate, and when paired with productivity, they are a tough team to beat. Reward yourself for getting stuff done. Sometimes, for me, just knowing that I will no longer have to dread the task itself is enough motivation for me to stop putting it off.

I hope these tips make you more aware of the sneaky antics of the devious duo, Excuses and Procrastination.

To a happy, healthy, and productive life!

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What Not to do in an Interview

We conducted 6 interviews for a marketing internship position in my department this week. I know that since it’s an entry level position, the candidates were not seasoned interview professionals, so I shouldn’t set my expectations too high. But seriously? Is anyone being taught how to write a professional resume or even how to have a successful interview? I know I went through career prep exercises in both high school and college, but I’m thinking you don’t really understand the value of this practice until you actually try to enter the “real world.” It probably takes a few doses of rejection for new grads to realize that they need to get some feedback and take the whole process more seriously.

I would really like to be able to give feedback to the people I met this week, but I don’t know how to do it without it seeming rude. Instead, I am going to blog about it in hopes that I can help anyone who reads this. So here are some things you should not do in an interview:

  1. Don’t wear a short party dress and 5 inch heels
  2. You should definitely dress to impress, but remember who you are trying to impress. Think conservative, clean, and professional. Dress appropriately for the position for which you are applying. Remember you are in a business environment, not a night club.

  3. Don’t ramble
  4. It is understood that you are nervous, but be conscious of what comes out of your mouth. Sometimes what you think is an expression of enthusiasm and passion can come off as an overwhelming spout of TMI for the person sitting across from you.

  5. Don’t come off as uninterested
  6. There is a difference between being confident and appearing completely unenthused. It is possible to be excited and enthusiastic while maintaining composure and not looking like you’re trying too hard, but boring is unimpressive.

  7. Don’t tell me you don’t have any questions
  8. My company develops highly complex biometric technologies, and you don’t have anything to ask? It’s very important to ask your own questions because you are interviewing the company and your potential coworkers as well. Not doing so shows that either you didn’t do your research, or you don’t really care.

  9. Don’t submit a resume with spelling or grammatical errors
  10. If you even get an interview, errors on a resume start you off with diminished credibility right from the get-go, especially if the person hiring is a grammar nut like me. It shows that you are not thorough in your work, and depending on how atrocious the mistakes are, it may even discount your intelligence.

Those were the biggies. Being on the hiring end of the interview process has been eye-opening for me. I hope that these suggestions help someone; even if it’s just one person, I would feel like I’ve done my part. With unemployment rates like we have now, the competition is fierce, and you just can’t afford to make simple, yet major, mistakes like these.

To a happy, healthy, and productive life!

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