Take a Break!
As the rough economy continues to take a toll on American companies, forcing reductions in staff and increasing individuals’ responsibilities, the average worker sometimes finds him/herself working longer hours. For some, punching out by 5pm is more important than taking a full hour break at noon, causing “lunch hour” to become a phrase of the past.
“In today’s 24/7 workplace, a lunch break often takes a back seat to emails, phone calls, meetings and pressing deadlines,” according to Dave Wilmer, executive director of OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals. But, to remain productive, Wilmer said professionals need to step away and recharge in the middle of the day. OfficeTeam offers these tips for taking back the shrinking lunch break:
- Plan your day. Schedule your break to fall between projects, if possible, and set morning deadlines for important tasks so you can relax over lunch.
- Schedule lunch with colleagues. During a busy period, change a team meeting to a working lunch outside of the office. The time away will improve your energy while maintaining productivity.
- Book an appointment. Block off your online calendar so coworkers don’t schedule calls of meetings during that time. Be flexible, though, if there are no other options.
- Step away from the desk. If you are unable to leave your building for lunch, take a walk around the office. If possible, eat in the lunch room or break area with colleagues.
- Put work aside. If you have to be near your computer or phone, face your chair away and do a non-work activity, such as reading a newspaper or magazine.
Friday the 13th—Bad for Business
When the 13th of the month falls on a Friday, American businesses lose between $800 and $900 million due to absenteeism and reluctance to travel or make decisions. According to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, this is due to the fact that 17 to 21 million Americans are paraskevidekatriaphobics—afraid of Friday the 13th.
Fatten Your Wallet
In a down economy, clipping coupons is back in style. If you’re hunting for a bargain, visit FatWallet.com for the latest and greatest coupons at hundreds of online retailers, from Amazon to Barnes and Noble. Not just a coupon-clipping site, FatWallet boasts a community of half a million shoppers who share hot deals and money-saving tips. With forums on free stuff, product reviews, current steals, travel deals and more, the site offers content generated by consumers for consumers—a spirited discussion of deals, products and stores which leverages the combined intelligence of its members. You can also earn cash while you shop! FatWallet’s competitive cash back program returns money to its members by sharing commissions on purchases made through partner stores.
How to Make a Good Impression Abroad
To be successful in international settings, one must keep in mind the differences between where one’s from and where one’s headed. Respect, flexibility and patience will greatly enhance any experience abroad, whether for business or pleasure. Here are some tips on how to prepare yourself for traveling to foreign countries and how to behave when you get there.
SIX STRATEGIES FOR INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS
- Be respectful and non-judgmental about the differences you encounter. Be a student of the culture you’re visiting instead of a teacher of the “superior” American way.
- Understand your own viewpoint. Examine your own beliefs and viewpoints when traveling and rethink what you normally say and do.
- Be empathetic—try to place yourself in another’s shoes. Knowing the customs of the culture you’re in will help you understand why some things you encounter are the way they are.
- Be flexible and patient. Flexibility will ease international situations. Being able to take changes in stride will make your experience more enjoyable.
- Practice good listening skills. It’s the host’s job to explain how and why things are done in his/her country. The guest should listen carefully and ask questions as needed.
- Be ready for the unusual. The unexpected is sure to come up in international settings. Be ready for adventure.
FOUR WAYS TO MINIMIZE CULTURE SHOCK
- Read and study before you go. Read culture-specific guidebooks and learn your destination’s basic geography for a better international experience.
- Observe. Learn how to behave in a foreign culture by taking note of your surroundings.
- Ask questions. By asking questions, you demonstrate respect for other cultures, so if you don’t know, ask.
- Find a mentor on site. A guide in unfamiliar territory can not only be helpful, but keep you out of danger zones.
Source: Complete Business Etiquette Handbook by Barbara Pachter and Marjorie Brody
As the years progress, many Americans feel as if their time is escaping them.
Perhaps you’re one of the many who has questioned where all of the time
for fun has gone. According to the Harris Poll, which has tracked
America’s leisure time since 1973, the median number of leisure hours
available each week dropped from 20 hours in 2007 to 16 hours in
2008—an all-time low.
The Harris survey of 1,000 adults found that the ways in which
Americans spend their free time has changed. Watching TV has increased
by six percentage points over last year, and exercising and spending
time with family are both up by three points. Thirty percent of
Americans reported that reading is their favorite activity, up one
percentage point from 2007. Watching TV comes in at 24 percent, and 17
percent said spending time with family is their favorite activity.
In terms of hours spent working (including housework and studying),
the median amount of time was 46 hours per week, up from 2007’s 45
hours, but still lower than the high of 50 hours, reached in 2000, 2001
and 2004. When the survey was first conducted in 1973, the median was
According to the survey, Generation Xers work the most, at 55 hours
each week, followed by Millenials and Baby Boomers, who work an average
of 50 hours each week.
While Americans report an increase in their work week by just one
hour, they claim to have lost four hours of leisure time. The poll
shows that as the job market has suffered in these economically
turbulent times, more workers were spending extra time online “just
checking in”—time which they neither counted as work nor leisure. iBi