A Publication of WTVP

8 Tips for Gym Etiquette
Going to the gym should be a trip of personal achievement—attaining individual fitness goals, and beginning or ending your day with a physical accomplishment. But when you squeeze a lot of people into one hot and sweaty room, the passage to reaching your personal goals can be tested. Small steps in being considerate of others can go a long way in a shared fitness center, where simple manners often fall by the wayside. Contribute to a better workout environment with these easy etiquette tips:

  1. Be hygienic. Gyms are full of sweaty people. Don’t make odors worse: remember your antiperspirant or deodorant, and clean up after yourself! Yes, your sweat will drip, but management provides spray bottles and wipes for this very purpose. As a rule, leave equipment the way you found it.
  2. Put the weights back. It seems easy, but putting them back—even if you’re on your own schedule and plan to return to them—makes it easier for the next person to find what they need.
  3. Don’t hog equipment. You have a right to your own agenda, but try to gauge if you’re taking too long with a piece of equipment. Offer to take turns with others waiting on you.
  4. Don’t hover. Nothing’s worse than working out with someone watching over your shoulder. If you’re waiting for equipment to free up, don’t crowd the poor soul trying to finish their workout. Instead, ask politely how long they’ll be, and plan accordingly.
  5. Wear clothes. Avoid being naked for a prolonged amount of time in the changing room. Use a towel! Likewise, remain modest in the gym.
  6. Don’t ogle. Most people come to the gym to work out, not to get hit on or be stared at. Don’t try fetching dates at 6am.
  7. Limit chatter. If you work out with a friend, don’t distract others with your banter—particularly if you’re in a class talking over an instructor. Keep it down, and be courteous.
  8. Be responsible. If you’re sick, don’t go to the gym. The warm air will circulate your germs around the room to all the healthy bodies in motion.


Create Meeting Happiness!

A recent survey of 339 professionals conducted by Antoine Gerschel and Lawrence Polsky, managing partners at and authors of Rapid Retooling and other business bestsellers, explains how poorly-run meetings can reduce productivity and lower morale. “We found that many executive meetings are ineffective because they cram many different types of meeting into one,” explains Polsky. “They hopscotch from personal conversations to project updates to ideas for improving the company and bounce back and forth among them. This creates confusion and makes the meetings lose focus and energy.”

On the other hand, executives who separate meetings into three distinct types—and keep the content focused on that one type only—end up with happier, more productive teams. The three meeting types are:

  1. HHAY meetings. These are short, “Hello, how are you” meetings—seven minutes or less—with your boss, a peer or direct report to check in and see how each person/employee is doing.
  2. Queue meetings. These are meetings to discuss a specific project or list of projects, focused on key decisions that need to be made. “Most teams have these meetings, but they are bogged down by HHAY topics and long discussions about how ‘things in the company should be changed’ to make our jobs easier,” Polsky adds. “Having HHAY meetings keeps queue meetings on task, without all the interruptions.”
  3. Innovation meetings. This is time set aside to improve: improvements in strategy, in teamwork and communication, and/or in new product development. “One Fortune 500 executive we coached was frustrated because her team wasn’t moving forward with new ideas that the executive leadership team desired,” says Polsky. “We discovered she was trying to innovate during queue meetings.” Introducing monthly innovation meetings led to new innovations and stopped lower-priority reporting, which made her boss and the executive leadership team very happy.

And it’s not just top leaders who benefit. “The more you create meeting happiness, the less your team will dread meetings,” Polsky adds. “We have teams that we work with at Fortune 500 companies that actually look forward to their meetings!” 



Local Shortage of IT Pros

As technology accelerates and evolves, more pressure is being put on IT departments to satisfy business demands. Information technology used to be a work function that helped keep the lights on, but it has turned into a business enabler, with IT strategy intertwined with business goals—for example, providing better customer service through mobility, generating new business using Big Data, and protecting company and client information through data security. A challenge for local businesses is that open IT job postings outnumber IT job seekers in Peoria by nearly six times, according to CareerBuilder data.

With nearly half (47%) of IT leaders nationally reporting an increased budget in the first quarter, companies seem geared to ramp up initiatives—but a key challenge is finding the right people to work on these projects. In Peoria, the labor pressure for IT jobs, a ratio of supply to demand, is less than half the national average, indicating a significant shortage of IT talent.

“Compounding this demand is the fact that businesses here are not just competing with each other for top talent—they are competing with the lure of companies in nearby urban centers like Chicago, and national tech hotbeds like Silicon Valley and San Francisco,” says TEKsystems Bloomington Director of Business Operations Jim Fitzpatrick. “It’s important that IT leaders consider all these factors and create a workforce planning strategy to help them attract the IT talent they need.”

“IT success is contingent on proactive workforce planning to ensure that people are in place to do the job right the first time. This is critical for both larger organizations to support substantial growth and for smaller organizations to remain competitive in this market.” 


Ready, Set… Write!

Writing fast doesn’t always come naturally—but it’s a skill that can be developed. The advantages include higher productivity levels and lower stress loads, to name a few. According to a poll conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute, the average employee spends two-and-a-half hours writing emails every day. That’s 28 percent of your daily work hours, or 81 full days each year spent drafting and crafting your words. Writing at higher speeds may not make for perfect prose, but it sure can improve your efficiency in the office. Develop this skill with some tips from the popular blog,

  1. Start with notes. Writing flows fastest when it follows an outline. Take a few minutes to plot your plan of attack. Some swear by longhand; it relieves the pressure to form flawless prose from the outset, and the physical act of writing may help you retain thoughts as they flow.
  2. Keep background in the background. Researching and writing simultaneously slows down the process dramatically. Do background research prior to sitting down to write. As you find you have holes in the story or need more details on particular items, make a note to return to that section at the end of the draft.
  3. Kill procrastination. Before you begin writing, make your workspace conducive for the task. That means clearing clutter, cleaning the space and keeping all distractions out of your line of vision. If you’re going to listen to music, set a hands-free playlist beforehand. Kill the TV and silence your cellphone, or better yet, stow it in another room while you work.
  4. Actually try to write fast. Just write. Don’t hang on your words, and don’t worry yet about editing them. Just let it all out. There will be time to return to your every word later. 
  5. Set a time limit. If you’re overwhelmed by the free-flow approach, set time limits for that uninhibited writing time. Maybe it’s 15 minutes to start; then reread what you wrote and allow some time for editing. Then set the clock for 15 more free-write minutes. Eventually, this rhythm will become natural.
  6. Don’t stare at it too long. It’s okay to walk away. When you’re stuck, take a breather and return later, undistracted and fresh to the text. If time permits, the “sit on it overnight” strategy may offer ample recovery time to improve your writing the next morning.
  7. Don’t self-critique. Writing is no easy task; writing fast is even harder. Even the best writers suffer from writer’s block and distress over time management. Breathe. Move on. Return. Try again. You won’t get any faster by hating yourself for being slow. 


Booming Industry!

The American Pyrotechnics Association reports revenue in the fireworks industry has increased every year since 1998, with the latest figure at nearly a billion dollars. Consumer fireworks make up over two-thirds of the industry’s revenue at $231.8 million, with another $318 million brought in each year by display fireworks. Currently, 42 states allow for some or all types of consumer fireworks permitted by federal regulations, but count Illinois out. While the state tolerates sparklers, other consumer fireworks are permitted only in villages, municipalities or counties with local ordinances that allow such displays.

Sunday Services’s Sunday delivery program has expanded to 15 cities beyond New York and Los Angeles, where it launched last November to receptive customers. Additional markets include much of Texas—Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, College Station and Waco—as well as New Orleans; Philadelphia; Oklahoma City; Cincinnati; Lexington, Kentucky; and Shreveport, Louisiana. Amazon Prime members who order eligible items as late as Friday can receive their package with free two-day shipping as soon as Sunday. Millions of products qualify, but so far, newborn apparel, books and toys top the list of purchases.

Retire Easy
According to a recent Gallup poll, half of Americans think they will have enough money to live comfortably when they retire—the first time since 2007 that more Americans think they will be able to live comfortably than fear they won’t. Confidence in retiring comfortably varied by age, with the youngest polled participants (ages 18-29) reporting the highest level of confidence at 52 percent. While retirement is different now than for previous generations, JP Morgan reminds millennials in its 2014 Guide to Retirement that some things never change: Save early to reap the rewards of compound interest, and rest easier later. iBi