May 14

CUSTOMER SERVICE CORNER: 7 methods to improve your memory

improve-your-memoryA full work load, family obligations, outings with friends — your life is full … and your memory probably suffers as a result.

The good news is it’s not too late. You can amp up your ability to remember crucial details, promises Dustin Wax, a project manager who often juggles multiple tasks.

Here are his tricks of the trade:

  1. Use a timer. Work on a project or task for a set amount of time, using a timer to count down the seconds. This will help you clear your mind of distractions and remember what’s important.
  2. Clean up. When you’re surrounded by clutter, your mind is less able to quickly and efficiently process and retain information. Remember that clearing clutter isn’t always about being neat. Just make sure you find a home for everything so that your work can flow.
  3. Plan your next step only. Even the simplest goal can seem overwhelming when you constantly try to think of everything that needs to happen. And when you get overwhelmed, your brain is incapable of remembering the details you need. Instead, focus only on the next step in your plan so that nothing slips through the cracks.
  4. Handle everything once. If you set things aside until you have more time, you’re more likely to forget about them. Each time you read an email or pick up an item from your desk, decide what you should do with it– and then follow through on that action.
  5. Lump like with like. When you have similar tasks, try to do them all together so that nothing gets left out. For instance, rather than answer emails sporadically, you should try to address your inbox in one sitting. Do the same with phone calls and other repetitive tasks.
  6. Work in spurts. Your mind needs a break. Try to give it one by working in 10-minute spurts interrupted by two-minute breaks. These breaks will help you stay on target without taxing your mental resources. Use those two minutes to stretch your legs or grab a drink.
  7. Get more sleep. Rest is essential to your mental health. When you sleep, your brain can restore itself. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep every night to keep your memory in tip-top shape.
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Apr 14

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: Give your bored employee a challenging new task

bored_employeeAs a supervisor, it’s your job to notice your employees’ strengths and weaknesses. And sometimes what you perceive as a weakness is really a sign of boredom.

If you have a team member who seems apathetic and doesn’t participate in group discussions, maybe he’s just bored and needs a new challenge.

Of course, this now becomes your new challenge: Find him something to do that will get him involved with the project. This is your opportunity to really shine as a manager. Consider the following suggestions to get employees involved, no matter what their personality:

Is he organized and detail-oriented? Perhaps have him take notes at the next meeting, then make copies and distribute them with a follow-up email.

Is he a wiggle worm who can’t sit still? Choose him to go pick up the bagels and coffee before the meeting. That should help expel any pent-up energy he may have before the meeting begins. (Until he drinks the coffee anyway.)

Is he quiet and reserved? Have him do some online research to aid the project and summarize his findings in a brief memo. Giving him a specific task to accomplish, even a minor one, may help him feel more involved in the assignment. Once he takes ownership of specific tasks, you may be surprised at how much he now cares about the project.

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Nov 06

CUSTOMER SERVICE CORNER: Have more fun with routine tasks

make-routine-tasks-funSome parts of a customer service-related job–while crucial–can be dull and rote. But there are ways you can inject fun into almost any mundane task.

Business coach Brook Montagna offers some suggestions for livening up your daily routine tasks and having more fun in the workplace:


  • When making calls, set a personal goal as well as a business goal for each call. For instance, you might aim to make the customer laugh or to pass on a helpful tip.
  • Another thing to try when you’re on the phone is to make a chart using emoticons. For each call, draw an emoticon that represents the customer’s state of mind or how you felt about the call.
  • Plan a few five- to 10-minute “mini-celebrations” each day. Schedule them ahead of time so you can look forward to them, or plan one to follow each major task you finish. Examples of mini-celebrations include: planning a special meal; mindfully sipping a cup of tea or coffee; writing a postcard or note to someone you care about; sketching a flower or animal; completing a quick journal entry; and reading a couple of pages of a book or website.
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Sep 14

MICROSOFT OFFICE TUTOR: Remember upcoming Excel work with a reminder from Outlook (2000/2002/2003)

Have you ever wanted to create a Microsoft Outlook task to remind you to do something with an Excel workbook? You could switch to Outlook, open a task form, and create the task item. However, there’s an easier way to create a task from Excel.
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