A Better Filing System to Increase “Me” Time

Most of us want better work-life balance, and most of us feel we are failing miserably. Time management is key to work-life balance, and office organization is a big part of the “work” side of the work-life equation.

Royale Scuderi, writing in Lifehack.org, gives tips for organizing your office to give yourself more lifestyle time. A few of the tips:

  1. Purge your office of furnishings, equipment, and documents that are non-functional. When was the last time you used that 20-year-old fax machine?
  2. Set up a streamlined filing system that gives you good proximity and access to items you need frequently, and archive less-used items further away. Does that secret-Santa file need to be on your desk year-round?
  3. Create a meeting folder containing all the items needed for a meeting, and a Waiting-On-Response folder for actions you need to follow up on. You’ll stay on top of activities without last-minute panics.
  4. Sort through your mail the minute it arrives, and sort it for action: read, delegate, file, act on, or toss. No need to hold on to that year-old catalog!
  5. File weekly, to keep the desktop piles manageable.

Scuderi emphasizes that you can treat your organizational changes as an ongoing project. You don’t have to devote 24/7 to getting organized – and that certainly fits in well with the philosophy of work-life balance!

We’ll add another tip of our own: A space-efficient high density storage system will help you streamline your filing. Take a look at how one space-challenged organization used high density storage:


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Facilities Manager or Hostage Negotiator

“Shark Tank” uber-shark Kevin O’Leary said it: “So much of life is a negotiation.” Perhaps you chose a career in facilities management because you’re more comfortable dealing with buildings than with people. But buildings house people, and sooner or later, any facilities manager is going to have to deal with the human factor. Whether you’re discussing the acquisition of a secure high density storage system or simply trying to change a few light bulbs in someone’s office, you can find yourself facing a hostile personality. How do you negotiate to get what you need while keeping everyone happy?

Consultant Andy Raskin recommends getting the contentious parties to the point of “that’s right.” He cites the work of former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss, who ran high-profile negotiations in hot spots like Iraq and Colombia. Voss is particularly skilled at active listening – reflecting back a speaker’s words to create affirmation and stimulate them to continue the dialogue. Voss found that when active listeners acknowledged the emotions underlying their opponent’s position, the hardliners felt that their concerns had been heard and understood – a “that’s right” moment. And from that point of respect and understanding, negotiations could be resolved easily.

It’s a technique that works in business life as well as international relations. The next time you’re facing a difficult negotiation, try the active listening style Andy Raskin discusses in his Medium blog. You may find that your proposal is swiftly granted.


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The Adaptive Office: Remember The Humans

Business owners and facilities managers are embracing the benefits of new flexible workspaces – maximized space utilization, minimized build-out costs – but for many workers, changing the old office environment may be an unwelcome update. Without an enthusiastic majority eager for change, facilities professionals will find it hard to implement any meaningful transformation. How can you get your fellow employees to buy in?

We humans are notoriously resistant to change. We fear the unknown. Facilities managers will find it much easier to allay people’s fears and reap the benefits of the adaptive office if they adopt these three management roles recommended by John T. Anderson:

  • The Business Strategist – “What is our overall business strategy, both outward facing (clients and recruitment) and inward facing (productivity, continuous improvement, and retention)? How do our people support the business, and how does the facility support our people?”
  • The Information Specialist – “What does the data show about the way people work together? How do we position people and departments so they interact smoothly and efficiently?”
  • The Marketing Communicator – “What is the best way to communicate with my target market – the employees – and how do I make sure they feel their voices are heard and their needs are addressed?”

Facilities professionals are accustomed to managing the built environment, and may not always think in terms of managing people. But when change is on the horizon, a personnel-management perspective will make the transition a successful one. Reach out to a designer who specializes in the adaptive workplace to get more information on making your change a positive one.


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Want to Succeed in Business? Get Happy.

The U.S.A. is arguably the No. 1 best place on earth, but we rank 11th in happiness compared to the rest of the world. Prosperity is one of the primary components of overall happiness, according to Forbes Magazine. Even though economic indicators show us recovering well after the Great Recession, we still seem to think that we’re not prospering…and we’re not happy.

“Think” is the key word here – and writer Eric Barker says our brains control our happiness far more than we might imagine. It seems we recall any given event as having just two parts: the emotional peak, and the end. If the end is happy, the entire event is viewed positively. (Think about any movie you’ve seen.)

Barker proposes structuring your work days to end on a high note, and lists seven tactics to help you achieve this:

  1. Have a “shut-down” ritual – a routine that tells your brain to move out of work mode and into relaxation mode.
  2. Spend week-night time, not just weekends, with family and friends.
  3. Master something – work on a hobby, take a class, practice a musical instrument.
  4. Dim the lights an hour before bedtime and avoid e-devices as much as possible; this will get your brain into sleep mode.
  5. Write down the good things that happened that day.
  6. Don’t go to bed angry with your partner – and don’t stay up late and fight.
  7. Schedule something to look forward to. The anticipation of fun doubles the happiness.

Increasing your happiness quotient will have a remarkable effect on your business life. You’ll perceive yourself and your business as prosperous and successful. And as we all know, perception is reality.


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Your Cell Phone Is Zapping Your Self-Worth

“Ergonomics” is a term often used to describe the posture-supporting comfort of a desk chair or a driver’s seat. Your posture certainly plays an important role in your health and productivity, but it seems that posture also has a significant effect on your attitude. The right chair will keep you productive all day, but other productivity devices – iPhones and laptops – may be slowly destroying your confidence and self-worth. Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, writing in the New York Times, says, “Your physical posture sculpts your psychological posture.” When we hunch over our cell phones or laptops, we are mimicking the look of a depressed, insecure, unassertive person.

Cuddy points to one study in which people sat in either a slouched position or an upright position while they answered questions in a mock job interview. The slouchers reported a high degree of fear and a feeling of low self-esteem, compared to the subjects who sat upright. Another study showed poor memory retention in subjects who were hunched over.

Apparently good posture leads to good self-esteem. Imagine that: feeling assertive just because your desk keeps you from slumping over your laptop – Swiftspace’s Shape, for example. And now imagine your entire team feeling assertive and productive. Could good posture be one of the keys to a successful business?


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Is There a “Science of Design?”

Form vs. function has always been the big balancing act that designers strive for. A building, an interior, a public space – each has a unique and vital function, but in order to fulfill the function, they must attract users through good esthetics. Too often, says author Lance Hosey in this Huffington Post article, designers please only themselves rather than thinking of the end users of their buildings or spaces. The result is a design that functions poorly, and is visually appealing to only a few.

Hosey suggests that designers stop thinking of their work as “art,” and start considering it as a blend of art and science. For example, science states that natural light and fresh air support productivity and well-being. Studies point to the value of both “idea exchange” social spaces and “focused work” private spaces in the workplace. By incorporating aspects of organizational productivity and wellness science into their designs, designers can create the ideal blend of form and function.


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Secrets of Workplace Happiness: Order vs. Disorder [Video]

modern open office

The neat-freaks and the sloppy slobs – we’ve all worked with them. In fact, we may be one or the other. Any business manager would agree that a well-organized workplace has benefits, including fewer distractions, less anxiety, and a reduction of the frustration brought about by files and documents lost in the “pile.” But can tidiness go too far? Is a neat-freak workplace really optimal for productivity?

A study by the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management says that a balance between order and disorder is the best of all possible worlds. Disorder seems to foster creativity, while order encourages conformity. Businesses need both innovative thinking and methodical execution. This video explores the study’s findings in depth.

What’s your experience – is business better with an organized workplace?