Lyndsay Carling

Author
Productivity

11 ways to have productive meetings

Making meetings more productive has become the holy grail in work culture. How many times have you come out of a meeting and thought ‘this could have been an email?’ What a post-COVID world has taught us is that there is a way to make meetings work even when we’re not all together. And with more virtual meetings taking place – from having to work from home or remotely – it has us compiling a list of the best, simple ways to have more productive meetings.

 

1. Review your meeting calls

Start by reviewing the criteria you have that calls for a meeting. You may have come to learn that some things can be organised and resolved by simple emails or a quickfire chat in the office or a WhatsApp group.

 

2. Use group chats

When it comes to remote working or working from home, group messaging apps (like the popular WhatsApp) have brought an easier way to get things done for companies. Whether you have staff who move around such as travelling to clients etc. a group chat can be a quicker and more productive way to keep everyone involved or to host a meeting.

 

3. Make them virtual

Virtual meetings are one of the most helpful ways to carry out meetings for remote workers. As a company, try sticking to one technology to keep it simple and so that everyone knows what to download, it could be Zoom, or it could be Google Meet. You don’t have to worry about costs with so many free resources.

 

4. Make them more specific

Only host meetings for those involved. This may work for you but not for others. If you’re a company whose team works closely together or a smaller business, whole-staff meetings may be the way. But for bigger companies or for tasks that are more specific, it may be better to keep them for only those involved. That way, they can be shorter and more productive and team members can simply fill others in with quick chats.

 

5. Create agendas and share in advance

Create quick agendas to help meetings be more productive so everyone is prepared and can bring their A game. This can help keep meetings free from awkward pauses or can help employees bring more thought-out ideas to the table.

 

6. Take mini minutes

Taking minutes can often leave one employee pressured to keep up or could cause them to fall behind as they may struggle to stay engaged. Minute taking is a productive way to summarise and keep everyone informed to avoid any key info being missed. Consider alternating the role of minute taker and reassure employees that notes should be kept short and sweet. 

 

7. Do standing and walking meetings

For those quicker meetings that don’t need a notebook, have employees stretch their legs and go for walks or encourage them to stand for more collaborative approaches. Being a bit more active and allowing your staff to move can re-energize them and spark ideas.

 

8. Productive presenting

If you need to make presentations, there are so many quick and free resources to help you bring your ideas to life and get the key facts and stats across. Download design apps or use websites to create simple presentations that can save time and prevent PowerPoint boredom.

 

9. Use gadgets

With so many great gadgets at our beck and call, it’s now easier than ever to speed up meetings and to make them more productive. It’s worth investing in some key technological items that can help meetings run smoother. Consider your budget and how suited some are to your company. For instance, if you’re a smaller team, you may have tablets for meetings for employees to interact with documents or to make it easier to view them. You don’t even have to break the bank as you could use voice recorders to help with retention (every smartphone has one).

 

 

10. Assign roles

An idea to help meetings run efficiently could be to assign roles. For instance, having an assigned summariser or minute taker takes care of the wrap-up of meetings. Designating someone who is good with technology to take charge of all the tech admin can also help meetings run more smoothly.  

 

11. Create a template

This doesn’t have to only mean creating presentation templates. It can be a good idea to create a general template for how you run meetings in your business. Linking in with assigning roles, you could hand out a template to all staff to show how all meetings should run so everyone knows what is expected of them. This could look something like a step-by-step outline to make them less time-wasting e.g. Meetings > Held in conference room 1 > Matt to set up projector > Lorna to hand out meeting notebooks and pens > Meeting host begins > Q&A from the rest of the team > Karen to summarise. 

 

Space Planning

Preparing for schools reopening

As of recently, the government has confirmed that schools will be reopening for the autumn term and has asked schools to prepare for all pupils to return full-time, and that includes nursery, too. What is also asked is that schools comply with health and safety laws, assessing risks and putting in place proportionate control measures. It’s vital that schools review their health and safety risk assessments and adapt and consider extra measures reacting to the current climate.

 

Protective measures for schools

 

The government has set out some extra, adapted measures to those already in place. The protective measures include:

  • More thorough hand and respiratory hygiene
  • Enhanced cleaning protocol
  • An active engagement with NHS Test and Trace
  • Requiring those who are ill to stay at home
  • Implement social distancing and serious efforts to reduce contact wherever possible

 

Social distancing in schools


When it comes to one of the main requirements – that has been drilled into us since the outbreak – social distancing is a tough one to manage when working in a school. The government understands this and it has given some pointers:

 

  • Arrange classrooms with forward-facing desks
  • Staff should maintain social distancing between each other and their pupils as much as possible
  • When grouping children, avoid contact between groups

 

Whilst it’s going to be a difficult protocol to maintain, the government takes this into account but stresses the importance of social distancing and to implement it wherever possible.

 

Adapting the school environment around coronavirus

 

The idea of using canteens, toilets and kitchens in the school environment, brings a chaotic scene to the mind. Hundreds of children will be in and out daily, so what can you do to help the school environment adapt?

 

Breakout areas

Consider more breakout areas around school. Many schools have already implemented these for intervention and guided reading groups but for the extra measures to consider, this will further help reduce contacts. There are many space-efficient tables to opt for. If this proves tricky, many intervention teachers take groups to outdoor areas too.

 

Have some canteen seats off limits

When it comes to canteens, it’s a good idea to reorganise the queuing system, you could opt for floor stamps like many retail shops have to signpost appropriate distancing. Also, for canteen tables it would be wise to have markers or signs to help break out groups on tables. Have some canteen seats off limits with seat signs. Consider setting up outdoor areas for even better ventilation.

 

Provide social distancing protective screens

For the ICT rooms or smaller areas where social distancing is more difficult, provide social distancing protective screens.

 

Keep toilets well stocked

For toilets, just like you should be checking already, make sure they are well stocked and have plenty ready in storage. This includes toilet paper, hand wash and hand sanitiser. It’s also a good idea to provide sanitary products for your female students and staff.

 

Make more space in classrooms

Make sure classrooms are adapted appropriately. Again this may be difficult but every little helps. If you have enough room and space, rejig the seating and use whatever you have in storage e.g. add some beanbags for extra seating space.

 

Reorganise lockers

It may be worthwhile reorganising lockers and breaking up units to help spread them out to help with those chaotic transitions between classes.

 

Hygiene in school

When it comes to thinking about long-term virus protection, consider these tips to help maintain hygiene in all school areas:

 

  • Make sure antibacterial wipes and hand sanitisers are available in classrooms, breakout areas and canteens. Wipe down sides and equipment before and after use. Don’t forget labs and chemistry equipment as well as desks and chairs

  • Give wipes and hand sanitiser to each student for their desk and encourage regular cleaning throughout the day

  • Review your cleaning protocol and make sure they are up-to-date with government guidelines

  • In canteen areas, make sure kitchen staff are extra protected. If they aren’t already, consider wearing different gloves when cleaning down and serving food. Also, consider face visors as well as face masks

  • Encourage pupils and parents to bring in their own hand sanitiser and face masks but it’s best to provide disposable masks on premises 

 

Workplace

5 post-COVID-19 office etiquette rules everyone should follow

As the world starts to open back up again, more and more people are returning to their place of work after being furloughed or working from home. While some will be craving a kind of normality, others will be anxious about returning to a space they don’t have full control over. 

That’s where post-COVID-19 office etiquette comes into play. It’s up to everyone in the office – even those who feel more comfortable – to ensure that everyone is as safe as possible. 

  1. Follow the rules

There’s a reason the phrase ‘the new normal’ is being bandied about so much. A lot of rules and procedures have suddenly been put into place. Whether it’s keeping two metres or wearing a mask, there will be different rules for different places, but it’s important that you follow whatever is in place. For the protection of yourself and of others. Remember that everyone is just trying to get back to some resemblance of normal, there’s just a few new changes happening. 

  1. Look after yourself

On top of whatever guidelines are in place, you might want to take extra precautions to protect yourself. While masks may not be mandatory in offices, you may want to wear one in addition to social distancing and handwashing measures. You may also want to wear gloves or have your own cleaning supplies from home, or even your own cutlery and plates. Whatever helps you feel more comfortable about returning to your place of work. Make sure you speak to your manager if something is troubling you or there is something you want to do personally.

  1. Look after your space

While we know that we can pick up COVID-19 from surfaces, we don’t know for certain how long the virus lives outside the body on those surfaces. Still, it’s better safe than sorry. Chances are your place of work has implemented a ‘keep your station clean’ policy in addition to regular professional cleanings. 

Ensure that each desk has its own cleaning supplies, including sprays, kitchen towel or cloths, and anti-bacterial wipes. Everyone should be wiping down their desk and equipment at the start of the day when they get in, and before they leave the office at the end of their day, along with any cleanings they feel necessary throughout. 

If each person is responsible for their own space, the task of cleaning becomes less overwhelming and much easier to do. 

  1. Clean up after yourself

In every office and workspace there will be communal areas used by multiple people and/or businesses. This is an area that might be a source of anxiety for a lot of people; while we can control our own actions, communal areas mean we are relying on the sensibility of others. Unfortunately there is very little that can be done other than making the rules as clear as possible, and make sure that you’re following them to a tee. 

If you use the kitchen, wipe down the surface that you use and touch before and after. This could include cupboard doors, taps, microwave buttons and light switches. All it needs is a spray and cloth or an anti-bac wipe and you’ve done your bit to protect yourself and others in seconds. 

  1. Be respectful

Someone else’s ‘new normal’ might not be yours. A person in your office may come in every day wearing a mask and gloves with enough hand sanitiser to open a shop, but that’s up to them. If these are the measures that they need to follow in order to feel safe, then that is their business. If there’s anything that the post-COVID-19 office should be – in addition to clean – it’s judgement-free. 

We’re all just trying to find our way in this strange new world, and people will feel more comfortable than others. This includes socialising, too. While you may be desperate to have a team meal and a drink, someone may not be comfortable with the idea of going to a crowded restaurant just yet. As the phrase goes, you do you. 

This time is bound to be tricky, but if everyone looks after themselves and tries to be a little more mindful of others, we can all make offices a little bit safer. Just remember to follow the guidelines, keep your two metres from others and don’t break personal boundaries. Oh, and wash your hands. 

Productivity, Workplace

How to manage your time effectively

Our relationships with time can be up and down. It’s either on our side or working against us. One major factor that can control this, is proper time management. Once you’ve cracked how to manage your time effectively, you’ll be instantly less stressful, projects will be done more efficiently, and you’ll be more at ease with managing your professional and personal time, and your workload.

Working from home

One area where managing time is of great importance is when having to work from home. Whether you have a big family, housemates, a partner or you’re sick but have your laptop on the couch, working from home has its challenges and if you don’t have your time managed well, it can have a serious knock-on effect for poor productivity and mental health.

Time management tips for work

  • Have a dedicated workspace set up wherever you are, just for you and your work
  • Make sure your chair is comfortable and good for posture
  • Use diaries and calendars, whether printed or digital
  • If you’re working on team projects, use apps like Google Drive to easily share and edit work
  • Get that to-do list written daily and checked off
  • If you need to do chores around the house, delegate tasks in the household and use those calendars, diaries and to-do lists for others too so you’re not left with all the tasks
  • Set alarms and reminders on your phone

How to manage time better

Your to-do list is your saviour, and really such a simple technique that shouldn’t be forgotten. As soon as you get up, write or type up a to-do list for that day. You could even start the week with a main to-do list and then break it up daily. Have those green highlighters at the ready to check off every item. Did you know that seeing more green lines or ticks (which is a calming colour) will have you instantly feeling better because you know you’re keeping on top of tasks?

Use calendars on your phone or your computer/email to slot in tasks, chores or work projects. It could be those little organisation tasks to help keep on top of things like sorting your emails or going through meal plans to make use of your food and to reduce food waste.

Apps for better time management

  • FabulousThis app focuses on setting and organising healthy routines and rituals into your days
  • EvernoteThis app allows you to take notes anywhere, to find information faster and to share ideas. Make meeting notes, note web pages, projects and to-do lists
  • RescueTime – Blocks social media, YouTube, news etc. from taking over your attention for set periods of time
  • todoistLets you keep track of everything in one place to keep on top of things and you can add to your to-do lists anytime, anywhere, on any device – even offline
  • Microsoft To Do  – Makes it easy to plan your days and manage time as you can have a personalised daily planner with suggested tasks, share and assign tasks with friends, family and colleagues. You can also add notes to any task and attach files to tasks
Productivity, Workplace

8 morning habits to set you up for a productive day

There are typically two types of people in the world: the morning person and the one who has several alarms set every 15 minutes. Whichever group you fall into, we have a helpful guide on how to be more productive in the morning right here to kickstart your day. Not only will this encourage better habits and a healthier routine, you’ll see knock-on benefits throughout your lifestyle, organisation, productivity and house management.

Productivity, Workplace

Your ultimate guide to working from home

Whether you’re part of a company or self-employed, many of us will have to work from home at some point in our careers. While it may sound like the ideal place to set up shop, being at home and trying to graft can be challenging! Don’t worry though, we’re here to help you navigate this time with our ultimate guide to working from home. Everything you need to know is right here. 

Awareness, Workplace

How to deal with pregnancy at work

Pregnancy is a wonderful time in a person’s life. But it is also one that has to be fitted in around other aspects of their life, one of the main ones being work. As we spend so much time at the office, it’s essential that pregnant women at work have a suitable environment that makes their life as easy and comfortable as possible. Employers have a responsibility to ensure that the workplace is safe and comfortable for the mother-to-be and developing child. How aware are you on how to deal with pregnancy at work and what needs to be in place in the office? Don’t get caught out and let our guide take you through the legalities and helpful ways to make your office fitting for working mums.

What are pregnant employees’ rights?

In the UK, pregnant employees have four main legal rights:

  • Maternity leave
  • Maternity pay/allowance
  • Paid time off for antenatal care
  • Protection against unfair treatment, discrimination or dismissal

When should you be informed about a pregnancy from your employees?

Employers must be told about pregnancies from employees at least 15 weeks before the beginning of the week the baby is due. If employees didn’t know in time, they must tell as soon as possible.

Pregnant employees must also tell employers when they want to start their Statutory Maternity Leave and Statutory Maternity Pay.</p>

How long can mothers take for maternity leave?

  • All pregnant employees get Statutory Maternity Leave which is 52 weeks, made up of: ordinary maternity leave (first 26 weeks) and additional maternity leave (final 26 weeks)
  • Employees don’t have to take on the full 52 weeks but it’s mandatory for employees to take two weeks’ leave after the baby is born or if working in a factory, four weeks must be taken
  • Employees may be entitled to take some of their leave as Shared Parental Leave
  • Fathers or partners are entitled to one or two weeks of paternity leave even if adopting a child, if qualified. To be qualified, they have to have had the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due date or by the time they have matched with a child for adoption
  • You can offer extra leave if you have a company maternity scheme but make sure all maternity leave and maternity pay policies are available for staff to view

What Maternity Pay and Paternity Pay are employees entitled to?

  • Statutory Maternity Pay is paid for up to 39 weeks and employees receive 90% of their average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first six weeks. Then it will be £148.68 or 90% of their average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the continual 33 weeks.
  • You can offer extra maternity pay if you have a company maternity scheme but make sure all maternity leave and maternity pay policies are available for staff to view
  • If fathers or partners qualify for Paternity Leave, Statutory Paternity Pay is likely to coincide with Paternity Leave and to qualify for pay, employees have to keep working for their employer up to the date of birth and be earning an average of at least £118 a week The rate of pay is the same for both Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Maternity Pay

How much time off can be given for antenatal care?

  • ‘Antenatal care’ covers medical appointments, antenatal classes, parenting classes, if recommended by doctors or midwives
  • Once employees have informed their employers of their pregnancy, employers must give time off for antenatal care whilst paying their normal rate for the time off 
  • Partners or fathers have the right to unpaid time off work to attend two antenatal appointments
  • Employees can’t take time off for any antenatal appointments until they’ve told their employer about their pregnancy

What are the health and safety requirements for pregnant employees?

  • A risk assessment will need to be carried out for a pregnant employee and their baby as soon as an employer has been informed of the pregnancy
  • The risk assessment should assess the possible risks caused by heavy lifting or carrying, standing or sitting for long periods of time without adequate breaks, long working hours or exposure to toxic substances
  • If there are any of these risks, employers need to take reasonable steps to remove the risks. For instance, sit to stand desks could be put in place to allow employees to work on tasks from different positions, improving comfort and posture 
  • If risks cannot be removed, then employers should suspend pregnant employees on full pay by offering alternative work 

What if employees have pregnancy-related illnesses?

  • If an employee is off work for a pregnancy-related illness in the four weeks before the baby is due, Maternity Leave and Statutory Maternity Pay will start automatically no matter what has been previously agreed
  • If an employee has to take work off due to a pregnancy-related illness before the four weeks run-up to when the baby is due, then Statutory Sick Pay can be claimed. Maternity Pay may be affected depending on the circumstances

What happens for employees if a baby dies?

  • Employees will still qualify for leave or pay if the baby: is stillborn after the start of the 24th week of pregnancy or if the baby dies after being born

Employees rights after giving birth

What rights are in place once employees have given birth?

  • If the baby is born early, then leave begins the day after the birth of the baby. Employees must provide birth certificates or a document signed by a doctor or midwife that confirms the date of birth. If babies are born prematurely (15 weeks or more before the due date), then employers need to calculate the Statutory Maternity Pay  
  • New risk assessments are to be carried out when employees are back in work to accommodate breastfeeding (anchor link?)
  • Fathers or partners can take paternity leave (providing they have qualified), from the day the baby is born, from the day a child is placed with them for adoption or from a date after the birth or adoption that is agreed in advance between employee and employer

How should offices accommodate breastfeeding?

  • New mothers when returning to work have certain rights, including breastfeeding rights. A new risk assessment is needed to be done which looks out for the same health and safety risks from the assessment done when an employee first informs an employer they are pregnant
  • Risks to be assessed are making sure still that there’s no heavy lifting or carrying, long working hours, exposure to toxic substances or sitting for long periods of time. Added to this, is making sure there is space for mums who are breastfeeding to lie down and rest if they need to
  • Breastfeeding mums at work can also express milk at work and employers should provide a suitable private space for breastfeeding employees. Guidelines are to make sure a clean and comfortable room is provided with a lockable door (not a toilet). A pregnancy office chair could be provided
  • Fridges to store breast milk are encouraged
  • If it works best, breastfeeding employees can ask to change hours or their working pattern to fit around their breastfeeding and/or milk expressing. Shared parental leave can also be factored in

Why it is good business to encourage and support breastfeeding for employees:

  • Supporting breastfeeding for employees will help for staff retention and it can mean fewer absences as breastfed babies are generally sick less often than formula-fed babies. This means parents will take fewer days off to care for a sick baby
  • Parents of breastfed babies have ⅓ of the absences of parents of formula-fed babies
  • Retention rates are increased when accommodating breastfeeding mums as employers are reducing training and recruitment costs as they can keep female talent.
  • Supported mothers are more likely to return to work and not look elsewhere than unsupported mothers in the workplace. Productivity and loyalty are both significantly increased when accommodating breastfeeding for working mothers
  • Accommodating breastfeeding in the workplace is a simple and productive business decision

Source: Maternity Action.

How can offices accommodate breastfeeding and working mums?

  • Employers could consider introducing a breastfeeding policy to outline best practice for how employees can make requests which could be included in maternity policies
  • All that is needed for an office to accommodate breastfeeding and milk expressing is a separate, private room with a lockable door, giving enough space for a mother to lie and rest
  • In order for your office to be the most comfortable and supportive for working mums is to make sure comfortable, suitable seating is available. The chairs you choose can be cost-effective as they can be a suitable addition that can act as either visitor chairs or colleague chairs for those out-of-the-room little catch-ups. They don’t have to take up too much room either. Here are some top picks for multi-purpose office chairs

What employers are NOT allowed to do related to working parents:

  • Discriminate against anyone because of pregnancy
  • Change a pregnant employee’s contract terms or conditions without agreement. If employers do this, they are in breach of contract
  • Keep pregnant employees in work if risks identified by assessments have not been removed
  • Discriminate against breastfeeding employees

As a business owner, you know you have to evolve in order to remain successful and companies are realising that accommodating their staff is beneficial for all. Working mums shouldn’t be seen as a hindrance for being able to have the ability to bring life into the world. Make sure to keep up-to-date and refresh your office once in a while. Being prepared with a fitting environment for pregnant employees to show your investment and commitment is worthwhile as employees will show even more loyalty.

 

Data on maternity and parental rights in the workplace has been taken from the UK Government’s official website

Workplace

How to encourage good desk etiquette

Your desk is your haven when you’re at the office. It’s where you can work as you please without interference from anyone else. But while it may be your space, it’s mindful to remember that what you do at your desk can potentially impact those around you, especially if you work in an open plan office.  There is such a thing as desk etiquette, and it’s important that you make an effort to follow it. Here’s how.

1. No smelly foods

Rule number one of desk etiquette: be very mindful about what you eat at your desk. Nothing will irritate your colleagues more than you eating a very smelly meal at your desk. We understand that when midday rolls around it’s nice to have something to look forward to at lunch and, of course, you’re perfectly entitled to eat whatever you wish. But have a think about how others might feel when you’re boxing up last night’s leftovers. 

Fish, cabbage, eggs, fast food, excessive garlic and onions, spices and particularly smelly cheeses are foods you need to keep in your own kitchen, not in the office.

2. Tidy as you go

Keeping clutter at a minimum is essential to productivity. Tidy desk, tidy mind. A workstation that is tidy and well-organised can also boost your mood. So if you’re one to find clutter elsewhere in the office distracting, do your part for everyone else and keep your own desk tidy. A desk with your own personal drawers is best. It’s much easier to put something away once you’re finished with it or try not to have too many “bits” out at once.

3. Tidy at the end of the day

Take a little bit of time at the end of your working day to pack away any supplies that have made their way out of their drawers. It’ll only take you a few extra minutes and you’ll feel a sense of pride leaving behind a tidy desk and when you come in the next day you can get straight into work and not worry about finding the workspace underneath it.

4. Bring your own stationery

When you work in an office, stationery is the tool of your trade. Your necessities for getting tasks done. So rather than spending your valuable time searching store cupboards and drawers for pens and sticky notes, make sure your own desk is fully stocked up. Don’t go over the top – chances are you don’t need a protractor – pens, highlighters and paper clips are a good place to start.

And always have spares stored in your desk. It’s always good to be prepared incase a pencil breaks, a pen runs out of ink or a notebook becomes full.

5. Keep cutlery clean

We all like a brew at our desk to help keep productivity flowing, but your desk mates won’t appreciate a pile of used cups around your computer. Your office may have its own specific rules when it comes to dishes, but it’s good practice to clean up after yourself whenever you’re done with it. Your colleagues won’t be happy if they go for a coffee break but can’t find any mugs.

6. Be quiet and considerate

There’s nothing wrong with chatting with your colleagues, and if you work in an open plan office then it’s unavoidable. But keep in mind that loud conversations could prove distracting and annoying. Ultimate desk etiquette suggests that you should keep personal conversations away from your desk, whether you need to step out for a phone call or save catching up with your coworkers til lunch time. Work conversations are different; some may require you to be at your desk and work calls need to be taken there, but if the matter is private try to find a meeting room so you don’t disturb those around you.

Workplace

How to look for a job while working full time

Thinking of getting a new job? If you’re looking to take a different step along your career path it might be time to start getting to a few interviews. And chances are you’re going to have to conduct your search while still working full time. 

While it’s not against any rules to look for another job – in fact most people will have to do it this way due to income – your current employer may not take too kindly to your search. If they find out your manager may take it personally, view it as a lack of loyalty and treat you differently in your role. Employers want someone loyal and committed.

So, to that end, here’s 10 ways to look for a job while working full time, and still save face.

1. Keep it all under wraps

We understand that it can be difficult to stay quiet about your job search – it’s the start of an exciting new time in your life, after all! But if you tell one coworker you may as well be telling all of them. Avoid speaking about any aspect of your search, from recruiters who don’t get back to you to whether or not an interview went well. 

This also means staying quiet on social media. Some employers may keep tabs on their staff’s Twitter and Facebook accounts and you never know who is a friend of a friend. Avoid posting anything that even remotely relates to you attending interviews while employed, even if it’s just a “Wish me luck!” or “Exciting things happening!”

2. Update your LinkedIn

Before you say that you have your boss on LinkedIn, don’t worry. There’s a handy little feature that you can activate that lets recruiters know that you are looking for a new place to work. So if any recruiters come across your profile and think you’re a good fit, they’ll know you’re open to receiving a message.

Speaking of LinkedIn, you should always be keeping it up-to-date. But it’s important not to broadcast you’re thinking of moving elsewhere. First things first, turn off notifications so your connections aren’t immediately told when your profile is updated. And secondly, make sure your skills reflect your current position, and don’t make any drastic changes, both of which can act as a tip-off.

3. Avoid job boards

You never know where your CV might end up if you just send it out into the online world. Plus, nothing says you’re thinking of leaving like dozens of emails and phone calls from a recruiter during working hours. Remember that the best opportunities often come from networking and direct applying with companies.

4. Avoid current references

While your current manager may leave you a glowing reference in theory, many potential employees will check with references in advance of inviting you in for an interview. Avoid putting yourself in an awkward position by listing your references as ‘Available on request’, or by using previous employers.

5. Book your interviews smartly

If you start booking a lot of Fridays off or suddenly taking more “doctor’s appointments” at 9am, you’re going to start raising suspicion. Ask your interviewers for breakfast or lunch meetings, or after you finish for the day. If it just can’t help but being scheduled between 9 and 5, we’d suggest arranging to work from home or booking the day as annual leave.

6. Don’t self-sabotage

Even if you have your heart completely set on leaving your current job, don’t throw in the towel just yet. It’s vital that you keep putting in 110% so you get your good references, don’t burn any bridges and, most importantly, don’t get let go prematurely!

Don’t be the person who picks arguments or fights, don’t have a “couldn’t care less attitude” and don’t stop doing your daily responsibilities, and don’t use your work laptop or phone to organise interviews. Stay completely focused on your work.

7. Don’t dress differently

This all depends on your office’s specific dress code, but if your business is more jeans and t-shirt casual and you want to head to your interview in a suit and tie, you might stick out like a sore thumb wearing the latter. Store your interview outfit in the car and change in the bathroom when you arrive. 

8. Ask for discretion

Most recruiters and HR will understand that you will require discretion in your job search, and would not do anything that could risk letting your current employer know. However, it’s wise to state your need to keep things on the down low straight away. If they’re not willing to honour your request, find someone else to help you out.

9. Be honest

Sometimes, even despite their best efforts, employers can get wind of someone looking elsewhere. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t lie. Although that may be your first instinct, it will surely come back to bite you later on, and your boss won’t appreciate the deception. Some managers will want to understand more about why you want to leave and they may even want to work with you to try and improve things where you are currently. Sometimes they just don’t want to lose a good person!

10. Think big decisions through

Moving jobs is a big life decision, so make sure you take the time to think things through properly. Avoid doing anything rash, even if you’re convinced it’s in the bag from a great interview. Nothing is done until you have accepted the new position and signed on the dotted line, so don’t hand in a notice until it’s a sure thing.

Of course, sometimes you may start searching only to realise that you’re quite happy where you are. If that’s the case, just slow down your job search, but don’t stop. There might always be a better opportunity out there, so keep your eyes and ears open. Just remember it’s ok to enjoy and grow where you are.

Workplace

How to organise your desk (and keep it that way)

Nobody likes an untidy home. But shouldn’t your home away from home be the same? If you’re struggling to get work done and often find yourself distracted and unproductive, it might be time to take a look at your workstation. How much do you have on your desk? How much of it do you use on a regular basis? Can you even see the surface?

Say goodbye to the untidy desk of the past. Our incredibly easy-to-follow desk organisation tips will have you clutter-free in no time at all. 

1. Start with a declutter

Before you can move forward into an organised future, you first need to look at where you are now and make some changes. There’s little point in organising items on your desk that you just aren’t going to use, so now’s the time to be a bit brutal. While you may think you’re getting rid of a lot of useful items, the point is to only have what you absolutely need and replace when it can no longer be used. 

Start by looking at any duplicates in your drawers. This includes notepads, pens, pencils, gel pens, sticky notes… Keep two notepads – one for jotting and scribbles and one for meetings – and two or three pens. Donate the rest to your colleagues, or drop them in your office stationery cupboard.

2. Go paperless

A huge amount of clutter on our desk is due to paper. Printed out emails, presentations, folders, sticky notes, to-do lists… it’s endless! Fortunately there is an easy fix, go paperless! 

Use spreadsheets to stay organised with your tasks and use note taking apps like Evernote or Google Keep. Use Dropbox to share folders with colleagues instead of printing things out, which helps cut back on paper waste too. 

3. Wire control

The typical workstation is far from technology-free. When you take into account a laptop, a monitor, a mouse, a keyboard, chargers and phones, the number of wires facing us can quickly get out of control. Concealing messy wires is an easy step to take to reduce clutter and your stress levels. If your desk doesn’t have wire slots or holes, it’s a quick and easy DIY desk organisation project using binder clips to hold them all together and out of sight.

4. Label cords

We’ve all been there. You’re up to your ears in an important project and have been working away for hours, when all of a sudden, your laptop dies before your eyes, the dreaded empty battery blinking back at you. No worries, just plug it back in. But you crawl under your desk to be faced with a jungle-like tangle of wires and cords. 

Take some time to detangle the wires one by one, wrap colourful pieces of tape around them and label which powers which device. Not only does it distinguish your wires from your neighbour’s, in the event of a battery emergency, you can get back up and running in no time.

5. Limit sticky notes

If you’re a lover of sticky notes, then you probably feel organised, and that’s true to an extent. They’re easy to grab and jot your thoughts down on, but before you know it you have 20 of them stuck to your computer screen when you could have just made one coherent to-do list. 

Find yourself going overboard? Try going cold turkey and you’ll find the clutter disappear instantly, and your urge to use them will slowly diminish too. When you do use them, use them sparingly and only for urgent reminders, and discard them when you’re finished. 

6. Keep your inbox under control

Staying organised isn’t just about keeping your desk free of clutter. Even if you leave things spic and span, a chaotic inbox can be just as overwhelming as a desk piled high with papers. 

While we wouldn’t recommend going the whole hog with a complex labelling system, which can be tricky to implement and follow in the long term as well as creating more work, there are little things you can do to make a big difference. 

If you use Gmail, which most offices do nowadays, simply switch your settings to Priority mode – which will cause unread emails to jump to the top of your inbox, and leave them unread until they have been dealt with. Once they have been dealt with, archive them just in case. Be vigilant with your newsletters and subscriptions and delete them if you find you aren’t reading or using them.

If you find that too many internal conversations are happening over email and it’s clogging up your inbox, suggest to your office that you switch to Slack instead. 

7. Prioritise your work

Now that your desk is sorted, it’s time to look at the way you work with our final organisation tip. The only things out in front of you should be your necessary work supplies like a laptop, notepad and pen, along with any relevant and active projects you are working on. Keep things simple and stress-free.

If you find that work keeps piling up, it can easily become overwhelming which only leads to procrastination. Stay on top of things as much as you can by using the following system of prioritisation: 

  • Important and urgent
  • Urgent but not important
  • Important but not urgent
  • Not urgent and not important 

8. Re-organise regularly

Staying organised isn’t just a one-off task, but something that requires constant work. Once you’ve got yourself to a place where you feel comfortable with your desk and organisation, schedule in a weekly check-in where you take a scan of your desk to make sure everything that out in front of you is useful and deserves to be there.